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China's empire-builders sweep up African riches

The Sunday Times, UK July 16, 2006

      RW Johnson, Cape Town

      IN the past seven months, Chinese dealers have bought 30 tons of
ivory from Zimbabwe's Parks and Wildlife Management Authority - representing
the tusks of some 2,250 elephants.

      "It's an incredibly profitable trade," said one game ranger.
"They've not only run the parks' stockpile right down, but elephants are now
being poached across the border from Botswana and other neighbouring
countries to fulfil the demand, which seems to be bottomless."

      The purchases are typical of China's rapacious scramble for
Africa, in which oil, minerals and all manner of raw materials are being
eagerly snapped up. Opportunities for deal-making are swiftly exploited,
sometimes with detrimental effects on the continent.

      Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species, which controls the world's ivory trade, President Robert Mugabe's
Zimbabwe has a special concession that allows it to sell lots worth £270 or
less. This loophole has allowed the burgeoning trade to develop. Chinese
money is now fuelling widespread poaching. Two months ago Zimbabwe police
caught Chinese dealers with seven tons of ivory, of which four tons came
from illegal sources.

      "They deliberately mix legal and illegal stuff together as a
disguise," the ranger said. "Of course, the case hasn't come to court and
probably it never will, given President Mugabe's 'look east' policy and his
passionate enthusiasm for all things Chinese."

      In recent months Mugabe has been exhorting Zimbabweans to learn
Mandarin and take up Chinese cuisine. Beijing's voracious appetite for raw
materials to sustain a fast-growing economy has seen Chinese trade and
investment pouring into Africa in the past few years. In 2003 the total
China-Africa trade was £6.6 billion. By 2005 it had reached £22 billion.

      Human rights activists are appalled at the way Beijing has
ignored scruples that have made many western investors wary of dealing with
regimes like those of Zimbabwe and Sudan. "Wherever there are resources the
Chinese are going to go there," says Peter Takirambudde, head of the Africa
division of Human Rights Watch. "They see no evil. They hear no evil. That's
very bad for Africans."

      Indeed, the Chinese go out of their way to ingratiate themselves
with dictators such as Mugabe, donating the blue tiles that adorn his new
£7m palace in Harare. They have also decided to foot the bill for a large
Namibian presidential palace in Windhoek.

      The rhetoric of the China-Africa relationship is different, with
China claiming to be the champion of all Third World countries, offering
them a new relationship that will free them from their dependence on the
northern powers of the G8.

      They are adept at high-profile gestures such as a donation of
four endangered white Siberian tigers to Zimbabwe for a captive breeding

      They have also succeeded in getting African states to accept
large numbers of Chinese experts and workers as part of their investment
packages: 28 "Baoding villages" have been established, each housing up to
2,000 Chinese workers, in various parts of Africa.

      In Nigeria, a Chinese-language newspaper now serves 50,000
immigrants. At no stage in Britain's colonisation of Nigeria did the British
numbers reach such a figure. As one opposition figure in Zimbabwe observed:
"If the British were our masters yesterday, the Chinese have come and taken
their place."

      At grassroots this is highly unpopular. Chinese goods sent to
Africa are notorious for their poor quality. None of a shipment of 50 buses
to Zimbabwe is still working and an order for 250 more has been suspended.

      Of three MA60 passenger jets the Chinese sent to Mugabe, one has
never managed to fly, one had to make an emergency landing at Victoria
Falls, injuring many passengers, and the third caught fire on take-off in
Harare last week. All are now grounded.

      Moreover, as Eldred Masunungure, professor of political science
at Harare University, puts it: "The resentment of the Chinese is not only
widespread, it's deeply rooted."

      The Chinese are generally viewed as loud, uncouth, prone to
spitting and openly derogatory towards Africans. Worse, the copper mines
they have opened up in Zambia and Zimbabwe are renowned for low wages,
ferocious labour discipline and a sky-high accident rate. "That's how they
run things at home, after all - and on top of that, they despise blacks,"
said one Zimbabwean engineer.

      As with the ivory traders, many Chinese technical experts
develop other ways of making money. In Harare, some are already a force in
the drugs trade. In Botswana, Chinese workers brought in by construction
companies now own hundreds of shops in the capital, Gaborone. Most worrying
of all, however, is the way Chinese imports have largely wiped out budding
African industries.

      Professor Laurence Schlemmer of Witwatersrand University's
business school in Johannesburg, said: "In effect, China is forcing Africa
back into the role of raw material suppliers - undermining its textile
industry and importing raw cotton instead."

      Such concerns were raised with President Hu Jintao, who recently
toured Africa. But for the moment the tidal wave of Chinese money is
carrying all before it. "The Chinese are getting away with claiming that
they aren't like the other colonialists, but Africans aren't fools," a South
African economist commented. "The Chinese are far more ruthless than the
Brits ever were."

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Zanu PF chefs consult withdoctors to succeed Mugabe

By a Correspondent

HARARE - PRESIDENT Mugabe, who threatened Friday to "cleanse" his Zanu
PF party of senior crooked officials profiteering at the expense of the poor
ordinary person, was at it again yesterday, this time lashing out at
possible successors whom he said were spending sleepless nights consulting
witchdoctors (n'angas) to guide them to the most prized position of Head of

Speaking in jest at a Zanu PF National Consultative Assembly, held
after the Central Committee meeting yesterday, Mugabe said those who wanted
to succeed him in leading the party and government should not resort to
witchdoctors since the biggest witchdoctor was the people of Zimbabwe. Only
the people would choose their next leader, he said.

"The things we hear about succession, succession, succession  -
zvatinonzwa zvacho, zvakaoma. Hapana zvakadaro. If I were to write books, I
would write volumes and volumes of nonsensical things," he said to rousing
laughter from the auditorium. "Vamwe vanoenda kun'anga kuti ndinoda kuita
ichi. Imi weee . . . N'anga huru is the people of Zimbabwe. Hazvina n'anga
mukati izvi."

When literally translated Mugabe was saying: "We hear lots of
unbelievable stories about the succession issue. There are so many stories
doing the rounds. We hear some people are consulting witchdoctors, what they
should know is that the biggest witchdoctor is the people of Zimbabwe. There
is no need to consult witchdoctors at all to get the job."

"If you do your work and work with the people well, the people will
recognise you. Unhu hwako tinenge tichida kuti hunge huri hwakanaka. (We
want people with dignity.)"

Zanu PF party is currently divided over Mugabe's succession with many
trying to position themselves that is if he leaves office in 2008. Two major
camps led by Zanu PF kingmaker, General Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the former powerful State Security Minister of the 1980s,
popularly known as Ngwena in political circles, are tussling it out to have
one of their own taking over from Mugabe.

At yesterday's meeting Mugabe said it was surprising that all the time
the party was discussing the same issues but without implementation on the
ground because of lack of unity and sense of purpose. Most of the
differences boil down to the succession issue.

"Divisions, disunity, selfishness, individualism, those evils are
killing us," he told the party members.

Mugabe, blamed for the past 26years for failing to fire dead wood from
his Cabinet though from time to time he uses public platforms and trips
abroad to castigate non-performing ministers, crooks and thieves amongst his
lieutenants and polygamists, went on to attack senior party officials for
their philandering behaviour. Most of them are known for what is now
commonly known as the "small houses" in the country where they keep their
mistresses, second or third wives in luxury.

"Varume, unonzwa kuti anemwana apa, apo nepapapo - vakadzi apa, apo
nepapapo (Some men have several children and wives all over the place)," he
said as he gestured towards the popular and expensive Avenues area where
most of his senior officials are said to maintain a number of mistresses.

"I don't know why we built these (Avenues) flats. The law is that if
you get married at the Magistrate's Court, it's one man one wife. If you don't
want that, then do it the traditional way. But also, some women also do
unbelievable things."

Mugabe said evidence in the party has so far shown that most senior
ruling party officials were not heeding advice on the dreaded HIV/Aids
pandemic hence many were succumbing to illnesses related to the scourge.

He again blamed Britain and the USA for spearheading a campaign to
tarnish Zimbabwe's image internationally, applying targeted sanctions that
were crucifying the country's economy and related ills. He said the MDC was
a product of the British government and did not have independent ideas on
how to rule the country.

Mugabe said he was sure things would change for the better in the
country with a lot happening between now and December.

"We cannot fail and we cannot collapse," he said to rapturous applause
from the Zanu PF National Consultative Assembly.

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Sazini Mpofu interview

From PBS Frontline/World (US), 27 June

Sazini Mpofu is a former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition
activist who worked with fellow member Khethani Sibanda. After both men were
arrested in 2001 on trumped-up charges of kidnapping and murdering a
high-ranking member of the ruling party, Mpofu's family home was burned
down. Mpofu spent three years in prison before he was finally acquitted.
After his release, he fled to South Africa, and later returned to Zimbabwe.
In this interview, Mpofu talks about the murder charge and about his
decision to return to Zimbabwe, despite fear and reprisals, to provide for
his younger siblings and rebuild the family home.

Alexis Bloom: How do you feel about being back in Zimbabwe?

Sazini Mpofu: It feels kind of sad. Being back in Zimbabwe reminds me of a
lot of things that have happened to me and my family since 2001.

What does it remind you of?

It reminds me mainly of what I went through by being part of the opposition

Do you think things have changed since 2001?

Yeah, a lot of things have changed. Some things have become worse than they
were during the time I was arrested. Then, a couple of things were
affordable. One could at least work and get paid and be able to look after a
family. But now, you cannot afford to at least look after two people.

How does it make you feel that you went through all of that trouble and
sadness and this is where we are today?

It really does hurt me a lot. Because I thought maybe, you know, some of us
went through suffering so that others could have a better life. But it seems
that it's getting worse every day.

When you were arrested, what was the political climate like versus today?

I think people are no longer willing to fight. They don't want to get
involved in any political activities, or even if they're getting involved,
they somehow hide it from the public because of what they have seen
happening to other people and to us. They think it's best to just remain in
their homes, close the doors, and forget about any other issue except their
families and how to survive.

They say sometimes that a hungry man is an angry man. Do you think we've
reached that point yet?

No, I think we're still far from that point because if we had reached that
point, there would be a difference right now as we speak. People would be
doing something about what's happening in this country. But everyone is
quiet. If you didn't know, you'd think everything was perfect in this

That's something we have noticed. We come here and we drive down the streets
and it seems perfectly normal. Why does it seem so calm?

People are really suffering, but now they are hiding that suffering. You get
into your home, your room, just thinking about it a lot, getting stressed
out. But there is nothing you can really do about it. If you take it to the
streets in terms of protest, you get arrested. People are really tired.
People are feeling the heat, but they're afraid at the same time.

Do you think then that Mugabe has won?

From Mugabe's point, from the whole of Zanu PF's point, they're telling
themselves that they have won. Because so far they have achieved what I
believe is what they wanted. Because people are suffering, people fear them.
If someone tells you he is a war veteran, you have to fear him because that
person is capable of actually making you suffer. He can get you arrested,
get you beaten up, tortured. He won't even be a policeman, but he can
actually handcuff you and take you to the police station. Make charges
against you, get you beaten - and there is nothing that one can do about

Is it one of the government's main priorities to intimidate its own people?

Personally, I believe that's what they want - for the people to feel that
the government, their ruling party, the Zanu PF, is in power. If they didn't
want that, why would they let people suffer like this? You go to every shop,
you have the money, but the commodity is not available. It's not that it's
being withheld somewhere. It's just not there.

Some people say the government relies on brutality because it doesn't enjoy
popular support.

The Zanu PF Party doesn't have the support of the people, so they introduce
fear into the public. They [the people] decide to ignore the whole political
atmosphere because they have seen examples of people being murdered, people
being arrested, people being beaten, houses being burned down. For instance,
my place was burned down during my arrest. So if people see such things
happening to their neighbors, they fear that they might be the next victims,
so they lie low and ignore the political situation.

So your house was burned down? Explain what happened to you.

It was November 2001. I was not at home; I was with my girlfriend at her
place. I can say they were police officers in civilian clothing. Some were
putting on riot police officer uniforms and some were just putting on these
police uniforms, carrying rifles and other small guns. That's when they came
to my girlfriend's place, about 40 meters from my place. They knocked at the
door and threatened to break down the door. So my girlfriend opened the
door. They came in and started insulting me without asking any questions.
They only question I heard them ask was where I was, so she told them I was
in the bedroom and then they came into the bedroom. They asked for my I.D. I
gave them my passport, and then they started assaulting me without telling
me anything about what was going on. One officer told them to let me get
dressed, and then they handcuffed me from behind. And they started
assaulting me again. I was taken out of the house into the vehicle. There
were two police vehicles parked outside. What happened to my girlfriend
after, I didn't know. I was taken to my place. When we got there, I realized
that they had broken into my room. And there was already another police
vehicle parked in the yard.

I was once a polling agent for the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change]
during elections, during the 2000 elections. So I had papers, you know,
manuscripts of how one is to conduct an election, something like that; they
took all those papers and said I knew a lot of secrets about the MDC that I
was going to tell them. At that point, they hadn't told me who they were. I
just had to suspect that maybe they were genuine police officers. Any of
them who wanted to assault me just hit me whenever he felt it was
appropriate. So they took me out of the room and into the car, and we drove
all night looking for other suspects I believe they wanted to arrest. Some
they were arresting, others they were just beating and leaving. So we got to
the police station during the next morning. I was taken into a cell and then
to an office where there were police officers in civilian clothing. They
told me that they wanted me to agree with what they wanted me to say in
front of the camera.

They wanted me to say I had a hand in the kidnapping and killing of Cain
Nkala. At that point, I told them I knew nothing about that case and I
wasn't involved. So they started assaulting me, all the police officers who
were there, but there was this one police officer, he was sitting. He didn't
touch me, just instructed the other police officers to beat me up. I really
felt the pain during the time they were assaulting me, so I ended up
agreeing with what they wanted. And that's when they said they wanted me for
indications. And when we got to the indication site, they would tell me what
to do. So they took me and Khethani to the indications.

Explain what you mean by "indications."

"Indications" is when we are taken to the scene of the crime to point out
what we did, and how we did it.

So they took you ...

Yeah, from the police cells to the scene of the crime. When we got to the
scene of the crime, there were cameras ... the national television crew were
there and other private organizations and the police officers with their own
video camera, and they started recording. So before they started recording,
we were told what we going to say, how we were going to position ourselves
and point to the graveyard ... to the grave actually. So what we did is, we
sort of rehearsed the whole thing before it was recorded on camera. So then
Khethani is the one who was to indicate the body first, and then I was the
one indicating second, and I was asked questions by police detectives. All
this was being recorded on camera. After that, we were taken back to the
cells. And then, I believe that during that day, in the evening, the footage
that was recorded was shown on national television. And that was the same
time when my place was burned down.

Were you surprised that you were arrested?

Yes, definitely. Because Cain Nkala [the victim who was kidnapped and found
in a shallow grave] was a friend of my father. And the distance between
Cain's house and my house is about 600 meters, so it came as a surprise
because when he was kidnapped, there were a lot of police officers going
around in our area, searching houses, arresting people. They never
approached us. But surprisingly, they then came for me and arrested me.

There is some bond between you and the victim?

Yes. There is a bond because when my mother was ill, Cain would come and
pray for my mother. So I couldn't have gone to the extent of kidnapping
someone that I personally knew who was a friend of the family.

So how could they have had cameras rolling and ready?

They were asked that question in court. The investigating officer was asked
how it was possible that they could have organized cameras and a national
news crew. How could they have known that there was such a thing going on?
The investigation officer told the court that he didn't know. He didn't have
any clue how the news crew got to know about the indications. I think the
whole thing was planned so they could have access to the footage, to the
pictures. I think the outline of the body was down in front of the cameras
so they could play that on national news and show that the MDC was a violent
party. That's what they were trying to achieve - to show that the MDC was
capable of unspeakable things.

to be continued...

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The Colour of Home

Dear Family and Friends, It is estimated that well over three million
Zimbabweans have left the country for political and economic reasons in
the last six years. This represents almost a quarter of our population.
For the people who have stayed in Zimbabwe, either by choice or because
they have no choice, it is hard to understand what it must be like to live
in exile. From here, we wish we were somewhere with single, double or even
triple figure inflation.  We dream of being able to afford the most basic
things again -everyday things once taken for granted and now just
permanently off the shopping list because they are simply too expensive.
We long for an end to fear and oppression and ache for the time when we
will again be able to afford to travel to the beautiful places in our own
country. We long to be able to speak freely again, to stop whispering and
looking over our shoulders wondering who is listening, who is a spy, who
we can trust. Mostly though, we long for our families and friends who have
gone, we miss the community life, the gatherings and the laughter.

And for the people who have left, the aches and longings of being
strangers in strange lands are probably even harder. The longings are for
familiarity, for friends and family left behind, for the climate and
countryside, and for the laughter in the wind of the country that will
always be home. Recently someone living in exile said how much they missed
the colours of Zimbabwe and it made me realise how we take the richness
and beauty of Zimbabwe for granted.

 Winter is almost over now although we are still waking to blankets of
frost sprinkled on the ground in the early mornings. The days are mostly
clear, bright and sunny and the skies are a brilliant blue. The grass is
golden and yellow in the fields and in the vleis and stream beds the red
hot pokers have almost finished flowering. In the bush the lucky bean
trees are just opening their clusters of red flowers and in our towns the
poinsettias are covered in scarlet. In the highveld the Msasa trees have
begun shedding their load and the ground is covered with hard, curly, deep
brown pods, their shiny dark brown seeds lying in the sand waiting for the
rain when they can start the cycle all over again. And to end our days are
the sunsets which are filled with spectacular colour: pink and then lilac,
and at last orange and polished copper.

These are the true and permanent colours of Zimbabwe, refreshed and
replaced every day. They are the colours of home and frankly, for many of
us, it is the simple things like this that somedays prevent total and
utter despair at the horrific situation we are living in. The other
colours that are temporarily Zimbabwean - brown, purple and green - they
are just imposters. They are the colours of our bank notes which aren't
really bank notes and which have expiry dates. They are the colours of
inflation, oppression and despair and hard as it is to believe, we know
they will be gone - we pray it will be soon. Until next week, thanks for
reading, love cathy Copyright cathy buckle 15 July 2006.

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Chombo named in timber scandal

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo, has allegedly ordered the Lupane Rural
District Council (RDC) in Matabeleland North to grant him a tender for a
timber concession in Lupane.

      Authoritative sources said Chombo summoned the Lupane RDC chief
executive officer, Mhlaseli Mpofu, and directed that the council grant
Platinum Agriculture and Platinum Chemicals a tender to harvest timber in
Shabula-Manasa and Lupaka-Zinapi areas.

      The development has resulted in Full Investment, a company which
previously won a tender to harvest timber in the two areas, being forced out
while Chombo's company moves in.

      Sources told The Standard that Platinum Agriculture and Platinum
Chemicals are expected to start harvesting timber in August at the two
timber-rich concession areas.

       Documents at the Registrar of Companies, Record 12247/04 of 9
December 2004, list the directors of Platinum Chemicals as Dakarai Albert
Mapuranga; Calvin Togara; Dave Jealous Mashayamombe; Tichaona Joseph
Benjamin Jokonya; Olivia Mambwe; Christopher Mutasa; Waziya Masamba
(Congolese); and Hans Oskar Schonenberger (Swiss). No records of Platinum
Agriculture could be found.

      However, Mpofu denied allegations that the council, which falls
under Chombo's ministry, was ordered to grant the timber concession to
Platinum Agriculture and Platinum Chemicals.

      "There are a lot of rumours to that extent. The tender committee
is meeting on 19 July to consider applications we got from various
interested companies. The company you have mentioned has also applied like
all companies," said Mpofu who denied meeting the Minister.

      But Chombo confirmed the developments when contacted for

      "I referred Platinum Agriculture and Platinum Chemicals who had
interest in timber harvesting to the Lupane council CEO. They indicated that
they had an interest in timber harvesting and I just facilitated the
proceedings thereafter.

      "The reason being that there has not been a cent that has gone
to the council yet there are companies that are harvesting timber in the
area. It is a win-win situation as the RDC would also benefit," Chombo said.

      He added: "I have no interest in that timber concession. Who
told you that the company is mine? It is not mine. I also did not meet the

      However, sources say after meeting the Minister three weeks ago,
Mpofu notified councillors during a full council meeting that Platinum
Agriculture and Platinum Chemicals had the capacity to harvest timber in the

      "The proper channels were not followed as applications for the
tender were opened after he had already met the Minister and after the full
council meeting where he spoke about Platinum Agriculture and Platinum
Chemicals taking over the timber concession," said sources.

      The Standard established that applications for the tender were
flighted last Sunday in a weekly newspaper. The Lupane RDC CEO confirmed
that the council only invited applications for the tender last Sunday.

      Sources said the council is set to receive half of the logs to
be harvested by Platinum Agriculture and Platinum Chemicals while Full
Investment employees are to be sub-contracted by Chombo's alleged company.

      Njabuliso Mguni, the MP for Lupane, accused Chombo of "playing a
corruptive role".

       "Everyone should follow the proper channels. He is influencing
and interfering using his position and where does that leave people without
political connections?"

      Numerous efforts to obtain a comment from Chris Mpala from Full
Investment were fruitless, as he was said to have gone to St Paul's, deep in
rural Lupane.

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Government to spend trillions on new Parliament

Zim Standard


      DESPITE failure to complete the giant Tokwe-Mukorsi dam and
undertake the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, the government has
resolved to allocate trillions of dollars towards the construction of a
showpiece parliamentary complex.

      The new complex, expected to take shape over the next five years
is set to change the face of the Harare Kopje.

      The Standard can reveal that President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet
has already approved designs for a new modern Parliament building prepared
by a team of technical experts and the project is expected to start in
October and end in 2011.

      Sources said the team of experts was appointed by the Ministry
of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development and they presented
their findings to Cabinet two months ago.

      But there is already controversy over the massive complex to be
perched on Harare Kopje, overlooking Simon Mazorodze road.

      Sources question the criterion used to select the architects,
who won the contract for the designs of the new parliament, which will
accommodate both the House of Assembly and the Senate.

      The sources said no tenders were floated to determine the
winners of the contract.

      "Architects would normally be asked to compete, and engineers
and other professionals bid either on technical evaluation or price, in
accordance with acceptable procedures but this was not done," said one of
the sources adding that some of the companies are not Zimbabwean.

      The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
Patrick Chinamasa, confirmed the government was working on the final
modalities of having a new parliament building but denied that the people
involved were not locals.

      "We are looking at the modalities of constructing a modern
parliament building in the Kopje area because the current one is now very
small. The money for the exercise you are talking about was budgeted for in
this year's budget statement," Chinamasa said.

      He admitted that the funds for the project are not yet available
but added that they are going to bid for the money to be approved by
Parliament in the next budget.

      "We are hoping that if funds are made available, the
construction will take between four to five years. This would also be done
on a stage-by-stage basis. The Ministry of Local Government selected the
team of experts and they follow their own procedures. I would also like to
believe that procedure was followed," he said.

      Chinamasa could not be drawn to give the names of the companies
that were involved. He said the civil works on the project could start in
October this year.

      The current parliament building, which initially housed one of
the first hotels in Southern Rhodesia, the Cecil Hotel, is very old and
requires frequent renovations. It is being refurbished every two years.

      Over the years, nearly all government projects have benefited
Zanu PF cronies and their friends.

      Government has paid out huge consultancy fees to companies even
if there was no chance of the project being implemented.

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Health services paralysed as junior doctors strike

Zim Standard


      THE nationwide strike by 250 junior doctors entered its fourth
day yesterday, virtually paralysing operations at the country's four major
health institutions, The Standard can reveal.

      The doctors are demanding better salaries and working conditions
as well as the immediate issuance of "certificates of good standing" on
completion of their two-year housemanship.

      The doctors are also against forced deployment to district
hospitals, where there are no drugs, equipment or decent accommodation.

      For the past four days -Harare and Parirenyatwa, United Bulawayo
Hospitals and Mpilo hospitals - have only been attending to emergency cases.
Casualty departments at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals were virtually
deserted and patients were being turned away yesterday.

      Officials at the health institutions said they had suspended
scheduled operations as a result. Most senior doctors have either gone into
private practice or left the country, they said.

      Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, the president of the Hospital Doctors'
Association, said the doctors would only return to work when their
grievances are addressed.

      He said junior doctors were earning Z$57 million a month and
getting a car allowance of $50 million.

      As a result, Nyamutukwa said, most of them cannot afford decent
accommodation, vehicle or "live a life, which tallies with their social

      "Doctors feel that the current salary and $50 million for car
loans is a mockery," Nyamutukwa said.

      Nyamutukwa also said they would challenge, in court, the
government's policy of deploying them to district hospitals.

      "Apart from sending us to rural hospitals where there are no
resources, they are also withholding our certificates of good standing
(recommendation letters) on completion of bonding so that we stay in the
country," he said.

      Edwin Muguti, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare,
said the striking doctors should return to work while government addressed
their grievances.

      "We are sympathetic to their cause but I urge them to go back to
work while we look into their grievances. They, however, should have
followed the right channels before going on strike," Muguti said.

      He said the government, through the Health Services Board, was
working on improving the doctors' salaries and working conditions.

      Most of the country's health personnel mostly doctors,
pharmacists and nurses are leaving the country to work in Australia,
Botswana, Canada, South Africa, UK and the US, where remunerations and
working conditions are favourable.

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Court summons Chinamasa

Zim Standard


      MUTARE - The Attorney General (AG)'s office has served Patrick
Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, with
summons to appear before the Rusape Magistrates' Court tomorrow (17 July) to
answer charges of attempting to obstruct the course of justice.

      Should Chinamasa fail to appear at the court this time around, a
warrant of arrest would be issued against him, officials from the attorney
general's office said last week.

      Chinamasa was due to appear in court on 3 July but did not do so
after the AG's office failed to serve him with summons.

      The charges stem from an incident in which the justice minister
allegedly tried to influence key witnesses to withdraw charges arising from
political violence that rocked Makoni North, which initially was linked to
Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of State Security.

      Chinamasa was, however, served with summons on 6 July by an
officer from the police.

      "He was served personally with the summons on 6 July and we now
expect him to come to court without any problems," said an official from the
AG's office. "If he does not attend then a warrant of arrest will be issued
against him."

      Chinamasa will be tried together with Innocent Chibaya, head of
the Central Intelligence Organisation in Manicaland, Cosmas Chiringa, the
District Administrator for Makoni, Dennis Masiya, a senior state
intelligence officer, Simba Muzariri and Robson Makoni. Chibaya, Masiya,
Muzariri and Makoni appeared before the Magistrates' Court in Rusape and
were remanded on free bail to tomorrow.

      It is alleged that on 18 December 2005 and 25 January this year
Chinamasa and the four attempted to entice James Kaunye, Leavence Kaunye,
George Mukundu, Fred Dube, Pedzisai Samanyanga, Wilson Kuwasekera, Emma
Kapundanga, Nurse Zonke and Idah Chiparange not to give evidence on charges
of political violence that rocked Makoni in the run-up to the 2005
parliamentary polls.

      He is alleged to have approached them during the Zanu PF people's
conference in Esigodini in December last year and persuaded them to drop the

      Ruling party supporters loyal to Mutasa went on a rampage and
beat up war veterans' leader Kaunye and his supporters for daring to
challenge the powerful Zanu PF secretary for administration in the

      Several of Kaunye's supporters were seriously assaulted
allegedly at the behest of Mutasa and his campaign manager, Albert

      Mutasa was later absolved but 23 of his supporters were taken to
court over the incident.

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More turn to religion as hardships bite

Zim Standard


      NEWCOMERS to Mufakose high-density suburb often assume that the
meandering queue is of people lining up to buy scarce basic commodities.

      But the queue is neither for buying scarce maize meal nor sugar.

      These are desperate people seeking "help" from a self-proclaimed
prophet, who conducts sessions from his house.

      "We had two deaths in our family in a week. They say it's AIDS,
but I don't believe it because strange things are happening in our family,"
said 51-year-old Tapera Mugoni.

      Mugoni is one of several millions of Zimbabweans who are turning
to "spiritual intervention" to survive the mounting social and economic
problems bedeviling the country.

      Sociologists last week said it is common for people to seek
religious deliverance when life gets tough. They said the current
socio-political and economic climate was a ripe condition for people,
particularly those that occupy the lowest social stratum, to seek salvation
in faith healing.

      More than 80% of the country's population is poor and struggles
to make ends meet while 3 500 people die of HIV/AIDS related illnesses a

       Companies are retrenching, compounding the social and economic
pressures on the retrenchees, said the sociologists.

      Former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor, Professor Gordon
Chavunduka, said it was normal for human beings to seek divine intervention
in times of crisis.

      "When people are in a crisis they tend to seek salvation
elsewhere. Some consult traditional healers while others go to the
prophets," said Chavunduka, a sociologist by profession.

       Chavunduka, who also heads the Zimbabwe National Traditional
Healers' Association (Zinatha), attributed the increasing number of people
seeking spiritual therapy to the high fees demanded by health institutions.

      He said the majority of Zimbabweans couldn't afford the high
medical fees.

      "Faith healing has a lot of advantages. Apart from being cheap,
it is broader than modern medicine. It also looks at the social
circumstances that affect the person," said Chavunduka adding: "A patient
can also pay in installments depending on affordability."

      He estimated that over 70% of the country's population consult
traditional healers, who number about 50 000. However, only 25 000 are
registered with Zinatha.

      Another sociologist, Professor Claude Mararike, said initially
it was only people with abnormal conditions - diseases that cannot be
treated by Western medicine -- who sought religious therapy.

      But with increasing socio-economic hardships, Mararike said,
more people were seeking religious therapy because Western medicine has
become too expensive.

      "These days the orthodox (Western) medicine is becoming more and
more expensive and so people turn to traditional and faith healers who are
cheaper and therapy does not need foreign currency," said Mararike, who
chairs the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC).

      The University of Zimbabwe sociology lecturer, however, warned
people to be cautious when seeking therapy from healers, "as some of them
are fakes and make a living through duping desperate people".

      Pastor Elfas Zadzagomo of Faith World Ministries said more
people were now being counselled in churches because of economic and social

      "When people face problems they seek consolation in the church
where they meet with other people with similar problems and share their
experiences. It relieves the pressures. We also have counsellors who help
people through their problems," Zadzagomo said.

      However, some people who fail to seek counselling ended up
committing suicide, he said.

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Support groups contributing to HIV infection reduction in Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

      By Peter Marimi

      MAKAITA Meja says that although it is painful to live with AIDS
she is empowered to live a positive life.

      With a smile, she says: "I am very grateful to Auxillia
Chimusoro for starting Batanai Support Group where I was taught to live
positively with AIDS. Batanai also taught me to be self-reliant, now I can
look after my mother and myself. I am also teaching others how to live
positively with AIDS."

      Meja was tested in 1998 and found out that she was already HIV
positive. She was devastated and thought that she was going to die.

      However, hope came her way when she joined Batanai support group
and received counselling, information and support.

      Now Meja can confidently declare: "Although I am HIV positive I
feel like anyone else.

      I am careful about what I eat and I also train others how to
live positively with AIDS."

      It all started in 1992 when 12 men and women came together in
Harare to discuss the plight of people living with HIV and AIDS. They
decided to go back home and start support groups. This was the birth of the
support group movement in Zimbabwe.

      The late Auxillia Chimusoro came to Rujeko Township in Masvingo
and started Batanai support group. Batanai later facilitated the formation
of numerous other support groups all over Masvingo Province and brought them
together to form a provincial network under the umbrella of a national
network that is now called Zimbabwe National Network of People living with

      Today Masvingo can boast of being the strongest provincial
chapter of ZNNP+.

      Today Zimbabwe is basking in the glory of being one of the few
counties in the world that has recorded a dramatic reduction in HIV
infections. A number of reasons for this reduction have been thrown around,
but I am still to hear one that mentions any contribution from people living
with HIV and AIDS.

      Sadly, as usual they are looked at just as statistics.

      It is my strong conviction that people living with HIV and AIDS
through their support groups are contributing significantly to the dramatic
reduction of HIV infections that we are witnessing in Zimbabwe. Support
groups are making people living with HIV and AIDS more visible while
empowering them with survival skills.

      They bring HIV and AIDS into the open and in the process help to
reduce stigma. The support group is a very effective awareness and
prevention tool. It is most unfortunate however that we do not give enough
recognition and support to the support group
      yet it is a powerful weapon that we can use in the fight against

      The Batanai HIV and AIDS support group, a registered PVO, fully
recognises the value and importance of the support group and is in the
process of turning itself into a fully fledged AIDS Service Organisation
focusing on empowering support groups through programmes that include
positive living, psycho-social support, treatment and care, gender, advocacy
and lobbying, and youth development, all in a spirit of love and care.

      * Peter Marimi is co-ordinator of the Batanai HIV & AIDS Support

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Government turns down 'scandalous' demands

Zim Standard


      MUTARE - The government has shot down a request by commissioners
running the eastern border city to be awarded an assortment of exit perks
describing the request as a potential scandal.

      The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development said it was impossible for the commission's chairman and his
deputy to be awarded exit perks given the limited duration of their term.
The commission's term ran for only six months.

      The chairman of the commission Fungayi Chaeruka and Irene Zindi,
his deputy, wanted the council to give them vehicles and commercial stands,
an upmarket council house and terminal benefits for the six months they
served on the commission.

      But Patson Mbiriri, the ministry's permanent secretary, shot
down the request saying: "Given the limited duration of the Mutare City
commission, this ministry is somewhat surprised at the request which can
only set a dangerous precedent and is potentially scandalous.

      "The commission is requested to focus on service delivery to the
residents of Mutare and re-establish normalcy in the affairs of the city. It
should build on its accomplishments to date."

      Mbiriri continued: "By submitting the request, the Commission
runs the real risk of being misunderstood by Mutare ratepayers and the
nation at large. The Commission's good record and positive image are
threatened by the request."

      Chaeruka, a businessman and Zindi, a former MP for Hatfield,
Harare, wrote to the permanent secretary for local government requesting
that they be awarded terminal benefits and an assortment of other benefits
which includes keeping council vehicles they were allocated and commercial
stands in recognition for their services.

      Apart from wanting a four-by-four vehicle and a commercial
stand, Zindi also wanted the council to sell her a suburban house she
currently occupies in the city for 40% of the actual cost. Property
development analysts have put the cost of the house at about $10 billion.

      The commissioners claim they should be awarded the exit packages
on grounds they helped improve the city's financial situation.

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Controversy stalks church leaders after Mugabe meeting

Zim Standard

      By Foster Dongozi

      CHURCH leaders who gathered at State House to meet President
Robert Mugabe in May have reportedly refused to meet Harare and
Chitungwiza-based pastors to give them feedback on their meeting with the
Head of State, it has been learnt.

      This emerged from a Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC)
meeting held in Harare on Wednesday and attended by more than 60 pastors
from around the country.

      ZNPC is the umbrella body for all pastors in Zimbabwe and cuts
across denominations.

      Three weeks ago, the pastors wrote letters demanding an audience
with the heads and bishops of Christian denominations who met Mugabe at
State House.

      Leaders from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe, (EFZ) and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference
(ZCBC) met Mugabe.

       The Harare Chapter chairperson of the ZNPC, Reverend Vimbai
Mugwidi, told the meeting: "We had no response from ZCC and EFZ while the
only response we had was from Father Chiromba from the Catholic Church, who
said he would be unable to meet us as he would be out of the country."

      The pastors expressed surprise that their leaders were ready to
hop into bed with Mugabe while studiously avoiding a meeting with their

      Church leaders are being accused of helping Mugabe to recruit
supporters from the Christian community to his Zanu PF agenda.

      Religious leaders have been avoiding the pastors after it
emerged that they had plotted with Mugabe to create a new Zimbabwe National
Day of Prayer on 25 June and sideline the traditional National Day of Prayer
held for many years on 25 May.

      Bishop Trevor Manhanga, the EFZ president, who is the
spokesperson for the bishops who met Mugabe, said he had not heard about the
request for a feedback meeting with the pastors.

      "This is the first time that I am hearing about that request. I
am not aware of such a desire by the pastors," he said.

      The Standard is in possession of a copy of the letter written to
the bishops on 23 June.

      It is directed to the EFZ and copied to the ZCC and ZCBC.

      In what could be a defining moment for Zimbabwean church
politics, the pastors also resolved to stage a prayer march to express their
solidarity with the poor and downtrodden people of Zimbabwe.

      "We find it particularly patronising that bishops who have no
idea of the kind of suffering being experienced on the ground could just
rush off to State House without consulting pastors on the situation
prevailing on the ground," suggested one pastor.

      "We are the ones who have to look for food, school fees and
clothes for our flocks and should therefore have been consulted by our
leaders before they went to wine and dine."

      Last week, angry members of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
kicked out of office Bishop Peter Nemapare, one of Mugabe's praise singers
in an election that sent shockwaves among the President's allies in the

      Already attention is focusing on the Evangelical Fellowship of
Zimbabwe assembly in November when elections to choose new leaders will be

      Manhanga is the darling of some Zanu PF-controlled media
organisations which have, on the other hand, been spearheading a campaign to
demonise Mugabe's fiercest critic, Bulawayo Catholic Archbishop, Pius Ncube.

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Fuel scandal hits Masvingo

Zim Standard


      COMMUTER bus operators in Masvingo have expressed concern over
police, military and intelligence officers, who are looting subsidised fuel
for public transporters from Mandava Service Station.

      Maina Mandava, a Zanu PF central committee member, owns the
service station.

      Petrol is selling at $23 300 a litre while diesel is $21 000 a
litre and is meant for commuter bus transporters.

      Fuel sales are controlled by a taskforce, which comprises
officers from the police, intelligence service and the army and is led by
Assistant Commissioner Loveness Ndanga.

      Police officers, soldiers, CIO and Zanu PF members have become
the major beneficiaries at the expense of transport operators - the intended
beneficiaries. They get the fuel in broad daylight at the expense of
commuter buses.

      Disgruntled commuter drivers told The Standard they were

      "The fuel is meant for us but there is rampart corruption as
police officers and soldiers are taking our fuel, several times before we
are allowed to refuel our vehicles. These officers will then come to us and
sell the same fuel at the parallel market rate. We have raised complaints
with their bosses but nothing has been done so far," said Taurai Murambwa
who was in the queue at the service station.

      When The Standard visited Mandava Service Station on Wednesday,
security officers and Zanu PF officials who came to the station were allowed
to fuel their vehicles without even joining the queue while transporters
were asked to wait until all the officials were served.

      Ray Muzenda, who is a transporter, was barred from being served
by police officers. He is the National Constitutional Assembly regional
chairperson for Masvingo.

      "I was barred from buying fuel at the service station by the
police who told me that I was not Zanu PF because I am the NCA chairperson
here. But what I know is that the fuel is for the public transporters not
Zanu PF and government officials. They have their own facilities at CMED yet
we see them getting fuel here which they sell at the black market," Muzenda

      Other operators said even top police officers were helping their
relatives to get fuel when the ordinary transport operators were struggling
to get fuel.

      Ndanga declined to comment. "Madii kubata vaBvudzijena ini
handitauri nemi nyaya dzechipurisa." (Why don't you get in touch with
Bvudzijena. I don't discuss with you police issues), said Ndanga.

      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately
available for comment.

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Chegutu councillors sue over 'Murambatsvina'

Zim Standard


      CHEGUTU - Two sitting Zanu PF councillors in Chegutu have taken
the council to court over the demolition of their buildings during last year's
much-condemned "Operation Murambatsvina".

      Alderman Phineas Mariyapera of Ward 8 and Councillor Mubaiwa
Chikazhe of Ward 10 want to be compensated for loss of business when their
grinding mills were destroyed during the ensuing confusion.

      According to documents lodged with the High Court, Mariyapera, a
former deputy Mayor, is suing the Municipality for loss of business which he
suffered after his grinding mill was destroyed last year.

      Chikazhe is also demanding that the council pays him $350
million for loss of business emanating from the destruction of his mill. The
two are arguing that their properties had been built within the stipulated

      But the council is disputing this, saying their plans were
fraudulently approved. A council employee, who it alleges aided them, has
since been dismissed.

      Mariyapera, and Chikazhe, who is the ruling party deputy
chairman for Chegutu District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC), were on
suspension from the council when their properties were destroyed.

      Chegutu Mayor Martin Zimani refused to comment on the case
saying the matter was before the courts. The case began when the council was
headed by MDC Mayor, Francis Dhlakama.

      Chegutu residents say the case could give hope to many others
who lost their properties during "Operation Murambatsvina".

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Divisions rock Zanu PF in Masvingo

Zim Standard


      SHARP divisions have emerged in Masvingo over the suspension of
Zanu PF officials amid reports that some members of the provincial executive
could be settling personal scores.

       The Samuel Mumbengegwi-led executive has started purging members
of the Josiah Hungwe faction, accusing it of plotting his downfall during
last year's general election.

      Mumbengegwi lost the primary election in Chivi North to Enita
Maziriri. Maziriri is among those who are suspended, who include Mwenezi
legislator and deputy minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Isaiah
Shumba, and Chivi District Co-ordinating Committee chairperson, Sanders

      Five other party officials in Chivi were also suspended for
allegedly campaigning against Mumbengegwi during last year's general and
senatorial elections.

      The Masvingo provincial executive has also recommended that the
Zanu PF central committee suspend former Masvingo provincial governor,
Hungwe, after it failed to suspend him because he is a member of the ruling
party's central committee.

      A Zanu PF insider, who declined to be named told The Standard
that Mumbengegwi and Dzikamai Mavhaire, the provincial political commissar
were on a revenge mission against Hungwe's faction, blaming it for their
downfall in party politics over the years.

      Mavhaire, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, was in
the political wilderness for several years and only bounced back last year
after aligning himself to Masvingo's young Turks such as Masvingo South MP
Walter Mzembi, who revived the Zvobgo faction.

      A source in the executive said there was no consensus on the

      "Mumbengegwi and Mavhaire are fighting their personal
differences with other members at the expense of the party. At the end of
the day it is the party that will be affected. They should settle their
differences alone," said the official.

      Mumbengegwi who was beaten by Maziriri in the party primary
elections last year also accuses Hungwe's faction of having links to the
United People's Party led by former Masvingo provincial chairman, Daniel
Shumba. Hungwe denies the allegations. Among some of the prominent Masvingo
Zanu PF provincial executive members opposed to the suspension is Kudzai
Mbudzi, the secretary for economic empowerment and indigenisation.

      Mbudzi was quoted recently saying: "There are some people here
who would want to use the platform of the provincial executive to fight
their own political adversaries. If we allow the chairman to use the
province to fight personal political battles, I will also do the same when I
become the provincial chairman tomorrow."

       Mumbengegwi told The Standard that he was not aware of any
suspensions in Masvingo.

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CHRA 'overwhelmed' by complaints over Zesa power cuts

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      THE Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) reports that
it is overwhelmed by complaints from people who have lost their electrical
appliances as a result of untimely power cuts and electrical surges by the
Zimbabwe Electrical Supply Authority (ZESA).

      Last month, ZESA introduced load-shedding on the back of an
increase in demand for power that is normally associated with the cold

      However, The Standard understands that many people are losing
household appliances such as televisions, stoves and refrigerators as high
voltage power surges destroy their gadgets.

      CHRA Information officer, Precious Shumba, says since the power
cuts started early last month the association has been inundated with
complaints from residents from suburbs such as Waterfalls, Mufakose, Glen
Norah, Highfield and Belvedere whose electrical goods have been damaged.

      CHRA reports that at least 80 households in Waterfalls lost
electrical gadgets as a result of a recent power cut that lasted almost
three weeks.

      Shumba said the numerous complaints of damage to property due to
power cuts are proving a "major problem" and CHRA is exploring the "legal
route" in partnership with its legal partners as recourse for affected

       National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku,
said affected residents have a "legal right" to bring ZESA to a civil rights
court and sue for damages as long as they can prove that damage to their
property has been as a result of power cuts or surges.

      Madhuku said: "The power cuts by ZESA are intentional and not as
a result of electrical faults. Therefore ZESA have an obligation to warn
residents prior to any power cuts. ZESA must be answerable to any damages in
property arising due to their failure to warn people."

      Asked whether the courts would not be overwhelmed by cases from
individuals suing ZESA, Madhuku said it is another issue whether or not the
courts have the ability to listen to all these cases as the bottom line is
that individuals have a legal right to do so.

      A snap survey conducted by The Standard in the central business
district showed that the cost of electrical goods has sky-rocketed over
recent months with the cost of replacing them, in the event of damage,

      Durable television sets with brand names such as Sony, Philips
and Panasonic are selling in the region of $60 million to $250 million.
Refrigerators with brand names such as Defy, Kelvinator and Imperial now
cost between $100 million and $450 million.

       Some affected residents who spoke to The Standard said they are
irked by the lack of concern the power utility has shown for their property
by cutting electricity without any notice. They say that ZESA "played them
for fools" by publishing a timetable with schedules of power interruptions
in various suburbs that it has failed to adhere to.

      Tinashe Chaza from New Marimba says his family lost a television
set last month and has failed to repair it due to the high cost of doing so.

      Caroline Kizito from Waterfalls says it has become increasingly
difficult to plan anything because of the untimely power cuts.

      Reached for comment ZESA spokesperson, James Maridadi, said the
loss of property as a result of the power cuts was "very unfortunate" and
urged people to use surge protectors to avoid damages to their appliances.

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Subsidies cost Zimbabwe $125 trillion

Zim Standard


      ZIMBABWE has lost a staggering $124.9 trillion to maintain
subsidies, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has said.

      A subsidy is generally a monetary grant given by a government to
lower the price faced by producers or consumers of goods, generally because
it is considered to be in the public interest.

      In a paper, CZI Input into Fiscal Policy Review July 2006, CZI
said: "The total estimated cost is a massive $124.9 trillion. The main
beneficiaries of these subsidies are not vulnerable groups but speculators
and middlemen and middle classes."

      CZI said that for 900 000 tonnes of maize, the estimated cost is
$26.5 trillion. It also said that for 300 000 tonnes of cotton it was $8.1
trillion, 45 000 tonnes of tobacco ($2.7 trillion) and 20 million litres of
fuel ($7.6 trillion).

      CZI said it was costing $50 trillion to maintain the $10
trillion Agricultural Sector Enhancement Facility (ASPEF). ASPEF was
launched last year to provide cheap funds to farmers. It offers an interest
rate of 20% per annum. CZI called for the removal of subsidies adding that
"they provide completely the wrong incentives for people; in effect the
quickest way to get rich in Zimbabwe is to abuse subsidies".

      CZI recommended that the responsibility for subsidised credit
such as ASPEF, parastatal requirements be brought under the management of
the Ministry of Finance.

      "These should be accounted for under the central government
budget. Therefore we recommend that the revised budget which will be
produced by this mid-term review includes specific provision for these
previously quasi- fiscal activities," CZI said.

      Economic commentators implored government to remove subsidies.

      "The major problem with subsidies is that they are a source of
inefficiency in the system," said economist David Mupamhadzi.

      Mupamhadzi said that subsidies for commodities like fuel were
promoting arbitrage, a system whereby an individual buys a commodity at a
cheap price in one market and sells the same commodity at a higher price on
another market.

      John Robertson, an economic consultant, said: "Subsidies are
expensive. Even rich countries are saying that they cannot afford

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New coal producer mulls electricity power generation

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      COAL Zimbabwe, a new entrant in the coal mining industry says it
has invested US$5,3 million in a mine in Chiredzi and plans to go into power
generation in the near future.

      The company, which is wholly owned by Steelmakers, a
Redcliff-based steel manufacturer, says it ventured into mining in a bid to
revive its Masvingo sponge iron plant which had been closed because it was
not getting sufficient supplies from the Hwange Colliery Company.

      So far the mining concern has produced 15 000 tonnes of coal
since it opened a month ago and hopes to undertake an expansion programme
that will help improve the country's dwindling supplies.

      "We had to close our Masvingo plant because we were not getting
enough of coal supplies from Hwange Colliery Company. As a result we decided
to go into coal production also as a way of reducing production costs,"
Steelmakers' group general manager, Alexander Johnson, told

      Zimbabwe consumes 320 000 tonnes of coal a month but HCC has not
been able to meet demand.

       Johnson said it had already found a market for its product and
had sold to a number of companies in Harare and Bulawayo.

      He said there were also plans to increase production to 50 000
tonnes in the next six months when the company constructs washeries meant to
improve the coal grade.

      Johnson said tests conducted so far show that their coal was of
"superior" grade with low sulphur and phosphate content.

      He said the new mine based in the Mukuvisi area of Chiredzi
should go into power generation in the future, subject to the approval of
the board.

      The plan could augment dwindling supplies from ZESA Holdings and
avert a crisis.

      "It's at the back of our brains. I do not want to let the cat
out of the bag but we should go into power generation in the future,''
Johnson said.

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Nation holds its breath

Zim Standard

      Business Analysis By Ndamu Sandu

      IN days to come Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa, and Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, will announce mid-term fiscal and
monetary policy respectively to chart the way forward for troubled Zimbabwe.

      The reviews come at a time when the economy has been at its
lowest ebb with indications on the ground pointing to a rocky path before
the economy can be expected to be back on an even keel. The reviews also
come at a time when government launched a new blueprint, the National
Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) seen as a panacea for the
country's economic woes.

      Although the economic model was launched early this year, the
document is still elusive nearly three months after its unveiling.
      Murerwa and Gono have an unenviable task of trying to reduce the
gap between the official and parallel market rates for foreign currency.

      The gap between the parallel and official market has widened to
the extent that analysts believe the actual rate is between the two systems.

      Economic consultant Daniel Ndlela said the monetary and fiscal
policies should address the difference between the official and parallel
market rates.

      "The misalignment has widened to the extent that the difference
is over 200%," said Ndlela an associate of Zimconsult, an independent and
economic planning consultants' firm.

      "The black market is now the official with fuel selling at $470
000 per litre."

      Ndlela said the monetary policy has to support the "supply side"
by supporting exporters who bear the brunt of the official exchange rate.

      Another consultant John Robertson concurred with Ndlela but
added that Zimbabwe was using a political idea to correct an economic
problem through fixing an exchange rate.

       Robertson said that market forces have to determine both the
exchange and interest rates.

      He said government was using low interest rate loan and
subsidies as compensation for not addressing the exchange rate problem.

      Robertson said: "The government is saying that we can't devalue
but we will lend you cheap money. The companies will be absolutely dependent
on low interest rate loans for survival."

      He said subsidies and low interest rate loans were addressing
the symptoms not the problems.

      "If we have the right exchange rate, farmers won't need low
interest rates, loans and subsidies. Subsidies are expensive. Even rich
countries are saying that they cannot afford subsidies."

      Robertson warned that government would not succeed by
controlling the exchange rate.

      "They (government) think they have limitless power to defy
market forces. They don't have. Any government that goes into battle with
market forces will come out second best. Soviet Union tried to defy market
forces for 70 years and it collapsed."

      Jonathan Kadzura, an analyst says the fiscal and monetary
policies have to address distortions that are inflationary. He said there is
need to remove subsidies that are not designed to stimulate production.

      Kadzura said: "We need productive subsidies such as
internationally competitive prices for our produce."

      In its input into the fiscal policy review, the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) urged fiscal authorities to deal with the exchange
rate decisively.

      In a paper, CZI Input into Fiscal Policy Review July 2006, CZI
said: "Whilst we appreciate that the exchange rate management is the reserve
of the Central Bank, its impact on fiscal policy is such that it needs to be
considered when developing the fiscal policy framework. CZI recommended that
the country moves back to a two-tier system where exporters retain 80% of
proceeds for own use and 20% is surrendered to government at a controlled
rate of 200 000 to the US dollar.

      "Exporters are severely prejudiced by hyper-inflation and the
current surrender requirements are making it extremely difficult for
exporters to remain viable," CZI said.

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ZBH should transform from State to public broadcaster

Zim Standard

      Sunday Opinion By Hilton Zvidzai

       THE restructuring of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)
with the merging of its former nine companies into two entities still falls
far short of fulfilling and meeting its expected mandate as an independent
public broadcaster.

      The late Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Tichaona
Jokonya, effected the restructuring in June 2006 as part of efforts to turn
the loss-making broadcaster into a viable entity. This followed
recommendations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and

      While these developments were welcomed as long overdue, the
restructuring cannot be expected to usher in a new era of independent
broadcasting at ZBH unless massive legislative reforms are undertaken to
repeal or amend sections of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).

      These legislative reforms will trigger the transformation of ZBH
from a state-controlled to a truly independent public broadcaster as
envisaged under the African Charter on Broadcasting and the SADC Guidelines
on the Conduct of Democratic Elections.

      The African Charter stipulates among other provisions that all
State and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into
public service broadcasters that are accountable to all strata of the people
as represented by an independent board, and that serve the overall public
interest, avoiding one-sided reporting and programming in regard to
religion, political belief, culture, race and gender.

      It also provides that public service broadcasters should, like
broadcasting and telecommunications regulators, be governed by bodies which
are protected against interference. It provides that the editorial
independence of public broadcasters should be guaranteed.

      The SADC Guidelines simplify and amplify the provisions of the
Charter by stating that citizens and political parties should especially
during elections, enjoy equal and equitable access to the public

      Under the present set-up as dictated by the prevailing
legislative environment, the credibility and integrity of Zimbabwe's sole
broadcaster has been seriously compromised by the government's stranglehold
on ZBH's editorial independence which chokes it from fulfilling its public

      ZBH as presently constituted and structured is accountable to
the government which in turn determines its editorial policy and content. To
argue otherwise would be an exercise in futility.

      The ZBH board is handpicked by the Minister of Information and
Publicity in consultation with the President which runs against the grain of
the principles of the African Charter on Broadcasting. Ideally, in a
democracy the people, through parliamentary public hearings should nominate
individuals to sit on such boards. Transparency and accountability are
guaranteed only if the board is well representative as opposed to the
present set-up.

       Transformation from a state to a public broadcaster entails the
repealing of the current legislative framework that allows the existence of
ZBH in its current format. The law should be repealed or amended to allow
the metamorphosis of ZBH into a truly independent omnibus broadcaster which
carries the voices of all sectors regardless of economic, political,
language or racial differences.

      Parliament should therefore push for holistic changes to the
broadcasting legislation which enforces open, transparent and democratic
appointments of the board, key staff while reinforcing editorial
independence at ZBH.

       Independence from editorial interference does not necessarily
mean that the government should not be involved, but simply means that more
sectors and sections of society are involved especially parliament and other
key civilian bodies in the running of the public broadcaster.

       Meanwhile the parliamentary portfolio committee noted technical
weaknesses in the running and performance of ZBH. Questions should be raised
on whether the technical challenges facing ZBH are not a result of lack of a
clear mandate for the public broadcaster.

      ZBH cannot, in its current state, serve its public mandate
because as a holding company it is geared to make profits a scenario that
compels it to operate on the lines of a commercial broadcaster. The purpose,
structure and orientation of a public broadcaster are markedly different
from that of a commercial broadcaster.

      Parliament should, therefore, encourage the Ministry of
Information and Publicity to do away with the concept of commercialisation
and seek to come up with a funding structure that ensures that the public
broadcaster meets its running costs.

       Stations such as National FM should revert to their initial
mandate of serving disadvantaged communities; carry the voice of civic
society, public education and cultural issues. This, however, can only be
possible if parliament has a direct say in the appointment of the board and
the commensurate editorial charter.

      As things stand ZBH has no editorial charter that legislators
and indeed citizens of Zimbabwe can make reference to as to whether the
company is meeting its mandate or not. The confusion and management crisis
at ZBH is a result of an unclear mandate, lack of democratic management and
muddled reporting structures at the state broadcaster.

      If ZBH is to emerge as a bona fide national broadcaster, it
should reach out to each and every part of the country in all languages.
This is however, not feasible with the archaic equipment being used by
Transmedia, the country's sole transmission licensee. Entry of private
players in the transmission industry will definitely aid the cause since
Transmedia has failed to upgrade its coverage of Zimbabwe.

      Editorial independence can only be underpinned by the public
broadcaster's respect for the right to freedom of expression and
information, freedom from undue government interference - principles upon
which a public broadcaster can become more public serving and efficient.

      An independent, accountable and transparent method of appointing
a board for the public broadcaster complimented by an independent editorial
charter will guarantee a true public broadcaster for Zimbabwe.

      That is still far from being achieved given the restrictive
legislative environment posed by the Broadcasting Services Act.

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Unmasking the selfish nature of Zanu PF govt

Zim Standard


      THE question the majority must be asking is: Just whose
interests does this government, which purports to be a people's government,

      The question is prompted by recent developments. But by far the
main one is that despite an economy that is virtually on its knees and
despite a crippling power shortage, the government has decided with effect
from October this year, work on a new parliament complex will commence in
the Kopje area of Harare.

      There may be no resources to build houses for hundreds of
thousands of families - victims of last year's brutal "clean up" operation.
There may be no funds to pay farmers for the grain they are delivering to
the Grain Marketing Board. There may be no money to reconstruct bridges
damaged as far back as 2000 by Cyclone Eline. There may be nothing to invest
in power generation to ease the daily power cuts. But the government will
find trillions of dollars for a new parliament building on the Kopje.

      If the government applied itself to solving the problems it
creates with the same determination that it pursues pet projects, Zimbabwe
would be a different and better place.

       But for the government and the ruling party, being in power is
the quickest way to untold riches, as long as they can successfully hoodwink
the majority into believing that all this is being done in their interest.

       When the re-introduction of a Senate was mooted, the majority
opposed it on the grounds that it was not a priority and that at any rate
the economy would not be able to sustain such a burden, given the current

      But the government went ahead and now it is splashing billions
in perks on senators and attendant staff when hospitals cannot afford drugs
and more people are dying, not because the resources are unavailable, but
because they are being redirected to serve the interests of those in
government and the ruling party.

      The government has given up on trying to improve the fuel supply
situation even though this is critical for economic recovery. It has decided
to do nothing because those who rule the country have found a new source of
self-enrichment. Either they bring in fuel and are being transformed into
instant billionaires or they use the State-run procurement agency, NOCZIM to
access heavily subsidised fuel, which they in turn off-load on the parallel
market. That is why there is paralysis in resolving the fuel crisis.

      The major crisis facing this country and even the government's
much talked of economic turnaround is ensuring regularity of energy
supplies. Lack of reliable power stifles development and deters investors,
even from the government's new-found friends from the Far East.

      Millions of residents of Masvingo and Matabelelandprovinces will
find cause to accuse the government of deliberately and systematically
marginalising them after years of being promised funding for the giant
Tokwe-Mukorsi dam and the stillborn Matabeleland- Zambezi Water Project.

      What Zimbabwe needs now is to ensure that the power crisis is
addressed immediately so that factories and industries are not redundant for
days on end and residential areas are blacked out for weeks. How does such a
return to the Dark Ages promote an economic turnaround?

      Load-shedding is not the response we expect to a crisis that was
anticipated years ago. And a new parliament building is not an answer to
resuscitating the economy either. The only people who will benefit are
contractors and businesses aligned to the ruling party.

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Violence: a legacy of Zanu PF ?

Zim Standard

      Sunday Opinion By Marko Phiri

      THE latest incident is the Trudy Stevenson assault and we
already know how the State- media has made a feast out of it.

      From the days Zanu PF chanted: "we will beat up those who do not
understand (the land reform programme) until they understand", to the days
of the re-education camps, surgeries -turned-torture-chambers, there seemed
to be ready explanations that what Zimbabwe was witnessing was a historical
legacy. These were the ugly vestiges of pre-independence politics.

      The new rulers had learned their violence and intolerance from
the Ian Smith regime. Perhaps we cannot re-write history. But it becomes
tedious when, though popular black governments came to power decades ago,
there is still that throwback when events in the here and now are analysed.
What caused them, what is their genesis, who occupied the seat of power a
hundred years ago, etc as if present day Africans were zombies with no mind
of their own?

      The irony of all events that centre on violent African politics
is that politicians always claim to be bringing their own identity, their
own brand of popular democracy that is defined ironically along the Western
model. With the attack on Stevenson, we get stories about violence within
the MDC being inevitably an unfortunate influence of Zanu PF. These MDC
people are an offshoot of Zanu PF thus violence must be expected from them,
goes some weird school of thought.

      But it has to be recalled that the birth of any African
political opposition has been informed by attempts to do things differently
from the despotic regimes. That they soon apparently fall into the
psychological mode of the unpopular regimes does not merely point to the
inheritance of the traits of the governments accused of human rights abuses.

      It could in fact point to leaders being unable to rein in
supporters. But then, that still stretches it as leaders ideally cannot
claim responsibility over adults who support them but feel the leaders too
pacifist for their cause. Thus, the difference within Zanu PF and both MDC
factions is that Zanu PF leaders are on public record threatening and
carrying out violent acts on their opponents.

      Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara may say to the public "no
to violence" and those sympathetic to the opposition cause may attribute
violence alleged to have been perpetrated by either faction as the work of
people beyond the control of these leaders. Thus, the case for both leaders
is spoken for. If this were a Zanu PF analysis, we would simply say these
are acts of people bent on tarnishing the image of the regime and let the
matter rest.

      This time the attack on Stevenson being simply an attack by
elements claiming affiliation to the MDC just to tarnish the image of
whatever faction to which they claim allegiance. But these are grave matters
that point to a country in political comatose which have to be looked at
from the point of view of a clairvoyant seeking to look into the future and
interrogate the country's kismet.

       Zanu PF itself has been accused of using Smith's tactics in
brutalising the opposition, yet the argument still goes that it is within
the power of the leaders to merely raise their fingers to stop the brutal
punches. Where do we draw the line between blaming history and charting our
own course and defining our own political identities? My father abused my
mother therefore I will abuse my wife. All this psychobabble, while it
carries some truth for some, it still remains cryptic for many.

      It is true that every generation blames the one before, but when
such violence as seen within the MDC is easily blamed by some observers on
Zanu PF then one has to ask where we are at in the stakes of political
maturity. If this party blamed for so many ills is blamed for violence in
opposition politics, one then has to ask what the future of the country is
considering the many crimes this regime stands accused of. And this line has
been peddled since the ruling party allegedly started clubbing opponents to
death and Smith was blamed.

      One thing that has been mentioned is that all it takes is for
Mugabe to tell anybody they will be expelled from Zanu PF if they so as much
raised a finger at an opposition activist. That this has happened during the
run-up to any election has still been dismissed as grandstanding as this is
the same regime that is already known for being not only the masters of
violence but also of deception.

       Politics perhaps is different from organised crime where foot
soldiers who disobey orders not to kill are themselves likely to be punished
by death by the mob boss, but that the ruling party has pardoned accused
murderers is a pointer that all intra-party violence in the Movement is

      If violence in Zimbabwean politics was inherited from Zanu PF,
is it the only thing that stands to be inherited from that party considering
the many vices it is accused of?

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Zim Standard Letters

No solution to Zimbabwe crisis without Zanu PF
      THE Standard's comment of 2 July 2006, entitled, "Someone
igniting the fires of an uprising" does bring about very important issues.

      Indeed the people of Zimbabwe are being pushed to the limit by
the ever worsening hardships and anyone who suggests that there are no
problems in Zimbabwe has no relevance to the current order of things in

       There are contestable and contested views on the causes of
Zimbabwe's problems and it does look like in the absence of an agreement on
such causal factors there is no hope of ever finding a solution, at least in
the near future. It is this realisation which makes frustrated analysts and
commentators resort to the otherwise undesirable hope in the power of the
popular uprising.

      Those who subscribe to the theory that the country's problems
are a result of unsound and bad policy from government have the tried and
tired panacea of regime change as the only remedy to the country's problems.
On the other hand, those who subscribe to the theory that the country's
problems are a direct result of external pressure resulting from differences
in policy between the government and the West may want to maintain that the
government is not the problem but sanctions are the problem.

      These are highly contested views, not only nationally but even
the region and the world are divided over the matter. One thing for sure is
that the country's problems are not as simple as President Robert Mugabe
just waking up one morning and saying why not just invade all white-owned
land and fix the whites or why not just demolish a few urban houses and push
people to the rural areas. These are simplistic and reductionistic views
which have played up a lot of emotion but unwittingly empowered the
government to develop an art of managing these emotions.

      This is why the hope of a spontaneous uprising sounds like mere
wishful thinking just like organised mass protests have failed to develop
anywhere beyond wishes of the organisers. At the moment, one wonders to whom
people would hand over power should they miraculously embark on a successful
spontaneous uprising?

      There is no question of some regions failing to recognise
someone like Morgan Tsvangirai and the whole "revolution" deteriorating into
a free-style conflict. Whichever way one looks at the Zimbabwe situation
now, it would appear like the only foreseeable solution is a compromise
deal, which whether likable or not, should include rather than exclude or
eliminate the ruling party.

      In fact, the old adage that if you can't beat them join them
would, to an extent, apply albeit from a compromised position where the
ruling party has to concede a bit of ground in policy matters, that way
dissolving the situation the Libya way.

      It does not look like the government is about to be suffocated
at all, rather it seems to be gaining ground in terms of suppressing
rebellion and the earlier people choose viable options the better for the
suffering masses whose contract with their government is just service
delivery in exchange for votes.

      People care little if service delivery has been stalled by
external or internal forces just like they care little if it has been
provided by external or internal forces. However, the mere absence of an
efficient service delivery system cannot be good enough a reason to hope for
an uprising just as the situation is proving itself.

       I fail to see any immediate solution to Zimbabwe's problems
which would succeed minus the presence of Zanu PF and I guess those
genuinely fighting for a change for the better should best focus on how they
can engage the ruling party and push for compromises which are not an option
but a must for the ruling party as well.

      Reason Wafawarova



Church has moral duty to denounce injustice
      THANK you for allowing us space to congratulate the Church and
the government for joining hands and working together.

      We believe that this act will leave an indelible mark in the
annals of the history of this country.

      We lend our support to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and
their representative Eunice N Guti for this historic initiative. We also
understand and appreciate that the government and the Church are important
structures in a State and more importantly should complement each other.

      We believe from the onset that parameters and stipulations of
such covenant relationships should be clarified. Without taking much from
the just-ended National Day of Prayer, the Church should have first educated
their followers on the purpose and objectives of such an initiative.

      Now that the day has come and gone, should we expect a change of
attitude by our rulers? Should we expect an end to misrule and
mismanagement, an end to joblessness, hunger, and selective application of
the law, rape, and killings of innocent souls, torture and other acts of

      It is the role of the Church to offer moral guidance to those
who govern the nation. It is in this context that the church should have
openly denounced the evil that is being exercised and perpetuated upon the
innocent and disadvantaged majority. Charity begins at home and I believe
justice and moral righteousness should first be championed from the Church.
Thus the Church should first unite before trying to unite the nation.

      Not long ago, a similar grouping of churches organised a day to
commemorate "Operation Murambatsvina" and to console the victims. Was it not
a good opportunity for the ZCC, all of us from ZAOGA under the leadership of
Guti to take a stand and tell the government its evils in much the same way
that Prophet Nathan did to King David?

      Why is it that Christians are quick to provide food, blankets,
shelter and other things to victims of man-made atrocities but at the same
time failing to tell the perpetrators to stop?

      The Church, especially its leaders as torch bearers, the voice
of the voiceless need not stand aside and watch while inhuman policies are
implemented and only for them to come later and organise a Day of National
Prayer, especially after an infant had died from cold weather, after
millions are made jobless, homeless, foodless and destitute in their own

      Is it not an insult to the Almighty to organise and pray for the
healing of our nation when the perpetrators of evil do not want to confess
their sins? Please lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

      Even after implementation of evil policies, it is incumbent upon
the Church to denounce them and call the parties involved to repentance. The
question still stands: Has the Church denounced the government for its
wrongs before being married in this relationship?

      We are not saying that Church leaders should not be for or
against the government. We are saying they should speak and tell the truth.

      As Christians we believe we are ambassadors of Christ, the light
of the world and shepherds of justice. By wining and dining with evil, as
they are doing, they are actually perpetuating evil because the only thing
necessary for evil to prosper is for the good men not to say anything.

      Concerned ZAOGA members


Attack on Trudy Stevenson vindicates Tsvangirai's critics
      HOW soon has vindication visited the likes of MPs Job Sikhala,
David Coltart and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga's statements about the
violent disposition that characterises Morgan Tsvangirai!

      Was Sikhala prophetic when he said if Tsvangirai gets hold of
State machinery like the army and the CIO some individuals will either go
into exile or will have their blood flowing in Manyame River and get their
heads refrigerated?

      The recent attempted murder of Trudy Stevenson and others by
thugs allegedly loyal to Tsvangirai provides an eloquent vindication,
confirmation and certifies the prophecies of the above mentioned persons.
These are men and women who worked closely with Tsvangirai for a long time
and hold a better and close-up version of Tsvangirai than the majority of
Zimbabweans, his supporters included.

      It is quite imperative that this butchery should be traced to
and located at Tsvangirai's door step and sadly announces Tsvangirai's
political existence as the emergence of a potential "Butcher of Harare". We
are likely to witness a violent simulation of the Matabeleland atrocities
not only in Harare but in Kadoma and Chitungwiza as mayoral elections are
getting nearer.

      We have been exposed to contrite press statements from
Tsvangirai's camp in the Press condemning the butchery but that shedding of
crocodile tears should be dismissed for what it is - a mere public relations

      There is no way more than 50 thugs can organise themselves in
spontaneity without the tacit approval and resources of and from leadership.
We have heard Morgan Femai, Tsvangirai's chairman for Harare declaring that
Harare will be cleansed of any Arthur Mutambara element by uprooting them
before they go for Zanu PF. Past attempted murders on Peter Guhu's life and
Sikhala's family in 2001 were either not investigated on or had their
results and recommendations stifled by the president's office.

      Most of those implicated got suspended or expelled but were
brought back by Tsvangirai and welcomed by promotion - one is now a
presidential aide and the other is an MP notwithstanding the fact that they
were pivotal cornerstones of past internal thuggery.

      It becomes rational, in the face of the above, to question the
sincerity behind the so-called commission of inquiry announced by Tendai
Biti. The greatest question of the day is what will happen if results of the
inquiry get too close to home for Tsvangirai's comfort given that they view
and hold him as someone above reproach? Are we not likely to see another
repackaged reward for the perpetrators in the form of a by-election chance
in Chikomba or a cozy asylum in South Africa?

      Tsvangirai should shed off the terror-president tag he is
putting on. He should prove that he can have a political existence and
relevance outside the bracket of thuggery. As I write, a number of political
parties and some embassies have strongly condemned the attempt on Stevenson's
life- probably the first female MP to have received an attempt on her life
by political thugs in Zimbabwe.

      We want to hear the church's voice, we want to hear WOZA
speaking, and we want to see gender organisations and activists yelling.

      My final appeal goes to all Zimbabweans; we should not allow the
excesses and evils of President Robert Mugabe to be practised by and
tolerated by Tsvangirai or anyone who hopes to rule this country one day. We
need change, yes, but the change should be progressive, promotional and
tolerant to democratic divergence and existence. We don't need another

       Stevenson, get well soon, sainted mother of democracy.

       Mwanawashe Virimayi

      Mt Pleasant



MP neglecting his voters

IT has long been said that MPs are the servants of the people, but the
MP for Mutare South, Fred Kanzama, is not serving the transport needs of the
people of Dora Pindo and Dora Dombo in Zimunya communal lands.

The people from these two areas have suffered in silence for a very
long time in terms of official transport to and from Mutare. As a result,
most of them walk the long distance.

There are no regular long distance or commuter buses that operate on
these routes. Instead, the villagers are being charged $350 000 for shorter
distances by drivers of pick-up trucks who ply the short route. The
villagers simply cannot afford such fares but the pick-up drivers are taking
advantage of the plight of the villagers.

D R Mutungagore



Was that true about Islam?

HAVING read the letter from the US in The Standard of 9 July 2006 my
inquiring mind posed a few but very important questions.

If Islam really teaches killing all non-believers and if it is so
barbaric and intolerant then why is it the fastest growing religion per
capita in the US according to athe same letter? Are the people in the US
that foolish?

If that is the true Islamic teaching, why is it that there are many
non-Moslems who are living peacefully as citizens in predominantly Moslem
countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Malaysia among others?

Are there not more than a billion followers of Islam? Then why are the
overwhelming majority of Moslems good, peace-loving and kind people? This is
because it is very clear in the Quran that "Whosoever kills even a single
innocent person is equivalent in sin to the one who has killed the entire
mankind." (Holy Quran 5:32).

Ilyas Chimbende

Houghton Park


No individual owns the struggle for democracy
      THE struggle for democracy and political discourse in Zimbabwe
does not belong to an individual or group of individuals. It belongs to the
people of Zimbabwe.

      Leaders will come and go as they should but the spirit of
democratising Zimbabwe will remain anchored in the minds of all citizens for
as long as President Robert Mugabe's dictatorship continues to rear its ugly
head against the peace-loving people of Zimbabwe.

      It is therefore disconcerting to hear some people ascribing the
success of the struggle against the government of Mugabe to certain
individuals. Some Zimbabweans are coming up with theories that give rise to
the perception that without these perceived "gods", the success of the
struggle is doomed.

      Zimbabweans must move away from the personality cult syndrome.
This is what has brought the nation to the state where it is today. In the
eighties people took Mugabe to be no sinner. He never erred, if he did, it
was because "he had been misled by his ministers". When he behaved angrily,
it was because he had been angered by unpatriotic citizens who had no
appreciation of his liberation war credentials. He was a saint. Today the
country is in a mess because the people did not take the leadership to task
when it became evident that the country was being led into ruin.

      Today we witness the importation of the same thinking in the
opposition politics that Morgan Tsvangirai cannot be wrong. He is the
founder of the struggle against the current government and he should not be
subjected to any democratic scrutiny. He is irreplaceable and in fact he
owns the struggle. The national project cannot survive without him. Those
who try to oppose him must be taken to some concentration camps for
political orientation because they are wrong and should not be allowed to
challenge the dear leader.

      We hear people making careless remarks such as "what did they
want in Tsvangirai's stronghold, they deserve it?" referring to the recent
unfortunate incident in which some members of one faction of the MDC were
allegedly attacked by a rival faction suspected to be affiliated to

      My fear now is that we might be cultivating the same intolerant
and violent thinking that has been sown by Zanu PF and has pervaded the
nation during the past 26 years. Some people may be tempted to ask as to why
it is taboo to stray into Tsvangirai's political domain when all along
Zimbabweans have been crying foul over Zanu PF's strategy to litter all the
rural constituencies with hordes of youth militias to terrorise, intimidate,
attack and shut-out the opposition from its perceived stronghold?

      If indeed the rural constituencies belong to Zanu PF, why do
they become nervous each time the opposition tries to penetrate the rural
constituency to seek support? In the same vain, why does Tsvangirai feel
threatened by a group of people that has no support?

      The opposition is opening up itself for manipulation by Zanu PF
and if it does not wake up now, it will pay for its political blunders. How
is the nation expected to believe that the attack on the MDC officials was a
top-notch scheme by Zanu PF and the CIO when someone in the Tsvangirai
leadership such as the likes of Morgan Femai, who is said to be the
provincial chairman for Harare, is on record as having said his party will
start by dealing with those that have left Tsvangirai first before they
proceed to deal with Zanu PF?

      He went on further to say that his group would not allow the
Arthur Mutambara faction to put up posters or to campaign in Harare. How is
the nation expected to reconcile such reckless talk with the ascribing of
the senseless attack on Trudy and company to Zanu PF and the state agents?

      Tsvangirai must wake up and deal with the unscrupulous
characters in his midst now.

      Z Vusimbe


'Darkest hour is before dawn'
      PEOPLE all over the country are in mourning as they watch
helplessly the destruction of their country.

      The majority wish they could turn back the hands of time - to
the times when we used to be the breadbasket of the region and when our
currency was still stronger and the President was still respected, not just
in Africa but even beyond.

      It is disturbing that our leader has learnt nothing from his
former colleagues from the region who led their countries along the
destructive path and Zimbabwe is going through a man-made crisis.

      By destroying the agricultural sector, we killed the goose that
laid the golden eggs. The so-called agrarian reform only achieved reduction
of the production base and this in turn meant low exports and low foreign
currency earnings. It appears that President Robert Mugabe is prepared to
take down the whole country with him.

      The challenge for the democratic opposition is to re-invigorate
the people's desire to take part in elections. In both the 2000 and 2002
elections we witnessed a massive voter turn out but that has since fallen
off dramatically.

      The MDC and other progressive forces must fight for a new
democratic and people-driven constitution

       Mamuse M Mlambo


      Chipinge South

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