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Why has China bought Mugabe a mansion?

The Telegraph

By Christopher Booker
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 20/07/2008


It may not be surprising that, as befits any mad dictator, President Mugabe is now the proud owner of a palatial £4.5 million mansion in Harare and a similarly lavish country hideaway, each fitted with the latest electronic security systems, including anti-aircraft missiles.

But why should all this have been provided for him by the People's Republic of China?

The explanation lies in a deal struck in 2005 whereby Mr Mugabe handed over to China his country's mineral rights, including the world's second largest reserves of platinum, worth £250 billion.

In return for allowing the Chinese to cart away more than half a billion pounds' worth of minerals a year, Mr Mugabe not only makes a vast personal fortune for himself and his henchmen, but is given all the arms he needs to keep his criminal regime in power, including guns, jet fighters and military vehicles. (For further details, see my colleague Richard North's EU Referendum website.)

Contrast this with our own Government's response to Mugabe's tyranny. Since Zimbabwe is included in the 28 areas of "common foreign policy" we have ceded to the EU, we can do nothing except in conjunction with our EU colleagues.

On Monday we saw the humiliating spectacle of Gordon Brown pleading with the EU's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to add 36 more names to the list of Zimbabweans on whom the EU has imposed pathetically ineffectual "personal sanctions".

Otherwise, the EU's only contribution is to give Zimbabwe €25 million a year in aid, which Mr Mugabe welcomes as a way to give food to his supporters while the rest of his people starve.

All this provides a remarkable parallel to what is happening elsewhere in Africa.

In Sudan the tyrannical government is given full support by China in return for a monopoly on its large reserves of oil. Meanwhile, EU politicians wring their hands over the tragedy unfolding in Darfur, while a pitiful EU military force in Chad notably fails to protect a million helpless refugees from the genocide waged on them by China's friends in Khartoum.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as we learned from an excellent report in The Daily Telegraph last week, China last January signed a "minerals for infrastructure" deal, worth £2.25 billion, under which it bought the rights to some of the world's richest copper and cobalt reserves, in return for building roads, railways, hospitals, dams and airports.

This is the country where, five years ago, the EU proudly sent its first military force bearing the ring of stars insignia - to achieve precisely nothing.

We now learn that the Congolese government had first proposed such a minerals deal to the EU but, according to the country's deputy minister for mines, the EU replied that it "did not have the muscle that was needed".

All over Africa we see a similar story. The ruthless but canny Chinese dictatorship props up equally ruthless and corrupt governments, as in Angola, in return for that continent's fabulous mineral reserves. Britain, which once ruled much of Africa, has handed over its policy-making to the EU, which does little but make sanctimonious and irrelevant gestures.

Yet this is the continent which, in 2005, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown proclaimed was "at the top" of their international agenda. It was in the same year that, as the EU's acting president, Tony Blair flew to Beijing to sign an agreement making the EU and China "strategic partners". It is only too obvious which "partner's" strategy is proving the more successful.

A mad vision of a 'green Gulf' in the North Sea

Anyone wanting final proof that Gordon Brown lives on another planet should consider his boast to last week's EU "Mediterranean summit" that "Britain's North Sea could be the Gulf of the future for offshore wind".

To help Britain meet its EU target of generating 32 per cent of our electricity from "renewables" by 2020, Mr Brown says he wants to see 3,000 giant wind turbines built round our coasts.

  • Telegraph View: A sea change

    The "optimum" capacity of an offshore turbine is 3 megawatts (MW), so the nominal capacity of Mr Brown's turbines would be 9,000MW. But due to the vagaries of the wind, they would produce on average only a third of this, say 3,000MW.

    The Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire has a capacity of 3,800MW. Thus the entire output of Mr Brown's "Gulf of the future" would be less than that of a single conventional power station.

    The cost of building his turbines, estimated at £2.3 million per MW, would be at least £20 billion (the £10 million cost of the solitary 3.5MW turbine recently built in Cromarty, Firth, ran out at £2.8 million per MW).

    In addition, someone (who?) would have to build up to a dozen gas-fired power stations just to provide backup for when the wind is not blowing. We could get considerably more electricity from two new nuclear power stations at a fraction of the cost.

    Fortunately, there is no possibility that Mr Brown's 3,000 turbines, each the size of Blackpool Tower, will get built. It is impossible that they could be erected at a rate of one every working day for 11 years, not least because the world has only one ship of the size needed to install them.

    Such fantasies are only made possible by the fact that we are all forced, through our electricity bills, to pay a hidden subsidy to the turbine developers, which is 50 per cent higher even than the near-100 per cent subsidy we pay towards onshore wind energy.

    But if Mr Brown is living on the Planet Krypton, he has, alas, been joined by David Cameron and our entire political class. Not one MP, it seems, dares question a policy the total insanity of which they could work out for themselves just by spending 20 minutes on the internet.

    'Europe' brings down the bird that set it free

    A longtime reader, Peter Howell, sends me a handsome painting of a Douglas DC-3 to mark the fact that he had just taken one of the last commercial flights allowed in these historic aircraft before they were grounded for ever last week by an EU directive.

    The DC-3, or Dakota as the RAF called it, was the ultimate workhorse of the Second World War, playing a key role in the liberation of Europe and Asia. (Mr Howell's father survived being shot down in one in Burma.)

    As I reported in February, a 175-page document, known as EC Regulation 1899/2006, imposes new technical requirements on all passenger-carrying aircraft operating in the EU, making no distinction between giant airliners and small vintage aircraft such as the Dakota, long a popular draw at airshows. T

    o fit these old planes with escape chutes and all the other safety paraphernalia mandatory in a jumbo jet was prohibitively costly. Thus did "Europe" finally ground the aircraft which 60 years ago helped liberate it.


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    Poachers terrorise Zimbabwe’s rhinos

    July 20, 2008
    It is not only the people who are paying the price of Mugabe’s disastrous policies

    Illegal hunting is threatening rhino and elephant populations

    Sign a petition against the trade

    THE game scouts looking for a black rhinoceros wounded by poachers in Zimbabwe’s Save Valley Conservancy could hear her snoring but could not see her through the long grass.

    Eventually, by making a lot of noise, they forced the rhino to stand up and were greeted by a sight so appalling that it took them a few moments to realise what they were looking at.

    The whole face of the 16-month-old calf had been removed, including her eyes, in an attempt by the poachers to take off her small horns.

    The “snoring” was coming through a hole in the nasal bone. She was very weak and lay down again. One of the scouts crept forward and darted her with M99 tranquillising agent, but the dart bounced off her hide and she did not get a full dose.

    She was so dehydrated that the wound on her face was not even bleeding. The decision was taken to give her another dose of M99 in the hope that she would succumb. After a short while she died.

    A closer inspection revealed a snare wound on her left lower leg and a deep infected cut above it. There were also slashes from a panga on her back.

    The nature of the wounds to her face suggested that the poachers had thought the young rhino was dead and proceeded to remove the horns when she suddenly revived. Perhaps that was when they had slashed her with the pangas. In any case, another of Zimbabwe’s black rhinos had fallen victim to poaching.

    At independence in 1980 Zimbabwe had 2,000, one of the largest groups in Africa. But a wave of poaching driven by demand for their horns in the Far East and the Arab world has drastically reduced the population. In the Far East the horns are desired as a traditional Chinese medicine for fevers and as a sexual stimulant. In fact they are composed of tightly pressed hair fibres and have no medicinal properties. In Yemen they are fashioned into highly prized ornamental dagger handles.

    By 1993 poaching had left only 370 black rhinos in Zimbabwe and it was a critically endangered species. To save the few remaining animals, a national conservation strategy was launched in which some members of the surviving population were captured and taken to national game parks and conservancies.

    The Save Valley Conservancy became a primary breeding area, and today the Zimbabwean population is believed to be about 530, mostly in conservancies in the Lowveld, in the south of the country.

    Raoul du Toit, manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s rhino conservation project in the Lowveld, emphasised that this was a “very, very precarious success” that could easily be reversed by poaching, which has been rife since so-called war veterans and Zanu-PF sympathisers invaded white-owned farms eight years ago, supported by President Robert Mugabe’s government.

    The chaotic land invasions precipitated the economic decline and lawlessness that culminated in the widespread violence that swept the country before and after the June 27 presidential election run-off.

    Fourteen black rhinos have been killed by poachers in just a few months. Last October three were shot dead by members of the army, armed with AK47 rifles and dressed in camouflage, on Imire, one of the country’s last remaining game ranches, which lies east of Harare. Each rhino had a guard with it but they were beaten and tied up.

    The shootings were senseless: all the rhino had been dehorned so that they did not have any value to poachers.

    The killing of the calf at the beginning of this month was another grim setback, though Du Toit insisted that conserving the black rhino in Zimbabwe was not a lost cause.

    Most rhino poaching, he said, was being “sporadically and opportunistically” carried out by locals, who knew where they were and killed them from economic necessity. But some were linked to corrupt officials.

    Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a wildlife advocacy group, said a new law being considered to nationalise the country’s remaining private game ranches could be the final blow. However, in a notable reversal of fortune, the authorities stopped war veterans seizing the Imire game ranch and expelling its white owners.

    Rhino poaching is only one part of a grim picture of the destruction of Zimbabwe’s wildlife. The country had one of the largest elephant populations in the world. That, too, is plummeting as thousands are snared by poachers or shot illegally.

    To help protect Africa’s elephant herds from poaching, a worldwide ban on the ivory trade remains in force. However, the ban does not extend to killing elephants for meat, and this has allowed the Zimbabwean authorities to increase elephant hunting without attracting international censure.

    Some Mugabe loyalists have profited from the land seizures to allocate themselves hunting concessions around national parks. They have allowed professional hunters to bring in clients to shoot game without applying proper conservation rules. Even lion hunting for meat was being offered by a prominent professional hunter in a recent advertisement, although it is illegal to shoot lions for meat.

    Happyton Bonyongwe, Zimbabwe’s spy chief, is one high-ranking official allegedly involved in the illegal game-hunting business. Well-informed sources said he received £1,000 from a professional hunter for every elephant shot on a concession bordering a national park. Hundreds were being shot.

    Bonyongwe is blacklisted by America and Britain. He is on the sanctions list barring him and other Zimbabwean officials from travelling to the EU and America and freezing their assets.

    Last week, posing as a middleman seeking to buy a rhino horn for an Arab sheikh, I was able in just a day of telephone calls in Harare to havea specimen delivered. The horn, hidden in a black plastic bag in a blue holdall, was brought to my room for inspection.

    A rhino horn is worth as much as £60,000 in the Middle East and China. I was told I could buy it for between £10,000 and £20,000. I was also told how easy it would be to smuggle it out of Zimbabwe disguised in a consignment of car parts.

    Further investigation revealed that the horn had come from the rhino horn store of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, which holds thousands of horns, none of which is allowed to be sold. The seller had tried to erase the store’s identifying stamp to disguise its origins, but I could still faintly make it out on one side.

    Two days later, after more phone calls and surreptitious meetings in a private house ina residential area of Harare, I was offered two pairs of tusks, each weighing 45lb, from two illegally shot elephants. The seller said that, for a fee, he could easily arrange the paperwork to export them.

    I said I would get back to both sellers. It seemed strangely easy to buy horns and ivory, but behind their sale isa sickening tale of wildlife abuse, as the appalling killing of the rhino calf in Save Valley Conservancy exemplified.

    Africa’s black rhino population
    2008: 2,600
    2003: 3, 610
    1990: 3,700
    1960s: 70,000

    Zimbabwe’s black rhino population
    2008: 530
    1993: 370
    1980: 2,000

    Sources: International Rhino Foundation, The Rhino Resource Centre

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    Zimbabwe introduces Z$100bn note


    Saturday, 19 July 2008 22:54 UK

    Zimbabwe is to introduce a bank-note worth Z$100bn in response to
    rampant inflation - but the note will barely cover the cost of two loaves of

    Some Zimbabweans are already calling for higher denominations in a
    country where the official annual inflation rate has exceeded 2,200,000%.

    Independent economists believe the real rate is many times higher.

    Zimbabwe's meltdown has left at least 80% of the population in
    poverty, facing mass shortages of basic goods.

    The country's central bank has introduced several new notes already
    this year in response to the hyperinflation.

    In January, a Z$10 million note was issued, followed by a Z$50
    million. By June the denominations had reached tens of billions.

    Daily bread

    In a notice in the state-controlled Herald newspaper, central bank
    governor Gideon Gono said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would introduce the
    new notes - known as special agro-cheques - to help consumers.

    "This new $100 billion special agro-cheque will go into circulation on
    Monday," the notice said.

    But Zimbabwe residents say the latest note is already worthless, and
    does not even cover their daily lunch.

    "Nowadays, for my expenses a day, I need about Z$500 billion," one
    resident said.

    "So Z$100 billion can't do anything because for me to go home I need
    Z$250 billion, so this [note] is worthless."

    Zimbabwe was once one of the richest countries in Africa.

    But it has descended into economic chaos in recent years, with many
    international observers blaming the policies of President Robert Mugabe.

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    Hefty Cash 'thank you' For Soldiers

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 18:00

    SOLDIERS, partly blamed for the brutal wave of violence that gripped
    the country before the 27 June presidential election run-off, have been
    awarded hefty salary increases ranging between $3 trillion and $10 trillion.

    Several Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) officers confirmed the
    developments to The Standard amid reports that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
    (RBZ) had sanctioned a daily withdrawal limit of $1 trillion for the

    The RBZ is now responsible for procuring army supplies and salaries
    for the security forces.

    However, while the soldiers were excited about their windfall, it was
    not the same story among other arms of the security forces such as the

    "As police officers, we are not aware that we will get hefty salary
    increments," said an officer speaking on condition of anonymity. "The
    government is afraid of soldiers and we are not surprised that they have
    awarded them a lot of money."

    Corporals saw their salaries ballooning from $150 billion to $2,5
    trillion while sergeants are now earning $4,7 trillion, up from $180

    This means while the rest of the Zimbabwean population is only able to
    withdraw a paltry $100 billion at a time - only enough to get them to and
    from work - soldiers are the only ones whistling merrily all the way to the

    Building societies and a foreign-owned commercial bank confirmed that
    they were providing preferential treatment to officers from the army by
    allowing them daily withdrawals of between $1 trillion and $2,5 trillion.

    Banks, however reportedly maintained the $100 billion daily limit for
    members of the public - an amount hardly enough to buy a loaf of bread, now
    selling at $120 billion.

    Efforts to get a comment from RBZ were fruitless.

    But angry members of the public who spoke to The Standard said they
    were seriously disturbed by this preferential treatment being given to
    soldiers. They criticised the RBZ for failing to sympathise with the
    suffering masses.

    Samuel Mwedzi of Kambuzuma told The Standard that he was upset that
    for the past week he had failed to withdraw money to buy basic commodities
    that have run out at home.

    "It is unfair that I should wake up every single day to join a long
    queue just to get $100 billion, which is not enough for anything at all
    while the military are being allowed withdrawals of $1 trillion or more,"
    Mwedzi said.

    Many of the callers saw the preferential treatment of soldiers as an
    act of gratitude for their part in the ruling party's campaign in an effort
    to win the presidential election run-off at all costs.

    Other observers said it was important for the government to keep the
    military happy during a time of increasing economic instability.

    ZNA spokesperson Colonel Ben Ncube could not be reached for comment
    yesterday as his phone was continuously unavailable.

    By Foster Dongozi/Bertha Shoko

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    Woman Raped By 18 Zanu PF Thugs: MDC

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:57
    NEARLY 20 suspected Zanu PF youths and war veterans allegedly raped a
    Buhera woman in the four days she was detained at their base in Nhamo
    village, Buhera Central, in Manicaland after the youths failed to find her
    husband, the MDC has said.

    The woman, who is 32 and cannot be identified, is being treated at a
    private clinic in the eastern border town of Mutare.

    Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC Manicaland provincial spokesperson, said
    the woman was taken to Baravara base in Nhamo village after they failed to
    locate her husband, who was an MDC election agent during the March 29

    Her husband is in hiding.

    "They raided the homestead on the 19th of June looking for the husband
    and when they were told that he was not there, they force-marched the wife
    to the base," Muchauraya said. "She told me she was raped by over 18 men in
    the four days she was kept at the base."

    Authorities at the private clinic confirmed to The Standard last week
    that they were treating a woman, who was raped in Buhera.

    "I can confirm that she is here and still going through assessments,"
    said an official.

    The youth militia and war veterans, said Muchauraya, released the
    woman after noticing that she was bleeding excessively.

    "On learning that she had been set free we sent our car to pick her
    up. This is when we realised that her condition was serious. We took her to
    a private clinic here in Mutare," said Muchauraya, who is MDC MP-elect for
    Makoni South. "I hear she is getting worse even though a doctor (name
    supplied) drained semen from her."

    The medical doctor was reported to be in the operating theatre when
    The Standard called for comment.

    Muchauraya said they did not report the matter to the police because
    "when an MDC supporter goes to report an incident he or she is the one who
    gets arrested, accused of inciting violence. In most police stations they
    actually refuse to attend to our supporters."

    Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he had not received a
    report, but dismissed MDC claims that the police were arresting opposition
    supporters who went to report cases of violence at their stations.

    "I have said this time and again that, we as the police are impartial
    and we arrest anybody who commits a crime," Bvudzijena said. "Their
    statement is misleading and it's not true."

    There have been several reports of women who were reportedly raped by
    Zanu PF militia and war veterans in bases that were established countrywide
    to drum up support for President Robert Mugabe in the 27 June election
    run-off, in which he was the sole candidate.

    MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the race a few days before
    the poll, citing violence against his supporters.

    By Caiphas Chimhete

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    Students See No Future In Zimbabwe - Envoy

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:56
    A top United States envoy last week said the current situation in
    Zimbabwe was discouraging many students from applying their education to the
    development of the country.

    Speaking on Thursday last week at an orientation of a group of
    students awarded undergraduate scholarships to study at various American
    universities, the Deputy US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Katherine Dhanani, said
    many students "see no future" in Zimbabwe. The students will be leaving the
    country next month.

    "Today, too may of Zimbabwe's brightest students, after they complete
    their studies, see no future for themselves applying their learning back
    home in Zimbabwe," Dhanani told the students.

    Most of the students were assisted in their applications by the United
    States Achievers Programme (USAP).

    "I am quite sure that one element of Zimbabweans' aspirations for
    their future is for the nation to once again become a country to which
    students hurry back after graduation. A country in which their education is
    a major force for development, and a country in which returning students
    feel their contribution is valued and rewarded."

    Dhanani commended the students for achieving so much under difficult
    conditions. A number of students were affected by the government's Operation
    Murambatsvina in 2005. Their plight was worsened by the mass exodus of
    teachers from schools and the economic challenges facing most ordinary

    "It's quite an achievement that you have reached this point. I would
    like to congratulate you for your excellent results which earned you
    acceptance," she said. "Your achievement is all the more impressive given
    the difficulties of the last years and especially of recent months."

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    Join Blair In London,War Vets Tell MDC Returnees

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 18:42
    INTERNALLY displaced MDC supporters, who are returning to their homes
    following a drop in politically-motivated violence, are being hauled before
    village kangaroo courts chaired by war veterans to answer charges of
    "selling out" and "seeking refuge" in other parts of the country, the
    opposition party has said.

    The proceedings are conducted at torture bases headed by war veterans
    and Zanu PF militia, who masterminded President Robert Mugabe's violent
    election campaign in the 27 June poll run-off.

    Those found "guilty" are made to pay fines in the form of money,
    livestock or they perform community service in their respective areas.

    MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has rejected talks with Mugabe, demanding
    an end to violence and release of political prisoners.

    The MDC has said that at least 120 of its activists and supporters
    have been killed since the 29 March election, over 10 000 injured while more
    than 200 000 were internally displaced because of the government-sponsored
    political violence.

    More than 1 000 MDC activists are languishing in the country's filthy
    jails facing politically-related charges.

    The militia-sponsored retribution project is most pronounced in
    Manicaland, Masvingo, the Midlands, and Mashonaland provinces.

    MDC officials last week said the retribution campaign was rampant
    despite overtures by Mugabe's administration for a negotiated political
    settlement between Zanu PF and the MDC.

    MDC provincial spokesperson for Manicaland Pishai Muchauraya said
    party supporters, who had gone back to their homes, were being charged with
    "selling out" by war veterans and militia.

    "Those found guilty are forced to pay a returnee's fee, which can be
    in the form of money, a goat or chickens. The poor ones without anything to
    their names are forced to perform community service," said Muchauraya, who
    is also the MDC MP-elect for Makoni South.

    MDC activist Kenneth Katsere from Ward 4 in Mutambara in Chimanimani
    was initially sentenced to perform three weeks of community service but the
    sentence was reduced to three hours due to extenuating circumstances.

    The circumstances: his homestead was burnt down before the elections
    and he had also surrendered a goat.

    The goat was slaughtered and fed to the raucous youth militia at a
    base in Gonzoni Village in the same district.

    John Neshiri and Thelma Mureyani, party district treasurer and
    chairperson respectively, were sentenced in absentia after they fled their
    homes on learning that they were wanted at the base.

    "They were found guilty of seeking 'asylum'. John's sentence was to
    water fields belonging to war veterans for three days at an irrigation
    scheme in the area," Muchauraya said.

    The militia told the MDC activists that they had disgraced the country's
    name by fleeing their homes and seeking sanctuary at embassies of foreign

    They had sought sanctuary at the US and South African embassies.

    Tsvangirai sought refugee at the Dutch embassy after learning that his
    life was in danger.

    MDC co-ordinator for Zaka district, Peter Imbayarwo, said it was not
    safe for members of the opposition party to return to their homes as torture
    bases were still operating.

    He said headmen and village heads, affiliated to Zanu PF, were telling
    the returnees to join former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London or
    pay a beast so they can be "accepted back" into the community.

    "Some are paying goats, chickens or money to the village heads but it's
    not a guarantee for one's safety because they (militia) might come for you
    during the night. They (village heads) are making quick money out of a
    crisis," said Imbayarwo, who is MDC chairman for ward 19 in Zaka.

    Imbayarwo, who was head of the MDC Zaka office when two activists were
    killed after they were doused with petrol and burnt by suspected Zanu PF
    militia in April, said opposition supporters continue to be tortured at
    Serry torture base in the district.

    Mildred Kamunhu, whose husband Chamunorwa Chidarikire was an active
    MDC member during the run up to the 2005 election, has fled Chinhoyi in
    Mashonaland West after marauding Zanu PF militias threatened her with death.

    "It's no longer safe for me to stay in Chinhoyi because they have
    labelled me an MDC supporter because my husband was an active member of the
    MDC," said Kamunhu, who is now staying in Harare.

    An MDC activist, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation,
    said war veterans and militia camped at Chisheche centre near Gutu Growth
    Point in Masvingo province, were forcibly taking away food and livestock
    from homes of opposition supporters.

    "If they arrive at your home and they don't get you, they just take a
    goat or chicken for slaughter at the base. No one will dare follow them
    because they will torture you. Actually, they have established a pen at the
    base," said the woman from Chisheche village, who has since fled to Harare.

    The militias are opposed to the dismantling of bases because they are
    benefiting from the crisis. "They have no food at their homes so they are
    determined to remain at the bases because they (bases) have become their
    sources of livelihood."

    An elderly poor woman from Gutu surrendered a bucket of a wild small
    grain fruit called Nyii to the base commander so she could be accepted back
    into the community.

    She had nothing to her name.

    Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for

    Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said they have not received
    any reports of people being forced to surrender goats or perform community
    service so that they are accepted back into their communities.

    He said the torture bases, which he referred to as "information
    centres", were all dismantled soon after elections.

    "We urge people to report such people to the police because there are
    some people who are taking advantage of the situation," said Bvudzijena. "If
    it is happening, it is criminal and they should be arrested."

    By Caiphas Chimhete

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    War Veteran Jailed For Stock Theft

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:53
    BULAWAYO - A war veteran who was part of a group of Zanu PF officials
    from Plumtree who slaughtered a stray beast to feed militias at a terror
    base was last week jailed for nine years for his role in the
    politically-motivated offence.

    Paul Tshuma (61)'s conviction marked the start of a surprise clamp
    down on ruling party supporters who terrorised villagers with impunity in
    the name of ensuring victory for President Robert Mugabe in last month's
    one-candidate presidential election run-off.

    Plumtree magistrate, Mark Dzira handed down the sentence on Monday
    after Tshuma pleaded guilty to the charges saying they were desperate for
    food at the campaign base.

    He was ordered to pay the state $3 trillion for the beast or spend
    another six months in prison.

    In their initial court appearance, Tshuma's accomplices, Gabriel
    Ndlovu (56), Ophias Msimanga (36) and Ncedanini Khumalo (22) pleaded not
    guilty and were remanded in custody to 21 July for trial.

    The prosecutor, Philani Mpofu said the four slaughtered the beast on
    22 June and fed it to war veterans at a Zanu PF campaign base in the
    Soholoba area.

    He said they collected the stray cow from Elizabeth Ncube's homestead.

    This was after they told her that they were collecting all stray
    animals on behalf of the government.

    On arrival at the base they slaughtered the beast valued at $3
    trillion. Ncube reported the case to the police.

    They were charged with contravening Section 114 (2) (a) (i) of the
    Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 (stock theft).

    A number of villagers in Plumtree reportedly lost their cattle to the
    Zanu PF officials who set up torture bases at almost every business centre.

    They allegedly extorted food and money from hungry villagers and
    forced young girls to cook for them in scenes reminiscent of the operations
    of the North Korean-trained 5 Brigade in Matabeleland and the Midlands in
    the 1980s.

    Sources said Zanu PF officials were now frantically trying to cover up
    the crimes following the arrest of the war veterans.

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    MDC Supporters Released

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:51
    BULAWAYO - A Gwanda magistrate last week released 10 Movement for
    Democratic Change (MDC) supporters facing charges of political violence
    ahead of the 27 June presidential run-off election after the state failed to
    bring witnesses to back its claims.

    The MDC activists from Umzingwane district were arrested for allegedly
    beating up Zanu PF supporters who were campaigning for President Robert

    Among those arrested were Thulani Moyo and Mthandazo Moyo, the
    provincial organising secretary and vice-chairman respectively for the
    Arthur Mutambara-led MDC.

    Matabeleland South regional magistrate, Takudzwa Gwazemba ordered
    their release on Thursday, almost a month after their arrest saying the
    prosecution had failed to prove its case.

    "The magistrate released the MDC supporters because of lack of
    evidence," said MDC provincial spokesman, Thandeko Zinti Mnkandla. "The
    state failed to bring witnesses."

    Thomson Mabhikwa of Mabhikwa Legal Practitioners represented the MDC

    By Nqobani Ndlovu

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    Villagers Forced to Donate To Mugabe 'victory' Celebrations

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:48
    BULAWAYO - Starving villagers in Matabeleland are reportedly being
    forced to donate scarce grain and livestock towards President Robert Mugabe's
    victory celebrations, following the 27 June one-candidate presidential
    election run-off.

    The celebrations started at Eland Police Farm in Bubi District,
    Matabeleland North, where soldiers and police officers feasted on food
    collected from villagers by the former liberation war fighters.

    Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials in Matabeleland South
    said villagers were being forced to donate food and funds for the
    "ward-based" victory celebrations.

    Sources said the practice was prevalent in areas like Lushongwe,
    Matshetsheni, Wenlock and Nyandeni, which bore the brunt of a Zanu PF terror
    campaign ahead of the widely condemned poll run-off.

    Each household was ordered to deliver about 5kg of samp and $200
    billion in cash to war veterans stationed at Zanu PF campaign bases.

    Teachers in the surrounding schools were also forced to donate $200
    billion each despite earning less than $180 billion amonth.

    Petros Mukwena, the secretary for the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC said:
    "It's so sad that after terrorising villagers to vote for Mugabe, Zanu PF is
    now coercing hungry villagers to donate food for the so-called victory

    The drought-prone Matabeleland provinces are the hardest hit by the
    food shortages facing the country as a result of consecutive poor harvests.

    The food crisis has been worsened by the banning of non-governmental
    organisations from carrying out humanitarian work.

    Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman, Rido Mpofu claimed
    that the donations were voluntary. His Matabeleland North counterpart,
    Headman Moyo could not be reached for comment.

    Mugabe won the election run-off with a 'landslide" after MDC leader,
    Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out, citing a campaign of intimidation and violence
    against his supporters that killed a score and injured thousands others.

    But Western leaders have refused to recognise Mugabe and are instead
    pushing for more punitive sanctions targeting his inner circle for allegedly
    stifling democracy in the country.

    By Nqobani Ndlovu

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    Rising Inflation Leaves Zimbabweans Poorer

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:46
    LAST month's government election promises are already beginning to
    sound hollow: For many Zimbabweans, daily survival has become an unending
    nightmare, The Standard can report.

    Taavinga Madhende believed in the 100% empowerment he was promised
    during Zanu PF's election campaign. But the reality is that his June salary
    was only slightly more than $100 billion. That is enough for a loaf of bread
    or a day's fare on a commuter bus to and from Chitungwiza.

    Mollyn Munda, with a baby strapped to her back, embodies the hardships
    Zimbabweans have to deal with on a daily basis. She has become a permanent
    visitor to Western Union along bustling Samora Machel Avenue for the past
    week waiting to collect money sent by her brother in the United Kingdom.

    "They (Western Union) keep telling us that the money has run out and
    that we have to come back tomorrow," Munda says.

    "Many people who have not been lucky enough to get their money sleep
    out in the cold in order to be served first, but I can't do that with the

    Munda is in a state of panic because her rent is overdue.

    "The landlord has said that I have to pay in two days or leave," Munda
    says, trying to calm her hungry baby. "He has told me that I have to pay an
    additional R20 fine for the delay or else she will evict us. Accommodation
    is hard to find these days, where will I go with the children?"

    In another part of the city, John Chengeta, a father of four from
    Budiriro, had his own problems. Chengeta has been going around for three
    days now with $150 billion he borrowed from work to buy maize-meal but
    cannot find it. Chengeta says he was shocked when he finally found a 10kg
    bag of maize-meal selling for US$4 (about $200 billion). In shock after
    hearing this news, Chengeta headed for The Standard newspaper offices.

    "I was very angry about this and for a moment I was tempted to report
    them to the police but I decided to save my energy and look for maize-meal
    for my family," he said.

    At least four million Zimbabweans have left the country and are
    resident in neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Botswana and as
    far afield as the UK and US. Every month, they remit money to sustain
    families back home.

    But not all Zimbabweans are fortunate enough to have relatives in the

    Mercy Taonezvi is one such unfortunate person. Taonezvi's son needs
    US$500 ($25 trillion as of Friday last week) for a tonsillectomy.

    To escape the unprecedented levels of inflation in the country,
    specialists are charging consultation fees and medical procedures in foreign
    currency. Taonezvi said she was told that if she did not have foreign
    currency, she could pay the equivalent of US$500 in local currency at the
    black market rate.

    "My son needs the operation but where can I get such a huge amount?"
    said Taonezvi during a recent visit to The Standard where she had come to
    appeal for assistance. "My medical aid cannot even cover an eighth of the
    amount the doctors want. I am at a loss."

    Madhende, Chengeta, Munda and Taonezvi embody the hardships
    Zimbabweans are facing daily. While problems have been prevalent since the
    late 1990s, the pricing of goods in foreign currency has rattled many

    The majority of the workers have their salaries and earnings in local
    currency which are barely enough for a decent living. An average worker
    earns $100 billion monthly and yet for many their monthly expenditure runs
    into trillions of dollars.

    With the exception of a few professionals working in the
    non-governmental organisations who are paid in foreign currency, most
    ordinary Zimbabweans are finding daily survival an unending nightmare.

    And with each struggling day, Zimbabweans are growing impatient for a
    political settlement that can bring an end to their suffering. For more than
    10 years, the economy has been grappling with runway inflation and food
    shortages, a state of affairs largely blamed on bad policies of President
    Robert Mugabe's government.

    Hyper-inflation which has passed the nine million percent mark has
    meant that the Zimbabwe dollar is losing value on a daily basis.

    The state-sanctioned land grab after the February 2000 referendum and
    the catalogue of human rights abuses that ensued saw the economy plunging to
    unprecedented depths. As the political impasse in the country continues to
    deteriorate, the economy is worsening and correspondingly, the plight of
    ordinary Zimbabweans.

    "MDC and Zanu PF should just get on with the talks," says Chengeta.
    "We are really tired of suffering. We have been very patient. Clearly Zanu
    PF has failed and whatever agreements they pursue, the MDC holds the key to
    the country's problems."

    But many analysts say the talks are unlikely to yield much because of
    the gulf between the two parties.

    Others believe the current dialogue between the two feuding parties
    can yield something for the economy, provided it results in a settlement.

    Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
    said the labour movement was banking on the current talks to succeed.

    "We pray that the talks are successful," Matombo said. "Success
    depends on politicians themselves."

    Economist Eric Bloch concurs: "It depends on what the talks bring

    "If it is a right settlement which brings about a government that is
    prepared to take corrective measures, a government which has international
    recognition, we will have a definite economic recovery."

    Bloch said there was no way out unless the country resolved the
    political crisis.

    "It will get worse for everyone including Zanu PF," he said.

    Independent economist Dr Daniel Ndlela said there was a way out of the
    crisis if the government realised that there was a crisis.

    "There is a way out of the crisis. But as long as people are in
    denial, Zimbabwe is going nowhere," he told The Standard.

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    SAA Pulls The Plug On Zim Tourism

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:29
    SOUTH African Airways (SAA) is mulling routing its
    Johannesburg-Victoria Falls flights to Livingstone in Zambia in a major blow
    to Zimbabwe's ailing tourism industry, authoritative sources said last week.

    Standardbusiness heard that officials at SAA recently held a meeting
    with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) where they announced
    the airline would no longer fly into Victoria Falls.

    Stung by the SAA decision, there have been frantic efforts to persuade
    the airline to stay put on the route, said sources familiar with the

    To this end, officials at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority are keen to
    persuade SAA to rescind its decision in a last bid to bolster confidence in
    the ailing tourism sector.

    But SAA Country Manager, Winnie Mudariki poured cold water on the
    pending pull out insisting the airline was staying put on the Victoria Falls

    "There is no way we can pull out of the Victoria Falls route," she

    The pull out from Victoria Falls route means that tourists intending
    to visit one of the Seven Wonder of the World will have to come via Harare
    before connecting to the resort town. With the unreliability of the national
    airline, Air Zimbabwe, industry players said the country would lose out on
    arrivals from South Africa.

    Players in the industry told Standardbusiness that the pull-out, if
    effected would be a blow to the industry.

    "It's like a vote of no confidence to a destination," an executive
    said. "SAA is a respected airline."

    Besides killing the perception about a destination, the routing of the
    flights to Livingstone will hit hard on the pocket, insiders said.

    SAA flies twice daily into Victoria Falls and players in the industry
    said on average each flight has 120 high-spending tourists from the major
    source markets - Germany, UK, Japan and US.

    The tourists spend an average of two bed nights and the tourism
    industry will lose over 400 bed nights, a blow at a time the sector said
    arrivals were peaking up.

    CAAZ will lose on departure fees. At an average of 120 passengers per
    flight and with departure fees of US$30 a passenger, CAAZ would lose US$7
    200 a day.

    Standardbusiness also heard that CAAZ will lose US$1 000 a day in
    landing fees.

    For the past eight years, the country has witnessed the withdrawal of
    reputable airlines citing viability problems.

    Airlines to desert Zimbabwe include British Airways, Swiss Air,
    Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and Zambian Airways.

    Ethiopian Airlines almost pulled out in November but had "an eleventh
    hour" change of heart.

    By Ndamu Sandu

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    ESA, EC Close To Trade Deal

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:26
    MEMBERS of Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the European
    Commission met last month to iron out "contentious issues" as the two
    trading blocs inch closer to the conclusion of a comprehensive trade deal.

    The European Union (EU) and the African Caribbean and Pacific
    Countries are negotiating for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), in
    line with World Trade Organisation's reciprocity rule.

    ESA and the EC met in Brussels, Belgium last month where they
    discussed the contentious issues such as Most Favoured Nation clause,
    safeguards or export taxes.

    Under the WTO agreements, countries cannot normally discriminate
    between their trading partners. Granting a member special favour (such as a
    lower customs duty rate for one of their products) has to be applied for all
    other WTO members. Both parties reiterated their concerns and ESA is working
    on their common position on these issues.

    The 24-25 June meeting was a follow up to a technical one held in May
    in Lusaka, Zambia, where ESA presented the various trade provisions it would
    like to discuss in the framework of the full EPA.

    The Brussels technical meeting witnessed discussions in trade related
    issues - Intellectual Property Rights, Competition, Sustainable Development,
    Investments and Government Procurement.

    EC will come back with a joint text on investments and Intellectual
    Property Rights detailing both parties' interests. Standardbusiness
    understands that ESA is finalising a position on competition which should
    serve as a basis for further talks.

    On sustainable development, discussions will continue on the basis of
    the EC proposal.

    The meeting agreed that more consultations and discussions were needed
    on government procurement but ESA gave a state of play of the situation in
    the bloc.

    A separate working group on services was formed. It will analyse the
    proposals of the two trading blocs.

    The EC and ESA agreed on joint texts on Sanitary and Phytosanitary
    services; Technical Barriers to Trade; and Trade Facilitation.

    The next meeting will take place in September.

    ACP countries used to enjoy unilateral trade preferences with the EU
    for almost three decades under the Lomé Conventions.

    The Fourth Lomé Convention was replaced by the Cotonou Partnership
    Agreement in 2000, which extended these unilateral trade preferences up to
    the end of 2007.

    But because most African countries were unable to conclude
    comprehensive EPAs they opted for interim agreements in order to avoid trade
    disruption that could result from failure to conclude WTO compatible
    arrangements by the deadline of 31 December, 2007.

    To date the EU has concluded EPA talks with the Caribbean bloc while
    in Africa it has concluded interim EPAs with regional blocs and individual
    member countries.

    Negotiations are being conducted in regional blocs. Zimbabwe is
    negotiating under the ESA bloc.

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    Surviving The Crisis: A Nation Criminalised

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:23
    GWERU - Faced with an ever-weakening local currency, buffeted by
    unrelenting stratospheric inflation, the question that is being asked
    increasingly is how ordinary Zimbabweans are coping daily, The Standard

    From hawking all sorts of goods, to charging rent in foreign currency
    or in kind, and finding ways to withdraw more money from the bank than the
    stipulated maximum, most ordinary Zimbabweans have become unwilling crooks,
    adept at employing tricks to circumvent the system in order to survive.

    Most people interviewed agreed that the salaries that they earn are
    not in line with cost of basic commodities and services. Lyson Mlambo an
    immediate past trustee of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) told
    The Standard that no worker in Zimbabwe was getting paid enough to afford
    the basic needs.

    "What we are getting as workers cannot even meet our transport costs,"
    he said.

    "This simply means that we are doing something in order to survive.
    This manifests itself in the fact that while our salaries are not even
    enough to cover transport costs only, we still go to work on a daily basis,
    and can still manage to put food on the table."

    The daily increase in the cost of goods and services has rendered
    wages and salaries irrelevant that the majority of those in the formal
    sector moonlight in order to make ends meet.

    With a critical shortage of the staple maize, some urban house
    owners - most of who have long taken to charging rent in foreign currency
    are demanding that tenants provide them with a minimum 20kg bag of
    maize-meal as payment for rent every month. The practice has become rampant.

    Workers in the ever-shrinking industrial sector earn an average of
    $200 billion a month - not enough to buy a 20kg bag of maize meal or a
    two-litre bottle of cooking oil, but investigations by The Standard have
    revealed that most workers can still afford to buy these commodities
    although they cost much more than their average earnings.

    Civil servants are no better off. Lecturers at tertiary institutions
    in the Midlands' capital, Gweru receive an average salary of $200 billion,
    according to their June 2008 salary advisories.

    A workers' representative at one of the leading companies in Gweru,
    who spoke to this reporter said in view of the situation on the ground it
    was "a miracle" that people were still able to go to work. He said workers
    had become impoverished and could no longer afford the basics, and urged the
    authorities to act urgently before the economy implodes.

    Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono has set maximum
    withdrawal amounts of money that individuals and companies can withdraw from
    their bank accounts in a largely failed bid to control inflation. The
    amounts are constantly revised as inflation continues to spiral. The maximum
    amount that individuals can withdraw currently stands at a hundred-billion
    dollars - only enough to buy a loaf of bread.

    Requiring large amounts of cash for various needs, individuals have
    devised ways of withdrawing far more than the regulated amounts, meaning
    circumventing the laws of the land in order to get by.

    The Standard has heard of creative individuals able to withdraw large
    amounts of money from banks after producing papers from the
    Registrar-General's office indicating they have funerals to conduct. At the
    height of the state-meddling in the fuel crisis, enterprising individuals
    would drive into a service station, a hearse in tow and draw more than the
    statutory limits.

    At one bank, individuals are able to withdraw as much as $20-trillion
    Zimbabwean dollars. It is thought this is after conniving with the bank's
    staff. The concerned individuals are quick to state that although they are
    aware that such transactions are illegal, "beating the system" has become
    the only way of surviving in Zimbabwe.

    NANGO regional chairperson for the Midlands Province, Peter Muchengeti
    said the restrictions had criminalised Zimbabweans. "The system has made
    Zimbabweans criminals. The culture of corruption has become endemic and even
    if the system changes; it will take time to redress."

    Muchengeti said criminal activities included changing foreign currency
    on the parallel market, buying commodities and selling them at a higher
    price which he said meant "everyone" in Zimbabwe has become corrupt.

    But observers note that if the myriad crises Zimbabweans are enduring
    were occurring in other countries, there would have been civil strife. But
    rather than take up arms against an administration that is seen as largely
    responsible for most of their suffering, Zimbabweans have devised ways of
    beating the system in order to survive. Rather than endure the suffering, a
    number have even risked life and limb by illegally crossing the
    crocodile-infested Limpopo River to escape to South Africa, in search of a
    better life.

    By Rutendo Mawere

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    The Land of Nonesuch

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 16:49
    LET me tell you a story. All its characters are fictional and any
    similarity to anyone, alive, dead or somewhere in between, is probably
    fairly coincidental and mostly unintended.

    Once upon a time there was a country called Nonesuch. It was called
    this because no such land could ever conceivably exist. Its inhabitants were
    called Agogans because they were considered to be a little on the gullible
    side. According to the Ministry of Keeping People Properly Informed with the
    Truth and Nothing But the Truth, Agogans were a happy, contented and unified
    lot, who were a hundred percent independent. Everyone was so harmonious that
    nobody ever disagreed with anyone else. Elections were totally unnecessary
    as everyone would always vote for the right leader. The Properly Informing
    Ministry constantly pointed out that Agogans had good reason to be grateful.
    From time immemorial their enlightened and visionary leader had created
    idyllic conditions and happiness, peace and prosperity abounded. No legal
    system or police force was needed because there were no malcontents and
    deviants, but if they ever established a legal system, it would have worked
    impeccably and there would never be any acquittals.

    That was, complained the Information Ministry, until the Interferons
    decided to wreak such havoc by sticking their prying noses into the internal
    affairs of Nonesuch. The armies of the Interferons consisted of a motley
    array of brutal forces drawn from a number of warlike nations. There were,
    for instance, Americons, who wanted to yank the chains, and Britons who
    wanted to pinch back the very land originally stolen by the Britons' robber
    baron par excellence, Rhodes. These marauding barbarians sowed the seeds of
    dissention over the entire land and let loose a lethal germ warfare virus
    called Hyperinflation. They destroyed the crops. They bribed Agogans to
    attack fellow Agogans. They encouraged Agogans to demand subversive things
    such as democracy and free and fair elections. They enlisted the walls to
    write on themselves rude comments about people in high places.

    But Agogans are a robust lot. All were united in their determination
    to drive the Interferons from their land for ever. They even took their
    struggle to the United Nations Security Council, demanding that a resolution
    be passed requiring the Interferons to immediately cease their terrible
    meddling in the internal affairs of Nonesuch. The Rushans and Chinans
    vigorously supported this resolution. The resolution was passed nem con by
    the Council.

    In real life too the titanic struggle between good and evil has been
    furiously waging down the ages. Often evil seems to have the upper hand, but
    then good just manages to overcome its indefatigable opponent. Not many know
    that the song, Amazing Grace, was penned by a person who had been involved
    in that most wicked affront to humanity, the slave trade. John Newton had
    captained a ship plying the slave trade. While attempting to steer the ship
    through a violent storm, he experienced a "great deliverance." When all
    seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, "Lord, have mercy
    upon us." Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to
    believe that God had saved him from the storm and that grace had begun to
    work for him. However, he continued for some time to work in the slave
    trade, later explaining that his full conversion took time.

    Eventually he became a church minister. When preaching in a London
    parish in later years, he drew large congregations and influenced many,
    among them William Wilberforce, who became a tireless campaigner for the
    abolition of slavery. His hymn, Amazing Grace, speaks of his religious
    conversion which saved "a wretch" like him. He was lost but now was found,
    was blind but now could see. Grace taught his heart to fear and grace
    relieved his fears. Grace allowed him to come through many dangers and
    snares, and grace would lead him to home.

    Newton continued preaching until the last year of life, although he
    was blind by that time. The film, Amazing Grace, tells the story of the
    prolonged struggle of William Wilberforce to bring about the abolition of
    the slave trade in England. In the film Newton has already become a
    clergyman, but is wracked with guilt and is depicted as a penitent who is
    haunted by the ghosts of 20 000 slaves. When he goes blind, he says that God
    had already allowed him to see too much.

    As well as composing hymns, Newton kept extensive journals and wrote
    many letters. Historians accredit his journals and letters for much of what
    is known today about the eighteenth century slave trade.

    And then there is Alfred Nobel whose endowment established the Nobel
    Peace prize. Nobel had invented dynamite and had made his fortune from
    selling this product. Nobel naively believed his dynamite would "sooner lead
    to peace than a thousand world conventions" because as soon as men whole
    armies could be utterly destroyed in one instant, "they surely will abide by
    golden peace." Little did he know.

    Unlike demigods called leaders who believe that they're always right
    and can do wrong, most of us lesser mortals do bad things and have to
    grapple with our consciences when we do those things. The dividing line
    between good and evil is frequently so indistinct that we are not sure
    whether we're doing good or evil.

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    Zimbabwe: Be Watchful When Hunting With Hounds

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 16:45
    THERE is a story which, to this day, villagers in my local area still
    reminisce about.

    In years gone by, men would often go on short hunting expeditions,
    relying on hounds, to chase and capture prey. The loyal hounds would often
    return with prey after capture and would be duly rewarded.

    But during a particularly hard season, the hounds' behaviour changed.
    They decided to satisfy their own interest first, which meant often, the
    hunters returned to the village empty-handed.

    Until, that is, a certain fellow decided to take the hounds at their
    own game. This fellow, affectionately known as Mutsvuku, on account of his
    light hue, decided that, since the hounds could not be trusted when left to
    their own devices, he had to do something about it. He decided that it was
    best to run alongside them. Mutsvuku was so fast, sometimes, he even
    outpaced the hounds. That ensured that he would always be on hand to
    retrieve the prey upon capture.

    Sometimes, I can't help thinking that Zimbabweans have placed too much
    reliance on hounds to do the chasing of freedom and democracy on our behalf.

    You have to look at the character of the hounds upon whom we have
    entrusted our future to see the problem that we currently face. I thought we
    could sample some of the hounds chasing freedom on our behalf via the
    African Union. Here is a sample:

    Paul Biya - Cameroon

    The man is 76 years old and he has been in charge of Cameroon since
    1982 -two years after Mugabe began his reign in Zimbabwe. In 1996, a new
    Constitution was adopted, providing for two presidential terms. His terms
    would have ended in 2011. But in April 2008, he announced plans to amend the
    Constitution to allow him to stay on beyond 2011, by providing for
    indefinite terms, jettisoning the two-term limit. The new Constitution was
    adopted by Parliament under the watchful eye of the military. The effect of
    these changes is to hand the life-presidency to Biya. Can we, surely, trust
    him to deliver freedom?

    Jose Eduardo Dos Santos - Angola

    Dos Santos has been in charge of Angola since 1979. From 1975 to 2002
    the country was ravaged by a civil war pitting Dos Santos' Popular Movement
    for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and Jonas Savimbi's Union for the Total
    Liberation of Angola (UNITA). The war ended when Savimbi was killed by
    government troops in 2002 and the parties cobbled up a Government of
    National Unity. Sounds familiar? The first and only multi-party elections
    were held in 1992, the results of which were rejected by Savimbi, leading to
    a resumption of the civil war.

    There have been no elections since 1992. The next elections are
    scheduled for 2008 (Parliamentary) and 2009 (Presidential). If Dos Santos
    goes through, he will be staying upwards of 30 years in power. But he is
    likely to face the same storm as his colleague in Zimbabwe. Can we rely on
    him to deliver democracy?

    Yoweri Kaguta Museveni - Uganda

    When Museveni seized power in 1986 through the National Resistance
    Army, he reasoned that Western-style multi-party democracy was not
    appropriate and introduced the no-party democracy system. Political parties
    were effectively stultified leaving the National Resistance Movement to
    virtually dominate Ugandan politics. The 1995 Constitution set a two-term
    limit on the presidency and the first direct presidential elections were
    held in 1996, which aided by state resources, Museveni won with 75% of the
    vote. The second election in 2001 was blighted by allegations of cheating,
    although his challenger and former ally and personal physician Kizza Besigye
    lost his legal appeal.

    Besigye was subjected to various forms of harassment, including
    charges of treason and rape. This caused local and international
    condemnation and cutbacks in foreign aid. The former blue-eyed boy of
    African politics had morphed into the usual character of the Big Men of
    African politics. Is Museveni to be trusted with democracy?

    Omar Bongo - Gabon

    The Gabonese President is, probably, the longest serving political
    ruler in the world, a title he earned when former Cuban leader Fidel Castro
    stepped down earlier this year. He became president in 1967, aged just 31.
    He is a wealthy man but has been accused of siphoning state resources of the
    small but oil-rich country. Some of his children have been part of his
    government. Multiparty elections were held in 1993, ending what was,
    effectively, one-party rule. The Constitution was amended in 2003 to remove
    the restrictions on presidential term limits, effectively opening a way for
    him to rule for life. He allegedly rules with an iron fist. Is he to be
    trusted with democracy?

    Yahya Jammeh - The Gambia

    Jammeh, who claimed to have a cure for AIDS, took power by Coup in
    1994 and was subsequently elected in 1996. He was re-elected in 2001 and
    2006 amid concerns about the lack of fairness of the election. Press freedom
    is restricted and he shares Mugabe's intense hatred for gays, whose heads he
    has threatened to chop off. Opposition parties are allowed but their chances
    of gaining any power are severely limited. Along with Omar Bongo, he has
    publicly endorsed Mugabe's recent election in Zimbabwe. A trusted hound?

    Muammar Gaddafi - Libya

    The long-serving Libyan leader has been in power since 1969, when he
    seized power through a Coup. He has been one of the staunchest supporters of
    President Mugabe, a relationship which dates back to the liberation war
    days. His previously frosty relationship with the West has thawed in the
    last eight years and is widely seen as a pro-active Pan-Africanist. But
    elections are not on his favoured list of priorities and is reported to have
    said before the 29 March elections in Zimbabwe that leaders like President
    Mugabe and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, "should stay in power until they have
    solved all the problems in their countries or die while still in power",
    effectively advocating life-presidency. Can this hound be relied on?

    General Omar Hassan al Bashir - The Sudan

    Omar al Bashir seized power in war-torn Sudan through a military coup
    in 1989. He has little favour for multi-party politics. When he seized power
    he said it was to save the country from "rotten political parties". In 1993
    Al Bashir was appointed the president and won the 1996 non-party elections.
    When the parliament sought to reduce the President's powers in 1999, Bashir
    dissolved it and declared a state of emergency. In 2000, he was re-elected.
    Since 2003, Sudan has been at the centre of world attention in view of the
    atrocities in the Western Darfur region.

    In 2004, Bashir is reported to have stated that he would remain firm
    and not bow to anyone except God, something that Zimbabweans may have heard
    recently from their own leader. Bashir shares Mugabe's frosty relationship
    with the West, whilst building a cosy alliance with China, which, in turn is
    enamoured by Sudan's oil reserves. The two men have the fortune of being
    favoured by China and Russia, both acting as bulwarks against UN sanctions
    or tougher measures. They also share the fortune of support from Africa's
    most powerful country - South Africa. More recently, Bashir has been the
    subject of an unprecedented move by the chief prosecutor of the
    International Criminal Court, who has sought to bring charges genocide and
    crimes against humanity.

    These are some of the leaders in the African Union. They are the
    hounds that Zimbabweans have set forth in the hunt for freedom. Some hounds,
    lately, have become more sympathetic and would be prepared to help in the
    pursuit of freedom. But the howls of these kinder ones, from Botswana,
    Zambia, Liberia and a few others are easily drowned out. There is no doubt
    that Zimbabwe needs African support to resolve its crisis, but the
    pro-democracy movement has to be careful not to put all its eggs in one
    basket or, for that matter, to trust that these counterparts will deliver
    freedom and democracy.

     Alex Magaisa is based at The University of Kent Law School and can be
    contacted on

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    Pandering To Questionable Populist Ends

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 16:26
    THE government last week rolled out its Basic Commodities
    Accessibility Programme - a populist scheme that sacrifices scarce hard
    currency supporting foreign jobs, companies and products at the expense of
    local firms and their workers.

    The basic commodities will be available through so-called People's
    Shops - a euphemism for shops that will only be accessed by people with Zanu
    PF membership cards. The government is intent on the politicisation of basic
    commodities and creating jobs for Zanu PF members. Its record is clear on

    It is a myth that people's shops will make basic food available at
    cheap prices. They will become a conduit for channelling goods to the
    parallel market. Government fuel obtainable from Noczim ends up on the
    parallel market. This latest scheme will be no different.

    Perhaps the government never learns because those who are supposed to
    ensure that the ordinary people benefit are the drivers of the lootocracy,
    driving this country over the precipice.

    It is perplexing that we can have a whole government sitting down to
    agree to purchase soap, salt, cooking oil, maize-meal and other basics when
    local companies are crying out for foreign currency to enable them to
    produce the same goods being imported. In effect, the government sees
    nothing wrong in subverting local manufacturers and throwing thousands of
    workers out of jobs! What kind of empowerment is that?

    The reason why local companies are hampered in continuous
    production/manufacturing is because of intermittent power cuts, coupled with
    erratic water supplies. Why is it so difficult to address these impediments
    so that industry can begin to meet local demand with local products?

    During the March harmonised elections, Zanu PF campaigned on a ticket
    of ensuring availability of maize meal, nation-wide. Shops are still without
    maize meal - and this for a nation that used to be the breadbasket of the
    region! There is no will to tackle the crisis many Zimbabweans are facing
    beyond photo opportunities such as the one provided by Wednesday's launch of
    the Basic Commodities Accessibility Programme.

    If there are foreign investors, as claimed at Wednesday's launch, let
    these be directed towards enhancing the capacity of local companies to
    produce and meet local demand and if there is a surplus, channel this to
    export markets.

    There is a problem when the government, whose role should solely be to
    enable and facilitate business, transforms itself into a player. Its
    penchant for involving itself in matters outside its normal role has
    produced disastrous results. Noczim, the Cold Storage Company and Woolworth's
    are examples that immediately come to mind. Clearly there is conflict when
    these so-called people's shops supplant existing retail outlets, rendering
    investment and jobs redundant.

    The government is quick to accuse the business sector of working
    against it, but this is typical of government's approach whenever it is
    confronted with something it does not comprehend. The best way of dealing
    with shortages is to ensure that those who produce are well supported and
    resourced. There will be no incentive for the parallel market if the formal
    market is awash with basic goods.

    The Basic Commodities Accessibility Programme is nothing but a
    feel-good pseudo-panacea project that in reality does nothing to solve the
    current problems. In fact it will further distort the economy by stoking
    inflation and disempowering local manufacturers. South African businesses
    are delighted with the windfall.

    It is an indictment of the people supposedly in leadership positions.

    Is that what they won the election to achieve?

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    What We Need - More Levys

    Zim Standard

    Saturday, 19 July 2008 16:20
    THE last time I was in Lusaka - a few months ago during a Sadc
    summit - what hit me with the force of a pile-driver was the optimism of the
    people, just ordinary people going about their normal business.

    This was during the last term of the presidency of Levy Mwanawasa, a
    man once pilloried as "a cabbage", after a horrific accident during which
    some people thought he had lost his marbles.

    My last visit had been in the early 1990s, a few years after the
    ouster of President Kenneth Kaunda, the founding president, ruler of Zambia
    since independence in 1964 until 1991.

    Frederick Chiluba was president then and there was despair in the air,
    specifically at the airport, where I stopped to catch another flight to
    Europe. A girl waiting at the airport turned out to be an old friend. She
    said she was waiting for anyone going overseas who could take her with him.
    What for? I asked. She said something to the effect that anywhere else would
    be better than her own country.

    A few years later, she was dead.

    Mwanawasa's presidency has been spectacular, politically and
    economically. What has endeared him to many Zimbabweans must be his stance
    on the imbroglio we have faced since 2000. His denunciation of President
    Robert Mugabe's impunity vis-a-vis democracy in our country has been
    succinct and robust.

    So, when a few weeks ago, during the African Union summit in Egypt, it
    was announced he had died in Paris after being rushed to a hospital there,
    an understandable air of despair must have enveloped both Zambia and

    Fortunately, after an awkward period of silence, the government in
    Lusaka announced he had survived. In his absence, the declaration from the
    AU on Zimbabwe was nothing dramatic, except for Raila Odinga's public
    assertion that Mugabe should be temporarily barred from the AU until he
    holds free and fair elections.

    Mwanawasa had previously and publicly declared that Zimbabwe, under
    President Robert Mugabe's stewardship was a "sinking Titanic". None of the
    other leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) had come
    anywhere near to condemning the situation in our country in such graphic

    South Africa's Thabo Mbeki had made the astonishing statement that
    there was "no crisis" at all. Would he and the other Sadc leaders take up
    Mwanawasa's forthright language to raise the stakes in the group's campaign
    to get Mugabe to do the "right thing"?

    Unlike Mbeki, Mwanawasa has no "liberation war credentials". But he
    has earned the respect of his colleagues in Sadc through the steady and
    efficient administration of his country. Zambia's economy has developed fast
    since he came to power. Certainly, there are some who believe he is "the
    best thing" that has happened to their country since 1964. He is serving his
    second and last term and it must be the hope of many Zambians and even
    Zimbabweans that whoever replaces him is not another KK or Chiluba.

    If the three countries which formed the ill-fated federation of
    Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Zimbabwe has fared the worst. Ironically, at the
    height of that British-inspired union, Southern Rhodesia was the most
    prosperous, but also the most politically explosive. Its government's racist
    policies had all the elements of a burgeoning apartheid-style regime.

    Today, Zimbabwe's economy is the worst of the three former states of
    the federation. Even its political upheavals are more spectacular than
    anything that has occurred in the other two countries.

    Its leader, moreover, became the head of government when the founding
    presidents of the other two were in power: Kaunda in Zambia is still alive
    but long out of power, but Kamuzu Banda in Malawi has long passed on, after
    he had lost power in an election.

    All these statistics must rankle with Mugabe in his most private
    moments of reflection. Why would he believe his tenure must continue
    indefinitely when the country is in such a mess and the likelihood of it
    getting out of it seems decidedly remote, as long as he is in the saddle?

    What appears to have been accepted by many is that Zimbabwe's road to
    perdition has been preordained and that Zanu PF will play a key role in the
    manner in which the country will resolve its crisis.

    That Sadc, the AU, the United Nations and even the European Union have
    all failed to bring the men and women at the top in Harare to book can no
    longer be disputed. Only the people themselves can wield the final weapon to
    undo the destruction wreaked on the country in eight years of political and
    economic sloth.

    Mwanawasa may be remembered for having tried to infuse a sense of
    urgency in trying to deal with Mugabe, but we must all be sorry that
    although his spirit was robust and willing, the flesh was probably not equal
    to the task.

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