The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Sent: Saturday, February 05, 2005 1:37 PM
Subject: Little exercise book brigade

Dear Family and Friends,
An elaborate, painstaking and unofficial census is underway in Zimbabwe.
For the past two weeks they have been going house to house and door to
door with their little school exercise books. They do not show any
identification but say they belong to Zanu PF and have come to find out
how many people live in each house, how many adults and how many children
and how many of those are registered voters. All the numbers are carefully
written down in their little exercise books. They tell you which
constituency you are in and want to know if you have checked your name on
the voters roll. They say that on election day they will be watching
houses, counting people and checking numbers against their little exercise
books and if they don't see you going to vote they say: "you will see what
is going to happen to you."

At first, when it happened to me, I just got angry with myself for having
been intimidated by a couple of sour looking women. Stupidly I just
thought how worried the government must be about voter apathy in the March
31st elections. But then, as the days passed and other people told me
about their encounters with the little exercise book brigade, I felt less
stupid on the one hand and much more worried on the other. One woman
friend told me that when the exercise book brigade found her she was
outside hanging washing on the line. They fired off their questions, wrote
their numbers down in the little book and then saw her teenage son. "How
old is he?" they demanded? Has he registered?" When it was heard that her
18 year old son had not registered to vote, my friend was told that her
son must go and register and get an official stamp from the Registry
officials to prove he had been there. They said they would be back to
check on the official stamp and two days later they did exactly that.

When a man from a rural village told me how he had been visited by the
exercise book brigade, he said he had also answered their questions. "Why
oppose it" he said, "it is not worth it. They are counting us now, know
where our polling stations are and say they will know how we have voted
when the votes are counted." It was those words which sunk in and made me
realise what was really going on here. The new electoral rules state that
voting will be in one day and that ballot boxes will not be moved to
counting centres but emptied and counted at each polling station. The
exercise book brigade may not know how one individual person votes but
will certainly be able to tell how his village and the other two in that
constituency voted when the results are announced. My friend from the
rural village told me that the fear is already phenomenal.

This week the MDC said that they would be participating in the March 31st
elections but that they would be doing so under protest. It might sound
stupid to outsiders, but in Zimbabwe it takes courage to actually go and
vote and then great bravery to elect an MP not because you are scared of
him, but because you want good schools, clean water and a safe
neighbourhood. It remains to be seen if we, the voters, have the courage
to go and vote and then the bravery to choose peace and prosperity and not
fear. With less than 50 days to go until the elections and not an
international observer in sight, nothing is instilling confidence right
now. Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle
5th February 2005.
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The Telegraph

Imprisoned MP defies Mugabe by standing for election
By Jane Flanagan in Johannesburg
(Filed: 06/02/2005)

A white Zimbabwean MP sentenced to hard labour for assaulting one of Robert
Mugabe's ministers is to defy the regime and stand for re-election in
parliamentary elections next month.

Roy Bennett's decision to contest his seat from prison on behalf of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has infuriated President Mugabe
and senior Zanu-PF officials They are embarrassed by his enormous popularity
among the black population.

The government had forced Mr Bennett, 48, to join a prison chain gang,
hoping that his humiliation would enable the ruling party to recapture the
rural constituency after his landslide victory over Zanu-PF five years ago.
Instead, his profile has been raised at home and abroad.

Last month, the authorities banished him to a jail more than 100 miles from
his home after mutinous fellow inmates at Harare Central prison protested
over his harsh treatment. They threatened to go on a hunger strike unless Mr
Bennett was issued with a new uniform that covered his genitals because his
old uniform left them exposed. Officials gave in.

Mr Bennett was sentenced to 10 months in jail by a parliamentary committee
after he pushed Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, during a heated
debate in which the minister branded Mr Bennett's family "murderers and

Although the law forbids convicted criminals from standing in a general
election, an official in the Attorney-General's office said Mr Bennett had
not been convicted by a criminal court.

He agreed to seek re-election at the invitation of Morgan Tsvangirai, the
president of the MDC. The regime's determination to defeat him threatens to
turn his Chimanimani district, in the east of Zimbabwe, into one of the most
violent battlegrounds of the campaign.

One constituent, Tendai Dhliwayo, said: "He has been unfairly treated. It is
our duty now to prove Zanu-PF wrong by retaining him." Another supporter,
Mary Sibanda, said: "We have started campaigning for Bennett. Even if he is
in prison he will win hands down."

Mr Bennett's wife, Heather, told The Telegraph: "Many of the people Roy
represents feel responsible for the trouble he has endured since becoming an
MP. They feel that it was they who convinced him to give up farming, so it
is their fault that he is suffering."

Mr Bennett's imprisonment sparked international condemnation and protests at
home, with "Free Roy'' slogans appearing across Zimbabwe. A website
dedicated to freeing the MP received more than 1,000 hits on its launch day.

When he was sent to the chain gang, anti-Mugabe supporters lined up for days
to cheer and sing to him, whereupon the guards made him clean the lavatories
instead. Eddie Cross, a senior MDC official, said: "Roy speaks and thinks in
Shona and was greeted as a hero in Harare Central. He was a focus of
anti-government and anti-Zanu-PF sentiment. He was a complete embarrassment
and problem because the prisoners treated him as a hero."

Since her husband was transferred to remote Mutoko Prison, Mrs Bennett has
made the 200-mile round trip every fortnight with their two teenage
children, to spend just 10 minutes with him.

Despite the support for him, she said her husband was in low spirits. "It is
very distressing for the children to see Roy as he looks now," she said. "He
has lost about 18kg (40lb), has a straggly beard and long hair and looks a
terrible sight. He is infested with lice and is more despondent by the day.
He seems to have lost any optimism he had."

The High Court heard an appeal against Mr Bennett's sentence in November but
is yet to pass judgment.
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'Defence, Security Not Cheap Commodities'

The Herald (Harare)

February 4, 2005
Posted to the web February 4, 2005


THE Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, yesterday said critics of
defence expenditure should recognise that the defence and security of any
nation the world over, are not cheap commodities.

Dr Sekeramayi said the country's defence forces were the guarantors of
peace, tranquillity and stability, a fact that makes expenditure on them
absolutely indispensable.

He was speaking at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare where he outlined
Zimbabwe's Defence Policy to students of joint command and staff course
number 18.

A total of 45 students from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa,
Tanzania, Zambia and participants from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the
President's Office are attending the course which commenced last month and
ends in December this year.

He said the continued inclusion of foreign students in the course reinforced
concerted efforts to achieve and enhance regional integration as well as
co-operation in the important area of defence and security.

Dr Sekeramayi said such collaboration should always be nurtured and
encouraged because it led to the development of a common security perception
and understanding among the defence forces of the region.

"Military preparedness should always be top priority even during peacetime.
It is during peacetime that defence forces the world over prepare for war.

"While there may be no direct military threats to Zimbabwe today, there may
be one tomorrow," said Dr Sekeramayi.

The dynamic, volatile and unpredictable nature of the security environment,
he said, required the country to be always prepared to safeguard and
guarantee its territorial integrity and airspace whenever the need arises.

Dr Sekeramayi said the country's desire to survive as an independent State
compelled and mandated the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to mould and maintain a
military force that was highly-trained, well-equipped, highly-mobile and
sufficiently strong to deter and deal with threats to the country's
peaceful, tranquil and secure environment.

He said Zimbabwe's Defence Policy was centred on self-defence and the
country does not harbour extraterritorial ambitions, the reason why the army
has always returned home after campaigns outside the country's borders.

The Defence policy, Dr Sekeramayi said, was an integral part of the
political superstructure of a society and the form that it takes was
influenced by the political climate in a country and that of other countries
in the region.

Dr Sekeramayi said: "It develops on the basis of economic foundation of our
society and evolves from the overall national security and foreign policy.
It is symbiotic and harmonious linkage with the economy and political
developments within which it is formulated."

Dr Sekeramayi said the Defence policy was a matter of Government
determination, a protective umbrella of the country's economic system and
its security needs that sustain and promote the development and progression
of economic, cultural, ethical, legal and political structures of the
society in all their interactive relationships.

He said the Zimbabwe's Defence Policy supported its foreign policy on
non-interference in other states by championing preventive diplomacy and
good neighbourliness

"This also explains why it has consistently adhered to the use of diplomatic
and military contacts, consultations and negotiations before disputes erupt
into fully-fledged conflicts."

Dr Sekeramayi said it should, however, be underlined that in the event of
inter-sate conflicts, Zimbabwe reserves the right to support any state or
states in accordance with her bilateral or international obligations as
enshrined in the existing bilateral agreements, treaties, pacts, conventions
and protocols.

He said Zimbabwe's participation in resolving crisis situations in
Mozambique coupled with its support for the democratisation processes in
Angola, Lesotho, South Africa, Somalia, Rwanda and in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) was remarkable testimony of the desire for permanent
peace and stability in Africa.

"This posture has gone a long way in vindicating Zimbabwe's international
posture as a peace-loving nation which is always prepared to assist in a
small but vital way," said the minister.

Dr Sekeramayi said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces' recruitment policy was based
on a voluntary basis that takes into account the nation's existing regional
constituencies so as to afford equal opportunities to all communities in the
country and promotions were always based on merit.

He said the Defence policy attached great importance to training of military
personnel in order to sharpen their professional skills as well as prepare
them for civilian life when they retire from active military service.

Dr Sekeramayi said concerted efforts were being made to ensure that all
members of the defence forces were provided with decent and adequate
accommodation, reliable transport to and from work as well as salaries and
allowances that correspond to the prevailing economic environment.

He said the forthcoming March 31 parliamentary elections should be peaceful
because it was absolutely not necessary to fight each other.

"Political differences can still be fought in a peaceful environment, we
want a peaceful Zimbabwe," he said.
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Zim unionists 'home safe'
05/02/2005 20:19  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's main trade union denied reports on Saturday that its top
members had gone underground in South Africa after conferring with their
South African counterparts who had been deported from Harare for trying to
stage a fact-finding mission.

"We arrived home safely last night," Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) deputy secretary general Collin Gwiyo said on Saturday.

"I was surprised to read in one of the newspapers this morning that we were
hiding in South Africa. How can we be hiding in South Africa when we all
came back yesterday through the normal legal route?"

Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported on Saturday that five
members of the ZCTU had gone into hiding in South Africa, claiming their
lives were in danger back home.

The team went to South Africa to hold a meeting with the influential
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday, a day after the
Cosatu delegation of fact-finders was immediately deported on arrival.

The first Cosatu team was also unceremoniously kicked out in October. Their
aim was to investigate the state of affairs in Zimbabwe ahead of the March
31 parliamentary polls.

Zimbabwe, through its official media, has said that Cosatu had a hidden
agenda and claimed that South Africa's largest labour union had
metamorphosed into a puppet of Western powers and big business.

But the official line is that they had not sought the required clearance
from Zimbabwean authorities to stage their mission.

Zimbabwe's Labour Minister Paul Mangwana has also gone on record as saying
that Cosatu should stick to domestic issues and underlined that Zimbabwe "is
not a province of South Africa."

Both South Africa and Zimbabwe have said the deportation has not affected
their relations.

But it is an embarrassment for President Thabo Mbeki's government, which is
accused by critics of toeing a soft line on Zimbabwe.

ZCTU's Gwiyo said the meeting in South Africa had been fruitful.

"One of the objectives of Cosatu's failed fact-finding mission was to see
whether or not ZCTU was exaggerating about the situation in Zimbabwe.

"They now know that things are not normal and they are clear about the
situation. We are living in a police state and our colleagues in Cosatu saw
it for themselves."

At Thursday's meeting in the Musina, both sides agreed that the March 31
elections should be postponed to ensure that conditions are in place for a
free and fair vote.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change party on Thursday
announced that it would participate in the elections even though conditions
did not favour a transparent and free vote.
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Business Report

      The lesser of two evils

      In choosing the lesser of two evils, a cost-benefit analysis is

      Cosatu was booted out of Zimbabwe again this week.
      The labour federation's principals, including general secretary
Zwelinzima Vavi, were told in unambiguous terms that they were not welcome.
In fact, some were told that they would never be allowed to enter the
country again.

      Whatever sympathy Robert Mugabe's government might have enjoyed with
progressive-thinking people has now finally gone up in smoke.

      Elections are no guarantee of democracy. Indeed, they can be the
poisoned chalice of democracy because they give apparent substance to the
impression that elected representatives carry a popular mandate throughout
their terms of office.

      But casting a vote is often the endgame of a complicated field of
battle that is shaped by incumbent elites, access to money and access to
power structures, in particular the military. In the case of Zimbabwe, it is
access to food and guns.

      The conditions for citizens to exercise their democratic right to
elect the government of their choice are therefore critical to people's
decision making.
      Cosatu is concerned that conditions for a free and fair exercise of
the ballot do not exist in that ravaged country

      In an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, popular acquiescence is
often misread as support. If the elections do go ahead on March 31, there is
very little doubt that Mugabe will romp home victoriously.
      Opposition parties can either participate in the elections or boycott

      By participating, they stand the risk of giving credibility to an
increasingly fascist state, whose political principals have effectively
destroyed an economy that was one of the most vibrant in Africa.

      By boycotting, they deny citizens alternative vehicles of
representation, protest and challenge. The political management of the
economy will continue to rest exclusively with the Mugabe dictatorship.
There will be no recourse, except through civil society and civil war.

      The ANC's ruse that it is up to Zimbabweans to sort out the affairs of
their country is diplomatic cowardice. Zimbabwe at present is about the
flagrant abuse of basic human rights.

      Whatever choice Zimbabweans make, it will not be easy.

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Business Report

      With a Z$1m a month tax threshold, Zimbabwe is a paradise lost
      February 6, 2005

      By Terry Bell

      An African tax threshold has just been raised. As of now, only those
employees in the country earning more than Z$1 million (R1 117) will pay
tax. That is not Z$1 million a year, but Z$1 million a month.

      Taken out of context, this sounds wonderful. But the context is
Zimbabwe in 2005.

      Given hyperinflation - now slowed down to a little more than 130
percent - and a fairly rapid decline in the real value of wages, this new
concession could be seen as too little too late.

      Take the latest survey of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, for

      It looked at the cost of basic needs for a family of two adults and
four children.

      Food and transport alone cost more than Z$1 million a month. When such
essentials such as soap and washing powder, clothing and footwear, rent,
education and healthcare costs are taken into account, the minimum income
required for a family is Z$1.7 million.

      But this budget comes with a word of caution. It applied last

      "That was more than a month ago, so the same costs would probably be
more than Z$2 million by now," says Bright Chibvuri, the editor of the
Zimbabwe labour newspaper, The Worker.

      This rapid rise in prices has led to a situation where wage bargaining
by unions and employers now usually takes place every three months.

      But in only eight of the 38 listed sectors of the formal economy is
the minimum wage set at Z$1 million or more a month. At the bottom of the
list are gardeners whose employers are legally obliged to pay a minimum of
Z$83 000 a month.

      "Very few people would pay that sort of minimum wage," says Wellington
Chibebe, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

      "But even 10 times that amount is not enough."

      Chibebe notes that some "new farmers" - Zimbabweans awarded farms
under the government's controversial land redistribution programme - are
complaining that a recent minimum wage award of Z$177 000 a month for farm
workers is too high.

      "Although this is still primarily a rural and agrarian economy where
people can rely on some subsistence farming, it is a wonder how many people
here manage to survive," says Godfrey Kanyenze, the director of the Labour
and Economic Development Research Institute.

      The institute has calculated the value of average earnings throughout
the economy up to 2002. In the 12 years from 1990, the purchasing power of
average wages fell by half.

      "And it is probable that the downward trend has continued."

      Yet the bulk of government tax revenue comes from individual taxpayers
and not the corporate sector. This in a country where perhaps as many as 70
percent of the workforce is not in the formal economy.

      So areas such as public healthcare and education are falling apart.
Even the government media mouthpiece, The Herald, has reported that the once
prestigious Harare general hospital is now itself "in intensive care".

      Inadequate funding and the large-scale emigration of skilled staff are

      "So enter the concept of cost recovery," says Kanyenze.

      He agrees that this will mean higher death rates among the poor and
fewer children being able to afford to go to school.

      Several entrepreneurs point out that the government has agreed to
provide scarce foreign exchange to those parents needing to maintain
children who are studying abroad.

      "At the same time, we cannot get the funds for essential maintenance
and equipment in the productive sector," says a businessman who still
retains his long-term membership of the ruling party.

      In this environment, the tourism department sees no irony in the fact
that Zimbabwe is advertised as "an African paradise". In the narrow context
of the Victoria Falls and the other natural sights, it is probably a correct

      But, unfortunately for the tourism department, the wider context keeps
intruding, giving the image instead of something of a paradise lost.

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Zim banker 'fed info' to SA spy
Posted Sat, 05 Feb 2005

A 42-year-old Zimbabwean banker, Tendai Matambanadzo has told how he was
given thousands of US dollars for information on likely successors for his
country's president, Robert Mugabe, the Sunday Times reported.

Matambanadzo said the South African spy he worked with was known to him
under the alias of Andrew Brown.

He claimed that Brown told him he was a risk management consultant. Brown
also said to him that none of the information he sold was state secrets.

Brown is a 48-year-old white man who lives in a suburb east of Pretoria.

According to the Sunday Times, the newspaper knew his true name, but were
informed by a spokesperson for the Department of Intelligence that it was
illegal to publish the name.

Matambanadzo said he met Brown at several hotels in Zimbabwe over the three
years since he met him in 2001. He said Brown was also dressed casually and
once even took him to his house near Pretoria where they talked about sports
and rugby.

Matambanadzo said he used to get a call in Harare just saying that Andrew
was in Harare and could they meet.

He also claimed that he gave some of the money he was paid for information
back to Brown who allegedly had financial problems.

"He said he had personal problems with alimony and child support,"
Matambanadzo said.

Matambanadzo and two others, Zanu-PF external affairs director Itai Marchi
and diplomat Godfrey Dzvairo, were arrested in December after Brown was
arrested. He named them and three others as part of his spy rings.

Brown was being held at an undisclosed location in Zimbabwe.

Matambanadzo claimed that he did not know he was involved in espionage.

"But there were never any allegations that we stole documents," he told the
Sunday Times.

"We broke no law."

The attorney representing Matambanadzo and the other two said nothing in
their confessions involved a state secret or a stolen document.

Selby Hwacha said "no offence was committed".

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