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Zim running out of medicine, says report

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

09 January 2008 04:25

      At least 50% of medical drugs are out of stock in Zimbabwe's
pharmacies because of critical shortages of foreign currency, making life
harder for struggling Zimbabweans, it emerged on this week.

      The few available drugs have shot up in price, putting them well
out of the reach of most white-collar workers, the state-controlled Herald
daily said.

      Desperately needed drugs for conditions like HIV, diabetes, high
blood pressure and epilepsy are now found in only about one pharmacy in
four, the paper reported after a snap survey.

      "We have applied for foreign currency and we are waiting for
allocations. Most pharmacies can no longer afford to import drugs, so the
few that are still importing tend to be expensive," Ishe Nkomo, the
president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe, said.

      The situation spells bad news for the one in seven Zimbabweans
estimated to be living with HIV. A month-long prescription of Stalenev 30, a
common antiretroviral drug, now costs Z$85-million, more than six times a
teacher's salary, the Herald said.

      More than 90 000 Zimbabweans are currently believed to be taking

      Medicines against malaria, another of Zimbabwe's biggest
killers, are also proving hard to come by. Simple anti-mosquito repellents
that are smeared over the body now cost an average of Z$20-million per
bottle where available.

      Foreign currency inflows to Zimbabwe have dwindled over the past
seven years. Critics of President Robert Mugabe's regime point to plummeting
agricultural receipts, especially of prime forex earner tobacco, following
the launch of a controversial land-reform programme before elections in

      Reports of violent farm invasions have kept away foreign

      Many businesses have closed down and exporters have also scaled
down production, partly because of the unattractive rates at which they are
forced to exchange their earnings.

      Mugabe and his ministers blame the forex crunch on Western

      Zimbabwe's health sector has been hard hit by the economic

      Doctors and nurses have streamed out of the country in the
search for better pay. Reports from former colonial power Britain have
revealed that at least 16 000 nurses from Zimbabwe had been granted working
visas in the last eight years. -- Sapa-dpa

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How Zimbabwe lost control of inflation

New Zimbabwe

By Gilbert Muponda
Last updated: 01/09/2008 08:10:49
ZIMBABWE’S chart topping inflation reportedly at 24,000 % qualifies the nation as experiencing hyper inflation. Compare that to the next highest inflation of 40% in Burma.

The main cause of hyperinflation is a massive and rapid increase in the amount of money (estimated at 17,000%), which is not supported by growth in the output of goods and services.

This results in an imbalance between the supply and demand for the money (including currency and bank deposits), accompanied by a complete loss of confidence in the money, similar to a bank run.

The enactment of legal tender laws and price controls to prevent discounting the value of paper money relative to gold, silver, hard currency, or commodities, fails to force acceptance of paper money which lacks intrinsic value.

When the entity responsible for printing a currency promotes excessive money printing, with other factors contributing a reinforcing effect, hyperinflation usually continues.

The body responsible for printing the currency cannot physically print paper currency faster than the rate at which it is devaluing, thus neutralising their attempts to stimulate the economy. This is clear with the new $750,000 bearer (or is it burial) cheque. The country’s highest note cannot even buy a loaf of bread. Can you imagine walking into Tesco in the UK and one loaf costing more than £50, or being in Walmart in the USA, and a loaf going for more than US$100? Imagine being in No Frills, in Canada one loaf going for more than C$100? This is how Zimbabwe’s currency has been absurdly decimated by inflation.

Zimbabwe’s hyper-Inflation is a result of the monetary authority irresponsibly borrowing money to pay all its expenses and funding quasi-fiscal activities (which are normally left to Central Government). In Neoliberalism, hyperinflation is considered to be the result of a crisis of confidence. The monetary base of the country flees, producing widespread fear that individuals will not be able to convert local currency to some more transportable form, such as gold or an internationally recognised hard currency.

Zimbabwe Inflation Since 1980

In neo-classical economic theory, hyperinflation is rooted in a deterioration of the monetary base; that is the confidence that there is a store of value which the currency will be able to command later. The perceived risk of holding currency rises dramatically, and sellers demand increasingly high premiums to accept the currency. This in turn leads to a greater fear that the currency will collapse, causing even higher premiums. This is akin to trading cash with no apparent economic activity (read Cash Baron)!

Rates of inflation of several hundred percent per month are often seen. Extreme examples include:

Germany in 1923 when the rate of inflation hit 3.25 × 106 percent per month (prices double every 49 hours).

Greece during its occupation by German troops (1941-1944) with 8.55 × 109 percent per month (prices double every 28 hours).

The most severe known incident of inflation was in Hungary after the end of World War II at 4.19 × 1016 percent per month (prices double every 15 hours).

More recently, Yugoslavia suffered 5 × 1015 percent inflation per month (prices double every 16 hours) between October 1, 1993 and January 24, 1994. Zimbabwe may be on its path to match if not break some of these records.

A great deal of economic literature concerns the question of what causes inflation and what effect it has. A small amount of inflation is generally viewed as having a positive effect on the economy. One reason for this is that it is difficult to renegotiate some prices, and particularly wages, downwards, so that with generally increasing prices it is easier for relative prices to adjust. Many prices are "sticky downward" and tend to creep upward, so that efforts to attain a zero inflation rate (a constant price level) punish other sectors with falling prices, profits, and employment.

Efforts to attain complete price stability can also lead to deflation, which is generally viewed as a negative because of the downward adjustments in wages and output that are associated with it. More generally, because modest inflation means that the price of any given good is likely to increase over time, there is an inherent advantage to making purchases sooner than later. This effect tends to keep an economy active in the short term by encouraging spending and borrowing, and in the long term by encouraging investments.

High inflation, though, tends to reduce long-term capital formation by hurting the incentive to save, and to effectively reduce long-term spending by making products less affordable. Limited investments will result in shortages of opportunities for corporates which will be forced into speculation. In addition, corporates become less focused on core-business as they try to survive. This can lead to corporate cannibalisation whereby companies essentially trade each other’s shares without any meaningful investment in plant, equipment, stock or capacity.

Inflation is also viewed as a hidden risk pressure that provides an incentive for those with savings to invest them, rather than have the purchasing power of those savings erode through inflation. In investing, inflation risks often cause investors to take on a more systematic risk, in order to gain returns that will stay ahead of expected inflation. Inflation is also used as an index for cost of living adjustments and as a peg for some bonds. In effect, inflation is the rate at which previous economic transactions are discounted economically.

However, in general, inflation rates above the nominal amounts required to give monetary freedom, and investing incentive, are regarded as negative, particularly because in current economic theory, inflation begets further inflationary expectations. Increasing uncertainty may discourage investment and saving.

Redistribution: Inflation will redistribute income from those on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, and shifts it to those who draw a variable income, for example from wages and profits which may keep pace with inflation -- any senior pensioner still receiving a couple of thousand Zimbabwe dollars being a clear example. Similarly, it will redistribute wealth from those who lend a fixed amount of money to those who borrow. For example, where the government is a net debtor, as is usually the case, inflation will reduce this debt by redistributing money towards the government. Thus inflation is sometimes viewed as similar to a hidden tax. This discourages savings and investment, the actual tax regime becomes impossible to calculate.

International trade: If the rate of inflation is higher than that abroad, a fixed exchange rate will be undermined through a weakening balance of trade, and forex shortage will set in.

Shoe leather costs: Because the value of cash is eroded by inflation, people will tend to hold less cash during times of inflation. This imposes real costs, for example in more frequent trips to the bank. (The term is a humorous reference to the cost of replacing shoe leather worn out when walking to the bank or hours spend trying to access cash). Firms must change their prices more frequently, which imposes costs, for example with restaurants having to reprint menus.

Some economists see moderate inflation as a benefit; some business executives see mild inflation as "greasing the wheels of commerce."

Demand-pull inflation: Inflation caused by increases in aggregate demand due to increased private and government spending, etc.

Cost-push inflation: Presently termed "supply shock inflation," caused by drops in aggregate supply due to increased prices of inputs, for example. Unavailability of forex being a key driver of cost push inflation in Zimbabwe.

Built-in inflation: induced by adaptive expectations, often linked to the "price/wage spiral" because it involves workers trying to keep their wages up with prices and then employers passing higher costs on to consumers as higher prices as part of a "vicious circle." Built-in inflation reflects events in the past, and so might be seen as hangover inflation. All these factors are now at play in Zimbabwe, its now impossible to separate what is causing what.

The ‘Rational Expectations Theory’ holds that economic actors look rationally into the future when trying to maximise their well-being, and do not respond solely to immediate opportunity costs and pressures.

A core assertion of rational expectations theory is that market participants will seek to “head off” central-bank decisions by acting in ways that fulfil predictions of higher inflation. This means that central banks must establish their credibility in fighting inflation, or have economic actors make bets that the economy will expand, believing that the central bank will expand the money supply rather than allow a recession. But when you promise to withdraw a high value note only to say “I was just joking”, that won’t do much to build a solid reputation.

There are a number of methods that have been suggested to control inflation. Central banks such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe can affect inflation to a significant extent through setting interest rates and through open market operations (that is, using monetary policy).

In Zimbabwe, however, monetary policy has ceased to be a useful management tool. The inflation is at 24 000 %, the RBZ borrows through treasury bills at 340% then on-lends the money at 25% .This sequence of rates is a disaster. If monetary policy was to be an effective tool, using the above numbers, the RBZ would have to borrow at slightly above 24000%, then on-lend at even higher rate say 24 050%.

High interest rates and slow growth of the money supply are the traditional ways through which central banks fight or prevent inflation, though they have different approaches. For instance, some follow a symmetrical inflation target while others only control inflation when it rises above a target, whether express or implied. Facilities such as Baccossi are highly inflationary. Such facilities subsidise loans and eliminate commercial banking activity since corporates are driven to borrow from such facilities and get a false sense of efficiency.

Wage and price controls have been successful in wartime environments. In general, wage and price controls are regarded as a drastic measure, and only effective when coupled with policies designed to reduce the underlying causes of inflation during the control regime, for example, winning the war (in Zimbabwe’s case winning the 4th Chimurenga).

The usual economic analysis is that which is under-priced is over-consumed, and that the distortions that occur will force adjustments in supply. For example, if the official price of bread is too low, there will be too little bread at official prices. And your only source of bread becomes the black market. This trend undermines the formal sector as more activity goes underground and the government’s ability to raise revenue is reduced.

The removal of zeros only works if accompanied by an influx of forex to support the local currency. This can be in form of foreign aid, foreign direct investment or increased exports.

Temporary controls may complement a recession as a way to fight inflation. That is to say the controls make the recession more efficient as a way to fight inflation (reducing the need to increase unemployment), while the recession prevents the kind of distortions that controls cause when demand is high. However, in general the advice of economists is not to impose price controls but to liberalise prices by assuming that the economy will adjust and abandon unprofitable economic activity.

The lower activity will place fewer demands on whatever commodities were driving inflation, whether labour or resources, and inflation will fall with total economic output. This often produces a severe recession, as productive capacity is reallocated and is thus often very unpopular with the people whose livelihoods are destroyed.

Price controls such as “operation dzikisa mutengo”, whilst initially very popular, they can ruin a nation dramatically fast.

Gilbert Muponda is a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, living in exile. He can be contacted at

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Zimbabwe police chief warns against poll violence

Yahoo News

Wed Jan 9, 4:47 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe police chief Augustine Chihuri has warned his force
will not tolerate violence in the country's joint presidential and
legislative elections in March, state media reported Wednesday.

"Those who think they can learn from and emulate the chaos happening
elsewhere be warned; we are vigilant," the state-run New Ziana news agency
quoted the police commissioner-general as saying in apparent reference to
the post-election violence which has left hundreds dead in Kenya.
Chihuri made the remarks at a send-off for 69 officers leaving for UN
missions in East Timor, Kosovo and Sudan.

"I am saying this because we are approaching elections," he added.

"Let Zimbabwe not emulate what we see elsewhere, getting power through
violent means. Let the people decide in a peaceful environment. Let those
who want to cause violence be warned that a chaotic situation will not be

At least 600 people have died and 250,000 been displaced in Kenya in
political and tribal clashes since December 27 polls resulted in the
re-election of President Mwai Kibaki, despite allegations of vote-rigging
from defeated rival Raila Odinga.

Chihuri's warning came on the back of a plea by veteran President Robert
Mugabe to his supporters last month to refrain from violence in the upcoming

Zimbabwe's security forces have in recent years used brute force to break up
protests by Mugabe's opponents.

The country's last presidential elections in 2002 were marred by widespread
violence which left several people dead and thousands injured.

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Food stockpiling as people fear the 'Kenya syndrome'

Photo: IRIN
ZANU-PF supporters
HARARE, 9 January 2008 (IRIN) - Post-election violence in Kenya is creating pre-election nervousness among Zimbabwe's voters ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in March, and people are beginning to stockpile food in the event of any possible unrest.

Donald Dombo, a government employee, said he saw most of his "colleagues in the civil service starting to hoard food and firewood in their homes in case the Kenyan syndrome of violence spreads to Zimbabwe after the elections".

He told IRIN that, "I am planning to take my family to the countryside because I fear that if there are to be any violent demonstrations, then they would be held in urban areas."

The scheduled elections will take place at a time when international donor agencies have predicted more than a third of Zimbabwe's population, or 4.1 million people, would require emergency food assistance, so food hoarding would likely add pressure to the country's already acute food shortages.

Zimbabwe is suffering the world's highest inflation rate, officially cited at 8,000 percent, but estimated by independent economists to be running at about 25,000 percent.

President Robert Mugabe, 83, who has been in power since Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain in 1980, has been nominated as the ruling ZANU-PF party's candidate for the presidency; the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC) remains divided.

''Let those who want to cause violence be warned that a chaotic situation will not be allowed. Let Zimbabwe not emulate what we see elsewhere ''
Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri warned against any political violence, before, during and after the elections at a function on Tuesday for Zimbabwean police officers seconded to UN duties during the electoral period.

"Let those who want to cause violence be warned that a chaotic situation will not be allowed. Let Zimbabwe not emulate what we see elsewhere, getting power through violent means. I am saying this because we are approaching elections," he said.

"It is disturbing to read about the huge number of lives being lost not only in Africa but in other countries around the world," Chihuri said, apparently referring to Kenya, where more than 500 people have been killed since the disputed 27 December election.

Talks on a knife edge

Talks between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and opposition parties, sponsored by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), were in danger of being derailed after the MDC's founding president and leader of one of the party's factions, Morgan Tsvangirai, accused the government of reneging on an agreed transitional constitution to be implemented before elections.

In return, opposition parties did not oppose a constitutional amendment increasing the number of elected legislators from 120 to 210 and reducing the presidential term from six to five years, or a clause stipulating that should the newly elected president be unable to complete his term in office, parliament would sit as an electoral college to elect a new head of state.

The composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which overseas the electoral process, was part of the agreement. "An unhelpful development has begun to creep in and we are deadlocked on key issues that should enable us to cross the bridge into a new era. ZANU-PF has begun to backtrack on some of these agreed points and is going it alone," Tsvangirai said in a statement to IRIN.

Tsvangirai said the concessions were made in the spirit of the talks and with the expectation that this would be reciprocated in the reconstitution of the ZEC, and that elections would be held under a new transitional constitution, agreed to by both the ruling party and the MDC's two factions. Such an eventuality would have delayed the constitutionally scheduled March elections later this year.

But at the recently held ZANU-PF extraordinary congress, which endorsed Mugabe as ZANU-PF's presidential candidate, Mugabe said, "Let me repeat, elections will be held in March as per our constitution. If any political parties are not ready for elections then that is their problem."

Tsvangirai told IRIN: "We settled on a transitional constitution, following assurances that the agreement would be implemented before the next election, but ZANU-PF is now against the spirit and content of that agreement, insisting instead that the transitional constitution can only be implemented after the election. That is unacceptable."

False election

Tsvangirai said despite agreement that an independent electoral commission would delineate new constituency boundaries, register voters and prevent military, police and intelligence personnel from occupying key electoral positions, the government had appointed senior officials to head the ZEC and had ordered them to mark new constituency boundaries without consulting opposition parties.

"Mugabe and ZANU-PF want a false election and if we become part of it we will become a danger to ourselves," Tsvangirai said.

''Mugabe and ZANU-PF want a false election and if we become part of it we will become a dnager to ourselves''
Retired army officer and chairman of the ZEC, George Chiweshe, told the state-controlled newspaper, the Sunday Mail, that the electoral commission had completed the delimitation of ward and constituency boundaries throughout the country.

"What is left is to polish up the preliminary report, which we will soon present to the president," Chiweshe told the Sunday paper. "The focus is on the elections being held in March, as this is when the presidential election will be held."

Asked whether the exercise could have waited for the completion of the SADC negotiations, Chiweshe said: "But we don't work like that. We simply consider the law, and we know that the harmonisation of the elections has been captured in the law accordingly. If any changes are to be made, they should be reflected in the law."

The SADC talks are being brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was mandated by the SADC in March 2007 to find a solution to Zimbabwe's economic and political decline.

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

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Mugabe’s relative gets top police post

Zim Online

by Prince Nyathi Wednesday 09 January 2008

HARARE – A close relative of President Robert Mugabe was on Tuesday
appointed police operations chief in a reshuffle of the top brass of the law
enforcement agency.

Innocent Matibiri, said to be a close cousin to the Zimbabwean leader,
was deputy commissioner in charge of crime before his latest appointment to
deputy commissioner in charge of operations.

The operations post that was held by veteran officer Godwin Matanga is
considered more senior to the other deputy commissioner posts.

Matanga was re-assigned to head the administration department, a
virtual demotion according to insiders at police general headquarters in

However, Zimbabwe Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri sought to
downplay the reshuffle as a routine exercise carried out whenever it was
deemed necessary.

“This is just a routine reshuffle. We do this when ever we feel it is
necessary it is routine,” Chihuri told journalists in Harare.

Matibiri, whose meteoric rise in the police force has shocked many in
the security services, is tipped to take over from Chihuri when he retires.

Sources in the police said Matanga was demoted because the executive
was not happy with the way he handled the bizarre case of a bogus
traditional healer from the farming town of Chinhoyi who duped Mugabe and
his Cabinet into believing that pure diesel was flowing from a rock.

Matanga together with the Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa
led teams of senior government officials to Chinhoyi, 115 km north west of
Harare, in search of the diesel that the healer, Rotina Mavhunga, had
promised them.

Mugabe has publicly admitted the embarrassing incident and vowed to
take action against those who were behind the plan to fool his government.

Chihuri said former deputy commissioner in charge of administration
Levie Sibanda was now responsible for crime, taking over from Matibiri while
deputy commissioner responsible for human resources, Barbara Mandizha,
retained her post. - ZimOnline

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Teachers Awarded 1000 Percent Salary Hike

SW Radio Africa (London)

9 January 2008
Posted to the web 9 January 2008

Lance Guma

Government has moved to stave off another crippling strike by awarding
teachers a 1000 percent pay rise, with immediate effect. With schools set to
open in a few days a strike by teachers looked likely given the country's
galloping inflation. In November last year teachers served notice they would
strike if their Z$15 million per month salaries were not reviewed. Under the
new pay structure a junior teacher will earn a gross salary of Z$260
million. This is broken down into a Z$150 million basic, Z$78 million
transport allowance and Z$30 million in housing allowances. Senior teachers
will earn in the region of Z$330 million. Additionally, transport and
housing allowances will be exempt from tax.

Although the figures and percentage increase look spectacular, one teacher
interviewed said the increases would do little to protect them from the
harsh reality of a hyperinflationary environment. The two major unions were
heading for a showdown with government over their demands for better wages.
A series of strikes last year got their salaries raised to Z$15 million but
within weeks that figure actually made them far worse off. The new offer of
a 1000 percent pay hike is almost exactly what the unions had demanded. The
problem is, from the time the demands were made in November up to now,
prices of basic commodities and services have gone up massively. And salary
increases in an inflationary environment do nothing more than lead to higher

Teachers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. With a corrupt
government intent on plunder and incapable of managing the economy, there is
little they can do.

Jacob Rukweza a teacher in the capital, says they have been advised they
will receive half of the new salaries this week while the other half will be
paid at the end of the month. Most teachers are waiting to see if the
promised increases will be paid into their accounts or not. The country has
been rocked by several strikes in the past few months. Doctors, nurses,
magistrates and other court staff are on strike over poor wages. Although
government has tabled offers in the region of 600 percent, these have so far
been turned down. Even though some doctors and nurses have gone back to work
on humanitarian grounds, their unions insist the majority are on strike and
continue to negotiate with government for better deals.

The country is in the midst of an unprecedented economic disaster. The
official inflation level is 24,000 percent, but independent analysts say in
reality it is over 100,000 percent. The banking system does not have enough
cash to service the population, leading to massive queues outside banks.
Water and electricity shortages are commonplace. Add political repression to
the mix and you have a recipe for the creation of political

and economic refugees. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe estimates
that over 25 000 teachers left the country for greener pastures in 2007. The
trend looks set to continue.

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Mbeki Expected to Take Direct Control of Mediation Talks

SW Radio Africa (London)

8 January 2008
Posted to the web 8 January 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is expected to take direct control of
the stalled mediation talks between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the
opposition MDC. Before the deadlock the talks had always been chaired by
Mbeki's point man, Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi.

Professor Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the MDC formation led by
Professor Arthur Mutambara, told us Tuesday that Mbeki was actively engaged
in trying to find a suitable date to resume dialogue between the two

'We are informed he's looking for a convenient time to resume the talks,
dependent on the availability of the negotiating teams and we are also
informed the talks would be held under the direct chairmanship of the
facilitator,' Ncube said.

President Mbeki was mandated early last year to bring the two sides to the
negotiating table and pave the way for free and fair elections this year.
But the talks are deadlocked after the ruling party refused to implement a
new transitional constitution and because Zanu PF remains adamant the
elections will be held in March, before agreements have been implemented.

'We need these two issues to be resolved because we referred them back to
Mbeki when the talks got bogged down. Our message in the MDC is clear, that
we are ready and available to resume the talks,' Ncube added.

Both factions of the MDC also accuse the ruling party of pushing through
only cosmetic reforms ahead of elections. Ncube said the ruling party was
also backtracking on key promises made during the talks.

He said there was an initial agreement by both sides for a transitional
constitution that was to be implemented before the polls. But Zanu-PF now
insists the constitution will only come into force after the elections.

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MDC factions begin unity talks

New Zimbabwe

By Fikile Mapala
Last updated: 01/09/2008 10:27:19
THE two feuding factions of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) were meeting this week to work out an electoral pact that will
see them present a united challenge against President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu
PF party in general elections three months away.

Zimbabweans vote in presidential, parliamentary and council elections in
March. The elections are being held jointly for the first time following a
constitutional amendment.

Representatives of the two factions, one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and
another by Arthur Mutambara, began meetings in Harare on Tuesday to discuss
the prospect of reuniting the party following an acrimonious split in
October 2005.

The two factions’ national councils mandated leaders of the respective
formations in December to urgently pursue the possibility of a re-united MDC
before the forthcoming elections which President Mugabe insists will be held
in March as scheduled, against the MDC’s demands for their postponement to
allow for the adoption of a new constitution.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC said there was no
substitute for unity.

“We are committed to the principle of a united MDC and the one candidate
policy. As a party, we have never debated or doubted the critical value of a
united front. Accordingly, our teams are meeting this week to discuss
possible avenues towards these important objectives,” said Chamisa.

Welshman Ncube, the secretary general of the Mutambara-led MDC faction said
they were keen to give unity another chance.

“We are indeed trying to give unity another chance. Should we re-unite,
there will be no automatic retention of sitting members of parliament.
Primaries will have to be held,” said Ncube.

Ncube dismissed reports that his faction was calling for the automatic
retention of sitting MPs as a condition for unity saying primary elections
will be held in accordance with the MDC constitution.

There are reports that sitting MPs from both formations are agitating for
automatic retention, arguing that they would not have finished their terms
of office since the current parliament’s term is due to be cut in

Unity talks between the two camps collapsed last year after the two factions
disagreed on a number of sticking points, including the reconfiguration of
the powerful national executive council and other grassroots party
The selection of party candidates for the elections was also a contentious

The MDC is holding discussions with various civic groups and political
strategists who say even if the party re-united, it still lacks the capacity
and momentum to oust President Robert Mugabe.

The groups have suggested a compromise candidate to lead a broad-based
coalition. Former finance minister and Zanu PF official Simba Makoni, seen
as a reformist, has been suggested as a “credible” candidate capable of
attracting support from Zanu PF as well.

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MDC will not recognise new constituency boundaries

By Tichaona Sibanda
9 January 2008

The head of the MDC’s election directorate, Ian Makone, said on Wednesday
his party will not support the Zimbabwe Election Commission’s delimitation
exercise because it is seriously flawed.

Makone said they would not recognise the exercise that is almost complete
mainly because of the dialogue process, which is still in progress. The
opposition had already rejected new constituency boundaries. The ZEC had
announced these new boundaries for parliamentary constituencies for the
country’s 10 provinces in December. This disregarded demands by the MDC to
suspend the exercise until the conclusion of ongoing talks between the two
parties under South African President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation.

‘Our reasons for objecting are that the dialogue between the MDC and Zanu-PF
is still in progress. We’ve insisted that at the end of the talks, the
voters’ roll needs to be looked at carefully because it is horribly flawed
and inaccurate,’ Makone said.
The country goes to vote in key presidential and parliamentary elections in
March, with polls to be held concurrently for the first time in the nation’s
history. The number of parliamentary seats has been increased from 120 to
The government claims that over 5,6 million people have been registered to
vote and the 210 parliamentary seats will get an average of over 26 000
voters a constituency. Following the new demarcations, the ZEC announced
that Bulawayo province now has 12 constituencies, up from 7.
Matabeleland North Province now has 13 constituencies also up from 7, the
same as Matabeleland South.
Mashonaland West constituencies jumped from 9 to 22, the Midlands from 19 to
28, Manicaland 15 to 26, Mashonaland East 11 to 26, Mashonaland Central 10
to 18, Masvingo 14 to 26 and Harare and Chitungwiza 18 to 29.

The MDC spokesman for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, pointed out that the
new demarcations show a deliberate bias against the opposition. Zanu PF
strongholds gained more constituencies in comparison to traditional MDC
strongholds - mainly urban centres and the two Matabeleland provinces.

‘For example here in Manicaland many constituencies have been added in
farming and resettlement areas where people get free farming implements from
government. In Chimanimani we now have two constituencies, North and South,
to accommodate the Zanu-PF rivals. In Chipinge there are now 5
constituencies, up from 2. All are areas perceived to be strongholds of
Zanu-PF. In Makoni the 2 added constituencies are in resettlement areas,
areas notoriously pro-Zanu-PF,’ Muchauraya said.
In Gutu district in Masvingo province the two current seats belong to
Zanu-PF. Three more have been added. But Muchauraya said the major MDC
strongholds have gained just 28 out of the 90 new constituencies. The
remaining 62 have been allocated to predominantly rural Mashonaland

‘Of the 210 constituencies, 143 are now rural constituencies, (Zanu PF
strongholds) while only 67 are urban or peri-urban (MDC strongholds).
Zanu-PF already has an advantage of more than two-thirds majority before
people even go to vote. This is insane, it’s a discredited exercise not
worth noting,’ added Muchauraya.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Pro-Mugabe parishioners attack rivals

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

09 January 2008 10:08

      Police were called to churches around the Zimbabwean capital
Harare last weekend to halt skirmishes between supporters of a bishop who is
a close ally of President Robert Mugabe and followers of a rival cleric,
reports said on Wednesday.

      Tensions rose after followers of Anglican Bishop Nolbert
Kunonga -- a supporter of the 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader -- insisted on
holding services in Harare churches on Sunday even though Anglican
authorities have decreed Kunonga is no longer a member of the church.

      In September Kunonga announced he was withdrawing the Harare
diocese from the Anglican Province of Central Africa, ostensibly because he
opposed the church's stance on homosexuality.

      The province has since appointed a new bishop to fill Kunonga's

      Kunonga, a beneficiary of Mugabe's controversial land reform
programme, and his supporters have, however, refused to recognise the new
cleric, Sebastian Bakare, formerly of Africa University in the eastern city
of Mutare.

      There were disturbances in at least seven churches on Sunday,
including at the main Anglican Cathedral in the city centre, and police had
to be brought in, said the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper.

      Kunonga's supporters held their service in the cathedral itself
while Bakare's followers met in the church hall, the report said.

      Bakare said his parishioners had been assaulted.

      This is not the first time the two camps have clashed.

      Writing in an epiphany message on Saturday, Bakare said he and
his followers were denied entry to a church in the plush suburb of
Borrowdale on Christmas Day.

      Instead of extending a hand of peace people who call themselves
priests were going round leaving their own congregations unattended in order
to promote violence which makes the basic purpose of Christ's mission a
scandal, said Bakare.

      "We have become a laughing stock for fellow Christians from
other churches and the public in general." - Sapa-DPA

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Africa Channel responds to Mugabe interview criticism<

Nehanda Radio

09 January 2008

Africa Channel CEO James Makawa responds to an article published by Nehanda Radio entitled 'Mugabe interview on Africa Channel slammed as propaganda.'

Dear Editor

I'm writing in response to your websites posting of commentary regarding our recent interview with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.  I acknowledge and respect one's opinion and viewpoint.

It is however quite disturbing that Fortune Tazvida  nor anyone from your organization called or reached out to us to establish just a few basic facts. The implication that  the Zimbabwe government may have paid us for a favorable story or coverage is a question you have left hanging right at the end of Tazvida's closing paragraph. People are left wondering what we had to do get this interview? The answer is not one cent. I have also attached a recent article by a prominent TV critic and journalist from a leading industry publication here in the US.

1.  This conversation with Mugabe was not an inquest or an undercover
investigative piece into the people handling this economic tragedy. This was simply
his viewpoint on how he sees the world. This was an opportunity to get him on the
record. It is up to the viewer to determine whether someone is lying or not. Like
all governments, there is so much this government has lied about there is not enough
paper to print. The Americans and the British people are constantly in the media
demonizing Mugabe no one seems to be able to get this man to talk. Now we have him
on the record. Is there now an opportunity to do a follow up piece? You bet.

2. In promoting the interview with Mugabe we were not advertising a high tech
lynching on television. It has become common place for today's leaders to walk off
the set when interviews are simply a high tech lynching.  Pres.Ahmadinejad of Iran
with CNN, Pres. Sarkozy of France with 60minutes to name a few recent ones, thus the
need for inserts to accompany the interview that dealt with all the thorny issues. I
certainly do have the facts and figures about Zimbabwe.

The figures are so skewed and outrageous they can't be published because they change and devalue by the minute if the current financial crisis is any indication.   I travel home to Zimbabwe every 2-3months and have been doing so  for years. I would hardly consider myself detached. For example one thing is clear you will never be able to get credible
figures on what the military spends every year in Zimbabwe. We all know the budget
process in Zim is a classic case of smoke and mirrors.

3. The Zimbabwe story can never be fully covered in one hour. Just so you have
the correct context. Getting cameras into Zimbabwe is a nightmare. Freedom to film
anything is non-existent unless authorized by the government with many restrictions.
We were fortunate to get all the footage we did get for this piece in large part due
to archives that exist elsewhere. On Gukurahundi  I clearly state that thousands of
Ndebele people were killed and injured. 

Tazvida's report says I said hundreds were killed and injured. That is totally wrong.  What we do know is that sadly thousands lost their lives, however there are no credible numbers. We do not use unsubstantiated  figures. During Gukurahundi, it was illegal for journalists to
enter the areas where the atrocities occurred. Credible numbers do not exists. We are left with estimates from NGO's, journalists etc.

4. The country is an economic disaster. You cannot get into the country with
TV cameras. The bureaucracy and conditions to get permission is nothing short of
draconian. No one is trying to gloss over anything at all. I'm not sure when last
your organization succeeded in getting an interview with Mugabe.

5. Anyone in media has to remember that one will still needs to speak with
Mugabe and Zanu pre and post election irrespective of what the results turn out to be.

6. We had to lay out context for foreign viewers because not everyone
understands what the big stink is about in Zimbabwe. Our country is the most complex
story of political transition in post colonial history. The shortcomings of this current  government do not need further commentary from me.

7. We needed to show Mugabe for what he is. My job was not to debate him, but
simply get him on the record. There's an election coming up in a few months. What do
you think the follow up piece is going to look like? Opponents  will also have their chance. Heavens knows you have not seen the last of this story.

8. Lastly bad journalism is when everyone else speaks on your behalf either
for you or against you and the accused does not sit down to speak especially when
they are in positions of power. Media outlets across the planet have failed to get
to get Mugabe to speak if the recent EU Summit is any reminder. My job was not  to
debate Mugabe  but simply  to tell a story with context and have the viewer react to
statements that you will determine are either factual or outrageous. Outrage should be directed at Mugabe at the polls. The Africa Channel is not the one running for public office.

Lastly, I do hope you realize that a media outlet like The Africa Channel cannot be
set up in the very place I was born. I have had to do this elsewhere. We broadcast here in the US, the UK and continue to  roll out across the rest of the globe. I'm not sure where Nehanda Radio is domiciled. That would be good to know for future reference and for broadcast forums we plan to have around the world on various matters affecting Zimbabwe and Africa at large. After all we are all about Africa.

Suffice it to say that  it will be up to our generation to sort this mess out .The Africa Channel is not about one persons voice or one party's voice over another but a platform for varying  views and opinions. I cannot say this enough, we finally have Mugabe on the record. We now have a basis for a  point counterpoint discussion leading up to the next election.

That in my view is the golden treasure in all of this. Better yet, an independent African-Global media organization has his side of the story on record and this is what Mugabe has portrayed to the rest of world. The voice of the opposition now has an even greater platform from which to respond and be heard. It has taken 27years to get to this point and I'm not naïve enough to think we can unravel and expose all injustices and successes in a 1 hour program. The arrival of The Africa Channel is a marathon and not a sprint. Factual
information is key because all one has at the end of the day in this business is credibility. For Tazvida and Nehanda Radio this is key. For all of us credibility is our calling card.

Best regards

James Makawa
The Africa Channel

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Media gag on crop updates

The Zimbabwean

Date: 09 Jan 2008

BULAWAYO — AUTHORITIES in Zimbabwe have slapped a media gag on crop
information amid growing fears that the devastating armyworm and momentous
technical blundering are whittling the little cereal harvest the country
could have had this season.

High ranking officials at Arex (Agricultural Reaserch and Extension
Services) this week refused to give media updates on the country’s crop
situation citing an “embargo” from higher offices.

One such official told the zimbabwean that he now needed special clearance
from head office in Harare to release the updates to journalists.
Previously, he gave such updates over the phone.

“I now have to be cleared by head office to give you that update...maybe you
can try me after next week,” the official said.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a serious cereal deficit after repeated failed
harvests due to drought and poor political and economic policies in the
recent few farming seasons.

Zimbabwe requires at least 1.8 million tonnes of maize (its main staple) to
feed its 12.5 million citizens. But last year, the GMB only received 712 000
tonnes of maize from farmers incurring a huge deficit of 88 000 tonnes from
its initial target of 800 000 tonnes for the just ended season.

However, the 2007/8 season, touted as the mother of all agricultural
seasons, was expected to improve the country’s maize output.

But the devastating armyworm is besieging the little maize harvest prospects
as outbreak reports increase everyday. In addition, blundering by officials
in the procurement of key farming inputs, seed and fertilisers had already
decimated the amount of land the country could have put under maize this
season. This season is the wettest for 127 years.

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South Africa's Opposition Urges Universities to Reject Zanu-PF Students

SW Radio Africa (London)

9 January 2008
Posted to the web 9 January 2008

Tererai Karimakwenda

South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has
expressed deep concern over a recent decision by Rhodes University to enrol
60 Zimbabwean students who are closely related to top ruling party and
government officials of the Mugabe regime. MP Joe Seremane, the DA
spokesperson on Africa, said the University and others in that country
should reject students whose parents are responsible for the disastrous
educational situation back in Zimbabwe. Seremane said this view is not out
of malice, but out of the desire to make the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe
realise that this is a serious matter.

Schools in Zimbabwe have inadequate resources and are understaffed. Students
are being harassed, arrested or dismissed when they express their concerns.
Last year the halls of residence at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare
were closed and students were given less than an hour to pack and leave.
Seremane said he is aware that many ordinary students were roaming the

The opposition MP told newsreel the Zimbabwe government should fix its own
educational system, instead of the elite sending their children to schools
outside - a luxury denied ordinary Zimbabweans. He believes an alternative
could be for the government to make arrangements with South Africa for a
specific number of students to be admitted each year. The South African
schools could then check credentials to make sure the children are not just
those of senior officials.

In view of the crisis facing ordinary Zimbabwean students, the DA released a
statement Wednesday which said in part:

"The DA calls upon Rhodes University and other South African universities to
reject enrolments for Zimbabwean students related to ZANU-PF and the
government as part of efforts to motivate ZANU-PF leaders to reconsider
their country's current political situation and the urgency to resolve the
political meltdown that has triggered Zimbabwe."

"This is another opportunity for South Africa to showcase its disapproval of
the calamitous political situation in Zimbabwe by holding ZANU-PF leaders
accountable for their actions."

Other countries have taken the lead on this issue, particularly Australia,
which deported the children of Mugabe cronies last year. The United States
is considering similar action as Zimbabwean activists continue the campaign
around the world.

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Zimbabwe: House of Lords Debate

9th Jan 2008 00:01 GMT

By a Correspondent

House of Lords

Monday, 7 January 2008


Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty’s Government:
What is their assessment of developments in the negotiations intended to be
facilitated by President Mbeki of South Africa between ZANU-PF and the
opposition in Zimbabwe.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown)
: My Lords, we continue to support the efforts of President Mbeki and SADC
to facilitate a dialogue between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change, the MDC. Although many deadlines have been missed, we are
nevertheless told that negotiations are entering their final stages. It is
uncertain when and what the outcome will be. The key to any agreement will
be that it is implementable in practice on the ground, because without
effective implementation there cannot be free and fair elections that meet
SADC’s own electoral standards.

Lord Blaker: My Lords, are there not two anomalies in particular in this
situation? The first is that Mugabe’s henchmen carry out their brutal duties
all the time, and that no one complains and no one stops them. The second is
that Mugabe is quite clearly procrastinating so far as he can; his people do
not turn up for meetings, and so on. He is doing so, I imagine, because he
wants to delay the coming into force of the new constitution, which would
make the electoral system more effective, before the elections that are due
to take place in March. He is playing for time until then.

What is Mbeki actually doing to hasten proceedings? What are the members of
SADC and the AU doing to persuade him to be a bit more forceful? What effort
are Her Majesty’s Government making to change the minds of leading Africans
who have been persuaded by Mugabe that the fault here lies entirely with the
United Kingdom for creating this situation?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord knows that we use every
encounter that we have with African leaders to make it clear to them that we
believe that Zimbabwe’s problems are very much of President Mugabe’s own
making. Many African leaders share our frustration about the refusal of
President Mugabe to engage with the opposition and to move towards a new
constitution. The choice is, as the noble Lord rightly says, his, because he
still controls the levers of power in that country. He runs a brutal and
oppressive regime. He has the choice of constitutional reform and open
elections to allow his country to fully participate in the international
community again, or he can continue further down this road of isolation that
he has embarked on.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, towards the end of last year, my noble friend
gave us the welcome news that an EU envoy was going to Zimbabwe who would
report to European foreign Ministers. What progress has the envoy been able
to make?

Lord Malloch-Brown: Some, my Lords, but not a lot. There has been progress.
The mission has deliberately been kept discreet and low key, but there have
been consultations. Perhaps the most important thing is that our European
partners are confronted by the fact that there are no good, easy options in
Zimbabwe. President Mugabe continues to resist change, and in Europe our
position on that is well understood and supported.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, assuming that by the time the European Council has
to decide on the renewal of the targeted measures against named
individuals—on, I think, 11 February—Mugabe has not met the opposition and
that no further progress has been made in the negotiations, will the
Government press for the travel ban and the asset freeze to be extended
widely to individuals, such as Mr Gideon Gono, who have made a fortune out
of their illegal activities under the present regime?

With regard to the allegations of the corrupt deals made by Mr David Butau,
who fled to Britain after having been accused of illegal currency
transactions, to what extent will it be the duty of the police to collect
information from him and to transmit it to those who ought to be aware of
these facts, such as his own committee, Interpol and the African Union?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, let me address those two points. First, on the
issue of the renewal of EU targeted sanctions and their possible expansion,
we have to wait and see what happens on President Mbeki’s initiative between
now and then. If that decision was taken today, there is no doubt that we
would have to report that there has been no progress and therefore we would
have to take further steps. But, if the noble Lord will forgive me, let us
not deal with a hypothetical situation; let us see what happens in the
coming weeks.

Secondly, for those Members not familiar with the case, Mr David Butau is a
ZANU-PF MP who has come to this country. It is alleged in the Zimbabwean
media that he is guilty of corruption, but no charges have been pressed
against him in Zimbabwe, so he is in no way a criminal hiding from justice.
He came here on a tourist visa which dates from before he became an MP. If
criminal charges were pressed we would have to look into the issue, but at
this point it is just speculation in the Zimbabwean media.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, surely South Africa holds the key to the
future of Zimbabwe. Let us face it, under a different sort of Government it
actually brought down the Smith regime in Rhodesia. Do we not feel that
President Mbeki has been a broken reed and really has not come up to
expectations in terms of all the faith that the western powers have put in

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, President Mbeki has been confronted with an
enormously difficult situation with an obdurate President Mugabe and at
times a somewhat divided opposition, and he has been unable to move his
mediation forward as effectively as any of us—including him—would wish. The
difficulties faced in South Africa in recent weeks have further complicated
this and have perhaps been a distraction from getting to a point of closure,
which he had intended to do by now.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, has my noble friend reflected that the
obvious absence of progress does not necessarily equate to failure? In those
circumstances, instead of simply condemning President Mbeki in a very
difficult situation—even the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker,
refers to ZANU-PF and the opposition—and because there is no coherent
opposition, should we not encourage President Mbeki and those in SADC to act
on their own account rather than simply carp?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity that my noble friend
has given me to confirm our support for President Mbeki’s initiative and
thank him and his SADC colleagues for all the effort that they have put into
this. However, the clock is ticking, and we are moving towards the March
elections without reforms agreed, let alone implemented. We are rapidly
passing the point of no return in terms of what would allow free and fair
elections at that time.

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Zimbabwe suspects British government of orchestrating BA's pullout

Monsters and Critics

Jan 9, 2008, 11:25 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe's transport minister says he suspects the
British government was behind British Airway's decision last year to stop
flying to Harare, reports said Wednesday.

BA, which had been flying the London-Harare route for decades, flew out of
Harare for the last time on October 28.

'I strongly suspect that the British Government had a hand in the pulling
out of BA, Christopher Mushowe said in comments carried by the
state-controlled Herald newspaper.

Mushowe said the airlines country representative had explained to him that
BA was having economic problems with the London-Harare route.

'I told him the London-Harare route was the most lucrative with every flight
to and from London at 80 per cent load factor,' said the minister.

London is a destination of choice for thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing the
economic turmoil back home in search of greener pastures in the former
colonial power.

Unconfirmed reports say Zimbabwe's perennial fuel shortages also had a hand
in the BA pullout.

Mushowe said Zimbabwe's own cash-strapped national carrier was looking at
ways to boost its fleet from its current eight planes ahead of the 2010
World Cup to be held in neighbouring South Africa.

'Air Zimbabwe will either acquire or lease modern aircrafts to meet demand,'
he said. 'We have talked to the Russians, the Chinese, Boeing, Airbus.'

He said discussions over possible partnerships with some airlines in the
Middle East were also underway.

In December the Zambian national airline stopped flying to Harare, citing
high fuel costs and what it termed the volatility of Zimbabwe's currency.

Economists say the Zimbabwe dollar is grossly overvalued at 30,000 to the US
dollar, when on the dominant illegal market the greenback fetches up to 7.6
million Zimbabwe dollars.

© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Lawyers worried by MIC's delay to hear Daily News case

9th Jan 2008 19:07 GMT

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE – Lawyers representing Zimbabwe’s largest privately-owned newspaper
that was banned four years ago, say they are worried by the slow pace the
reconstituted Media and Information Commission (MIC) has taken to set a date
for the hearing of their case.

In an interview yesterday, Mordecai Mahlangu the lawyer of the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News and its sister
paper, The Daily News on Sunday, said the MIC was yet to write to them
giving a date on which the newspaper’s application to resume operations
would be heard.

"It is almost two months since MIC was reconstituted but there is nothing
that has taken place,” said Mahlangu. “We are still waiting for them to give
us a hearing date. We might be forced to seek a court order compelling a
hearing to be set. It seems everything was just a political ploy to create
an impression out there that something was being done pertaining to The
Daily News case.”

In November last year, the Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
reconstituted the MIC and said he wanted the body to “start in earnest”
reviewing a ban on Zimbabwe’s largest privately-owned paper imposed in 2003.

Ndlovu admitted that the new MIC had taken longer than he had expected to
start the ANZ matter.

"Admittedly, the ANZ issue is still to take off,” said Ndlovu. “But maybe
they are doing something. I do not want to create an impression that I run
or influence the running of the commission, so they would be the best to
know what is taking place. They have not come to me saying they have a

Mahlangu said he had contacted Chinondidyachii Mararike, the MIC
chairperson, on the ANZ case several times but nothing had materialised.

"Mararike has promised us to set a date but nothing has materialised,” said

Contacted for comment Mararike said: “ANZ is just but one of the issues MIC
has attend to. We will set the date when ready. There must be an influence
from anywhere.”

The Daily News, which was Zimbabwe’s best selling daily paper, was banned
after the Supreme Court ruled it was operating outside the law because it
was not registered with the MIC.

A tough government media law requires journalists and their companies to
register with the commission in order to operate in Zimbabwe.

The case has been at the courts since the newspaper was banned with
President Robert Mugabe’s government dragging its feet in dealing with the

The MIC was reconstituted to dal with the ANZ case after the Supreme Court
ruled that chairman Tafataona Mahoso was biased against ANZ.

Hope had been raised that The Daily News would return early this year. But
journalists and political observers remain sceptical that the government
would allow the mass circulating paper it often accused of being a voice of
the opposition, months ahead of tricky presidential and parliamentary
elections this year.

The issue of media freedom is part of ongoing talks being mediated by South
Africa between Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

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Zimbabwe faces more food shortages

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda and Prince Nyathi Wednesday 09 January

HARARE – Zimbabwe faces more food shortages after the government failed to
provide adequate farm inputs and because of incessant rains that are
damaging crops, the country’s main opposition and farming organisations said
on Tuesday.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party secretary for
agriculture, Renson Gasela, blamed poor planning by the government that he
said had failed to meet its target to ensure a total two million hectares
across the country were put under maize due to an acute shortage of seed.

About 50 000 tonnes of seed maize were required to meet the government’s
target but only 30 000 tonnes were available, according to Gasela, a farmer
and agricultural expert who also once headed the government’s grain utility,
the Grain Marketing Board.

“There will be massive shortages of food. With what reasons do you approach
donors after such a good rainfall season,” said Gasela, who belongs to the
Arthur Mutambara faction of the divided MDC.

Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo was not immediately available for comment
on the matter.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has grappled food shortages since
2000 when President Robert Mugabe launched his haphazard fast-track land
reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.

An estimated four million Zimbabweans or about a third of the country’s 12
million population are in need of food aid, according to international
relief agencies.

Chaos in agriculture because of farm seizures also hit hard Zimbabwe’s once
impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a robust farming sector
for orders and inputs.

Most of Zimbabwe’s industries have since the beginning of farm seizures
either scaled down operations to about 30 percent of capacity or shut down
altogether, in a country where unemployment is more than 80 percent.

The Harare administration has declared the 2007/2008 season the “mother of
all farming seasons” to revive agricultural production and end food

But the Commercial Farmers Union, representing the few white farmers
remaining in the country, said predictions of a bumper harvest this year
were misplaced after what it described as pathetic preparations for the

“This year’s agricultural season is going to be a disaster,” said CFU
president Trevor Gifford.

He added: “Crops were planted late, preparations for the farming season were
pathetic, there was no adequate fertilizer and no preparations whatsoever.

“Prospects for the bumper harvest that the government is talking about are
remote. It’s very disturbing because had all the inputs been in place in
time it could have been a different situation.”

Incessant rains, which have been pounding Zimbabwe since December, have
resulted in water-logging in fields and floods in some areas that have
destroyed crops and homes.

Gasela said: “We cannot blame the rains. The weather forecasts had predicted
an above normal season. What preparations were done? None.” - ZimOnline

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Gono blames politicians for massive cash heist

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 09 January 2008 18:45
… but parliamentary committee drags its heels on evidence
HARARE - Zimbabwean police officers have failed to arrest the big guns
who are allegedly behind the theft of the newly-introduced Z$250 000, Z$500
000 and Z$750 000 denominations of the country's currency for fear of
political interference.
Trunk loads of the newly introduced bearer cheques, with an estimated
total value of Z$1 trillion, were reportedly smuggled out of Fidelity
Printers in Harare days before the money was introduced into the market by
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono.
Sources within both the central bank and Fidelity Printers, who
printed the money, told The Zimbabwean the theft was the work of a well knit
syndicate involving top politicians belonging to the ruling Zanu (PF) party
and other high ranking officials of Fidelity Printers.
The money was smuggled into Zambia three days before it was introduced
into the Zimbabwean banking sector, but was intercepted in Zimbabwe's
northern neighbour, while being distributed on the street parallel market
However, several trunk-loads of the cash, running into billions, had
already been distributed in exchange with the Z$200 000 note, which was
meant to be phased out.
"The were intercepted by RBZ Surveillance Unit officers, who were
deployed there after the governor (Gideon Gono) had heard about the
smuggling. More than 10 people are in custody after they were found
distributing the cash, but those who employed them were not arrested. The
RBZ authorities have also put a tight lid on the case for fear of stepping
on protected toes" said an RBZ source.
The sources said that some top government and ruling party officials
had a hand in the thriving parallel market in Harare and Bulawayo.
The police and toothless Anti-Corruption Commission allegedly have no
power to act on these powerful individuals, according to the sources.
Police national spokesman, assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena,
and his deputy, Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, could not be reached
for comment on the matter this week.
Gono has also blamed the country's thriving parallel foreign exchange
on " politicians, politicians, politicians".
Gono said he was prepared to name those only involved, but only before
a parliamentary committee. He challenged the Budget, Finance and
Economic Development Committee to summon him to give evidence.
However, the committee has surprisingly said that it is not in a hurry
to summon Gono to a hearing over the matter.

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SA: Kenyans Throw Their Weight behind New Zimbabwe Constitution

African Path

January 09, 2008 01:01 PM

PRETORIA: Over a hundred Zimbabweans on Tuesday joined a strong group of
about 200 Kenyan citizens demonstrating at their Embassy offices in

A Kenyan official addressing the demonstrators at the embassy said there was
need for a reformation in countries’ constitution like Zimbabwe and alike
which would make it impossible for dictatorship tendencies to prevail.

“The issue of a new constitution in Zimbabwe can not be over emphasized, it
is a reality that if Zimbabwe goes to an election with the current
constitution Mugabe would repeat his fraudulent elections as in the past,”
said a Kenyan representative.

A coalition of Kenyan citizens handed in their petition to the embassy
officials demanding an immediate end to the state sponsored violence and
asked President Mwai Kibaki to urgently step down to ensure a peaceful

A coalition of the Zimbabwean civic movements under the umbrella body of the
Zimbabwe Civic Society Organization Forum (ZCSO Forum) embraced the move
which Kenyans demonstrated over the past few weeks as step towards stamping
out tyranny.

“The Kenyan experience should be seen as a lesson to African dictators
Mugabe included that citizens” voices should be upheld and that
dictatorships no longer have space in the African society.

“The Zimbabwe’s forthcoming March elections should they be marred with
flawed processes like the one currently existing, Zimbabweans will like
Kenyans die defending their rights,” said the ZCSO Forum vice chairperson
Solomon Chikohwero.

Addressing the same meeting Caroline A Sande representing Kenyan citizens
said the struggle in Kenya is not about ethnicity as has been highlighted by
media but it was about a flawed electoral process.

“The struggle in Kenya is not about ethnic tribes but it is about the
citizens’ votes which were stolen by Mwai Kibaki.”

“As concerned Kenyan citizens in South Africa who are peaceful we are urging
the illegitimate regime of Mwai Kibaki to step down and call for a
transparent recount of the ballot papers and even fresh elections if the
situation calls for that,” said Sande

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Solidarity Message to the People of Kenya


in partnership with the



RE: Message of Solidarity with the People of Kenya

The Global Zimbabwe Forum in partnership with its local regional affiliate,
the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum would like to confirm that it successfully
participated in a public protest outside the Kenyan High Commission in
Pretoria, South Africa.

The event was held on the morning of Tuesday 8th January 2008.

The picket was organized by a network of South African based Kenyans who
also extended a request to the Zimbabweans exiled in South Africa to
participate in the march in solidarity with them.

The good news is that at least one full bus load of Zimbabwean activists
managed to turn out in full force and helped to make the protest to be a
huge success.

The Vice Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum, Solomon ‘Sox’
Chikohwero was also given a chance to make a public address of solidarity at
the event.

We would like as Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, to state in no uncertain terms
our unequivocal stance on the following issues:

The outcome of the recently held Kenyan elections does not truly reflect the
democratic will of the nation’s electoral majority.
We do not recognize Mr. Mwai Kibaki as the duly re-elected President of
We also condemn the political motivated violence, rape and killings that
have become an unfortunate outcome of the recent elections.
We urge all the interested political parties in Kenya to seek a common
peaceful resolution to the current post electoral crisis in the country.
We endorse every current effort to mediate in the crisis particularly from
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Ghana’s President John Kufour.
We also extend our full appreciation to all the relief agencies such as the
Red Cross that have already responded to the humanitarian crisis that has
engulfed the Kenyan nation.
We urge all Zimbabweans and Africans in general to rise up and stand in
solidarity with the struggling people of Kenya.

Issued in Johannesburg on Wednesday 9th January 2008 by

Mr. Daniel Molokele
Co-ordinator of the Global Zimbabwe Forum
Outgoing Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum

Telephone: +27 72 947 4815
+27 72 238 9192
+27 79 434 4508


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What to do about Mugabe

Eurekastreet, Australia
Peter Roebuck 10-Jan-2008

Towering rage is the only legitimate reaction to the latest outrage in the benighted, despoiled, corrupted, starving, bankrupt nation known as Zimbabwe. The cold blooded killing of an opposition activist, in Highfields, a high density suburb in Harare, and the shooting of mourners at his wake was merely the latest excess of an evil dictatorship.

A similar tale is told by the arrest and bashing to the point of death of opposition leaders at a prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Coalition, a group of patriots committed to old fashioned causes such as justice, democracy and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the half-witted talk about such sops as cricket boycotts, and the puffy-chested pursue democracy by landing bombs upon civilians.

Matters came to a head in Zimbabwe on Sunday. Alas, Mugabe and his Mercedes-driving apologists have more heads than hydra. Political gatherings have long since been banned by the dictatorship. Mugabe's crazed isolation has become more marked in recent weeks as doctors and teachers downed tools to protest about low pay. Inflation had passed 1,000% and rifts were reported in Zanu PF, a party consisting of lame ducks whose strength nowadays lies in the rural areas where elections are easier to fix. To retain power and live longer, Mugabe has transformed his supposedly beloved country into a peasant society ruled by a rich elite. Sales of luxury cars are booming even as the economy collapses.

Despite the dictator's control of the airwaves, newspapers, courts and food distribution, and the best efforts of the dreaded, ubiquitous and brutal secret police ( CIO), the struggle for democracy has continued unabated. Although the opposition party split into two factions over the issue of taking part in rigged senate elections, the desire to be rid of the tyrant has not wavered. Human rights lawyers, civil action groups, church leaders, and women's groups have carried on the fight. It has not been easy. Mugabe and his soldiers will stop at nothing to retain power. The snouts are deep in the trough.

Accordingly, the Save Zimbabwe Coalition decided to hold not a political meeting but a prayer meeting in Highfields. Zimbabwe is a religious country full of churches and outstanding schools. Even some Zanu PF leaders feign allegiance to christian ideals. Mugabe has managed to secure the appointment of some tame and bribeable Bishops. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church especially has joined the women and labour unions in their defiance. Indeed the opposition has much in common with Solidarity in Poland, except that it lacks a focal point and a charismatic leader.

Of course the State was not prepared at this dangerous hour to allow a meeting of any sort to take place, least of all a gathering to be attended by struggle luminaries such as the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangiri, Arthur Mutambara, and the Chairperson of the NCA, Dr. Lovemore Madhuku. Therefore they broke up the meeting with bullets and beatings, killing Gift Tandari, arresting 30-40 activists, hauling them off to various police stations and torture chambers, thrashing them till they could scarcely breathe and then denying them access to doctors or lawyers.

Meanwhile a democratically elected South African government supposedly concerned about the lot of the common man continues to twiddle its thumbs. Meanwhile, food supplied by charities is used as a political tool, with sacks of rice sent to Zanu PF areas and the rest left to fend for themselves. Meanwhile the population dwindles as the desperate seek opportunities elsewhere, many taking the risk of crossing the Limpopo River that forms the border with South Africa, a stretch of water infested with crocodiles and ruthlessly guarded by soldiers. Meanwhile Mugabe's cricketing representatives stay in posh hotels in the Caribbean, paying their young players a pittance and shamelessly taking care of themselves.

Of course the West had it coming. Hardly a harsh word has heard in the mid 1980's when Mugabe's fifth brigade crushed an imagined uprising in Matabeleland, slaughtering tens of thousands of mostly Ndebeles, stuffing their corpses down disused gold mines. At around the same time the Sinhalese were murdering the Tamils in Colombo as the government turned a blind eye. No-one said much about that either.

Zimbabwe is a wonderful country blessed with a multitude of outstanding people. The same can be said of other African countries. What can be done? Mugabe has been hailed a hero and draws attention away from his infamy with anti-colonial sloganeering. Moreover he has been close with Gaddafi, whose influence on the continent President Mbeki feared above all else.

Ultimately Africa must take care of its own. What else has worked? Mbeki must stop backing a wicked regime (but he also faces losing votes at home, and leaving the ANC in the hands of populists) Everyone must pray for Mugabe's death (but his mother reached three figures). At present the best response is to help those seeking justice and to assist those promoting education, thereby sustaining hope for a better tomorrow.

Along with a few friends, I have formed a charity called the LBW Trust which gives needy and deserving youngsters a chance to pursue tertiary studies. Already we are paying college fees for thirty impoverished Zimbabweans and we plan to uplift Sudanese, Somalian and other settlers in Melbourne and elsewhere. Everyone deserves a chance. The warlords must not be allowed to cripple the young. Educate the child and the adult will take care of himself.

Peter Roebuck is a writer for the The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, amongst other publications, and a commentator on the ABC. He also helped found the the
LBW Trust, which helps young Zimbabweans attend university.

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Zimbabwe Experience - Conclusion

Audi Alteram Partem :

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction

rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. — John Kenneth

On our way to the Eastern Highlands in the morning after my arrival in
Zimbabwe, we stopped at the general store in a small town south of Harare.
My friend had delivered a few crates of produce from his garden on his way
to the airport the day before, and he wanted to pick up the empties.

A queue, mostly women, many with babies on their backs, had formed in front
of the store. I did not pay much attention to the queue; I wanted to see the
store’s empty shelves, empty coolers, and empty freezers. My inspection was
interrupted by the sudden sound of yelling and screaming coming from
outside. I went to see what the commotion was all about. The women in the
queue were visibly upset about something. The yelling grew louder and the
gesticulating more agitated when a man wielding a bull whip appeared. A few
well-aimed lashes into the throng of protesting women restored order and
silence in the queue.

I had never seen anything like it! As the women were being bullwhipped, a
uniformed police officer walked by clutching two loaves of bread under his
arm. He walked past the scene as if the mini-riot and bullwhipping of women
and their babies was of no concern to him. The scene was surreal! Shortly
afterwards my friend returned with his empty crates. As we stashed them in
the pickup, he pointed to two loaves of bread hidden in one of the crates.
“That’s all I could get,” he said, half apologetically. As we drove away, I
asked him what the commotion had been all about. The women had learned that
there would be bread in the store, and they had been queuing since before
6:00 a.m. There was no bread on the shelves; the bread was “walking” out the
back door. “It’s how the black market works,” my friend explained. The
commotion was triggered when one of the women discovered what was happening
with the bread.

Several days later, sitting at the breakfast table eating the last of the
bread and not knowing if there would be bread tomorrow or where it would
come from, I reflected on what I had witnessed. The bread I had been eating
for the past few days should have been eaten by a child. The only reason
that bread had ended up on my table was that I had connections and money.

I have read reports about the disproportionate share of the world’s
resources consumed by the developed world. I have heard arguments that one
world is not enough to support 6.6 billion people in the style to which the
wealthiest 2 billion are accustomed. There are not enough of all the things
the developed world takes for granted to allow everybody on earth to consume
resources at the pace and rate of the wealthiest 2 billion. As I sat in
relative comfort in the midst of Zimbabwe’s misery, I understood the
bullwhipping of the women and their babies that I had witnessed as the
embodiment of the global reality of the disparity in resource consumption. I
talked to my friend about this disparity and about my feelings of guilt for
having eaten the bread. He tried to console me: “You have to be practical
about such things.”

Our First World lifestyle is sustained by millions and millions of people in
Africa and Asia who work for peanuts, literally, and sometimes for much less
than peanuts. I spent a month living in the home of people who work hard for
long hours and are paid not just less than $1 per day, but much less than $1
per day. I am a bit overweight, but I did not lose one pound during my month
in Zimbabwe because I had money in my pocket, hard currency, and friends
with connections to convert my hard currency into food, fuel, and other
necessities to which I am accustomed. As a member of the First World, I am
at the front of the queue; I get what I want; I consume what I want, and if
“they” get unruly, somebody will whip them back into line. I don’t have to
lift a finger; I can simply drive away. It is not my responsibility. My
position in life allows me to be practical about such things.

How do I live with the image of hungry women and babies being bullwhipped?
Can I assuage my feelings of guilt by looking the other way? What is the
humanitarian response? Selling everything I own and giving it to them would
ease their plight for a moment, but it would not change the harshness of
life under Mugabe-style regimes.

If I want to make a change to the lives of people living under intolerable
conditions, I have to start here — at home, in my town, in my province, and
in my country — and work to change the focus of our political ethics from
“me” to “us.”

December 21, 2007

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