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Tsvangirai pulls out of signing talks agreement

Business Day

17 July 2008

Dumisani Muleya

Mbeki forced to call off Zimbabwe visit

Harare Correspondent

AT THE last minute, President Thabo Mbeki yesterday cancelled a critical
visit to Zimbabwe to witness the signing of an inter-party agreement to pave
the way for substantive talks on power-sharing after the opposition backed
out of endorsing the draft.

This was a major setback to Mbeki's efforts to find a breakthrough in the
talks between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara.

The collapse of the planned signing came 10 days after Mbeki's bid to secure
the first meeting between Mugabe and his bitter rival, Tsvangirai, flopped
at the 11th hour.

Tsvangirai boycotted that meeting, urging the African Union (AU) to appoint
a permanent envoy to beef up Mbeki's mediation efforts. Tsvangirai said
political violence in the country had to stop.

The AU recently resolved that Zimbabwe should form a government of national
unity to end its political impasse. Mbeki is expected to meet AU Commission
chairman Jean Ping tomorrow for talks on the Zimbabwe crisis and then fly to
Harare at the weekend.

Tsvangirai threw a spanner in the works for Mbeki for the second time in two
weeks after he refused to sign a memorandum of understanding agreed to
between the parties on Monday.

This will make Mbeki's meeting with Ping highly charged because Tsvangirai
says Ping, the AU's most senior permanent diplomat, told him not to
co-operate until a permanent AU envoy was appointed. The claim was rejected
by Zanu (PF) mediators yesterday, who said the MDC leader was "spinning a

They said they had verified with the AU that Ping never said that. Deputy
Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said the Ping saga was a "fake issue".

The MDC and western countries say Mbeki is ineffective, even biased, and
should be replaced or assisted , but Pretoria rejects this.

Mugabe yesterday continued to lambaste Britain and other western countries
he says are plotting to overthrow him. His latest tirade was at the start of
the televised opening of what was described as a food subsidy programme.
Mugabe, however, for the first time did not attack the MDC, which he alleges
is a western puppet.

Frantic meetings were under way yesterday to put pressure on Tsvangirai to
sign, but he held out, demanding his conditions be met first , forcing Mbeki
to remain on standby.

Tsvangirai insists the AU assign a permanent emissary on Zimbabwe to bolster
Mbeki's mediation. He also wants Mugabe to first stop repression and
political violence, release detained MDC officials and supporters, and let
humanitarian aid resume.

Tsvangirai's MDC group is represented at the talks by Tendai Biti and Elton
Mangoma, while Mutambara's camp is led by Welshman Ncube and Priscillah
Misihairabwi-Mushonga. Zanu (PF)'s negotiators are Patrick Chinamasa and
Nicholas Goche.

Mbeki was expected to come with his facilitation team, comprising Local
Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, director-general in the Presidency
Frank Chikane, and presidential legal adviser Mujanku Gumbi.

Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said yesterday inflation had
reached 2,2-million percent, although independent economists say it is now
well above 7-million percent.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions yesterday condemned Mugabe's
re-election and urged the AU to appoint a high-profile envoy to help Mbeki
with the talks.

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Cheap food...

Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 6:20 PM

Zimbabwean soldiers look at food baskets in Harare. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli
The baskets were the ones on display when Mugabe opened a Tuck Shop of some sort yesterday. They are apparently full of subsidized items for on-sale to ordinary people hence stopping the rise in prices !!!!

Zimbabwe's official inflation rate has escalated to 2.2m%, driving the cost of a loaf of bread to about one-third of a teacher's monthly salary.

However, independent economists were quick to dismiss the government's figure, saying the true rate was actually several times higher and rising faster than ever.

The central bank governor, Gideon Gono, yesterday announced a 13-fold increase since the last time the inflation rate was released, in February, when it was put at about 165,000%. Officials admitted the figure was only an estimate because it was now all but impossible to track the cost of individual goods.

One of Zimbabwe's most respected economists, John Robertson, said that while inflation was probably about 2m% in May, it soared again last month.

"I think the June figure is more likely to be 10m% and it could turn out 15m%," he said.

Pay has failed to keep pace with the daily increases in prices so that even those with jobs in a country with 80% unemployment are often unable to afford the bus fares to work or more than one meal a day for their families. Huge queues form outside any bakery selling price-controlled bread, but demand far outstrips supply.

Robertson said inflation was largely being driven by the collapse in the black market value of the Zimbabwe dollar against the US dollar, which sets the pricing for imports of foods and other goods.

"At the beginning of July, the exchange rate was 27m% higher than the same time last year. That becomes the floor for the July calculation. I think we're heading for 40 or 50m% inflation by the end of July," he said.

Eight weeks ago, the central bank issued a $50bn note, the largest available. At the time it was worth about £2. It is now worth 18p.

Last year, the government tried to curb inflation with price controls that forced shops to slash their prices by up to 80%. That led to a short-lived spending spree as people bought up food, electrical goods and furniture at a fraction of their real value.

Since then the shelves of many shops and supermarkets have been largely bare, except where owners risk being caught charging prices that reflect the cost of importing goods from South Africa now that Zimbabwe's own production has collapsed.

Hyperinflation has also caused a cash shortage because the government cannot print notes fast enough to meet demand. Ordinary people are permitted to draw only $100bn (36p) a day from their banks.

The government has made an exception for soldiers, fearing unrest in the military. They are allowed to take out $1.5tn a day and the cash is delivered by the banks to the barracks.

While the parallel exchange rate for the American dollar is $270bn, the official rate remains $30,000 per US dollar. Only a select few at the top of the regime have access to buy foreign currency at that rate.

This has enabled some of them to buy luxury cars for no more than a few pounds.

No More Price Hikes - President

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

17 July 2008
Posted to the web 17 July 2008

Victoria Ruzvidzo

PRESIDENT Mugabe has said the era of unjustified price increases has now
come to an end following the launch of the National Basic Commodities Supply
Enhancement Programme, which will bring basic goods to the people at
affordable prices.

He also warned yesterday that businesses that would continue to disregard
ethical business practices would face the consequences.

Officially launching the initiative yesterday, President Mugabe said
Government would do everything in its power to ensure that people would not
be short-changed anymore.

"That is the message but when the message is not heeded and those who have
adopted the habit of exploiting the masses continue to do so, then, of
course, we will say the message has not been heeded and there are other ways
of getting them to heed the message, but behind doors and behind bars," he

Government, through the central bank, had disbursed funds to capacitate
businesses, but the supply situation had actually worsened.

President Mugabe has previously implored business to desist from
profiteering, but the calls have largely fallen on deaf ears.

"We do not want people behind bars but on this side of the bars so they can
be of greater benefit to our people. We would want our prisons to be empty
than full but, alas, just now they are brimful and we do not know what to

"Those in the forefront please produce but produce for the people and not
against the people. The goods must be accessed otherwise what are we doing
if we are producing products that can only be afforded by a few?"

He applauded Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono for his
efforts to counter the effects of profiteering and greed that have crept
into the economy.

Government would put more effort in this direction.

Basic products being distributed under the Bacossi to the People initiative
would be distributed to communities at their local service centres. The
central bank has already mapped out the distribution centres from provincial
to village levels. Local traditional leaders such as chiefs and headmen
would be actively involved in the distribution. The aim was to reach all

Soon after the launch ceremony yesterday, truckloads of the products were
dispatched to rural areas countrywide.

Government officials, service chiefs, the diplomatic community, the clergy,
members of various

political parties, the media and traditional leaders, among others,
witnessed the occasion.

Supply of the goods in urban areas would commence once outstanding logistics
on the distribution channels were mapped out.

A hamper that will last a month for an average family of six, containing
such items as cooking oil, laundry and bath soap, flour and mealie-meal,
would fetch about $100 billion, an amount that can only buy a loaf of bread

Those in rural areas who may not immediately afford the goods would be
allowed to pay at a later date upon endorsement by their respective village

Others would engage in public works, from which they would raise funds to
purchase the basic goods.

President Mugabe said this intervention was part of efforts to bring relief
to the people while measures were being taken to revitalise the productive

The supply programme would also be extended to boarding schools, a move that
was expected to result in a reduction of the need for top-up fees, a
phenomenon that had become common every term. The food component constitutes
a significant percentage of schools' costs.

"As Government, it is our responsibility to stand in defence against threats
to the welfare of our communities, particularly in the areas of food
availability and accessibility to other necessities," said the President.

He warned that those tempted to divert basic commodities under this
programme away from the intended distribution points would be dealt with
severely. Systems had already been put in place to monitor and follow up the
distribution process.

Speaking during the launch ceremony, Dr Gono said the National Basic
Commodities Supply Enhancement Programme was only one of the interventions
that were being put in place to ameliorate challenges in the economy.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so this is but one step
that we have taken as we implement strategies to improve the lives of our
people," he said.

Similar interventions were also being worked out for agricultural inputs and
other economic sectors.

"We want to confront market failure with market instruments. These will also
deal with market indiscipline by way of profiteering and side-marketing at
the expense of the real consumer," he said.

He emphasised that the programme was apolitical and no forms of
discrimination would be used in the distribution process. It was a programme
for all Zimbabweans, particularly those at the grassroots level.

"In this regard, we appeal to every Zimbabwean of goodwill to join in this
process (of economic regeneration), regardless of political affiliation or

". . . it is imperative that stakeholders come to realise that lasting
success against the inflation monster will come with sustained local
production in our fields, mines, factories and other service sectors of the
economy," said Dr Gono.

Furthermore, President Mugabe lamented the illegal sanctions as contributing
to the current state of affairs, saying for a long time, some people had
sought to argue and misinform the world that Zimbabwe was not under
sanctions, and to give the impression that the people were turning against
their own Government.

"In their haste to salvage their doomed regime change agenda, the West has,
however, now openly demonstrated to the world its real destructive
intentions on the Zimbabwean people.

"Rine manyanga hariputirwe. Zvavapachena iye zvino why Britain has this
preoccupation about Zimbabwe. What is Zimbabwe to Britain? That is the
question we continue to ask and the answer to that has not been provided."

He said the ultimate aim by the Western powers was to change the Government
so they could continue to exploit the resources that Zimbabwe was endowed

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Zimbabwe Opposition Figure Dismisses Government's Cheap Food Plan


By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
17 July 2008

The only independent presidential candidate in Zimbabwe's March 27 general
elections said the current economic and political crises facing the country
are due to the failure of the ZANU-PF government leadership. Simba Makoni,
who is the former finance minister, said Zimbabwe has the capacity to be the
breadbasket not only to the Southern African region, but also to the entire
African continent and beyond. He added that the failure of leadership has
obliterated the country's agricultural sector. Makoni's comments came after
President Robert Mugabe unveiled a plan to give "cheap food hampers" which
the government claimed would be affordable to poor households around the
country. From Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, Simba Makoni tells reporter Peter
Clottey the government's cheap food agenda is not a panacea to the country's
economic woes.

"Firstly, that has been his (Mugabe's) point for a long time that he views
the northwestern hemisphere are in for a regime change. I remain clear that
the problem confronting our country and the people primarily arise from
failure of leadership at the highest level in this country," Makoni said.

He said the government's new plan to provide cheap food for the poor would
not solve Zimbabwe's problems.

"No, it will not help anything. Firstly, these goodies are all imported.
This country has the capacity to produce enough for itself and surplus. This
country does not need to be importing bars of soap and bottles of cooking
oil and baked beans. It is not the solution, it is for the only connected
who are in the patronage system," he said.

Makoni said the ongoing economic crisis could force the country's economy to
collapse after some economists said demand for food and basic amenities far
outweigh what the government can afford to provide.

"Yeah! I agree. Quite clearly what they have been able to import is a drop
in the ocean compared to the national demand. And that is why I'm saying
that the policy seems to appease those who are connected to the patronage
system. The large majority of ordinary Zimbabweans will not access any of
this so-called goodies," Makoni pointed out.

He said President Robert Mugabe knows that the only way out of the current
economic and political crisis facing the country is a complete change in
Zimbabwe's leadership.

"The solution to our problems is quite well known by all Zimbabweans,
including Robert Mugabe. It is that we need a change in leadership; we need
a change in policies; we need a commitment to working for the people rather
than working for self, and self-enrichment. We need to capacitate our own
institutions, industrial, agricultural, services institutions, which a short
five seven years ago were delivering not only full capacity, but also
world-class quality. That's what will solve our problems," he noted.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe accused former colonial power Britain of
supporting what he described as illegal sanctions against the country, which
he said are causing untold hardships to the ordinary Zimbabwean.

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Mugabe says Britain wants to seize country's resources

Inflation soars to record level
 By MacDonald Dzirutwe
Reuters / July 17, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused Britain
yesterday of trying to seize control of resources in the devastated African
nation, as his government announced that inflation had risen to 2.2 million

Reelected last month in a widely condemned vote boycotted by the opposition,
Mugabe regularly blames his country's economic collapse on former colonial
ruler Britain and accuses it of plotting to overthrow his government.

The 84-year-old leader, in power for 28 years, has branded the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) a British and American puppet.

"What is Zimbabwe to Britain? The answer has not been provided, but we know
what they want. It's regime change, so the resources of our country can come
under their control," Mugabe said at the televised launch of a food subsidy

Zimbabweans are suffering chronic shortages of meat, maize, fuel, and other
basic commodities due to the collapse of the once prosperous economy, which
critics blame on Mugabe's policies, including his violent seizure of
white-owned farms.

Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono announced yesterday that inflation had
surpassed 2 million percent, a figure already calculated by economists, some
of whom now put it much higher.

Officials in February calculated Zimbabwe inflation at 164,900 percent,
already the highest in the world.

The worsening economy could add to pressure on the ruling ZANU-PF party to
make concessions to the MDC, which refused to recognize Mugabe's victory in
the June 27 presidential run-off.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the March 29 first round election but was
short of an absolute majority. He pulled out of the second round, citing
violence by pro-Mugabe militia.

The MDC says 120 supporters have been killed since March. Mugabe blames the
opposition for the bloodshed.

In Washington, President Bush said he wanted a peaceful end to the political
turmoil in Zimbabwe and was examining more U.S. sanctions after a U.N.
resolution was blocked by Russia and China.

The UN sanctions that failed last week would have imposed an arms embargo on
Zimbabwe as well as financial and travel restrictions on Mugabe and 13 other
senior Zimbabwean officials.

"We deeply care about the plight of the citizens of Zimbabwe, and we hope
there's a peaceful resolution soon," Bush told reporters after meeting
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.

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The crime: murderous corruption. Prosecuting it: America. Defending it:
China, Russia, South Africa

By Thomas Friedman

Article Last Updated: 07/16/2008 05:43:50 PM CDT

Much ink has been spilled lately decrying the decline in American popularity
around the world under President Bush. Polls tell us how China is now more
popular in Asia than America and how few Europeans say they identify with
the United States. I am sure there is truth to these polls. We should have
done better in Iraq. An America that presides over Abu Ghraib, torture and
Guantanamo Bay deserves a thumbs-down.

But America is not and never has been just about those things, which is why
I also find some of these poll results self-indulgent, knee-jerk and
borderline silly. Friday's vote at the U.N. on Zimbabwe reminded me why.

Maybe Asians, Europeans, Latin Americans and Africans don't like a world of
too much American power - "Mr. Big" got a little too big for them. But how
would they like a world of too little American power? With America's
overextended military and overextended banks, that is the world into which
we may be heading.

Welcome to a world of too much Russian and Chinese power.

I am neither a Russia-basher nor a China-basher. But there was something
truly filthy about Russia's and China's vetoes of the American-led U.N.
Security Council effort to impose targeted sanctions on Robert Mugabe's
ruling clique in Zimbabwe.

The U.S. put forward a simple Security Council resolution, calling for an
arms embargo on Zimbabwe, the appointment of a U.N. mediator, plus travel
and financial restrictions on the dictator Mugabe and 13 top military and
government officials for stealing the Zimbabwe election and essentially
mugging an entire country in broad daylight.

In the first round of Zimbabwe's elections, on March 29, opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai won nearly 48 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent
for Mugabe. This prompted Mugabe and his henchmen to begin a campaign of
killing and intimidation against Tsvangirai supporters that eventually
forced the opposition to pull out of the second-round runoff vote just to
stay alive.

Even before the runoff, Mugabe declared he would disregard the results if
his ZANU-PF party lost. Or as he put it: "We are not going to give up our
country because of a mere X" on some paper ballot.

And so, of course, Mugabe "won" in one of the most blatantly stolen
elections ever - in a country already mired in misrule, unemployment, hunger
and inflation. Some 25 percent of Zimbabwe's people have now taken refuge in
neighboring states. (I have close friends from Zimbabwe, and one of my
daughters worked there in an HIV-AIDS community center in January.)

The Associated Press reported in May from Zimbabwe "that annual inflation
rose this month to 1,063,572 percent, based on prices of a basket of basic
foodstuffs." Zimbabwe's currency has become so devalued, the AP explained,
that "a loaf of bread now costs what 12 new cars did a decade ago."

No matter. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's U.N. ambassador, argued that the
targeted sanctions that the U.S. and others wanted to impose on Mugabe's
clique exceeded the Security Council's mandate. "We believe such practices
to be illegitimate and dangerous," he said, describing the resolution as one
more obvious "attempt to take the council beyond its charter prerogatives."

Mugabe's campaign of murder and intimidation didn't strike Churkin as
"illegitimate and dangerous" - only the U.N. resolution to bring a halt to
it was "illegitimate and dangerous." Shameful. Meanwhile, China is hosting
the Olympics, a celebration of the human spirit, while defending Mugabe's
right to crush his own people's spirit.

But when it comes to pure, rancid moral corruption, no one can top South
Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, and his stooge at the U.N., Dumisani
Kumalo. They have done everything they can to prevent any meaningful U.N.
pressure on the Mugabe dictatorship.

As the New York Times reported, America's U.N. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad,
"accused South Africa of protecting the 'horrible regime in Zimbabwe,' "
calling this particularly disturbing given that it was precisely
international economic sanctions that brought down South Africa's apartheid
government, which had long oppressed that country's blacks.

So let us now coin the Mbeki Rule: When whites persecute blacks, no amount
of U.N. sanctions is too much. And when blacks persecute blacks, any amount
of U.N. sanctions is too much.

Which brings me back to America. Perfect we are not, but America still has
some moral backbone. There are travesties we will not tolerate. The U.N.
vote on Zimbabwe demonstrates that this is not true for these "popular"
countries - called Russia or China or South Africa - who have no problem
siding with a man who is pulverizing his own people.

So, yes, we're not so popular in Europe and Asia anymore. I guess they would
prefer a world in which America was weaker, where leaders with the values of
Vladimir Putin and Thabo Mbeki had a greater say, and where the desperate
voices for change in Zimbabwe would, well, just shut up.

Thomas Friedman is a columnist for the New York Times.

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Zim farmers turn to Sadc

Article By:
Thu, 17 Jul 2008 07:50
A Sadc tribunal began hearing an appeal on Wednesday by 77 white Zimbabweans
against orders to expropriate their farms, but with the chief plaintiff
absent after an assault by suspected pro-government militias.

Jeffrey Gauntlett, who represented the Zimbabwean farmers at the hearing in
the Namibian capital Windhoek, told the five judges of the Southern African
Development Community tribunal the expropriations were unconstitutional,
discriminatory and contravened the 14-nation bloc's founding treaty.

"The treaty says that Sadc member states shall not discriminate against any
person on grounds of gender, religion, political views, race, ethnic origin,
culture, ill-health or disability," Gauntlett said.

"My clients are not against land reform if done according to the law, but
what the Zimbabwean government did was to simply publish lists of the names
of farms and took the farms away the next day, giving them to government
officials, not even to deserving black farmers."

Gauntlett told the judges that several of his clients, including the
76-year-old chief applicant Michael Campbell, had been assaulted in violence
which has followed disputed elections in Zimbabwe.

Campbell was unable to travel to Namibia after he and his wife Angela were
severely beaten last month on his farm in Zimbabwe's Chegutu district.
Although police say the assaults were the work of common criminals, the
victims believe they were attacked by Mugabe supporters.

He was represented by his son-in-law Ben Freeth, who was injured in the same
attack and arrived in a wheelchair with his head bandaged.

"I am better now after a brain operation where a blood clot was removed," a
pale Freeth told AFP.

Zimbabwe's deputy attorney general Prince Machaya told the hearing that the
Sadc treaty was merely "a set of guidelines for member states" and the
expropriations were necessary as almost half of the fertile land in the
former British colony was "in the hands of white settlers" at independence
in 1980.

He also denied that Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which have so far
seen around 4000 farms taken over by the state, had only affected whites.

"It was unavoidable that some white farmers were affected, but also 21 black
farmers between 2000 and 2006, (who lost their farms)", Machaya stated.

Although the government has offered compensation for the farm buildings, the
landowners say the levels represent only a tiny fraction of their true

The hearing continues on Thursday.


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Zimbabwe's inflation dips deeper

Business Report

July 17, 2008

By Godfrey Marawanyika

Harare - The annual rate of inflation in Zimbabwe had hit a new record of
2.2 million percent, Gideon Gono, the governor of the central bank, said

"Statistics provided by the central statistical office [CSO] indicate that
it is now at 2.2 million percent," said Gono.

The head of the CSO, Moffat Nyoni, confirmed the figure but said it was only
a rough barometer, as it was based on limited data. Nyoni said: "We can
confirm that is the figure we have given to ... users, but that is not the
sort of data we would normally publish with confidence, because it was not
based on the sort of information we would normally use.

"The information was based on fewer observations than we would be confident
with, due to scarcities," added Nyoni. "However, with the information we
have managed to obtain, this is the rate of inflation."

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said increasing levels of production were
key to efforts to tame inflation.

"As a country, our declared battle against the scourge of high inflation
must be accomplished," said Mugabe.

"The more goods we have, the less demand there will be. Once demand is
satisfied, then prices will begin to fall."

Mugabe, who has frequently blamed the country's economic woes on a package
of targeted sanctions imposed by the West, reiterated his attack on the
"illegal" measures. "We must be of one accord. The sanctions must be

Once one of the continent's best performing economies, Zimbabwe has been in
meltdown since the turn of the decade, when Mugabe launched a controversial
land reform programme that resulted in the state seizing thousands of
white-owned farms.

The country's inflation first passed the 1 000 percent threshold in May 2006
and it has been rising continuously.

The government has tried a series of measures to slow down the inflation
juggernaut, including ordering shops to halve the prices of basic goods last
year. The plan was dropped after it led to shortages in shops.

Retailers now have to increase their prices several times a day for goods
purchased with billion-dollar bank notes.

With salaries lagging ever further behind the cost of living, many
Zimbabweans now make do with only a meal a day.

Even bread and mealiemeal are now hard to come by, costing several weeks'

Urban areas have been hardest hit, with rural areas managing to overcome the
worst effects of what Gono has called Zimbabwe's "economic HIV", by growing
their own produce.

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How Zim economy veered off track


    July 17 2008 at 06:51AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate - already the highest in the
world - hit 2,2-million percent, central bank governor Gideon Gono said on

The country's inflation course indicates a near-vertical climb.

Some milestones over about two years capture its rise, the Zimbabwean
government's reaction and the likely outcome of those measures.

When inflation hit 1 000 percent in 2006, Zimbabwe was in its eighth
year of recession and had the fastest-shrinking economy outside a war zone,
according to the World Bank.

The World Bank also had the highest inflation rate in the world.

The government instituted a price freeze in June last year.

Inflation slowed in August to 6 592,8 percent from 7 634,8 percent in
July after a wage freeze, but leaped to a record 7 982,1 percent in
September last year.

The central bank introduced new higher-value bank notes early this
year which, however, failed to ease a cash shortage and has resulted in long
queues of desperate citizens wanting to withdraw money from the country's

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food
Programme estimated last month that 2,04 million Zimbabweans risked hunger
in the coming months, "peaking at about 5,1 million between January and
March 2009". - Sapa

This article was originally published on page 7 of The Mercury on July
17, 2008

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Exposed: the Mnangagwa, Makoni plot

July 17, 2008

By Geoffrey Nyarota

EMMERSON Mnangagwa, the man in charge of the low-key Ministry of Rural
Housing and Social Amenities since 2005, has quietly shot to political
prominence as the chairman of the now powerful Joint Operations Command

The controversial JOC has effectively wrested power from the executive since
President Robert Mugabe's defeat by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the
landmark presidential election held on March 29.

As chair of the JOC, which brings together the security chiefs, Mnangagwa
holds a  powerful and influential position, especially for one long-touted
as Mugabe's potential successor in circumstances where the incumbent was
defeated in March and only won an election in a controversial and violent
re-run in which he was the only candidate.

What has remained a highly guarded secret about Mnangangwa is the role he
has played in denying victory to Mugabe's popular rival, Tsvangirai and in
ensuring that the President maintains his hold on power, however tenuously,
after 28 years in office and in the face of a total collapse of the economy.

Mnangagwa roped in two former ministers, both ambitious and both fired from
office by Mugabe, to help him stage Mugabe's come-back strategy when defeat
stared him in the face.

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni helped Mnangagwa to split the
opposition presidential vote on March 29, thus setting the stage for the
presidential election runoff, whose campaign in May and June - sources have
now revealed - Professor Jonathan Moyo secretly masterminded. As Minister of
Information, Moyo engineered Mugabe's election campaign in the turbulent
2002 Presidential election.

Mugabe won that election by 1 681 212 votes to Tsvangirai's 1 262 408 amid
serious allegations of rigging and widespread violence.

In the run-up to the recent presidential election runoff Mnangagwa
approached Moyo a close ally in government until his sudden removal by
Mugabe in the aftermath of the so-called Tsholotsho saga. Once agreement was
reached, Moyo reportedly took overall charge of Mugabe's re-run campaign,
working hand-in-hand with Zimbabwe's former ambassador to China, Chris
Mutsvangwa, former Midlands governor, July Moyo and controversial
war-veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda.

Mutsvangwa and the two Moyos are close allies of Mnangagwa, while Sibanda
and the two Moyos were all embroiled in the Tsholotsho debacle.

But back in February, the turning point in the Mnangagwa conspiracy was
Makoni's entry into the presidential election ring when he launched his
surprise electoral bid, the Mavambo project in February. Makoni disclosed at
the launch that he had conferred with Mugabe to advise him of his
last-minute initiative. Sources now say what Makoni did not reveal and what
has remained shrouded in secrecy since then was the ominous presence of
Mnangagwa at that meeting. Makoni had all along been aligned to a Zanu-PF
faction led by former army commander, retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi
Mujuru, for years Mnangagwa's bitter rival.

A highly placed source in the Mujuru faction says the General had noticed
"with dismay the change in Makoni after the State House" meeting, especially
when he found out that Makoni had attended a series of other meetings with
Mnangagwa. Another source said Mnangagwa and Makoni met on a total of three
occasions after the initial meeting with Mugabe at State House.

Mnangagwa realised that Mugabe would not defeat Tsvangirai and the two
realised that Makoni was no match for the MDC leader either.

"But they decided that Makoni would be useful in splitting the opposition
vote to the advantage of Mugabe," the source said. "But while Makoni told
the press that other Zanu-PF heavyweights were about to join the Mavambo
Project, the heavyweights were angry with him. When Mujuru heard that
Dabengwa was about to join the Mavambo Project, he sent (Mashonaland East
Governor Ray) Kaukonde to warn him not to go ahead and publicly stand behind
Makoni. Kaukonde drove straight to Dabengwa's home in on arrival in Bulawayo
on Friday, February 8."

The Mavambo Project was to be launched in the city the following day.

"Dabengwa was not at home and Kaukonde failed to reach him all night on the
usual special mobile number. So, Dabengwa became the only Zanu-PF
heavyweight to stand by Makoni's side at the launch the following morning."

The second source said Dabengwa had left for South Africa immediately after
the launch on a fundraising trip and had only met Mujuru two weeks later in
Harare on Monday February 25, by which time the die of Makoni's candidature
had been cast.

"Mujuru told Dabengwa that Makoni was now in bed with Mnangagwa in a plot to
perpetuate Mugabe's rule," said the source. "He said he, therefore, could
not support Makoni, knowing that he was working with Mnangagwa and,
ultimately for Mugabe. Mujuru said he would stand in the background."

Dabengwa had apparently told Mujuru that while he appreciated his concerns,
if he pulled out of the Mavambo Project just a month before the election,
Mugabe's hand would be strengthened. He said the two had agreed to confront
Makoni after the election about what they now perceived to be his duplicity.
In due course as the campaign for the run-off gathered momentum Dabengwa
announced that he was supporting the Tsvangirai's bid for the presidency. So
too did the only other Mavambo project heavyweight, former Zimbabwe Unity
Movement (ZUM) leader, Edgar Tekere.

But even before the presidential election result was announced Makoni was
literally back on the campaign trail again marketing the idea of a
Government of National Unity. He has virtually remained outside Zimbabwe in
South Africa since soon after March 29. By the time the election result was
announced five weeks later he had risen like the proverbial Sphinx from the
ashes of his electoral defeat to become a leading contender for leadership
under a GNU.

The first source, who is close to the Mavambo Project said during his
two-week visit to South Africa, Dabengwa had successfully raised funds for
the purchase of an assortment of pick-up trucks. A figure of 25 has been
mentioned. After they were delivered, Dabengwa had retained one vehicle in
Bulawayo while 24 proceeded to Makoni in Harare for distribution to the

""Following Dabengwa's trip to South Africa, a total of 25 vehicles were
brought into Zimbabwe," said the source. "They were mostly Toyota, Isuzu,
Mitsubishi and Nissan pick-up trucks. Dabengwa retained one, a Mitsubishi,
and the remaining 24 were delivered to Harare for distribution to the
provinces by Makoni.

"The vehicles were, however, never distributed. When a retired colonel who
was coordinating the campaign in the Midlands confronted Makoni about the
circumstances of the vehicles, the Mavambo leader said the trucks were
parked for safe-keeping."

It turned out that the vehicles were indeed parked, but at the premises of
Fidelity Printers in Msasa in Harare in unclear circumstances. Fidelity
Printers is a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank
was funding the Zanu-PF election campaign and had imported Mahindra trucks
from India for the campaign.

The source said Mavambo officials were surprised when, after Mugabe and
Makoni had both lost the elections, the Mavambo pick-up trucks were released
for use by the military commanders who were deployed throughout Zimbabwe at
the beginning of April.

"These are the same trucks which, according to many reports, transported
Zanu-PF militants to scenes of violence against MDC supporters," the source
said. "They were driven without number plates."

Questions pertaining to these allegations were emailed to Dr Makoni
yesterday. At the time of uploading he had not responded.

A Johannesburg-based senior Zimbabwean foreign correspondent was scathing of
Makoni's role in the presidential election and his sojourn in Johannesburg.

"Like Arthur (Mutambara), Simba's quest these days seems to be finding a
role for himself after being rejected by the electorate," he said. "Arthur
at least has a successful term at NASSA he can tag on his CV, whereas Simba's
working life has hardly been a success. SADC failed to take off under his
leadership. Zimbabwe Newspapers, despite having a monopoly on the daily
press, went into financial nosedive, and he was too briefly in the job of
Finance Minister to make an impact.

"And what do you do as a second act when your campaign manager (Ibbo
Mandaza) predicts you'll take 80 per cent of the vote and you take only one
tenth of that?

(Tomorrow: Mnangagwa goes back to the drawing board and, working
hand-in-hand with Jonathan Moyo, draws up a campaign strategy to rescue the
beleaguered President Mugabe on June 27).

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500 activists killed in political violence - MDC

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 13:57
HARARE - There are indications the number of MDC activists killed in
the aftermath of the March 29 elections may be over 500, as more bodies
continue to be discovered in shallow graves countrywide, according to a
senior member of the MDC.
Elias Mudzuri, the MDC MP for Warren Park in Harare and the party's
organising secretary, said figures from their investigations reveal a 'very
frightening trend' where missing people are now turning up dead in large
"The MDC official figure of people dead from violence has been over
115 but as we move around the countryside we are discovering that the figure
we have is a gross underestimation,' Mudzuri said.
The former Mayor of Harare said it would take some time to come up
with the correct number of victims of the political bloodshed by Zanu
"They simply abducted people, tortured them, killed them and disposed
of the
bodies either in shallow graves or just left them in the bush,"
Mudzuri added.
The MP insisted Zanu (PF) must stop the state sponsored violence if
the country was to move forward. He explained that talks to negotiate a
political settlement aimed at restoring peace and stability can only succeed
if Zanu (PF) dismantled its militia bases and ordered its soldiers back to
the barracks.
The National Executive Council of the MDC is expected to meet this
week to
be appraised of the consultative talks last week in Pretoria between
political rivals. Mudzuri remained adamant that no talks will take
place as long as their
supporters continue to be maimed and killed by Zanu (PF). - SW Radio
Africa (listen on 4880 or 12035kHz)

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Chombo under fire for interference

July 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE -The Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) says it will not
brook any interference from government in council affairs, and called for
the reform of the Urban Council's Act which gives too much power to the

The association was reacting to threats by local government minister
Ignatius Chombo that he would fire councillors if they deviated from
government policy, during the induction of newly-elected MDC councillors.
CHRA said Chombo should stop interfering with council operations.

"We remind minister Chombo that his dismissal of the Mudzuri-led council on
frivolous grounds, did not improve but rather severely crippled the city's
service delivery system," said CHRA chief executive officer Barnabas
Mangodza, said.

"The operations of the successive commissions he appointed were
characterized by rampant corruption and the eventual total collapse of the
service delivery system,"

He was referring to the dismissal of MDC Harare executive mayor Elias
Mudzuri on allegations of misconduct in April 2004.

Mangodza said Chombo should let elected councillors discharge their duties
as effectively as they can, and stop the political victimization of MDC-
dominated council administrations countrywide.

"Chombo must allow the will of the people and democracy to prevail by
stopping his undue interference with the work done by the elected
representatives of the people," Mangodza added.

Chombo gained infamy for dismissing MDC-dominated councils in Harare, Mutare
and Chegutu, replacing them with commissions he appointed that comprised of
Zanu-PF party loyalists.

In the March 29 harmonised elections, MDC candidates routed their Zanu-PF
opponents in most urban councils countrywide.

Harare City Council elected businessman and lawyer, Muchadeyi Masunda as the
city's mayor a fortnight ago, amid fears by residents that Chombo, if he
retained his cabinet post, was bound to interfere with Masunda's planned
turn-around of the city's fortunes.

Councillors have already been appointed into various working committees that
spearhead the work of the municipality.

Meanwhile, Mutare residents are up in arms against Chombo's decision to
authorize a hefty package for the outgoing chairman of the commission
running the city, Fungai Chayeruka.

Chayeruka, who was only appointed in March last year to replace ousted mayor
Misheck Kagurabadza of the MDC, will walk away with a municipal vehicle, a
commercial stand, and a mobile phone.

He will also benefit from 100 litres of fuel at government prices for three
months and will not pay council rates for eight months, according to a
letter personally signed by Chombo last week.

No other commission chairperson has received a similar package before.

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Chombo delays swearing in MDC councillors

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 14:00
BULAWAYO - The MDC has appealed to the High Court to order Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to swear new councillors into office.
This is a move that would apparently confer control of the major urban
municipalities to the MDC.
Chombo has been dragging his feet.  "The situation cannot be allowed
to continue because it is both illegal and highly prejudicial to the
applicant and Bulawayo rate payers. There is urgent need for this court to
intervene and bring normalcy to the affairs of Bulawayo and its city
council," the opposition party said.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing. The MDC, which won
control of Harare, Mutare, Masvingo Chitungwiza,  Kwekwe and Chinhoyi, said
in its application that the failure by Chombo to swear into office the
councillors for Bulawayo had ground municipal business to a halt. -

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A vampire state

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 12:48
HARARE - Mugabe and his crew have been shouting from the mountaintops
that there will never be talks between MDC and Zanu (PF). They claimed
Mugabe has been mandated by the people of Zimbabwe on June 27 to run the
affairs of their country for the next five years. The same Mugabe and his
crew waited for Tsvangirai for over 30 minutes for a meeting arranged by
Mbeki, the South African president, in a bid to have something to report to
the G8 member states
Mugabe knows he is not the president of Zimbabwe. By engaging
Tsvangirai he is hoping that the whole process will serve to authenticate
his disputed leadership. Mugabe thought that Tsvangirai could not read
between the lines. The people of Zimbabwe know his regime is a vampire
state, butchering and torturing the innocent and defenseless people. Only
Mbeki wants everyone to believe that Mugabe is still the president of
The SADC and AU need to take this seriously, they should have acted on
Mugabe and his vampire crew decisively. They are part-time old boys who see
no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil and have proved to be of no use in
solving the crisis in Zimbabwe.
The problem is that of a failed state, where those who have ruined the
hope of the masses are rejecting the will of the people by refusing to leave
office. The people of Zimbabwe still believe in electing a new government.
Any talks between the MDC and Zanu (PF) should be anchored on that belief.
MDC and Zanu (PF) should not waste time discussing a GNU because the people
are waiting for a new election to choose our next president in a peaceful
The people of Zimbabwe really appreciate the stance taken by our
African brothers: Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya. This also goes to the
EU members' states, the USA and the G8 in trying to find a lasting solution
to our problem.

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Police defy court orders to release car

July 17, 2008

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - Police have defied a second High Court order directing the
release a Toyota twin-cab vehicle they impounded from Abednigo Bhebhe, the
Nkayi legislator.

Bhebhe is member of the breakaway Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

Last month, Nkayi police impounded a Toyota vehicle with South African
registration numbers, which Bhebhe was driving. They later detained the
legislator for over a week after charging that he had violated the country's
laws by driving a vehicle that was not his without authorization from the

The police argued that Bhebhe was driving the vehicle illegally since he had
no supporting affidavit from the owner, who is his relative, authorizing him
to drive the car. They said he had violated the Customs and Excise Act as a

The vehicle (registration number VVG976 GP) belongs to Bhebhe's relative,
Polite Mapholisa, who lives in South Africa.

Lawyers representing the Nkayi legislator, Dube-Banda and Nzarayapenga
Partners took the matter to the Bulawayo High Court last month where they
won a court order directing the police to release both Bhebhe and the

But the police only released Bhebhe while continuing to hold the vehicle at
Nkayi police station. The police said they still wanted to investigate how a
South African-registered vehicle could have been driven on Nkayi terrain.

Lawyers representing Bhebhe dragged Nkayi police back to the High Court on
Friday to request the court to issue an order compelling them to comply with
the earlier court ruling.

On Monday the police defied the new ruling.

Bhebhe yesterday confirmed that police were still holding on to the vehicle
despite the second court order.

"The police are refusing to release my relative's car despite a court order
stating that they should release it," said Bhebhe. "I am left with no option
but to instruct my lawyer to sue the police for contempt of court."

Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Nicholas Ndou in his ruling issued on
Monday said:

"The respondents are ordered to release the vehicle in their custody to the
applicants, that the respondents be and are hereby ordered to release all
the documentation pertaining to the motor vehicle, and that the respondents
are hereby interdicted from interfering with applicants lawful usage of the

Lawyers had cited the Nkayi police chief inspector Hlomayi as the first
respondent with Superintendent Nyawidza, Assistant Commissioner Veterai, the
Commissioner of the Police Augustine Chihuri and Kembo Mohadi, the Home
Affairs Minister as the respondents.

No comment could be obtained from Mohadi or Chihuri on the matter.

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A Home Affairs guilty of murder - Verryn

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 13:56
JOHANNESBURG - A prominent South African church leader has said his
church has recorded the biggest ever surge of Zimbabweans into South Africa;
a development he said highlighted the torture that continues despite the end
of the presidential poll.
"Although I cannot give the exact numbers, to say I am alarmed by the
surge of Zimbabweans to our church would be an understatement," Central
Johannesburg Methodist Church Bishop, Paul Verryn said. "Perhaps more
alarming is the increasing number of orphans most of whom are aged between
11 and 17 on our doorstep."
Zimbabweans evading political persecution at home are not being
granted the necessary asylum documentation in SA. This has led to their
detention and deportation back to Zimbabwe.
"The Home Affairs Department, like the Zimbabwean regime, is guilty of
murder because of its haphazard, abysmal and irresponsible manner in which
they have dealt with this situation," Verryn said.
"As a churchman, I advocate a non-violent engagement among the parties
as the only sustainable solution to the problems that the country is facing.
I would also advocate the imposition of an arms embargo against Zimbabwe as
well as the commencement of convincing dialogue among the parties," he
said. - CAJ News

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Open Letter to Public of NZ on Plight of Zimbabwe

Scoop, NZ

Thursday, 17 July 2008, 5:18 pm
Opinion: Lachlan Mackay

Open Letter to the Public of New Zealand on the Plight of Zimbabwe

Thursday 17th July 2008

Dear fellow New Zealanders,

I call upon you all to do your bit in applying pressure on the appropriate
parties when it comes to the plight of Zimbabwe and its people.

Immediate action is needed as the situation in Zimbabwe is grave and
continues to deteriorate by the day. It is not good enough that we stay
silent while there are people massacred, butchered, tortured, raped,
pillaged, dying of hunger, fearing for their lives.

We must call for the Chinese, Russian and South African governments to
reconsider their positions and actively and directly assist the United
Nations, the United States and the United Kingdom bring about democracy and
peace to Zimbabwe and its people.
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party must be brought to justice and be held
accountable for their crimes against humanity.

For more information about what is happening in Zimbabwe or if you would
like to take some action, go and visit the following sites:


or write a letter to our Prime Minister : Rt. Hon. Helen Clark
Prime Minister
Parliament Buildings
P.O. Box 18-041


Attached - to ambassadors to the United Nations

Tuesday 15th July 2008

Your Excellencies,

I write to you with the greatest concern and the heaviest of hearts as the
situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.

I have included in this open letter to you, an urgent appeal I sent to
Robert Mugabe almost 3 weeks ago. I hope that you all will take the time to
read it.

I ask every Ambassador to the United Nations to apply pressure on the member
states who continue to veto resolutions that will impose harsher sanctions
on the Mugabe regime. Pressure needs to be especially applied upon the
Chinese, South Africans and Russians who have vested interests in Zimbabwe
and for that very reason continue to defy the call for unconditional
condemnation and action against Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF Party.

The reputation of the Security Council and the United Nations in general
rests on what action if any they will take to restore democracy and peace to
Zimbabwe. My continued faith and confidence in the United Nations is also on
the line as is my faith in humanity. If the International community
continues to turn its back on the plight of Africa then I will lose all hope
that we can ever achieve peace and Gandhi's and Luther King's legacies will
die along with the United Nations.

Please I beg of you all to apply immediate pressure on the necessary and
appropriate parties involved in this horrific situation. I ask for justice
for the hundreds of thousands who have already died in Zimbabwe and I demand
that Mugabe and Zanu PF be held accountable for their crimes against

I truly hope that you have taken on board what I have said and what I am
asking you to do. I know that I am just a nobody really in the scheme of
things but I cannot stay silent while millions are starving, hurting, dying
and fearing for their lives.

Yours Sincerely,

Lachlan Mackay


24th June 2008
President Robert Mugabe
Private Bag 7700

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you with the greatest urgency and concern,

Your country is suffering, mentally and physically because of your
dictatorial and tyrannical rule. You have destroyed the spirit of your
people and decimated the economy. Your people are starving as a result of
this. Your supporters rape, kill and pillage wherever and whenever possible.
None of your people feel safe anymore. Is this what you want people to
remember you by? Is this to be your legacy?

Mr. Mugabe what happened to you? There was so much promise and hope when you
first became Prime Minister of your newly independent country. What went

I beg you please to stop the violence. Stop the killing, the raping, the
pillaging and the intimidation of your people. Bring back democracy. Allow
the media to operate freely. Allow for free and fair elections to take place
at the earliest opportunity possible. Allow aid agencies to assist a new
national unity government rebuild your broken country.

For the sake of your people, your country, your family and your soul redeem
yourself before it is too late. Can you not see that this path you are
following will only lead to more pain and destruction and will ultimately
lead to the demise of your supporters, family and in the end your rule as
evil is always overcome by good whether there was any personal input on your
part or not.

Gandhi stated many times - " that all through history, the way of truth and
love has always won, there have been tyrants and murderers and for a time
they seem invincible but in the end they always fall". I would like to quote
Gandhi again if I may... "the only devils in this world are those running
around in our own hearts, and that is where all our battles ought to be
fought". Both quotes I truly believe in. Please let me make it quite clear
to you that I am not attacking you because you are a person, but I am
attacking your sins. I hope that somewhere deep down inside of you, there is
still some good and it is to that bit of you that I am desperately appealing
to. Please give me some hope and faith to believe in humanity again.

I hope that you do seriously consider what I have said,

Yours Sincerely,

Lachlan Mackay

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JAG open letter forum - No. 547 - Dated 16 July 2008



Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


  1.  The Gora


Dear JAG



I feel shit today,

This second hand trauma's finally getting to me...

No more "How are you?"

"I'm Fine, what about you?"

No more lies... "I feel shit!!!"

You may ask what is all this second hand stuff? 

Well here it is...messages, calls and meetings face to face:

Our driver's missing, please pray.

We found a survivor, shot in the head but he will be ok!!!

Ben Freeth's been abducted with his in-laws... beaten whilst they were dragged away...

found later after many calls and global prayer...head bashed and feet battered but ok.. .

SADC challenge signed forcibly away.

My house, sir, has been burnt and I've been chased away...

and now my wife has suffered beatings ,I don't know if she's ok...

Her sister too... what should we do?

We need a car he's told us where... in the bush, in Beatrice...

we must go there to seek to find our friend...

we've found him past the 37 km peg...slaughtered , left rotting in the sun..

Josh, a true son of the soil not like those bastards... interested only in the spoil.

Charlie's in trouble again,


Yes... Since Wednesday... taken over again.

No help from the law... instructions Propol, top to floor...

"Keep off; this white man is now out...

for good for sure...

and don't you people get the message,

100% means no whites no farming anymore...

just go or next time there'll be more..."


Beating's, Lootings, Murder...Like what we've seen before..

Gunned down a single mother, Tabitha...

more powerful than them all of two hundred or more..

all because the state's chief negotiator lost...

Three months of hell for sure and now they threaten still more!!!

Negotiate with whom for what...

and all while, the less than earnest mediator, Mbeki rub's his hands whilst Zimbabwe burns!!

No Crisis that's for sure!!


So now you know... those and these people, and many many more...

I see them, I hear them, I feel their fear and I share their cries, their courage and their pain...

This, my trauma, only, "second hand".

And in the meantime he taunts, "Only God can move me "...

Just you wait old man, He will....for I and we believe and know it to be so...

The victory is already won in the hearts and minds' of all God's people!


2. Cathy Buckle


Dear JAG


In the main supermarket in my home town this weekend there were too many empty shelves to count. In the fortnight since Mr. Mugabe was sworn in as President for his sixth term, everyday life has gone from struggle to complete crisis. No one is coping now and in the last two weeks virtually all foodstuffs, toiletries and household goods have completely disappeared from stores. On what should have been a busy weekend morning in our once thriving town, the car park was virtually empty and the only things to buy in the cavernous supermarket were cabbages, butternut squash, lemons, fizzy drinks and a few packets of meat.


"Where are all your goods?" I asked one shop attendant.


"There is nothing," he said, "the suppliers say they have nothing to deliver."

I stood while he weighed the butternut squash I had chosen and exclaimed in shock at the 30 billion dollar price sticker he fixed to the vegetable.


"Can I show you something?" the man said and before I could answer he took his most recent pay slip out of his pocket. For an entire month the shop assistant had earned just 28 billion dollars - not even enough to buy one single butternut squash. Eight hours a day, five and half days a week and his entire salary was not enough to provide even one single meal. He told me he had a wife and a child to support and said with remorse and shame in his voice:

"I am failing them and if I do not jump the border to look for work this month then they are surely going to die."


They are simple words stating a simple fact - people are surely going to die here in Zimbabwe if this situation continues for much longer. Despite their desperate determination to stay in power and retain their 28 years of leadership of the country, Zanu PF have so far not even acknowledged the critical shortage of foodstuffs and basic medicines let alone done anything about resolving it.


Everywhere people have stories of such deprivation and suffering to recount and we are a nation in a permanent state of shock. Shock that our lives have been reduced to this. Shock that yet again the UN have been unable to find a common voice. Shocked that the violence and brutality continues and shocked that yet again we are hearing of talks about talks about talks. On the 29th March the MDC won a parliamentary majority, it is long past time for them to be sworn in and take up the reigns and lead Zimbabwe out of this hell. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle .12 July 2008.


2. Eddie Cross - The Economic Fundamentals


Dear JAG


Despite the paucity of statistics in Zimbabwe due to the near collapse of the system, it is possible to analyse the present economic situation based on what we know of the fundamentals. It is clear that inflation is now at record levels exceeding the experience of other countries who have gone through such a phase and that economic activity has slumped to new lows. The traffic in the towns are a clear indication of this.


If what we believe is happening, the GDP will have slumped to a new low of about 40 per cent of the level achieved 10 years ago. It certainly will decline by 12 per cent or more this year alone. This process is being driven by falls in the real output of all industries and sectors of the economy.

Even mining, despite high international prices and demand and some new investment in the platinum sector, physical output is falling.


Industry seems to be the most affected at present and whereas output last year would have been about 60 per cent of 1998 levels, by the end of 2008 it will be perhaps half of this - driven by a cocktail of problems from power shortages, to foreign exchange shortages and price controls. Tourism shows no sign of recovery and if it is actually possible, farm output is in steep decline driven by insecurity and lawlessness, low prices and the shortage of virtually all inputs.


The inflation spiral we are in is being fed by a massive budget deficit - funded by printing money mainly, and by the abuse of the foreign exchange system. The latter is being managed both to reduce the real value of remittances to Zimbabwe and to allow those associated with the regime to secure hard currency at very low "official exchange " rates. This is tantamount to printing money as the RTGS system is used to buy hard currency on the local market at massive premiums.


Unable to cope with the very rapid depreciation of the currency and watching their working capital being consumed by inflation, business organisations are now simply closing down. Major wholesalers and retailers are particularly affected as there are no credit facilities available and they are unable to finance their stocks. A serious breakdown of the distribution chain has taken place. Manufacturers are not far behind and only those who are exporting a majority of their output are surviving.


In the mining sector, threats of nationalization without compensation together with the continued control of marketing and the use of the interbank rate for the payment of local currency for a proportion of export sales and the maintenance of an artificial price for gold, is affecting returns and confidence. This, coupled to shortages of essential inputs and electrical energy, are further curbing output and investment.


In the agricultural industry, maize production in the past season is now estimated as only 425 000 tonnes while winter cereal production looks as if it will only be a fraction of last years output. This is due to a shortage of inputs as well as continued farm invasions and insecurity. Tobacco sales are down on last year and it is expected that output could decline again this year due to uncertainty and the non-availability of essential supplies and electricity. Oilseed production is down and for the first time there is a shortage of tea, fruit and sugar - all normally in free supply.


One immediate consequence of this situation is a critical shortage of all basic foods. What little is available is now priced at levels significantly above those prevailing in South Africa - a reversal of the historical relationship. This situation is so serious that it is likely to result in mass starvation if it is not attended to soon. Political controls over the supply and sales of food are now universal and seriously affecting the welfare of those in the cities and in the rural areas who supported the MDC.


One of the new consequences of this state of affairs is the inability of staff in all State controlled institutions to cope with the situation.

Poorly paid at best and with salaries that simply cannot keep up with the inflation, they are unable to maintain their standard of living. Many State departments and services are collapsing. How the PTC and ZESA are maintaining their activities is anyone's guess.


Couple this situation with the widespread violence and intimidation and you can understand why millions of people are on the move. They are desperately trying to get out of the country - to anywhere that might offer a means of support and shelter. South Africa is the main destination and I simply cannot even imagine how many people are moving south on a daily basis.


Today a local businessman said to me that traffic from South Africa to Bulawayo was running at 25 pick ups per hour to the City and 4 times that number to Harare. This is as South African migrants respond to the increasing desperation of their families at home.


The Zanu PF regime shows no sign of understanding or being even willing to do what is required to bring this situation under control. I cannot believe that they do not know what to do - its quite simple really but needs political will and a determination to get things right. Both seem to be almost completely absent.


I said to a friend recently that Mugabe and Zanu PF are like a small boy who has been chasing a large bull in a field. At last the bull has stopped and they have the bull by the tail - but they have no idea what to do with it and run the risk that this will annoy the bull that, with further irritation, might turn around and toss the kid into the bush with its horns.

The other danger for the kid is that the bull will do what comes naturally and Zanu PF will find itself covered in you know what!


Whatever, the kid is not in charge of the bull and they know it - but they simply do not know what to do - the wise thing would be to drop the tail and run. But then Zanu PF is not given to wisdom - in any field.


Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 12th July 2008


3. Eddie Cross - It's Crunch Time


Dear JAG


In any crisis there comes a moment when all the parties to a situation must face reality and make decisions. The crisis in Zimbabwe is at just such a juncture. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the country will be decided in the next few days.


We have just seen the failure of the G8 States to persuade their international colleagues to back tough sanctions on Zimbabwe. This was partly engineered by South Africa who rushed the commencement of talks about talks in South Africa so as to be able to say at the UN that "talks" were under way and the Security Council should give the parties involved time to try and resolve the crisis along the lines agreed by the AU.


By doing so, Mbeki has in fact both played the ball back to the western States who backed the tough stance and also put himself in the situation where he has full responsibility for the next play - in fact the final set in this particular match. He may live to regret that particular outcome.

James McGee said as much when he stated yesterday that "it was now up to the SADC States" to find a solution.


Mbeki has come back from the G8 summit in a hurry to get things moving. He virtually forced the start of talks about talks last week and after two days of fruitless discussion, he set up a meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics and Security chaired by Angola, now scheduled to take place on the coming Friday. Ping (from the AU) fell ill in Japan and will himself only come to South Africa on Thursday for talks with Mbeki prior to the SADC meeting on Friday.


It seems to me that all those involved - from the international donors who are vital to any recovery process here, to the SADC and the AU and indeed even the G8 leadership, that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. The call is for a transitional government with a limited mandate and life (maximum of two years) with Mugabe as a titular President and Tsvangirai as a substantive Head of Government or Prime Minister. The power structure of the new government to be based on the outcome of the 29th March election.


It is envisaged by all that this transitional arrangement would last until a new national Constitution had been agreed, signed and implemented and fresh democratic elections held under normal conditions. It is further envisaged that during this period, a start would be made on the whole process of stabilisation and recovery.


Clearly, such a transitional arrangement is not acceptable to the new power brokers in the present regime. The Joint Operations Command made up of a military Junta with elements of the Zanu PF Party; know full well that this would represent the end of the road for them in every respect. If they were to accept such an outcome they would have to either go into exile or seek refuge in a country that agreed to have them and to provide them with security and protection from prosecution.


The Zanu PF negotiators know this and Mbeki is also fully aware of just what he is up against. He knows that neither Mugabe nor his JOC associates can be trusted to abide by any decisions reached at the negotiating table.


Therefore, what is at stake here is not just the issue of negotiations themselves but also the future and security of the men (and women?) who have orchestrated Zimbabwe's freefall into collapse and international ostracism.


The real talks are therefore likely to be between the facilitators and the JOC rather than between the Zimbabwean Political Parties.


The JOC have their own ideas - they want to keep to their present course. If left to their own devices they will dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections in August or September, maintain or intensify the violence and the campaign against the MDC and even deepen the crisis here. They do not care about the economy - a small group of some 2 000 individuals can live very well on the mines alone thank you, or the human welfare of the millions of people who live in the cities and towns.


So we are down to the wire. For South Africa the issues are clear. As I write, millions of Zimbabweans are planning their flight to other countries.


A lethal cocktail of circumstances here is driving this process - the violence and genocidal attacks on ordinary people across the country; the economic collapse that is making it impossible to live on a salary even if you have a job; and the almost complete absence of basic foods, even if you can afford them. I would say that right now the majority of those who live inside Zimbabwe have no choice but to consider flight - and South Africa will be the preferred destination.


This forced migration could become the largest mass movement of people in recent African history and all the signs are there that it is under way.


Such a migration would tip South Africa into instability and chaos as the squatter camps resist the influx. Pictures of the South African police firing bullets and tear gas into crowds would appear on television screens across the globe. Investors and financial managers all over the world would downgrade South Africa as an investment destination and FIFA might pull the soccer World Cup. An exaggerated view, I do not think so anymore!


Inside the country we simply cannot take much more punishment and any further deterioration in the economic and humanitarian situation will create conditions from which it will take years to recover. Like an outbreak of armed resistance, the economic collapse that is now underway will make things that much worse very quickly - we have weeks not months left in this respect. Right now in Bulawayo we have 42 000 tonnes of food aid sitting in sealed warehouses - it cannot be released because the donors will not allow Zanu PF to control its distribution on a political basis. Tell me if that is not a crime against humanity.


The US and the UK were quite right in their analysis of the crisis in Zimbabwe as a threat to regional stability and peace. Mbeki knows that and partly because of his own actions, he now has to face the Zimbabwe crisis without western allies at his back. He is left with SADC and the AU.


That is where the Zimbabwe crisis belongs and the biggest test of the Mbeki Presidency is about to take place. Does African leadership have what it takes to make the tough decisions that time and history and geography places on their shoulders. If they do have what it takes (and all the signs are there that they do), then does Mbeki have the political courage to use his power as President of South Africa and a key player in the SADC region, to enforce compliance across the Limpopo? There is no confidence that he will do so, but we may yet be in for a surprise.


Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 15th July 2008


4.  Paddy Taylor


Dear JAG


It is seldom good to dwell on the past and harbour ill-feelings, but the current world attitude on Zimbabwe (most don't know where we are or how famous we WERE!!) in plain language, stinks.


After UDI was declared by Ian Smith in 1965, it was a matter of days before the international community declared this country "illegal", and imposed broad-based sanctions which enveloped virtually the whole population; only those "liberals" and terrorists/collaborators were smiled upon by the "free" world - however, these were in the minority - yet these are the very people who are criticising the demon they helped that "free" world to impose on us. Now the same people are procrastinating as to whether to impose further sanctions on their former "ally" Mugabe and his illegal regime. The hypocrisy of it all baffles ME!


This country was in good working order despite sanctions AND a protracted civil war when it was handed on a silver platter to Mugabe in 1980 - by the British thank you. So the British must shut up their faces when it comes to Mugabe's misdemeanours and leave us alone to sort out our own problems - we are a unique country (as we have proved in the past) and have a unique people. WE will sort our own politicians out; it was world politics that killed Rhodesia - it is personal politics that has TRIED to kill Zimbabwe - but Zimbabweans will win the day and rid THEMSELVES of the devil amongst us. America and Britain, get your noses out of our affairs. Sky News, you haven't the gall to publish what MOST of us in Zimbabwe feel right now. Most of us HATE the British and Americans WITH A PASSION for your hypocrisy - if we must kill ourselves and spill much blood, let us do it on our own; we don't need your help. Stuart Taylor, Zimbabwe.


P.S. Rhodesia was considered a threat to world peace in the '70's - what the HELL is Zimbabwe considered?


5.  Jan Anne Petrie

Dear JAG

So glad that Eddie Cross is better after the kindness he offered to us before we left Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, there was no way we could have got Factor Eight for Scott through MDC, as it works out at £1000.00 per unit, and Scott needs three thousand units every second day and isn't made in Africa anymore. I feel for those Haemophiliacs left in Zimbabwe to die a very painful death through haemorrhages into the joints, with no other recourse to turn too. We help where we can and pray for those brave people who can only be Zimbabwean. One day we will return. Thank you.

Jane Petrie.

6. Trudy Stevenson


Dear JAG




Tragically, many young girls as well as older women have been raped, often repeatedly, by "militias" and others during the past few weeks, and it looks like the rape will continue.


It is important for these victims and all potential victims, families and friends to know that they CAN get help, and that they need to ACT QUICKLY in order for the anti-HIV and emergency contraceptive medication to be most effective.  Even if they have left it late because they were unaware or too afraid, they should still seek help.  They should also be made aware that they are entitled to legal, safe termination of any resulting pregnancy, provided they act within two months or so.


Affected girls and women should contact their own or any trusted doctor, or go through their church or other organisation - e.g. any women's organisation or medical-health NGO.


These traumatised girls and women need protection and understanding helpers, and they will all need professional counselling. 


Please assist in spreading this message far and wide.

Thank you.

Trudy Stevenson

(Former MP, Harare North)


7. Rob Gass, Cue, West Australia


This is a copy of a letter I have sent to the Chinese Government:-

Please convey to your government.
The life-span of the Zanu PF / Mugabe government is going to be very short. Your government has come down on the wrong side of Justice, the wrong side of History and the wrong side of Decency.
Be assured Sirs, the people of Zimbabwe will not forget how you vetoed the sanctions resolution in their hour of great need. Make hay in Zimbabwe while you can because you will never be welcome in that country again. Not in five centuries will we permit a Chinese embassy upon our soil.
Rob Gass
Cue, West Australia


8. Ade Williams


Dear JAG


Despite all the protestations that legal action is impossible in order to indict Robert Mugabe because he is the sitting head of state, because Zimbabwe is not party to such agreements, because there is no precedent, presumably now will fall away because Luis Ocampo for ICC has acted against President Bashir of Sudan who is in the same position. 


We live in hope.


Let us also hope that Mugabe lives long - long enough to have plenty of time to reflect on his actions whilst sitting in court and later in jail.


Ade Williams.


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for Agriculture.




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