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Church of the Flunkey bolsters Mugabe's grip

The Sunday Times, UK June 11, 2006

            Christina Lamb

            HE has used a combination of threats and patronage to keep
military, police and party officials on his side as Zimbabwe descends into
economic chaos. Now President Robert Mugabe seems intent on co-opting the
church, leaving Anglicans bitterly divided.
            More than half the Anglican priests from Harare, the largest
diocese, have fled the country, protesting that the church has become an
extension of the regime. At least 10 have sought sanctuary in Britain.

            The controversy revolves around Nolbert Kunonga, the Bishop of
Harare, who last year became the first Anglican priest in Africa in more
than 100 years to face prosecution by his peers. The charges included
preaching racial hatred.

            Since his appointment in 2001 Kunonga has consistently used his
pulpit at St Mary's Cathedral to praise Mugabe and decry critics of the
regime. As a reward he was given a farm and a seven-bedroomed house
overlooking a lake.

            Now the 56-year-old bishop has started ordaining government
ministers and party officials with no theological training, including Joseph
Msika, the vice-president.

            Any priest who dares to speak out finds himself transferred to a
remote parish and intimidated.

            "Kunonga has terrorised Christians and turned the diocese into a
religious branch of [the ruling] Zanu-PF," said a priest now living in
England. He asked to remain anonymous as his family is still in Harare.

            So serious is the situation that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop
of Canterbury, has intervened with the Home Office to help some priests to
enter Britain. "The Church of England has received and assisted clerical
refugees from the diocese of Harare," said Lambeth Palace.

            Williams has broken a long silence on the matter with a
statement to The Sunday Times in effect calling for the Bishop of Harare to
be suspended.

            "In other jurisdictions, a priest or bishop facing such serious
charges would be suspended without prejudice until the case had been
 closed," the statement said. "It is therefore very difficult for Bishop
Kunonga to be regarded as capable of functioning as a bishop elsewhere in
the communion."

            Although Williams has no power to intervene in Zimbabwe - which
comes under the authority of the autonomous Province of Central Africa - his
words as leader of the worldwide Anglican church carry great influence.

            Kunonga recently told the state-owned Herald newspaper that
Williams had no authority over him. "Throughout history the Anglican church
has been an extension of British colonialism and imperialism," he said. Now,
he claimed, "England has no jurisdiction over me".

            The rift in Zimbabwe's Anglican community began three years ago
when it emerged that Kunonga had been given St Marnocks farm outside Harare
as a token of appreciation from Mugabe for his support.

            The farm, one of the biggest in the country, had been seized
from the Hale family, who had bought it in 1990 for £700,000. Marcus Hale,
the former owner, estimates that it has gone from producing 4,000 tons of
cereal a year to about 60-70 tons. He says Kunonga has refused to return
irrigation equipment and portable silos worth £190,000. "I'm very bitter,"
he said.

            Kunonga got the farm after defending Mugabe's win in the rigged
2002 election that prompted the country's suspension from the Commonwealth.
In his sermons he called the election results "God's will".

He refused to speak out against human rights abuses, including last year's
Operation Murambatswina (Drive out the Filth), when hundreds of thousands of
his parishioners in Harare had their homes and businesses demolished. His
priests were outraged when he accepted an edict from Mugabe against helping
the victims.
When one sermon turned into such a eulogy of Mugabe that choristers started
drowning it out, they were sacked.

Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and a critic of Mugabe, has
said that Kunonga is "aligned with the forces of evil". More than 30
Anglican priests from Harare have left the country since 2003. "The Anglican
church in Harare has no credibility," one of them said. "It's a circus."

Among those who have fled to England is the Rev Paul Gwese. He was suspended
from his parish because the congregation who gave money at a thanksgiving
service included the local opposition MP. Gwese was then transferred to
another parish 70 miles away.

There have been so many complaints from parishioners, church wardens and
priests that last August Kunonga was brought before an ecclesiastical court.
The 38 charges included intimidating critics, mishandling church funds and
preaching racial hatred.

The trial collapsed on its second day when the presiding judge from Malawi
announced that he was withdrawing. It was later announced that the charges
had been dropped.

Shortly afterwards Kunonga ordained Msika, commending "the sterling work he
has done for both the church and the country". Two cabinet ministers were
also ordained.

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Global blockade of Mugabe in the works, says paper

Business Day


HARARE - The US was working behind the scenes to set up a global blockade of
aid to economically ravaged Zimbabwe to force President Robert Mugabe to
step down, a state daily said yesterday.

"The US is rolling out yet another programme that seeks to block all avenues
of donor assistance to Zimbabwe in a bid to force regime change," the Sunday
Mail reported. "In one of its recent strategic advisory documents to the US
government, Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government
implores donors to withhold assistance to Zimbabwe until recovery is
possible with new leadership".

"No donor should provide assistance to the government at present ... since
recovery is impossible with the current leadership," the newspaper said,
quoting what it claimed was an extract from the document.

Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, told the Sunday Mail that such efforts
would be fruitless.

"The US vainly hopes that they can tantalise Zimbabweans through empty
offers of aid to self-destruct," Charamba said. "It is clear the US has a
problem with the liberation ethos as well as its symbol, President Robert
Mugabe, and are thus intent on reversing all that with the gains of
independence," he said.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the past seven years,
characterised by hyperinflation, high unemployment and chronic shortages of
fuel, cooking oil and sugar.

Zimbabwe's inflation topped 1042% last month, one of the world's highest
rates. The government blames the crisis on targeted sanctions imposed on
Mugabe and his inner circle by European Union members and Washington.

In November last year, Zimbabwe summoned US ambassador Christopher Dell to
warn him against "meddling with Zimbabwe's affairs" after he accused Mugabe's
government of corruption.

Mugabe, who has been branded a despot, has been at the helm of the
once-model nation since its independence in 1980.

The octogenarian leader has frequently accused western powers of plotting to
oust him.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's battered local currency has sunk to new lows against
the US dollar on the parallel market. The US dollar changes hands at about
Z$101000 on the government's official market.

But much more hard currency is moved these days on the unofficial parallel
market, where the exchange rates are now three times as high.

"It is now feared that the wide rift between the formal and the parallel
market rate will lead to arbitrage opportunities and speculative behaviour
in the economy, a development that is highly inflationary," the Sunday Mail

Until now, official newspapers have mostly tried to ignore - or at least
condemn - parallel foreign currency market activity.

But yesterday's report may point to mounting pressure on Zimbabwe's central
bank governor, Gideon Gono, to let the official exchange rate slide.

Economist David Mupamhadzi told the paper that the dollar was falling
"because most investors are shifting their portfolios from the money market
to the foreign currency market". Sapa-DPA-AFP

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Zimbabwe Inflation Hits New Record High

June 10, 2006, 6:08AM

By MICHAEL HARTNACK Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe inflation, already the highest in the world, hit
a new record of 1,193.5 percent for the year to May, the government's
Central Statistical Office said Saturday.

Massive surges of up to 11,000 percent in medical expenses and 5,000 percent
in postal fees contributed to the figure, along with steep increases for
transport, water and electricity, office director Moffat Nyoni told
state-run radio.

Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed since the government began seizing
thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks in
2000 _ an often-violent campaign that has crippled the key agriculture
sector. The country has also suffered years of drought.
Independent economist John Robertson said the 28 percent increase in
inflation since April was "higher than my most pessimistic forecast,"
contradicting government claims that good rains and a predicted "bumper
harvest" would help rein in price increases.

"They have none of the answers, and none of the hoped-for improvements are
showing through," he said. "I fear it will be 2,000 percent by the end of
the year."

Production of Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earner, tobacco, has dropped
75 percent since the start of the aggressive land reform program. All
economic sectors have also been hit by political turbulence and lack of
vital inputs.

Unemployment is estimated at 80 percent, fueling an exodus of some 4 million
of Zimbabwe's 16 million people in search of jobs in neighboring African
countries, Europe and North America.

A so-called slum eradication campaign last year destroyed the homes,
livelihoods or both of some of Zimbabwe's poorest residents.

The cost of a loaf of bread has surged to 120,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$1.19;
94 euro cents) on the black market; it is no longer obtainable at the
government-controlled price of 80,000 Zimbabwe dollars (79 US cents; 62 euro

The surge in health service costs hits particularly hard in a country where
at least 3,000 die every week from AIDS-related diseases, according to
government estimates.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said Wednesday that state hospitals were
"in disarray" due to lack of staff, equipment and drugs. Private doctors
charge 4 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$39; euro31) for a consultation _ more
than many Zimbabweans earn in a month.

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Kasrils off to Harare

Pretoria News

June 10, 2006 Edition 1

Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils has travelled to Harare in a bid to
kickstart talks between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and President
Mbeki, a Harare news report said yesterday.

The Zimbabwe Independent, a private weekly, said Kasrils had flown to Harare
on a private flight at midday on Thursday, accompanied by National
Intelligence Agency (NIA) boss Manala Manzini and the head of the secret
service, Dennis Hilton.

 The paper said Kasrils met Zimbabwean State Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa to discuss the possibility of setting up a meeting between Mugabe and

Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said he was not aware of any plans for
talks. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe Prisons In Alarming Conditions

All Headline News

June 10, 2006 11:40 a.m. EST

Mary K. Brunskill - All Headline News Contributor
Harare, Zimbabwe (AHN) - Food shortages, water and power outages, and
sanitation facilities in disrepair in Zimbabwe's prisons are resulting in
malnutrition-related illnesses and filthy living conditions, a panel of
lawmakers reported Friday.

Prison conditions are deteriorating amid the most serious economic crisis in
Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, and disease and
malnutrition are widespread in the country's overcrowded prison cells, a
parliamentary committee said in a report.

Due to insufficient funds to buy food, prisoners are suffering of
malnutrition-related ailments such a pellagra, which causes skin lesions,
intestinal disorders and mental disorientation.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis is largely attributed to disruptions in its
agriculture-based community, reports the Associated Press. The country has
recently endured years of drought and, since 2000 under President Robert
Mugabe, white-owned commercial farms have been seized with the intention to
redistribute them to blacks.

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Govt spends trillions on housing project

      June 10, 2006,

      By ANDnetwork .com

      The Government has spent more than $1,563 trillion on Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle building 3 325 houses already allocated.

      At least 2043 families are already staying in the houses, and an
additional 30 000 housing stands have been made available countrywide with
local authorities expected to expedite the allocation of the stands and the
servicing of land.

      A revolving fund drawing money from payments by the buyers now stands
at $9 billion. The money would be used to finance the construction of more
      Another 170 factory shells built under the programme have been
completed while 344 vendor marts are now operational.

      The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development,
Cde Ignatius Chombo, yesterday said Government set out to build 5 000
housing units under the first phase which was now running concurrently with
phase two.

      The outstanding houses were approaching completion stage and should be
allocated by the end of August, the cutoff date for the finalisation of
phase one.
      The minister said all the people allocated houses should occupy their
properties within two weeks otherwise the houses would be allotted to those
next on the housing waiting list.
      Cde Chombo said people should report any undeserving persons who
benefited under the programme, such as those owning other properties

      The informants, if they do not own houses, would be allocated the
repossessed properties.
      The Government had received three reports of people renting out houses
built under the programme. These have since been repossessed.

      "The houses are strictly for the homeless. Consideration should be
given to civil servants and council employees earning less than $10 million.
That number should, however, not exceed 20 percent of the total number of
beneficiaries," he said.
      Cde Chombo said beneficiaries would pay monthly instalments of up to
$1,5 million for the next 20 to 25 years.

      "This year alone, Government has spent $763,7 billion. Last year we
spent over $800 billion. This shows Government commitment to the national
housing delivery programme."
      He said the national housing programme had boosted the economy by,
among other spinoffs, helping create employment.

      Cde Chombo said at the completion of phase two of the programme over
30 000 housing stands would have been built under the selfhelp aided scheme.

      Beneficiaries of high density stands pay 20 percent of the land value,
those in the middle density area pay 50 percent while those in the low
density would pay the full cost.
      Cde Chombo said local authorities have been given money under the
Public Sector Investment Programme for the installation of water and sewer
connections for the houses built under the project.

      Source: The Chronicles

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Botswana: Cops reinforce border security

      June 10, 2006

      By ANDnetwork .com

      The police department recently deployed paramilitary officers in
villages along the Zimbabwean border in response to concerns over cross
border crime that has left villagers living in fear.

      Senior Superintendent Kago Ikaneng said his officers arrived in
villages early this month and would monitor illegal movements of both
animals and people between Botswana and Zimbabwe.

      Ikaneng who was addressing Matshelagabedi residents at a Kgotla
meeting called to inform them about the presence of his officers in the area
said: "Ten paramilitary officers have been assigned to beef up the current
police force in the area."

      The officer appealed to people to liase with his SSG officers, who are
camped a stones throw from the village. "Suspicious people must be reported
to my officers, the local police station or to the Chief of the village, "
he said. He also warned villagers against keeping Zimbabweans in their
houses, adding: "To accomplish our mission, villagers must also be committed
to helping us reduce escalating crime."

      The Superintendent also told villagers that they should report any
misconduct by the deployed officers, directly to his office in Gaborone or
any senior officer in charge.
      For their part the relieved villagers promised to work in hand with
police, but expressed their lack off trust in some police officers. They
accused them of disclosing the identity of their informers although they
promised secrecy and protection. They also accused certain officers of
breaking up families whilst on their mission to protect the public.

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Zim, Botswana to consolidate economic ties

      June 10, 2006

      By ANDnetwork .com

      The reintroduction of the BulawayoFrancistown passenger train will not
only help consolidate the excellent relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana
but will also enhance economic and cultural integration, a Cabinet Minister
said yesterday.

      Addressing guests at the official launch of the train service at the
Bulawayo main station, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde
Christopher Mushohwe, said the resuscitation of the service spoke volumes of
the shared vision between the two countries.

      "This route is a continued living symbol of a trail of blood that we
shared during our war of liberation," Cde Mushohwe said.

      "Many of our men and women used this rail line to escape the brutal
onslaught of the Smith regime and join the liberation struggle.

      "Today this relaunch will enable our two people to reunite, promote
business, exchange culture and consolidate and cement our political

      He said the relaunch was a further demonstration of the Government's
commitment to providing alternative and affordable transport, particularly
to crossborder traders. Cde Mushohwe said the train was pivotal to the
growth and sustenance of economies as well as promoting social interaction
between the two countries.

      "It is anticipated that the reintroduction of this service will
provide affordable alternative means of transport mainly to our informal
traders and the generality of our travellers to Botswana," he said.

      The Minister urged the National Railways of Zimbabwe to assess the
needs of other areas where there was no passenger train service, despite
there being a railway line, as a mediumterm plan to address transport
problems in the country.
      A mixed passenger train service between Harare and Chinhoyi will be
introduced soon following feasibility studies, he said.

      "Currently feasibility studies are also under way covering the routes
Bulawayo to Beitbridge, Rutenga to Sango border post and Harare to Bindura,"
Cde Mushohwe said.

      "Furthermore there are plans to extend the Ruwa commuter train service
to Marondera and similarly the Marimba commuter train service will also be
extended to Norton this year."

      He said the Government was happy to note that passenger trains were
now running on time following measures put in place by NRZ management.

      On the recent spate of rail accidents in the country, Cde Mushohwe
said NRZ had acquired various equipment and material to improve safety and
rail operations. "The NRZ is taking delivery of 12 000 tonnes of rail from
China in order to replace part of the rail that may be worn out," he said.

      This is part of the organisation's ongoing programmed track
maintenance plan that would enhance safety and efficiency of the railways
system. "An unfortunate spate of accidents mainly due to overused rail track
should be overcome."

      The Minister said despite the accidents, the NRZ remained the safest
mode of public transport.

      He said efforts were under way to put in place the requisite
infrastructure such as signalling and telecommunication systems to ensure
safety on NRZ lines.

      Said Cde Mushohwe: "We will be very pleased as a Government if you as
the travelling public complement these efforts by playing a leading role in
curbing vandalism and theft of the infrastructure."

      Concerned by the slump in the NRZ performance over the years, the
Government initiated a turnaround strategy aimed at reviving the parastatal.

      Cde Mushohwe noted that within a short space of time the efforts had
yielded positive results in spite of difficulties faced by NRZ.

      He said the NRZ had managed to reduce its debts and improve cashflow
and was already embarking on a major recapitalisation programme.

      "It is hoped that the railway equipment under manufacture in China and
the rail steel recently acquired and currently being transported from Beira
into Zimbabwe will have a major impact on NRZ recapitalisation efforts and
turnaround strategy and engender more efficiency, this resulting in both
cost cutting and reduction both in passenger fares and cargo tariffs."

      Speaking at the same function, Botswana Minister of Works and
Transport, Mrs Lesego Motsumi, said the reintroduction of the train service
was a demonstration of the good relations between the two countries.

      "It is important for us to recognise that ZimBotswana consolidate
economic ties as neighbours, which is a reality that we cannot wash away,"
she said.

      However, Mrs Motsumi warned against the abuse of the facilities saying
offenders would be dealt with ruthlessly.

      She said Botswana was committed to providing an adequate number of
customs and immigration officials to service travellers on board the train.

      Earlier, Bulawayo Resident Minister, Cde Cain Mathema, said Bulawayo
was proud to be associated with the train service, which would also promote

      "Bulawayo once again is proud to be associated with yet another
milestone in the history of the railways," Cde Mathema said.

      "The two have always coexisted and the selection of Bulawayo as the
launch pad of this service is a demonstration of this symbolic

      After the brief ceremony at the station invited guests that included
Cde Mushohwe, Mrs Motsumi, Matabeleland South Governor, Cde Angeline Masuku
and ordinary travellers boarded the train to Francistown.

      The train had a stopover in Plumtree where Cde Masuku read a sendoff
      Another ceremony was expected to be held on the train's arrival in
      The train, which is being reintroduced after a sevenyear absence will
be departing Bulawayo on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9.30am arriving
in Francistown at 3pm.

      It would be departing from Francistown on Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays at 11am and arriving in Bulawayo at 4.30pm.
      Besides the relatively cheap tariffs, the train offers several
attractions such as customs and immigration formalities on board.

      Source: The Chronicles

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