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Price Cuts Throw Zimbabwe Into Chaos

Washington Post

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 1, 2007; 12:59 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Inspectors and police raided stores Sunday to enforce
sweeping price cuts imposed to curb Zimbabwe's soaring inflation, while
shoppers fought over rapidly disappearing staples at supermarkets.

At least 20 business executives were arrested over the weekend for hoarding
goods and violating the government's order last week to slash prices of most
products by half, the official Sunday Mail reported. Gasoline prices were
ordered reduced by 70 percent, and stations quickly ran dry.

Store managers have complained they were being forced to sell goods at lower
than cost.

Inspectors and police forced their way into storage rooms at shops,
demanding that stocks be put on sale and accusing managers of hoarding
products, possibly to sell on the black market.

Zimbabwe, suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence
from Britain in 1980, has the world's highest inflation. The official rate
is 4,500 percent, but independent financial institutions calculate real
inflation on essential goods at closer to 9,000 percent.

Critics blame the meltdown on President Robert Mugabe's often violent
campaign to seize thousands of white-owned farms for redistribution to
blacks. The long-ruling leader says the program is fixing imbalances in land
ownership inherited from British colonial rule.

Store managers tried to limit shoppers to two items of soap, foodstuffs,
milk and other goods.

"I've got bargains here," said Aenias Mativenga, a Harare cook jostling at a
checkout, his arms laden with packs of tea, frozen chicken and cartons of

Bread and the corn meal staple vanished from most shelves by Saturday.
Inspectors ordered stores to slash the prices of all perishable goods
Sunday, said one shop manager.

"There'll soon be nothing left and we'll be closing," he told people
converging on the store. Bargain seekers streamed across the nearby highway
as word of the new reductions spread.

Crowds fought for sugar in the capital of Harare on Saturday, tearing open
many of the packs and spilling the contents. Private security guards averted
a riot at a downtown store that was forced to put scarce sugar on sale at a
third of the black market price.

In the crumbling economy, sugar and cooking oil have mainly been available
from black market dealers for months.

One wholesaler in western Harare received only 80 loaves of its regular
2,000-loaf order.

"We gave it away to our staff rather than have an invasion," said a manager
who asked not to be identified, fearing the premises would be targeted by
angry shoppers. Police had been called in after the bread delivery truck

Tuesday's price reduction order included a range of basic goods and
services, from commuter transportation to bread, sugar, meat, milk, corn
meal and even newspapers. Industry Minister Obert Mpofu later extended it to
rents and almost all manufactured products.

"Reports are that some businesses are resisting this order. We are going to
deal with them accordingly. We are going to arrest them," Industry Minister
Obert Mpofu told The Sunday Mail.

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Zimbabwe senator arrested after sugar found in toilet: report

Monsters and Critics

Jul 1, 2007, 12:15 GMT

Harare - A member of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party has been
arrested in Zimbabwe after police found bags of sugar in his toilet and
accused him of hoarding goods, reports said Sunday.

Siriro Majuru, who is a ZANU-PF senator for the Murehwa-Goromonzi
constituency, was arrested on Friday.

Police found bottles of orange juice, cooking oil and rice in a storeroom at
the senator's home east of Harare as well as several packets of sugar hidden
in his toilet, the official Sunday Mail newspaper said.

Majuru is also being accused of charging too much for goods in his shop,
according to the paper.

'We arrested the senator on charges of overpricing and hoarding of
controlled basic commodities. He is in custody and will appear in court
soon,' a spokesman for a group of state-appointed price inspectors was
quoted as saying.

Mugabe last week warned manufacturers and retailers that they would face a
rough day from his government if they continued to hike prices above those
stipulated by the government, and threatened to seize their businesses.

The Sunday Mail reported that more than 20 members of the business community
had been arrested since the government last week ordered prices to be

These included two Harare businessmen accused of withholding hundreds of
bags of cement. The price of a 50 kilogramme bag of cement was last week
ordered down from 1 million Zimbabwe dollars to 300,000 dollars.

Industry Minister Obert Mpofu, who chairs a special committee on commodity
pricing, warned of more arrests to follow.

'We issued a statement (last) week ordering all manufacturers and retailers
to reduce prices. However, reports are that some businesses are resisting
this order,' the minister was quoted as saying.

'We are going to arrest them,' he added.

Fearing popular protests over spiralling prices of goods, the government
last week imposed controls on the prices of basic goods like bread, milk and
cooking oil, but later extended the controls to all goods.

Retailers were ordered to slash prices to those charged on June 18,
triggering stampedes in some stores as customers rushed to buy bargains.

A crack unit on price controls has been touring some supermarkets in Harare,
forcing shop tellers to lower prices, to the anger of store owners.

The order to slash prices is being enforced despite a massive weakening of
the local dollar against foreign currencies needed to import or manufacture

The president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce said the
government's latest crackdown on the business community has deepened
mistrust of the government.

Business has lost trust and confidence in the government as a social
partner, Marah Hativagone said in comments carried by the Sunday Mail.

She said forcing businesses to slash their prices by half would drive
commodities onto the black market.

'What will now happen is that manufacturers will simply stop manufacturing
and the country will become a net importer, yet there is no foreign
currency,' Hativagone said.

'This is also creating a danger of de-industrializing the manufacturing
sector,' she said.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Zim currency: It is the reality of the rot


       Basildon Peta
    July 01 2007 at 12:19PM

Alfred Moyo holds his breath each time he queues to pay for his bread
and milk. By the time he reaches the till, the prices of the commodities
might have increased.

"This is no ordinary joke," he says. "It is the reality of the rot
that has set in here."

With hyperinflation calculated by private economists to have surpassed
12 000 percent in May - against the government's official calculation of
half that figure - the Zimbabwean currency has become so worthless that
nobody wants it.

Norah Mutasah, like many other landlords, now asks her tenants to pay
rentals in kind.

"Instead of giving me cash, which loses value while I hold it, I have
asked them [tenants] to give me sugar, cooking oil, flour and salt every
month," she says.

Ralph Mukonoweshuro, a heavy-vehicle tyre trader, says his quotations
for tyres are now valid for only 30 minutes.

"We used to issue quotes valid for seven days but reduced that to a
day. Now you have to make a decision on whether you want to buy or not as
soon as we quote or you will get a new price if you confirm your order 30
minutes or at most one hour later," he says.

Many companies that used to pay wages monthly have now resorted to
paying them weekly. Instead of awarding annual salary increases, most now
award monthly increases.

Even weekly wage payments are no longer adequate for most workers.
They now want to be paid daily. Most others want to be paid in kind with
just a little cash for bus fare.

"If it were not for the tragic suffering of more than 12 million
people here, we would say this country is a good circus for anyone wanting
to visit a place of humour," says Mukonoweshuro.

He no longer banks his money on a Friday because by the time
businesses reopen on Monday, the cash has lost half its value.

Tonnie Zimondi, a fuel trader, says he no longer accepts payments in
Zimbabwe dollars but only in foreign currency. If he accepts Zimbabwe
dollars, he will not be able to buy enough foreign currency on the black
market to order more fuel.

It is because of this sad context that a grouping of aid agencies in
Zimbabwe, called the Heads of Agencies Contact Group, which represents more
than 30 aid groups, is now predicting a complete meltdown of the Zimbabwean
economy by December.

A report compiled for the contact group by a hired team of consultants
to prepare them for the future warns that Zimbabwe's economy is on the verge
of ceasing to exist.

The report warns the aid agencies to prepare for possible social
unrest as more businesses shut down.

It also predicts the imposition of a state of emergency.

Economist John Robertson said that it is difficult to determine when a
country's economy has totally collapsed. But a recipe for economic meltdown
includes: when the system of governance breaks down completely, when people
shun their own currency and when workers and shops demand payment in foreign
currency for services and goods respectively.

These ingredients are well advanced in Zimbabwe.

The unprecedented price increases of the past three weeks seem to have
been driven by a sharp depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar. This has come
as the result of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's decision to continue rolling
its presses to print new money to buy foreign currency on the black market.

President Robert Mugabe has threatened to nationalise all companies
because of their price increases. He ordered companies to slash their prices
on all commodities by half and roll them back to those charged as of June
18. The army and police were enlisted to enforce compliance.

The result has been a disappearance of most goods from supermarket
shelves and even more serious shortages.

"Manufacturers will simply shut down rather than be forced to operate
at a loss," Robertson said.

He added that this means parallel market inflation will worsen even
further as any available goods will be in even greater demand on the black

The economy is doomed unless Mugabe's government recovers its senses
and changes its economic policies, he says.

"If it was possible to relocate all our people, Zimbabwe should best
be shut down completely and only reopened when we have new [and] sensible
rulers," Moyo said. - Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 5 of Sunday Independent
on July 01, 2007

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'United States of Africa' in focus as AU summit opens

Afrique en ligne

By Segun Adeyemi PANA Correspondent Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The grand
debate on the Union Government in Africa got underway Sunday at the 9th
ordinary summit of the AU in Accra, Ghana, with a speech made over 40 years
ago by Ghana's founding President, Kwame Nkrumah, echoing loudly. "We all
wanted a united Africa, United not only in our concept of what unity
connotes, but united in our common desire to move forward together in
dealing with all the problems that can best be solved only on a continental
basis," Nkrumah had said in his address at the founding session of the OAU
in 1963.

Two years later, in 1965, the revered founding father of Ghana hosted
an OAU summit in Accra, at which the project for the continental government
was first discussed.
Over four decades on, Nkrumah's exhortation has become the trigger for
the sole agenda (full political and economic integration of Africa with the
ultimate emergence of the United States of Africa) of the AU summit holding
in his country, Ghana.

More providentially, the debate is being steered by Ghana, which holds
the rotational chairmanship of the AU.

The historical dimension to the debate was not lost on current Ghana's
President John Kufuor, as he presided over the debate on the union
government Sunday.

"It is an uncanny coincidence that here in Accra, on the 50th
anniversary of our independence, this same subject on continental government
should return to the agenda of the summit of the African Union as its sole
item for deliberation," he said in his opening speech.

President Kufuor said the decision of the last AU Summit in Addis
Ababa in January to devote the Accra summit exclusively to the 'Grand
Debate' on the Union Government "assumes that the question of unification is
not in doubt...What remains is the form of government and how to attain it".

Ahead of the debate, the sharp division among African nations on
whether to launch the union government project immediately or allow it to
emerge progressively has created mutual suspicion between the two groups.

That development was not lost on Kufuor when he called for mutual
trust and respect, tolerance and critical analysis "even when we disagree",
during the debate.

The Ghanaian leader also refused to succumb to the pessimism of those
who said the union government project was premature, hence would not fly
despite the much-hyped debate.

"I am confident that at the end of our deliberations, we should be
able to arrive at a common understanding of the sort of 'Continental
Government' we want for ourselves and how to develop a road map with time
lines towards its realisation," Kufuor said.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by proponents and supporters of the
project, including Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi, Senegalese President
Abdoulaye Wade and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, the Ghanaian leader
said: "The task before us is enormous and exciting.

"We are at crossroads, and at the same in the threshold of a new era,
with great opportunities but also many challenges and responsibilities for
Africa. We therefore must not fail the people of Africa and the future of
our continent by unexamined decisions during the Grand Debate," he added.

About 40 African leaders, including Presidents Kadhafi, Wade, Thabo
Mbeki (South Africa), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Abdelaziz Boutelflika
(Algeria), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia) are
attending the summit.

Also here is Nigeria's new President Umaru Yar'Adua, who is attending
his first summit since he was inaugurated into office 29 May, succeeding
Olusegun Obasanjo.

Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir, whose country has been in the eye
of the storm over the lingering crisis in Darfur, is notably absent from the

The African Diaspora is also represented, with the Rev. Jesse Jackson
leading a group of African American delegates to the debate, while the UN
Secretary-General sent his deputy, Asha-Rose Migiro, an African.

Accra - 01/07/2007

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UN pledges support for Africa's integration

Afrique en ligne

From Segun Adeyemi On special assignment Accra, Ghana (PANA) - As the
9th ordinary summit of the African Union (AU) opened Sunday in Accra, Ghana,
the United Nations has pledged its support for Africa's efforts at full
political and economic integration.

The summit, being attended by some 40 Heads of state and government,
is devoted to debating the prospects for the establishment of a union
government in Africa to accelerate the full integration of the continent.
"The focus of this summit, on the proposed Union Government for
Africa, is a timely one," said the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN,
Asha-Rose Migiro.

"The United Nations is a long-standing supporter of regional
integration in Africa. We remain committed to assisting this process," said
Migiro, who made history as the first African woman to address an AU summit
on behalf of the UN.

The former Tanzanian Foreign Minister, who took office as Deputy
Secretary-General of the UN 1 Feb 2007, also called for a stronger
collaboration among African nations and also between Africa and its
international partners.

"We need strong partnerships to reach the time-bound targets in the
Millennium Development Goals. We need stronger partnerships to resolve and
manage Africa's conflicts, and it is through strong partnership that
Africa's capacities can be strengthened," she said.

Migiro said while Africa had made some progress over the years, the
continent was still lagging behind the rest of the world in achieving common
development objectives because of 'daunting' challenges like rising poverty
and high child and maternal mortality rates.

On the MDGs, she said this year marked the midpoint between the
adoption of the Goals and the target date of 2015, noting: "That makes it
especially important for there to be more resolute efforts, and deeper
partnerships, to reduce poverty, to address the needs in health, education
and other sectors, and to promote gender equality."

The UN official also dwelled on the lingering crisis in Sudan's
Western Darfur region, where over 200,000 people have been killed and
millions displaced during years of internecine fighting.

"Nowhere are Africa's peace and security challenges more evident today
than in Darfur, where conflict continues to hasten unconscionable toll on
men, women and children.

"The tragic cycle of violence in Darfur has been allowed to continue
far too long," she said, while calling for an urgent deployment of the
historic hybrid AU-UN force to redress the situation.

On HIV/AIDS, Migiro said a successful fight against the pandemic was a
pre-requisite for meeting most of the other MDGs.

"In particular, we must address the root causes of the spread among
women and girls," she said, lamenting how women bear a disproportionate part
of the AIDS burden in Africa.

Accra - 01/07/2007

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Greg Winter and Michael Wines discuss Zimbabwe

New York Times

Published: June 30, 2007

GREG WINTER. Welcome to the New York Times World View podcast, a weekly
conversation with Times foreign correspondents from across the globe.

I'm Greg Winter, a foreign editor at The Times.

This week I speak with Michael Wines, the Times correspondent in Southern
Africa, about the disastrous spiral that is Zimbabwe's economy.

Zimbabwe has the very dubious distinction of having the world's highest
inflation, officially listed at about 4,500 percent, but estimated by some
economists to be many times that. The government, facing an increasingly
dispirited population, put forward legislation this week to require that
virtually all publicly traded companies in Zimbabwe surrender control to
"indigenous citizens," basically, nonwhites who were discriminated against
before the end of white rule in 1980. The legislation raises the possibility
of a sizeable redistribution of the country's remaining wealth at a time
when its economy is collapsing.

Times correspondent Michael Wines has been covering this story and he joins
us now from Johannesburg.

Michael, last year when Zimbabwe's inflation was a comparatively enviable
900 percent, you wrote about how the local $500 bill was just enough to buy
toilet paper - not a whole roll, mind you, but a single sheet. Now that
inflation is five times what it was back then, how are people surviving at

MICHAEL WINES. Well, they're barely getting by. But there are survival
mechanisms in Zimbabwe and have been for a long time because the economy's
been on a downward spiral close to eight years now. Probably the main way
people get along is from contributions from abroad: people who have left
Zimbabwe - potentially millions of them - and gone to South Africa, England,
the United States and other countries to find work. And these people send
back remittances to families and friends to keep them alive. By some
estimates, as many as 50 percent of all Zimbabwean families are getting some
money from abroad. And for many it's the main source of income. And for
those Zimbabweans who don't get money from abroad, the U.S. dollar has
mostly supplanted the Zimbabwean dollar as the means of exchange. You can
get the U.S. dollar on the black market if you have Zimbabwean dollars to
trade for it. And the rate varies from day to day, sometimes drastically,
but usually creeping up a little bit every day. The U.S. dollar and the
South African rand, which is also available in Zimbabwe on the black market,
are basically the only stable currencies - ones that you know will keep
their value, and so you can use them from week to week to buy goods.

A lot of Zimbabweans have also decided that they're not going to use the
dollar, or the Zimbabwean dollar or the rand at all and they're simply
engaging in barter. Because if you can trade, for instance, a bag of nails
for a dozen eggs, you're trading commodities that never lose their value and
you never have to get into the inflationary spiral. For all of those
Zimbabweans who don't have an income, or even for those who do and are
finding it eaten away by inflation, there are ways that they can get along.

GREG WINTER. Now, the government has presented its new ownership legislation
as a black empowerment plan since everyday citizens, presumably the workers
themselves, would own a majority stake in their companies. But to critics,
it's merely a ploy for Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, to shore up his
flagging support ahead of elections next year. Now, is there truth on both

MICHAEL WINES. Well, it's really hard to tell from outside. But it certainly
is true that the notion of turning over control of white-owned companies in
Southern Africa to blacks, and to other people who were here before white
colonial powers came, is not a novel idea in the least. So in that sense,
what Mr. Mugabe is proposing really is not unusual.

For instance, in Johannesburg, in South Africa, where we're based, the South
African government has long supported what it calls black economic
empowerment. And that's a scheme by which private companies, many of them
white-owned, either sell shares in their companies or find ways to transfer
large interest in their companies, to black citizens. So in many companies -
in fact, I think in most of the major companies in South Africa now, black
workers, black managers and outside black shareholders hold large stakes, if
not controlling stakes.

In that sense, what Zimbabwe is doing is not particularly unusual.

However, it has to be said that Zimbabwe has sort of a checkered history in
this area. In 2000, Mr. Mugabe began seizing white-owned commercial farms
here, which were the base of the economy, really, and redistributing them to
black peasants and also to many members of the ruling party in Zimbabwe -
his party. So it became a form of patronage, a way for him to ensure the
loyalty of his own supporters and also to give something to local peasants
who would later vote for his party in parliamentary elections and for him in
presidential elections. Now, there's going to be another presidential
election in 2008 and with the economy in the shape it is in Zimbabwe, Mr.
Mugabe is going to face an uphill battle to win.

So it's easy to see how critics would view this as more or less a simple
payoff scheme.

GREG WINTER. Now let's talk about that. Because the government's plan will
surely bring to mind the seizure of those thousands of white-owned farms,
some of which were then doled out to Mugabe supporters as a way of rewarding
their loyalty. But what was the end result of that redistribution? And do
average citizens think it was a good idea?

MICHAEL WINES. Well, let's start with the first, whether it was a good idea.
I think a lot of Zimbabweans, yes, do think it was a good idea to take these
vast white-owned commercial farms, which quite frankly control most of the
best land in Zimbabwe and were by far the most productive farms, and to
ensure that ordinary people had a chance to farm this land. In fact, South
Africa has a similar, although much less drastic program under way right now
where they're gradually enabling black farmers to buy land from white
farmers. So I don't think that most politicians, white or black, would
really contest the idea that land redistribution is not a bad thing. The
problem is the way that it was done. By simply seizing these farms without
compensation and handing them over to people who either had very little
interest in farming or who knew very little about it, what the Zimbabwean
government has managed to do is basically destroy the agricultural base of
what was once one of the most productive countries in all of Africa. Tobacco
production, which used to be a staple of the economy, has dwindled to a
trickle. Corn production is way, way down - far below what Zimbabwe needs to
feed itself, and Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter.

Many of these farms were never farmed at all. The people to whom they were
given simply went in, stripped them of machinery, of irrigation systems, of
any goods that could be sold and then went off and sold them on the black
market. And in fact, it's been so bad that this year many experts expect
that 4 million of the 10 or 11 million Zimbabweans are going to need food

GREG WINTER. A few months ago, it seemed that momentum was building for a
political opposition in Zimbabwe with a budding protest movement and
international condemnation of the government's repressive tactics. But
things seem to have quieted down considerably. What's happened?

MICHAEL WINES. In a word, not much has happened at all, frankly. There have
been negotiations under way in South Africa, overseen by South African
president Thabo Mbeki, to try to bring about a reconciliation within the
opposition movement, which is called the Movement for Democratic Change. A
couple of years ago, the M.D.C., as it's called, split into two very
bitterly feuding factions. And they've been unable to unite to face Mr.
Mugabe's government and to press for democratic changes.

These negotiations began in March and they have basically been at a
standstill until recently, when the two sides managed to agree, at least on
an agenda. But the whole idea of these negotiations are to lay the
groundwork for free and fair and internationally recognized presidential
elections next year, in 2008. And there's very little time, really, for
these two sides to get together and strike an agreement that they've been
unable to reach in the last eight years.

GREG WINTER. Now, Zimbabwe's government is well known and well documented to
have truly engaged in a systematic repression of political opposition. But
why have Zimbabwe's neighbors in Southern Africa, and perhaps most notably
South Africa itself, been so reluctant to criticize Mugabe and his
authoritarian leadership style?

MICHAEL WINES. Well, there's a lot of speculation about that. And I think,
in the case of South Africa, perhaps nobody but Mr. Mbeki and his own
advisers really know. South Africa's position is that Zimbabwe's problems
are an internal problem, that it's not South Africa's duty to preach to
Zimbabweans about how they should run their government and that, if they
have internal problems there, then they should settle them amongst
themselves. Mr. Mbeki has expressed what he called quite diplomacy, that is
not criticizing Zimbabwe but having private meetings in an effort to bring
the two sides together toward a solution.

But, you know, Robert Mugabe, for all of his flaws that are pointed out
these days, remains really a liberation hero in Southern Africa. He's one of
the best known leaders of the early black liberation movement in this part
of the world. He fought - helped fight - a guerrilla war during the 1970's
to change what was then white-ruled Rhodesia into a black-ruled Zimbabwe,
which was then believed to be a democracy. Mr. Mugabe has not been shy about
accusing anybody who criticizes him of being a tool of what he calls the
white imperialists - the United States and Britain. And so many black
leaders are reluctant to criticize Mr. Mugabe because they're going to be
tarred as tools of whites.
GREG WINTER. You've chronicled how Zimbabwe's demise has created a class of
economic refugees who migrate to South Africa in search of jobs only to be
exploited or deported by the thousands each week. Do economists see any
viable solutions to Zimbabwe's economic troubles?

MICHAEL WINES. Well, I was just reading about hyperinflation, actually, this
morning. And really there's only one way to cure hyperinflation and that's
for the government to change its economic policies. To do that, the
government has to first stop printing so much money, which is the basic
source of hyperinflation. And secondly it has to start balancing its budget
so that it won't have the temptation in the future to print more money to
get out of its financial problems. So it really requires a government
solution to end the basic economic problem of hyperinflation in that
country. And until the government decides to change, there's really not much
that can be done.

You know, the other interesting thing about hyperinflation is that it's not
only a government-induced problem, but that it's a practice that tends to
benefit the government at the expense of ordinary people. Because the
government can always print more money to find its way out of a financial
problem. And it simply debases the currency that everyday people use to
purchase food, housing, electricity and other basic necessities.

So in many ways, you know, it's not in this government's particular interest
at this point to stop printing money. Until there is either a change in
philosophy or a change to another government that decides that it wants to
balance the budget and bring the economy under control, not much is going to

And having said that, even if that happens, and eventually it almost has to,
Zimbabwe is going to remain something of a basket case, I think, for a good
time to come. And as I said, their agricultural base is basically destroyed.
And it's going to take years, if not decades, to rebuild that.

There's been a mass exodus of talented people to other countries. Many of
the smartest and most capable managers, educators, physicians and others
have left the country and taken jobs elsewhere. And whether they'll come
back quickly or not, is really an unknown.

So I think this country really faces a long, long uphill struggle even if it
does manage to solve the economic problems it's facing.

GREG WINTER. Michael Wines, Times Southern Africa correspondent, thanks so
much for speaking with us.

MICHAEL WINES. Thank you, Greg.

GREG WINTER. And thanks for listening. I'm Greg Winter of The New York
Times. We'll be back next week with another edition of World View.

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Mugabe unlikely to lift ban on private newspapers

Zim Online

Monday 02 July 2007

By Thulani Munda

HARARE - Prospects of President Robert Mugabe's government lifting a ban on
several independent newspapers anytime soon look dim because of lengthy
legal wrangles involved, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and
Article 19 said in a report released at the weekend.

The groups said a plethora of repressive legislation used by the government
to shut down papers and restrict independent journalists would also remain
in the statute books because they best served Mugabe and his ruling elite's
interests as the country prepares to hold key presidential and parliamentary
elections next year.

"The chances for the return of the banned independent newspapers, The Daily
News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune, The Weekly Times, in the
foreseeable future appear remote as evidenced by the time it has taken to
conclude ANZ's (Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe) legal battle to be dully
registered despite the court's findings of obvious bias on the part of the
(state) Media and Information Commission (MIC)," the report read in part.

ANZ published the Daily News, the biggest circulating daily at the time of
its forced closure, and its sister title the Daily News on Sunday. The
company has filed several numerous appeals to the courts seeking to be
allowed to resume publishing its papers that were shut down because they
were not registered with the MIC.

"Viewed against the enactment of additional restrictive legislation, AIPPA
(Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and POSA (Public Order
and Security Act) are set to remain firmly entrenched in the Zimbabwe
statutes to serve the interest of the ruling elite ahead of the 2008
Presidential elections," the report added.

The report warns of the danger of the few remaining independent journalists
and newspapers opting for self-censorship to avoid punishment under the
government's repressive laws.

"Remaining privately owned newspapers that have been fearless in braving the
harsh and restrictive socio-economic and political environment will no doubt
be forced to weigh their options against the risk of suffering the same fate
of the closed newspapers," says the report.

The AIPPA is regarded as one of the harshest media laws in the world. Under
the law enacted five years ago, journalists are required to obtain licences
from the MIC in order to practice in Zimbabwe.

The commission can withdraw licences from journalists it may deem as not
conforming. Journalists caught practising without a licence are reliable to
a two-year jail term under AIPPA.

Besides journalists being required to obtain licences, newspaper companies
are also required to register with the state commission with those failing
to do so facing closure and seizure of their equipment by the police.

Under POSA, journalists face up to two years in jail for publishing
falsehoods that may cause public alarm and despondency, while another law,
the Criminal Codification Act, imposes up to 20 years in jail on journalists
convicted of denigrating President Robert Mugabe in their articles. -

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Shops temporarily close over prices

Zim Online

Monday 02 July 2007

By Thulani Munda

HARARE - Some retailers were on Sunday forced to close their shops fearing
arrest as police intensified a crackdown against businesses refusing to roll
back prices to June 18 levels as directed by the government.

The Zimbabwe government last week imposed a blanket freeze on price
increases it says are unjustified and meant to incite popular revolt against
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

Police and soldiers drafted in to enforce the price ban and who last week
raided mostly small retail operators in poorer sections of Harare stepped up
the blitzkrieg, forcing some of the leading supermarket chains in the
capital to close after staffers refused to obey orders to cut down prices.

In the middle class suburb of Chadcombe east of Harare city centre, workers
at TM Supermarket had to stop selling and close the shop after the police
accused them of flouting the government directive on prices.

"When the police came they forced TM supermarket staffers to reduce their
prices, which they did not do forcing the shop to close," said one angry,
shopper who identified herself as Alice.

"Right now I am being forced to go to Queensdale (shopping centre), to look
for the things which I could have easily bought from our TM here," said
Alice, who looked in her late thirties and said she is an accountant with a
leading clothing retail shop in Harare.

The TM supermarket chain is one of the two biggest retail chains in the
country and its Chadcombe shop also caters for shoppers from the suburbs of
Hatfield, Msasa Park and the peri-urban settlement of Epworth.

Police details also swooped on the popular "Whitehorse" open market on the
outskirts of Harare, along the highway from the capital to Beitbridge on the
border with South Africa. Traders at the market sell goods mostly imported
from South Africa.

The police earlier on Saturday raided Denenga Supermarket along Nelson
Mandela avenue in the city centre while on Friday they stormed SPAR
Athienitis at Harare's Five Avenue shopping centre which popular with well
heeled shoppers.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available to give
figures of how many shop owners and other traders the police had been
arrested over the weekend. But reports suggests that so far not less than 20
businessmen, among them a ZANU PF Senator for Murehwa-Goromonzi
constituency, Siriro Majuru, were arrested for allegedly busting price

The raids on leading retailers came just hours after Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce president Marah Hativagone announced that the business
community had lost trust and confidence in the government because of the
price ban, a development she said endangered attempts to agree a social
contract of business, labour and the government.

Hativagone said: "We were building up confidence in government through the
social contract, but following government's directive to retailers to slash
prices by 50 percent, business has lost trust and confidence in the
government as a social partner."

The government has been pushing for a social contract with labour and last
month the three partners' in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum signed three
protocols to work together in the search for solutions to Zimbabwe's
eight-year old economic crisis.

However, a tough-talking Mugabe appeared to ditch co-operation with business
threatening during a speech at the burial of a former top soldier that his
government would nationalise factories and shops that refused to lower
prices and mines that he accused of externalising foreign currency earned
from exports.

Analysts say the government's latest effort to keep a lid on prices was
meant to pacify angry workers ahead of general presidential and
parliamentary elections next year but would come at a heavy cost as this
could force some companies to shut down and force more workers to join the
growing list of the jobless. - ZimOnline

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1 443 violations of student rights recorded in Zim last year

Zim Online

Monday 02 July 2007

By Nqobizitha Khumalo

BULAWAYO - A total of 1 443 violations of students rights were recorded in
Zimbabwe last year, according to a report compiled and released by the
Student Solidarity Trust.

The trust, which seeks to promote students' welfare, is made up of students
from the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and other tertiary
institutions around the country.

The report titled, "State of the Higher and Tertiary Educations Sector in
Zimbabwe 2006 - Inside a Pandora's Box", was released to coincide with the
United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture that was
marked last week.

The report, the first to monitor and document student rights violations,
says there were 1 443 cases of violations of student rights which included
cases of intimidation, death threats, unlawful arrest and detention of
students during the past year.

"The year 2006 saw a number of unwelcome and catastrophic developments for
students and the student movement.

"The rights that were most violated during the year were the rights to
freedom of expression, association, movement, political discrimination,
freedom from arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention," said the report.

The trust said 337 cases of unlawful arrest and 35 cases of serious torture
of were recorded during the past year, among other numerous other violations
by President Robert Mugabe's embattled government.

The report says ZINASU student leaders Promise Mkwananzi, Mfundo Mlilo and
Zwelithini Viki were among those who bore the brunt of the government
crackdown against students as they were arrested and tortured several times
during the course of the year.

The Zimbabwean government is battling for political survival in the face of
a severe economic crisis that has been described as the worst in the world
outside a war zone.

The economic crisis, which is in its eighth straight year, has triggered
widespread discontent with students and workers demonstrating against
worsening economic hardships.

Harare has in turn responded by violently breaking up student demonstrations
accusing the students of working with the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party to effect regime in the country. - ZimOnline

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Village heads refuse to sanction MDC rallies

Zim Online

Monday 02 July 2007

By Prince Nyathi

MUTARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party has accused the police of refusing to sanction their rallies in rural
areas saying the party should first seek clearance from village heads.

Pishai Muchauraya, the party's spokesperson in Manicaland, said the police
had over the past two weeks denied them permission to hold rallies by
telling them to first produce letters from village heads allowing them to
hold rallies in their areas.

Muchauraya said the requirement was meant to scuttle their political
activities in the rural areas as most traditional leaders were strong
backers of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

"When we go to the police, they tell us to get letter from a traditional
leader of that particular area first before we can hold the rally.

"But the chiefs cannot give us the letters because they are afraid that ZANU
PF youth militia will terrorise them afterwards," said Muchauraya.

The MDC, which enjoys massive support in urban areas, has found it difficult
to penetrate rural areas which are strongholds of ZANU PF.

Under Zimbabwe's tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA), political
parties must first seek clearance from the police before holding any rallies
or political meetings.

But the law does not require political parties to seek clearance from
traditional leaders.

Muchauraya said the MDC had over the past two weeks been forced to cancel
rallies at Shiba Forestry Estate near Honde Valley and another rally that
was scheduled for Mafuke Hall in Gombakomba in Mutare south constituency.

In both cases, the MDC sought and failed to get clearance from the Officer
Commanding Mutare Rural District, a Superintendent Govo. Govo could not be
reached for comment on the matter.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the opposition party was
being denied permission to hold rallies in Manicaland.

"There is no regulation like that," said Bvudzijena when contacted by

The police last March banned rallies and demonstrations in Harare following
violent clashes with opposition supporters in the working class suburb of

The ban was only lifted on Wednesday with the security agency however saying
political parties must still apply for permission in line with Zimbabwe's
security laws. - ZimOnline

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MDC has no authority to pardon Mugabe

Zim Online

Monday 02 July 2007

By Tanonoka Joseph Whande

GABORONE - There are talks again. Maybe these are the talks. But talks about

I have an acutely vested interest in the talks between President Robert
Mugabe's representatives and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) factions that are currently underway in South Africa.

I want the talks to succeed because my life literally depends on them. South
African President Thabo Mbeki, on the other hand, is just looking for an
undeserved addition to that part of his dull CV that refers to mediation.

Almost a decade ago, Mbeki went live before an international television
audience and offered the world the African Renaissance, which still remains
in the incubator.

Maybe he's afraid the Renaissance might not survive the harsh African
climate. However, my optimism over the talks is doused by several scenarios
which make me conclude this is just another charade to protect Mugabe while
giving Mbeki a small opening to escape.

Who are the principals in these talks? What and how much can they offer or
concede? And what do they mean to us Zimbabweans?

First, there is Mbeki, a lacklustre moderator prone to taking sides when
mediating. Mbeki's mediating skills were badly exposed and tarnished when
the Ivorians fired him from their mediation talks for bias.

I cheer when I look at what happened in the Ivory Coast after they fired

Is the sight in the Ivory Coast not one to behold when we have a president
whose former adversary (in violent manner) is now his prime minister in

Also remember, please, that the bogeyman himself, Mugabe, riding on the back
of his highly efficient army, put Mozambique's Alphonso Dhlakama, of the
Mozambican Resistance Army (RENAMO), on the defensive and brought him to the
negotiating table, culminating in that historic peace accord between the
Mozambican government and RENAMO in Rome.

Zimbabwe had to act; it was suffering badly because of the political
instability in Mozambique, much as South Africa is going through because of

One of my most cherished moments was seeing Mugabe on the podium, with a
genuine smile on his face, hugging a beaming Alphonso Dhlakama in front of a
jubilant Joachim Chissano during Mozambique's 10th Anniversary of Peace
Celebrations in Maputo.

That was in 2002.

Regrettably, that has meant nothing to both Mbeki and Mugabe. Since becoming
president, Mbeki has had ample opportunity to arrest the deplorable
situation in Zimbabwe.

The last time he invited and held mediation talks between Mugabe and the
opposition, Mbeki succeeded only in splitting the opposition.

Mbeki has failed to control the situation and, three weeks ago, went to the
extent of telling his nation through a speech in parliament that "South
Africa just has to live with the influx of (Zimbabwean) refugees."

He protects Mugabe at the expense of South Africans. So we have Mbeki, an
ardent Mugabe ally, now tasked with the job again. The folly of diplomacy!

So, hands up those who think Mbeki is the right mediator. I see only one

Okay, Mr Mugabe, you can put your hand down now. Your vote does not count.
(Does that sound familiar to you, Sir?)

Then there is the man himself, Robert Mugabe. He sent a team of
lightweights, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, to the negotiating
table. And this gauges the 'unseriousness' of the matter.

I made the same point (The UK Guardian, Aug 20, 2003) when similar talks
were ongoing and with these two Mugabe representatives as the principal
negotiators. Of the two, Goche surprises me the most.

I first met Goche when I was a student in the US and he was at our embassy
in Washington just after independence. Goche was straightforward and
espoused democracy through all his pores.

He never struck me as one who would end up like this. But, I guess power,
money and politics are like fungi; they never stop growing.

So here we are with Chinamasa and Goche once again in the forefront to bring
better fortunes to Zimbabwe. They tried it before and failed.

Obasanjo and Mbeki tried it with them before and failed. This time, however,
Mbeki is reported to have requested Chinamasa to give him "more evidence
that they were serious about the talks."

And does anyone of us believe that Mugabe is in these talks to negotiate
himself out of power? And if he is not, what are these talks about since
that is the only thing that matters.

Hands up those who think Mugabe is serious about these talks. I see only one
hand. Okay, Mr Mugabe, you can put your hand down now. Your vote does not
count. (Surely, that must sound familiar to you, Sir?)

The talks cannot be about power sharing for that would be political suicide
for the MDC. Unity then? It cannot be. The chasm is too deep and there is no
common ground.

Besides, no matter how much we love and revere the late Vice-President
Joshua Nkomo, his capitulation into disbanding PF-ZAPU and being swallowed
by ZANU-PF shall always remain as the day when Zimbabweans were robbed of

Unity does not mean giving up one's dreams and hopes for his country and
adopting the other person's. Unity means that if our people prefer a certain
path, whether it is championed by the ruling party or the opposition, then
we all embrace it and work towards its fulfilment together.

Unity does not mean abandoning one's agenda for the nation. It does not mean
being swallowed by another party whose ideology is totally different from
yours. So what are these talks about?

Are they, then, about Mugabe's retirement and immunity from prosecution? I
will not laugh while in the execution room but I want to know who can
forgive a murderer other than the murdered?

And this brings us to the MDC. Now, what is the MDC negotiating for? Are
they negotiating a merger at party level? Are they demanding, as the late
Ndabaningi Sithole and the late Joshua Nkomo did, that the 'playing field be

Are they willing to tackle and tell us, now, what will happen to our head of
state, should Mugabe lose the elections? Are they only demanding 'a new
constitution before the next elections'?

Since when have African dictators respected their own constitutions?

I call the MDC, particularly Morgan Tsvangirai, as my first witness for the
prosecution. Hopefully, Mr Tsvangirai's wounds inflicted on him for
attending a prayer meeting for Zimbabwe have now healed enough for him to

If Mugabe is demanding immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping
down then tough luck because no one has the authority to pardon Mugabe
except those he committed crimes against.

I said as much to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Daily News,
March 4, 2003) who was actively pursuing and promising Mugabe immunity in
exchange of exile in the UK.

No one, not even the MDC, has the authority to pardon Mugabe except the
Zimbabwean people. And that is a tall order, indeed!

The MDC should be warned that the sacrifices and concessions they make do
not amount to a betrayal of the people. The concessions they make must not
disappoint and they should be alert to Mugabe's trickery which is a matter
of public record.

No one can rule Zimbabwe with Mugabe free on a pig farm somewhere or alive
in exile somewhere in Saudi Arabia. Too many people were murdered in his

This is one man who will never live in peace should he make the mistake to
leave the presidency.

So, hands up everyone who believes Mugabe is trying to negotiate himself out
of power. No paws up, just like I thought!

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean writer based in Gaborone, Botswana

* ZimOnline encourages readers to send articles for publication in the
interest of promoting healthy debate on the crisis in Zimbabwe.

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Teachers sell sex to buy food as Mugabe cronies get richer

The Sunday Times, UK
June 1, 2007

While the government prospers, most of the Zimbabwe survives on less than £1
per week and will do anything to survive
Christina Lamb, Harare
STELLA SITHOLE is a high school teacher with neatly braided hair and a
husband who works in a bank, yet in the twisted world of President Robert
Mugabe's Zimbabwe she has to turn tricks to feed her children.

Battling to survive the world's highest inflation, estimated by local
bankers to have reached 15,000%, the salary of Z$2.1m she has just received
is six times what she got last month. But it is not even enough to cover her
bus fares to school and back. In fact, it is equivalent to less than £3.50 a

So for several days of the week, instead of standing in front of her class
in Kwekwe teaching history and geography, Sithole takes the bus 146 miles
north to Harare. There, she sits at the bar in clubs such as Chez Ntemba,
Chez Mambo and the Stars Studio at Rainbow Towers hotel, waiting for a

At 32, Sithole is pretty and refined, though there is a far-away sadness in
her eyes and clients complain that there is not enough of her bottom ("What
do you expect on one meal a day?" she asks).

On a pulsating Friday night at the Stars Studio, there is no shortage of
takers. "Ministers," she whispers, "or Zanu big men."

While the vast majority of Zimbabweans are struggling, like Sithole, to
survive on less than £1 a week - "We're not even have-nots," she says,
have-nothings" - these paunchy men in striped suits knocking back shots of
malt whisky are finding that things have never been so good.

Not only government ministers and officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party,
but also top police and army officers and High Court judges have been
cleverly woven into Mugabe's patronage system, benefiting hugely from his
despotic rule.

Many have been allotted property that was violently seized from white
farmers. But their real wealth comes from access to foreign exchange at less
than 1,000th of the rate on the streets.

This enables them to buy expensive vehicles such as the Hummers, S-class
Mercedes and Toyota Prados that fill the hotel car park - one of which will
whisk Sithole to a lodge on the edge of town.

When I first meet her through a friend, the primly dressed mother of two is
ashamed to tell me what she does, referring instead to "colleagues that have
become sex workers". But it is clear she knows too much and in the end she
admits her tawdry double life.

"I studied three years at college to become a teacher and was so proud when
I graduated," she says, sadly. "Now look at me. I'm very ashamed and always
regret afterwards but otherwise we would starve."

Her clients pay in "cash and kind". Pointing at the long black leather boots
she is wearing, she explains: "The most I got was Z$600,000 and this pair of
boots as well as a mobile phone my husband sold."

She can earn more depending on what she refers to as "the what". This means
whether she is prepared to have sex with no condom - an enormous risk in a
country where at least one in five adults is HIV-positive.

"These dirty things make me scared because most of these guys are infected
but I'm desperate," she shrugs.

To show the impossibility of surviving on a teacher's wage, we take her
entire Z$2.1m salary to a local supermarket. All she manages to buy with the
two large bricks of notes is one bottle of cooking oil, one packet of salt,
one laundry soap, one pack of powdered soup, some milk powder and a pack of

In fact, just her bus fares to travel the 15 miles to school are Z$60,000
each way, totalling Z$2.4m a month if she goes every day. "So I'm already on
minus," she says. "I'm actually having to borrow money to go to work."

On top of that, her bills last month were Z$315,000 for electricity,
Z$130,000 for water and Z$800,000 for rent, not to mention food and bus
fares for her 11-year-old daughter and nursery fees for her five-year-old
son. Her husband earns just Z$1.4m. "We're the poorest millionaires on
earth," she laughs.

For two years she supplemented her salary by working in a field or cleaning
after school. She would use the money to go into Harare and buy cheap
clothing. She would exchange this in rural areas for ground nuts and peanuts
that she could then sell in town.

Colleagues cross the border to Botswana or South Africa, where they can buy
goods for a quarter of the price, and come back and sell them. But Sithole
has never amassed enough money to buy the foreign exchange she would need to
do this.

This year, as inflation spiralled, she has found herself borrowing more than
her salary each month. "I don't have any family abroad to send me money and
we weren't even having one meal a day," she says.

One of her colleagues suggested accompanying her to Harare for the night.
She earned more in a few hours than for a month's teaching. When I ask if
many of the other teachers at her school are doing the same, she laughs.
"Three-quarters," she replies.

Others have simply left the country, part of a massive exodus of 4m people.
At the start of term in May more than 5,000 teachers in Zimbabwe did not
return to their posts, among them Sithole's headmaster.

The children they have left behind are just told to sit and read.
"Zimbabweans sacrifice bread for books to get their children to school, then
there's no teaching," said James Elder of the United Nations Children's Fund
(Unicef) in Harare.

He pointed out that the pass rate had dropped sharply - just 37% passed
grade 7, which means almost two-thirds are failing.

"It hurts me that we teachers are abandoning the children to service these
beasts with their fine cars," says Sithole. "But we don't have an option."

Her clients' children attend private schools or study in the UK, America or
Australia. They can easily afford this because of the beneficial exchange
rate available to those close to power.

Although the Reserve Bank knocked three zeroes off the currency last
November, the Zimbabwe dollar has continued to lose value at an astonishing
rate. At the start of the year it was 3,000 to the US dollar. Last month it
fell from 100,000 to 300,000 in a week on the streets where most people
exchange. Yet the official rate is 250.

"Imagine the money you can make," a merchant bank director explained. "Say
you buy US$100 at the official rate - that costs you Z$25,000. Then you sell
that US$100 on the streets and get Z$30m. With that Z$30m, at the official
rate you can buy more than US$100,000 - all for your initial outlay of about
eight cents.

"And that's not to mention fuel vouchers," he added. A litre of fuel for the
privileged costs just Z$400 while everyone else must pay Z$185,000. "If
one of Mugabe's cronies, you can live in fantastic wealth."

That wealth is visible not only from the number of new luxury cars on the
streets of the capital but from a spin round Borrowdale Brooke, a private
housing estate with its own golf course in northern Harare.

Many government ministers have elaborate mansions. On the hill is a
three-storey glass monstrosity with its own lift, owned by the army chief,
and beyond a heavily guarded entrance is the shining blue pagoda-style roof
of Mugabe's multi-million-pound new home.

The local Spar sells Mozambican prawns, lobster and Laphroaig malt whisky at
Z$9m a bottle but if residents prefer to eat out, they can head down the
road to Amanzi, where dinner for five costs more than Z$26m.

"At the same time most people are barely surviving, those with access to
power are literally bleeding the country and becoming richer daily," said
Roy Ben-nett, a leading member of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) who had to flee to South Africa after 10 months in jail.

"It's not just Mugabe. There's an elite of around 5,000 scoring from the
situation and there are enough of them in high places to maintain the status

"They realise their only way to survive is to keep Mugabe there, because
once he goes it's a bun-fight between them."

It is not only those holding the reins of power who are benefiting.
stock market is booming. At a cafe in Harare I met Robert, a flashily
dressed 26-year-old who was showing off a Ford Triton for which he had just
paid Z$14 billion. He and his friend had five mobile phones on the table
that kept ringing.

"More deals to make," he explained, describing himself as a commodity
broker, which in today's Zimbabwe seems to mean black market profiteer.
chaos but we've never had it so good," he said as he drove off in his new

"We have this ridiculous dichotomy where this is the cheapest country in the
world if you're earning US dollars and the most expensive in the world if
you're earning Zim dollars," said an importer of luxury perfumes and
cosmetics. "You can pretty much afford anything you want if you have access
to foreign exchange."

But he added that after a couple of boom years, his sales were now falling.
"The numbers are becoming less and less and noticeably so," he said.

With inflation so high that the Reserve Bank needs to double the amount of
money in circulation every month, it is struggling to print enough of the
country's Monopoly-style notes and recently had to bribe printers to work
overtime with a Z$5m bonus.

It was the Reserve Bank that pushed up the exchange rate so precipitously
last month, buying up foreign exchange on the black market to pay Eskom in
South Africa for electricity and to repay money owed by Air Zimbabwe so it
could keep flying. It also paid for US$2m worth of surveillance equipment,
following the introduction of a law that permits the monitoring of phone
calls and e-mails.

The biggest payment, however, was US$39m owed to the US Export-Import Bank
to avoid legal action from the US Treasury. Gideon Gono, the governor of the
Reserve Bank, wrote a furious letter to the US attorney-general, complaining
that the repayment had forced the government to "divert funds which were
meant for importation of . . . medical drugs for our hospitals, antidrought
food imports, fuel, electricity, seeds as well as agricultural equipment".

He added: "The people of Zimbabwe have paid an invaluable sacrificial
welfare price to meet your abrupt harsh turn of spirit."

Short of foreign exchange and having run out of farms to hand out to
supporters - all but 200 of the 4,500 white farms have been confiscated -
the government last week announced legislation to seize 51% of foreign

Although the government has stopped issuing inflation figures since it hit
3,700% in March, prices are doubling weekly. A loaf of bread that cost
Z$8,000 in May is now Z$50,000.

In supermarkets such as the Bellevue Spar in Bulawayo, staff struggle to
keep up with the increases. Every aisle has someone busy with a pricing gun
and some items have six or seven price labels, one on top of another. The
baked beans on sale for Z$66,000 five days ago have just been repriced at
Z$125,000. Hardly anyone in the shop seems to be buying anything. People
stare at prices and window shop as if they were ata luxury department store.

"We're going round from place to place to see if any shop has items it
yet marked up," says Charles, a young man with dreadlocks who is foreman of
a local factory.

He has just discovered hair gel for Z$30,000 that is going for Z$130,000
elsewhere, so he buys up six to sell on the street.

Others, such as a white-haired pensioner, walk out with nothing. His monthly
pension is not even enough to buy a toilet roll, he tells me.

The desperate situation has led to some appalling acts. In the state-owned
Herald newspaper last week was the story of a Rushinga man who murdered his
10-year-old son with an axe for eating four mice that were meant for the
family dinner.

Power cuts are so common that at night the centre of Harare is as dark as
remote countryside. The government recently announced 20-hour power cuts,
but some areas of the capital often go without for three days at a time.
People sell bundles of firewood in the city centre. Many areas of Bulawayo
and some parts of Harare have no water.

The state-owned media blame it all on a plot by British and American
governments. Last week the Chronicle wrote: "We can reveal that British and
US governments, after failing to incite a public revolt against the
government of Zimbabwe, are now working overtime to destroy the economy,
mutilate the Zimbabwe dollar, foment civil unrest . . ."

Few are taken in. For the first time in years of going to Zimbabwe, I found
people speaking out openly, suggesting that anger is overtaking fear in a
police state where one person in three is now thought to be an informer.

"The rule of economics is the one law Mugabe cannot break," said Christopher
Dell, the US ambassador, who predicts that inflation will reach 1.5m% by the
end of the year. "Historically, no regime has ever survived six or
seven-digit inflation."

Dell's criticism of the regime has outraged Mugabe and in his office is a
framed front page of the Herald with the headline, "Dell can go to hell".

"They're printing money at madcap rates to pay for fuel, maize and
electricity imports," he said. "It's all self-inflicted.

"It's like when you pull out the plug on a bathtub. First the water goes
slowly but then as it gets near the plughole, it starts swirling faster and
faster. I think we're in the final swirl."

Dell admits it could get even worse after Mugabe. "I think we could see a
period of instability with maybe three or four presidents in a row," he
said. "The most dangerous thing will be if the military gets involved." At
the moment the least threat to Mugabe seems to come from the opposition. The
MDC has been crippled, first by internal splits, then by the regime's silent
campaign of torture and intimidation.

"Of course we've gone quiet - we've been battling to stay alive," said
Bennett in exile in South Africa.

"In the last month I've had an influx of more than 30 members of the senior
leadership running away from the police and seeking asylum."

Following the beatings of the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and
other senior members, which drew international condemnation in March,
thugs set about destroying the MDC's entire network.

"They raided our headquarters and seized all our computers and accessed
documents so they could see who's who in all our structures," Bennett said.
"Then they systematically went about arresting all our members so it's
impossible for us to organise."

Although many have criticised Tsvangirai's lack of leadership, the
opposition is not helped by the make-do culture of most Zimbabweans. "No one
is ever going to rise up," said a restaurant owner in Harare. "If there's no
power, we light a candle. If there are no candles, we light a fire."

Mugabe's exhausted population has no time or energy for protests. Every
morning a flood of people can be seen walking into Harare and Bulawayo - the
so-called "human train" of people walking for up to four hours to get to
work because they cannot afford the fare.

Many are surviving on remittances sent from the estimated 4m Zimbabweans who
have left the country - almost a third of the population. Just £10 a month
sent back would triple the salary of a teacher such as Sithole.

Shops and factories across the country have been closing, unable to afford
imported raw materials. Bakeries in the southern town of Masvingo on Friday
suspended the production of bread following a government order to reduce
prices by 50%.

"We no longer have an industry to talk about," said Callisto Jokonya, the
head of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. "We have deindustrialised

At one clothing factory in Harare, the owner said he had lost 10% of his
workforce in the past two weeks. "Frankly I don't know why workers still
come," he shrugged. "It can only be hope."

Hope is all they have in many rural areas such as Matabeleland in the south
of the country. A severe drought has resulted in a 95% crop failure in the
south and in villages around Plumtree, one family after another showed their
recent maize harvest was enough for only two or three weeks. Nationwide, the
country's harvest of maize, its staple crop, is thought to have been between
500,000-800,000 tons, compared to annual needs of 1.4m tons.

Yet this works in Mugabe's favour because he will again be able to use food
as a political tool in the run-up to elections next March.

If the situation seems grave in rural areas, things are even worse in parts
of Bulawayo.

A whole community of people whose homes were demolished by the government
two years ago now live on the Richmond rubbish dump, surviving by foraging
for glass bottles and plastic.

Remedio Moyo, 26, shows the black plastic shelter he lives under with his
wife and children aged three and five. Small black flies cover everything.

"This is not a proper life," he said. "I went to school and all I wanted
from life was a job anda small house, not to be a big man. There is only one
person to blame for this situation and I would like that man to die any

Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, said things were
now so desperate that he was calling on the West to invade and oust Mugabe's

"Anyone who is ready to starve his people to death for the sake of power is
a murderer," Ncube said. "What more does he have to do?"

Names have been changed to protect identities.

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Tsvangirai in Marondera

30 June 2007
It is now common cause that Zimbabweans and the MDC, in particular, are under siege. Thousands of our activists are targeted for harassment daily for merely expressing a different opinion about the future, about Zimbabwe. Seventeen others are in jail, awaiting trial, as we speak. They were heavily assaulted in a wave of violence the Mugabe regime unleashed on ordinary Zimbabweans since March. That state-sponsored violence still continues. 
Violence is a self-satisfying strategy; a sign of weakness and a weapon that drives hearts and minds further from the dictatorship. Violence signals an admission of failure. And violence, no matter how intense, can never stop the people from wishing for change and transformation. All it does is to achieve a temporary dislocation of our organizational capacity, but the spirit of the people remains unshaken. 
Contrary to the regime’s view that fear can be sustained through brutality, in Zimbabwe’s case there is a massive groundswell of courage evident across the political divide showing a national consensus against the maintenance of the status quo. 
All aspects of our livelihoods are under a serious threat. The health delivery system has collapsed. Our schools have become empty shells. The social costs of the dictatorship are escalating every day. The flight of skills and the exodus of professionals and a large part of our active population to neighbouring countries and beyond have reached embarrassing levels. 
There is a Zimbabwean everywhere, searching for economic security and a better life. At home, the average Zimbabwean has become the most impoverished person on earth; has a dwindling lifespan and is without a caring and accountable government. The average Zimbabwean is exposed to random beatings by the state. 
As we approach the final, decisive stages of our generational and political transition to a new Zimbabwe, may I take this opportunity to urge the nation to exercise restraint and remain focused on the goal? We live in trying times. Our entire business sector has been criminalized and attacked for merely trying to perform an essential service and for supplying the people with the little goods and services they can still salvage from the current hyper-inflationary environment.
Hunger, starvation and HIV Aids have become part of our daily existence. Mr. Chairman, may I through you urge the people to avoid the temptation to lose hope. We are on course. It has become clear that we are on the final stages of the dictatorship. Change is inevitable; change is coming. We have engaged Zanu PF as part of what has become our tradition to search for a lasting solution to our crisis. In April 2002, a month after the stolen Presidential election, we tried to make Zanu PF see the dangers of driving Zimbabwe to the wall. 
We engaged them; and agreed on an agenda. We thought they were serious. But they scuttled the process and decided to go it alone, leading us to where we are today. There are always opportunities in dialogue. What we need is principled dialogue, away from emotions, and anchored on raw facts about the situation in our country. SADC has seen the need for this and is trying to push Zanu PF away from the state of denial. Let us steer away from embarrassing our SADC neighbours. 
We endorse the region’s concern for Zimbabwe in the hope that something positive can emerge from the engagement. Given the right political will, peace is possible. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, Zimbabweans are not asking for anybody’s pound of flesh: Zimbabweans simply require space to express themselves out of the current crisis. Zimbabweans cherish a situation where they can laugh at themselves in freedom; where they can meet and decide the future in a climate of peace; where the shadow of state is reduced to a minimum and conditions for free and fair elections are guaranteed.
Our culture demands respect for our elders and senior citizens. We desire a significant movement, a major shift from the current position where political leaders cling onto power despite their advanced age and against the national sentiment.  Such actions undermine our social fabric.
Zimbabweans always favour smooth transitions; transitions that ensure zero disruption of normal activity; and transitions that show and allow for continuity and fairness. Our transition has reached a delicate stage. Let us rise above our partisan positions and manage the process carefully.
We must guard against any careless political posturing and behaviour that could undermine the nation’s desire to soft-land the crisis. If we deliberately allow our emotions to undermine a reasoned pacific process, a possibility exits for a serious power vacuum whose consequences could be too ghastly to contemplate. There is simply too much anxiety within the population at the moment.
Our uniformed forces and all civil servants must confine themselves to their Constitutional mandate and serve Zimbabweans across the board. Our war veterans must realize that they were demobilized after a sterling performance against colonialism. They cannot allow a political party to de-humanise them and turn them into a militia. They cannot become a reserve force whose command structure rests with the Zanu PF politburo. Genuine war veterans must refuse to be answerable to a political party. They fought for Zimbabwe, not Zanu PF.
On our part, there have been calls across the board for unity within the MDC. I have argued against elite pacts. I have argued against attempts to pick-up individuals for specific party positions. That process cannot be regarded as uniting the party.  Such a process is insincere and leads to fresh political setbacks.
Whatever we seek to do must be comprehensive and honest. Some have argued that we risk losing elections if we enter the race before we unite. I respect that argument, but let me caution against too much reliance on that aspect alone.You will recall that as leaders, we were united for six years.  But Mugabe still manipulated the system and stole the election. 
What we need is unity to confront Mugabe and fight for a marked improvement in electoral conditions. That is the primary goal. Once we have achieved that, any Zimbabwean can run for any public office, including that of a president, without fear. If conditions spur confidence among the people, legitimate outcomes can always be guaranteed.
Under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, we have managed to focus on the core national problem and to search for ways to deal with the overall set of grievances among the people. Our efforts are bearing fruit as leaders of various organizations brainstorm and decide the way forward. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign represents a wider cross-section of our society and consults its constituent bodies regularly on the way forward. As you go back home, may implore you to campaign for a massive voter registration exercise, targeting all young people born before January 1990. They are the future.
I thank you,
Morgan Tsvangirai
Marondera, 30 June 2007.

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Cup pay-out for Zimbabwe

Sunday Telegraph. UK

By Scyld Berry, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:08am BST 01/07/2007

Zimbabwe's top cricket officials will be laughing all the way to the bank,
or wherever they keep the money which Zimbabwe receives from world cricket.

The ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said yesterday the remaining sum of
US$4.5 million will be paid to Zimbabwe as soon as the independent auditors
KPMG begin their investigation into the Board's finances, no matter what
irregularities are uncovered. The ICC, according to Speed, has no power to
withhold the money which Zimbabwe are due from the World Cup.

In theory Zimbabwe, like any other full member, were due to receive $11
million. But all full members have to pay an annual subscription of $1
million, while Zimbabwe were given a loan of another million, and $2 million
has already been paid to them.

The ICC released the latest instalment when they received an assurance from
the president of Zimbabwe Cricket, Peter Chingoka, that their cricketers had
finally been paid, two months after the tournament ended. It is understood,
however, that their players received the basic sum of only $2000 each, with
a bonus of $500 for an individual performance such as scoring a fifty; and
their World Cup campaign did not produce many such performances. Where the
remaining millions went will be the subject of the auditors' investigation.
Speed indicated, however, that future ICC payments to Zimbabwe could be
subject to the discretion of the game's governing body. And he also
expressed doubts as to whether the country would ever return to Test status.

"I don't know if Zimbabwe will ever be able to come back to Test cricket,"
Speed said. "But our duty is to help their cricketers to play cricket to the
highest standard."

Will ICC ever remove Zimbabwe's Test status, their financial privileges and
their vote? "The assumption has always been once a full member, always a
full member. But I think there would come a time, if they can't resume Test
cricket, when that would be reviewed," he added.

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Refugees flood from Zimbabwe

Flow of desperate migrants into South Africa intensifies as inflation and
shortages worsen

Andrew Meldrum in Beitbridge
Sunday July 1, 2007
The Observer

The number of Zimbabweans seeking asylum in South Africa has increased
dramatically since Robert Mugabe's police assaulted the country's opposition
leaders on 11 March, experts say.
South Africa has not officially recognised the human rights abuses of
President Mugabe's regime so those seeking refugee status face a difficult,
drawn-out process. The flow of Zimbabweans fleeing the country, both legally
and illegally, has become a rush as food and fuel shortages grow and
inflation - now at 4,000 per cent - is predicted to hit a staggering 1.5
million per cent by year end.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are jumping the border into South Africa every week
and many are falling prey to robbers who prowl the border zone. More than
165,000 were picked up and deported from South Africa in the past year,
according to new figures released to The Observer by the International
Organisation of Migration (IOM).
It is Africa's most extraordinary exodus from a country not at war,
according to experts.

At Beitbridge, the great Limpopo river divides the two countries. Here there
are frequent reports of Zimbabweans drowning or being eaten by crocodiles as
they try to cross. Currently, South Africa is sending back more than 4,000
Zimbabweans every week, up more than 40 per cent from 2006.

These figures relate only to those who were caught and returned. There are
no reliable figures on illegal migrants, it is widely estimated that 3.4
million Zimbabweans - a quarter of the population - have now fled.

On the ridge above the Limpopo, 12ft high electric fences bristling with
razor wire mark the border. Patched-up holes riddle the fences, evidence of
the constant traffic. Two freshly cut spaces break the fence and in the
distance a small campfire can be seen where border jumpers huddle for

'This is one of the busiest borders in Africa,' says Andrew Gethi, IOM's
Beitbridge operations officer. The IOM office opened in May 2006 and has
been overwhelmed. 'We expected to deal with 6,000 deportees per month, but
the number was 12,000 and it has gone up to 17,000,' said Gethi. 'It is
seven days a week. We get no breaks.'

South Africa delivers its deportees to the IOM office on the Zimbabwean
side. They are offered a hot meal, counselling and transport home. Only 55
per cent accept: the rest immediately turn around and try again, according
to officials who are powerless to stop them.

South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, conceded last May that the enormous
human influx 'is something we have to live with'. He avoided describing the
economic collapse, hunger and repression creating the refugees.

Christopher is one of the border jumpers. 'People are leaving Zimbabwe
because the government is not looking after the people - it's against the
people, it's beating people, it's shooting people,' he says. 'There's no law
in Zimbabwe. The law is for the President, he works for himself with the
police and army only. That's why people are running away from Zimbabwe.

'I was with the opposition. They shot my dog in front of my children. They
beat me and threatened to kill me. I was so scared of the government I
didn't mind the danger from crocodiles or elephants'

Christopher found work on a farm. Human Rights Watch report that thousands
of Zimbabweans face harsh conditions and abuse on South Africa's farms, yet
no one opts to go back to Zimbabwe.

But as the number of exiles grows, so does resentment. 'They are taking our
jobs. They are stealing. We should send them all back,' said Nepo Nkhahle,
who runs a trucking business.

'I know it is not their fault. They don't know where their next meal is. But
many South Africans are getting fed up with this.'

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International broadcasters on high alert: Key channel, support group threatened

Michael Hedges July 2, 2007

Foreign-originated broadcasts and foreign media support groups are losing
their welcome. Is somebody afraid of being bitten? Writing new laws to
hamper, discourage and foil foreign-originated broadcasts from entering
their ether-space is necessary, they say, for technical reasons.
Armenia's National Assembly passed (Friday June 29) on first reading two
amendments to its' law "On Television and Radio." One amendment specifically
forbids Armenian Public Radio and Television from broadcasting any programs
they do not produce. The target, without subtlety, is US-funded Radio Free
Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), known in Armenia as Radio Liberty. RFE/RL
is the only foreign broadcaster offering news programs on Armenian State

Amendment number two imposes a stiff tax on any broadcaster for offering
programs from foreign broadcasters. Second reading is scheduled early this

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, however, spoke out Friday, saying "It will
hurt me if (Radio) Liberty stops going on air."

There's an old newsroom saying that "dog bites man" is not a story. "Man
bites dog" is. Governments seek control over media. Imperious governments
seek control over media imperiously. Armenia's President Robert Kocharian
said he doesn't like people listening to Radio Liberty. Coincidentally,
Armenia will hold presidential elections in 2008. Dog bites man.
In this media-enhanced world, State media's clumsy or cheesy offerings bore
local listeners silly, causing the broadcast equivalent of carpal-tunnel
syndrome as listeners push one different button after another. The choices
may be maddening but not as much as another politician's speech.

Late last year Azerbaijan's National Radio and Television shut down radio
and TV broadcaster ANS for disregarding "warnings." ANS was an RFE/RL
affiliate. New rules came into effect January 1st barring all local Azeri
broadcasters from carrying the BBC, Radio Liberty and voice of America
programs. Azerbaijan will hold presidential elections in 2008.

Zimbabwe's government bought Chinese jamming transmitters, originally
manufactured in France, to control foreign broadcasts saying mean things.
Iran's culture control police are said to round up evil satellite dish

North Koreans have a hard time listening to any broadcasts other than those
State-operated since "authorized" receivers are fixed to State-operated
frequencies. Being caught listening to foreign broadcasts results in hard
time in prison. That idea didn't originate in North Korea. Nazi Germany in
1933 imposed prison sentences - or worse - for listening to foreign radio
broadcasts. Fortunately for Germans those laws have been remanded to the
dust-bin of history, with the exception of radio and TV (and now internet)
license fees to pay for public broadcasting. ("And how many radios do you

Hostility toward message bearers - over the air, over the internet or over
the transom - increased on two events. Most cliché is the universally
accepted meme that "9/11 changed everything." Media expands to the
horrification presented, particularly when unanticipated.

More directly, Ukraine's Orange Revolution is a source of continuous
reflection for every government - East, West, North or South. Media trainers
sent to develop journalists' skills succeeded. Media freedom advocacy NGOs
got results.

Internews is well-known in developing and transitional regions as an
advocate for upgrading local media skills as a means of forming a strong
working platform for free and independent media. They assist media
infrastructures Afghanistan to, almost, Zimbabwa, always supporting local
efforts and best practices. Tin-pot despots would rather not see Internews
trainers showing the secrets of good news video.

Russian tax authorities recently froze bank accounts of the NGO Educated
Media Foundation (EMF), formerly known as Internews Russia.  Additionally,
EMF President Manana Aslmazyan faces criminal charges for smuggling and may
face others. NGO's of all stripe and color have been in the sights of
Russian authorities, many being stripped of legal grounds for operating in

Mrs Aslazyan's most recent trials stem from the day last January when she
arrived in Moscow's Sheremeto airport from Paris carrying cash, discovered
in a random inspection. Arriving in Russia carrying more than US$10,000
requires disclosure. She had not and "higher" authorities were called. Her
explanation was not accepted and charges were filed though she managed to
return to Paris where she's taken up work with Internews Network. The
authorities turned their attention to EMF, functionally closing it down.

In May the Azerbaijan government ended cooperation with Reporters Without
Frontiers (RSF) after the press freedom NGO named President Ilham Aliyev a
"Press Freedom Predator."

Changing perspective just a bit (still "dog bites man"), this story is also
about money. State broadcasters in recent decades have invited, with the
full approval of their funding governments, foreign broadcasters to provide
their programs, offering air-time, sometimes significant, on State channels.
The reasoning is quite simple: cheap (read: free) well-produced content.
Some governments have gone so far as to offer foreign broadcasters a
frequency or two, very often outside normal licensing rules. Again, cheap,
well-produced content fulfills a particular need.

The new media rules proposed in Armenia do not, precisely, forbid foreign
broadcasts on local frequencies. For local broadcasters to air programs from
foreign broadcasters there would be, in these times of need, a fee. For
RFE/RL that fee would be about $200 per hour. Do the math: 4 hours a day,
365 days a year means more than $300,000, sufficient for a personal
assistant or five and that new BMW.

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