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Mugabe ropes in soldiers for voter registration

Zim Online

Monday 30 July 2007

      By Regerai Marwezu

      MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe has drafted in soldiers and police
officers to spearhead an ongoing voter registration programme for next year's
elections, ZimOnline has established.

      The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), that runs elections in
Zimbabwe, has engaged hordes of army and police officers for the voter
registration programme that ends on 17 August.

      At a meeting held on Saturday in the southern town of Masvingo that
was organised by the Public Rights Information Forum, civic groups condemned
the move saying Harare should stop engaging soldiers and police for the
registration exercise.

      In a petition addressed to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa that was
also copied to ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe, the civic groups
condemned what they called "the militarisation of the voter registration

      "We the civic organisations of Zimbabwe note with concern the
continued militarisation of the voter education exercise.

      "We are calling on your office to stop the practice ahead of next year's
polls as this will compromise the credibility of the polls," read part of
the petition seen by ZimOnline.

      A spokesperson for the Forum, Marble Sikhosana said it is improper to
hire individuals who have declared their loyalty and support to Mugabe to
run voter registration as the move would intimidate potential voters.

      "It is not proper to engage soldiers for this exercise because this
not a war situation," said Sikhosana.

      Sources within Zimbabwe's electoral body said almost half of all voter
educators employed by the ZEC were members of the army.

      The rest of the voter educators were top civil servants and former
liberation war fighters, all loyal to Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, said
the source. Under Zimbabwe's electoral laws, only the ZEC can conduct voter

      Contacted for comment, Chinamasa scoffed at the civic groups' petition
saying it would not change anything.

      "I have not seen the petition but even if it reaches my office, it
will not change anything. ZEC is a legally constituted body and as far as we
concerned it is doing a good job," said Chinamasa.

      Mugabe, who faces his biggest electoral challenge from the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has become increasingly reliant
on the military for political survival over the past few years.

      The veteran Zimbabwean leader has over the past few years appointed
serving as well as retired members of the armed forces to take charge of
electoral bodies and institutions directly involved in the running of

      For example, ZEC chairman, Chiweshe is a former senior army officer.
Before his appointment to the ZEC, he headed the Delimitation Commission
that draws the country's voting constituencies.

      Zimbabwe's attorney general Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, is also a former army
intelligence officer while the chief executive officer of the country's
Grain Marketing Board Samuel Muvuti is a former army colonel.

      Last month, the MDC said thousands of potential voters in the party's
urban strongholds had been denied permission to register as voters under the
current registration exercise.

      The opposition party also charged that the Registrar General's office,
that is in charge of the process, had opened fewer voter registration
centres in urban areas that are hotbeds of opposition support in what it
said was an attempt by ZANU PF to rig the elections even before a single
vote was cast. - ZimOnline

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Tsvangirai to launch presidential campaign in September

Zim Online

Monday 30 July 2007

      By Batsirayi Muranje and Hendricks Chizhanje

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday
said his party will launch its campaign for next year's presidential and
parliamentary elections in September.

      Addressing about 10 000 party supporters at a rally in Harare's
working class suburb of Kuwadzana, Tsvangirai said the launch will send a
clear message to President Robert Mugabe that his days in office are

      "We are launching our campaign in September and we should all come in
our thousands to send a clear message to the dictatorship that we are tired
of tyranny," said Tsvangirai.

      The Zimbabwe opposition leader came close to unseating Mugabe in the
last presidential election in 2002 that he lost by about 400 000 votes. Most
western election observers dismissed the controversial election as

      "The nation should know that we are ready to govern. We are ready to
serve the people and all we are saying is that we want a level playing field
ahead of the polls.

      "Militias, soldiers and police officers should serve the people and
should refrain from being used to rig the people's wishes," said Tsvangirai.

      The firebrand former trade union leader also took a swipe at the
government's decision to impose price controls saying the policy that has
seen hundreds of business leaders and managers arrested for defying the
directive on prices was ad hoc and was meant to buy votes ahead of the

      "Mugabe is putting patches to try and mend the economy. But you can't
run a government through crisis management," he said.

      Tsvangirai repeated his party's demands for an even electoral playing
field before the elections.

      "There are a lot of first-time voters who are being disenfranchised.
We are saying let these elections be free and fair. If Mugabe wins in a free
and fair election I will be the first one to congratulate him," said

      Tsvangirai, who spoke a day after rival faction leader Arthur
Mutambara called him "a weak and indecisive leader," called for a united
front to dislodge ZANU PF from power.

      "We need unity of purpose among all progressive forces. The enemy is
not Morgan Tsvangirai. The enemy is Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF. If you focus
on Tsvangirai you are wasting time," Tsvangirai said.

      Mutambara, who heads a smaller faction of the opposition party, said
at the weekend that efforts to reunite the party had hit a dead end.
Mutambara accused Tsvangirai of spurning his party's call for a coalition to
take on Mugabe.

      The MDC is now a shadow of its former self after a damaging split in
2005 over strategy to unseat Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence
from Britain 27 years ago.

      Political analysts say a divided opposition risks handing electoral
victory to Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party on a silver platter in next year's
key elections. - ZimOnline

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Harare mulls new $500 000 bearer note

Zim Online

Monday 30 July 2007

      By Thulani Munda

      HARARE - Inflation-hit Zimbabwe is considering introducing a Z$500 000
bearer cheque note as the country's currency continues on its free-fall,
ZimOnline has learnt.

      Sources within Zimbabwe's central bank said the new note together with
another new Z$200 000 bearer cheque, could be introduced any time soon.

      "The $200 000 note could be introduced anytime from now, although the
idea was to have the two new notes launched together," a government source

      "The problem is that some senior officials within government are not
keen to have the Z$500 000 note insisting this would an admission that
things are not well in this country," he added.

      Zimbabwe's current highest denomination is the Z$100 000 bearer
cheque, which, on the official foreign currency market, can only buy four
loaves of bread.

      Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi could not be reached for comment
on the matter yesterday.

      Zimbabwe is battling a severe economic crisis that has manifested
itself in the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 5 000 percent.

      In addition to rampant inflation, the southern African country is also
grappling with unemployment of around 80 percent, food shortages and just
about every other survival commodity.

      Western governments and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party blame the crisis on repression and bad policies by
President Robert Mugabe, in power over the past 27 years.

      Bearer cheques are promissory notes first were introduced by the
central bank at the height of cash shortages four years ago. Bearer cheques
are used in the same way as money. - ZimOnline

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Sugar shortage looms as workers quit their jobs

Zim Online

Monday 30 July 2007

      By Regerai Marwezu

      MASVINGO - Zimbabwe could face severe sugar shortages this year after
at least a thousand workers at the giant sugar estates in the southern
low-veld quit their jobs last week in protest over poor pay and working

      The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Workers Union
(ZISMWU), Admore Hwarare told ZimOnline that at least 1 000 workers had
abruptly left their sugar cane cutting jobs at Triangle and Hippo Valley
Estates last week.

      Hwarare said the "desertion" by workers could worsen the current sugar
shortages in Zimbabwe.

      "About 1 000 cane cutters employed by Triangle Limited and Hippo
Valley have left and we suspect that they have skipped the border into
neighbouring South Africa," said Hwarare.

      "We have always advised the employer to consider paying more money to
these people but it appears our advice was not being take seriously," he

      Despite the high levels of unemployment in the country, Zimbabweans
generally shun the job of cane cutting because of the strenuous work as well
as the poor salaries in the sector.

      In the past, the giant sugar estates used to employ foreign labour
particularly from Malawi and Mozambique but most of the workers from the two
countries have since left the country fleeing the current economic crisis in

      Cane cutters are among the lowest paid workers in Zimbabwe with lowest
worker taking home about Z$800 000, enough to buy two litres of cooking oil.

      Zimbabwe is currently facing a severe shortage of sugar after the
government ordered Hippo Valley and Triangle estates to surrender 11 000
tonnes of the commodity to the state which it wanted to use to secure maize
from Malawi.

      At least 300 hectares of sugar cane crop went up in smoke earlier this
year after an arson attack during protests by workers for better pay and
working conditions. - ZimOnline

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South Africa's president says Zimbabwe elections must be 'free and fair'

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: July 29, 2007

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Zimbabwe's elections must be free and fair next
year and economic recovery in the troubled country will only be achieved by
a government viewed as legitimate by all its citizens, South Africa's
president said Sunday.

Thabo Mbeki heads the regional mediation process between Zimbabwe's
government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mbeki said the
parties had agreed that a particular focus of the talks would be on
elections scheduled for March 2008.

"So it is important that when those elections take place the results should
not be contested," he told reporters in Pretoria.

"You must have elections in Zimbabwe that are free and fair and therefore
produce a government that will be accepted by all the people of Zimbabwe as
a legitimate government emerging out of a democratic process."

Mbeki has long been criticized for advocating a policy of quiet diplomacy
toward neighboring Zimbabwe, while others have called for more forceful
action. But he received a mandate earlier this year from the Southern
African Development Community to head talks following a brutal clampdown on
opposition leaders by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government.

The negotiations, however, are under a media blackout and little detail of
the process has emerged.
Earlier this month, South Africa denied talks had collapsed following
reports that Mugabe had dumped Mbeki as a mediator and ordered his two key
negotiators to boycott negotiations.

Zimbabwe is reeling under the worst economic crisis since independence from
Britain in 1980, with official inflation of 4,500 percent, the highest in
the world.

A government edict to slash all prices by around 50 percent last month has
left shelves bare of corn meal, bread, meat, eggs, milk and other staples
and led to acute gasoline shortages.

Some 5,000 executives, businessmen and managers - just one of them a lesser
known ruling party senator - have been arrested and fined for defying the

Mugabe, 83, blames Western sanctions and rejects criticism that the meltdown
is the result of mismanagement and the often-violent seizures of thousands
of white-owned farms he ordered beginning in 2000.

Mbeki said Zimbabwe's economic recovery was a "major challenge" and "would
have to be led by a government whose legitimacy is not contested."

Concerns have been raised about a flood of Zimbabweans crossing into South
Africa and other neighboring countries to flee the economic collapse. An
estimated 2-3 million Zimbabweans have immigrated to South Africa since the
downturn began seven years ago.

Mbeki acknowledged that South Africa was affected by the situation in

"Zimbabwe is our neighbor. So indeed, we, South Africa, inevitably would
carry the biggest burden of the consequences of any negative development in
Zimbabwe," he said.

Zimbabwe government mouthpiece The Sunday Mail reported, meanwhile, that the
independent Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has called for "a
cease-fire in the price war."

Callisto Jakonya, head of the organization, said manufacturers were ready to
negotiate with the government over the viability of industry and how to stay
in business.

Tafadzwa Musarara, chairman of the Grain Millers Association, told the paper
many members of his group, responsible for processing 75 percent of the
nation's grain supplies, faced ruin.

The government's fixed price for the cornmeal staple was half the cost of
producing it, causing buying sprees and worsened shortages when cornmeal
stocks became available, he said.

"These distortions need to be corrected immediately," he said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has described the price cuts
as a ploy to shore up ruling party support before national elections
scheduled early next year.

One faction of the divided opposition announced Saturday it abandoned plans
to fight a unified election campaign with its rival group led by founder
Morgan Tsvangirai, dealing another blow to embattled opposition supporters
facing a split vote.

The Sunday Mail also reported that a government minister, the most senior
official jailed for alleged corruption in a purported drive against graft,
was acquitted of the charges three years after his arrest.

Chris Kureneri, 58, was jailed in 2004 for allegedly breaching foreign
currency laws in the building of a seaside mansion in the South African city
of Cape Town.

He spent 17 months in prison before being held under house arrest.

The paper said High Court Judge Susan Mavangira cleared Kureneri on Friday
on seven alleged corruption charges involving the illegal "externalization"
of hard currency while at the finance ministry.

He was convicted on one charge of breaching the nation's single nationality
laws by holding a Canadian passport found during investigations into the
corruption allegations, a comparatively minor offense carrying the penalty
of a fine.

A sentencing hearing to determine the fine will be held later, the newspaper

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Zimbabwe army to help Mugabe win election

The Telegraph

By Michael Gwaridzo in Harare, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:43am BST 29/07/2007

Zimbabwe's top generals have pledged to help Robert Mugabe win next
year's presidential election.

Army chiefs met on Tuesday to discuss their role in the election after
the 83-year-old president's appeal for their help in securing a victory for
his ruling Zanu-PF Party.

According to a senior officer who was present at the meeting, the
generals agreed that the army would have a "heavy" presence at polling
stations and would take part in the vote-counting process, alongside the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mr Mugabe has been under intense pressure to step down from factions
within his own party and from the heads of the armed forces.

However, he has made clear that he intends to stand for re-election,
despite warnings from his own intelligence chiefs that he could lose because
of popular anger over the country's deteriorating economic situation.

In a bid to persuade the army to back him, Mr Mugabe told senior
officers earlier this month that he would step down after the elections but
needed their help to "secure victory" and to shame "Western governments bent
on re-occupying us".

At last week's meeting, the commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces,
Constantine Chiwenga, told the generals that it was important for the army
to help Mr Mugabe, "as a means of allowing his smooth exit from office,
because he is our commander-in-chief and as such we're obliged by law to
obey his commandments".
He added: "The military has to act in the best interest of the nation.
External forces opposed to the status quo are working round the clock to
cause political instability in Zimbabwe. We should therefore rally behind
our commander-in-chief in the struggle to defeat Western hegemony over our
political well-being."

With Mr Mugabe expected to launch his election campaign in September,
there are growing signs that he may be paving the way for a dignified exit
some time after the election.

A constitutional amendment bill, unveiled by Mr Mugabe at the opening
of parliament last week, would give MPs the power to elect a new president
if a vacancy should occur between elections.

Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of
Zimbabwe, said such a law would enable Mr Mugabe to step down voluntarily,
and retain influence over his successor.

However, news of the army's pledge to help Mr Mugabe win will add to
concern that he is planning to rig the polls. Last week the British
Government warned the president not to use talks with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change Party, which have been brokered by South
Africa, as a "smoke screen" while he prepared to rig the elections.

South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, was asked by Zimbabwe's
neighbours in the Southern African Development Community to mediate between
the two sides in a bid to resolve the political crisis and pave the way for
free and fair elections.

However, in a statement the British High Commission in Pretoria noted
that the Zanu-PF representatives have repeatedly failed to turn up, and it
warned: "Mugabe must not think that the . initiative can be used as a
smokescreen to distract the opposition and his neighbours while he prepares
the ground in Zimbabwe for another set of crooked elections."

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Zimbabwe farmers wait out Robert Mugabe

The Telegraph

By Stephen Bevan, Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:52am BST 29/07/2007

For Rod Swales and many of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers forced off
their land by President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and violent land reforms,
the chance to start afresh somewhere else was too good to pass up.

Neighbouring countries welcomed them with open arms and furnished them
with land, while the agricultural companies provided them with cash
incentives. But five years later, 52-year-old Mr Swales is back in Zimbabwe
at the forefront of a new wave of pioneers.

Far from being deterred by the country's downward economic spiral, the
farmers are convinced that it will hasten the end of Mr Mugabe's rule, and
speed the day when they can set up in business once again.

"I do believe the wheel is turning and sanity will prevail at some
stage," Mr Swales said. "I speak to various Zanu PF moderates and all of
them advise us to be patient, there will be change, this thing can't

Mr Swales believes Mr Mugabe's regime is nearing the end, that an
economy battered by inflation reported to have hit 13,000 per cent in June
and where supplies of even basic foods such as maize flour and cooking oil
have dried up, must surely soon collapse altogether.

"I might not get my farm back but when the dust settles I might get
another farm. Maybe I'll buy a farm from someone who doesn't want to come
back to Zimbabwe. I have to hope I can survive that long and wait out old

Back in 2002, Mr Swales and his family were forcibly evicted from
their 1,976-acre farm in Darwendale, 50 miles north east of Harare, by a mob
of "war veterans". The chance to move over the border to Chimoio, in
Mozambique, was too good to turn down.

Like many of those now returning to Zimbabwe, Mr Swales was on a
scheme sponsored by tobacco companies such as Universal Leaf Tobacco. The
companies provided start-up capital and seasonal loans.

In return, the farmers agreed to grow a set number of acres of tobacco
which they would sell to the companies.

However, in the hotter and wetter climate of Mozambique, the tobacco
yields turned out to be substantially less than the companies had projected.
Soon the farmers fell into debt until many stopped growing tobacco
altogether, whereupon the tobacco companies took them to court to seize
their equipment.

Although Mr Swales could have gone to South Africa, where he has
relatives, or applied for residency in Britain, because his grandfather came
from Yorkshire, Mr Swales chose to return to Zimbabwe, where he is running a
small transport business based in Harare.

"My wife must have asked me a million times what the hell we are doing
here," he said.

But he believes that Mr Mugabe's time is nearly up, and he is not
alone. At least 70 other farmers have returned following the collapse of
their new farming ventures, most of them from Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.

"There were about 30 of us Zimbabweans in Chimoio," said Mr Swales.
"Right now there are probably no more than 10 left, and of those only two
are still farming."

John Worswick, of the lobby group Justice for Agriculture, said the
returning farmers believed that within a year or two the country would turn
around and return to conditions conducive for agricultural production.

"They've come back licking their wounds and set up in other
businesses," he said. "Most of these guys keep a pretty close eye on their
old properties.

"Their view is that, given a reasonable incentive package, they can
get their farms back to production within two years and back up to the state
they were in before within five years, so they've decided to sit it out."

Willem Coetzee, 54, was one of the first Zimbabwean farmers to go to
Chimoio. He said he lost everything when the tobacco company seized all his
equipment. He and his wife returned to Zimbabwe last year.

"We sold everything to get the funds to invest in the scheme," he
said. "We must have lost $20,000 - apart from the heartache, and living in a
tent for two and a half years, and being threatened by armed robbers."

A former farm manager, Mr Coetzee now works for a company making
garden sheds, but said he hoped to be able to farm again.

"If an opportunity to farm here arose then I'd take it up. I'd like to
stay in Zimbabwe. It has got a much better infrastructure and things have
worked here in the past, so there's no reason why they shouldn't work in the

But even Mr Swales admitted that the prospect of getting his old farm
back up to production would be daunting.

"Two weeks ago I went out to see it. It's an absolute wreck. It's the
closest I've come to crying for some time. The barns, the roofs, the sheds,
everything had been stripped. It will cost an untold figure to put that
right and make it productive again.

"But we are resilient people, we've hung in through wars and we'll
hang in through this."

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Robert Mugabe is our 'common enemy'


    July 29 2007 at 04:39PM

A breakaway faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) said on Sunday it will not back main leader Morgan Tsvangirai
in next year's elections.

Instead, the faction will field its own presidential candidate for the
elections, said the Arthur Mutambara-led faction of the MDC in a statement.

The announcement will dismay critics of President Robert Mugabe's
government who were pressing for a united opposition ahead of the polls.

"We will be fielding our own presidential candidate against Robert
Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai," said Mutambara in a statement after a meeting
of his faction's decision-making body on Saturday.

      'We have a common enemy, and that enemy is Robert Mugabe'
The former robotics professor was a relative unknown on Zimbabwe's
troubled political scene until the MDC split in late 2005 because of
differences over whether to participate in polls to set up a controversial
new senate.

Of late, both factions have been increasingly critical of each other,
scuttling hopes of a reunion before the crucial March 2008 polls, likely to
see 83-year-old Mugabe vying for a fourth term.

Mutambara's faction had harsh words for Tsvangirai, describing him as
a weak and indecisive leader who was not worthy of the presidency.

It was not immediately certain whether Mutambara himself would stand
as candidate.

A spokesperson for the Tsvangirai faction, Nelson Chamisa, told the
privately-owned Standard newspaper on Sunday that his supporters were still
fighting for a unification of all forces opposed to Mugabe.

"We have a common enemy, and that enemy is Robert Mugabe," Chamisa
told the newspaper. - Sapa-dpa

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No mealie meal in Bulawayo as nation starves


     July 29 2007 at 12:09PM

By Peta Thornycroft

There has been no mealie meal in Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo for
the past week.

Not a single bag has been available in any of the city's supermarkets
and even blackmarket supplies have dried up.

"We are very worried and we are not yet ready to increase food
distribution until September," said an executive with a top non-government
organisation in Harare, who asked not be named.

David Coltart, opposition member of parliament for the Bulawayo South
constituency, says he is "alarmed" at the disappearance of mealie meal.

"I have been trying to source mealie meal for the past two days and
have gone to a wide variety of supermarkets around town. I have also
approached wholesalers and it is simply unavailable.

"I have been to my own constituency every day in the past week, and
there is no evidence of any international or domestic NGOs distributing food
for the needy.

"We are at a point where people on the margins are starving."

Traditionally relief agencies stop supplying food to people under
threat of starvation from the onset of the maize harvest, usually May until

Another NGO worker said on Thursday: "We know the situation in the
south is particularly bad, but believe me it is bad in lots of places and I
am not sure we have the right numbers of people who will need food aid
before the next harvest in 2008."

The World Food Programme estimated that about 4.1 million Zimbabweans,
or more than a third of the population, will need emergency food aid before
the next harvest.

Until the seizures of white-owned farms which began in 2000, Zimbabwe
has only needed donated food once since independence in 1980 during a
catastrophic regional drought in 1991/92.

Since 2000, relief organisations have provided food aid continuously
for between 300 000 and five million people a year in rural areas.

"Each homestead in my district is suffering two funerals a day, mostly
very young and old people and that is because of hunger. There are only wild
fruits and dried water melons to eat, but no maize, no mealie meal at all,"
said Abednico Bhebe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change MP for Nkayi
in Matabeleland.

"The health of those suffering from HIV and Aids is exacerbated by the
lack of food," he said.

Zimbabwe is importing maize from Malawi but none is available to
millers in Bulawayo.

A leading national supermarket chain in Zimbabwe has not received any
deliveries of mealie meal for more than a week.

Beef is not available and small supplies of chicken and pork are far
too expensive for about 80 percent of the population, even after enforced
price cuts over the last three weeks.

"I think the government has known for some time there would be
shortages, but this catastrophe may not be countrywide as subsistence
farmers in the north had good rain, but here, in the south, the situation is
dire, and the government has been derelict in its duty," Coltart said.

This article was originally published on page 16 of Sunday Argus on
July 29, 2007

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

28th July 2007



Kate Hoey singing at the Vigil                                                Handing out flyers                                     Beating out the message 



Street dancers from Canada                                    On one hand                                                               In chains



 Canada + Zimbabwe join to dance                           Group photo with our Canadian friends                    Vigil creche


The Vigil is getting bigger and bigger. Visitors from far and wide joined the regulars this week.  Among them was Kate Hoey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe.  She arrived wearing her Vigil t-shirt so she fitted in well when she took a turn on the drums  . . . not to mention joining in with the singing and dancing.  Being a campaigner, she was happy to stand on the pavement handing out our flyers.


A German supporter, Jenny Kuhlmann, said how impressed she was that such a senior politician had shown such solidarity with us and taken part in all our activities.  Ms Kuhlmann is doing a PhD in African Studies in Leipzig and came over to join us after following our activities on the internet.


Supporters were angry at the latest outrageous behaviour by the Zimbabwe police.  The attack on NCA activists was widely reported here. What appalled everyone was that mothers were separated from their babies to make it easier for the police to beat the women.


The Vigil was very busy.  Many thanks to Chipo Chaya, who with her usual efficiency, took care of sales of Vigil t-shirts – much in demand.  Thanks also to another member of the organizing team, Luka Phiri, for overseeing the signing of the Vigil letters to Mbeki asking him to insist on votes for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.  Ancilla and Patson were tireless in leading the singing and dancing. 


Among the dancers were a group of 10 young Christian Canadian street dancers.  You will find among our pictures one showing a dancer balanced on one hand.  They performed a dance on the theme of freedom, escaping from handcuffs. They were brought to the Vigil by the Rev Ray Pountney of the West Hill Baptist Church in East Putney. He used to be with the Baptist church in Bulawayo and worked closely with Ray Motsi. 


Ray Pountney was not the only minister with us.  We were happy to be joined by our long-term supporter the Rev Dr Maritime Stemerick, who has been working tirelessly for the suffering people in Zimbabwe and has visited Zimbabwe many times. She is now in charge of four churches in the Southend area but nevertheless keeps in close touch with developments at home.  She said what was happening was “genocide by starvation”. 


It was great  to see people from the early days of the Vigil. Albert Weidemann from North Yorkshire came down. He gives talks to raise awareness of the situation in Zimbabwe, the next one in September.  Sue Shaw and Andy Hope-Hal were other old friends from early days – they also live far from London


A Zimbabwean musician, Lucky Moyo, left his CD “I have got issues” with us.  His songs are focused on the struggle. A quote from the track “Silent Diplomacy” : “In the name of Pan Africanism when you see a country mistreating its own people keeping silent is not an option”.  He was on his was to a music festival in Islington which was raising money for Zimbabwe women and children.  He helped form the well-known band Black Umfolozi.  Lucky  promised to come back to the Vigil and get more involved with us. 


For this week’s Vigil pictures:  


FOR THE RECORD: 125 signed the register.


FOR YOUR DIARY:  Monday, 30th July 2007, 7.30 pm, Central London Zimbabwe Forum.  Lois Davis of WOZA Solidarity UK.will be updating us on WOZA's recent activities.  Also to be discussed iour invitation to be involved in the Worldwide Reading for Zimbabwe on 9th September – check: for more information. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).



Vigil co-ordinator


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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Tsvangirai should be next year's coalition candidate - MDC-Mutambara

29th Jul 2007 22:49 GMT

By Arthur Mutambara

July 28 2007 National Council Resolutions

1.  Economic Crisis

The National Council noted with deep concern the continued deteriorating
economic situation in Zimbabwe .

The National Council further noted that the current economic malaise is a
direct result of the failed policies of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF that have
continued to provide no respite to the suffering of Zimbabweans but have
largely benefited Senior ZANU-PF officials and their party loyalists.

In this regard the National Council noted the current Price Reduction
exercise being carried out by ZANU-PF as an ineffective and short term
strategy addressing symptoms and not causes of our national challenges.
First and foremost how did these prices get out of hand? Yes, the people of
Zimbabwe deserve affordable prices for basic commodities and services.
However, these commodities and services must be available. The ZANU-PF
meaningless and populist efforts have created unprecedented shortages.
Businesses must be able to function in a sustainable and profitable manner.
Currently many companies are shutting down leading to major
de-industrialization. It is the view of the National Council that there is a
need for a holistic approach that deals with fundamental causes of the
Zimbabwe crisis; political illegitimacy, poor country governance and lack of
both economic vision and strategy.  These foundational matters have to be
resolved in a holistic approach that involves all stake holders, nationally,
regionally and internationally.

Consequently, the National Council resolved to mandate the leadership to
engage with the SADC Summit after the presentation of the economic report on
Zimbabwe and call upon SADC to ensure that there is a strategic link between
the economic report and the political report.

More significantly, Council noted that Zimbabweans cannot outsource their
emancipation and liberation to foreigners.  We must not be solely dependent
on the Mbeki initiative. We must have an alternative program of action on
the ground that seeks to achieve conditions for free and fair elections.
Consequently, Council resolved to intensify the defiance campaign activities
in conjunction with other political parties and civic society organisations.
In the battle to make Zimbabwe a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation,
we must be masters of our own destiny.

2. MDC and the International Community.

The National Council noted the increasing international solidarity with the
people of Zimbabwe , in particular among African Governments and people.

In this regard the National Council resolved to thank all those who have
voiced their concern over the Zimbabwean crisis, particularly the African

The National Council further resolved to acknowledge the just ended  SACP
Congress invitation extended to the Party as a positive development in the
recognition of the party among the African Fraternity.

3. Internal Dialogue

Code of Conduct

The National Council noted that the Code of Conduct that was intended to
govern relations between the two MDC formations had not come into force.

The National Council further noted that whereas as a Party we had agreed to
the code of conduct, the failure by the Morgan Tsvangirai led formation to
avail themselves to a press conference to formally adopt and launch the code
had resulted in the Code of Conduct remaining an unused document. Today we
formally make this document public.

Coalition Agreement

· The National Council noted that as a party we have consistently called for
unity of purpose among all democratic forces, particularly the need to adopt
the single candidate principle announced by the President of our Party on
the 16th March 2007.

·  The National Council further noted that over the last ten months both
formations of the MDC have been engaged in private internal negotiations
which have in recent months focused on how to bring to fruition the single
candidate philosophy. These negotiations culminated in a draft Coalition
Agreement which seeks to give Zimbabweans an opportunity for a concerted
effort to dislodge ZANU-PF. Today we official make this agreement public

·  The National Council resolved to formally adopt the Coalition Agreement
as is, i.e., as initially adopted by the two negotiating teams

·  The National Council noted that the Tsvangirai formation has rejected
this Coalition agreement.  Fellow Zimbabweans, it is with a heavy heart that
we announce that our colleagues have rejected a united front of all
democratic forces that would have increased the opportunity for us to defeat
the criminal regime of Robert Mugabe.  Unity of purpose and action is
essential to energise and mobilise the people of Zimbabwe in their pursuit
of change, more so when it is clear that the conditions of our elections
will be neither free nor fair. If Morgan Tsvangirai does not understand the
strategic value of unity in our struggle against Mugabe, Council wonders
whether he is fit to be the President of Zimbabwe.  If Morgan Tsvangirai is
such a weak and indecisive leader who cannot embrace what ordinary
Zimbabweans are demanding (unity of action and purpose), is he worthy of the
presidency of this country? Zimbabweans deserve better leadership.

·  Consequently, the National Council resolved to proceed on its own in
preparation for any future elections. We will be fielding our own
Presidential candidate against both Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. We
are here to present strategic vision and decisive leadership. The people of
Zimbabwe demand nothing less.

·  The National Council further resolved that the Party still believes in
the need for democratic forces to wok together. Unity of purpose and action
in the opposition is still a core and central organising principle of the
Party.  However, the Party will only participate in a process that gives
life to the united front inspired by single candidate philosophy where there
is mutual respect and trust for all parties.

4.  Save Zimbabwe Campaign

The National Council noted the previous Resolution of the National Council
to participate  in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

The National Council further noted that the founding principles and purpose
of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign was to provide a broad platform for democratic
forces to confront the regime of Robert Mugabe on an equal platform and
further that that the Save Zimbabwe Campaign was not intended to further the
interests of any one grouping.

The National Council noted that as a Party we have continuously raised our
concern with the conveners of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, the Christian
Alliance in respect of the lack of transparency in the manner the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign operates.

The National Council further noted that the Save Zimbabwe Campaign has
largely remained an organisation that furthers the interests of a few
individuals and has abandoned the founding values and principles of The Save
Zimbabwe Campaign.  It has become a vehicle to solely advance the perverted
agenda of Morgan Tsvangirai.

National Council resolved to immediately withdraw the MDC from the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign because of its inability to work as a broad platform of

5.  Archbishop Pius Ncube

The National Council noted the immense contribution made by Archbishop Pius
Ncube to the struggle against the Mugabe dictatorship over the years, and
his consistent outspokenness on the crimes of the regime from Gukurahundi to

The National Council noted the state orchestrated allegations levelled
against Archbishop Pius Ncube and that these were designed specifically to
tarnish his image and to prevent him from continuing to stand up against the
Mugabe regime.

The National Council resolved to express solidarity with Archbishop Ncube.


The National Council noted that the water situation in Bulawayo had reached
critical levels to the extent that residents were receiving water for less
than 3 hours per day.

Council further noted that Bulawayo 's water woes could easily be
ameliorated with the construction of the proposed pipeline from Mtchabezi
Dam to Umzingwane Dam, a distance of merely 35km.

Council resolved to call upon government to immediately expedite the
construction of the pipeline from  Mtchabezi Dam to Umzingwane Dam.

Arthur G.O. Mutambara

MDC President

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Rigged Zimbabwe polls would be fatal for country: opposition

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition chief said on Sunday that President
Robert Mugabe would deliver a death blow to the country if he rigged
presidential elections in his favour next year.

Speaking at a rally in Kuwadzana in the capital Harare, Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he himself would
congratulate Mugabe if he won next year's presidential elections in a free
and fair environment.
"If Mugabe wins in a free and fair contest, I will be the first one to
congratulate him," Tsvangirai told party supporters.

"If Mugabe rigs (the elections), he would have declared a death sentence for
this country."

Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has
threatened to boycott next year's parliamentary and presidential elections
unless their independence can be guaranteed.

Opposition groups have long voiced fears that 83-year-old Mugabe will try to
ensure a sixth term in office by rigging the electoral roll in favour of his
ruling ZANU-PF party.

"Why don't you allow Zimbabweans to choose their own government? The playing
field must be free and fair, then we can say anyone can go and seek public

He said a lot of first time voters risk being disenfranchised since "they
will not be able to vote because they will not have been registered."

Tsvangirai said there was a need for a new government to transform the way
the country was being run, adding that on September 9, the party will be
launching its presidential, parliamentary campaign that will be used for
March 2009, joint polls.

"How can you say you have a free and fair elections when you have first have
soldiers, youth militia and police everywhere? We need a new government,
Mugabe has failed."

He said for the elections to be free and fair, there was need to amend the
country's constitution, adding that there was need to ensure that everyone
is able to vote.

Mugabe, accused by Western nations of rigging his re-election in 2002, is
facing his biggest test at the ballot box next year since coming to power as
a result of an economic meltdown that has seen inflation spiral to well
beyond 5,000 percent.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, appointed as mediator in the Zimbabwe
crisis, said Sunday efforts were focused on free and fair parliamentary and
presidential elections, and he was confident an agreement could be reached.

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Activists to continue fighting deportations to Zimbabwe

30th Jul 2007 00:02 GMT

By Isaac H. Dziya

REPRESENTATIONS across Britain the coming days will demand that all
deportations to Zimbabwe be suspended because people who are forced to
return face persecution by a paranoid and moribund dictatorship.

Thousands of asylum-seekers fear they will face torture or even murder if
they are deported to Zimbabwe, an unstable state plagued by human rights

Their fight for the new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to take a more
compassionate approach to the issue is being backed by many MPs of all
parties, by refugee groups and by trade unions.

Amnesty International has already warned that executions, murders, arbitrary
arrests and imprisonment, torture and life-threatening prison conditions are
routine in Zimbabwe.

This year, more than 100 people have disappeared without trace in Harare,
the capital; another 200 died in the southern region and much of the east of
the vast country is extremely volatile.

Campaigners say failed asylum-seekers sent back to the Zimbabwe become prime
targets because they are seen as traitors and they warn that some people
sent back have disappeared.

Even without all this, why would a progressive and humanitarian government
want to send anybody, without preparation nor means of survival to a country
where the entire population is now faced with starvation as companies close
in the face of command economic policies?

A court challenge to the Home Office's insistence that the country is safe
is currently being heard at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Activists
continue to lobby and present information about the dangers to opposition
activists and other dissenting voices in Zimbabwe.

As a former Assistant Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, I know
for a fact that by sending failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, the British
government would be sending them to their certain deaths.

There are special units within the intelligence organisations that operate
from every entry point into Zimbabwe. These guys know their business and can
never be underestimated, and worst of all they are no longer accountable.

Deportations to Zimbabwe must be stopped indefinitely, in response to the
obvious deteriorating situation in the country where there is no more law
and order, no respect for human rights, and in fact chaos is reigning.

We do not have to look far for examples; in yesterday's Times mothers
demonstrating for Constitutional amendments were reportedly beaten for four
hours; police laying women on the floor and beating them with 1-metre long
baton sticks. When one got tired another one took over, according to the

I am hopeful that the British government will realise it has taken a long
time to deal with failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, and that over 15 000
Zimbabweans are pinning their hopes on the outcome of the tribunal hearing.
A large number of these claims remain unresolved or have been dismissed.

Many people's lives have already been ruined by continued detention, failure
to work or to advance their education and basic lack of food and shelter -
and this happening in the First World!

The situation is dire. The treatment of failed asylum-seekers is very bad.
It would be safer and fairer to halt forced removals while the situation in
Zimbabwe reaches its obvious boiling point, which all agree is not far now.

I warn that many people will simply disappear when they arrive back in
Zimbabwe, and with the country in the state that it is in, even if the
British wanted to track people after they are deported, they probably could

I believe the British Government has a "moral obligation" not to deport
people to countries that are unsafe. Jacqui Smith should part company from
her predecessors and not play politics with asylum.
There have been moratoriums on deportations in the past, why not now? There
is no earthly reason why the British Government cannot wait until the
country stabilizes.

I believe the British Government has a moral obligation not to send people
back to a country that is in a state of total chaos.
The British Government has always said that every case should be treated on
its merits. If there is serious evidence of appalling abuse in some parts of
Zimbabwe, then they will have to act on it.

There are estimated more than 16 145 Zimbabwean asylum seekers in Britain
and they are all considered "British agents of regime change". There is no
rational questioning procedure to establish whether one is an agent or not -
just torture, which is covered up by discarding the body.

While the Home Office says they examine with great care each individual case
before removal and we will not remove anyone who they believe is at risk, I
challenge them to prove that they have an apparatus to reach even the high
density areas of Harare to get information, let alone the rural areas of

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S.African church shelters desperate Zimbabweans


Sun 29 Jul 2007, 22:04 GMT

By Muchena Zigomo and Bate Felix

JOHANNESBURG, July 30 (Reuters) - His name is "Average" and the story of his
desperate flight from the wreckage of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe is
an increasingly common one.

The tall 34-year-old, slouching exhausted in a Johannesburg church that has
become a de facto transit camp, is one man in a tide of migrants washing up
in South Africa.

"There is nothing for me there in our country any more. I had no job and I
could not afford anything. Even when I was working life was tough," he said.

"It's hard for everyone ... I thought it was better for me here," said the
former store clerk, whose dusty jeans and boots tell of a long and difficult

The tale told by Average -- whose name is not unusual in Zimbabwe -- is
depressingly familiar to a people who have watched their once prosperous
land spiral into economic disaster.

When Mugabe's government, facing inflation of close to 5,000 percent,
ordered companies to halve prices of basic goods and services a month ago -- 
effectively demanding that they operate at a loss -- Average lost his job as
the supermarket chain he worked for cut staff.

Facing the prospect of homelessness and hunger in his own country, he joined
the estimated 4,000 Zimbabweans who head south to South Africa, most of them
illegally, every day.

Mugabe, 83 and in power since the country's independence from Britain in
1980, has been accused of running Zimbabwe's economy into the ground while
implementing a draconian crackdown aimed at keeping power.

His decision to launch violent seizures of white-owned farms seven years ago
is partly blamed for soaring unemployment and the highest inflation rate in
the world. Average scraped together his last salary, some money he made from
trading sugar bought at a discount from the supermarket where he worked, and
funds borrowed from friends to secure a visitor's visa and bus ticket to

A friend who promised to meet him on arrival failed to show up, leaving him
stranded without a place to sleep.

On Wednesday evening he walked into the Central Methodist Church in downtown
Johannesburg and joined a long queue of people waiting for shelter and food.


The church's homeless shelter has become a virtual refugee camp for 800-900
Zimbabweans and a smaller number of migrants from other countries.

"Over the past three years, and more so over the past couple of months, I
have noted an exponential increase in the number of people we have from
Zimbabwe," Bishop Paul Verryn said.

Outside his office the line of people waiting for help grew. Many of the new
arrivals were asleep in their seats.

"We offer them a place off the streets, where they are protected and have
warmth from the inclement streets of Johannesburg," Verryn said.

At sunset the refugees crowd into the building and lay out reeking blankets.

"People just sleep anywhere they can find a space to sleep. Some people
sleep on the steps here, in the corridors and others in the foyer and in the
meeting rooms," said 27-year-old Walter Rusike from Harare.

The commerce graduate and his wife and two children share a meeting room
with other families and have been at the shelter for four months.

Average said he hoped to get accommodation for a few days until he finds his
friend, work or both.

"I have a diploma in stores management and store control, a certificate in
security and a driver's licence. I think maybe I will be able to find some
work with my qualifications. Anything will be better than the situation I
was in," he says.

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