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Indictment of the world

Zimbabwe Pundit (blog)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The past week's events in the Middle East have confirmed Zimbabwean's fears that in eyes of the world some lives are intrinsically more valuable than others. And we now know without a doubt that our lives, those of millions of Zimbabweans ravaged by years of misrule and the extinction of democracy in our homeland, are less valuable than those of the Israeli people.

You see it has become apparent that Zimbabweans are on the opposite end of the global totem pole than the Israelis. How else are supposed to process the reality that: it has taken the death of less than 50 Israelis (in this latest episode of longranging dispute) to garner global media attention and bring diplomatic initiatives around the globe to a virtual standstill.

Less than 50 deaths, and every major media outlet across the USA and Western Europe has been fixated on the crisis. All the major bulletins, front page headlines, and syndicated commentators are focused on the crisis. Most if not all have sent their most capable and prominent personnel to report live. Incessantly returning viewers to check on new developments throughout the day (and night), the media are crooning over the crisis with the devotion like that of a physician to a patient in extremis.

It is a global crisis. And less than 50 deaths is all it has taken.

I don't mean to minimize the value of any human life anywhere, especially (and God forbid) in Israel. But, I'll let Mandebvhu, speak for me;
Firstly, the world is falling over themselves to assist where they can because there is a fear that there may be as many as half a million displaced people as a result of the ongoing Israeli/Lebennon crisis. According to a report from the UN's special envoy last year, displaced people in Zimbabwe number around 700 000 - and yet no one wants to help - because Zimbabwe has no oil.

Secondly. Mugabe has a habit of using world events and the fact that world attention is elsewhere to cover another audacious move against his own people. Watch and see.
Hundreds were killed during Operation Murambatsvina. Over three thousand people are dying in Zimbabwe every week. Where is our global spotlight? Where's our Charlie Gibson, Washington Post,BBC, AFP, or carnival in the blogosphere?

Some lives have more intrinsic value than other lives--I guess.

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Killapsed Dollar

Saturday 22nd July 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe's banks are apparently in trouble and bankers and chartered
accountants met recently to talk about what do with all those pesky zeroes
that are causing the problem and clogging up their works. It seems that
standard computer software is designed to cope with figures in millions and
even billions but starts getting confused when having to deal with fifteen
digit figures. It's the trillions that are apparently the problem and these
are now part of regular transactions. So a proposal is being made to have
three digits dropped from our currency. Instead of a thousand dollars being
a thousand dollars, it will be just one dollar and will be called a Kilo
Dollar. Perhaps calling it a Killapsed Dollar would be more to the point.

This is the latest example of just how utterly ludicrous our economic
situation has become in Zimbabwe - inflation of over a thousand percent,
bank transactions in trillions, town budgets in something called
quadrillions and simple dollars that aren't really dollars anymore.

To ordinary people who don't really understand the logistics of a collapsed
currency, this news comes as just another head shaking confusion in our
chaotic lives. Most of us have hardly come to terms with the logistics of
doing ordinary things like paying bills. If we are paying in cash we find
ourselves walking around with carrier bags, duffle bags, plastic sacks and
even suitcases literally filled with notes. Its a huge relief to get to
where you are going without being mugged because its just not that easy to
hide a sack of money. Although these days I suppose even muggers must have
to think in terms of wheelbarrows at the very least. The next mission is to
get the timing right so that you pay bills when the electricity is on
otherwise the money counting machines aren't working, the computers that
write receipts aren't working and you spend hours waiting in queues, your
arms getting longer and longer, weighed down by heavy bags of money.

Paying bills by cheque has its own set of problems too and we have had to
master the art of using smaller and smaller handwriting. Most standard
personal cheques have a five inch (13 centimetre) line on which to write the
amount in words that the cheque is for. Nowadays its not unusual to get
bills for multiple millions of dollars. This month for example medical aid
companies have increased their rates by a whopping eighty five percent. This
makes a very small family contribution to a standard private medical scheme
require over twenty five million dollars. I find myself having to do
practice runs before I even open the cheque book - just to make sure I can
squash up the words enough so that they all fit into those five inches. You
try and write in five inches (13cms) all these words: Twenty five million
eight hundred and ninety two thousand five hundred and fifteen dollars and
fifty five cents. It's not possible or feasible really and so we all just
round everything up, no one says thank you, no one offers change - its just
the way life has become here now.

Everything in Zimbabwe, even writing a cheque, has become an exercise in
extremes - miniscule handwriting for massive amounts of money to pay small
fractions of huge monthly expenses. So, from the land where we already have
trillions and quadrillions but perhaps will soon have both dollars and kilo
dollars, thank you for reading. Until next week, apologies for unanswered
emails - there are simply not enough hours in the day when the electricity
is on!
With love, cathy.

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Scary theory; Africans may have no stomach for truth

By Bill Saidi

ONE morning last week, the lead story on the national TV news was the
announcement of a fund-raising gig for Chitungwiza central hospital.

Immediately after that was an interview with Alick Macheso, one of the
Sungura artistes due to feature on this so-called extravaganza.
Macheso was interviewed by the star anchor-person of the morning news
bulletin, Henrietta Ndebele.

I used to admire this young presenter, not just for her good looks but
also for her self-confidence. Later, it all vanished. I am not sure why.
I once watched her read the news and wondered if she was going to
collapse from the exertion. Perhaps I am biased, as one raised in the print

But I know other people, not necessarily journalists or media people,
who cringe with shame every time they hear the news, either on State radio
or TV. Like me, they feel ashamed that, 26 years after independence, we
still have such palpable shallowness in the quality of news on the
government media.

It wasn't always like this. Even the government print media didn't
always read as if it had been put together by a bunch of cross-eyed escapees
from Ingutsheni mental hospital.

Today, you would expect the people whose sensibilities are being daily
abused by this garbage to march to the Pockets Hill headquarters of the
state media conglomerate and dump something on the doorstep of the
director-general's office.

I doubt they would dump their radio or TV sets: after all, you can
choose which station to tune to and if you are middle-class or a yuppie of
some sort, you might have a dish.

I know what I would dump on the DG's doorstep, but its identity cannot
be revealed in this column, which, I suspect, is read by God-fearing people,
or people to whom four-letter words might be offensive.

Nothing of the sort has ever happened. I have always wandered if this
passive attitude among most of us to such disgusting fare suggests a
pathological fear of confronting the truth: that our governments have
precious little respect or regard for us.
I must hasten to add this is not peculiar to Zimbabwe.

In many African countries, some run by psychotic people who should
have been put down at birth, the subjects tolerate the most disgusting
challenges o their self-respect for such a long time you wonder if they are
either brain-dead or were hypnotized by a witch-doctor hired by the leader.

Shortly after The Daily News finished its coverage of the 2000
parliamentary election with praises from its readers for a good job, there
were other strange voices heard. It was suggested that the newspaper had no
more "causes" to fight. Its circulation would be on the decline as it had
been built on the coverage of the election, in which the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) performed more creditably than any other opposition
party since independence.

One suggestion was that the paper should henceforth abandon politics
and concentrate instead on sex and crime: people were tired of politics and
since Zanu PF was still in power, inspite of the admirable challenge of the
MDC. The only political game in town would still be Zanu PF's and they
doubted The Daily News wanted to go that route. The suspicion, among some of
us, was that the suggestions were being made by paid agents of Zanu PF or
the CIO or other goon squads associated with the "pati yeropa".

The history will confirm that, far from slinking away in fear from the
challenge, the newspaper stood its ground - and then paid the full price.
What the newspaper had done, quite simply, was to tell the true story, which
the State media dare not dwell on for long.  Yet when the newspaper, now
joined in the struggle by its sibling, The Daily News on Sunday, was banned,
there was not the outpouring of the grief and sympathy which had accompanied
the bombing of the printing press in 2001.

Then, the outrage of the readers was loud and unmistakable. People
offered to contribute anything, including their dishes and plates, towards
the purchase of another press - few had any idea that this could cost an arm
and an elbow.
There were campaigns to help the newspapers. I remember The Friends of
The Daily News.

Yet, in the end, it all came to little. Today, scores of former
journalists of the two papers are either outside the country, or working in
Zimbabwe for newspapers they would not have joined if their former employers
were still operating.

In many other African countries, ruled by dictators masquerading as
democrats, it took a long time for the media to be totally free of
government control.
In both Zambia and Malawi, the ouster of the founding parties, UNIP
and the Malawi Congress Party respectively, heralded an almost destructive
hurricane of freedom for the media.

I visited Malawi during these early days of post-Kamuzu euphoria and
was shocked at the daredevilry of the editors - most of their stories on
people they despised bordered on extreme libel.
Zambia's true free media did not take this hysterical route, although
Fred M'membe's Post newspaper ruffled many sensitive feathers, particularly
those of the biggest beneficiary of Kenneth Kaunda's ignominious departure,
Frederick Chiluba.

Fortunately for the two countries, there still exists a dynamic,
vibrant and free media today, even with changes in government, which many
critics had predicted would try to return to the old days of the founding

Yet there remain, among the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc) members, countries whose commitment to unfettered freedom of the
press is half-hearted or even half-baked.
Botswana still has its state newspaper, The Daily News, which it
should have shut down or sold to the private sector a long time ago.
Zambia, even with its proliferation of private newspapers and radio
stations still has government newspapers.

These papers exist only because their circulations justify the cost of
keeping them alive.
The same can be said of our government media here in Zimbabwe. The
Herald, The Sunday Mail and the rest of the poodle-like publications whose
aversion to the truth reminds you of the vampire's fear of light, exist only
because people, in general, are frightened of confronting the truth.

The truth, not to put too fine a point to it, is that the government,
through such propaganda vehicles, is on a relentless campaign to conceal the
truth from the people - and the people are all too willing to be thus duped,
because the truth would devastate them.
How, they would ask themselves, can we be ruled by such terrible,
cruel people, people who don't care for us, people who amass wealth for
themselves, steal essential drugs for themselves and live like kings while
we, the ordinary people, scrounge for food in dustbins?

They can't accept that truth, which has a lot to do with their own
sense of security. In the end, they shake their heads in disbelief: no
Zimbabwean leader would do this to their own people. If they are doing it,
it is because the circumstances compel to do it.
So, when you hear President Robert Mugabe, speaking to church leaders
and calling on them to join his party and his government in the development
of the country along the "proper" path, just remember that they find this
far more palatable than confronting the truth that for 26 years this same
man has preached the same message - today the country has no foreign
currency, no worthwhile credit standing with many rich foreign countries and
international financial institutions, and its unemployment rate is the
highest in the region.

Of course, it is not all the church leaders who have swallowed this
bait. Also, it may not be entirely fanciful to suggest that, in exchange for
swinging their support behind his back, rather than Archbishop Pius Ncube's,
Mugabe has offered them something - farms, for instance?

This week, Mugabe was drumming up support among the chiefs, which must
have been as easy as pie, compared with his palaver with the church leaders
who, it must be remembered, can always challenge him to swear on a stake of

The chiefs offered little resistance. Mugabe has increased their
allowances, built roads to their palaces (?), given them vehicles, almost
for a song, and promised them all kinds of largesse, if they play ball.

The chiefs know the truth, just as the church leaders do, but they too
have no stomach for the truth, which is that until their people are given
the respect they truly deserve as citizens of this country, and are given
the kind of life promised them after the end of colonialism, they are living
this one big, fat lie.

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Zimbabwe urged to eliminate unnecessary customs delay

People's Daily

Zimbabwe should address unnecessary delays at border posts to boost
export earnings and imports operations, a shipping and forwarding agent has

Smooth customs procedures would also encourage local exporters to
explore the lucrative regional markets and contribute towards the
development of the economy.

Shipping and Forwarding Agents' Association of Zimbabwe chief
executive officer Joseph Musariri said on Friday that current customs
procedures discouraged trade and travel, and urged relevant authorities to
resolve the situation.

Of great concern were unnecessary duty fees being paid on duty free
goods like bread and sugar, which caused delays at border posts and
inconvenienced ordinary travelers and tourists. "Duty paying on such
numerous small consignments are taking a lot of precious time for both Zimra
officers and customs clearing agents, " Musariri said.

This unnecessary hassle has affected ordinary travelers and limited
trade for the locals.

The development had also affected residents of border towns who cross
the border and bring back items of no significant value such as bread and
other basics.

Source: Xinhua

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Gono consults over Zimdollar

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, has been
consulting with players across a wide spectrum on how to deal with the
current inconveniences caused by the local currency.

In a meeting with editors of various media houses on Friday, the
central bank chief said for the past three or four days, he had met with
stakeholders such as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

And he also met Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), the Retailers
Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) and farmers unions on the best way forward to
deal with "headaches" caused by the Zimdollar.

Unconfirmed media reports indicate that government is mulling slashing
three digits from the local currency in a bid to circumvent transactions
that have become cumbersome in the current hyperinflationary environment.

Government is thought to be pondering on the pros and cons of dropping
three zeroes from the local currency and introducing a kilo-dollar that
would be equivalent to the current $1 000 in circulation.

In effect, the highest denominated $100 000 bearer cheque would become
100 kilo-dollars.

"The bulkiness of cash that is now being carried by members of the
public and the many digits that have to be dealt with by IT systems is
causing headaches within the economy.

"I have been instructed to deal with the matter and have been told to
move from the yellow flag to the red flag.

In other words, this is an urgent matter that needs solutions. I have
met other stakeholders over the matter and they gave their own ideas.

"Today I am asking you to tell me kuti todii (what should we do)?"
Gono said.

While Gono blamed the proliferation of many zeroes on the country's
accounting and payment system on capacity under-utilisation, policy
shortfalls and speculation leading to too much money chasing too few goods,
he largely attributed the cause to corruption.

"Corruption has now had a worse effect on the economy than the
sanctions imposed by the West," Gono said.

Most members of the press felt that the removal of several zeroes from
the unit account was only a stop gap measure that would provide short-term
relief, given the current inflationary trends prevalent in the country.

Given the levels of corruption in the country, it was felt that prices
of goods and services would continue to rise and thus evaporate any measures
taken by the central bank to provide more convenience to the transacting

Debate has been heated as to whether Zimbabweans would really benefit
from such a policy measure.

Mozambique has already pursued such a path but the main difference
being that the eastern neighbour is receiving balance of payment support
from the West through International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

As it is today, the black market will continue to thrive with the
sustained demand for foreign currency further weakening the local currency.

  Journalists felt that should the policy be implemented, there was a
need to have other back-up measures that would not see the country running
in circles with similar problems evolving at a latter date.

This entailed the stamping out of corruption where those in power have
to declare their assets and those that failed to account for their wealth
would have it forfeited to the State.

Gono said while there may be political connotations attached to the
country's current economic predicament, Section 6 of the Reserve Bank Act
required him as the governor to maintain a stable and convenient payment

Daily Mirror

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Govt mulls crack- down on ZCTU

Zim Standard


      THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says government is
planning to arrest its leadership as a pre-emptive move against threatened
mass action by the labour movement over the worsening economic crisis in the

      ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibebe, said he had been
warned of the impending arrests.

      "We have been told of the government's plans but we will not be
intimidated by such actions. We know they fear the protests and they also
want to instill fear in us so that we toe the line at the Tripartite
Negotiation Forum," Chibebe said.

      But he said the arrests would only reinvigorate the workers'
resolve to fight for a better Zimbabwe.

      His comments come after the Minister of Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche, last week said a government-appointed
probe team had found the ZCTU guilty of illegal dealing in foreign currency
and financial mismanagement.

      Goche said he had forwarded the findings to the Commissioner of
Police, Augustine Chihuri, with a view to prosecution.

      Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri refused to comment on the
matter referring all questions to his boss, Wayne Bvudzijena. But Bvudzijena
was quoted yesterday, as saying there is a prima facie case against the ZCTU
leaders though the police had not started investigations into the case.

      But Chibebe said the "timing" of the release of the so-called
findings of the probe was designed to harass and intimidate the ZCTU

      The ZCTU secretary general said the government action was
tantamount to interference in the administration and running of trade
unions, which is prohibited by Convention 87 of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO).

      "If the government continues to harass labour, they will be
called to appear before the ILO, which is not a good thing for the country,"
he said.

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Makwavarara saved by rift in Zanu PF

Zim Standard


      THE embattled chairperson of the commission running the city of
Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara, survived the chop after her case, which was
supposed to be decided at a Zanu PF central committee meeting two weeks ago,
was removed from the agenda at the last minute, The Standard can reveal.

      Impeccable sources told this newspaper that a pro-Makwavarara
faction in Zanu PF succeeded in lobbying for the deletion of her case from
the agenda of the party's central committee meeting held a fortnight ago.

      "The divisions (in Zanu PF) over Makwavarara's fate are not only
in the lower ranks. What I can tell you is (Nathan) Shamuyarira and
(Didymus) Mutasa are not on the same side on the issue," said a source.

      Mutasa is the party's secretary for administration while
Shamuyarira is the spokesperson.

      The ruling party is divided over the continued extension of
Makwavarara's tenure, despite the accelerated decline in the provision of
services in Harare.

      Zanu PF Harare provincial executive recently passed a vote of no
confidence in Makwavarara, a big spending political turn-coat, appointed
deputy mayor on a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket in 2002.

      Shamuyarira, who had earlier said the central committee would
decide Makwavarara's fate, last week confirmed the item was removed from the

       "Yes, it was removed because the agenda was too long. So,
nothing was discussed, maybe next week," Shamuyarira said.

      When asked to comment on reports that the issue was dropped
because of a rift in Zanu PF over the matter, Shamuyarira said: "That's
speculation. You guys want to lie as usual."

      Mutasa said the party does not discuss "petty" issues like
Makwavarara's fate in central committee.

      "We don't discuss such matters, we are actually having a
consultative meeting and we don't discuss such issues," Mutasa said when

      Mutasa said the Ministry of Local Government would deal with the

      Makwavarara's tenure has been extended for the fourth time by
Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, despite a groundswell of
criticism against her.

      Council health reports say that during her tenure, Harare has
degenerated into a "waste and rodent-infested city".

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Security stepped up at Mugabe mansion

Zim Standard


      SECURITY has been stepped up around President Robert Mugabe's
mansion in Borrowdale amid revelations that the 82-year-old leader is
spending more time at his plush retirement home.

      Heavily armed soldiers and police officers on foot and bicycles
are a common feature, not just around the two-hectare plot, but also in the

      A police post was established last month along Carrick Creagh

      Mugabe's neighbours say the post may have been hurriedly set up
since there are no ablution facilities. There is only a green tent which
houses the policemen and no toilet in sight.

      "We asked the police what they do in case they want to answer
the call of nature. They said they just have to improvise," one of Mugabe's
neighbours told The Standard.

       But it's not just the absence of the ablution facilities that
worries the residents.

      Roadblocks are now being set up in the neighbourhood.

      "The motorcade normally comes in late in the afternoon. So they
are usually set up around three in the afternoon," said another neighbour.

      A journalist from The Standard who visited the area last week
encountered the motorcade twice between 5.20PM and 6PM.

      Maybe to minimise noise in the quiet suburb, the trademark
sirens were off.

      The government earlier this year declared the area a security
zone in a move analysts said was designed to ensure Mugabe lived in peace
without fear of possible assassins.

      However, there was controversy at the beginning of the year when
the government served eviction notices on people with homes overlooking and
adjacent to the oriental-styled mansion which took several years to build.

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Police arrest Mnangagwa's ally

Zim Standard

      By our Staff

      POLICE in Harare have reportedly arrested businessman John
Bredenkamp as the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe turns nasty.

      However, Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the businessman's arrest.

      "I don't have information on that. I have not received those

      Bredenkamp is a close friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who until
the end of 2004 was widely considered Mugabe's heir apparent.

      The Standard's sources at Harare Central Police Station
yesterday said that Bredenkamp was detained on Friday and was still in
police cells.

      He is expected to be charged with violating the Citizenship Act
on allegations that he holds dual citizenship which is illegal in Zimbabwe.

      Bredenkamp allegedly holds a Zimbabwean and a British passport.

      Once believed to be Mnangagwa's financier, Bredenkamp is being
hounded out by people who want Vice President Joice Mujuru to succeed

      Contacted for comment, Bredenkamp's spo-kesperson, Costa
Pafitis, said: "I am not in a position to comment on these matters."

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Strange 'flu' grips Matabeleland

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO -- Hundreds of people in Matabeleland are believed to
have contracted a highly infectious influenza virus characterised by high
fever, serious bodily aches and severe coughs.

      Medical practitioners in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Beitbridge and
Victoria Falls confirmed that an extraordinarily high number of people had
been affected this winter by the unidentified influenza virus which they
have failed to isolate.

      Three top medical practitioners in Bulawayo running a chain of
health centres said the majority of people suffering from the influenza were
being given a cocktail of drugs.

      One of the doctors said: "This is an extraordinary influenza as
hundreds of people have been affected. It is not the normal common cold or
flu which attacks people for between three and five days. We have tried in
vain to isolate the virus.

      "As a result, we prescribe a cocktail of drugs for patients.
Some patients in our medical centres have been suffering from this virus for
almost six weeks now. We are worried about this influenza strain. A large
number of people come here seeking medical attention with high fever, aching
joints and terrible coughs."

      Another private medical practitioner said most of the patients
with the flu were referred to them by city clinics in the high-density

      Although top officials in Bulawayo City Council's Department of
Health Services declined to comment on the issue, senior nurses at various
clinics indicated they had recorded an overwhelming number of patients
suffering from the influenza.

      "This is highly infectious compared to common colds and flu. We
are referring severe cases to private doctors who have informed us that the
influenza strain is not yet medically isolated in order to treat it with
specific drugs," said a senior nurse at one of the city clinics.

      Private doctors in Gwanda, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls also
confirmed that they were recording a high number of patients infected with
the virus.

      A doctor based in Gwanda said: "We are really trying our best to
tackle this influenza in conjunction with the relevant government ministry
and departments. The tragedy is that most of the people who are infected
cannot pay the required consultation fees of $3,8 million."

      Matabeleland North and South medical directors were said to be
attending various meetings, when contacted for comment. The Minister of
Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, said the ministry had not yet
received reports from Matabeleland.

      Medical practitioners say influenza viruses that infect the
nose, throat, sinuses, upper airways and lungs cause influenza. It is mostly
a mild disease in healthy children, young adults and middle aged people but
life-threatening in older people, toddlers and in people of any age with
chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney diseases or
compromised immune systems.

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Opposition parties reject new clearance fee for RDC candidates

Zim Standard

      By our staff

      CANDIDATES taking part in next month's rural district council
elections are required to pay a clearance fee of $2 million dollars to the
police, it emerged yesterday.

      Although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson, George
Chiweshe, could not be reached for comment, the pro-Senate faction of the
MDC said its candidates had been instructed to pay the fee to the police.

      It said under the new arrangement, a political party fielding
candidates in all the 1 600 wards would have to spend $3,2 billion in police
clearance fees alone. Stationery and transport expenses for the clearance
process would push the figure to as much as $7 billion.

      Paul Themba Nyathi, the Director of Elections in the pro-Senate
faction of the MDC, said the move was a "clear deprivation of the citizens'
rights to participate in democratic processes by making democracy unduly
expensive which only the rich could afford".

       Nyathi said: "We fail to relate the cost of clearance, which
simply involves the police checking by computer whether a person has any
criminal record, or not, to the charge of $2 million."

      He said what made this condition even more unacceptable was the
fact that it is not required in elections to higher offices such as the
House of Assembly or Senate.

      Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the anti-Senate faction
could not be reached for comment yesterday while the United People's Party
(UPP) interim President Daniel Shumba said he was not aware of the new

      Chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA),
Lovemore Madhuku, said this new development was an indication that the
electoral system is not independent.

       "Already, we are seeing indications that the elections would not
be free and fair. If our electoral commission were truly independent, they
would have consulted all parties and come up with a nominal figure
acceptable and affordable by all candidates. The figure should not make it
appear as if candidates are buying the right to contest, but just an
indication of their willingness to take part," Madhuku said.

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Armed robbers strike Harare petrol station

Zim Standard


      FIVE armed robbers raided Power Fuels Service Station in Harare's
Kambuzuma high-density suburb on Tuesday evening and got away with more than
$1,2 billion in cash.

      The robbers fired three shots in the air at the service station
to scare off motorists who were filling up their cars before snatching a
bag, which contained the money.

       Eyewitnesses said before robbing the service station, the five
filled up their getaway Nissan sunny car and parked it a few metres from the

      A petrol attendant, who witnessed the robbery, said a few
minutes later he was shocked when the people he had just served started
ordering everyone to lie down.

      He said one of the robbers ordered an armed security guard, at
gunpoint, to lie down while two of his colleagues maintained vigilance on
the two corners of the building.

      "The other quickly jumped over the counter, grabbed the bag
containing the money and they all jumped into their getaway car before
driving away at high speed," he said.

      When The Standard news crew visited the service station three
gapping holes could be seen in the roof.

      The service station has been closed since the robbery and the
workers said they were told to come back to work on Monday.

      Harare provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Memory
Pamire confirmed the robbery and said investigations were underway.

      "Yes, we received that report. The robbers got away with $1,2
billion and investigations into the matter are currently underway," Pamire

      On the same night, six armed men fired at patrons at Chisipiti
nightclub in Budiriro, Harare before disappearing with an undisclosed amount
of cash and goods.

      The six were arrested the following day after a tip off by
members of the public.

      Kambuzuma and Budiriro high-density suburbs are about seven
kilometers apart.

      In Budiriro, police said, the robbers looted blankets, a DVD
player and cash before disappearing in a white Nissan vehicle without
registration numbers.

      Pamire warned the public to be on the lookout for
suspicious-looking people. "People should report to the nearest police
whenever they see people whose movements are suspicious," she said.

      Over the recent past, there has been an increase of armed
robberies in Zimbabwe.

      Police suspect that the guns are being brought in from
neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and South Africa.

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Civic bodies throw down the gauntlet

Zim Standard

      By Foster Dongozi

      SECTIONS of civic society who are impatient with President
Robert Mugabe's administration are likely to steal the thunder from the
bickering political opposition.

      On Wednesday, the increasingly militant Combined Harare
Residents' Association (CHRA) led disgruntled residents in a march to
register their displeasure with the way the capital is being run.

      Nearly 20 Harare residents, including two journalists, were
arrested by heavily armed anti-riot police and detained overnight at the
Harare Central cells.

      Precious Shumba, the spokesman for CHRA, in an interview with
The Standard said: "Our position is that POSA (the Public Order and Security
Act) is a law of the illegitimate (government). We don't see how we should
submit to a law that governs how we express our anger or happiness. We will
not follow such laws."

      Human rights lawyer, Jacob Mafume, said the defiance being
exhibited by some sections of civic society was an indication that
Zimbabweans were tired of dictatorship and ready to free themselves.

      "The anger being shown by some Zimbabweans is indicative of the
rising discontent with the repressive regime that the people are living
under. These are indications that there is a new determination by the people
to assert themselves under a system that has continued to erode their basic
rights and freedoms," Mafume said.

      He said the government was likely to unleash even more violence
against its citizens in order to protect the selfish interests of a small
ruling elite.

      "As Zimbabweans continue to defy the establishment due to their
new-found energy, the government is going to increase its repressive
tendencies against the citizens. However, while this happens, the government
is going to create a façade of happiness to the outside world through
propaganda campaigns of portraying the situation in the country as normal."

      The government media has so far ignored the arrest of the
journalists and CHRA members.

       Other organisations that have ignored the stringent requirements
of POSA are the Zimbabwe National Students' Union (Zinasu) whose members are
suspected of recently setting fire to a computer laboratory at Bindura

      The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (Woza) have largely ignored POSA and gone to the streets to express
their outrage.

      NCA chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, said he was happy with the
spirit of defiance.

       "The NCA is the only organisation that I know which has been
holding demonstrations without informing the police. We are happy that the
strategy is being adopted by a lot of civic organisations and we see that as
a growth in confidence."

      Madhuku said unplanned demonstrations would stretch and strain
the police.

      "We know them. They are very weak. They cannot deal with
nationwide demonstrations. The regime will become more repressive initially
but they cannot put everybody in jail."

      A recent Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Report on Home
Affairs painted a grim picture on police operations including staff and
equipment shortages. Low morale and staff and ordinance shortages would have
a bearing on the police's ability to deal with nationwide demonstrations.

      Even the much feared and hated Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) which had cowed the opposition and civic society into submission is
now being largely ignored and ridiculed by civic society and the opposition.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP Masvingo NGOs plan mass protests

Zim Standard


      MASVINGO - Civic organisations in Masvingo last week resolved to
form a committee that will spearhead the planned mass action against poor
governance in the country.

      They noted that dialogue would not solve the political and
economic crisis facing Zimbabweans.

      Speaking at a National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NANGO) workshop last week, activists from various
organisations agreed that only mass demonstrations and civil disobedience
campaigns would bring desired results.

       National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) regional chairperson, Ray
Muzenda, told delegates that a mass protest was the only way forward.

       "The only solution for the problems facing the people in the
country is that civic organisations join hands to take the government head
on. All the problems that we are facing are coming from an oppressive regime
that has failed us and there is no way we can force it out other than to
take to the streets in our numbers," he said.

      Fambai Ngirande, NANGO advocacy officer said: "Civic
organisations have a role to play in such situations and they have to work
with the people to find a solution," he said.

      Sungano Zvarebwanashe from the Women's Coalition said dialogue
to end the woes facing the country had failed and urged members to unite in
the fight against the government.

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Cyber technology for rural Mhakwe

Zim Standard


      CHIMANIMANI - A massive project that will connect villagers to
the information highway is taking shape in Mhakwe, 150 km south of Mutare.

      Reuben Tinofa, the treasurer of the Mhakwe Development
Association, boasts that they are on the verge of "imparting 21st Century
skills and tools" to villagers in this impoverished section of Zimbabwe's
Eastern Highlands.

      "We are building a skills base here in computers and digital
equipment for members of our community," Tinofa, the custodian of the
association's digital audio and video equipment, told The Standard.

      "We're moving with the times and computer knowledge and skills
are assets people must have in the 21st Century. and we're getting them."

      Tinofa has every reason to be pleased.

      He is involved in the establishment of a multi-purpose community
centre financed by the WK Kellogg Foundation of the United States at a cost
of nearly $1 billion.

      The centre is being designed to promote cultural heritage and
indigenous knowledge systems and documentation facilities - in addition to
the provision of modern communications.

      It is a tripartite project involving the Kellogg Foundation, the
Chimanimani Rural District Council and Africa University, the
Methodist-related tertiary institution in Mutare.

      Senior Kellogg officials from the US are scheduled to visit
Mhakwe later this week to assess progress so far on the centre and review
several other projects the foundation has sponsored in recent years in
Chimanimani and Bulilima-Mangwe in Matabeleland South.

       The Chimanimani centre, which is set to receive 20 computers
from the sponsors to kick-off operations, will be run through the Mhakwe
Development Centre.

      "The equipment we already have and what we have been promised is
generating so much interest among members of our community," Tinofa, who
also heads Mhakwe Primary School, said.

      The project will be funded for a total of US$975 000 over a
two-year period. The funds, to be channelled through Africa university, will
be disbursed in two tranches - an initial grant of $660 million (US$660 000)
in 2006-7 and the remainder, $315 million (US$315 000) in 2007-8.

      Young people in Mhakwe Ward, who comprise about 40% of the
population, and women, who make up a majority, are expected to be the main
beneficiaries of the project.

      "We are pleased to report that there is a strong involvement in
capacity-building at grass-root levels with projects like this," said Oswald
Dirwayi, the development facilitator for the tripartite partnership - Africa
University/Kellogg Foundation/Chimanimani Rural District Council.

      Joseph Harahwa,the chief executive officer of the Chimanimani
Rural District Council, also lauded Kellogg's approach to rural development,
saying its "bottom-up" approach ensures greater involvement at grassroots

      Harahwa said: "Unlike other organisations, the Kellogg people
are willing to work with existing structures to enable ordinary people,
through a bottom-up approach, achieve higher levels of development."

      The multi-purpose community centre project is not a stand alone
development; it will complement several other capacity-building programmes
in the district funded by Kellogg.

      For example, the visiting Kellogg officials would be expected to
review the Murimindishe Herbal Garden, which promotes both modern and
traditional systems of health delivery.

      "We are using our indigenous knowledge (in medicines) to help
take care of our health needs," said Edward Tangayi Mukazhi, one of the
individuals behind the herbal garden initiative.

      "Trees such as the Mupfura, Mukamba, Moringa and Mupomboshori
have curative properties for the treatment of common ailments," said
Mukazhi, who is councillor for Mhakwe Ward. "This herbal garden was a family
property. I have turned it over for the benefit of our community."

      The Kellogg Foundation, based in Battle Creek, Michigan,
operates in seven countries in southern Africa; Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

      Through its Integrated Rural Development Programme, the
foundation funds projects through an initiative aimed at capacity building
in rural communities.

      The Kellogg Foundation, according to its spokesperson, was
established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical
application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and
that of future generations".

      To achieve impact, the foundation targets its grants to specific
areas - including health, food systems and rural development, youth,
education, philanthropy and volunteerism.

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Government investigates diamond theft

Zim Standard

       By Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

      THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is investigating
allegations of misappropriation of diamonds in Marange, Standardbusiness
learnt last week.

      Sources told this paper that the ministry had been alerted to
the "misdeed" by villagers and blamed the alleged illegal exports on the
complacency of officials of De Beers, the company involved in diamond mining
in Marange.

       "They tell the ministry that they are still prospecting but in
the meantime they are exporting the mineral illegally. The problem is
Zimbabwe does not have the technical expertise when it comes to diamond
mining so government can be cheated easily," said a source.

      The development has however shaken officials at the Ministry of
Mines who fear the country could attract the wrath of the international
community and be banned from selling its diamonds.

      "Illegal exports mean that the diamonds are being sold without
the Kimberley certificate. No country is allowed to sell that mineral
without the certificate and those who do will not be allowed to sell their
diamonds on the international market. The ministry is wary that this could
happen to Zimbabwe. That is why this investigation is so important," said
the source.

      The Kimberley process certificate was introduced in January 2003
after the international community raised concerns that illegal transactions
of diamonds were helping to fund military conflicts against legitimate

      The move was meant to prevent transactions of "conflict

      Zimbabwe however fears that a lot of its diamonds could be
finding themselves on the international market without going through the
Kimberley process.

      Another source said the problem was that the country does not
have proper accountable systems for minerals extracted.

      "They have this problem on their hands because they have been
lax. Ideally, they have to control them and make companies account for every
piece extracted from the ground. Companies can just present their papers and
say we have produced so much but there is no way of telling if that is for
real and that's how big stones are coming," he said.

      "This country does not have the expertise to say what quality
the diamonds are and we have some which are of gem (high) quality being sold
off as industrial quality at the expense of the country. The MMCZ (Minerals
Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe) just groups the diamonds together
irregardless of the quality and sells them through an auction system."

      Repeated efforts by Standardbusiness to locate the local offices
of the diamond mining concern even through the Chamber of Mines were
unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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New farmers fight to take over council

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - New farmers have engaged the Ministry of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare in a bid to take over the National
Employment Council (NEC) for Agriculture amid fears that they are failing to
pay their workers reasonable wages and salaries.

      The latest move is meant to give the new farmers and government
a tight grip on the agricultural sector once dominated by commercial farmers
who were pushed off the land through the fast-track land reform programme.

      A letter written by the Registrar of Labour and Social Welfare,
C Z Vusani and addressed to the secretary general of the NEC Agriculture
indicates that the government is concerned over the lack of representatives
from new farmers in the labour body.

      The letter reads in part: ". It was highlighted in a meeting
with representatives of NEC (Agriculture) on June 6, 2006 that the Ministry
of Labour is concerned about the representation of interest groups in the
NEC Agriculture. The representation is far from adequate.

      "The inadequacy is especially so taking into cognisance that the
new farmers who have come into the industry after the government of Zimbabwe
undertook the land reform programme have been generally excluded from the
NEC proceedings and collective bargaining process of the same industry."

       Vusani noted in the letter that while some new farmers have been
involved in the deliberations of the NEC, their "participation has been
intermittent and has not been reflective of the new dispensation of new
farmers who now are the majority of employers in the agricultural industry."

      He said the ministry had therefore decided that new farmers
should have four representatives in the labour body with commercial farmers
who had eight representatives now expected to have only one employer to take
care of the few remaining farmers.

      With four employers' representatives, new farmers who have no
employers' union are expected to dominate all labour issues.

      Vusani further stressed that the NEC for Agriculture was
supposed to amend its constitution to include new farmers' representatives
in its Employment Council in order to "properly reflect and balance the
interest of all sectors concerned in the industry".

      ". The secretary of the council is to submit the certificate of
registration of the NEC for the amendments to be made and a new certificate
issued so that NEC activities will truly be representative of all interest
groups in the industry," Vusani said.

      The purge of commercial farmers, who have dominated the labour
body although most of them lost their farms at the height of the skewed land
reform programme, may spell doom for the agriculture sector which employs
over 250 000 workers.

      Gift Muti, the deputy secretary general of the General
Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz), said many
workers fear that they will lose their jobs if new farmers are allowed to
take over the NEC (Agriculture).

      Muti said: "We have situations where new farmers are not paying
workers at all. They claim that some workers are their relatives or friends.
In some cases these farmers are either not paying or underpaying their
employees citing high input costs.

      "In such cases, many workers feel that they are being
over-exploited. If the new farmers take over the labour body (NEC
Agriculture) workers believe that they will not be paid reasonable wages and
salaries since they are currently failing to meet their needs."

      Most workers in the agricultural sector are getting an average
wage of $1,3 million a month, an amount not enough to cover basic needs for
an urban dweller per day.

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CZI congress to elect new boss president

Zim Standard

      By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - A new Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)
president is expected to be elected next week during the annual congress of
the business body.

      Pattison Sithole, the current CZI president, is expected to step
down during next week's two-day congress after the expiry of his two-year

      CZI holds its congress next week from 26 to 28 July at Rainbow
Hotel in Bulawayo.

      The congress would be held under the theme: "Building a
Framework for Sustainable Development."

      Sithole confirmed to Standardbusiness last week that he would be
stepping down to pave way for the election of a new president to take over
from him as he is not seeking re-election.

      "I am leaving CZI and I do not have any plans to seek
re-election for another term in office as the constitution does not allow
that," Sithole said.

      Recent reports say there were attempts to persuade Sithole to
continue as president of the CZI.

      But Sithole said: "The constitution does not allow that and we
have to be transparent."

      Sithole, who is a member of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Advisory Board, said, despite stepping down, he would continue being a
member of CZI.

      Sithole is the managing director of ZSR Holdings Limited, the
country's largest raw sugar processing firm. He said he was happy to leave
CZI as a strong and effective organisation, working with the government to
come up with solutions to the deepening economic crisis.

      The CZI, during his tenure in office, launched a business
linkage programme aimed at increasing industrial output as well as
participating in key national economic issues.

      Sithole noted: "We managed to come up with various strategic
initiatives that were aimed at improving exports, reducing inflation as well
as launch a business ethics charter."

       The CZI under his helm worked with the government to come up
with the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) which was
launched three months ago.

      The NEDPP is an initiative by the government to turn round the
country's crumbling economy.

       Zimbabwe is undergoing its worst ever economic crisis
characterised by the highest inflation rate in the world at over 1 100% and
crippling shortages of fuel, electricity and virtually all basic

       Economic analysts believe that delegates to the CZI congress
should press government to adopt market driven reforms and seek the
resolution to the deepening crises.

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Currency black market thrives as inflation persists

Zim Standard

      By Valentine Maponga

      AS the dollar continues to slide against the world's major
currencies, enterprising Zimbabweans have resorted to buying hard currency
on the black market and keeping it as a form of investment in order to beat
the ever-rising inflation.

      The most preferred and common currencies include the South
African Rand, the Botswana Pula, the British Pound and the greenback, which
they buy from street " bureaux de change".

      Timothy Matare, a teacher, said he started keeping foreign
currency at his Harare home two months ago.

      It was a better "gamble", he said, to keep money in a stable
currency than holding piles of what he described as "worthless" Zimbabwean
dollars in a bank.

      "It doesn't make any economic sense to keep money in local
currency because by the time you want to use it, it will have lost value.
Prices of commodities are always going up," Matare said.

      Susan Pasipanodya says she has made it a point that soon after
she gets paid she will change half of her earnings into foreign currency.

      "Our money is now useless. You cannot save anymore. I realised
in March that I could not afford to leave my money in the bank. These days I
just buy as much foreign currency as I can afford because the rates are
always going up," she said.

      Due to high demand, foreign currency rates have been going up on
a weekly basis as people rush to hedge against inflation.

      The Zimbabwean dollar fell to a record low of US$1 to $500 000.
The rand is trading between $65 000 and $70 000 at the parallel market while
the pound is fetching up to $780 000.

      Latest official inflation figures for the month of June stood at
1 184.6, the highest in the world.

      Independent analysts, however, say the inflation figures might
be well above 1 500%

      Independent economic analyst, Daniel Ndlela, said the inflation
rate would continue to soar "as long as the factors driving it are not

      He attributed the inflation spiral to the free printing of
currency and a controlled exchange rate, which has spawned a flourishing
parallel foreign currency market.

      Over the past months, the prices of basic commodities have shot
up beyond the reach of the ordinary man.

      The cost of bread went up by more than 50% to $135 000, public
transport fares went up from an average of $50 000 a trip to $80 000 while
fuel increased from about $180 000 to $400 000 a litre.

      Due to economic hardships, most Zimbabwean workers are resorting
to skipping meals and walking or cycling long distances to work because the
prices of basic goods are continuing to soar, but wages have remained

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Mugabe's surreal world and its dilemma

Zim Standard


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe must be a laughing stock, in particular among those
that surround him. It is difficult to take him seriously.

Last week he tried talking tough to his party and government members, but if
it was meant to be the riot act he was reading, only few of the people he
was addressing could have taken him seriously.

Mugabe decried the avaricious nature of Zanu PF and government officials who
are abusing their authority to amass untold wealth. He threatened that the
ruling party could be forced to launch a campaign to weed them out.

Mugabe admitted there were many cases of abuse of authority by senior party
members which had been brought to the attention of the ruling party. Therein
lies the problem. Since the early 1980s when the ruling party scuttled the
idea of a Leadership Code, Mugabe was - or at least should have been - alert
to the causes. He has a host of officers from the National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate and the Central Intelligence Organisation who are supposed to
brief him on what his government ministers and party officials are up to.

Mugabe, addressing Zanu PF central committee's 66th ordinary session
lamented: "We shall now be bound to have a campaign of cleansing the Central
Committee. You are not being fair some of you. The numbers are growing. Some
of you are being crookish in leadership positions." His bark is worse than
his bite.

If his domestic intelligence service does its job well, Mugabe would be
aware that the ruling party's attraction is that every ambitious or
power-hungry person, failures and violent thugs can find ready accommodation
in it.

He is unable to do much about it because he allowed the cancer to set in. If
he had acted decisively from the beginning, his ruling party and government
colleagues would have taken him seriously. But he didn't and with each
condonation his colleagues became more audacious in their wealth acquisition
and self-aggrandisement. While they act the party faithful and appear to
revere his leadership, they have become powerful and act like a political
mafia that exerts enormous influence on him. This is evidenced by his
failure to act on breaches that he clearly acknowledges he has been aware

Mugabe complained about Zanu PF members evicting ordinary people who were
legally allocated farms and said others were demanding preference in
allocation of business stands or houses built under "Operation Garikai".

The Standard has documented some of the abuses it uncovered in Gwanda.
Several land audits have uncovered multiple farm ownership by senior ruling
party officials and government ministers. Yet Mugabehas been utterly
powerless to move against them and demonstrate zero tolerance towards such
unbridled greediness.

Mugabe cut a sad and lonely figure. But if his lamentations about the level
of corruption by ruling party members was sad, his threats to the opposition
MDC were tragic because he was describing Zanu PF, his party.Mugabe said:
"MDC violence and brutal behaviour is an evil we just have to remove from
our body politic. We can't continue to have it and they must get that

No party that is dedicated to violence should be allowed to exist in
Zimbabwe."How can he so easily forget his threats of numerous "degrees" in
violence? How can Zanu PF forget its well-documented record of violence that
for example left nearly a million people homeless throughout the country in
May last year? All reports of rights violations since 2000 point to Zanu PF
as the perpetrators of violence.

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A case of taking candy from the mouth of a baby

Zim Standard

      Sunday opinion By Marko Phiri

      BULAWAYO residents who care to remember will recall the
excitement that came with the city's twinning with the Scottish City of
Aberdeen a long time ago.

      This was the time when "ghetto superstars" like the very gifted
but probably long forgotten Thuthani Moyo, mesmerised spectators in the
dusty football pitches of Tshabalala.

      Of course, he was later to become one of Highlanders' gifted
sons though an unfortunate incident later in his career left him with a gait
that those he grew up with knew he was not born with.

      This was a time when all this mess we are seeing was many light
years away,and everybody just seemed to "let the good times roll".

      Moyo gets special mention here because perhaps he is (may his
soul rest in peace) a chap I knew, and had plied his trade with one of my
brothers back then. He was one of the first ghetto boys to see the other
side of the world and left peers awe-struck about what he saw there.

      This was a first for a boy from the dusty football-crazy streets
of Bulawayo, and he obviously made the trip with other eager young men whose
feet seemed made for kicking that small spherical object which we know has
turned other boys into Zimbabwe's trillionaires. This anecdote is being
retold here after reports that some eager young lads had their bubble popped
after a much-anticipated Scottish excursion went up in smoke last week. And
the reason being solely based on the country they are coming from.

      One hears the government's spin doctors repeat the mantra that
sport has nothing to do with politics.

      But tell it to the 14-yearolds who, as part of that age-old
tradition that saw Moyo leave his childhood friends green with envy, find
themselves grounded because the British Embassy refused them visas to travel
to that country. The reason? The young lads were likely to disappear into
thin air, and like everybody else take the chance of a lifetime to escape
the misery back home.

      Whether British immigration officials who denied them visas were
fair in their judgment is neither here nor there. The people who must remain
in the dock are the Zimbabwean government.

      One recalls a martial arts team which was supposed to travel to
Canada earlier this year but was denied visas on the basis of claims they
were very unlikely to return home. Return to what, in any case? A Scottish
politician is quoted by The Scottish newspaper last week saying - and
obviously peeved by the whole ruckus: "I find it absolutely staggering that
youngsters could be refused visas as potential illegal immigrants. This is
absolute nonsense and flies in the face of what we deem to be a free

      Yes, but is Zimbabwe itself a free society? If it is, why would
so many young gifted minds be so eager to leave. And not just in sport, but
in virtually every sphere, including street vending.

      That young boys have been denied an adventure of a lifetime
could just be a sidebar to worse things. The whole mess in cricket points
back at the regime,with reports that international teams are being pressured
not to play their Test matches in Zimbabwe as part of protests about,not the
administration of the sport here, but the government's apalling human rights
record! It thus has to be asked in light of the small boys and their
families in Bulawayo for whom the Scotland trip remains a dream, to what
extent this regime has touched the lives of many. Not only that; what is the
meaning of twinning Zimbabwean cities with those in the developed world?

      What real benefits are to be accrued by residents in those
countries as long the regime has policies and ideals inimical to the
philosophies that inspired the twinning in the first place?

      And this is asked within the context of Zimbabweans being denied
entry into some of those countries.

      The influences of Zanu PF then seem to have rubbed off on
14-year-olds; thus it has to be asked if a government is not for the
people,can it not at least be a government for the children?

      One then has to wonder where opportunities lie for the people of
this once great nation. No words will ever make the 14- yearolds from
Bulawayo's dusty streets feel better. It has literally been the case of the
adult taking candy from a child's mouth.

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Urgent need for reforms

Zim Standard

      Sundayview By Pedzisai Ruhanya

      THE doctrine of constitutionalism entails among other things
institutions of government and the allocation of power to these State

      Critically, constitutions seek to control, govern or restrain
the exercise of power by democratically established institutions.

      The doctrine of constitutionalism therefore rests on restraining
governments in their exercise of power to those that they govern.

      A critical analysis of the political context of Zimbabwe since
Zanu PF lost in the Constitutional Referendum of February 2000, the farm
invasions and the lawlessness associated with it,as well as the subsequent
disputed elections in 2000, 2002,2005 and the circus in the local government
system administered by Ignatious Chombo, with the connivance of Zanu PF,
there is urgent need for a broad-based constitutional reform process in the

      This article further contends that beyond the urgent need for a
democratic constitutional framework, Zimbabwe requires a regime change of
its political culture in both the ruling Zanu PF and resistance movements
such as the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as well
as civil society organisations.

      A combination of the above issues have created the current
political and economic crisis that Zimbabwe will remain trapped in until it
extricates itself through a democratically established supreme law of the
land that will lay the foundation of a democratic society founded on law and
order and not on the rule of the "dear leader" as is the situation in the

      It is my contention that a new constitutional dispensation in
Zimbabwe should seek to have executive restraint apart from having
independent institutions such as the legislative and the judicial arms of
the State. Zimbabwe currently has an imperial executive arm with sweeping
powers and accountable to itself. The head of State, the executive president
is answerable to himself and there are no constitutional safeguards to
control the abuses associated with that office. This scenario has led to
other arms of the state to be appendages to the executive to the extent that
the President indirectly runs the judiciary by using his proxies to appoint
judges to the bench.

      The result is that the country's judiciary especially the High
Court and Supreme Court are now packed with political appointees with no
capacity to make independent rulings against the executive arm of the State.
It is my view that the independence of the judiciary especially at the level
of the Supreme Court should be seen by making robust judgements against the
powerful in society especially the government. If the judiciary fails to
make such judgements in a troubled country such as Zimbabwe, then that
judiciary cannot be regarded as independent.

      Since the Constitutional Draft Referendum fiasco in 2000, the
farm invasions and the violence associated with the elections in 2000, 2002
and 2005 and the current State-sponsored violence against people
demonstrating for constitutional reform and other issues such as the
sky-rocketing cost of education and poor remuneration in the country, it
becomes even more clear that dialogue based on a new constitutional order is
the way forward out of the crisis in the country.

      The electoral disputes and the institutions put in place to
administer the elections have been exposed for lacking constitutional
independence to run their own affairs without interference from the
incumbent government of Zanu PF. As a result, processes administered by the
Registrar-General, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) all run by the
government would not, in the eyes of most Zimbabweans, produce legitimate
electoral processes and outcomes.

      The only way is to create independent electoral institutions
that are not administered by civil servants, serving or former soldiers in
order to have a democratic electoral process and outcome. So far, Zanu PF
has refused and cheats itself by consciously saying these institutions
packed by its supporters are impartial. It is deceit of the worst kind to
posit that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission under Justice George Chiweshe,
a war veteran and former soldier is independent. Assuming that ZEC was
independent, then the question to ask is why is it silent about the failure
to hold elections in Harare to choose the local authority's leadership. The
situation becomes sad when Chombo through ZanuPF is allowed to fire elected
officials and appoint Zanu PF people as commissioners while refusing to hold

      Recently, Zimbabweans witnessed Zanu PF's Harare province
passing a vote of no confidence in Sekesai Makwavarara,a clear indication
that commissioners are serving the interests of Zanu PF.

      Having lost the elections and fearing another loss,Zanu PF
refuses to have elections in Harare and administers the affairs of the
capital through the back door.

      It is therefore imperative to have a democratic constitution
that clearly outlines the role of the executive in local government in order
to deal with the chaos currently prevailing in Zimbabwe and benefiting
losers such as Zanu PF.

      In order to have a constitution in both theory and practice,
Zimbabweans starting with Zanu PF need to change their political culture so
that it entails the ethos of democratic governance. Critically Zanu PF needs
to dismantle its infrastructure of violence such as the "Border Gezi"
militias and de-militarise State institutions and that the repressive state
institutions such as the army, the police and the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) should not be involved in party political matters.

      There should be a culture of political tolerance and Zanu PF
needs to cultivate that among its supporters.Zanu PF followers should know
that it is lawful to differ on political grounds and legitimate to disobey,
criticise or demonstrate against a government failing to deliver its
electoral promises or against state-sponsored violence.They should be told
about the sacrosanct nature of the constitution and other legitimate and
democratic laws of the State but not the Public Order and Security Act and
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. These should be
lawfully defied.

      Political culture is important because without it, even the best
of constitutions will not work. For instance, for the past six years, Zanu
PF violated even that bad Constitution that it has amended 17 times. It has
violated property rights enshrined in the Constitution. It went further to
violate the right to freedom of expression by banning newspapers such as The
Daily News and The Tribune.

      Zanu PF went further to violate its own constitution when in
November 2004; its Politburo amended its Constitution outside its Congress
and without the authority of its Central Committee in its bid to elevate
Vice President Joice Mujuru to the second Vice President of the party during
its succession war.

      This is the political culture that needs to be changed because
it becomes difficult for Zanu PF to respect the national constitution when
it disrespects its own.

      In my view, it is the duty of all political players and civic
society organisations to make sure that Zimbabweans understand that for a
constitution to have meaning,it must have people who respect it. This calls
for national programmes of education in schools, churches and communities on
political tolerance.

      This is absolutely necessary otherwise the new constitution and
the new Zimbabwe we want will be doomed if people emulate Zanu PF's medieval
political tactics.

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'My 28-hour ordeal in police detention'

Zim Standard

       I got wind that members of the Combined Harare Residents'
Association (CHRA) were marching to Town House to protest against the
collapsed service delivery in the city so I put aside what I was doing and
headed for Town House where I saw a group of protesters waving placards
crossing Jason Moyo from Rezende Street.

      As riot police moved in, most of the demonstrators fled leaving
behind their posters. But 15 CHRA members who had been arrested were ordered
to sit on the tarmac while police officers brandishing batons and armed with
teargas canisters waited for a truck to ferry them to Harare Central Police

      I began interviewing an official from CHRA who had escaped
arrest. Meanwhile police were ordering people who had gathered to disperse.
I saw three baton-wielding police officers charging at onlookers. One
officer in plain clothes seized me from behind and said I was under arrest.

      I showed him my Press accreditation, issued by the Media and
Information Commission, but he wasn't interested. Other officers were
holding onto Godwin Mangudya, a journalist from the banned Daily News. We
were shoved into a Defender truck and thus I began my sojourn as President
Mugabe's guest.

      When we arrived at Harare Central an officer asked for our
details, which were duly taken down. We were ushered into a small room near
the reception. There were already 16 people there. One officer came over,
took down our names and said all the 19 people in that room - including
Mangudya and myself - were being charged under the Public Order and Security
Act (POSA).

      At 7PM we were called to another room for our supper from well
wishers. At 8.30PM we were ordered to go to the fourth floor for a roll
call. The process took 30 minutes. We then went back to the reception area
to surrender our belongings and shoes.

      Around 9.30PM it was time to go to the cells, barefooted. I
wondered what crime I had committed to deserve such degrading treatment! All
the cells were full. There were 18 of us in the unlit and smelly room.

      At 6AM on Thursday everyone woke up for another roll call and
then our breakfast. The police had not taken statements from us. I asked one
of the officers what I was being charged with. He said I was part of the
demonstration that wanted to remove the government.

      When I told him that I was a journalist he said: "mupfana
kwaunoshandira hakuiti (young man you work for the wrong institution)."

      In the meantime, my colleagues at work were assured by acting
Information Minister, Paul Mangwana, that I would be released as soon as
possible. At 1PM we went to the reception for our lunch. Then we left for
the Law and Order Section. That was the first time we were allowed to meet
our lawyers since we were arrested. I was called to the office of the
Officer-in-Charge where Detective Inspector Mavunda sat.

      There was an old-fashioned typewriter in front of him, which
would have proudly sat in any museum. I suspected the old machine was not
working for when he interrogated me, he was writing in a diary. I sat on the
other side together with my lawyers Lawrence Chibwe, and Wilbert Mandinde
from the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). Mavunda asked for my
Press accreditation. I told him that it was in the lockers. When we returned
Mavunda scrutinised the accreditation card for five minutes. He phoned The
Standard to verify whether I worked for the newspaper. When he got the
confirmation after masquerading as my relative, I saw Chibwe shaking his
head in disbelief.

      I went back to the small room where my co-accused were paying
$250 000 admission of guilt fines. The charge: contravention of Section 7
(b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. I paid mine under protest.

      We went back to the lockers and collected our belongings. At 5PM
I left Harare Central after spending 28 hours there.

      I imagined George Charamba, information secretary; talking about
image building and wondered whether my arrest was not another own goal by
our beleaguered government.

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Zim Standard Letters

Your reporter turned media tour into political issue
      AS National AIDS Council we write to you to express our great
disappointment over the article published in The Standard of 25 June 2006
entitled, "Location of AIDS Clinic sparks protest".

       What worries us most is that your correspondent never sought a
response from National AIDS Council despite the fact that we had organised
the media visit to Father O'Hea Hospital.

      As NAC we also spoke to the patients during the visit, who were
full of appreciation for the way they were being served by the hospital

      We ought to bring to your attention that the hospital together
with the following: Mutambara Hospital in Chimanimani, Karanda Hospital, Mt
Darwin, in Mashonaland Central and St Anne's Brunapeg, Plumtree, in
Matabeleland South Province were selected by Zimbabwe Association of
Church-related Hospitals as sub recipients of the Global Fund.

      The Global Fund ART (antiretroviral therapy) programme is being
channelled through these church-related hospitals including a private
hospital in Chiredzi called Hippo Valley Estates Hospital.

      The main reason why National AIDS Council undertook to arrange
this media tour was to showcase Father O'Hea Hospital as an institution that
had not only met its targets in terms providing patients with ARVs, but had
well exceeded it. The target for Global Fund Round One in Antiretroviral
therapy (ART) was pegged at 7 000 for the five previously mentioned centres.

      In the first phase of Global Fund Round One, Father O'Hea
Hospital had set its target for patients to be enrolled onto the ART
programme at 500. By the time the media visit took place the number had
reached 600 and by end of week ending 23 June 2006, Father O'Hea Hospital
had over 650 patients that were enrolled on to the ART programme.

      Father O'Hea does not only cater for patients in the Hospital's
catchment area, which is Zvimba district, but some patients also come from
as far as Karoi, Norton, Harare and Chinhoyi, the main reason for this being
that there are so many people who are desperate to get on ARV treatment and
are willing to travel as far as possible to get onto the programme.

      Another contributing factor is the dedication of staff that
works tirelessly to ensure that all the patients that arrive at the OI
(opportunistic infections) clinic on Thursdays receive treatment. Many times
the staff have worked from 7AM in the morning until 9PM. Dr James Kanonhuwa,
who is the resident doctor at the hospital and his team must be commended
for their dedication in ensuring that all patients receive adequate

      In addition to the above mentioned efforts by Global Fund, the
National AIDS Council procures antiretroviral drugs on a monthly basis worth
US$250 000. These drugs are then handed over to the Ministry of Heath and
Child Welfare which is responsible for the distribution of the treatment to
referral public hospitals around the country including most provincial
hospitals. Within Mashonaland West Province Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital as
well as Chidamoyo and St Michael's hospitals also dispense antiretroviral
treatment, of which your correspondent should have been aware.

      We are greatly disturbed with the source of information of your
correspondent. We would encourage him to verify his facts first in future
before printing. As we are all aware, HIV and AIDS is a cross-cutting
epidemic, which knows no colour, tribe or creed. We found no reason for your
reporter to turn this media visit to Father O'Hea Hospital into a political

       May I bring to your attention that the correspondent needed to
do his job professionally and constructive criticism would have been and
will always be appreciated.

      As NAC we commend the good work being done by Dr Kanonhuwa and
his team. God bless them indeed for working so hard.

      Ms Medelina Dube

      Information and Communication manager

      National AIDS Council

The church risks a coup by the State
      THE power of prayer or meditation in strengthening and
transforming individuals is generally acknowledged but prayer can also
function as a force for political and social transformation.

      The controversy surrounding the just ended Zimbabwe National Day
of Prayer highlights the political power of prayer. That prayer and social
action are linked is a notion central to liberation theology, which sees the
mystical and the contemplative as the well-spring of creative non-violent
action and democracy.

      That the Day of Prayer was organised by pro-Zanu PF church
leaders is really a cause for reflection. Should the church be involved in
politics? To what extent should the church be involved in politics?

      In my opinion, the answers to the above are both "yes" and "no".
No to partisan bootlicking Zanu PF /MDC politics. Yes, to liberation
theology, standing for truth and justice. Yes, to social transformation and
defending the rights of the oppressed, the poor and the voiceless.

      The claim by the likes of Obadiah Musindo that the existence of
the State is God-given and that it is a Christian duty to defend that State
is mere heresy. And it is exactly the same view that some pastors have for
their pro-Zanu PF stance.

      If the church of God begins to take orders from the government
and to be lectured on its mandate by the State President, it ceases to be a
church. I would want to warn the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Catholic Bishops Conference to guard
against total politicisation of the church.

      The church in Zimbabwe is facing an ecclesiastical and political
dilemma, as on the other hand it fears that it might be beginning to depart
from it's "tested" tradition and that of wanting to please the government.

      Manas Buthelezi, a South African theologian in a thoughtful
deliberation, debated the theological implications of political action.

      He identified three ways of characterising the social role of
the church. He identified the "state church" where a great overlap exists
between organised religion and government and where clerics are manipulated
by the State.

      He also identified the "church state" in which political
activism had established itself within church liturgy. In this case "people
in the pews" have gone far beyond theologians concerned with matters of
doctrine and practice.

      Thirdly, he identified the "church under the cross" in which the
social role of the church adheres to the Gospel. In this view, the church
should and must take a stand publicly, even on controversial social
questions but only when it is empowered to do so by its special mandate.

      It should be noted that in a crisis, especially the man-made
crisis like the one in Zimbabwe, the church should be resolute and stand for
the truth.

       The church should never at any time take instructions from the
government on who to dialogue with or when to hold prayers. I am amazed at
how President Robert Mugabe's regime is interested in a meeting by church
leaders gathered at a church in Highfield to an extent that they sent their
agents to investigate a church meeting.

      I see the role of the church as three-fold in a crisis; that of
prophetic action rather than passive reaction, that of pastoral unction,
guiding and guarding and that of prayer.

      If the church is not careful, it will be completely taken over
by the government in an act of religious coup d'etat.

      Julius Nyerere, in Freedom and Development says: "My purpose
today is to suggest to you that the church should accept that the
development of people means rebellion. At a given and decisive point in
history, people decide to act against these conditions which restrict their
freedom as people. I am suggesting that unless we participate actively in
the rebellion against those social structures, organisation which condemn
people to poverty, humiliation and degradation, then the church will become
irrelevant to people, and the Christian religion will degenerate into a set
of superstitious accepted by the fearful.

      "Unless the church, its members and its organisations express
God's love for human beings by involvement and leadership in constructive
protest against the present human condition, then it will become identified
with injustice and persecution. If this happens it will die, and humanly
speaking will deserve to die because it will then serve no purpose
comprehensible to the world."

      Instead of participating in partisan politics, the church should
be mobilising its constituency for positive public agenda. It is now more
than ever, for history will definitely judge us, to re-affirm our commitment
to the God of justice, peace and righteousness.

      Our obedience is to our God and our God alone.

      Sydney Barson


Soccer union doing nothing for members
      AT the beginning of the 2005 or thereabouts, a Football (soccer)
Players' Union was formed. This was in line with the FIFA guidelines on the
Zimbabwe Football Association's (ZIFA) road map to revamp its operations.

      Since its inception, the union has done little that seems to be
visible or tangible. The committee which comprises Desmond Maringwa
(Chairperson), Herbert Dick(Vice-Chairperson), Lloyd Chitembwe (Treasurer),
Labani Kandi, Boys Moyo, and Paul Gundani (Committee Members) and Chiware
(Sports Consultant) as the adviser are not working for the advancement of
the players.

      They should help their members who have been ill-treated or
banished from clubs. A closer look to certain individuals like Ronald
Sibanda who has abundant talent and Norman Togara shows that these players
need counselling. They are national assets but are being put to waste.

      If these two players get a good and well disciplined manager,
they will help the development of sport in the country. Youngsters adore
their talents but in terms of discipline, they need everyone's support
including football administrators at their own clubs.

      The union should have drawn up a code of conduct, rules and
regulations in their constitution for members. We keep hearing that players
skip training, games and do whatever they feel is good. Such image chases
away sponsors because the print and electronic media always write about
these. We recognise and praise players when they are dead. Waiting for us to
send condolence messages that we lost such and such a player who was
talented but left nothing for his siblings should be a thing of the past.

      Many are the sole breadwinners and as such they should lead by
example, they have become public figures and always under scrutiny.

      Let the committee work hard to help its members shape the image
of Zimbabwean football. With good and sound sponsorship, Zimbabwe will one
day be among the best footballing nations in Africa and the world. The
mid-season transfer window has just opened; players and club administrators
will start trading accusations and counter-accusations on the validity of

      May these contractual obligations be sorted out amicably without
jeopardising any party? Quarrels and maladministration chase away potential
sponsors to all parties thus: individual players, clubs, the league and

       Lucias Mathew



      Lucias Mathew

Mutare Commissioners guilty of attempted extortion
      YOUR newspaper last week reported that former commissioners were
making various demands for compensation and payment for their role in
running Mutare City Council.

      The Commissioners, notably Fungayi Chaeruka, the chairman, and
Irene Zindi, his deputy, were reportedly asking to be given vehicles and
houses as terminal benefits for serving the local authority for just six

      As one government official quoted in the report rightly said
these outrageous demands are scandalous because, once again, they
demonstrate the unbridled greed among those purpoting to serve the public.

      These extortionate demands are clearly a criminal attempt to
benefit from the suffering of the voiceless.

       If President Robert Mugabe was serious about weeding his party
of individuals bent on self-aggrandisement, this is a perfect opportunity to
demonstrate he means business.



      Mugabe demonstrates naked hypocrisy on violence
            THE statement reported in a story headlined "Don't force
people to support you, opposition told," that appeared in one of the State
newspapers recently could have come straight out of the some comic book
especially coming from President Robert Mugabe.

            I tried to look for a re-assuring sub-heading below the
text saying: "Just because we have done it since 1980 does not mean you
should do it" but no, nothing! It was not there.

            I am sure many Zimbabweans dismissed Mugabe's exhortations
with the contempt they deserve. Some must have chortled with laughter at
such naked hypocrisy.

            It truly boggles the mind that Mugabe should seek to
dramatise the recent skirmishes in the MDC as a mast against which to pin
and label the opposition as violent when his party has its hands dripping
with the blood and suffering of so many Zimbabweans who dared to challenge
his hegemonic policies since he assumed power in 1980.

            The dictatorship label that he now carries, and which will
go with him into his grave, is a direct result of the intolerant and brutal
treatment of all those who have dared to challenge Zanu PF over the years.

            It is very suspicious that the plight of Trudy Stevenson
has drawn the sympathies of Mugabe, who as many of us have come to know, has
a record of encouraging violence against the opposition to much more
destructive effect. Former legislator Roy Bennett has had to flee the
country because of unmistakable threats made by none other than Mugabe

            Could these utterances by Mugabe be as a result of a
Damascan experience following his recent indaba with a select group of
church leaders? Or is it another grandstanding charade from a leader who
enjoys unchallenged space in the political arena?

            Mugabe's power over the mainstream media is such that he
can afford to contradict himself, as he often does these days, without any
single voice to challenge him.

             Otherwise how does Mugabe reconcile his call for tolerance
against the appalling record of repression that is synonymous with his
party? Zimbabweans should not be fooled.

            Nervous Madekufamba



      Listeners subjected to dreadful 'torture' by ZBH
            IF you stay at home throughout the day, you must find ways
to while away the many idle hours of each day. For me lately, this has
included listening to and watching news from our sole, "national"
broadcaster - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH).

            I have come to one firm conclusion: it can be such a
frustrating and dreadful experience to force oneself to suffer the full

            What a pity, Minister Tichaona Jokonya died before he
could implement his ideas to revive or revamp ZBH. Even though he had not
revealed what exactly he had in mind beyond reducing ZBH to two main,
logical arms - radio and television - his announcement had aroused great
hopes and expectations among listeners and viewers.

            As it turned out, however, it was not to be. The standards
of news writing, editing or presentation at ZBH continue to sink. One viewer
cynically referred to ZTV's News Hour as torture hour. Does this mean nobody
sees anything wrong about all these chronic shortcomings, some of which are
so glaring?

            Listeners and viewers alike must wonder whether, for
example, those responsible for SFM's Good Afternoon Zimbabwe and Good
Evening Zimbabwe news broadcasts are really serious about what they do. So
often the voice clips are mixed up in a number of news items in the same
broadcast, without the presenter or reader noticing anything. If or when
they do, they rarely bother to apologise for the annoyance and irritation
this causes to listeners.

            Still on SFM, compare the jingle for business news with
those for arts and culture or sports. And do they have to be so long? Or is
it to fill up space? Isn't it ironic that SFM claims to be the only station
for news, views and sports?

            It is common knowledge that ZBH radio and television
stations share stories or that the stories are believed to be edited at a
central desk. Their writers (and therefore executives?) are fond of using
loose or imprecise words, phrases or expressions.

            Officials and other news sources don't say or announce
anything. Instead they usually reveal it. Even some allegations or claims
are "revealed" to the reporter.

            Some of the revelations are so earthshaking that they
would make other news houses green with envy. Except that, according to
these writers, people reveal what is already public knowledge - such as
"revealing" what the law says. How can any part of a law, which is passed
and then published (normally after discussion), be revealed? Surely
revealing is to do with something that is meant to be kept from general

            One could give many more examples of what amounts to
apparent lack of the basics of journalism and communication exhibited at
ZBH. Some of the announcers or reporters have such appalling voices that
they should not be allowed within a certain radius or a broadcast studio -
let alone a microphone. They just do not have broadcast voices. You do not
have to speak English with an Oxford accent but does that mean reporters or
announcers should tell us about Zimbabwe's sovereignity or diginity, and
call upon citizens to show their loyality?

            A so-called bureau chief bombards listeners' and viewers'
ears with words like presidenti, governmenti and developmenti.

            If they do not know, why not ask around? Does this suggest
that no one at ZBH cares about some of these mistakes, which are elementary
knowledge for anyone in broadcasting? If our broadcasters do not know how to
find out what they do not know then, with all due respect, they are in the
wrong profession.

             Finally, some of the translations of the news into Shona
are appalling. They are literal and therefore grossly misleading or
meaningless. My Shona might not be that good but I doubt if "official
opening" translates into "kuvhurwa kuri pamutemo". Really! Do you need a law
or regulation (mutemo or murawu) to open a clinic, road or borehole anywhere
in the country?

            What this adds up to is that a lot needs to change at ZBH
before it can resemble anything like a national broadcaster - let alone a
public service broadcaster. Nothing will change as long as the national
broadcaster seems to have in its midst, people, some of them senior, who
seem pathetically unsuitable for their jobs.

            Under the current monopoly, they are assured of their jobs
this side of "eternity". Do I hear people talk about the legacy of Professor
Jonathan Moyo?

            Tim Nyahunzvi



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Falls paradise

When Douglas Rogers was growing up in Zimbabwe, Zambia was considered a wild
and under-developed neighbour - precisely what makes it such a hot safari
ticket today

Saturday July 22, 2006
The Guardian

As a born and bred Zimbabwean, if someone had suggested to me six years ago
that Zambia would become the hottest new tourist destination in southern
Africa, I would have laughed at them. We Zimbabweans tended to have a rather
dim view of our large northern neighbour across the Zambezi. We saw it as a
wild, under-developed, somewhat backward extension of the Congo. True, it
had copper mines, and shared with us half of the great river and the
majestic Victoria falls, but it wasn't even the good half of the falls.
Which helped explain why nearly three million tourists visited Zimbabwe
every year until the late 1990s, while most ignored Zambia.
Since 2000, though, that's all changed. You can't open a tour brochure or
glossy travel magazine these days without reading about the latest Zambian
river lodge or fancy falls hotel; or about how the country has the best
canoe and walking safaris in Africa.

Partly, they can thank Zimbabwe for this turnaround. From being the most
stable country in the region, it is now in political and economic meltdown,
and wise and responsible tourists have discovered the charms of the north
bank. Zimbabwean guides and lodge staff meanwhile, long considered among the
best in the world, have moved with them.

But something else has changed, too. Discerning safari goers are now
realising how over-priced and over-crowded traditional destinations such as
Kenya and Botswana are; and that South African lodges, for all their style,
are often air-brushed Africa - all air-con and cocktails. Zambia, on the
other hand, offers the kind of raw, authentic, yet affordable bush
experience that Zimbabwe used to specialise in, and that is now so hard to
find. (While upwards of £3,000 for the 12-day trip that I took may not sound
so affordable, certain lodges in South Africa and Botswana charge £1,000 per
day; Zambia has nothing approaching that price bracket.)

Having never set foot in Zambia, I booked a trip to the three parts of the
country all first-timers should see: Lower Zambezi national park in the
south; Luangwa valley in the east and Livingstone, the colonial resort town
on the Zambian side of Victoria falls, in the south west.

The Lower Zambezi, it turns out, is something of a metaphor for regional
fortunes. The newest national park in Zambia, established in 1983, it's a
1,580sq mile strip of bush and riverine forest stretching between the steep
Zambezi valley escarpment and the river, a mere 40-minute light plane flight
from Lusaka. Up until the early 1990s, it was so inaccessible and
dangerous - over-run by armed poachers after rhino and elephant horn - that
only one lodge operated here: Chiawa, run by the Cumings family, the
pioneers of Lower Zambezi tourism. Today, though, more than a dozen river
camps have sprung up under shady umbrella thorns on the park's river banks
and its western border.

My first stop was Old Mondoro, the Cumings' second lodge, a bush camp in the
remote eastern edge of the park named after an old white lion that roamed
the area in pre-colonial times.

Getting to it was part of the thrill. From the bush air strip (which the
plane had to buzz to shoo away a recalcitrant elephant), we took a jeep to
the water, where a speed boat awaited. From there, it was an hour's ride
down the wide river, through tranquil ox-bow lagoons, past pods of yawning
hippos and crocodiles skulking on the banks.

It all looked beautifully familiar. The Lower Zambezi is directly opposite
Mana Pools, the Zimbabwean park where, as a teenager in the 1980s, I
undertook my first canoe trip. Back then, Mana was thriving; Zambia dark and
deserted. The roles now are reversed.

"We sometimes hear gunshots at night from the other side," said Roeloff
Schutte, Old Mondoro's South African host who manages the camp with his wife
Helen. "Poachers and trophy hunters are killing a lot of the animals in
Zim." Poaching has not been eliminated on the Zambian side either, but with
the help of anti-poaching units funded by revenue from the new lodges, herds
are slowly returning.

The idea of a bush camp is exactly that: real bush, no frills. Mondoro
consisted of four canvas tents set under acacia trees facing a reed-covered
island. The tents had paraffin lanterns for light, water buckets on ropes
hung in trees for showers, and with no fence around the camp, there was a
chance of bumping into a wild animal on your front porch. I was glad for the
armed guard who escorted me back after dinner.

The camp sounded like Jurassic Park at night. Lions moaned; hippos bellowed;
a wild beast pawed and scratched my tent during the night. "Probably just a
buffalo," Helen Schutte said breezily the next morning. "One hangs around
down there at night." It sounded so reassuring. The other guests though -
three elderly Germans on their first trip to Africa - took it all in their

Chiawa, the Cumings's original Lower Zambezi camp, is more upscale. Its
eight tents are done in vintage 1920s safari-lodge style: mine had a four
poster bed, claw-foot Victorian bath tub, polished wood floors and brass
taps. In the morning, I woke to find a mug of coffee discretely placed on my
river-view deck - albeit in a wooden box so the monkeys wouldn't drink it.
This chic style surprised me: Zambia had developed a design aesthetic. Even
more surprising was the standard of the food. Somehow, out here in the
middle of the bush, the kitchen managed to prepare the finest home-baked
bread, quiche and lemon meringue pie.

If the Lower Zambezi is "New" Zambia in full flow, the Luangwa valley is its
old tourist heartland. A pristine wilderness through which the wide Luangwa
river flows south to the Zambezi, it was here, in the 1950s, that game
warden Norman Carr pioneered walking safaris. Fifty years on, several
family-run businesses continue the tradition, among them John and Carol
Coppinger of Remote Africa Safaris, my next stop.

Their main bush camp, Tafika, several reed and thatch chalets set on cliffs
overlooking the river in a far northern corner of South Luangwa national
park, had such a laid-back atmosphere I instantly felt at home. This is the
Coppinger's home and at meal times the staff, rangers and guests dined
together on tables set on the front lawn. The camp seemed to merge
effortlessly with its environment.

Remote's specialty is walking safaris and on my second morning I began a
four-hour walk to spend a night at Crocodile Camp, one of their three bush
camps across the Luangwa. It was led by the brilliant Ngoni guide Stephen
Banda who has worked in the valley since he was a child; a parks warden
armed with a 303 rifle; and an elderly porter named Brighton. According to
Stephen, our warden was the best shot in the valley. Perhaps the animals
knew he was coming, for apart from a hippo that emerged from a muddy ox-bow
lagoon with a bright green garland of Nile weed on its back, the big game
animals stayed away.

Which didn't matter to me at all. Set on the banks of a shady watering hole,
a row of simple thatched clay huts with no running water or electricity,
Crocodile Camp was paradise. We drank beers in its makeshift bar watching
warthogs frolic in front of us, and then Brighton made a camp fire by
rubbing two sticks and dry grass together.

Bush camps to me are the ultimate safari experience, remote and rustic, a
throwback to how safaris used to be - and somehow Zambia has mastered them.
For those that prefer a little more comfort though, they don't have to be
too wild and woolly. I was amazed at my next stop to discover that another
Luangwa outfit, Bushcamp Company, had established five decidedly boutique
camps in a far-flung part of the park a rugged three-hours jeep drive from
the main base. I only had time to stay at Kapamba, the newest of the five,
with four intimate chalets overlooking the gentle Kapamba River, but my
gorgeous double-sized sunken clay bath was fit for an Aman resort. They had
hot and cold running water, too, but this was solar powered and my room was
still lit with a paraffin lantern. The food, meanwhile, was even better than
Chiawa: a pork loin on mealy-meal polenta followed by a sorbet. I later
discovered that it was prepared by a British chef David Hart, who has worked
at Claridges and Soho House, and whom owner Andy Hogg had brought over to
consult with his kitchen staff. London chefs preparing gourmet meals in the
Zambian bush? Things had really changed.

The best example of Zambia's transformation though would be Livingstone and
the Victoria falls, on the border with Zimbabwe, where I ended my stay. I
had booked two nights at Islands of Siankaba, a beautifully designed
six-suite lodge set, somewhat improbably, on two densely forested islands in
the middle of the Zambezi, upstream from the falls. Guests get to the island
by boat or dugout canoe, and once there a wood and rope footbridge over the
water connects the restaurant and bar with the suites. I woke in the morning
to thick mist outside my front window which slowly burned off to reveal the
wide scope of the river.

I had one problem with Siankaba though: it was 50 miles away from town and
it didn't run an evening shuttle service. So I spent my final day and night
in Livingstone. Founded in 1904 by the British South Africa Company, the
town had long played second fiddle to its counterpart, Victoria Falls, on
the Zimbabwe side and by the 1980s it was crumbling. It's not a picture
postcard today, but development is everywhere: tin-roof colonial houses are
being turned into guest houses and galleries; the stunning new Royal
Livingstone, a stone's throw from the falls, is already regarded as one of
the best hotels in Africa. Bars, restaurants and adventure sports outfitters
selling bungee and jet boat rides abound.

Watching a tour bus of excited young backpackers disembark after a long ride
from Namibia, I was suddenly hit with a wave of depression: it reminded me
so much of what Zimbabwe used to be like; what it should still be like.
There was nothing for it but to soak my sorrows at the falls. I rented a
bicycle from a backpacker lodge and set off down the road, heading towards
the towering spray five miles away.

Ten minutes later, raincoat on, fee paid, I wandered down to a viewing
point. I had long been under the impression that Zimbabwe had the best sight
of the cataracts, but I had never seen anything like this: a spectacular
front-on view of the water pouring over the lip of rocks, so torrential that
I felt it was going to swallow me. Within seconds my clothes were drenched.
I turned to get a view of the gorge behind and saw something even more
incredible. There, hovering in the space between the sky and the wet earth
was a perfectly formed circular rainbow. I had never seen such a thing
before and stared at in absolute wonder for what must have been 10 minutes
until a crowd had gathered to look at it, too. Then I realised that beyond
it, on the rocks over on the Zimbabwe side, two lone tourists were watching
the same thing. I waved at them. They waved back.

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