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Army chiefs for top Zanu PF posts

Zim Standard

      By Foster Dongozi

      THERE are plans to appoint senior military officers to Zanu PF's
top decision-making body, the Politburo The Standard can reveal.

      President Robert Mugabe appears intent on forging ahead with
plans to militarise all state institutions ahead of his retirement.

      The militarisation of the ruling party will also see its Central
Committee having a large representation of retired army officers.

      Mugabe, according to sources close to him, is in favour of a
heavily militarised post-Mugabe era.

      The military is gradually assuming a significant role in the
running of the country, with serving and retired soldiers serving on boards
of parastatals, including sports.

      Zanu PF sources said Mugabe believes a heavily militarised
government that would take over from him would not try him for any rights
violations carried out under his administration.

      Retired Zambian president, Frederick Chiluba, and former
Malawian president, Bakili Muluzi, faced a torrid time after being hounded
by their hand-picked successors, prompting serving presidents - Mugabe among
them - to review their initial retirement plans.

      A Politburo member told The Standard: "There is a lot of
uncertainty among civilian members of the Politburo and Central Committee
because there are plans to flood them with retired soldiers."

      Another member of the Politburo said: "We are not sure yet how
it will be implemented or when but the plans are already at an advanced

      Sources within Zanu PF said the militarisation of all public
institutions would also serve as an advantage for presidential aspirant,
Joice Mujuru, as most retired soldiers were likely to be loyal to her
husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru.

      Politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, who is also a former military
man, would not confirm if he was aware of plans to introduce more of his
peers from the trenches into the Zanu PF Politburo.

      He said: "Unfortunately I can not be the source of your

      Nathan Shamuyarira, the party's spokesperson was not immediately
available for comment.

       However, sources told The Standard the militarisation of Zanu PF
went a notch up at Tuesday's Politburo meeting, receiving a presentation
from Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi on how the government plans to
transform war veterans into a reserve force.

      "The current war veterans' association structure will be
disbanded and the new organisation will be assimilated into the military,
receiving salaries and allowances. In other words, they will not have the
independence that Jabulani Sibanda and Chenjerai Hunzvi displayed," said a

      The war veterans, according to Zanu PF's plans, will also play a
dual role of cordoning off rural areas from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

      Former guerrilla commanders, Dabengwa, Solomon Mujuru and
Vitalis Zvinavashe were tasked by Mugabe to reorganise the war veterans
association in 2004.

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Deposed Sibanda's vehicle seized

Zim Standard

      By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - The ruling Zanu PF has seized a vehicle allocated to
Jabulani Sibanda, the former party provincial chairperson and leader of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), The Standard
has learnt.

      Sibanda, however, insists the seizure was illegal as the vehicle
was a property of the war veterans and not the ruling party.

      The Standard learnt that the vehicle, a Nissan Hardbody
twin-cab, was forcibly taken from Sibanda at his Nkulumane residence on 26
May by war veterans, allegedly sent by some top ruling party officials.

      Sibanda, on Friday confirmed that war veterans seized the
vehicle he had been using. The former Zanu PF provincial chairperson said
the seizure of the vehicle was part of efforts to frustrate him.

      He said: "When I went to the armed struggle, I walked all along
with fellow fighters. There were no cars then. We fought against a system
and government that had cars . ideas always overpower weaponry.

      "In fact, the vehicle was illegally taken. It is a war veteran's
association car, not a party car. We are aware as war veterans of what is

      Efforts to obtain a comment from Zanu PF's spokesperson, Nathan
Shamuyarira, were fruitless yesterday.

      Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative (ZLPI) President, Max
Mnkandla, condemned the seizure of the vehicle.

      "As war veterans, we strongly condemn that move as he was only
expelled from the party and not the association. The car also belonged to
the association (of war veterans)," he said.

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Govt critics still being tortured, says report

Zim Standard


      STATE security agents continue to use torture to punish
government critics, The Standard has established.

      The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said this when it unveiled
its April 2006 Political Violence Report which shows that Zimbabweans are
still being subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment at the hands of
security agents.

      The purpose of the monthly reports is to record the nature of
the politically motivated violence and intimidation that continues to
prevail in the country.

       These reports are primarily based on victims' accounts,
accompanied by medical evidence where possible, and obtained from member
organisations of the Human Rights Forum and other partner organisations.

      "The month of April saw torture being sustained," the latest
report says. "On 14 April, Nixon Nyikadzino, an NCA (National Constitutional
Assembly) activist was tortured by Military Intelligence agents. The Human
Rights Forum deplores the torture of Nyikadzino and urges the Government to
bring to book perpetrators of this shameful and unlawful act.

      "The Forum further urges the Government to comply with
international norms on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and
punishment as stipulated in the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)."

      The report added that 11 NCA demonstrators were allegedly
tortured for demonstrating peacefully in support of a new constitution for
the country.

       "The Human Rights Forum urges the Government to respect the
rights of people to freedom of assembly, expression and association as
enshrined in the Constitution and international instruments to which
Zimbabwe is a party."

      The Human Rights Forum also expressed concern at reports of
intra-party political violence between the two MDC factions, the Arthur
Mutambara-led and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led factions.  "This violence,
coupled with repression from the Government, has led to a situation where
Zimbabweans believe it is a crime to participate in the politics of the
country, a right which is protected by the Constitution, the African Charter
on Human and Peoples' Rights and other international instruments."

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Farmers rap GMB for late payments

Zim Standard

      By our correspondent

      CHINHOYI - Mashonaland  West farmers have criticised the
State-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for failing to pay them on time for
their maize deliveries.

      The farmers said they were promised cash payments each time they
made deliveries to the GMB but were surprised that the parastatal always
told them to collect payments at a later date.

      Farmer Ennet Mandaza said she delivered 10 bags of maize to the
GMB depot in Chinhoyi and was not paid soon after the delivery. "I was told
to return a week later because they didn't have the cash. The move greatly
inconvenienced me since I desperately needed the money," Mandaza said.

      The move also means she will spend more money on bus fare to and
from the GMB depot.

      Another farmer, Norman Jaricha, said it was very expensive to
transport the maize to the GMB depots and it was only fair that they are
paid on time.

      The farmers said they would rather resort to side-marketing
because payment was prompt and very competitive. The government recently
increased the producer price of maize to $31 million a tonne.

      Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti, the acting chief executive
officer of the GMB, was not immediately available for comment.

      However, the Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Made, answering
questions in Parliament maintained the GMB had enough resources to pay for
the grain it receives.

      Made also said the GMB should establish permanent structures in
the rural areas in order to ensure it can collect and distribute grain

       Meanwhile the vice president of the Commercial Farmers' Union
(CFU), Trevor Gifford, has reported fresh attempts to take over farms in
some parts of the country.

      He said there have been problems in Chiredzi, Mutare, Karoi and
Chinhoyi but they were trying to engage the government to put an end to the

      In Chinhoyi, Murray Pott, a commercial farmer is battling to
keep his Hilltop farm.

       "There have been some problems at his (Pott's) farm and I hope
he will get through it," Gifford said. "We are talking with all stakeholders
to try and put an end to all these problems. I am also very optimistic we
will be able to resolve all these problems,"  he said.

      Pott is reportedly a beneficiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's
Productive Sector Facility (PSF) and was hoping this would help him retain
his farm.

       The CFU said a group of people went to his farm last Wednesday
trying to evict him.

      As disturbances into the farms continued, a report by the
Agricultural Co-ordination Working Group said there were three dimensions to
the crisis in Zimbabwe.

      "Firstly, the continuing economic decline to which the impact of
the land reform programme is an important factor, secondly, a severe food
crisis aggravated by the drought of 2002/03 and finally, the impact of HIV
prevalence, which is compounded by the depletion of health services and
insufficient international assistance."

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Minister's workers threaten to beat up court officials Court

Zim Standard

      BY Terry Mutsvanga

      IN clear violation of a court order, workers for Deputy Minister
for Information and Publicity, Bright Matonga, last week barred a Messenger
of Court from attaching farm equipment looted from Chigwell Estate.

      Sources said the workers who wielded iron bars threatened to
assault a team from the Chegutu messenger of court, which had come to
repossess the equipment left behind by the former owner, Tom Beattie.

      This was the second time the team had gone to collect the
remaining farm equipment.  "The first trip was successful as some equipment
was recovered from the farm. However, chaos erupted when the messengers
returned to take the remaining irrigation equipment," said one source.

      The situation at the farm is reportedly very tense as the deputy
minister's workers are determined to hold on to the equipment, said the

      One member of the team from the messenger of court said they
tried to defend themselves but failed after the workers outnumbered them.
Chegutu Messenger of Court, B Kanyangarara, was reluctant to discuss the

       However, Beattie confirmed to The Standard that he was
struggling to get back farm equipment worth billions of dollars.

      "We went to (Chegutu) court seeking an order to allow us to get
the equipment back. That order was granted on 18 May. Since then, we have
only managed to repossess two tractors," Beattie said.

      He said the remaining equipment includes 1 400 irrigation pipes,
welding machines and assorted workshop equipment.
      Matonga could not comment on the reports. He switched off his
mobile phone the moment he was informed the caller was a journalist from The

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Zanu PF youths exchange blows over food

Zim Standard


      MASVINGO - Hungry Zanu PF supporters who attended the
commissioning of four classroom blocks built by the Swedish Embassy stunned
people when they exchanged blows over food at Mamutse Primary School in
Bikita East recently.

      In a stampede, the supporters, clad in their party T-shirts,
rushed for food after they were barred from joining the guest of honour,
Swedish Ambassador, Sten Rylander, for lunch.

      The youths, who were told to have their lunch in another
classroom by a school official only identified as Mlambo refused, arguing
that as Zanu PF supporters they were supposed to lunch with the VIPs.

      However, pandemonium broke out after a female Zanu PF youth
supporter labelled the school official an MDC supporter who wanted to eat
alone with his "white masters (the ambassador and his team)".

      The intervention of the police saved the day as the Zanu PF
supporters exchanged blows with other youths who sought to restrain them
from disrupting the VIPs during their lunch.

      Before the fighting over food began, the Swedish Embassy
commissioned four classroom blocks and handed over books and furniture worth
more than US$ 250 000 to rural schools.

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UMP villagers plead for UK assistance

Zim Standard

       By Vusumuzi Sifile

      VILLAGERS in the ruling Zanu PF stronghold of Uzumba
Maramba-Pfungwe in Mashonaland East Province, last week unexpectedly
appealed to the British government to assist them in the construction of a
secondary school in the area.

      The call was made during commissioning of a classroom block at
Guyu Primary School in Pfungwe.

      Delta Corporation supplied construction material, while the
British Embassy in Harare provided furniture worth Z$1.2 billion.

      A choir comprising members of the ruling party's District
Coordinating Committee and Provincial Women's League, took to the stage
singing: maBritish we tirikuda secondary. Chichemo chedu tirikuda secondary
(British, we need a secondary school) before switching to an improvised
version of the Rambai makashinga jingle: MaBritish we Rambai makashinga  ve
Delta we Rambai makashinga.

      Chanting the ruling party's slogan, a member of the ruling party's
provincial women's league executive said: "Pamberi neZanu PF,  Pamberi nava
Mugabe Pamberi neve Delta then went on: Pamberi nema British."

      MP for UMP,  who is also deputy Minister of Small and Medium
Enterprises, Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, reiterated the need for Zimbabwe to
improve relations with its former colonial master in solving the current
economic crisis.

      "Ukama pakati pedu nema British hwagara huriko. (Our relations
with the British have always been there) Our relations date back to 1890
when they came to our country. There is no way we can destroy that
relationship, we are connected in many ways.

      "Thank you for cementing this relationship. Tiri kuti mabridge
ngaavakwe,(Bridges must be built)," said Mutiwekuziva, who is also the
ruling party's provincial secretary for Information and Publicity in
Mashonaland East.

      He added: "MaBritish awa tine ukama nawo munyaya dzedzidzo,
nedze upfumi. (Our relations with the British are in fields of education and
wealth creation).  We are related even in religious matters, since we are
all Christians."

      Gillian Dare, the first secretary for Press and Political
Affairs at the British Embassy in Harare, reiterated her government's
commitment to support Zimbabwe. She stressed the need to ignore political
affiliation when implementing projects that help communities.

      She said: "In reaching judgements on which projects to support,
the one factor that we do not consider is politics. We judge projects
irrespective of the political orientation of the communities and
organisations from which they come, she said.

      She added that the "... new commitment is a major demonstration
of the continuing determination of the British government to support the
people of Zimbabwe, particularly the most vulnerable."

      Through its Small Grants Scheme, the British Embassy has
provided Z$55 billion (about US$543 505) to support community projects. Two
months ago, the British government through its Department for International
Development (DFID) announced it would avail 22 million British pounds to
cater for orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

      The British government also provides more than 30 million
pounds, which is spent through the United Nations and other humanitarian

      ...but  Zimbabwe, UK relations remain frosty
      By OUR STAFF

      BULAWAYO - Relations between Zimbabwe and Britain are likely to
remain strained as President Robert Mugabe has not shown any commitment to
normalise relations, a top official of a key Western country has said.

      The official who preferred not to be identified for diplomatic
reasons told The Standard that relations between the government and the
West, Britain in particular, would remain as they are for some time.

      The diplomat said despite calls on Mugabe to change his policies
that have damaged the economy, the Zimbabwean leader was pursuing the same

      "We have not seen any change in policies so far to address the
crises Zimbabwe is facing," the diplomat said.

      "The problems and issues of Zimbabwe have to be solved first.
The government has a choice on how to govern this country and, based on
international assessments, the way the government has chosen to govern this
country has effectively destroyed the economy and closed the democratic

      Turning to the proposed visit by United Nations
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the diplomat said: "He (Annan) must decide
where the basis of his visit is as there is little chance (at present) for
him to succeed."

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Mugabe pleads with churches for dialogue

Zim Standard


      PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week pleaded for dialogue with
church leaders who are critical of his administration.

      Mugabe has come under intense criticism from some church leaders
for refusing to step down at a time when the country's political and
economic situation continues to worsen.

      One of the leaders, Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo,
has made it clear how he wishes nature could take its course with Mugabe who
has remained in power since 1980.

      The veteran politician, who is accused of running down a once
prosperous country, however enjoys the support of other church leaders who
endorsed his leadership two weeks ago. These leaders are engaged in attempts
to bring Mugabe and the European Union to the negotiating table.

       Speaking at the 75th anniversary celebrations at the Catholic
church-run Silveira Mission in Bikita at the weekend, Mugabe pleaded with
religious leaders to engage in a dialogue in order to settle the stalemate
between the government and their institutions.

      Mugabe expressed concern over widening criticism from church
leaders who feel his rule is responsible for the crisis facing the country.

      He added that mounting criticism from the church leaders was not
justified as his party had enjoyed a good working relationship with
missionaries during the liberation struggle.

      Mugabe also asked the church to support the government's widely
condemned "Operation Murambatsvina" that left nearly one million people
homeless, saying religious leaders should work with the government in
removing "dirty and illegal" structures in urban areas.

      He however admitted that political violence sometimes
characterised elections and said churches should not criticise the ruling

      "Some churches always rush to criticise the ruling party when
there is violence during elections. It is sometimes normal for youths to
beat each other at such times," Mugabe said.

       Mugabe said his government had failed to pay teachers and health
personnel decent salaries because the country had been losing large sums of
money importing food for the people over the past two years.

       "Doctors and nurses in the rural and urban areas should receive
the same salaries. Government will look into their plight to improve the
health sector that has been facing many challenges. This time they will be
solved as we had been spending a lot of money importing food during the last
two years," he said.

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GAPWUZ threatens strike

Zim Standard


      THE General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) has threatened to spearhead protests against low wages and
worsening conditions on the farms.

      The development comes at a time when the main labour union, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) warned it would organise crippling
strikes to press for higher wages.

      GAPWUZ secretary general Getrude Hambira told The Standard that
farm workers were the least paid in the country and their working conditions
continued to deteriorate.

      Hambira said: "We will be calling for a job action if the wages
are not reviewed because we cannot take this anymore."

      Farm workers earn between $1,3 million and $2,2 million a month.

      New farmers allocated land under Zimbabwe's controversial land
reform program-me employ the majority of the poorly paid workers.

      GAPWUZ has been negotiating for a basic salary of $10 million a
month but employers have indicated they are only prepared to pay around $1,6

      A family of six requires nearly $50 million a month to survive.

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Nursing schools operating below capacity - finding

Zim Standard

      By our staff

      THE Parliamentary Committee on health and child welfare says
some of the country's nurse training institutions are operating below
standards due to inadequate funding.

      The 10-member team of legislators, led by chairperson and MP for
Kwekwe, Blessing Chebundo, recently visited Nyadire, Bonda, All Souls
Mission hospitals and Marondera government hospital to establish the state
of the country's training institutions.

      The committee does not mince its words and says the situation at
the training institutions is dire and it recommends government intervention
as a matter of urgency.

      Nurse training institutions in Zimbabwe are currently offering
two courses which are Primary Care Nurse (PCN) and the Registered General
Nurse (RGN). The PCN course is a one and half year crash programme recently
introduced by government as one of the measures to deal with brain drain in
the health sector. The RGN course runs for three years.

      According to the committee, inadequate financial resources are
affecting the running of training institutions as all the training
institutions do not have separate budgets from the main hospitals.

      The committee noted that Nyadire Hospital in Mashonaland East
province receives $128 million a month from the government when it requires
$600-700 million in order to meet all its needs. The hospital has been
fortunate enough to receive donations which they used to supplement this
meagre allocation. The committee also noted that institutions such as Bonda
in Manicaland and All Souls in Mashonaland Central have also been saved by
donations from well wishers and donors.

      The committee noted: "Your Committee was impressed by the fact
that despite the economic hardships, there is some effort towards
maintaining the health delivery system by individual institutions.

      "The hospitals are using the Health Services Funds (HSF) or
donations to make improvements on their institutions.  Nyadire Hospital was
able to partition one of the dormitories for students from donations.
Marondera Hospital used the HSF to erect a durawall."

      Another problem the committee noted in its report is the late
disbursements of money allocated to hospitals by government.

      Marondera Hospital in Mashonaland West is yet to receive the $12
billion it was allocated last year in the 2006 budget for the completion of
a maternity wing whose construction began 10 years ago.  At the time of the
committee's visit the institution had not yet received the money.

      On student's welfare the committee reports that training
materials were inadequate for the students.

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UK to the rescue

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - THE British government has come to the rescue of a
Bulawayo based terminally ill HIV and Aids patients' home, Thembelihle House
that has been facing water shortages since last year.

      Due to lack of clean water, Thembelihle House in Mpopoma
suspended its gardening activities, which are a source of livelihood for the
Home at the same time, putting patients' lives at risk.

      The British government has since donated a borehole pump, water
tank and pipes to the home at a cost of more than $1.5 billion.

      During a commissioning ceremony on Tuesday, British Ambassador
to Zimbabwe, Dr Andrew Pocock, said the British government is committed to
the cause of suffering Zimbabweans.

      "I hope the donation will improve water supply to the home and
the quality of life of both patients and staff. We try to reach out to small
institutions like make a difference.

        "The government of UK is committed to the welfare of
Zimbabweans. It is during such times that the UK government is putting more
effort to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans," Pocock said.

        Ellen Ndimande, the board chairperson of Thembelihle Home, in
thanking the British, said: "We hope the support will alleviate the problems
that patients were facing and make Thembelihle self-sufficient."

      Thembelihle was formed in 2002 and admitted its first HIV and
Aids terminally ill patients the following year. The home relies mainly on
donations for its day-to-day running.

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ZLHR launches HIV/Aids charter

Zim Standard


      WHILE many people continue to die as a result of HIV and AIDS
related illness the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) recently
launched the Zimbabwean HIV and AIDS and Human Rights Charter.

      The charter seeks to highlight the human rights and fundamental
freedoms of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in as far as how
human rights can be enjoyed without discrimination.

      The charter is documented in the form of a booklet and it was
drafted after nationwide multi-sectoral consultations with various
institutions represented at the provincial and national level.

      Arnold Tsunga, the executive director of ZLHR, said the rights
in the charter are rights that Zimbabwe is obliged to uphold as enshrined in
international treaties and regional treaties that the state has signed and
ratified. However the charter is not a legal binding document enforceable in
a court of law.

      He said: "The charter serves as a tool that notes the importance
of recognising HIV\AIDS infected people as human beings and reaffirms that
people who are HIV positive should not be discriminated. It is also a tool
that creates awareness on fundamental human rights for people living with

        Justice Edwin Cameron, who is a judge at the Supreme Court of
Appeal in South Africa and is also HIV positive, commended the ZLHR for
coming up with the charter as he gave his testimony on how he suffered from
stigma and the illness that struck him soon after he tested positive.

      He said: "I got sick in 1997 and never imagined that I would
live up to this time as I was terminally ill. However I was put on Anti-
Retroviral medication and I quickly recovered and I have been on the course
as I take two tablets everyday."

      He also expressed concern over the failure by the Zimbabwe
government to provide free ARVs to its citizens.

      "There are 14 000 South Africans who are on ARVs and I am
saddened to hear that in Zimbabwe, more than 300 000 people are not
accessing the drugs."

      Hege Waagan the UNAIDS social mobilisation adviser raised
concern on the failure by Zimbabwe to access much funding from donors
compared to other countries in the region. She told delegates that other
SADCC countries received US$90 a person infected with the virus, compared to
US$4 given to a Zimbabwean. However the Gays and Lesbians Association of
Zimbabwe (GALZ) criticised the charter, saying it failed to recognise the
presence of gays and lesbians in society. They argued that they should also
be given a voice in the charter as they said it was their fundamental right
to live.

      The ZLHR promised to amend parts of the charter so as to suit
the needs of every Zimbabwean. Some of the issues guaranteed in the charter
include the, the right to life and inherent dignity, protection from
torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and access to
treatment, care and support.

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NRZ re-launches Botswana train

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has
re-introduced the Bulawayo-Francistown passenger train as part of its
turnaround programme.

      An NRZ train left for Francistown, Botswana on Friday and was
scheduled to arrive in Bulawayo yesterday afternoon. The trial run of the
train was held the previous week - seven years after the parastatal
abandoned the route.

       Christopher Mushohwe, the Minister of Transport and
Communications, officially launched the train at the NRZ main station.
      The re-introduced passenger train will be running on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays.

      However, while the train is set to offer alternative transport
services for passengers, especially cross-border traders, its
re-introduction might spell doom for road transport operators.

      Road transport operators had hitherto enjoyed a monopoly on the
route, charging astronomical fees for the trip at the same time increasing
charges without notice.

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Cash squeeze stalls ZESA projects

Zim Standard

      By Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu

      ZESA Holdings has stalled the implementation of two of its
priority multi-trillion dollar dashing hopes of Zimbabwe finding an
immediate solution to its electricity woes.

      The power utility had planned to commence the US$600 million
coal mining project in Sinamatella and Western areas of Hwange in April this
year to enable it to expand the Hwange Power Station and improve its
electricity generation capacity.

      But outgoing ZESA Holdings executive chairman, Dr Sydney Gata,
said last Thursday that the project might not see the light of day after the
parastatal failed to raise US$90 million.

      While he initially said his company was awaiting a government
gazette to start implementing he later admitted that they had lost an
investor due to lack of funding.

      "By last year there was confirmation but Zimbabwe could not
raise the US$90 million as deposit," Gata told journalists at a press
briefing held at the company premises.

      ZESA wrestled the controversial grant for the project from
Hwange Colliery Company last October after arm-twisting the government with
arguments that they had secured a Chinese investor who had set as a
condition that it acquires the coalfields before it could release funds.

      The long awaited US$2,4 billion joint Batoka project with Zambia
also hangs in balance, Gata said.

      He said the project was too expensive to implement and Zimbabwe
could lose out because it was not on the priority list for Zambia, expected
to be exporting electricity in the near future.

      "That suffers because it is dependent on mutual co-operation. As
a ride the project could dent the economies in a big way. It needs US$2,4
billion. The two countries must have the same appetite and same fork and
knife to eat that meal. The project involves a third party, the Zambezi
River Authority who need US$1,2 billion to set up dam infrastructure," he

      The outgoing executive chairman said the way forward for the
project would be to release the site on concession for 30 years.

      Both projects were supposed to save the day for Zimbabwe
presently facing severe electricity shortages. However, Zimbabwe might pin
its hopes on the Sengwa project, for which Gata said he had found potential
investors, although talks were still at an early stage.

      "There is a renewed interest in Sengwa but I don't know the
details. When investors come in, they start at the top with government and
then come to us. If it materialises we in ZESA stand to benefit in a big

      ZESA has been planning to set up a thermal power station in
Sengwa for years.

      For now, Gata said, Zimbabwe will have to live with power cuts
and described it as a "miracle" that power is still flowing at all at this
time (when) "ZESA is running a vehicle without a spare wheel".

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Telecel instals new equipment to serve a million subscribers

Zim Standard

      By our staff

      TELECEL Zimbabwe, the country's third mobile phone operator has
acquired new equipment that can accommodate up to one million subscribers.
The new equipment is being installed in preparation for the issuance of new

       The equipment arrived in the country last month and tests are
already being conducted, which once completed will enable Telecel to issue
at least 70 000 new lines in August.

      It will also allow the mobile operator to implement an ambitious
plan that seeks to increase its subscriber base to 500 000 from 140 000 by

      Rex Chibesa, Telecel's acting MD said: "The switch (equipment)
arrived in the country last month and it is called a soft-switch because it
is easily expandable."

      Chibesa could not be drawn into revealing the total cost of the
switch, only saying the equipment was part of the expansion project the
company is undertaking.

      He said Chinese telecommunications firm, Huawei Technologies,
was the main supplier of the equipment. Huawei also supplies equipment to
NetOne and TelOne.

      The switch can be expanded to encompass a total of one million
subscribers but the expansion will be carried out gradually, starting from
250 000 and 500 000, Chibesa said.

      Telecel has a subscriber base of 140 000 and is ranked third on
the pecking order behind Econet and NetOne. The expansion, long overdue,
comes at a time when competitors have completed different phases of
subscriber base expansions.

      The mobile phone operator like all players in the
telecommunications industry says it is being hamstrung by the acute shortage
of foreign currency making it difficult to import equipment.

      Chibesa said the telecommunications industry's potential to grow
was being stifled by the harsh economic environment.

      Telecel was licensed to operate a mobile network in Zimbabwe in

      Telecel International and Empowerment Corporation (EC) are joint
owners in Telecel with equities of 60% and 40% respectively. Telecel
International is wholly owned by Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian conglomerate
listed on the Cairo and London stock exchanges.

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Gold output falls

Zim Standard

      By our staff

      GOLD production slipped a record 33% to a new four year low in
the first quarter of 2006 dragged down by a weakening currency, and the
industry has predicted worse to come.

      The metal fell by 33% in production to 2 864,6 kilogrammes in
the four months covering January to April, according to latest statistics
from the Chamber of Mines. The figure represents a 30% decline in production
to 14 tonnes in 2005 compared to 21 tonnes in 2004.

      Future prospects have also been dampened by power cuts and
uncertainties arising from mining legislation, companies have said in recent

       Chamber of Mines president, Jack Murehwa, said the decline only
represented official statistics and was therefore not that significant.

       "While the large gold producers may be struggling with shrinking
revenues and inadequate foreign exchange to maintain their plants, national
gold production, in real terms has not necessarily gone down significantly,"
Murehwa said.

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Zimbabwe loses out on Africa tourism growth

Zim Standard


      ZIMBABWE continues to lose out on tourist arrivals despite the
upward trend in global tourist arrivals with Africa recording the highest
growth as compared to other regions.

      Overseas tourist arrivals declined by 39% and also arrivals from
the African region went down by 11% between December 2004 and December 2005.

      The downward trend reflects the country's failure to attract
holiday makers despite protracted efforts by the government to market
Zimbabwe as an attractive tourist destination.

      These figures were announced by Eben Makonese, chairman of
Zimsun, in a statement accompanying the company's financial report for the
year-ended 31 March 2006.

      Zimsun decried the harsh economic environment punctuated by sky
rocketing inflation, high interest rates and managed exchange rate for the
crisis its operations face.

      The group however recorded a 5% growth in arrivals for its
hotels against the backdrop of a fall in tourist arrivals in the country.

      The leisure concern's sales mix was tilted in favour of the
domestic market but saw volumes going down by 8% in comparison to the
previous year.

      Fall in domestic volumes resulted in the fall in hotel occupancy
levels from 38% to 37%.

      Makonese said: "The local economic environment will continue to
pose a challenge on operations as inflation is expected to persist on the
upward trend and at a faster pace compared to movements in the exchange

       Zimsun has managed to defy the harsh economic conditions
prevailing in the country by recording an operating profit of $204 billion,
up from $8.6 billion last year.

      Domestic tourism has become the backbone of the group and the
group recorded 188 265 guests.

       Tourist arrivals have been affected by the negative publicity;
sporadic fuel supplies and limited direct international flights to

      Marketing efforts by tourism players in the non-traditional
markets such as Japan, China and other Asian countries seem to be failing to
bear fruit as indicated by the slump in overseas arrivals.

      Tourism was once one of the country's biggest foreign currency
owners with receipts of over US$600 million a year.

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The govt's latest ruse abuses the electorate like this

Zim Standard


      "OPERATION Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle" stands out as one of the
government's monumental failures. But the tragedy is that the government
never learns.

      The government is proposing a new housing scheme for rural areas
and as with the rural electrification project and the AIDS levy, it will
find a way of ensuring the few who still have jobs - thanks to the
government's misplaced policies and priorities that have led to
de-industrialisation and massive job losses - subsidise the scheme.

      The motive behind this latest scheme is clear. It is to endear
the government and the ruling party to the rural electorate and in the
process buy their votes.

      The project will give a semblance of job-creation in the rural
areas, but there is never any intention to see the whole project through.

      The experience of the scheme anachronistically described as
"Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle" is instructive. More than a year later,
the government is yet to meet its self-imposed deadlines. In fact, it has
abandoned the project, which begs the question as to just where the
resources for the rural housing project will come from when it has failed to
achieve the target figures or complete the few houses it was able to start.

      The few "Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle" houses were roofed but
they are far from complete and under normal circumstances people would not
have been allowed to take up occupation.

      The government may have put up "Garikai houses" but it has not
put the needy in the new houses because many of the houses remain largely
uncompleted - more than a year after the government's campaign of terror and
subsequent promises to address the damage.

      In any case the real victims are not the people being paraded as
beneficiaries of the system. Anyone who believes what the government says in
this regard is breathtakingly naïve. The government has never been pro-poor
and that is precisely the reason why it launched an offensive against them
in May last year. No government with pro-poor polices would have ever dreamt
of such Red Terror tactics against the most vulnerable of its citizens.

      Whenever it suits the government, it dons its pro-poor façade.
But in reality, it is the big bad wolf, masquerading as a guardian angel.

      President Robert Mugabe visited Uganda recently, ostensibly for
the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. That was a perfect cover for
establishing how the Ugandan strongman has transformed the rural areas of
the East African nation into his power base. The rural housing scheme the
government is proposing is merely a modification of the Ugandan model.

      When the late Enos Chikowore was Minister of Local Government,
he toured the country launching what were described as model rural houses.
As with many other projects where the government has demonstrated
unparalleled lack of will, it was soon abandoned.

      Museveni's re-election race began with such choruses from the
rural areas.

      The government is preparing a campaign platform for 2008. But as
usual there is only meddle and muddle.

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South Africa falling into Mugabe tra

Zim Standard

       sunday view by Philani Zamchiya

      Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe shared with us the shocking news
from the Saturday Star newspaper of 27 May 2006.

      The leading story was on Roy Bennett's rejected asylum
application and Givemore Chira's flee from Zimbabwe. Chira is a student
leader whose life is now under grave danger from the State following student
protests at the Bindura University of Science Education.

       It is sad that this young man is now seeking asylum in South
Africa, barely a week after Roy Bennett was denied the same status despite
evidence of life-threatening circumstances as clear as the September sky.
Any CIO agent under sober and sound senses without undue influence thereto
would freely confirm that not only the lives of Bennett and Chira are in
grave danger but of more than 90% of asylum seekers in South Africa and the
world over.

      The South African Home Affairs office should not choose to be
blindfolded by the Zimbabwe government's soviet tactics of fabricating
criminal charges around its prey with intent to close net in on and block
outside sympathy and then pounce on it.

      It does not need a ballistic scientist to see that the alleged
coup plot is a ploy to close in on Bennett and establish grounds to finish
him off. In my opinion the previous incarceration of Bennett in rural Zanu
PF stronghold of Mutoko was an attempt to pile psychological pressure on him
and ensure that he succumbs in prison or that upon release he would not live
to see the morrow.

      Now that by God's will this chicanery has failed the Zanu PF
maggots are dying to employ the shameless alleged coup to quench their
insatiable appetite for blood. I know that the regime in Zimbabwe will not
let go once they target you. After surviving the first serious attempt on my
life on the dreadful eve of 14 October 2004, they had to come back with
another dreadful attempt on 14 July 2005.

      This regime has also created unfounded allegations against
student leaders. The recent torching of Bindura university laboratory is a
classic example. During the days of our leadership, it was common cause that
any peaceful protests in Mashonaland colleges would be accompanied by
state-sponsored violence on college property perpetrated by Border Gezi
youths masquerading as students, with intent to find grounds for our arrest,
subsequent torture and unlawful detentions and incarcerations.

      The South African Home Affairs officials may demand that
applicants prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. This is difficult when
it comes to life threats by Zimbabwe's Soviet-trained intelligence. More so,
it becomes more difficult when the two governments exchange intelligence
notes. .

       The South African Ministry of Home affairs should be advised
that deporting applicants like Bennett and young Chira would of course
provide them with tangible evidence in the form of their dead bodies. Would
it then make sense to grant asylum status to the  dead?

      The South African government has chosen to remain silent on the
Zimbabwe crisis which is their choice but what shocks and chokes me is when
they become tall and loud in perpetuating dictatorship and sanctioning human
suffering. They should rather remain average and mild enabling them to draw
reasonable inference from the facts in issue and thus protect applicants'
inherent and inalienable right to life in the spirit of the African Charter.

      In throwing out Bennett's appeal and Chira's application, the
South African government is committing human and political hara-kiri and
past, present and future generations will never forgive them.

      South Africa should know that deporting the two and many other
applicants would not in any way vindicate their position that there is no
crisis in Zimbabwe as the fate that would follow them upon return would only
expose this ridiculous position.

       Nevertheless it is also up to Zimbabweans to mobilise
progressive partners such as the South African Students Congress, Congress
of South Africa Students, COSATU, Young Communist League, South African
Council of Churches and many others to react to this madness that is
tantamount to gambling with human life.

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Eddison Zvobgo might have opposed 'Murambatsvina'

Zim Standard

      Sunday view by Chris Mhike

       "HAWKERS should not be harassed or arrested until the local
authorities where they operate provide a people's market place for them.
These women have been harassed and this must stop.

      "It is true they are illegal hawkers but it is up to the
Victoria Falls Council to provide a people's market place for them to sell
their goods before they are harassed and moved on".

      One could easily think this quotation comes from Anna Tibaijuka's
Report on the impact of the 2005 Zanu PF - driven "Operation Murambatsvina",
or from any other opposition or civic leader in response to that same
demoniacal exercise.

      But nay, this is a quote from The Herald of 1 June 1981, just a
year after Zimbabwe had become independent.  The same quote was printed in
The Herald of 1 June 2006 on the 'The Herald 25 Years ago" column.

      The wise and empathetic statement is attributed to the then
Minister of Local Government and Housing, the now late Dr Eddison Zvobgo.
He referred them to the issue of shebeen operators and illegal hawkers in
the country, and specifically to the women hawkers who were "illegally"
selling their crochet work outside Victoria Falls Hotels.

      Twenty four years later, the same Zanu PF government had to deal
with the problem of squalor, or poverty, which manifested through the
phenomenal increase in the number of hawkers, vendors, flea markets, and
home industries that sprouted around the country, in all major and minor
urban settlements.

      Instead of adopting the empathetic attitude of the fallen hero -
Zvobgo - the 2005 rulers closed their eyes to human suffering, closed their
ears to the cries of despair, poured scorn on the voice of the United
Nations and of concerned citizens.  Government went ahead and destroyed
people's livelihoods under "Murambatsvina".

      The Zanu PF government continues today to harass vendors and
hawkers in cities and towns without pausing to think for a moment, that the
victims of the "Murambatsvina" or "Siyaso" operations, are only trying to
eke out a living.  They seem to forget that they have plunged the country
into one where unemployment is practically 80%; where the economy continues
to slip into record inflation and shrinkage levels.

      Tibaijuka's words relating to Murambatsvina were to the effect
that the operation, while purporting to target illegal dwellings and
structures, and to clamp down on alleged illicit activities, it was carried
out with indifference to human suffering.

      "The Government of Zimbabwe should immediately halt any further
demolition of homes and informal businesses and create conditions for
sustainable relief and reconstruction for those affected", said the UN envoy
in her report.

      Now one can almost visualize the late Zvobgo, and other fallen
heroes who died before they had been corrupted too badly with power, nodding
from their graves, in agreement with Tibaijuka, and re-iterating the great
words: ". this harassment must stop!".

      Had government adopted the sensible logic of the late Zvobgo,
which runs along the lines of Tibaijuka's statement about the same subject,
"Murambatsvina" would not have preceded the so-called "Garikai".  And the
blitz against the poor, which continues to this day, would not have been

      It seems that in 1981, the late hero could only make that
statement, and his comrades, including the Prime Minister of the day -
Robert Mugabe, could agree on that sound reasoning because they were all
fresh from the war of liberation.  They had just been popularly elected
under an internationally monitored election, and they aimed to govern for
and in the interests of the "masses".

       How the same regime could, twenty-five years later, reverse the
formula and destroy first before building, is only indicative of the fact
that the qualities of popularity, empathy, fairness and common-sense, have
vanished from our rulers.

      Watching the motion picture, "Drum" can be a painful experience
as one sees the theatrical representation of the demolition of the shanty
settlement - Sophia town, by the Apartheid-era rulers.  The pictures
therefrom make a striking resemblance with the pictures from "Murambatsvina".

      Yet the authors of "Murambatsvina" were at one time capable of
saying "these women have been harassed and this must stop".

      Today, in the "Clean-Up" age, the attitude of President, the
Ministers of Local Government, the one for Home Affairs, and a host of other
comrades, all seem to be saying that Zvobgo's mentality in respect of the
treatment of the poor, is one inspired by the British and the Americans.

      Yet Zvobgo probably spoke for the poor because he cared, and the
rulers of today on the other hand, have ceased to care.  While the Local
Government Minister in 1981 protected the hawkers and the vendors, the
current one, and his bosses care more about the aesthetic considerations of
settlements, over and above the welfare of the people living in those

      Government has truly ceased to care.  Zvobgo (may his soul rest
in peace), having been one of them, might have stopped all this nonsense by
saying ". this must stop".

      *Chris Mhike is a victim of the on-going blitz against the poor.

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'Panemunhu:' the circus on wheels

Zim Standard

       eyewitness by Gibbs Dube

      FRANCISTOWN - It is Thursday, 8:56PM. A Batswana national,
carrying a 20 litre plastic container of opaque beer, staggers into a
30-seater coach and utters obscenities in English and SeTswana  continuously
punctuated with the message; "Makwerekwere out . Makwerekwere (are)
useless .".

      He had been walking up and down the coaches butfailed to secure
a seat for the long journey from Francistown to Gaborone.
      Shortly, the train starts off for the Botswana capital and the
tall, light-skinned man with blood-shot-eyes has to secure a seat for the
seven-hour journey. It is impossible for him to stand inside the coach all
night, especially as he can hardly walk after possibly drinking several mugs
of beer.

      Barely minutes before the train pulls out of Francistown Railway
Station, he shouts: "Everybody says 'Panemunhu (the seat is taken)' . Go
home Makwerekere."

       Welcome aboard Panemunhu a Botswana Railways night train that
snakes from the border town via Shashe, Foley Station, Serule, Maope,
Palapye, Tewana, Mahalapye, Gonwapitse, Dinkowe, Mmamabula, Dibele, Artisia,
and Pilane and arriving in the capital city at 5AM.

      It derives this nickname from the way Zimbabweans book seats.
Individuals, notably white-robbed women well known for informal trading,
occupy a seat each in a coach and whenever another traveller comes looking
for a seat, they respond by saying "Panemunhu"(It is occupied).

      This is to ensure that they are able coil on the seats and sleep
comfortably until they arrive in Gaborone.

      When the drunken man finally gets a seat in the next economy
class coach, he starts mocking several of the travellers. The majority of
the women are Zimbabweans carrying large bags full of wares to sell in

      They are not amused by his behaviour and by the time the train
gets to Tewane, two fights requiring the intervention of the Botswana
Railways security guards had broken out. Calling Zimbabweans makwerekwere,
he continuously taunts them saying they have to go back home and vote
against President Robert Mugabe who has ruined the economy.

      He is not the only one in the night train who appears to hate
the visitors. Two young men who boarded the train at Palapye are also
fighting to get seats and their targets are Zimbabweans.

      After failing to find seats, they decide to visit the buffet
where a large number of people are drowning their sorrows in beer. This is
where they devise strategies, together with other people who have failed to
secure seats, on how to displace Zimbabweans occupying the seats.

      Plan A - They decide to forcibly occupy seats without asking
whether there is anyone occupying them. Plan B - They target women in white
robes and pull off their blankets so that they will react by running away.

      They settle for Plan B. They are determined to accomplish their
mission and a few minutes later, they put their plan into action. A harsh
exchange of words between the women and the youngsters ensues but does not
save the situation.

      In a flash, the young men completely dislodge the women who feel
uncomfortable sharing their seats with strangers. To the young Batswana, it
is victory against makwerekere, a derogatory term for foreigners including
Zimbabweans who are economic refugees.

      By the time the train reaches Mmamabula and Dibele, the
youngsters have downed more than two dozen packets of opaque beer. They sing
songs denouncing foreigners.

      An elderly man from Plumtree border town is unamused. He has
failed to sleep during the journey because of the rowdy behaviour of the
Batswana men.

      Realising that he may lose the verbal war, Ronald Bango, packs
his belongings and moves to the buffet coach, where three Batswana, are
engaged in a "serious" discussion.

      The three are not happy with the behaviour of their countrymen
who have displaced Zimbabwean women from their seats. They are agreed that
Zimbabwe's socio-economic and political problems lie squarely on the country's

      "You see, these Zimbabweans are victims of the ruling elite.
They must fight for their freedom," says one of the clean-shaven men. "It
does not make sense for us to abuse our neighbours or any foreigner.
Something should be done to stop this attitude towards our brothers and
sisters across the border."

      They all agree and Bango is comfortable sharing the buffet coach
with these strangers. They are convinced that xenophobia has dissected
relations between foreigners and Batswana.

      Close by there is a dispute over payment of some sort.An angry
woman grabs a young man by the collar demanding 15 pula for service rendered
without elaborating.

      Fearing that he may be embarrassed, the Motswana pulls out five
P2 pula coins from his pocket and hands them over to the woman and flees.

      I retire to my coach only to be woken up at 5:05AM by the chilly
weather and bright lights of Gaborone -the Promised Land for many
Zimbabweans in search of El Dorado.

      While alighting, I am convinced that Panemunhu is a circus on
wheels and possibly a reflection of what the Batswana think about

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Face to face with police brutality

Zim Standard

       sunday opinion by Marko Phiri

      THIS is a day I will never forget. It was Friday 2 June around
8PM when a grey Renault sedan came speeding towards me at breakneck speed.
Never mind that I was standing on the edge of the road.

      Naturally, I jumped off the kerb and confronted the driver who I
suspected was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both.

      As I approached the car, somebody inside yelled my name.
Muttering expletives, I asked what the big idea was scaring me like that,
and that was my first bad move. Out jumped two men while the driver and
another man remained in the car. And remember this was a civilian vehicle.

      "Uthethisa amapholisa wena?" the two men yelled as they
immediately started pummelling me. I was handcuffed and told they were going
to shove me in theboot of their car if I did not keep quiet.

      Kicking and screaming, I was thrown in the car, and when I heard
the typical noises of a walkie-talkie, I thought these guys aren't bluffing.
They were indeed cops! They were in their casuals; the car they were in was
not marked.

      Still, I was supposed to have known these people trying a hit
and run on me were policemen!

      As I protested demanding to know what the hell was going on, the
handcuffs were tightened and I was slapped all over the face. I still have
the bruises on my wrists and face as I write this article.

      It was dark in the car and I peered into their faces to see who
these people were, but the guy with the hardest punches hid his face from me
with his jacket. As I tried in the dark to identify the person who had
yelled my name,  I saw a chap I went to school with sitting  silently next
to me while  his mates tormented me!

      I asked the  man whom I knew to be a cop what I was doing in the
car. It turned out this was a private car and the driver had allegedly been
harassed by three young lager louts who had had one too many of the
inebriating stuff.

      The driver himself had no clue as to the identity of the people
they were looking for as he would see a group of people, stop and say
something like "this looks like them!" So, it turns out I must have "looked
like them" to be picked up like that! As I groaned under the stinging cuffs,
the car sped to a neighbouring township.

        I had been picked up just a few metres from my home, and the
super cop I went to school with sat silently as I remonstrated with him for
letting his mates assault a law-abiding citizen, and when he knew they had
picked me up virtually in front of my gate as he knows where I stay.

      The response of the other cops was that I had used foul language
on law officers hence the hard punches I had to endure. As we drove into the
other township, the driver identified his tormentors and the cops jumped out
of the car and the drunk young men were slapped so hard I thought I could
see sparks flying off their faces! They were then bundled into the car, and
we were taken to the police post where I was to be detained until Sunday
morning for a crime I still have no clue about.

      I had no money in my pocket to pay the admission of guilt fine
of $250 000 they were demanding so these super cops threw me into a police
cell together with the young men who were being accused of beating up the
driver of the Renault sedan who had volunteered his car to fight crime. Good
citizen isn't he?

      My receipt is written "conduct likely to breach the peace" and I
am still trying to figure out what the hell that means. You hear stories
about police brutality, but wait till you experience this first hand.

      Now that the government has set up its own human rights
watchdog, during the time in the cells, I wondered whether this was not a
case for this watchdog if it is to be taken seriously. This being the cold
month of June, being in a cell was  a nightmare I would never wish for
anybody, except perhaps the cops who punched me in the face and threw me in
the stinking cells.

      My thoughts then were: "this is what the Siberian holding camps
must have felt like for Stalin's guests."

      It appears part of the curriculum for Zimbabwean policemen is to
treat law-abiding citizens and everybody else like people with no rights.

      Momentarily forgetting the pain in my wrists and bleeding face,
I laughed when one of the young men started yelling at
      the cops at the Charge Office that he knew his rights.

      It was typical Dutch courage, and I asked him if he knew what he
was talking about. But his ranting and raving only urged on the cops who
summarily refused to take his fine and told him the cells were going to cool
him down! What is it about this country that people have resigned themselves
to abuses from the police?

      Like the brutal white cops of yesteryear, post-independence
black cops still expect to get away with abusing innocent citizens without

      I suspect such tales abound in today's  Zimbabwe where the
police seem to operate above the laws they are employed to uphold.

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Zim Standard Letters

NCA saga: those attacking Madhuku are missing the point
      I wish to contribute to the debate concerning the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) amendment to its constitution.

      By continuously attacking Dr Lovemore Madhuku and not
highlighting the lessons learnt, the debate is losing meaning.

      The amendment by the NCA was a result of a need, which was
debated by the membership, discussed and put to a vote. The NCA has set a
precedent; constitutions are made for the people and not the people for the

      The breach that aZanu PF has committed has been to use its
two-thirds majority in Parliament to fast-track very discriminatory laws
that negatively affect the whole country.

      What the NCA showed is that the whole nation is supposed to be
involved through a referendum each time national constitutional amendments
are to be effected into law.

       Parliament is too partisan to be trusted as our representatives.

      In the case of the NCA, the situation could have been different
if the NCA taskforce had been the one that made the amendments on behalf of
the membership. In my opinion, the NCA has remained firmly behind the
principle of a constitution by the people for the people.

      President Robert Mugabe's stay in power is deplorable because he
is ruining the nation, causing untold suffering for the people through his
arrogance and bad foreign policy.

      Madhuku, on the other hand is in good service to the nation,
where his organisation has endorsed him for the good of everyone.

      The current state of affairs in Zimbabwe calls for foot soldiers
that are pragmatic and action- orientated. The NCA happens to know better
than any of us what Madhuku has done for the organisation.

      In my opinion, I differ from those who disagree with the NCA
approach. I am happy as a citizen to realise that Madhuku still has the
mandate to wrestle the cut-and-paste Lancaster House Constitution from
Mugabe because Madhuku is the complete opposite of Mugabe. While Mugabe is
destroying our nationhood, Madhuku is reclaiming our pride as citizens with

      I am however, perplexed by the nature of voices that are
attacking the NCA. Gabriel Chaibva, the losing candidate of the MDC
pro-Senate faction in the recent Budiriro Parliamentary by-election can not
equate the NCA to a political party. The mandate of the NCA is to press for
a new constitution and not to govern the country.

      If the NCA retains a leadership that can help it achieve its
goals, then it is a good strategy. Chaibva and his faction are not pragmatic
and so is their philosophy as a clique. It would be a major mistake to take
the views of Peugeot 504 seriously.

      It is also important to understand the vulnerability of
activists in Zimbabwe. Madhuku is already public and therefore less
vulnerable. Being NCA chairperson is not the same as being a State

       The NCA can be compared to democratic and revolutionary forces
like the MDC and other non-state organisations. The decision made by the NCA
is as wise as the decisions made by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction.
Leaders are very important in the struggle to achieve difficult goals. They
can only be replaced if and only when they have lost focus and the drive to
achieve the desired goal.

      The issue today is to pile pressure on Mugabe and solve the
suffering of the greater majority of Zimbabweans. Madhuku and the NCA are
doing this and are therefore a relevant part to the solution to the
Zimbabwean crisis. Madhuku is more relevant than all his critics combined.

      Enock Mandhlazi


      Squabbling over MDC name will not reasolve our crisis
            IT would not be fair to let Kurauone Chihwayi's letter
entitled Tsvangirai candidate out of race go unchallenged.

            In the letter to The Standard Chihwayi sounded
non-partisan and portrayed an image of a neutral analyst. However, when one
reads between the lines, it is clear his pro-Senate MDC membership
sentiments are unmasked. He tried to point out how bad the anti-Senate MDC
candidate was.

            As if that was not enough, Chihwayi had earlier denounced
Morgan Tsvangirai and his anti-Senate MDC faction about their congress in
exactly the same way he did before the Budiriro by-election. Fortunately the
people of Budiriro are not fools.

            The Budiriro by-election did not go down well with
Chihwayi to the extent that he wrote yet another piece in the State media
downplaying the winner.

            For someone of a sober mind, the MDC recognised by the
majority of the electorate is the anti-Senate MDC and not the faction to
which Chihwayi belongs. In the instance of the letter to the State media,
Chihwayi actually signed his position in the pro-Senate MDC faction, which
he did not do in the letter to The Standard.

            My advice to Chihwayi and his party is that they should
not waste their time and energy denouncing Tsvangirai. Instead, they should
sell their policies to the people in order to get votes.

            There are two parties that use the name Zanu - Zanu PF and
Zanu, also known as Ndonga - but they do not make noises about it.

            To Chihwayi, I say the electorate is not concerned about
names. They want clear policies to turn around the economy, attract
investors and tourists, create employment, bring food on people's tables,
improve health delivery and education, curb corruption and restore the
country to its breadbasket status.

            In other words do all that they promised to do in 2000 and
stop lecturing the people about issues over who the true leadership of the
MDC or the authentic MDC is.

            Lewis Gadimu


            Mugabe has learnt nothing from other failed African states
                   PEOPLE all over the country are in mourning as they
watch helplessly the destruction of their country.

                  The majority wish they could turn back the hands of
time - to the times when we used to be the breadbasket of the region and
when our currency was still stronger and the President was still respected,
not just in Africa but even beyond.

                  It is disturbing that our leader has learnt nothing
from his former colleagues from the region who led their countries along the
destructive path Zimbabwe is going through a man-made crisis.

                  By destroying the agricultural sector, we killed the
goose that lays the golden eggs. The so-called agrarian reform only achieved
reduction of the production base and this in turn meant that low exports and
low foreign currency earnings. It appears that President Robert Mugabe is
prepared to take down the whole country with him.

                  The challenge for the democratic opposition is to
reinvigorate the people's desire to take part in elections.

                  In both 2000 and the 2002 elections we witnessed a
massive voter turn out but that has since fallen off dramatically.

                  The MDC and other progressive forces must fight for
a new democratic and people-driven constitution. This is not going to be
easy but then it is said that noble undertakings at first seem impossible.

                  Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that democracy
is never given on a silver plate. It is demanded by the oppressed, and where
it is denied, people take up arms to fight for it.

                  It is time those in Zanu PF learnt to call a spade a
spade. And to those about to lose hope, I suggest that the darkest hour is
before dawn.

                  Mamuse Maunganidze Mlambo


                   Chipinge South

            Diaspora critics cowardly
                  IF there is one thing that I am really passionate
about, it is those Zimbabweans in the so-called Diaspora writing letters to
the Independent Press criticising the government because that is plain

                  No amount of criticism, 10 000km away is going to be
taken seriously. Be brave enough and come home. Then criticise to your heart's
content. Here, of course the fault lies with the editors.

                  I am a South African residing in Zimbabwe. On
several occasions I have written to newspapers in that country criticising
the Xhosa-dominated administration, but none of the letters has ever been
published. The reason is obvious.

                  I believe if you have conviction and truly believe
you are right, you should have the courage to put your full name on every
letter. Otherwise that letter becomes meaningless.

                  Your article Always Coca-Cola in which Godfrey
Gowoka found a disused battery in the world's most popular soft drink comes
as no surprise to me. That's the problem with companies that have an
absolute monopoly on goods and services. How many used condoms were found in
their opaque beer brand?

                  Need I remind them that I found what appeared to be
a woman's after birth in one of their beer brands. I single-handedly took
them to court but sadly lost on a technicality. However, one fact remains
because of Delta's monopoly: our health is being compromised.

                  I wish I was the one who found the contaminated coke
because I would put it on the Internet. Atlanta would be interested in what
famous ingredient is being used to enhance the sales of Coke.

                  Leslie Vollenhoven
                  South Downs

                        Exploiting voters' roll

                        THE government has been using an outdated
voters' role register to win elections. This rigging dates back to 1980 when
the country gained its independence.

                        We have never had a genuine register in the
country because of the falsification of voters. However, I will admit that
no country will have a perfect voters' roll.

                        I would therefore like to challenge opposition
parties to  encourage youths of majority age to register as voters.
Neglecting the youths has worked to Zanu PF's advantage during general

                        Voters on the current register are all old
people whose numbers are dwindling through deaths. Few school leavers whose
ages are 18 and above, are registered.

                        It's now or never


                        Hunger at Fort Hare University

                        I write in reference to the letter about the
plight of Zimbabwean students at Fort Hare. This is true and it is something
parents of the students should know about so that the issues can be resolved



                        No to Mugabe life presidency

                        PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe should never be left
to be life President of Zimbabwe. Senator Chief Musarurwa from Mashonaland
East, who wants him to be a life president, should be told to resign with
immediate effect, because he doesn't know what he is talking about.

                        N G

                     World Cup fever: forget it, no power and no water
                          I must admit that living in Zimbabwe has
become a nightmare, given the persistent electricity and water cuts being

                          I live in Ashdown Park and on a daily basis
it seems there's an on-going contest between Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA) and Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).

                          At the beginning of the year, the
electricity authority gave a stern warning that they were not going to cope
with electricity demands during the winter months. This was a warning of
gloomy months lying ahead of us. I did not think it was going to be this

                          On Saturday 3 June, they spent millions of
dollars splashing full adverts detailing the load shedding schedules. What a
laugh it turned out to be because on the very day, we spent a greater part
of the evening in darkness despite the schedule showing that we were in the

                           Right now, you are very lucky to wake up on
a cold winter morning with electricity available. It's the same story when
you trudge back home after work.

                          ZINWA on the other hand has vowed not to
stay out of the competition. At least they are not wasting time devising
hair brain schedules detailing precise times for water cuts! That precious
God-given fluid has become a rare commodity of late. Homes are virtually
spending days without a single drop dripping from the taps. They have
developed this uncanny habit if letting a few drops trickle in the dead of
the night, which quickly disappear before morning has broken.

                          There has been a lot of soccer fever
building up to the World Cup in Germany, but I have simply switched myself
off from the event. I live and breathe soccer and I really do not want to
get worked up after failing to watch the games that are going to be beamed.
Besides, if I do get to watch the games, how do I get to wash off the sweat,
from the frantic and energetic pitching I will be doing for my favourite

                          Our situation does not need a prophet or
soothsayer to tell us that the coming months will spell doom for most

                          Ashdown  Park

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