The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Zimbabwe labour leaders say tax breaks nonsensical

Zim Online

Sat 29 July 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's labour movement has dismissed as "nonsense" fresh
tax breaks for workers announced by the government this week, adding that
they fell far short of expectations of workers bearing the brunt of the
country's seven-year economic crisis.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella union for
the country's workers, had well before the new tax breaks were announced
threatened to call nationwide worker strikes to press for more pay.

      ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe yesterday refused to say
whether the union was sticking to the strike plan, only saying it had begun
consulting workers on what response to make to Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa's decision to increase non-taxable income to Z$20 million from seven
million dollars.

      Murerwa also adjusted tax bands to end at $54 million per month, above
which income would be taxed at 35 percent.

      But Chibebe said this was not enough, adding that workers had expected
Murerwa to exempt from paying tax all workers earning less than the poverty
datum line (the breadline), which is set at $68 million.

      "This is nothing. We are consulting with the workers to see how best
to respond to this nonsense," the union leader told ZimOnline.

      Murerwa was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

      Chibebe accused the government of backtracking on promises made to
workers during tripartite negotiations also involving business leaders at
which he said the government had agreed to align its tax regime with the
poverty line.

      "Government has conceded that it collects its largest revenue from the
workers but it does not recognise the plight of the same workers in its
latest fiscal policy announcement. About 80 percent of the country's workers
earn below the poverty datum line but they are being taxed to death," said

      Zimbabwe is grappling its worst ever economic crisis marked by the
world's highest inflation at 1 184.6 percent, shortages of fuel,
electricity, essential medicines, hard cash and just about every basic
survival commodity.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and major
Western governments blame the crisis on repression and mismanagement by
Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence from Britain 26 years

      The 82-year old President denies ruining Zimbabwe and says his
country's problems are because of economic sabotage by Western countries out
to fix his government for seizing white land for redistribution to landless
blacks. - ZimOnline

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Government minister threatens bakers

Zim Online

Sat 29 July 2006

      HARARE - A Zimbabwe government minister on Friday ordered bakers, who
last week unilaterally hiked the price of bread, to revert to the old
gazetted prices or face arrest.

      Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu told ZimOnline
yesterday that the police will soon descend on all bakers who had unlawfully
increased the price of bread.

      The bakers increased the price of bread from $130 000 to Z$200 000 a
loaf, in what economic analysts said was a clear sign of worsening economic
conditions in the southern African country.

      "Bakers simply have to stick to the gazetted price since bread is a
controlled commodity.

      "They should not increase the prices unilaterally because they would
be defying government and the law enforcement agents will definitely come
down hard on those that continue to defy the directive," Mpofu said.

      The bakers said they had to increase the price of bread after millers
recently hiked the price of flour from Z$3.5 million to $6 million for a 50
kilogramme bag of the commodity.

      But Mpofu said the bakers must exercise patience as the government was
aware of the difficult conditions they were operating under.

      "As government, we are fully aware of the challenges that the bakers
are facing and we are still looking into their concerns.

      "We are also aware that they are facing flour shortages but we want to
urge them to use whatever allocation they get . . . until all issues are
resolved," Mpofu said.

      Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession critics
blame on repression and mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe's

      Wheat, like most other basic foodstuffs, is in short supply in
Zimbabwe after Mugabe seized white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks six years ago. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe government minister harvests where he did not sow

Zim Online

Sat 29 July 2006

      MASVINGO - War veterans at Chikore Farm in the southern town of
Masvingo are demanding Z$142 billion in compensation from a Zimbabwe
government minister whom they accuse of harvesting where he did not sow.

      The war veterans are accusing Stan Mudenge, who is the Minister of
Higher Education, of forcibly harvesting and selling their tomato crop at
the farm which has been the subject of a bitter ownership dispute between
the former liberation war fighters and the minister.

      In a letter of demand to Mudenge, a copy of which was seen by
ZimOnline yesterday, the war veterans say they will institute legal action
against Mudenge if he fails to pay within seven days.

      "We are demanding payment of $142 billion from you being payment for
tomatoes which you took from Chikore farm. We worked very hard to grow those
crops but to our surprise you the minister only came to harvest.

      "We are therefore giving you seven days to settle the debt failure
which legal action will be taken against you," read part of the letter.

      Mudenge yesterday said he had not received the letter of demand from
the war veterans but added that he was prepared to meet the former fighters
in court over the disputed property.

      "I do not own any other farm. Chikore Farm belongs to me and anyone
intending to take it from me is like a person intending to take away my
wife," said the minister.

      The war veterans invaded Chikore Farm in 2003 in what was a fresh
round of farm invasions against the few remaining white farmers following
the violent farm seizures that began in 2000.

      Last year, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa who is also in
charge of land reform, ordered the former fighters to move out of the
property to pave way for Mudenge. The war veterans are however resisting the
move demanding compensation for their loss.

      Several government ministers and influential members of President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party have been accused in the past of using their
powerful positions to push out black villagers who occupied farms after the
ouster white farmers after 2000.

      The government ministers have in most cases forcibly taken and sold
unharvested crops on the properties without compensating the previous
owners. - ZimOnline

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Govt Mulls Huge Devaluation of Battered Dollar

Business Day (Johannesburg)

July 28, 2006
Posted to the web July 28, 2006

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWE's central bank is expected to make a massive devaluation of the
battered local currency when the governor announces his monetary policy
statement on Monday.

The devaluation is aimed at closing the widening gap between the fixed
official and parallel market rates.

The adjustment of the crashing Zimbabwean dollar could boost export earnings
and ease foreign currency shortages.

It would, however, unleash a new wave of price increases across the
crumbling economy.

The local unit, now the weakest currency in the world, is currently fixed at
Z$101195,54 to the US dollar, while the parallel market rate has continued
to fall away to Z$500000, making the official rate irrelevant.

The fixed rate has remained unchanged since the last monetary policy
statement in January.

The central bank is widely expected to devalue the already enfeebled local
currency on Monday during a monetary policy statement that will follow
yesterday's mid-term fiscal policy statement delivered by Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa, in which he promised to resuscitate the ruined economy.

Government has clung to the unrealistic exchange rate as part of its
unsuccessful attempt to fight inflation.

Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world -- 1 184,6% year on
year for June. This may be compared with SA's rate of 4,8% and a regional
average of about 7%.

Zimbabwe's business leaders have been piling pressure on its central bank to
devalue the local currency, which is continuing to crash. The Zimbabwean
dollar is at about Z$20 000 against the rand officially; while the rate on
the black market rate is at least Z$70000.

In 1980, when President Robert Mugabe came to power, one Zimbabwean dollar
was worth more than both the US dollar and the rand.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, widely regarded as the main voice
of the business community in the country, has proposed that the central bank
implements a drastic currency devaluation.

It has also suggested the reintroduction of a two-tier exchange rate system
to help rescue sinking exporters and boost forex earnings, while taking care
of government interests.

The confederation, in a document entitled Input into Fiscal Policy Review
July 2006, said there was a need for an urgent devaluation to save
struggling exporters.

"We recommend that the country moves back to a two-tier system, where
exporters retain 80% for own use and 20% is surrendered to government at a
controlled rate," the group said.

"We recommend a controlled rate of Z$200 000 to the US dollar."

It said a two-tier exchange rate system should be brought back as a
transitional measure that would cater for the government's essential foreign
currency requirements while also cushioning exporters reeling from the
effects of an overvalued currency and hyperinflation.

Luxon Zembe, the immediate past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce, said there was a need to address the economic problems
holistically to deal with such key issues as the exchange rate.

"The Zimbabwean dollar is now a joke. The highest note cannot buy bread or a
bottle or can of coke," Zembe said.

Zimbabwe is gripped by a deep economic crisis marked not only by
hyperinflation but also by shortages of fuel, electricity, drugs and almost
every commodity necessary for survival.

Mugabe vowed on Tuesday to continue printing money to sustain his regime.

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Over our dead bodies! Report on victims of organized violence and torture in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project (ZTVP)
July, 2006

Read the ZTVP statement

Download this document
- Word 97 version (104KB)

This report provides a brief top-line analysis of 267 Zimbabweans who sought assistance from the Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project (ZTVP), located in Johannesburg, South Africa, over the past one and half years. In recent times, South Africa has seen an increase in the number of Zimbabweans coming into South Africa linked to the political crisis in that country. In particular, since 2002, there has been a massive increase in the number of Zimbabweans requesting political asylum in South Africa. To illustrate, in 2002 approximately 120 Zimbabweans applied for asylum. In 2003, this number increased to approximately 2700, and trebled to 8500 in 2004. By the end of 2005, approximately 16000 Zimbabweans had applied for asylum in South Africa . Recent statistics further show that the movement into South Africa of Zimbabweans fleeing persecution is not abating. Instead, for the months of January, February and March 2006, Zimbabwe has come to represent the main country from which the largest number of newly arrived asylum seekers in South Africa derive. In the first quarter of 2006 alone, 7211 Zimbabweans applied for refugee status in South Africa .

A number of studies have sought to document the deepening political crisis in Zimbabwe, patterns of violence and torture in that country, and their links to key political processes, such as elections. In September 2005, the ZTVP undertook a snap survey of Zimbabweans living in five different locations in Gauteng province to obtain a better sense of potential clients that the ZTVP might have to deal with, as well as the proportion of Zimbabweans who might potentially qualify for assistance in terms of need . That study found evidence to suggest that there would be an increasing need to assist Zimbabweans who had been victims of torture residing in South Africa. To be able to do so, the study concluded that there was a pressing need to gain a better understanding of the position and plight of Zimbabweans who have come to South Africa in search of refuge. It is this need which this brief report seeks to address.

The report provides information about Zimbabweans who reported having been victims of organized violence and torture in Zimbabwe and who are now living in South Africa. It includes information about Zimbabweans who approached the Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project in Johannesburg for assistance. As such, the data analysed in this report cannot be construed as being representative of the entire Zimbabwean population in South Africa. Nonetheless, the findings are indicative of the experiences of Zimbabweans who are coming into South Africa, particularly of many of those who are applying for political asylum, and serve to put to the test, from the point of view of torture victims themselves, some of the existing findings on the patterns of violence and torture in Zimbabwe.

The report presents findings derived from data pertaining to 267 Zimbabweans who sought assistance from the ZTVP between January 2005 and April 2006. It provides a brief demographic profile of clients, details about their experiences of violence and torture, as well as the types of assistance rendered by the ZTVP. The data have been analyzed through the use of SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Due to the size of the sample, the analysis is based on basic frequencies and cross-tabulations of the data. Only statistically significant findings are reported.

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Zimbabwean nurses face uncertain future in UK

New Zimbabwe

By Mduduzi Mathuthu
Last updated: 07/28/2006 23:52:35
ZIMBABWEAN healthcare workers in the United Kingdom face financial ruin and
an uncertain future following new government directives.

The Home Office has announced that from August 14, general nurses would be
removed from the Skills Shortage Occupations list.

The new moves will make it harder for nurses applying for work permits from
Zimbabwe to succeed, and may now mean that nurses already working for the
National Health Service (NHS) will find it harder to renew their work

The changes are not aimed at Zimbabweans alone, but all "foreign-born

An immigration adviser said: "These changes will dramatically alter the way
Britain recruits nurses, and many people will find it harder to get nursing
jobs now. Those with work permits no longer have any guarantees they will be
renewed when they expire."

The NHS has also twisted the knife on nursing agencies by forming its own
in-house health employment agency -- NHS Professionals -- while cutting back
on part-time staff.

The new changes also affect psychiatric nurses while only Band 7 or 8 NHS
employees will remain untouched. These are mainly doctors and specialists in
audiology, sleep/respiratory physiology, neurophysiology, cardiac
physiology, operating theatre nursing, clinical radiology, pathology and
critical care.

All work permit applications for UK entry received after August 14 for
nursing posts other than the eight listed above will now be subjected to a
"resident labour test", the Home Office said.

It said: "Employers will be required to submit evidence that posts have been
advertised, with full details of those who applied and were interviewed, and
why resident nationals were not considered suitable.

"Only when the resident labour test has been satisfied will consideration be
given to issuing a work permit."

This week, the NHS began issuing notices, mainly to agency staff, informing
them that their services were no longer required. The NHS says the move will
save the health service billions of pounds as agency workers earned almost
twice as the permanent staff.

Zimbabwe has been losing thousands of health professionals every year as
they seek better working conditions in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and
the United States.

Last year, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing
petitioned G8 leaders to tackle the "poaching" of overseas healthcare

UK doctors called for "ethical recruitment" and warned that Sub Saharan
Africa's healthcare system had been crippled by the "brain drain".

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Students Denied Access to their Results

Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
July 27, 2006

Students in tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe have been denied access to
their results until they have paid full tuition fees which they can not
afford. This effectively means that these students cannot proceed with their
studies to the next level thereby effectively meaning that they have been

Students are milling around NUST and Bindura University everyday in the
quest for their results, meanwhile the results for the University of
Zimbabwe are pending and formal communications have been made to the effect
that no srudent will access his/her results without paying fees.

We have written a letter to the Minister compelling him to re-issue his
directive which has been defied by college authorities. We further condenm
the Dictator for continuosly being dishonest with the students.

We urge students to remain resolute in their defiance of these fees which
were declared illegal by the courts. The Vampire and Mafia style of
governance by Robert Mugabe and his thug cronies must be nipped in the bud
before it is out of hand.The structural causes of mis-governance must be
addressed by the body collective of all pro-democratic movements

ZINASU is convinced the students will truimph over Mugabe and his morons.

Promise Mkwananzi
ZINASU President

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Armed ZESA employees stealing electric cables and components

      By Tererai Karimakwenda

      28 July 2006
      The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has been under siege
for years now losing electric cables, transformers and other valuable
components due to theft. It has long been suspected that much of the loss
was due to insiders who know the location of key equipment and have access
to security information. And now our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa
reports that armed gangs of ZESA employees have been seen at night by
residents in and around Harare stealing from their own employer. Muchemwa
spoke with people in several locations who actually witnessed the night time

      One woman near Murombedzi Road outside Harare said the thieves she saw
one night arrived in a ZESA truck and were in their ZESA uniforms. Choosing
to remain anonymous for her safety the woman said the group fired a couple
of shots into the air to scare residents. They then proceeded to cut cables
and unscrew transformers at the local plant near her house. Muchemwa said
the woman witnessed the whole thing but was too afraid to report it to the
police. She told him she feared the police may be involved in this
profitable business and would victimise her instead.

      The theft of electric cables is a problem countrywide because copper
is easy to melt and easier to sell. Muchemwa said theft has largely
contributed to the load-shedding of power by ZESA. But when the utility
company cuts electricity without warning, its own equipment and electric
household products are being damaged. Muchemwa explained that any electric
unit that uses what is known as a single phase electric current can easily
burn out when power is restored. This is because the initial surge when
power returns has a high voltage.

      Muchemwa also said the town of Bindura has been without water in many
parts for several days now. Bindura council officials appeared on state
television this week complaining that 2 water pumps had been damaged by ZESA'a
power load shedding this week. This was the second time since last month
that pumps had been damaged in the town. Muchemwa said The Reserve Bank
bailed them out the first time by providing Z$ 13.5 billion for replacement
parts. Now Bindura officials will have to go back for more if they want to
restore normal water service to the town.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwean youth petition Tony Blair over Zim crisis

      By Tererai Karimakwenda

      28 July 2006
      A group of Zimbabwean youths in the UK organized a demonstration
Friday against Mugabe's selection of former President of Tanzania, Benjamin
Mkapa, as the mediator to handle Zimbabwe's crisis. The youth formed an
organization called Free Zim earlier this year and vowed to become active on
the political landscape. And true to their name they joined forces with
veterans from the Zimbabwe Vigil and marched from the Zimbabwe Embassy to 10
Downing Street Friday afternoon. Alois Phiri told us about 150 people had
joined the march as they left for Prime Minister Tony Blair's official
residence. Phiri said they would hand over a letter to Blair urging him not
to be fooled by Mugabe's diversion tactics. He explained that no mediation
is needed between Zimbabwe and Britain because Mugabe needs to negotiate
with Zimbabweans.

      The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan cancelled a trip to
Zimbabwe after Mugabe refused to accept him as a mediator when the two met
at the African Union summit in the Gambia earlier this month. Mugabe
insisted that Mkapa act as the mediator. Annan has been criticized strongly
for not putting any pressure on Mugabe on this issue. Phiri blasted Mkapa
calling him a supporter of Mugabe's repressive policies. He said: "We are
going to send a letter to Tony Blair urging him not allow this diversion. We
all know that Mugabe is the Zimbabwe crisis." Phiri also expressed concern
over the fact that Annan's term of office at the UN ends this year. He said
Zimbabweans will be forced to suffer even longer while Annan's replacement
gets up to speed with the situation.

      As we spoke to Phiri Friday demonstrators could be heard singing in
Shona and Ndebele as they marched to Downing Street. Phiri said it is time
Zimbabwean youth made a difference by standing up and speaking out against
the Mugabe regime. A statement released by Free Zim and The Vigil group
said: "Zimbabweans in the diaspora insist that the mediation initiative is a
diversion designed to avoid the spotlight falling on Zimbabwe where people
are still being driven from their homes and livelihoods as Operation
Murambatsvina (drive out trash) continues."

      Regarding their message to the British prime minister, the statement
said: "Zimbabwean groups in the UK are calling on Tony Blair to dismiss the
notion that there is a dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain and to press for
the UN to continue their fact finding initiatives to establish what exactly
is happening in the country, where most international journalists are banned
and local reporters carefully vetted".

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Report: MDC to use women as 'weapons' in Zim

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      28 July 2006 11:54

            Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) plans
to get older women to strip during forthcoming anti-government protests, a
party official was quoted as saying on Friday.

            Women are the weapons the MDC will use to put the right leader
in power, the Manica Post newspaper quoted Grace Kwinjeh, an official in the
MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, as saying.

            In traditional local culture, it is highly taboo for men to
catch a glimpse of elderly women naked. It is even believed that a curse
will fall on individuals who see the women's bodies.

            It will be hard for the police to take severe action against
their naked mothers, Kwinjeh added, in comments reportedly made at a rally
in eastern Makoni district last week.

            The MDC says plans for a series of anti-government protests are
gathering momentum, despite government threats to crush them. No date has
yet been set for the action.

            The Manica Post, which is regarded as highly sympathetic to the
government, said the MDC was planning to use women aged between 40 and 70
for their protests.

            President Robert Mugabe has branded the MDC as a violent party
and has threatened to deploy police and security forces to quash any street

            During anti-government protests in Kenya in the early 1990s, a
group of women in their 60s and 70s stripped naked when police fired teargas
at them and attacked them. -- Sapa-dpa

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Intern Doctors Challenge Zim Medical Practitioners Council

The Herald (Harare)

July 28, 2006
Posted to the web July 28, 2006


INTERN doctors have challenged the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council
of Zimbabwe to give legal justification for withholding their certificates
until the doctors complete internship at Government hospitals.

Through the Hospital Doctors' Association, the intern doctors had given the
council up to Tuesday (July 25, 2006) to state in full the basis for
withholding their certificates or face legal action.

In a letter to the council, the doctors' lawyer, Mr Derek Sigauke of
Mavhunga and Associates, said the council had no legal basis, whatsoever, to
the certificates.

"We are instructed that you are withholding issuance of certificates of good
standing to those of our client's members that have successfully completed
serving their 24 months internship.

"We, hereby, challenge you, per our instructions, to state the legal basis
for not issuing the said certificates to our client's members referred
above," wrote Mr Sigauke.

Mr Sigauke said the council had up to Tuesday to respond to the letter or
else he would take the matter to court at the council's expense.

He also said failure by the council to respond as requested would mean that
it was in agreement with the doctors that no legal basis existed for the
council's action.

"Your response stating in full the legal grounds upon which you base your
action should be availed to us be close of business on July 25, 2006,
failing which we shall assume that you are in concurrence with our client's
long held view that you lack the basis at law whatsoever to withhold the

"In that event, we shall proceed to institute legal action to seek an order
compelling you to issue the certificates to the medical doctors to whom they
are due and you shall be liable for legal costs," Mr Sigauke further stated
in the letter.

Mrs Josephine Mwakutuya, the council secretary, said the matter was now in
the hands of their lawyers.

"Your letter dated July 24, 2006 is acknowledged and has been passed to our
council legal practitioners for response accordingly," Mrs Mwakutuya said in
the letter, which was also copied to secretary for health, Dr Edward

The latest development adds a new dimension to the row between Government
and the doctors, who downed tools two weeks ago to protest for better
salaries and working conditions.

As part of their grievances, the doctors also demanded that they be given
their certificates of good standing.

Government has already indicated that the doctors, who also protested
against their deployment in rural areas, would only receive the certificates
after serving the district hospitals.

The doctors have since returned to work after Government increased their
vehicle loan facility from $50 million to $2 billion.

Their salaries were also raised to between $81 million and $88 million.

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Duffin sacked as Zimbabwe captain

Cricinfo staff

July 28, 2006

Zimbabwe's selectors have sacked Terry Duffin and appointed Prosper Utseya
as captain for the five-match one-day series against Bangladesh which starts
at Harare Sports Club on Saturday. Utseya has only been appointed on an
interim basis pending further discussions among the selectors.

Duffin only arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday from England where he is playing
club cricket for Winsley in Wiltshire, and there was no indication of what
awaited him. His dismissal would seem to hint at a behind-the-scenes power
struggle between some selectors and others closer to the team. The official
reason for the decision was for Duffin's leadership in the Caribbean.

The selectors named a 17-man squad, including seam bowlers Ed Rainsford and
Anthony Ireland, who also arrived from England where they have been playing.
Until recently, Rainsford had indicated he was not going to return for the
series. Tafadzwa Mufambisi and Friday Kasteni, both uncapped, were included
but were not expected to play in any of the games.

There was no place for Sean Williams, the Under-19 captain, even though he
was recently persuaded to make himself available by Kevin Curran, the coach.

Zimbabwe squad Prosper Utseya (capt), Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Piet
Rinke, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Chamu Chibhabha, Hamilton Masakadza, Terrence
Duffin, Ed Rainsford, Tawanda Mupariwa, Blessing Mahwire, Anthony Ireland,
Ryan Higgins, Elton Chigumbura, Greg Strydom, Friday Kasteni, Tafadzwa

© Cricinfo

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Priest Arrested For Changing Forex On Parallel Market

The Herald (Harare)

July 28, 2006
Posted to the web July 28, 2006


A CATHOLIC priest was arrested in Victoria Falls on Tuesday after police
allegedly caught him red-handed while changing foreign currency on the
parallel market.

Harare police spokesperson Inspector Andrew Phiri yesterday said Father
Delbarrio Thomas was caught changing 1 000 euros at a house in the resort

It is alleged that Father Thomas had been given the money by Sister Madalena
Nelwati of Lubancho House Welfare Institution of Hwange to change it on her

A donor in Europe had chipped in with the money for the institution.

Police allege that Father Thomas went to an illegal foreign currency dealer,
Mr Tichaona Nyadore's house, to change the money into local currency.

Police received a tip-off from an anonymous caller and they allegedly caught
Father Thomas and Mr Nyadore doing the transaction.

The two were immediately arrested and dispossessed of 1 000 euro and $540

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Zimbabwean protest at 10 Downing Street - 28.6.07


Zimbabweans Deliver Letter to British Prime Minister - Friday, 28th July

Vigil supporters turned out in strength to support an initiative by young
Zimbabweans based in Brighton to lobby the Prime Minister about the dreadful
situation at home.  The group, Free-Zim Youth, presented a letter (see
below) at 10 Downing Street warning Mr Blair not to be deceived by Mugabe's
appointment of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as a mediator
between Britain and the UK.  They said the cause of Zimbabwe's problems was
not a dispute between London and Harare but a problem between Mugabe and
Zimbabweans.  They explained their position in a letter published in The
Times yesterday (see:,,59-2286975.html).

Some 80 people gathered outside the Zimbabwe Embassy before descending on
Downing Street toy-toying and singing.  "Exactly what we asked you not to
 do" our Police escort said ruefully.  We apologised, explaining, "It just
happened". (The truth.)  Anyway, we didn't knock over any tourists in our
progress and, on a scorching day, we provided an alternative spectacle to
the Horse Guards as we passed down Whitehall.  It was such an exuberant day
we were even pleased to have our faithful East European critic with us,
("You are wasting your time!" he repeated for the 100th time.) Well none of
us thought we were wasting our time, drawing the attention of the British
government and people to Mugabe's desperate manoeuvres.  As our young
friends from Brighton, Alois Mbawara Phiri and Wellington Chibanguza, said,
"We are desperate to go home and rebuild our country".

Ephraim Tapa, a Vigil leader, paid tribute to the Brighton boys' efforts and
joined them in expressing distress at the scandal unfolding this week of a
Zimbabwean at the Home Office allegedly taking bribes to help illegal
immigrants (see:,,2-2006340676,00.html).
This individual has been lurking on the fringes of the Vigil as indeed have
many CIO people.  Free-Zim Youth, with all their idealism, were distraught
that the traditional honesty so central to Zimbabwean culture had been
compromised.  But we all agreed that perhaps the message from today was that
Zimbabweans in the UK had put aside any small differences to join together
to save our country.

"LETTER TO THE PM: We are young Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom. We
were forced into exile by the regime of Robert Mugabe and long for the day
when we can return home and join in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe. We speak for
our brothers and sisters still living back home whose voices are silenced by
violence and fear under the Zanu PF rule of terror.  We want to let you know
that we have no faith in the so-called process of mediation between Zimbabwe
and the UK recently announced at the African Union meeting in Banjul. UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa have
either conspired with Robert Mugabe or been hoodwinked into the appointment
of Ben Mkapa the former President of Tanzania as mediator between our two
countries. We want to assure you that the people of Zimbabwe don't have an
argument with the people of the UK or with your government; our struggle is
against the tyranny and corruption of Robert Mugabe's regime.  Ben Mkapa was
hand-picked by Robert Mugabe. He has made many statements expressing support
for Robert Mugabe even going so far as to praise the economic policies that
have led to our people dying beneath the burden of 1200% inflation.  Ben
Mkapa deliberately misleads the people of Africa by stating that there are
sanctions against Zimbabwe. This is not true. The sanctions imposed by the
EU are against the clique of Zanu PF party leaders and collaborators who
deny our fundamental freedoms and it is their greed for power that has
brought Zimbabwe to ruins. We support the measures that you have taken
against the men and women who are destroying Zimbabwe.  Robert Mugabe will
never listen to the democratically expressed voice of the people of
Zimbabwe. Through the ballot box we have tried to tell him that it is time
for him to go but he tears up our messages and fills the boxes with
love-letters to himself.  Prime Minister, as young Zimbabweans we ask you to
join us in exposing the appointment of Ben Mkapa as mediator by Robert
Mugabe as yet another propaganda offensive designed to divert attention from
his own failure. We ask you to challenge leaders of African nations to
dismiss the Mkapa process of mediation as false. For the sake of our country
and our continent the time has come for the leaders of the African Union to
be honest, face up to reality and stand shoulder to shoulder with the people
of Zimbabwe in our struggle for liberation from Mugabe's regime.  When you
meet African leaders please add your voice to ours and tell them that we,
the young people who are the future of Zimbabwe, demand that they isolate
Robert Mugabe who has betrayed us and show their solidarity with us the
people of Zimbabwe."

For photos of the protest:

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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