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US blames crisis on Mugabe's reckless policies, corruption

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 January 2007

HARARE - Growing official corruption, reckless fiscal practice such as
uncontrolled printing of money and downright mismanagement by President
Robert Mugabe are the chief causes of the dramatic collapse of Zimbabwe's
economy, the United States (US) has said.

The US embassy in Harare said several major American corporations had scaled
down operations in Zimbabwe while some had closed shop altogether over the
past five years, as foreign investors lost confidence in the Harare
administration.

"Numerous major American companies in the agro-processing, manufacturing and
services sectors have sharply downsized their operations in Zimbabwe in the
past five years. A handful of American companies have left Zimbabwe
entirely," said the US embassy in a statement issued at the weekend but made
available to ZimOnline on Monday.

Foreign direct investment as well as domestic investment had also fallen
dramatically since economic turmoil began eight years ago, a development the
embassy said was not a surprise given Harare's "attitude towards private
property" - an obvious reference to Mugabe's seizure of white-owned private
farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

"The cause of this collapse is the government's mismanagement of the economy
including growing official corruption, mismanagement of exchange rates, and
reckless fiscal practices, including the uncontrolled printing of money,"
the US said.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was not immediately available for comment
while Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu said economic
problems Zimbabwe was facing were caused by sanctions imposed on the country
by America and other Western nations.

"Despite the sanctions they have imposed on us, we won't allow companies to
close down," said Mpofu.

The US and the European Union have imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe
and his top officials as punishment for allegedly violating human rights,
stealing elections and failure to uphold democracy and the rule of law.

Zimbabwe, which was once a model African economy, is in the grip of an
unprecedented economic meltdown that is shown in the world's highest
inflation of 1281.1 percent, shortages of food, rising unemployment and
poverty.

Critics blame Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African nation since
independence from Britain in 1980, for ruining the economy through
repression and wrong policies such as his farm seizures that have led to
food shortages mainly due to failure by new black farmers to maintain
production on former white farms.

Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far
reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands have lost jobs while the
manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the farming sector, is
operating below 30 percent capacity.

Mugabe, who is pushing to change Zimbabwe's Constitution to allow him to
rule for two more years after the expiry of his term in 2008, denies ruining
the economy and instead says his country's problems are because of sanctions
and sabotage by Britain, the US and other Western powers opposed to his land
reforms.

But the US embassy, which has been outspoken in its criticism of Harare,
said Zimbabwe's problems were self-inflicted. The US urged Harare to
implement policy measures recommended by the International Monetary Fund,
adding that the solution to Zimbabwe's deepening crisis lay in the hands of
the government.

"The solution to Zimbabwe 's problems is in its own hands; not ours, nor
those of the UK, nor for that matter any other external partner. Reversal of
the current dire situation requires a change in government policies in line
with the recommendations of the IMF," it said. - ZimOnline


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Harare fails to raise cash to buy stake in Mozambican power firm

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 January 2007

HARARE - Zimbabwe has lost out on a US$500 million stake in neighbouring
Mozambique's Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) electricity firm after
failing to raise cash to finance a deal experts had said could go a long way
to ending the country's perennial energy shortages.

Maputo had struck a preliminary agreement with Harare last year for the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to take up 25 percent stake in
(HCB).

Last year, ZESA said the government was mobilising funds to pay for the HCB
stake through its partnerships with strategic investors in Asia.

But well-placed sources said Harare, which is battling its worst ever
economic crisis and is desperate for foreign currency to import food, fuel
and essential medicines among other basic commodities, later developed cold
feet on the deal because it could not raise the hard cash to pay.

"It is our understanding that the Government of Mozambique has already
finalised and re-allocated the new shares to new partners following the
non-receipt of Government of Zimbabwe letter of interest," a senior ZESA
manager told ZimOnline.

The identity of the new partner taken up by the Mozambicans - and believed
to be South African - could not be immediately established.

Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya could not be reached for comment on the matter
last night.

A stake in HCB would have allowed Zimbabwe - which imports more than 30
percent of its electricity requirements - easier access to excess power
generated by the Mozambican energy firm.

Zimbabwe already imports about 100 megawatts a month from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, 200 megawatts from HCB, 450 megawatts from South
Africa and 300 megawatts from Zambia.

But frequent breakdowns at ZESA's ageing power stations have meant routine
blackouts for Zimbabweans who in some cases have spent several days on end
without electricity.

The shortage of power is however just one on a long list of problems
bedevilling Zimbabwe in its eighth year of an economic meltdown described by
the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.

The southern African country also has the world's highest inflation rate of
more than 1 000 percent, skyrocketing unemployment, shortages of foreign
currency, food, fuel, essential medicines and increasing poverty levels. -
ZimOnline


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Heavy police presence in major cities

Zim Online

Tuesday 23 January 2007

BULAWAYO - Heavily armed police on Monday mounted several roadblocks in
Zimbabwe's major cities amid growing fears of protests by civic groups over
worsening economic hardships in the country.

Sources within the police said there were fears by state security agents
that civic groups and the opposition were planning to stage demonstrations
in major cities this week.

But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party professed
ignorance over any such plans when contacted for comment yesterday.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena, refused to comment directly on the
increased police presence only saying: "Police are there to maintain law and
order and whenever we feel there is likely to be a breach, we certainly act
to preserve law and order."

The heavy police presence on the streets comes as the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
said yesterday it will launch a fresh disobedience campaign against plans by
President Robert Mugabe to postpone presidential elections to 2010.

The campaign, whose theme is, "We will vote in 2008 under a new
constitution," will be the second that the civic group has organised over
the past year.

A spokesperson for the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, Jonah Gokova, said the group
planned to bang pots and blow horns and whistles to protest against the
government's plans to reschedule the presidential election.

"The main aim of the campaign is to put the people in the mood to vote. We
are saying Zimbabweans are ready to vote in 2008 and not in 2010.

"This campaign is meant to mobilise Zimbabweans and make it clear to
government and those in power that elections should be in 2008," Gokova
said.

Last December, the ruling ZANU PF party said it wanted the presidential
election postponed to 2010.

Human rights groups and the both factions of the MDC have all condemned the
plan saying it was a ploy by ZANU PF to create a life-presidency for Mugabe,
in power since the country's independence in 1980. - ZimOnline


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Devaluation Talk Pushes Zimbabwe Dollar Down To Z$4,200 To USD

VOA

      By Blessing Zulu
      Washington
      22 January 2007

Traders on Zimbabwe's foreign exchange black market have hammered the
currency sharply lower in anticipation of a devaluation by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, which has held the official rate at Z$250 since it overhauled
the currency in July 2006.

Economist Eddie Cross circulated an e-mail report Monday saying traders in
Bulawayo reported the U.S. dollar surging to Z$4,200 as the South African
rand fetched Z$560 and Botswana's pula traded at Z$600. Cross, an opposition
activist, predicted the currency's sharp fall augured "a further round of
general price increases."

RBZ governor Gideon Gono was expected to schedule a monetary policy update
soon and observers looked for him to adjust the bank rate to US$1,000. But
businesses are urging a more significant devaluation to Z$1,750 per
greenback that would increase local currency revenues from export sales and
bolster enterprise viability.

Economist and University of Zimbabwe Professor Tony Hawkins told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that black market currency
traders are refusing to sell hard currency until Gono tips his hand, sending
U.S. dollar rates higher.

Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of recession and annual inflation surged to
1,205% in December, another record high for the country and the highest in
the world.

Critics of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party blame the
country's steep economic decline on the government's economic policies,
particularly the land reform program it launched in 2000, as well as
official corruption. But Mr. Mugabe says Western sanctions have brought the
country to its present pass.


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Zimbabwe Student Leaders To Meet Minister Over Tuition Increases

VOA

      By Patience Rusere
      Washington
      22 January 2007

University students in Bulawayo and other cities in Zimbabwe were back in
class this week having suspended a boycott in protest of massive increases
in tuition fees.

Student leaders were set to meet on Tuesday with Higher Education Minister
Stan Mudenge to discuss the fees and national education policy in general.

Zimbabwe National Students Union President Promise Mkwananzi said his
members were awaiting the outcome of the meeting with Mudenge, and that they
were ready to resume the boycott if the ministry refused to partially roll
back the fee increases. Some university and technical college fees increased
as much as 2,000% recently.

Mkwananzi, arrested last week with nine other activists, told reporter
Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that students will keep
protesting if they are ignored.


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Gono responds to the Standard newspaper's apology

Zimbabwejournalists.com

By Gideon Gono

THE STANDARD NEWSPAPER RETRACTS ITS DAMAGING STORY OF 7TH JANUARY, 2007
ABOUT GOVERNOR G. GONO'S PURCHASE OF CAR: G. GONO'S COMMENTS

1. I have seen the page one and two Apology and Retraction respectively by
the Standard newspaper of 21 January 2007 and my REACTION is simple: "Give
me a man or woman who has never made a mistake in his or her life and I will
give you the world." I have come face to face with numerous mistakes made by
myself as well as various people in my forty-seven years of existence and
almost thirty years working life.

2. Some of those mistakes that I have witnessed have been fatal or
near-fatal, while others were not so serious. This one by the Standard
newspaper was near fatal.

3. In both categories of mistakes, I have come to appreciate that it is not
so much the mistake which matters, but what one does after realizing that he
or she has made a mistake.

4. Few own-up to their mistakes while many will always refuse to take
responsibility and instead, blame others. These two postures draw different
reactions in my book and I suppose also, in the court of public opinion.

5. Despite the undeniable hurt, ridicule and public condemnation that I and
my family suffered within and outside our borders, we take comfort from the
realization that the reporter Mr. Caiphas Chimhete, the acting editor Mr.
Bill Saidi and Group CEO Mr. Raphael M. Khumalo displayed professional
courage to investigate further the truth and upon establishing it, have
apologised and admitted that the initial story was false.

6. It was clear that they had been taken for a ride and misled by people who
had their own agenda. Most importantly also was the fact that in publishing
the story, the team at Standard harboured no malice against me, as they
sincerely believed that the story was genuine.

7. The paper and myself further witnessed during the week, attempts by
certain people who wanted to again mislead both the paper and publishers
with new inventions and/or variations about the same car in an apparent
mission to tarnish the Governor by creating a new angle to explain their
failure to substantiate the first story.

8. Fortunately for me, I had revealed all the paperwork to do with the car
and even invited the Group CEO, the Acting Editor and the Reporter himself
to ride in the car concerned, with me behind the wheel.

9. Against this background, I have not found it difficult to forgive the
team at the Standard newspaper and life must just go on. No sweat.
Furthermore, there will be no legal action to be taken to clear my name as
the matter has been dealt with satisfactorily and amicably.

10. There are more pressing issues of national significance to do with the
state of our economy that must surely take precedence of occupation than to
pursue a mission to settle scores against one another.

11. It was His Excellency the President, Cde. R. G. Mugabe who in one of his
State of the Nation addresses observed that: "We are all witnesses to the
futility of trying to turn around our economy in an environment of pointless
conflict."

12. Indeed what Zimbabwe needs more at this stage than at any other in its
development and turnaround is "Healing." Healing between and among
individuals and families alike, healing and tolerance between and among
politicians and political parties, between and among different economic,
labour and government players, the media, civil society, churches and their
leaders, and healing between Zimbabwe and some sections of the international
community, including multilateral financial institutions.

13. Only through unity of purpose, forgiveness of one another and the desire
and discipline to stand by the truth can we truly move forward.

14. At the personal level, I welcome the existence of multi-media platforms
of expression and scrutiny of public officials and their public conduct as
this improves accountability and entrenches transparency of that conduct. I
am on record, way back, as publicly stating that the media is an
indispensable partner in the turnaround of our economy and indeed in the
arena of social progress.

15. I welcome criticism of my monetary and economic policies, as well as my
public conduct as long as this is done genuinely and in fairness, respecting
obviously, my right, as indeed the right of others, to own privacy.

16. Let me take this opportunity also to state that, as with any public
official, it is not possible or even desirable that I respond to each and
every story written about me, whether in newspapers or on the internet,
respond to every rumour or bar talk in the market or speculation directed at
me. I take all these in my stride as occupational hazards which come with
territory.

17. My silence or non-response to some of these does not however always make
these stories gospel truth as some in the market players have been prone to
think. The office of the Governor is a very busy one, particularly this
Governor. Taking care of an economy with the highest inflation in the world
cannot be a walk in the park or an 8 to 5 job.

18. Regarding the Bank's position on the Standard story, I have spoken to
the Board Chairman for Human Resources Mr. Lovemore Chihota and persuaded
the Bank's Board of Directors to consider withdrawing their intention to sue
the paper and rather, let the matter lie to rest. The Board has agreed to
put the matter to experience, for both the team at the Standard and myself.

19. The same cannot however be said of UK-based, The Zimbabwean newspaper
which went beyond the bounds of the initial false story to manufacture their
own trinkets to make the story seem authentic and joined previous lies about
the fertilizer story into this one. Our lawyers will be getting in touch
with them unless they take the honourable route that would protect their
integrity and standing in the news-world and do like the team at Standard
has done. We await their next Issue to establish their position.

20. I thank all the stakeholders who "saw-through" the offending publication
and declared the report "prima-facie false" from the word go because of
their confidence in me and the office of the Governor.

21. Indeed if the car-issue was true, I would have been the first one to
make a public admission of the fact and would have requested for public
forgiveness, but as we all are aware now, it wasn't true, neither had the
thought ever crossed my mind about the need to acquire such an expensive
car. I didn't even know that such a car existed in the world. The speed and
cost factors would have made it inappropriate for me, let alone Zimbabwe in
the first place.

22. The car that I drive today, an S600 is both personal and within my
contractual entitlements and duly approved by the Board.

23. In the same vein, let me add that I have been working for the last 29
years and during that period, I have managed to acquire a number of personal
assets in the farming, real estate, stock/financial and other sectors of the
economy, all of which were declared to my Principals upon my assumption of
Governorship of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as required by the appropriate
Statutes.

24. Some stakeholders think that I only started working at RBZ in 2003 and
not being privy to my asset and liabilities statement then, and now being
driven by ulterior motives, have seen it fit to portray a false picture of
misuse of public funds on what are purely legitimate private and personal
acquisitions and investments, some of which are beginning to mature now
after a long period of gestation.

25. We must as Zimbabweans, stop pre-judging others probably by our own
"way-ward" ways!

DR. G. GONO
GOVERNOR


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Food shortages could worsen as workers leave farms



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

BULAWAYO, 22 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - Commercial farmers and agricultural experts
have warned of a serious shortage of farm workers, which could further
cripple agricultural production in Zimbabwe.

Wilson Nyabonde, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
told IRIN that a deadlock over an increase in monthly wages and worsening
conditions of service on farms had hastened the exodus of workers, who want
salaries raised from about US$120 (at the official exchange rate) to at
least US$500. This would still be well below the US$1,406 a month needed for
a family of six to survive in Zimbabwe, where annual inflation is hovering
around 1,200 percent.

The CFU said it was difficult to establish how many workers were still on
farms. According to a report by the Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, a
nongovernmental organisation assisting farm workers, before the fast-track
land reform process began in 2000, an estimated 320,000 to 350,000
agricultural workers were employed on commercial farms owned by about 4,500
white farmers. Their dependents numbered around 2 million - over 20 percent
of the population.

By the beginning of 2003, the CFU estimated that only about 100,000 workers
were still employed on farms.

"The situation on the farms is really bad at the moment. Farm workers are in
such short supply that farmers have to share workers in some cases.
Employees can leave at any time because they are in demand everywhere, and
that has destabilised the sector in many ways," Nyabonde said. "Tobacco
faming, which relies heavily on consistent and skilled labour, is the most
heavily affected, and we fear that this will have the effect of lowering
production ... come harvesting time."

Agricultural production in Zimbabwe, once known as southern Africa's
breadbasket, has slumped since 2000, when veterans of the war against
colonialism led thousands of landless blacks onto commercial farms and
forcefully removed the white farmers.

Commercial farm managers and workers on estates near Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo, told IRIN that the labour crisis was deepening each day.

"In November, there were 25 farm workers permanently employed here. Since
the beginning of the farming season they have been leaving after it became
clear that the farmers will not be able to effect salary increases demanded
by the workers, because we are facing a serious financial crisis," said
Wilton Cadder, who manages an estate on the outskirts of Bulawayo.

Most farm workers had turned to informal mining and dealing in scarce
commodities on the parallel market because these activities offered a better
return than working on a farm.

"They do not go too far, they just leave the compound and head for the
nearest gold panning camps. Most of them return to the farms to entice their
former colleagues to join them. We wish we can offer better salaries, but
the conditions do not allow it because of the expensive nature of commercial
farming in this country," Cadder told IRIN.

Battling the world's highest annual rate of inflation - now around 1,200
percent - as well as foreign exchange shortages and a fuel price that shot
up to US$15 a litre this week, agriculture, like all other sectors of the
country's economy, has been limping along under the prohibitive costs of
importing spare parts for farming equipment and inputs like fertilisers and
seeds.

Farm workers told IRIN they would rather be gold panners and informal market
dealers than work for US$120 a month. "The farmers offer poor salaries, poor
accommodation and there is nothing to call a pension. We all have children
who need to go to school, get enough food and clothing. No one can make ends
meet with that, so we are forced to choose between loyalty to our
longstanding employers and the demands of survival," said farm worker
Kholwani Sibanda, 40.

Incentives were being offered in a bid to hold on to skilled workers. "Some
[tobacco] farmers are now paying performance-related bonuses to ensure that
they do not lose specialised workers; others are now offering food and
better accommodation in a bid to attract and retain employees," Nyabonde
said.

Edward Mkhosi, shadow minister of agriculture in the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, called for government intervention to help the
financially stricken farmers support their workers.

"My assessment of the situation on the farms shows that there is a great
need for the improvement of salaries and working conditions, but the reality
is that no farmer can do that at the moment: inputs are not only expensive,
they are also scarce," Mkhosi told IRIN.

"All these expenses take a toll on the farmer, who may find it impossible to
remain viable by increasing salaries at a time when every other cost is
rising. The farmers need government support so that they in turn can improve
the working conditions of the workers. The problem lies with the lack of
government support for the sector, despite all the rhetoric we hear," he
said.

Agriculture minister Joseph Made was noncommittal during an interview with
IRIN, but maintained that "government has no business in telling the farmers
how to retain their workers - they need to negotiate with them and offer
incentives. We are aware that there is a labour crisis on the farms, but it
is not so big that we can expect reduced harvests. We have always produced,
while the workers shifted from employer to employer."

The government has consistently denied the existence of food shortages. In
late 2006 the Grain Marketing Board said Zimbabwe was expecting a surplus
above its annual cereal requirement of about 1.9 million metric tonnes.
However, independent estimates suggested that only 800,000mt of maize was
produced, or less than half the country's annual requirement.


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Greater centralisation threatens city's water supplies



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

BULAWAYO, 22 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - The residents of Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo, have joined the local authority in opposing the takeover of its
water distribution network by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA),
fearing that the cash-strapped parastatal will create more problems than it
will solve in trying to meet the city's water demands.

Bulawayo, in the drought-prone southwestern region of Zimbabwe, receives
bulk water supplies from the national authority, but the city authority is
responsible for distribution to the city's residents.

ZINWA's track record of water distribution in the capital, Harare, and other
regions has been chaotic, but last week the Cabinet granted it the right to
assume control of the Bulawayo's water supply network. The local council
said this would reduce the city's revenue base by nearly half.

Winos Dube, chair of the Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA), told IRIN
the government had erred in handing control of water distribution to the
national water authority when the city was facing serious water shortages
after two of its five supply dams had been decommissioned because of
drought.

"We are against the idea of a ZINWA takeover in the light of its record of
erratic service delivery to its bulk water customers across the country. I
think ZINWA should stick to its core business, which is to supply bulk
water. They should leave the distribution to the city council, which has
managed to maintain supplies through a number of crises," Dube said.

"ZINWA has failed in Chitungwiza [a large town near the capital], Harare and
[other areas designated as economic] growth points, so we do not need that
confusion here, because we are already in a crisis they cannot manage."

Stringent water restrictions have been imposed in the city since 2005, and
last week the council said it would begin drawing water from boreholes it
had sunk to complement water distribution via its ten designated water
collection points around the city.

Instead of imposing ZINWA on Bulawayo, Dube said the government should
assist the city by funding the construction of more dams and so avert a
major water shortage crisis.

"ZINWA has not fulfilled any of its previous promises, which include the
construction of a pipeline to connect the city to idle dams around the
province. This issue needs to be re-examined, because we can see ourselves
sinking deeper into crisis if ZINWA is not stopped. It is a risk residents
are not willing to take."

The residents' organisation was planning  protests against the Cabinet's
decision to allow ZINWA to assume control of water distribution, in the hope
that the decision would be rescinded.

Bulawayo's executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, told IRIN that although
the council was yet to receive formal notification of the takeover, ZINWA
officials had already written to the council demanding that they hand over
the city's consumer database, billing systems, the water and sewage
reticulation network, and information on the staff working in the city's
water supply section.

The mayor said there was no doubt that the takeover would result in "total
distribution chaos", besides putting the environmental and public health of
the city at risk.

"I hope this [taking over local water distribution] is not true. If it is,
then we are heading for a major catastrophe, not only in water supply but in
all service delivery. We stand to lose more than 40 percent in revenue,
which comes from water distribution. That will render us incapable of
sustaining other services areas and we may have to cut down," Ndabeni-Ncube
told IRIN.

"The ZINWA take over is also bad for the city because, by looking at their
record in Harare, the authority cannot supply adequate water. They have
failed to deliver water of good quality - a situation that may lead to
outbreaks of waterborne diseases. ZINWA is a national disaster."

Despite attempts to contact them, ZINWA officials were unavailable for
comment.

A recent report by the auditor-general's office was damning about the
national water authority's ability to provide adequate, high-quality water
and said ZINWA had failed to provide water to small towns and the growth
points of Harare and Chitungwiza, where it was already responsible for water
distribution.

Apart from poor service delivery, the authority was also condemned for its
failure to run Harare's sewage reticulation networks, which had led to raw
sewage being released into city's streams and watercourses. The report had
disclosed that the parastatal required more than US$80 million for urgent
maintenance work on the Harare and Chitungwiza water and sewage reticulation
networks.

Zimbabwe is currently suffering an acute shortage of foreign currency. The
country's economic meltdown in the past eight years has been characterised
by a slew of other shortages, including food, clean water, fuel and energy,
with unemployment levels touching 80 percent and inflation reaching 1,281
percent - the highest in the world.

Ignatius Chombo, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development, confirmed that the Cabinet had approved ZINWA's takeover of
Bulawayo's water distribution system, but refused to comment on the concerns
raised by the city's authorities and residents.


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Zimbabwe confiscates more radios to block independent broadcasts



By Violet Gonda
22 January 2007

At least 42 radios are reported to have been confiscated by state security
agents in rural areas, allegedly to stop people listening to independent
radio broadcasts. Several teachers are said to have fled some schools while
others have been sent on forced leave as a result of intimidation and
harassment in the Midlands and Mashonaland East areas. The radios were
distributed to several groups, especially teachers, to form organised radio
listening clubs in remote areas to allow people to listen to independent
news broadcasts from outside Zimbabwe.

Raymond Majongwe, the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said: "I know for a fact that government agents are visiting
schools and basically looking for the radios as well as getting specific
information about those people who belong to the PTUZ."

Majongwe said so-called state agents are illegally forcing the teachers to
provide their family histories to intimidate them. He said radios are being
confiscated and unspecified action is threatened to those teachers who don't
hand them over. Most of this is happening in the Midlands area, especially
Mberengwa and Gokwe.

It's also reported that several teachers have also fled Mashonaland East.
The Governor of Mashonaland East Ray Kaukonde, was seen on national
television threatening people who had received radios. Majongwe confirmed
seeing the governor saying the people should be given food and not radios.
We were not able to get a comment from Kaukonde but Majongwe said: "The
issue is not about food it's about access to information."

Just last month we reported how two lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights were also subjected to harassment and intimidation by state
agents in Gokwe when they were trying to serve them with a court order. The
police and the state agents were ordered by the court to return several
radios that had been confiscated but Gokwe police refused to serve the court
papers.

Majongwe told us that the court case will be heard at the magistrates' court
in Gokwe on Tuesday.

There are no independent broadcasts from Zimbabwe. A sustained assault on
press freedoms has resulted in nearly all Zimbabwe's free media now
operating outside the country. The government has been embarking on a
systematic and relentless campaign to block stations like SW Radio Africa
and Studio 7 from being heard by jamming broadcast frequencies.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Parirenyatwa goes on leave in the middle of crisis



By Tichaona Sibanda
22 January 2007

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa has taken time off from work at the
height of a crippling strike by doctors and nurses in the country.

President of the Hospitals Doctors Association, Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, told
us that in his absence Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi (a doctor by
profession) has taken over the role of negotiating with the striking
doctors.

Nyamutukwa said contrary to reports carried in the government media last
week, the authorities had fired no doctors or nurses. But it is the timing
of Parirenyatwa's decision to take his annual leave that has caused a stir,
both in government and among the doctors.

A source said Parirenyatwa has allegedly lost the confidence of his cabinet
colleagues to deal with the issue, fuelling reports that Robert Mugabe could
have elbowed him off the case following a series of misleading statements
from Health authorities.

The strike by at least 145 junior doctors from the country's major hospitals
is now in its fifth week, crippling the health delivery system. The doctors
want a near-hundred fold pay increase. They currently earn Z$56,000 (US$224
at the official exchange rate, less than US$20 at the parallel rate). They
are demanding a salary of Z$5 million.

Calls by the government for the doctors to return to work have fallen on
deaf ears as they have vowed to continue with the industrial action.
Nyamutukwa said their position has always been clear that they will not
budge until their demands are met.

'The sad thing is that government is not serious. How else can you explain
Parirenyatwa going on leave at this moment in time? Most doctors have lost
faith in him. Last time the government ended up sending the army commander
to threaten the doctors to go back to work. This time they have asked the
Defence Minister to take over, it shows government does not trust the health
minister to come up with a solution,' Nyamutukwa said.

He added that as far as he was concerned no contact has been made yet by
Sekeramayi but that doctors were willing to hear what he has to offer.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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France must not ignore the repression in Zimbabwe



Monday January 22, 2007
The Guardian

It is not certain whether the sanctions against the president of Zimbabwe,
Robert Mugabe, will be renewed when the EU announces its decision on
February 20. It is a decision that will be made by foreign ministers from
member states in a behind-closed-doors council meeting tomorrow to be held
in Brussels. According to British parliament sources, the French and
Portuguese government representatives will not guarantee their support for
the sanctions against Mugabe being reinforced.

The excesses of the Mugabe regime are getting worse: the brutal treatment of
trade union leaders when they tried to hold a peaceful protest last
September, the relaunch of Operation Murambatsvina, which destroyed the
homes and livelihoods of the urban poor, and more recently the vicious
suppression of a peaceful march by women last November. Other problems
plaguing the country include: inflation around 2,000%; low life expectancy -
34 for women, 37 for men; the highest number of orphans per capita; a death
rate of 3,500 per week, exceeding Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan; 80%
unemployment; 80% below poverty line; more than 15,000 cases of organised
torture and violence documented since 2001.
Furthermore, the French government may be inviting Mugabe to the
France/Africa Summit in Cannes on February 14-16, which will cause uproar
among politicians and human rights activists.

A French government invitation to Mugabe (in contravention of EU targeted
sanctions) will dismay Zimbabweans worldwide. At a time when we are told
that people are dying in their thousands from Aids, lack of medicine and
lack of food, this sends a message that the French government is prepared to
overlook gross human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

If Mugabe's visit goes ahead, it will lend him legitimacy and send the wrong
signals to would-be dictators in Africa and elsewhere. The visit will also
present Mugabe with an opportunity to once more claim on a world stage that
he is not to blame for what is happening in Zimbabwe - France will be
complicit in this deception.

There is considerable pressure on the French government from leaders of the
southern African region to invite Mugabe. However, it would be interesting
to see whether the African leaders would boycott this summit on the French
Riviera if Mugabe were to be excluded.
Simon Chase
Action for Southern Africa (Actsa)


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Pressure grows for Mugabe critic to be suspended from ruling party

The Raw Story

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Monday January 22, 2007

Harare- Pressure was growing Monday for Zimbabwe's ruling
party to suspend a key veteran nationalist who has just published a
book highly critical of President Robert Mugabe.
The Youth League of Mugabe's ZANU-PF called for the suspension,
pending dismissal, of former party secretary-general Edgar Tekere,
saying he was guilty of gross indiscipline, the state-controlled
Herald newspaper said in a front page story.

Tekere, nicknamed Two Boy, this month released a highly
controversial autobiography titled A Lifetime of Struggle, in which
he claimed former colleague Mugabe was now a liability to Zimbabwe.

There has since been bitter criticism of Tekere in the state-
controlled press, where he is been accused of lying, especially over
claims he was instrumental in elevating Mugabe to party leader.

At a weekend meeting of the ZANU-PF youth league, a resolution was
passed to write to the national chairman of the party John Nkomo to
lodge a complaint about Tekere, the Herald said.

The league particularly objected to Tekere's portrayal of the late
vice-president Joshua Nkomo, once a rival to Mugabe but brought into
Mugabe's government in 1987, according to the report.

"Edgar Tekere claims to own the party, a party that belongs to the
people of Zimbabwe. No individual can ever claim ownership of the
party. The party belongs to the people," said a statement.

"Such an act is an act of gross indiscipline and negates the very
principle of democracy that several gallant sons and daughters of the
soil lost their lives for," it added.

The league said Tekere who has been increasingly critical of
Mugabe in the last few years should not have been readmitted to the
party last year when party members knew he was writing a book in
which Mugabe featured. Tekere had been expelled in 1988.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency


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Chinese delegation tours Zimbabwean province

People's Daily

An eight-member delegation from China's Gansu Province paid a four-day visit
to Zimbabwe and left for South Africa on Monday.

During the visit, the delegation-led by Gansu Province Vice- Governor Feng
Jianshe met the Governor and Resident Minister of Mashonaland West Province
of Zimbabwe, Nelson Samkange, and toured the Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital
and the Chinhoyi University of Technology Hotel built by companies from
Gansu Province.

Feng said the tour was aimed at strengthening existing relations in order to
explore areas of cooperation for mutual benefit.

He said he would invite more companies from the province to invest in
Mashonaland West. The visit follows a similar visit to the Chinese province
by a delegation led by Samkange in 2005.

Gansu, like Mashonaland West, is an agricultural hub and the two provinces
would benefit from sharing experiences and ideas.

"We hope this visit results in more opportunities for all of us. We hold
fairs this time of the year and I would like to invite businesspeople from
this province and the country at large to participate so that they can
explore business opportunities," he said.

The delegation also toured the scenic but mysterious Chinhoyi Caves and the
new Chinhoyi Magistrates' Courts still under construction and expected to be
completed later this year.

Samkange said there was more land in Mashonaland West Province to establish
joint venture farming initiatives.

He said agriculture in China is highly mechanized and Zimbabwe would like to
partner with China in transforming its agriculture through delivery of
machinery such as tractors. There is also room to establish partnerships and
joint ventures.

In that regard, he said Chinese companies should set up assembly plants for
tractors and other machinery in the province as this will not only help in
the mechanization of agriculture but will also create employment.

Chinhoyi Mayor Ray Kapesa said that the town offered incentives for
investors through concessionary rates and favorable terms.

Source: Xinhua


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Angry crowd demands diamond fields ownership; Police fire teargas

Zimbabwejournalists.com

By a Correspondent

MUTARE - The diamond-rich eastern border of Marange boiled over as police
fired teargas to disperse waves of angry villagers who marched to the
diamond ownership of fields now guarded by  security agents. The incident
happened over the weekend in Marange, Manicaland province.

The area has become restive, with constant clashes between local villagers
and security agents. The villagers claim that the diamond fields belong to
them as stated by a high profile government delegation of cabinet ministers
in October last year.

According to eye witnesses, villagers grouped themselves and confronted the
security agents whom they accused of corruption. The villagers, the
witnesses said, were stung by the rampant mining and illicit dealing of
diamonds by security agents.

The security agents, who include government trained youth militia, have
barred the villagers from accessing the diamond fields with the government
saying it wants to embark on organized mining.

"Police had to fire teargas, and still that was not enough. We only
retreated after they threatened to use live ammunition. We armed ourselves
with sticks and shovels and we just wanted to mine the diamonds. But the
police became confrontational and managed to push them for a distance of
about 50 meters. They retreated but came back later in a larger number. I
think they had reinforced," said an eye witness who said the incident
happened on Sunday.

Villagers were talking about the incident yesterday when a Zimbabwe
Journalists.com crew arrived in the area.

"We are restrategising and we will pounce on them again. We mean to make
their stay here as uncomfortable as possible until they move. They will have
to kill us because we are going to continuer fighting to be allowed to enjoy
the resources given to us by our ancestors," said John Masibhera, a local
villager.

The officer commanding police Manicaland province, Obert Benge said he was
unaware of the incident.

"I have not yet received those reports. But we are talking to the local
leadership for them to understand that we want to restore order in the area.
In the long run they will be the beneficiaries but some of them don't seem
to understand that," said Benge.

At the centre of conflict are diamond rich fields which transformed some of
the villagers' lives from poor peasants to instant cash rich high spenders
through illegal mining and trading of the diamonds.

The villagers are spurred on by statements made by some of President Robert
Mugabe's ministers last year, encouraging the villagers to mine the precious
stones.  One of the ministers, Didymus Mutasa , who as minister in charge of
state security and land reform is one of Mugabe's most senior and trusted
allies, told the villagers that the diamonds were a gift from the ancestors
meant for the villagers. Mutasa and he fellow ministers made such statements
in late October as they solicited for votes from villagers for rural
district council elections.

But as the government moves to restore order in the area, the villagers
cannot understand how they have suddenly become unwanted persons in the
diamond fields.


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Zim diamonds lose their sparkle

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 22 January

Godwin Gandu

Senior Zimbabwe government officials, including the police, have been sucked
into a diamond smuggling scandal, which is believed to have cost the country
about US$30-million in lost revenue in the past eight months. In April last
year, thousands of villagers descended on Marange, a district in the eastern
Manicaland province, to pan for diamonds with the permission of the
political leadership in the province. Police officers probing the diamond
racket told the Mail & Guardian the country had lost millions of dollars
because the "whole mining of the diamonds wasn't properly controlled, hence
everyone joined in, including police officers in the province". What is
worrying Harare is the US$50-million in annual trade revenue the country
stands to lose if the European Union decides to slap a blanket ban on local
diamonds.

The EU's concern follows reports that diamonds were being smuggled into
South Africa, bypassing the certification process. The EU also fears that
uncertified diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been mixed
into the illegally exported Zimbabwean diamonds. The Minerals Marketing
Corporation of Zimbabwe is the sole body that can certify Zimbabwean
diamonds for export. The prospect of a ban has sent shivers down the spines
of central bank officials, as the export of minerals is Zimbabwe's greatest
source of foreign exchange. "It's been messy," says John Robertson, an
economic consultant. "Top officials have been sending wrong information and
marketing the diamonds out of the country. They kept all the information
under wraps. Now that has been discovered, they are all embarrassed." The
ban would also mean huge job losses, as three big diamond mines would be
closed.

At least three ministers in Manicaland mobilised villagers to pan for
diamonds after international prospecting rights to the area expired. The
diamonds were subsequently sold on the black market, bypassing the Minerals
Marketing Corporation. At Zanu PF's conference in December, Mugabe expressed
concern about government officials' stampede for diamonds in Manicaland.
"The same chaos that characterised land reform," he said, "is currently
obtaining in [sic] diamonds." Mugabe said his government needed to take
action because it was "shameful", insisting "everything had to be
organised". But inside sources said he was aware some of his officials had
joined the rush for the gems. Recent events have prompted Parliament to
launch an investigation into the looting of diamonds. "The probe will
certainly open a can of worms," said Innocent Gonese, opposition Movement
for Democratic Change legislator for Mutare. Gonese, who comes from
Manicaland, said: "Senior government officials encouraged villagers to pan
for diamonds. It was a free-for-all and it's difficult to rule out that they
[ministers in the province] benefited given the haphazard manner in which
the mineral was mined."

But police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said "everything has now been
brought under control". He could not confirm that senior government
officials were being investigated. This week Joel Kabuza, the chairman of
Parliament's portfolio committee on mines and energy, said senior government
officials were involved in "shady diamonds deals", adding that his committee
would deal with all the offenders. It is not clear when the parliamentary
investigation will be completed. The US-based World Diamond Council last
week added its voice to the controversy, probing allegations that diamonds
were being smuggled into South Africa and blended with smuggled diamonds
from the DRC. Both the EU probe and the parliamentary investigation are
bound to zero in on retired General Solomon Mujuru, husband of
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, whose company, River Ranch Mine, is involved in
diamond mining in Beitbridge, in southern Zimbabwe. It is alleged that River
Ranch mixed local diamonds with illicit diamonds from the DRC. River Ranch
refuted the allegations.


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Teens turn prostitutes to pay fees

IBNlive

Solana Pyne
CNN-IBN

Posted Monday , January 22, 2007 at 14:33

AGAINST THE ODDS: With unemployment hovering around 80 per cent,
prostitution is the only work most girls can find.
Harare (Zimbabwe): One of a lucky Zimbabwean teens who made it to
university, 18-year-old Tariro Manyamba studies Accounting at the University
of Zimbabwe, but for her, the opportunity has a hefty price tag.

She says her tuition, which has more than doubled in recent semesters, costs
more than what an average government worker makes in a year.

To pay for it, Tariro spends seven nights a week at night clubs, and has sex
with as many as three men per night for about $ 5 each.

With unemployment hovering around 80 per cent, prostitution is the only work
girls like Tariro can find.

"I was very afraid because when my friends told me that you can do this, it
was my first time. At first I said 'No, no, no', but because I was just
looking for the school fees I started doing this," she says.

Tariro's plight has become sadly common among Zimbabwean students,
struggling as their economy crumbles around them.

The country, once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, now has the
highest inflation in the world, topping 1,000 per cent earlier this year.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), life expectancy for women here
is just 34 years.

But many still strive for the middle-class life they used to take for
granted. "When I finish the university, I will go get a nice job," says
Tariro.


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2007 MDC Activities for Change

MDC has taken the political lead in 2007 by unveiling novel and exciting activities that prepare us for change this year in a comprehensive agenda. The President is on the road for his update on the extent of the changing and deepening crisis. Each member of the National Standing Committee is responsible for an area in the 2007 Change Agenda. The Vice President’s ‘New Zimbabwe Series' rolled out at Crowne Plaza Hotel on Tuesday last week to the delight of Hararians. The 2nd activity was last Friday while the 3rd was held in Kuwadzana constituency today.     
 
New Zimbabwe Series – Launched At Crowne Plaza Hotel – Tuesday Last Week
 
The first Policy topic of many in the ‘New Zimbabwe Series’ attracted a full house, with NGOs, academics, diplomats, activists and public, present. Addressed by Economists John Robertson and Peter Robinson the meeting was chaired by Professor Gordon Chavunduka. Presentations focussed on ongoing work of both scholars. Robertson detailed the importance of  ‘Property Rights’ if Zimbabwe is to move forward whoever comes to power. He emphasised how impossible without these guarantees it is to get support required for investment for the reconstruction of our country. Robinson, a member of the team that gave us the brilliant MDC 'Restart Programme' document is now part of the team working on the framework for a post Mugabe reconstruction programme by the Zimbabwe Institute. He outlined the team's inclusive complex strategy to get the country off its knees onto its feet.
 
At question time Robinson stated that our country’s history past and present is part of what Zimbabweans must confront honestly, engage in as the whole society, for healing and reconstruction, differing from his colleague. Questions showed that the audience followed the speakers closely, as these were many and to the point.
 
I was asked to give the Vote of Thanks. I focussed on getting the audience’s morale lifted, our courage and faith in MDC reinforced, where many are demoralised. I took those present on my personal journey during the Liberation war when we worked hard and gave up hope of ever returning to a free Zimbabwe, when Lancaster House secured the settlement which we heard on the BBC radio news to get most of us in the diaspora packing and to Zimbabwe for reconstruction. 1/3rd of Zimbabweans have emigrated, given up hope of returning home today, I believe like we did, most will return when the change we are working so tirelessly to achieve does eventuate.
 
The Mugabe regime abandoned the Chimurenga Agenda long ago, hence the rise of MDC whose work for many is taking too long. The 2007 MDC programme is part of the steps taking us to the Change. New books like Edgar Tekere’s out now, Enos Nkala’s to be released after his death, Judith Garfield Todd and others' soon to hit the market are part of the tools to fuel our debates needed to build our new Zimbabwe through consensus among ourselves and consensus building in our society. MDC has played its part in providing a national leader Morgan Tsvangirai who has united Zimbabweans since 1963. The ‘New Zimbabwe Series’ is part of this support mechanism to prepare for his Presidency in our new Zimbabwe. 
 
All Night Prayer Meeting - Christian Alliance Women
 
The second activity is in the Christian Alliance ‘Save Zimbabwe Campaign’. At 10.p.m. last Friday the tireless Grace Kwinjeh achieved a milestone when with the newly formed Christian Alliance Women in the ‘Save Zimbabwe Campaign’ they organised the 2nd 'All Night Prayer' meeting at Borrowdale Neighbourhood Church. A male support team of Rev Berejena and Jonah Gokova came with a vibrant pastor who made our evening with his inspirational sermon. The format of the prayer was an education for me. It was disciplined, professionally handled, a building block in the DRC process and Change, with grassroots women in the lead.  Males took the service and left at midnight to sleep I thought, as I was already tired. I was envious.
 
Grassroots women took us through the night’s prayer programme to demonstrate faith at work. There were enlightening procedures and pronouncements which forced me to reflect on the just, tolerant, democratic and inclusive Zimbabwe we want. At 6 am the next morning discussion took place on the type of food for the next meeting. Rev Chibwape who took the night’s programme, sharing with us her life experiences, leading us in song, led the response to the food discussion. She taught us that the prayers were a sacrifice. To participate she fasted and worked all the day before to give the best of herself. After a fast she advised that it is best for the body to take light food as we did at 1a.m. I listened in awe and concluded that I must seriously train to endure the rigorous 8 hours of the next Prayer meeting in 2 weeks time!     
 
Kuwadzana Rally - 2007
 
The 3rd activity we held today.  The Organising Department's 2007 programme following the 2006 structures’ audit for Party preparedness for the DRC started with a bang at Kuwadzana district in Harare today. Attending as National Executive Committee (NEC) member supervising Harare Province I was part of the 25 000 plus present. Harare Province with 14 seats in Parliament holds the largest number of MDC Parliamentary seats. The Kuwadzana Rally this afternoon is one of the party's most empowering, exciting, best-organised and largest constituency rally so far. It is one of several activities to kick-start the DRC programme in the Province. These activities will simultaneously take place around Zimbabwe to inform members, supporters, sympathisers and others on the DRC project whose theme is: 
 
The Time to Act is Now!
 
The Kuwadzana activity follows President Morgan Tsvangirai's press conference this week at Harvest House where he presented the Party's analysis of 2006 and spelt out our 2007 Way-forward Plan. Rallies are part of the tools available to opposition parties in this difficult environment to mobilise and inform Zimbabweans about what we in 'Save Zimbabwe Campaign' a broad coalition led by Christian Alliance have agreed to do.
 
Paul Madzore, Provincial Organising Secretary was Master of Ceremonies at the rally, a role he carried out with excellence. He led in song, slogan and humorous anecdotes, which kept the people gathered entertained. Speakers were inspirational. MP Madzimure, first speaker on behalf of Parliamentarians, stated that all Members of Parliament across the political divide agree that harmonised elections must be held in 2008. The next to speak was the Provincial Chairperson Morgan Femai whose sloganeering always excites the crowd and press present. His message was brief and to the point about the Harare Province 2007 programme and policy on 2008 harmonised elections. The Youth speaker gave his song and message, followed by my representing of the Women’s Assembly National Chairperson Amai Lucia Matibenga who is attending the Nairobi World Social Forum where she is presenter in 2 panels. Her message to the women and girls was to organise themselves to increase their numbers by registering to vote now, participate in the Christian Alliance Women’s All Night Prayer Meetings to Save Zimbabwe and to enlist a minimum of 10 people each who will definitely vote for MDC in 2008.
 
The next speaker was the National Organising Secretary Elias Mudzuri a popular figure in Harare as its elected Mayor, even though dismissed by Chombo excited the crowd by just standing up to speak. Mudzuri took the constituency through the disgusting conditions they live in, of flowing raw sewerage, uncollected refuse, lack of water, electricity cuts and numerous other Makwavarara imposed deprivations. His question to the rally was ‘where on earth do people pay for nonexistent services as Zimbabweans do?’ He requested of the crowd that in 2007 we change our accommodating attitude in the face of unprecedented abuse by the Mugabe regime. The DRC programme is a concrete programme to bring change quickly.
 
The Secretary General Tendai Biti rendered a brilliant speech in which he included statistics which shocked the crowd as he spelt out the death toll under Ian Smith during the entire armed struggle where the figure of dead is put at 20 000. Today Biti stated we are burying 4 000 people a week which is 208 000 a year. These figures tell us how our numbers are diminishing at an unprecedented pace. He spoke about the new life expectancy age heavily reduced by Mugabe’s policies and analysed Gono’s excesses on personal expenditures to match the national budget. Biti asked the rally if Gono is now God. The crowds today were ecstatic with the quality of speeches and showed their delight with their attentiveness and quick responses to speakers.
 
Nelson Chamisa the Constituency Member of Parliament was asked to give the Vote of Thanks only to render moving details of his efforts to develop the constituency, which at every turn are rebuffed by the authorities. He gave an example of his raising funds to build a constituency library, which the Chombo bureaucracy has refused to allow to proceed to completion, as they reject the donor of the facility. The residents responded to Chamisa with support and assurances that they will re elect him to complete his development projects under an MDC government in 2008!
 
Madzore led us in the last song, the final repeat of today’s new slogans for 2007,
 
Call:                                 We will Vote in 2007!
Response:                        Under A New Constitution!
 
Call:                                 Mugabe Must Go!
Response:                       To Save Zimbabwe
 
A powerful prayer ended the rally with us all regenerated. The rallies will roll throughout the country to prepare everyone for the Change bearing event!
 
 Sekai Holland
Harare – 20 January 2007      


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Various Clearance Certificates Charges Up



The Herald (Harare)

January 22, 2007
Posted to the web January 22, 2007

Harare

CHARGES of various clearance certificates have been increased by between 100
and over 1 000 percent owing to the ever-increasing cost of stationery.

Firearm dealers, visitors in transit, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and people
wishing to be employed by the Government and various other institutions need
to be vetted and cleared by the police through various processes.

Old Price New Price

Firearms dealer certificate $20 000 $150 000

Firearms certificate after import $10 000 $100 000

Renewal of firearms certificate $5 000 $25 000

Replacement of firearm certificate $5 000 $30 000

Import permit $10 000 $100 000

Ammunition supply permit $5 000 $30 000

The Criminal Investigations Department Head Office, has been overwhelmed by
people requiring various services but sometimes their operations are
negatively affected due to inadequate resources. Despite the time spent by
the law enforcement agents processing documents, services that include
change of company representative were not paid for while just a $1 000 was
paid for a variation authority order.

As from yesterday, people wishing to change company ownership were required
to fork out $30 000 for change of company representative and $50 000 to
enable one to have or apply for a variation order.

Police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Andrew Phiri yesterday said people from
the diaspora now needed to have their various documents processed through
Zimbabwean embassies.

"To attain any clearance certificate for various needs, they have to deposit
US$75 in our Standard Chartered Bank account," Chief Insp Phiri said.

The firearms business is an area were security experts said needed stringent
control to rid all loopholes and any possibilities that might slowly see
armed nature of crimes increase.

A major concern, the experts said, also lay in the smuggling of small arms
like pistols within the region, hence the need to see harmonisation of arms
related laws amongst countries and to introduce a cumbersome process to be
able to identify serious and genuine firearm dealers.

"A firearms dealer's licence is now $150 000 from $20 000 while charges for
the renewal permit went up to $100 000 from $15 000," he said.

Chief Insp Phiri said a firearm certificate after import is now $100 000
from $10 000 while an ammunition supply permit which was $5 000 is now $50
000.

"A firearm certificate for three days is now $50 000 up from $10 000,
renewal of firearm certificate which was $5 000 is now $25 000 while $30 000
is now required to replace a firearm certificate," Chief Insp Phiri said.

A fee for an import permit, which was $10 000 has been hiked to $100 000
while a dealers import permit and temporary import permit are all now pegged
at $100 000.

Transit and Auctioneers permits are all pegged at $100 000.

"Other services we offer on a daily basis, which include notification of
change of address and a 24-hour police certificate now costs $10 000," chief
Insp Phiri said.


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Zimbabweans prepare for President's birthday celebration

People's Daily

Preparations for the annual birthday celebration of President Robert Mugabe
were officially launched in Harare on Saturday, local newspapers reported on
Sunday.

In his address at the 12th ordinary session of the ruling Zanu- PF party
national youth executive, the ruling party's Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde
Absolom Sikhosana said the event, which is held annually to mark Mugabe's
birthday, is an all-encompassing occasion that recognizes the immense
contribution made by the President in shaping the history of Zimbabwe.

Sikhosana was quoted by The Sunday Mail as saying that all youths should put
political differences aside and take part in the celebrations.

"The 21st February Movement has never been a political event. It is not
about Zanu-PF but all the youths in this country. We are going to ensure
that all youths, whether they be in sport, church, or MDC, are included in
the celebrations because we are all Zimbabweans," said Sikhosana.

He said youths should endeavor to emulate the life of President Mugabe by
shunning corrupt tendencies and leading upright lives.

This year's main commemorations will be held in the Midlands capital of
Gweru and Sikhosana said the event will be bigger than last year's function
which was held in Mutare.

About 150 million Zimbabwe dollars (600,000 U.S. dollars) has been budgeted
for this year's event and a fundraising committee has already started
sourcing for the funds from new as well as traditional donors.

This year's 21st February Movement celebrations will be held under the theme
"Youth Empowerment for a Prosperous and Peaceful Zimbabwe", which encourages
productivity amongst the youths as a means of achieving economic prosperity.

The 21st February Movement is a youth oriented organ that was initiated in
1986 as a registered welfare organization. It gives young people an
opportunity to interact with the President and also aims to provide
opportunities for youths to take part in social development and recreational
activities.

Born on February 21, 1924 at Kutama Mission in Zvimba, Mugabe who turns 83
this year, is a revered African statesman well known for advocating social
justice and the economic emancipation of his people.

Source: Xinhua


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Zimbabwe entering an exciting period

zimbabwejournalists.com

By Julius Sai Mutyambizi-Dewa

I am joining a chorus that has been sung in the previous weeks by so many
people. All people today engaged with the politics of our country: Morgan
Tsvangirai, Jonathan Moyo, Arthur Mutambara, Gugulethu Moyo, Edgar Tekere,
Pius Ncube etc have all been saying that this year will be a different year.

I have been very sceptical as to me I thought those were people just being
excitable with no reason to be so. Yet I again find myself almost saying the
same things. There is no doubting that there are movements within ZANU PF
that save as a pointer to a weakening party, slowly on its way to demise.
President Robert Mugabe himself has said that he fears that if he leaves his
party will be weaker and could surely face defeat at the polls.

This is admission in its clearest terms and we can all read the facts from
him. Those who deny are simply being very defeatist, the defeatism that has
now become characteristic of ZANU PF. Yet what he and others in ZANU PF who
still want him to extend his term are saying is that he and he alone is the
panacea. We have heard this recycled dogma for the past twenty-seven years
from the time we believed, to a time we doubted and to this day when we are
completely seeing that as a fallacy.

At this moment in time there seems to be three forces in Zimbabwe: forces
for mild change; forces for radical change and those that are intending the
existence of the status quo. It all seems to me that the forces for mild
change are also the forces for abrupt change: wanting to see a quick fix and
boom, the engine is running! Understandable because there has been so much
happening in Zimbabwe and honestly people want to see some movement
including narrowing down the target of the revolution to one person; Robert
Mugabe and if he goes then hallelujah, all is done.

The forces of mild change are the ones who are clamouring for Mugabe to go
soon; they are slightly different from those that are for no change at all.
To me we find those who are intending mild and abrupt change within the
ranks of ZANU PF itself. These are the Mujurus etc whose main reason is that
Mugabe must go because he should give others the chance, fine and fair in
their Party, ZANU PF can not do the campaigning for us. Unfortunately not
only ZANU PF is in the mild change business; they are joined with some
opposition-minded people who also want a new beginning and want it now.

The mild change phenomenon was largely displayed recently by the likes of
Gideon Gono with his now very infamous zero-drop monetary policy which has
in reality not taken the country anywhere. They can also be shown by the
abrupt policies that ZANU PF has introduced in Zimbabwe: ESAP where we were
fooled by the World Bank that we could grow our economy to the size of the
UK in 20-40 years (remember vision 2020?) and even the abrupt nature of the
land reform and noble ideas such as indigenisation which were clearly
wrongly and wrongfully implemented.

It is an obvious public planning fiasco. Politically the mild change will be
the removal of Robert Mugabe and the choosing of a new president from within
the ranks of ZANU PF. It may be John Nkomo with the hope that people from
the Midlands and Matabeleland will easily forget Gukurahundi. That is not a
remote possibility: no sooner had John Nkomo announced his intention to
stand was he assigned to attend the inauguration of Joseph Kabila in the DRC
where most regional leaders were represented. Get me right there was a time
I really thought John Nkomo could have easily replaced Robert Mugabe; thus
between 1997-2000 when he was actually a darling of most Zimbabweans across
the political divide.

He seemed to be a person keen on bringing order to the country; fighting
corruption and firing incompetent mayors. As a Minister of Home Affairs he
had also attempted to quell the situation on the farms at the peak of the
farm invasions by instructing police to arrest anyone on the farms but
remember how he was shot-down by Robert Mugabe who soon after his return
from the many trips that he generously got from the West then; condoned the
violent farm invasions as peaceful demonstrations despite the deaths on the
farms. It is at this point that John Landa Nkomo was cowed into submission
and so went his chance of ruling the country.

To this group of ZANU PF leaders who are for mild and abrupt change; the
country must all be honest enough to tell ZANU PF two things; one that they
are a former revolutionary party and two; that the responsibility to redeem
themselves lies solely with them. The honest truth to ZANU PF is that it is
slowly becoming irrelevant as their years of misrule compounded their
blatant lack of respect for the Zimbabwean citizenry is now making it very
difficult to market even their most treasured hegemony: the authorship of
the liberation struggle. So bad have they sunk that it now seems legitimate
to say that there is new generation of liberation fighters in Zimbabwe:
those that are fighting against the black hermits and aristocrats in our
country!

Their quick fix, mild change mentality is based on the need to perpetuate
the advantages ZANU PF has gained politically and economically. They can
even afford to convince the ready-to-conceive international community by
enticing elements of the opposition into a "government of national unity";
something which I really do not understand in a democracy. Politically the
country could be taken to the 1987 situation where two major parties are
together, their leaders have influential positions but nothing on the ground
is really changing.

But this solution does not open the gates wide enough because there are
certain things that won't be done. Such issues as Gukurahundi may not be
addressed as again there will be talk of reconciliation. The gates will be
closed to justice. There will be a golden handshake for people who in
reality may have taken advantage of a very young officer then; Perence
Shiri, who was twenty-one and very easy to manipulate. Surely someone must
answer and tell the nation why such a young person could have been given
such an enormous task.

But Gukurahundi of course is not the only injustice in our country; there is
still the likes of Ian Smith and Peter Walls who have to answer for Chimoyo,
Mulungushi, Nyadzonia, Murogoro, Mboroma, Tembwe etc. and also the deaths of
Tonderai Machiridza, Tichaona Chiminya, Talent Mabika, Martin Olds etc who
ZANU PF also butchered. The mild change brigade will deny us that. Thus
politically we would be repeating something similar to 1987.

Economically the mild change would want to be attractive to the World Bank,
get a line of credit and possibly get the "economy going". This is all too
easy as it then takes us to the 1990s period when we entered a phase of
borrowed success that we naturally surrendered the moment we realised that
the Brenton Woods is not a hospital for ailing economies but just an
advisory centre. This will not help us.

The mild change and quick fix that we are slowly adapting to is not going to
work. The problem in Zimbabwe is not Robert Mugabe but it is a whole system
that demands a complete overhaul. The problem in Zimbabwe is present in
abundance in the ruling party but it is also there in the opposition
circles. It is a very Zimbabwean problem. Our problem politically has been
that of a political monoculture that has reflected in all walks of life.

The economy has caught fire because naturally it is the barometer by which
political health is measured. The USA tends to think that countries where
human rights are respected and where there is democracy tend to grow their
economies easily; for once I think they are correct although China is a very
reflective exception. Alex Magaisa sometime wrote that people get the
leaders they deserve, I can not agree more.

If our culture does not change we continue to nurture the same leaders that
we currently have; the same ZANU PF that we are so desperate to replace. We
need a protracted struggle that shall bring in radical change. We have to
change our mindsets. We seem to be having that realisation where there is a
movement that seems to try addressing the problem of Zimbabwe not within a
context of ZANU PF's rule or misrule but within a context of the challenges
that all history has bestowed upon us.

By history I am also looking at an holistic approach; I am looking at the
phases right from things that we can be proud of: the lasting architecture
at Great Zimbabwe and other madzimbahwes, the invention of the mbira, the
invention of the clay pot, the famed iron-smiths of our iron age, the defeat
of the Portuguese invaders by Changamire Dombo, the invention by the same
person of the mulomo akhumba fighting method (cow-horn formation made famous
by Tshaka), the attempt by the Rozvi to explore the moon, the breeding of
seeds by Dlembeu, the rebellion from Tshaka by Mzilikazi and Soshangane, the
building of a composite nation by Lobengula, the Anglo-Ndebele War, the
First and Second Chimurenga etc.

Yet by history we also mean our shortcomings; the colonisation of Zimbabwe
in 1890, the declaration of UDI; the bombings at Nyadzonia, Tembwe, Chimoyo,
Mboroma, Mulungushi, Murogoro etc, the atrocities in Matabeleland and the
deaths of opposition supporters since 1999. Such understanding of our very
wealthy and yet also very challenging past will enable us the new beginning
we intend. For this to happen I think we have to realise Robert Mugabe is
not the only problem, he is just part of it. Even if a new government
comprising of all the current voices in the opposition is to be in power
tomorrow our problems do not go away as fast. We will still be knocking the
doors of the World Bank again as beggars yet we are endowed with resources.

A protracted struggle that takes into account all the concerns and
aspirations of every Zimbabwean; allowing for example people of Matabeleland
and the Midlands and every other region that feels so an honest debate among
themselves on issues such as a federation, will go a long way. A protracted
struggle will seek justice for the Second Chimurenga atrocities and the
Gukurahundi genocide. At the end we will have to redefine ourselves by
setting ourselves free from guilty consciences from an undesirable past and
try and build from the strengths of the desirable part of our past. A
prognosis that seeks to cure by just looking at the good and sweeping the
bad under the carpet will not take us anywhere. It will be as moribund as
the culture that we are seeing today.

It's only when we have honestly redefined ourselves that we can now go on
and confidently position ourselves for global leadership. Yes, the dream
that the lullabies of the World Bank put us through, sweet as it was; that
we can be better than the UK, is something that I believe is realisable. But
only when we stop the quick fix that we want. History has placed us where we
are and it took long. We have to relive that past but having rectified our
mistakes.

If we go to the Ndebele site called Inkhundla for example we see people
really hurt with the treatment they have got from their countrymen. Surely
we can not collectively continue to dismiss them as tribalists. Points that
are raised there have been necessitated by a bad patch in history that so
far has not been rectified. The gown that Zimbabwe is can be sartorially
impeccable only if we sew it with the cloth that we all want. If people from
Matabeleland would prefer to be in a federation I do not honestly think it's
for people in Mashonaland to decide. A simple referendum in that part of our
country should show us their preference.

Coming to "national unity" and "re-unification" I am really disturbed what
that means and the intentions behind that. I do not believe Zimbabweans are
too naïve not to realise that we are interested in democracy. this whole
point of creating parties that are clearly different and then later on you
want to make an amalgam of some sought is clearly for purposes of
expedience. In last year's elections in the USA the elections were won by
the Democrats but clearly they were very close. Now do we intend to see the
Republicans and the Democrats forming a government of national unity?

Of course, no! In so far as I want people to be united I am not a person
wanting to see the creation of a democracy that breaks itself apart and
amalgamate parties for expedience sake. I believe our focus in Zimbabwe
should remain one that seeks wider avenues for democracy; where the minority
is listened to, where the majority is listened and both are living together
in harmony. We want a Zimbabwe where the opposition is in parliament as a
result of free and fair elections where obviously there was a winner and a
loser.

I believe in a true democracy where the opposition has a right to be
consulted on matters of national interest and their role to oppose is not
interfered with by unjust laws and use of force. I believe in a democracy
where everyone is an informed participant; the judiciary is functioning and
everyone exercises their right to choose freely without prejudice. I believe
if we want to achieve this in our country journey's end does not come with
the departure of Robert Mugabe. Zimbabweans must realise that the departure
of Robert Mugabe will not be the achievement of democracy and success; but
it may just be the start of a longer journey to redeem our pride as a
country that can stand up among the best not in Africa but in the World!

JULIUS SAI MUTYAMBIZI-DEWA
Contact: dhewah@hotmail.com or mutyambizidewa@yahoo.co.uk
00447984254830


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Gukurahundi; time to bury the ghost officially

zimbabwejournalists.com

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

TWO events with ethnical connotations occurred last week: the first was the
assassination of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin, gunned
down on Friday, presumably by another Turk, but this one of Turkish origin.

Dink published a newspaper in Istanbul and wrote articles, reminding the
Turkish people of the massacre by Turkish troops of Armenians in 1915, the
final days of the Ottoman Empire, a year after the beginning of the First
World War.

On Saturday, in Bulawayo, the second city of Zimbabwe, a memorial service
was held in a Catholic church for the victims of the 1980s massacre of a
reported 20 000 people by Zimbabwean soldiers trained in North Korea, and
known as the 5 brigade.

There was no such memorial service in Harare, the capital - at least, not
one the media were informed of, or one which received wide publicity.
In any case, by its very distinct nature, the memorial service had to be
held in Bulawayo, where the ethnic group - the Ndebele - constituted the
majority of the people massacred, during what was variously called, by the
government, the "bandit" or the  "dissident" war.

It is to be presumed, controversially, it would seem, that the soldiers who
killed the Ndebele were Shona or Shona-speaking.
In fact, the massacre, eventually accepted by the president of the republic,
Robert Mugabe, as a "madness", was alleged to have targeted the Ndebele
because they constituted the majority of the members of the political party,
Zapu, which the government alleged plotted the overthrow of the
Zanu-dominated government.

Zanu, at the time, was dominated by the majority Shona - these facts have to
be highlighted for a clearer understanding of the ethnic element in the
conflict.
Hence, the similarity between that memorial service and the murder of the
journalist of Armenian origin in Istanbul.

If many Zimbabweans find this juxtaposition vexatious, this will be
understandable. Our population is dominated by young people, most of them
with only a hazy memory of the origins of Gukurahundi.

Incidentally, the man who killed Dink was reported on Sunday to have
confessed, having been identified by his father, after the police flashed
his photograph on TV.
Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, no such positive developments have characterized
the search for the perpetrators of Gukurahundi.

At the memorial service, someone called for Mugabe to be hauled before the
international courts concerned with the trials of people for crimes against
humanity or genocide, such as Charles Taylor of Liberia and Slobadan
Milosevic of Yugoslavia, who died before he was sentenced.

It is probably undeniable that the surviving victims of Gukurahundi and
their sympathisers are blinded by emotion when they speak on the massacres.
Yet this should not detract from the fact that, unless the government or,
particularly Mugabe, come up with an open, frank and sincere apology - at
the very least - Gukurahundi could be the permanent albatross to every
effort by people of goodwill, on both sides of the ethnic or political
divide, to bury the dark past.

It has been argued that the 5 Brigade was not specifically assigned the job
of eliminating the dissidents because they were Ndebele.
To counter this, survivors have told of soldiers boarding buses deep in
rural Matabeleland and interrogating passengers in Shona. If this was not to
emphasise the point that the Ndebele were the targets, then we might as well
dismiss Gukurahundi as the figment of someone's fevered imagination.

Gukurahundi, unfortunately, was real. When Mugabe himself finally admitted
that it was a "madness" he had decided it could not, by any stretch of the
imagination, be anything remotely related to the liberation struggle, which
had been his litany in the early years after the massacre.

He and Joshua Nkomo, at the height of the conflict, exchanged invective
difficult to imagine after they resolved, later, to sign the Unity Accord.
From his exile in London, Nkomo said publicly Mugabe had sent people to kill
him. Mugabe himself spoke of Nkomo being the leader of the dissidents.

Enos Nkala, now a champion of Mugabe's removal from power, spoke of the need
to cut off "the head of the snake" if the dissidents were to be subdued.
The Unity Accord itself, it must be remembered, was signed in 1987 - six
years after the conflict started, with the loss of 20 000 people, some of
them women and children.

Nkomo, it has been said, was horrified by the prospect of leading a Jonas
Savimbi-like guerrilla war against the government, and the deaths that would
follow.
Nkomo may have died in 1999 believing that he had saved his country from a
terrible civil war in which hundreds might have died.

It is doubtful, however, if he imagined that, in 2007, a group of his former
supporters would gather in a church in Bulawayo and demand that his fellow
signatory to the Unity Accord be given the Milosevic or Taylor treatment at
The Hague.

Obviously, there are people in Zanu PF today who have no stomach for
confronting the realities of the political consequences of Gukurahundi. Like
Nathan Shamuyarira, they are quite ready to rub into the dirt the deep,
unhealed wounds of the Gukurahundi survivors.

To openly tell them that all the 20 000 people killed by the 5 brigade
richly deserved their fate is so insulting, insensitive and, ultimately
infuriating even Shona-speaking people are outraged.

The Armenians of Turkey are now calling on the European Union to forget
admitting Turkey. The country has faced other problems in its drive to join
the EU, but the campaign by the Turkish Armenians could be the most
formidable argument to be picked on by the EU to deny membership.
The Zimbabwe government must face this reality too: denying the gravity of
Gukurahundi to the success of Zimbabwe as a nation would be absolutely
injurious both economically and politically.

Turkey, let us not forget, has a problem convincing EU critics that its
attitude towards the unity of Cyprus is positive. That island is still
divided and it is the opinion of many EU members that it is not Greece, but
Turkey, which is the major obstacle.

There have been more serious ethnic conflicts in Africa: both Rwanda and
Burundi have still not settled completely the ethnic tensions between the
Hutus and the Tutsis. Yet both countries recognized that the rest of the
world would not co-operate with them unless they forged real unity between
the two groups.

South Africa, at one time, reeled from the conflict between the Xhosa and
the Zulu, particularly during the pugnacious period of the Inkatha Freedom
Party. The leaders of the two groups decided it was not worth it to divider
the country over what they must have seen as a profitless argument over
which tribe was superior.

Zambia, fortunately, has overcome the myth, forged by UNIP at the beginning
of independence in 1964, that only the Bemba could rule the country.

Michael Sata's defeat in last year's elections, demonstrated amply that
other ethnic groups, particularly the Bantu Botatwe, led by the majority
Tonga, had come into their own.

In Malawi, the period of Chewa domination promoted by Hastings Kamuzu Banda
gave way, during Bakhili Muluzi's time, to the domination of the Yao of the
southern region; Bingu waMutarika may have ushered in a period during which
no one ethnic group can claim supremacy over all others.

What Mugabe needs to do is, not only to confront the ghost of Gukurahundi
boldly, by doing what is demanded of him as the leader of all the people of
Zimbabwe - apologise to the Ndebele - but to indicate in loud and clear
language that his party or any other party must be prepared to accept a
Ndebele - or any other person from the minority groups - as leader of the
country.

At the moment, Zanu PF is confused by Mugabe's insistence that only he can
lead the country. He must appreciate that this stubborn stance could lead to
more divisions in the country, not to mention the loss of goodwill among
many countries waiting to come to Zimbabwe's aid once they are assured that
the Mugabe Period of Darkness is about to end.

There have been serious mistakes under Mugabe, the evidence of which is
abundant, including the recent death from mushroom poisoning of five members
of the same family in Epworth outside Harare.

If neither Mugabe nor Zanu PF feel responsibility for this tragedy, then
there is little hope - short of Divine Intervention, with a little help from
the people  - that Zimbabwe can be saved.


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The Political Outlook for 2007



After I had sent out the outlook for the economy in early January, someone
wrote to me and said that a political outlook would be very interesting.
Much more difficult of course and probably less reliable as there are so
many variables.

The driving force will be the economy. Already the reality of the conditions
forecast by analysts is impacting on the consciousness of the majority of
Zimbabweans. Inflation has begun to accelerate in earnest. Workers are
unable to afford transport and are walking to and from work, doctors in the
State sector are on strike and wildcat strikes are taking place in many
other sectors.

The State is just making things worse - we have seen certain state
controlled institutions buying foreign exchange on the open market and
driving down the value of the local currency. The attack on the mining
industry has frozen all development and expansion and totally disrupted the
informal sector, displacing hundred of thousands of people who were making a
living from gold and diamonds. The threat to change the currency over 24
hours (a ridiculous action designed to completely dislocate the smooth
change over that is required) will also cause much distress. The
announcement that the State social security agency (NSSA) is going to raise
compulsory contributions to 16 per cent of gross salaries (an enormous new
tax) to pay for State run hospitals is also pending. We are already the most
highly taxed community in the region and this will push the situation into
the realm of the impossible in terms of tolerance and capacity. Take home
pay for many will be reduced to a fraction of their pay by this measure with
no significant benefit.

The question is, will this situation push people over the edge? I think it
will and it is the deteriorating economy that will be the most significant
factor in the political realm this year. This will be made even more
significant by the fact that we are in the throes of a very poor
agricultural season from every perspective. It is difficult to know what
will push people over the edge, but food prices and shortages might well be
the trigger, as they were in the late 90's.

 I also see growing signs that at last the patience and tolerance of the
Mugabe regime is running thin in the SADC region. Its about time and these
leaders remain the most effective means of bringing pressure to bear on the
present government to put their house in order. I think international
pressure will be unrelenting. The targeted sanctions against the leadership
of this regime will be renewed in February and the same States that are
leading this campaign will increase their pressure on African leaders to "do
something" about Mugabe and the errant leadership of Zanu PF.

But change may also come from another unexpected quarter. Last week a senior
Police Officer spoke to a colleague in the MDC and said that if ever the
country needed the MDC leadership on the streets, it was now. He is in the
Law and order section in Bulawayo (the political unit) so these remarks from
someone who spends his days trying to keep the lid on the protests is
significant. We are also getting reports from all the other sections of the
security forces including the CIO. People are unhappy and the patronage that
has served Zanu PF so well in the past decade is disintegrating as the State
runs out of money and capacity to maintain the system.

The day that the Police stand by or even join in a protest over living
standards, is the day that Zanu PF is finished. They no longer have any
significant support among the general populace. That day could be closer
than we think and the sole remaining pillars of support for this oligarchy
are the police, the army and the CIO.

What of the opposition? I read the reports of commentators and the media
every day and the consensus is pretty solid. The "MDC is divided and
weakened and is no longer the threat it once was to the regime". The truth
of the matter is that we were never a real threat to the regime while we
maintained the twin pillars of non-violence and democracy for our campaign
to wrest power from Zanu PF. They controlled the means of coercion across
the country and also voting rights and the way votes were cast and counted
in the elections. The only real threat to Zanu PF over the past decade has
been diplomatic and the protection afforded to the regime by the SADC and
other African leaders has guaranteed that that threat never materialized.

However I dispute the view that the opposition is divided and ineffective.
In fact it has never been so coordinated and unified - through the Broad
Alliance. This now incorporates all civil society organisations and all
opposition Parties. It also includes, for the first time, 1500 Churches from
every denomination. Slowly this coalition of opposition forces is getting
its act together and raising the funding for effective action. Last year
fund raising was virtually impossible. The local business community is
totally cowed, the international community tired and discouraged and the
rest of us broke! Great environment to raise money for political purposes!

The question is can this alliance get its act together and perhaps spark the
popular revolt that will force the SADC to take action rather than just talk
and also force Zanu PF to compromise and allow the process of change to get
underway? They know that any changes in the electoral realm towards a free
and fair election under regional or international supervision will mark the
end of the era of Zanu PF dominance, if not even their existence. So that
process will not be easy, but it could happen.

The consensus among the people I know and respect in the political realm all
say that Zanu will not achieve its goal of shifting the elections to 2010.
The political and economic situation simply will not allow that to happen. I
have seen scenarios that predict that his own people might even force Mr.
Mugabe out of office - stranger things have happened in politics. I doubt
that scenario and feel it would not even be that helpful. When we do finally
throw off the yoke imposed on us by Zanu PF we will have to get rid of the
whole caboodle - root and branch!

My friends pretty much universally predict elections in March 2008. They
differ as to under what conditions but I think they may well be right and
what we have to concentrate on are the conditions under which such an event
might take place. If Zanu is allowed to conduct elections as they did in
2000, 2002 and 2005, then we can expect things just to get worse, and that
remains a real possibility.

My great fear has always been that without significant external influence
and pressure (possible only from the SADC States) that weary, battered
Zimbabweans would be subjected to a chaotic and violent transition - the
outcome of which would be anyone's guess, instead of the kind of orderly,
negotiated transition to a constitutional democracy such as was achieved in
South Africa, largely under the influence and guidance of the British and
the Americans.

The world has moved on since then and this sort of neo-colonial action is no
longer possible. So it is really up to us. Like mariners approaching the
beach through the waves, we know the beach is close - we can hear the surf
breaking. What we do not know is what rocks lie under the surf and how much
of a soft landing we will get when we get there. A business colleague asked
me about my expectations and I said - I have my life jacket on and am ready
for whatever this year throws at me. I am sure we will get wet, but I am
also sure we do not have that long to wait any longer.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 21st January 2007

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