The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Mugabe buys luxury vehicles for army officers

Zim Online

Tue 20 June 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government has ploughed US$144 000
into the purchase of vehicles for middle-ranking army and police officers,
in a move likely to be seen as an attempt to buy the loyalty of security
commanders as public discontent swells in the southern African country.

The money used to pay for the 16 Mazda 18000 series trucks is enough
to buy 576 tonnes of maize at about US$250 per tonne. The maize is enough to
feed close to 10 000 hungry families for a month. Food aid agencies estimate
that an average family requires about 60 kg of maize per month.

According to sources at the partly government-owned Willowvale Mazda
Motor Industries, the army and police had provided their own foreign
currency to pay for the importation of kits to be assembled into the Mazda
trucks.

Zimbabwe army public reactions director Simon Tsatsi defended the
purchase of the vehicles saying it was a normal exercise to replenish the
army fleet of vehicles.

"It is a normal procedure. These are utility vehicles," Tsatsi said,
refusing to be drawn to discuss the matter in more detail.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available for
comment on the matter.

Although President Robert Mugabe's government is failing to keep
Zimbabweans adequately supplied with fuel, electricity, medicines and other
essential commodities it has done very well to ensure that the top ranks of
the army and police are looked after and well fed.

The latest purchase of vehicles for army and police officers comes a
few months after the government again splashed several millions of dollars
buying the latest sport utility vehicles for top army generals and police
commanders.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party has in
the past criticised the government's allocation of huge chunks of national
resources to the army and police saying it is unjustified when Zimbabwe is
not at war and especially when the country should be using all its energies
to fight hunger threatening a quarter of its 12 million people.

Political analysts say Mugabe is keen to keep the army and police
happy to ensure they could be relied upon to crush mass protests against his
government the opposition is planning to call this winter.

The MDC says it will mobilise Zimbabweans onto the streets to demand
that Mugabe steps aside to pave way for a transitional government that shall
be tasked to lead the writing of a new constitution and organise fresh
elections under international supervision.

Mugabe has vowed not to allow a Ukraine-style uprising against his
government. - ZimOnline


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Police arrest 100 as women storm Zimbabwe rural business centre

Zim Online

Tue 20 June 2006

FILABUSI - Zimbabwean police on Monday arrested about 100 women for
marching in a rural town of Filabusi demanding the reinstatement of their
children who were expelled from schools after failing to pay fees.

The demonstration, the first to be organised by the Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) protest group in rural areas, caught the police by surprise
with the law enforcement agency only reacting long after the women had
finished their march.

The more than 200-strong group marched to the Ministry of Education
district office in Filabusi demanding the reinstatement of their children
whom they said had been expelled from schools for failing to pay fees.

President Robert Mugabe's government about two months ago hiked fees
in schools and tertiary colleges by more than 1 000 percent. The fee
increases sparked violent protests at state universities and colleges around
the country.

The women protesters were also demanding the resignation of Mugabe
whom they said had failed to honour election promises of free and affordable
education for the poor.

In a statement after the protests, WOZA said: "The protest caused a
great stir in the rural town with many people leaving their offices to
witness the event.

"Government minister and (ruling) ZANU PF MP for Insiza, Andrew Langa
watched the protest with a very disturbed expression on his face."

Under Zimbabwe's tough security laws, it is illegal to demonstrate
without seeking approval from the police. But WOZA has often defied the
police ban on demonstrations to protest against worsening economic
conditions in Zimbabwe.

The latest protests by WOZA come in the wake of growing public anger
over worsening economic conditions in Zimbabwe many blame on Mugabe's
mismanagement of the country's economy. - ZimOnline


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Political miracle unfolds under Zimbabwe's "peace committees"

Zim Online

Tue 20 June 2006

HARARE - With portraits of President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai emblazoned on their respective T-shirts, Tazvizwa
Mugovo and George Makaro, are strange bedfellows.

But the two have literally beaten their swords into plowshares in what
can only be described as a later day "miracle" that is slowly unfolding at
Tongogara Camp, a dusty settlement on the outskirts of the capital Harare.

Amid a cacophony of noises from patrons, the two appear happily at
peace taking turns to quench their thirst as they share a mug of opaque beer
at a run-down beer garden at the dusty camp.

"Political violence is now a thing of the past at this camp. We are
now working for peace and co-existence," said Mugovo, a veteran of
Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war and fierce Mugabe supporter.

The 58-year old Mugovo once boasted of masterminding violent attacks
on Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters
about six years ago.

Tongogara Camp is home to hundreds of war veterans who participated in
the country's anti-settler liberation war, a section of society that also
acquired notoriety for spearheading a violent campaign against MDC
supporters.

However things appear to have changed here - thanks to an initiative
by a local non-governmental organisation, the Zimbabwe Civic Education
Trust (ZIMCET), that set up "peace committees" to foster tolerance among
political groups in the country.

ZIMCET executive director David Chimhini says the peace committees
were targeted at low ranking supporters of ZANU PF and the MDC as well as
representatives of churches, war veterans and women's organisations to
dissuade Zimbabweans from using violence to settle political scores.

"We started the concept in 2000 after we realised that youths were
being used by selfish politicians to beat up supporters of rival parties.
After six years of hard work, we are happy to say we are beginning to reap
the fruits of our hard labour," said Chimhini.

Zimbabwe has been rocked by serious political violence over the past
six years that left several hundreds dead with human rights groups accusing
Mugabe of using violence against political opponents to hold on to power.

But Mugabe, who once boasted in 2000 that he "holds degrees in
violence," has rejected the charge accusing the MDC of being cry babies who
rush to complain after provoking his party's supporters.

Political violence particularly at election time, has left the country
polarised with rural areas backing Mugabe while urban areas have thrown
their support behind the opposition.

Several hundreds of MDC supporters have died in politically motivated
violence since 2000 most of which was blamed on ZANU PF supporters.

A 2001 report by the internationally respected human rights
organisation, Amnesty International, said more than 30 people mostly MDC
supporters died as a result of political violence during the 2000
parliamentary election campaign alone.

Cecilia Mangoro, a ZANU PF district Committee inn Harare's Highfield
low income suburb said the concept of peace committees had helped reduce
tension between supporters of the ruling party and the MDC in the area.

"Things have changed now. We are now able to sit together as
supporters of two different political parties and discuss issues that relate
to the development of our community," Mangoro said.

"What is now needed is convince everyone in the neighbourhood that
violence does not pay. We need to co-exist regardless of political
affiliation," she added.

Chimhini said the organisation had already established 72 peace
committees countrywide.

"Each committee has recorded its own successes but on the whole,
politically-motivated violence has declined as a direct result of these
efforts. Who would have thought MDC and ZANU PF supporters would one day sit
together and share some beer," said Chimhini.

"Real physical violence has declined. What we are witnessing is subtle
violence - the use of hate language and partly intimidation by politicians,"
Chimhini said.

But ZIMCET says while their goal is to reduce political violence, they
are also involved in matters such as human rights, leadership and
accountability.

"After achieving peace, we need development in these areas so we also
teach them to be responsible citizens," added Chimhini.

While Machovo and Mugovo guzzle their beer at Tongogara, it still
remains to be seen whether the concept of peace committees will be embraced
by the top leaders from both sides of the political divide - a key
requirement if political violence is to a thing of the past in Zimbabwe. -
ZimOnline


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Anti-Mugabe humour keeps cell phones buzzing in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Tue 20 June 2006

HARARE - The cell phone rings. A message has just come in. Tendai
Mukaro suspiciously glances around and chuckles as he reads the humorous
message. Then in a minute he is punching on his phone, posting the
just-received joke to family and friends.

It is the order of the day in Harare and other cities around the
country. In the face of a battery of repressive laws that make it criminal
to publicly criticise President Robert Mugabe and his government,
Zimbabweans have resorted to cellular phone messages to mock and poke fun at
their political leadership in the wake of an unprecedented economic and
political crisis.

The message Mukaro has received and is in turn sending around is a
simple one. It says: "The ruling party has just changed its symbol from the
cock to a condom to reflect its new thrust. A condom allows inflation and
kills the next generation."

This is just one of hundreds of short cell phone messages doing the
rounds in Zimbabwe and all meant to serve one purpose: deride and mock
Mugabe and his government.

With an inflation rate of 1 193.5 percent and the economy now in its
seventh straight year of recession, Zimbabweans are understandably a
frustrated lot. For example, there is no food, fuel, electricity, essential
medicines - in fact every basic survival commodity is in critical short
supply in the once prosperous southern African country.

Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever known since independence
from Britain 26 years ago, refuses both to take blame for the crisis or to
step down and pave way for a new leader with fresh ideas on how to pull the
country out of the mire.

Instead the 82-year old President has crafted a raft of media and
security laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act and the Public Order and Security Act that make it a criminal offence to
ridicule or blame him.

But fun-loving Zimbabweans appear to have found a way of circumventing
the tight laws by mocking Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party through cell
phones and private e-mail messages to each other.

However, one still one has to be careful. The government's dreaded spy
agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), is notorious for being
vigilant and keeping its ears open for any utterances that may be
denigrating to Mugabe and his government.

Take for example, the case last year of a man who was arguing with his
friend while on a public bus to Harare's dormitory town of Chitungwiza. In
frustration that his friend could not accept his point, he told him: "You
are just thick-headed like Mugabe".

The next moment the man was arrested for insulting Mugabe by a CIO
agent who was also travelling on the same bus. The man was later acquitted
by a court on a technicality.

But Zimbabweans just love their fun. If the bitter economic crisis
could not take away their sense of humour then it appears Mugabe's spooks
will not succeed in suppressing it either.

Take this cell phone message that started doing the rounds recently.
It is couched in typical classified advertisement language and it goes:
"Country for sale. Non-runner. One owner since 1980. Offers?"

It is not clear where the jokes originate from but whoever is
responsible for creating them must be a very busy guy. There appears a joke
for every economic or political problem the country is facing.

Within days after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced a new
hundred thousand dollar note to ease the burden for people who have to carry
millions of dollars every day for ordinary transactions such as paying your
children's school fees, a new joke was already being sent to people's cell
phones.

It said: "It is only the government of Zimbabwe that loves its people
so much that it has made everyone a millionaire!"

Columbus Mavhunga, who was a journalist on the Daily News newspaper
banned by the government three years ago, believes the messages are vital to
keep the people going.

According to Mavhunga, after the government has closed five private
newspapers and banned two radio stations under its draconian media laws, the
messages are the only option that gives the people a hearty laugh and makes
them temporarily forget their problems.

"If we don't laugh, we will cry. Moreover, we are not allowed to say
these things in public so we better exchange these cell phone messages and
laugh at our government and ourselves. It reduces stress levels," he says.

And with inflation hitting 1 193.5 percent last May and still on the
rise, Zimbabweans have found yet another opportunity to laugh at themselves.

This is how the joke about the increasingly worthless Zimbabwe dollar
goes: "American President George Bush had US$20 000, he bought himself a
posh car. South African President Thabo Mbeki had 20 000 rand, he bought a
posh car. President Robert Mugabe had Z$20 000. He wanted Z$40 000 more to
buy half a loaf of bread."

It also appears no one cares much whether the jokes are morbid or not
as is illustrated by this joke about Mugabe and his two former
vice-presidents who are both late. The joke started doing the rounds after
Mugabe turned 82 on February 21 this year.

The is how it goes: "Vice-President Joshua Nkomo was 82 when he died.
Vice-President Simon Muzenda was also 82 when he died. Mugabe has just
turned 82. You never know what good happenings are in store for this nation.
It's just a thought."

The government appears aware of the anti-government humour doing the
rounds on cell phones, e-mails and on the Internet. It has just promulgated
an Interception of Communications Bill, which makes it legal for its spooks
to snoop into people's phones, letters and e-mails.

Well, maybe the proposed law and with some technological help from its
Chinese friends will finally enable the government to monitor what people
tell each other by cell phone or via the internet.

But until then, Zimbabweans will continue to poke fun at their rulers
and who knows, with their ingenuity these crisis-hardened Zimbos - as they
love to call themselves - may still devise other means of sharing a joke and
a laugh at the expense of Mugabe and company. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwean hijack student remanded in custody

Zim Online

Tue 20 June 2006

HARARE - South African magistrate David Tomisi on Monday postponed to
June 26 the case of 21-year old Zimbabwean, Tinashe Rioga, who is accused of
attempting to hijack a South African Airways plane at the weekend.

Rioga, a slightly built business science student at the University of
Cape Town, seized a cabin crew member and threatened to kill her unless he
was allowed into the cockpit.

He allegedly wanted the flight diverted to the Mozambican capital,
Maputo. But he was quickly overpowered by fellow passengers on board and the
domestic flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg immediately made a U-turn
back to Cape Town.

In court, Rioga told the magistrate that he would like the court to
assist him in initially applying for legal aid, adding his family would
"finalise arrangements" at a later stage.

Rioga, who allegedly wielded a hypodermic syringe during the incident,
faces a charge of contravening aviation regulations in that he attempted "to
seize [an] aircraft in flight".

The Zimbabwean student, who was remanded in police custody, also faces
a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Not much is known as yet about Rioga although the UCT told the Press
he was in "good academic standing" and that he had been expected to graduate
at the end of 2006.

Initial reports had however suggested that Rioga suffered from a
mental illness although there has been no subsequent confirmation of this
claim. Zimbabwe's ambassador in Pretoria Simon Khaya Moyo had also urged the
Press not to rush to claim that the would-be plane hijacker was Zimbabwean,
fearing this could fuel xenophobic attacks against his compatriots.

Zimbabweans have been the target of abuse and attack in the past by
both South African law enforcement agents and ordinary citizens. - ZimOnline


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UN proposal undermines Harare's propaganda wall

Business Day

Dianna Games

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE carefully constructed wall of propaganda that separates the Zimbabwean
government from the rest of the world was dealt a major blow last week with
the United Nations' (UN's) proposal that the country be reclassified as a
least developed country (LDC).

Government officials are apparently a little shaken by the suggestion of a
downgrade from a developing country, especially in the face of officials'
continuing insistence that all is well in the country and that predictions
of its imminent collapse are premature and, after all, merely a British and,
more recently, a UN plot.

Talk of drought, sanctions and misplaced international censure over the land
policy in Zimbabwe come easily out of politicians' mouths when it comes to
defending the country's parlous state. Their excuses revolve around one
central theme - that all this is someone else's fault.

The UN Committee for Development Policy made the suggestion on the basis of
the country's rapidly worsening social and economic indicators, including
health, nutrition, poverty levels, education factors and economic
vulnerability.

Zimbabwe, it said, along with Papua New Guinea, was now eligible for special
treatment because of the long period of economic stagnation and low income
over a number of years.

But the sticking point in such a reclassification is that the government of
the country must be party to the move. And the government of this particular
country has been in a state of denial about the real state of affairs there
for a number of years now.

This is reflected in the thundering propaganda: that Zimbabwe is completely
self-sufficient in food supplies, despite food-agency predictions of a maize
shortfall of 700 000 tons this year; that inflation will be down to 50% next
year, despite being officially at 1200% and rising; that unemployment is
around 9%, when analysts suggest it is more like at 80% - and so on.

Most companies are currently operating at 20%-30% of capacity and the Common
Market for Eastern and Southern Africa said recently that Zimbabwe's trade
within the bloc was down by 29% in the past year.

The currency is still in freefall. The current black market rate is about
Z$330000 to the US dollar against an official rate of Z$101000, while a rand
is worth Z$50000 against Z$16000 officially. The foreign currency crunch is
more serious than ever, particularly after the government raided what
corporate funds there were to pay off the International Monetary Fund last
year.

But even in the face of all this, the government has set up an equally
thriving parallel information market with distinctly different sets of
figures from everyone else. The UN, presumably, is in the latter camp.

Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Boniface Chidyausiku, predictably rebuffed
the UN proposal. "We have achieved so much in terms of our human resources
and infrastructure base. We are a developing country, not an LDC," he said,
adding that Zimbabwe's problems, in any case, were all caused by drought and
economic sanctions against the country.

LDCs in southern Africa include Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho
and Madagascar, and number among 50 LDCs globally.

One of the few advantages of being an LDC is the potential for duty- and
quota-free access into developed country markets, as was agreed in Hong Kong
last year - although it does not remove the thorny issue of nontariff
barriers. And there are some benefits relating to greater access to official
direct assistance.

On the downside, whatever chance Zimbabwe has of getting new investment,
even in the event of a significant economic and political reform process, is
likely to be affected by having this status and it removes any impetus for a
credit rating and decent economic benchmarks that go beyond the Millennium
Development Goals, something President Robert Mugabe cherishes. It is
unlikely that the matter will go forward because the government, by
accepting a downgrade in status, will be admitting just how far off track
its "economic turnaround" programmes have taken Zimbabwe.

That it has been raised at all in such a forum is, nevertheless, a concern.
All the LDCs in Africa are doing their best to get out of their predicament.
Zimbabwe, currently classified as a developing country alongside countries
such as China, Brazil and SA, would be the first to go the other way.

For the Zimbabwean government, such a reclassification would be more a
matter of an ego blow than anything else. But for Zimbabwe as a whole,
particularly the long-suffering business sector, it would be a serious blow
that it may take years to recover from.

?Games is director of Africa @ Work, a research and publishing company.


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China to help Zim with economic woes

iafrica.com

Mon, 19 Jun 2006
The China Development Bank (CDB) has expressed willingness to help Zimbabwe
with its economic recovery programme, Harare's Herald newspaper reported on
Monday.

Its website quoted CDB governor Chen Yuan as telling Zimbabwean Vice
President Joyce Mujuru in Beijing: "We believe your country is a good
candidate for our bank. We look at our best friends first."

Yuan was speaking at the weekend as Mujuru wound up a week-long official
visit to the Asian country at the invitation of the Communist Party of China
(CPC).

The Chinese banker added: "We want to finance your social and economic
reconstruction programme. We can start with a small amount and grow with big
projects."

Currency swap

Chen said his bank was prepared to consider a currency swap using the
Zimbabwe dollar and the Chinese yuan to ease financial cooperation between
the two parties. Zimbabwe is facing serious foreign currency shortages at
present.

Chen suggested an exchange of visits between his bank and the Zimbabwe
Government and institutions like the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"We basically combine the socialist stance of our government with the
advanced financial market principles we learnt in Washington and London," he
said.

Mujuru said Chen was clear that Zimbabwe and China should take their
cooperation a step further.

"The ball is in our court. We just have to be focused on what we want to do.
We should now be proactive and stop using the usual excuses."

Sapa


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China defends its motives in Africa


By Jean-Marc Mojon
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
June 19, 2006

CAIRO -- Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao yesterday denied that his country
was seeking to become a counterbalance to the United States by boosting ties
with Africa as he kicked off a tour of the continent.
He said his booming economy was in need of Africa's natural resources,
but rejected accusations that Beijing was conducting a policy of economic
neocolonialism at the expense of human rights considerations.
"Our efforts to develop relations with countries in Africa and Latin
America ... are not targeted at any third country," Mr. Wen said at a press
conference in Cairo before flying to Ghana.
"Those attempts and efforts to develop relations are not directed at
entering into any alliance and will not compromise the interests of any
other countries. I'm confident that the U.S. government also recognizes
this," he said.
The Chinese leader, who arrived in Egypt on Saturday, was responding to
suggestions that Beijing was seeking to emancipate its foreign policy from
Washington by strengthening ties with developing countries.
China has been accused of fueling conflict and shoring up regimes in
Africa, including in Sudan and Zimbabwe, two countries that Mr. Wen has not
included in his tour.
When asked about the importance that China intended to give the issue of
human rights in its Africa policy, Mr. Wen explained the principle of
noninterference.
"Our policy is consistent. We follow the principle of mutual respect,
equality, mutual benefit and noninterference in other's internal affairs,"
he said.
"We believe that the peoples of different regions and countries,
including those on the African continent, have the right and also the
capability to properly handle their own issues," Mr. Wen said.
He went on to defend China's record in Africa over the past 50 years and
stressed that Chinese investments are an opportunity for the continent to
achieve a higher level of development.
"China places high value on developing economic and trading ties with
Africa, and we also believe ... there are vast potentials worth to tap in
furthering the business ties between China and Africa," Mr. Wen said.
China's trade with Africa increased fortyfold from 1990 to 2004, with
Beijing now getting 15 percent of its oil from Angola and Sudan. Total trade
between the two sides neared $40 billion in 2005.
"We will continue to encourage Chinese companies to come to Africa to
cooperate with their African counterparts. The purpose of such China-Africa
cooperation is to help our African friends to enhance their capacity to
self-development," he said.
Mr. Wen also said that in the past 50 years, China had given $5.5
billion in assistance to Africa, sent 16,000 health workers to 43 different
countries on the continent and reduced or canceled the debt of 31 nations.
Mr. Wen met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday and signed 11
trade and business cooperation deals with Egypt on Saturday after meeting
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.


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Zimbabwe a 'pirate ship' -- and sinking

San Francisco Chronicle

Farms, economy in worsening crisis
Daniel Pepper, Chronicle Foreign Service

Monday, June 19, 2006

(06-19) 04:00 PDT Zhampali, Zimbabwe -- As soldiers rolled past Lot Dube's
land and set up camp, they passed along a blunt message.

"They told us, 'We are taking away your fields from you,' " said the
63-year-old farmer, who has farmed his 10 acres in the south of the country
for a generation.

The soldiers forbade him to grow tomatoes, onions and sweet potatoes --
market vegetables he sold to pay his children's school fees -- and ordered
him to plant maize. He was told, he said, that the government's Grain
Marketing Board planned to buy the entire maize harvest and sell it abroad
to obtain foreign currency.

Replacing food with a cash crop aimed at the foreign market is just one of
the increasingly desperate measures the government of President Robert
Mugabe is taking to ease an economic crisis so severe that inflation for
many consumer goods is running at more than 1,000 percent a year.

Mugabe, who has held power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, has
ordered his military to fan out across rural areas to ensure that the
government's grain silos are full. That, in turn, affects the livelihoods of
small landholders like Dube, whose farm sits 80 miles south of Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second-largest city.

"They don't know anything about farming," he said. "They say they want to
end hunger in Zimbabwe. But I think they want to take the fields for their
own use."

To bolster his hold on power, Mugabe relies increasingly on the military.
Not only do soldiers carry out his farm policies, he has appointed military
commanders to top slots at the reserve bank, the electoral commission,
Zimbabwe railroads, the Ministry of Energy, the Public Service Commission,
the national parks and other key institutions.

"It is robber baron stuff of the highest order," says John Robertson, an
independent economist in the capital, Harare. "It's a pirate ship with
Robert Mugabe as the captain. It's an exciting, profitable ride while it
lasts, but inflation is the consequence."

Zimbabwe's economy has been shrinking for the past six years, and the nation
has been dependent on food aid since 2002. Eighty percent of Zimbabweans are
unemployed, and food and fuel are scarcer than ever.

Last month, the United Nations distributed emergency food aid to an
estimated one-quarter of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people. International aid
officials say many are surviving on one meal a day -- or less. Despite the
best rains in 20 years, the government predicts this year's grain harvest --
in a country once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa -- will be
half the size of the 2001 harvest, when the eviction of white commercial
farmers began.

"The economy will only turn around when you get competent and experienced
people running it, not the military," said David Coltart, a white member of
Parliament with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. "The
appointment of military people to run things like the railroads will only
speed up the demise of the regime."

Critics of Mugabe say the presence of the military in the southern part of
the country, but not in the north where Mugabe draws most of his support, is
no coincidence.

"The army has targeted areas that are potential opposition strongholds,
those farmers that have voted for the opposition," said Gordon Moyo, leader
of an opposition pressure group, Bulawayo Agenda. "It's an act of
intimidation."

Critics also say such moves will do little to help the economy, or Mugabe's
increasingly beleaguered regime.

Militarization "is an admission that things have fallen apart and national
governance can no longer continue in a civilian mode," said Jonathan Moyo, a
former secretary for information who is currently Zimbabwe's only
independent member of Parliament.

The signs of economic decay are everywhere. Tourist destinations such as
Victoria Falls are empty. A cup of tea that last year cost 12,000 Zimbabwean
dollars now costs 250,000 dollars. Supermarket shelves are stocked with
goods too expensive to purchase.

On a recent afternoon in Harare, ABC Auctions was selling off every last
wine glass, fixture, table and chair of the Acropolis Taverna, a restaurant
that had been in business for more than 30 years. Altogether the store went
for 4.2 billion dollars, or about U.S. $14,000.

"When most people go out of business, they simply sell their goods
immediately," said Jo Zwoushe, an auction supervisor.

As the crisis deepens, the government prints more and more paper money, even
though it has run out of foreign currency with which to purchase the paper
and ink on which Zimbabwe's bank notes are printed.

Some of that new money has gone to the military. After graffiti calling for
Mugabe to be ousted appeared in the bathrooms of an army barracks, the
government announced a 300 percent pay increase for soldiers and teachers.

"It is a way of buying off the soldiers," said Moyo. "Mugabe is a terrified
man."

Yet the president appears to have little to fear from the political
opposition. He maintains an extensive internal security network to keep tabs
on unrest. The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition force, is
split. The organization's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, periodically threatens
to take protests to the streets, but most observers predict such
demonstrations would be crushed by the country's powerful security forces.

Back in the southern fields, soldiers can be seen guarding roads and driving
tractors, which is as close as they come to farming.

"We need agriculture experts, not soldiers," said Gabrial Nkala, 55, who has
been farming on the same plot since 1980. "But it seems they are here for a
very long time."


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Zim's VOP radio: on trial at home, honoured abroad

journalism.co.za

Zimbabwe's independent radio station, the Voice of the People (VOP)
has won the One World Media Special Award sponsored by the BBC World Service
Trust, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.

The award, presented at a ceremony in London, recognises excellence in
coverage which reflects the social, political and cultural life of people in
the developing world. It also rewards overseas media projects that make a
unique contribution to human rights.
VOP was honoured for broadcasting daily programmes that provide news
to more than half a million listeners under tough circumstances.

Under the repressive media laws in Zimbabwe, the Dutch-funded VOP has
survived bombings, police raids, arrests, frequency jams, and an ongoing
court battle. Its directors are currently on trial for broadcasting without
a licence.

John Masuku, the VOP director, said: "In its lifetime, the station has
been criticised, threatened and jammed but what drives us on is the belief
in giving a voice to the voiceless - giving the people of Zimbabwe an
opportunity to speak freely about issues that affect their lives and
country. This award provides huge encouragement to us all."

VOP, which is produced in the Netherlands and beams via Madagascar,
broadcasts in English, Shona and Ndebele. Some of its programmes focus on
human rights abuse, health education and HIV/AIDS.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has
appealed to the Harare Magistrates Court to drop the arbitrary charges
against the ten trustees and staffers VOP.

"They appear before the Court to answer charges relating to their
alleged breech of broadcasting laws in Zimbabwe" said a source to IFJ.

The VOP seven trustees and three staffers are indeed accused of
possession and operation of transmission equipment without a licence. The
VOP is however, a legally registered communications trust and broadcasts in
Zimbabwe on shortwave from transmitters stationed outside the country. This
situation is due to the repressive media laws in Zimbabwe, which have seen
foreign correspondents deported, and all non-pro-government media banned
since 2001.

The trial was postponed to 25 September because a key witness for the
prosecution, a government broadcasting officer, was said to be out of the
country.

The VOP trustees who are being tried are Arnold Tsunga (chairperson of
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association), John Masuku (VOP's executive
director), Lawrence Chibwe (senior legal practitioner), Nhlanhla Ngwenya
(journalist),Isabella Matambanadzo (journalist and women's rights
activists), David Masunda (a journalist) and Millie Phiri (Former Editor of
the national news
agency).

The staff members who stand accused are three women namely, Maria
Nyanyiwa, Nyasha Bosha and Kundai Mugwanda. On 15 December 2005 when the
officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) raided the offices of VOP and
seized computers and documents, the women were detained without charge for
four days.

In August 2002 the VOP offices were demolished after a bomb attack and
the perpetrators of this attack are still at large. "We appeal to the
Magistrates of the Harare High Court to be very
independent over this matter and to recognise the fundamental rights
of those who are brought before the court. The Harare High Court should not
be used as a tool to suppress the freedom of speech and of the press in
Zimbabwe. We therefore urge the Court to drop the arbitrary charges against
the trustees and staffers of the VOP" declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of
IFJ Africa Office.

"We also urge the government of Zimbabwe to repeal, as has been
recommended by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, ACHPR,
her draconian legislations such as the Broadcasting Services Act, the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and
Security Act".

Monday, 19 June, 2006


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Mugabe "playing games" with church leaders



By Tererai Karimakwenda
19 June 2006

As we reported last week controversy has surrounded the Zimbabwean
church group that met with Robert Mugabe last month. It all started when the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), which organizes the traditional National
Day of Prayer, met Mugabe then appeared on state television immediately
after. Many observers, particularly the Bulawayo based Christian Alliance,
said they showed support for the ruling party and its policies. Then the Day
of Prayer was cancelled, and this was viewed as further evidence the ZCC was
playing into Mugabe's hand. In an interview with SW Radio Africa on Monday
Bishop Trevor Manhanga of the ZCC said the Day of Prayer was not cancelled
but postponed in order to involve many other groups. As for supporting
Mugabe, the Bishop said they have opened up a dialogue with Mugabe and will
present a document with recommendations for the way forward. He said the ZCC
does not support any political party, including the opposition.

But the Mbare based Jesuit priest Father Wermter disagrees with the
approach the ZCC has taken. He said deeds speak louder than words and that
we need to see a change of course first and justice for the people. Wermter
believes until there is some redeeming action by Mugabe there can be no
meaningful dialogue. He also believes Mugabe is a very clever man playing
games with the church leaders. We asked Bishop Manhanga whether Mugabe had
seemed repentant and concerned about the suffering of the people during
their meeting. Manhanga said his personal observation was that Mugabe
understood the suffering of the people. But asked why they should trust
Mugabe when more evictions and arrests had taken place since their meeting
with him, the Bishop said this was a cause for concern but these are the
issues that will be brought to Mugabe's attention in the document they are
preparing to submit to him. He said no other reasonable solution had been
put forth and the ZCC was not about to ask Zimbabweans to pick up arms.

As for the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance which opposed inviting Mugabe
to the National Day of Prayer now scheduled for June 25th, Bishop Manhanga
dismissed them as individual pastors who do not represent any constituency.
He said Zimbabweans should ask themselves who the Alliance are and who they
speak for before considering their criticisms.
The Bishop said there will be no politics on that Sunday and people
will be praying for the nation. He believes Mugabe needs to be there to hear
the prayers along with other key reputable Zimbabweans. Father Wermter said
the Bishops attitude towards the Christian Alliance shows the tactics of the
regime are "bearing fruit." He said it is sad to see Christians attacking
Christians. Father Wermter also said a ZCC statement attacking the media was
unfair. He compared it to a boxer who is kicked after he has already been
knocked out.

Bishop Manhanga said the ZCC is aware people are suffering and they
are drafting their document with urgency. But he stressed that these things
take time. He said the ZCC will be meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai and other
officials from the MDC on Wednesday. They will also engage other
stakeholders before completing their document. Father Wermter believes
Mugabe should first show through his actions that he is serious and means
well this time. Until then, he said there is no basis for dialogue.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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MDC youth leader urges school children to join the struggle



By Lance Guma
19 June 2006

At least 5000 youth converged at Stanley Square in Bulawayo Saturday
to commemorate the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. They then marched to the Large
City Hall in the city centre. According to the National Youth Chairman of
the Tsvangirai MDC, Tamsanqa Mahlangu, the police were caught off-guard by
the demonstration since it did not stick to the planned activities. He says
the police denied them permission to march and instead allowed them to
converge at Stanley Square. 'So when we decided to march to the large city
hall they were caught off guard,' he said. The march ended without incident.

In an interview with Newsreel Mahlangu urged school children in the
country to join the fight for justice in Zimbabwe. He says the 1976 protests
in South Africa succeeded because they involved students from primary,
secondary and tertiary institutions whereas in Zimbabwe the burden is left
to students in colleges and universities. Youth groups in the country
organised two separate marches for the weekend to mark the 30th anniversary
of the Soweto uprisings. Representatives from the Zimbabwe National Students
Union, the National University of Science and Technology and other youth
groups were in attendance. The economic hardships facing the youth in
Zimbabwe's collapsed economy took centre stage. Most speakers felt the youth
were acting like 'passengers' instead of 'driving' events in the country.

The Soweto uprisings in 1976 were credited with kick-starting the
liberation struggle against apartheid. The students in South Africa refused
to learn in Afrikaans and took to the streets resulting in the fatal
shooting of many. Hector Pieterson, a 13-year-old, was gunned down by police
who shot at the unarmed demonstrators. His death has come to symbolize the
sacrifices of young people in South Africa's the fight for democracy and
freedom. Over 500 are estimated to have been killed in the Soweto Uprising
and its bloody aftermath. Thousands are said to have disappeared in
detention while others fled the country to join the guerilla movement. The
brutality with which the police dealt with the students alerted the whole
world to the brutality in apartheid South Africa.

Every year the youth in Zimbabwe hold commemorations in remembrance of
the day but no information was available on the Harare commemorations at the
time of broadcast.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Zimbabwe launches massive child immunization programme



June 19, 2006,

By ANDnetwork .com

ZIMBABWE's children will receive a double dose to protect against
measles mortality and Vitamin A deficiency under a massive nationwide
campaign launched last week.

The landmark campaign seeks to reach two million children with the
measles vaccine and Vitamin A supplements and is set to run until towards
the end of this week.

Led by Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and supported by UNICEF,
the World Health Organisation (WHO), Plan International, Helen Keller and
Rotary International, the campaign continues Zimbabwe's excellent work in
reducing the prevalence of measles, and in broadening coverage of vital
Vitamin A supplements.

Dr. Festo Kavishe, UNICEF Representative, said: "This is enormous shot
in the arm for all sectors of society. Not only does it immunise children,
but it boosts critical infrastructure across Zimbabwe. This campaign gives
children a front-line defence and makes more important progress towards
reducing child mortality in Zimbabwe."

Nearly US$3 million has been spent on the campaign, part of a wider
Measles Partnership established to reduce measles deaths in Africa by 90% by
the year 2010.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease that continues to threaten
young Zimbabweans," said Dr Kavishe. "A campaign such as this protects
children, revitalises routine immunisation services at community level, and
trains health workers, thus acting as a lifesaver and a developer."

Vitamin A is a critical as it protects children against infections
(particularly diarrhoeal diseases) and viral diseases; while severe Vitamin
A deficiency will lead to blindness.

Since 1980, Zimbabwe has made substantial efforts in measles mortality
reduction. A catch-up campaign was carried out in 1998 and in 2002 the first
follow up campaign was held. Much of this success is owed to countrywide
immunization days mobilizing neighbourhood health committees and religious
and traditional leaders to encourage mothers to bring their children for
vaccination.

Source: The Standard


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Zim tourism still drowning in continuing economic crisis



June 19, 2006,

By ANDnetwork .com

Although major players in the tourism sector recorded profits, the
tourism industry remains under pressure from a six-year economic crisis and
the negative perception clouding the country.

By Eric Chiriga

Analysts and stakeholders said while domestic tourism had been
crippled by an erosion of disposable incomes, most players in the sector,
particularly hoteliers, were no longer making significant revenues from
tourist visits, but from conferences.

Zimbabwe, once a major tourist destination, has experienced a more
than 50% decline in tourist arrivals over the past six years.

Contrary to claims and efforts by government, the country's tourism
industry still survives on traditional source markets, with arrivals from
Asian countries making no meaningful contribution.

The government introduced the "Look East Policy", under which focus
was shifted from traditional source markets to the Asian countries.

However, players in the hospitality industry said this dealt a big
blow to the tourism industry, which reports that tourist arrivals from the
East had not made a big impact on their revenues.

While the decline in the tourism industry has continued unabated over
the last five years, neighbouring countries like Zambia and South Africa had
extensively benefited from Zimbabwe's loss.

While South Africa is taking advantage by marketing Victoria Falls and
luring potential tourists to Zimbabwe, Zambia is experiencing a boom in its
tourism industry.

The number of tourist arrivals in Zambia has increased five-fold,
boosting revenue generated by the sector to above US$150 million annually.

Before Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, Zambia had tourist
arrivals of around 160 000 compared to the 610 109 visits received in 2004,
and the figure is expected to increase in response to an aggressive
marketing campaign by the country.

Farai Mutseyekwa, president of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe
(HAZ) admitted that the negative publicity was affecting the tourism
industry.

"We need to counter the negative publicity," he said.

Mutseyekwa confirmed that most of the tourist arrivals were still
coming from traditional source markets.

"There is actually a decline in the number of visits from the Asian
market," he said.

He said there was potential in the Asian market but there was need to
adopt a proper marketing strategy to capture the Asian market.

Mutseyekwa added that domestic tourism had been negatively affected by
the economic crisis.

He admitted that most operators were now pursuing conferencing as an
avenue to maintain revenue levels as tourist arrivals continued to dwindle.

"In this environment, the tourism cake is too small; conferencing is
contributing significantly to some organisations," he said.

Shingi Munyeza, CEO of the Zimsun Leisure Group, a Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange (ZSE) listed hospitality concern, reported an operating profit of
$203,8 billion in the year ended March but expressed concern over the
decline in tourist arrivals.

He said although visits to the group's local hotels from international
markets increased by 5%, foreign arrivals into the country as a whole
continued on a downward trend with a 39% decline in overseas arrivals and
11% from the African region.

Munyeza said volumes from the domestic market declined by 8% in the
period under review compared to the prior year.

Chipo Mtasa, CEO of the ZSE-listed hospitality concern Rainbow Tourism
Group (RTG), admitted as much, saying that perceptions were negatively
affecting the sector and required immediate attention.

"Perceptions do worry us," Mtasa said in a recent interview with
businessdigest.

In her financial report for the year ended December 2005, Mtasa said
the group's hotel occupancies remained depressed at 38% compared to 43% in
the previous year, but recorded an operating profit of $24 billion from a
$455 million loss incurred during the same period the previous year.

Besides the negative perception, she also attributed this to low
domestic demand.

Mtasa added that they were in the process of introducing an office in
Livingstone, Zambia, a move that would see the group tapping into Zambia's
tourism boom.

Economic analyst John Robertson said the tourism sector's contribution
to the economy was now dismal.

"Although the authorities don't give clear figures, the contribution
by the tourism sector is US$30 million which is only 15% of the $200 million
it used to contribute," Robertson said. He said operators in the tourism
sector still relied on visitors from traditional markets as the Chinese had
made no significant contributions.

"Most of the Chinese do not spend long in the country and are not big
spenders. Besides, they now have a lot of relatives living here, whom they
can visit," Robertson said.

Apart from the tainted image, Robertson said the fixed exchange rate
coupled with the acute fuel shortages and high prices had become
disincentives to the international tourist, who is faced with over 5 000
destinations.

He added that domestic tourism was dying due to the economic crisis,
particularly high inflation. According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, a
quasi-state body, tourist arrivals declined by 27% in the last quarter of
2005.

A total of 336 971 tourists visited Zimbabwe during the period,
compared to 463 471 in the comparative period in 2004.

The Zimbabwe Independent


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Jail for Zimbabwean and South African immigration officials

zimbabwejournalists.com

By a Correspondent

TWO Home Affairs Immigrations Officers from South Africa and a
Zimbabwean, who were arrested at Beitbridge Post for allegedly attempting to
smuggle 100 pieces of ivory ornaments and 412 boxes of Zimbabwean
cigarettes, valued at R30 000, have been sentenced to an effective eight
months imprisonment in Zimbabwe.

The three are Jacob Martin Venter (34), Ndwamato Lukoto (49), both
employed at the Home Affairs Department at Makhado and a Zimbabwean,
Takawira Mahachi (29).

The court found that, on May 18 this year at around 18:00, Venter and
Lukoto went to Beitbridge town in Zimbabwe, driving a Home Affairs truck
carrying illegal Zimbabwean immigrants from Makhado.

After off-loading the deportees at the Beitbridge police station in
Zimbabwe, the two then met Mahachi. They planned to smuggle the cigarettes
and ivory ornaments, using the Home Affairs truck. In the process, it was
testified, Venter and Lukoto were to get R1 800 as a kickback.

They then went to Mahachi's house, where they loaded the loot and
covered it with blankets, after which they drove to Beitbridge border post
on their way back to South Africa.

Acting on a tip-off, Zimbabwean police descended on them and the truck
was intercepted at the exit gate. A search was conducted, leading to the
discovery of the contraband hidden at the back of the Home Affairs truck and
the trio was subsequently arrested.

Their legal representative, Adv Samson Mulaudzi, has since applied for
bail, pending an appeal against the sentence, as he felt the three do not
deserve a custodial sentence.

Speaking on behalf of the Provincial Department of Home Affairs, Mr
Sam Moremi, said that when the two officials are released from the
Zimbabwean prison, they will go through departmental disciplinary hearings.
He said that as the criminal procedure is not the same as the administrative
procedure; there would also be administrative investigations against the
two.

"I wish this would serve as a lesson to other Home Affairs employees
that crime has never paid and it will never pay. If you do crime, not only
your name and that of the department will be tarnished, but also the names
of your relatives, family and friends in the village you are living in," he
said.

Zoutnet


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Small arms - the global trade in life and death

The Star, Malaysia

By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - From Africa to Bosnia, back to Africa and on to the
Middle East -- the often secretive flow of guns and bullets follows the
world's cycle of wars.

In the middle are the faceless brokers who have facilitated the
multi-billion-dollar trade since the 1950s and 1960s when the United States
and the Soviet Union used go-betweens to arm their allies to fight the Cold
War by proxy.

"Small arms in Europe are not as cheap as they used to be at the end of the
1990s ... partly because the initial flood of weapons from former East Bloc
armouries has slowed down," said one European arms broker, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from his small, tight-knit
community.

"But there are still ample supplies left around. For AK-47s particularly all
the old East Bloc countries still have some surplus new weapons and, of
course, there are lots of used ones," he told Reuters.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, unleashed not only a flood of
cheap arms but also the giant aircraft needed to carry them to wars in
Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

From the steamy jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the dangerous
streets of Baghdad and the drug-ruled favelas of Rio de Janeiro, guns
acquired illegally spread terror, contribute to poverty and halt
development.

Ahead of a United Nations meeting in New York from June 26 - July 7 to
discuss this global trade, calls are growing for tighter regulations --
especially on the activities of brokers.

"Arms supply networks are increasingly sub-contracted and increasingly
opaque and out of control," small arms trade expert Brian Wood told Reuters.

"Some of the drivers of the international arms trade today are individuals
with laptops, mobile phones, air tickets and shell companies. They travel
around," he said.

CROSSING THE LEGAL LINE

The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), a group of agencies
including Amnesty International and Oxfam, estimates the global gun trade is
worth around $4 billion a year, of which up to $1 billion may be illicit.

Prices for guns vary enormously from the $350-$400 per new Kalashnikov with
three magazines, quoted as an example by the broker, to anecdotal stories of
the same rifles changing hands for a tenth of that price in African war
zones.

And if guns are available, they will be used.

"In places like northern Kenya, we are seeing pastoralists using AK-47s to
dispute access to the diminishing number of watering holes whereas in the
past they might have talked it out or at least used less lethal means," said
Anthea Lawson, a spokeswoman for IANSA.

"It used to be said that the main victims of gun violence were women and
children. That is not true. It is young men who are both the victims and the
perpetrators," she said.

IANSA wants countries to draw up global standards to regulate the
international transfer of weapons and gun possession among civilians. It
also wants to incorporate armed violence prevention into development
projects and funding.

"All guns start as legal weapons ... what happens after that (is) where the
trouble begins," said Lawson, adding that 60 percent of guns were in
civilian hands.

"Less than 40 countries have any laws regulating arms brokers -- and most
laws exclude extraterritoriality. That allows the brokers to operate with
impunity because they rarely touch or take ownership of the arms," she said.

ETHICAL TRANSFERS?

In a May report, Wood said weapons were increasingly either destined for or
diverted to countries under arms embargoes or to insurgent and criminal
groups. Complicating the picture, governments are cutting their armed forces
and relying on private suppliers to transport their weapons with few
controls.

This movement tracks mayhem.

"At the outset of the Bosnian civil war, the first flow of weapons was from
Lebanon -- where the fighting had slowed -- to the Bosnian Muslims facing a
well-armed Serbian army," the European arms broker said.

In his May report, Wood said that after the war some 200,000 of those guns
were shipped on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense to Iraq for the new
army, with at least one shipment going astray, probably ending up with
insurgents.

"Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking in arms. The Middle East is a big
problem," the arms broker said. "Sudan is very active too -- but they have
also built up their own production."

The United States is the biggest exporter of guns followed by Italy, Brazil,
Germany, Belgium, Russia, China, Britain, Austria and Japan, according to
IANSA.

But then there is a vast grey area, not only with nations or their proxies
trading third-party weapons but with others subcontracting production
elsewhere in the world.

"A country like China can argue it doesn't need to control arms because all
its production is for domestic use. But it licenses manufacture in countries
like Zimbabwe and those guns are then sold across the continent," said
Lawson.

Wood said the United States also had "a loose interpretation of what they
think are ethical transfers of arms".

"They are basically out to get former Eastern bloc -- Warsaw Pact --
equipment as cheap as possible to the people they regard as their allies,"
he said.

"Sometimes they are armed opposition groups like the Northern Alliance (in
Afghanistan) and so on, and they have been using over the last decade or
more the cheap surpluses in the Balkans -- Albania, Bosnia, Serbia -- and
they have used other people in the region to move it," he said.

The United States says it is committed to stemming the flow of illicit arms.
Earlier this month, the State Department said the United States had
demonstrated this commitment through national practices and diplomatic
engagement around the world.

Copyright 2005 Reuters

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