The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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The Telegraph

Mugabe's bulldozers push people back to land
By David Blair in Johannesburg
(Filed: 06/06/2005)

President Robert Mugabe's onslaught against Zimbabwe's cities has escalated to claim new targets, with white-owned factories and family homes being demolished in a campaign that has left 200,000 people homeless.

Across the country, Mr Mugabe is destroying large areas of heaving townships and prosperous industrial areas alike.

Earthmovers destroy a house outside of Harare
Virtually all the areas demolished voted for the opposition MDC Party in the last elections

The aim of this brutal campaign is, says the official media, to depopulate urban areas and force people back to the "rural home".

Chris Viljoen and his wife, Elsie, were still inside their five-bedroom house when a bulldozer began reducing it to rubble. The white couple live in the industrial zone of the capital, Harare.

Next door was a 70-acre site filled with 24 factories and workshops. Bulldozers spent last week razing this area, destroying all but nine businesses that employed about 1,000 people in a country suffering mass unemployment and economic crisis.

"My wife is still in a hell of a state," said Mr Viljoen, 55. "She's been having continuous nightmares."

Last Tuesday, police told Mr Viljoen, a mechanic, that his family's home would be demolished and gave him 24 hours to move out. They claimed that the property on Seke Road was "illegal".

In fact, the home is 30 years old and the owner, from whom Mr Viljoen rents the house, holds legal title deeds. None of this appeared to matter.

"The officer said 'Get yourself out of there'. I said 'You can't do that' and he said 'If you argue about it, we'll put you in jail'," said Mr Viljoen.

The couple sent their 10-year-old twins, Keith and Kevin, to stay with friends and began removing furniture.

They were still trying to dislodge fitted wardrobes and kitchen surfaces when police arrived and their bulldozer started work at 6.30am last Wednesday.

Mrs Viljoen, 38, was in the kitchen as the building began collapsing around her. She ran outside as her home was systematically demolished and then flattened.

The bulldozer also destroyed the family's business. It wrecked Mr Viljoen's car workshop next door to the house.

The Viljoens are now living in one room in a backpacker lodge.

"I've got nothing left in this country," said Mr Viljoen. "If I could, I would get up and leave tomorrow."

Earlier, bulldozers had begun wrecking the adjacent industrial area. Ian Lawson, the owner, was assured by a senior police officer that the site would be spared.

But at 6am last Tuesday, 10 lorries filled with police arrived and the destruction began.

"The police officer said to me 'Why are you running for help? No one can help you now. Not even God can help you. We are going to destroy this place'," said Mr Lawson, 60.

Fifteen factories and workshops were then reduced to heaps of rubble. Mr Lawson, whose family bought the site in 1952, fled to Britain after being threatened by police.

"All those factories were my pension. I said to my wife we can retire now and live on the rentals. Now everything has gone. I don't know what to do. Everything is wrecked," he said.

Across Zimbabwe, the United Nations estimates that 200,000 people have lost their homes, with the poorest townships bearing the brunt of Mr Mugabe's onslaught. "The vast majority are homeless in the streets," said Miloon Kothari, the UN's housing representative. He added that "mass evictions" were creating a "new kind of apartheid where the rich and the poor are being segregated".

Virtually all the areas singled out for demolition voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the last elections. The MDC says that Mr Mugabe ordered the destruction as a deliberate reprisal. But the regime is also seeking to depopulate the cities, driving people into the countryside where the MDC is virtually non-existent and the ruling Zanu-PF Party dominates.

The Herald, the official daily newspaper, urged "urbanites" to go "back to the rural home, to reconnect with one's roots and earn an honest living from the soil our government repossessed under the land reform programme".

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The Times

June 06, 2005

Mugabe's human rubbish dump
By Xan Rice
On the President’s orders, 200,000 people have been forced out of illegal townships

WHEN President Mugabe’s Government announced plans to “clean up” the country’s cities more than two weeks ago, many Zimbabweans wondered what the innocent-sounding phrase really meant. Now they know.
Thousands of street stalls demolished. More than 23,000 informal workers arrested. Entire neighbourhoods burnt to the ground or razed by bulldozers. Hundreds of thousands of poor people left homeless in the middle of winter.

The authoritarian regime has called the continuing campaign to curb illegal trading and housing Operation Murambatsvina, or “Drive Out Rubbish”.
Human rights organisations call it something different. It is a “blatant violation of civil, political, economic and social rights”, Amnesty International said. The normally cautious United Nations said last week that the eviction of 200,000 people was creating a new kind of apartheid, where the cities were only for the rich. Miloon Kothari, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, told reporters: “We have a very grave crisis on our hands.”
Zimbabwe’s state-run media has quoted government officials as saying that the operations were vital to reduce crime and stop cities turning into shantytowns.
Police started out by rounding up informal traders, from carpenters to cigarette sellers and gold-panners. Attention then turned to areas housing the cities’ poor.
In squatter villages such as Hatcliffe Extension, where people were settled in the early 1990s during a clean-up before a visit by the Queen, residents were forced to tear down their tiny wooden shacks.
In recent days police moved into areas such as Joshua Nkomo Heights, where people had — illegally, the Government said — built large sub- urban-style brick houses. Television pictures showed bulldozers knocking down homes as tearful residents watched helplessly.
Mr Kothari said that he feared that between two and three million people — a quarter of Zimbabwe’s estimated twelve million population — could be targeted in the operation, which has been declared legal by the courts.
Most of the newly homeless are living on the streets. A local journalist interviewed by telephone yesterday said that rents in some areas of Harare had doubled as the evicted residents desperately sought new accommodation. He said that some of the people had been taken to a government- run farm, while others had fled from the city to seek shelter in the countryside, where they were encountering more problems.
“They are being chased away by the locals who accuse them of being MDC [opposition] supporters,” said the journalist, who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals.
So far there has been no large-scale resistance to the police action. The authorities have said that they are on “full patrol” to quash any protests. The privately owned Sunday Standard newspaper reported that a coalition of civil groups, which has named itself the Broad Alliance, had called for a nationwide strike on Thursday and Friday. Political analysts are struggling to understand Mr Mugabe’s campaign. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says that it is designed to punish urban voters for failing to support the 81-year-old leader in March’s parliamentary elections, which the ruling Zanu (PF) party won amid claims of vote-rigging.
Yet even war veterans — staunch Zanu (PF) supporters who led the invasion of white-owned farms in 2000 — have been evicted from their homes.
Alternatively, the campaign may be designed to quash potential dissent as the economic collapse grows more acute. Power cuts and fuel shortages are crippling the cities, and witnesses in Harare say that workers are queueing until midnight for buses to take them home. Mr Mugabe, who said during the election that Zimbabwe had plenty of food, met James Morris, the head of the UN’s World Food Programme, last week and agreed to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid.
Mr Morris said that a third of the country’s population need food aid to survive the next year.
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UN slams Mugabe's 'new apartheid'
From correspondents in Geneva
June 06, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

A UN expert has slammed what authorities in Zimbabwe say is an urban
clean-up campaign, accusing Harare of "a gross violation of human rights"
and of creating a "new kind of apartheid."

Miloon Kothari, who monitors abuse for the UN Human Rights Commission, told
journalists he had written to Zimbabwean authorities to halt mass evictions
which have so far left 200,000 people homeless and seen tens of thousands
In the last two weeks in the capital Harare and major towns across Zimbabwe,
squads of armed police have demolished and torched backyard shacks and
makeshift shop stalls.

The campaign that has attracted widespread condemnation.

"Basically, what's going on is a gross violation of human rights," with
Zimbabwe breaching a string of international human rights accords, said Mr
Kothari, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

Authorities have said they aim to wipe out illegal settlements, claiming
many have become hubs of crime, including drug dealing, illegal gold and
currency trading, as well as hoarding of scarce commodities.

"The sad fact of the matter is that most of the people who have been
affected are innocent," said Mr Kothari.

Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been stoked by drought which has driven many
people from the countryside in search of food and jobs.

Unemployment has soared to 80 per cent, and many living a precarious
shantytown existence.

Mr Kothari said some 3 million people, around a quarter of Zimbabwe's
population, could eventually be swept up by the controversial "Operation
Murambatsvina" - literally, "drive out the rubbish" - and the linked
"Operation Restore Order."

Government officials have also said they want to "bring the glow back" to
Harare, beautifying the city by ridding it of shantytowns, Mr Kothari noted.

"Zimbabwe is a good example of a new kind of apartheid, where rich and poor
are being segregated," he said.
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The Times

            June 06, 2005

            'What can we do now? That is how we get food'
            From Rochelle Mutton in Bulawayo

            A WOMAN stands in the mangled ruins of her market stall in
Bulawayo city centre, eyes brimming with tears and unable to find the words
to describe her grief and fear.
            Hours earlier, dozens of heavily armed police demolished
thousands of licensed market stalls in Zimbabwe's second city - smashing,
burning and seizing goods and arresting hundreds of vendors.

            Like thousands of others in this devastated city, this woman has
lost her wares and livelihood in one terrifying morning of destruction.
"What can we do?" she asked despairingly.

            Life savings have been reduced to black, acrid smoke rising in
columns across the town. "That is how we get rent, that is how we get food,"
she said.

            Another woman vendor sits amid the twisted metal and cardboard
wreckage with just a single bag of oranges on offer, desperate for a bus
fare home.

            Near by, a man retrieves some bunches from his cart of squashed
bananas and is about to make a sale. Suddenly, a stampede down the street
gives him the split-second warning he needs to flee as a police pick-up
truck carrying eight officers swoops on to the scene.

            My reflexes are slower, leaving me in the midst of the police as
they jump from the truck, seize three women vendors and bundle them away.

            For the rest of the day, those terrified vendors with anything
left to sell hide behind cars and shopfronts, carrying only small samples of
their wares.

            Impassive gestures belie the frightened eyes and simmering anger
of the Bulawayo traders, who use the Shona word "gukurahundi" to describe
their plight. It means "the wind that sweeps away the chaff before the rain",
and was used to describe the genocidal terror overseen by President Mugabe
to eliminate political opposition in the early 1980s.

            Mr Mugabe's North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade killed thousands
of the minority Ndebele tribe that lives in the western Bulawayo region, and
tortured many more.

            David Coltart, legal affairs spokesman for the Movement for
Democratic Change, said that the crackdown was reminiscent not only of
Gukurahundi, but also of Apartheid, Pol Pot and the Nazis: "Police have used
excessive, gratuitous force towards people going about their business
lawfully and innocently and I have no doubt it's a policy of retribution
against people who are perceived correctly as being opposed to this fascist

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Zim Online

Army helicopters in show of force ahead of stayaway
Tue 7 June 2005

      HARARE - Army helicopters patrolled the skies over Harare's restive
working class suburbs yesterday while on the ground plain clothes police
advised residents to "leave politics alone" as tension gripped Zimbabwe two
days before an opposition-led mass job stayaway.

      The police have also mounted roadblocks on all major roads leading
into the capital's central business district with motorists being thoroughly
searched for weapons that could be used to commit violence.

      Extra police have also been deployed in Zimbabwe's other four biggest
cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo in what police insiders said
was a show of force designed to intimidate Zimbabweans from participating in
the work stayaway planned for Thursday and Friday this week.

      Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi threatened to come hard on
organisers of the stayaway should it degenerate into violence.

      "The police are carrying out their usual routine roadblocks - we are
ready to take head-on any disturbances which might happen as a result of
that stay away," Mohadi told ZimOnline.

      In the low income suburbs of Glen View and Glen Norah in the south of
Harare, ZimOnline reporters yesterday witnessed officers from the Police
Intelligence Section at city council-owned beer halls and other social
gathering places telling residents to leave politics and stay out of

      "Gentlemen, if you can help it, leave the prevailing political
situation as it is. Rather, concentrate on drinking beer and leave politics
alone," a police officer told a group of men at a beer hall.

      The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and
other civic bodies are expected to order workers to stay away from work on
Thursday and Friday to protest against an ongoing police blitz on informal
traders and homeless people.

      The police campaign, which President Robert Mugabe has defended as
vital to restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities and towns, has seen more
than 20 000 people arrested for selling goods without licences and close to
a million families left without shelter after their makeshift homes were
bulldozed and burnt down by the police.

      The job stayaway, which will inflict further damage on an already
crippling economy, is also being held to protest worsening poverty and
economic hardships.

      NCA official Jessie Majome said the groups organizing the mass action
will press ahead despite the show of force by the police.

      She said: "We remain focused and we will not be deterred by these
intimidating tactics of using helicopters and the police . . . Zimbabweans
have suffered a lot over the past five years, but the regime has remained

      Meanwhile, the police yesterday continued destroying makeshift homes
and informal trading stalls in the Harare suburbs of Budiriro, Glen View and
Glen Norah despite growing anger and opposition to the clean-up operation.

      The United Nations, Amnesty International, local churches and human
rights groups have condemned the police blitz as insensitive and a violation
of human rights. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe begins power rationing
Tue 7 June 2005
  HARARE - The state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA),
unable to raise enough hard cash to import additional electricity or spares
for its ageing power stations, has begun rationing supplies to cope with
ever increasing demand.
      In a statement yesterday, ZESA announced it will, beginning yesterday
start load-shedding during peak hours in Harare, Bulawayo and other urban

      Zimbabweans grappling shortages of fuel, food and essential medical
drugs will be without power for varying periods in the morning from
0600-1000 hours and in the evening from 1700-2100 hours.

      The power company, which is the country's sole electricity supplier,
warned of even more severe load shedding if demand continues to outstrip

      A statement from ZESA's subsidiary Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution
Company (ZEDC) read in part: "ZEDC may (on an as and when required basis)
have to curtail demand in order to maintain supply and demand balance
particularly during peak-lead times which are usually 0600-1000 hours
(mornings) and 1700-2100 hours (evenings).

      "Customers should also note that in the event of severe supply
deficiencies, more severe load shedding may be warranted and the above
programme may not necessarily be followed," the statement said.

      There is usually higher demand for power in Zimbabwe as in every other
country in the region during this time of the year because it is winter.

      But long-running foreign currency shortages have compounded problems
for ZESA which imports a third of its power requirements from South Africa,
Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      Ageing equipment at Zimbabwe's hydro and thermal power stations all
built more than three decades ago, has only helped worsen the situation for
the country.

      For example, Harare's central business district was last week without
power for more than 10 hours because of a shortage of spares required for
repairs on two generators at ZESA's biggest thermal power station at Hwange
near Zimbabwe's border with Zambia. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

IMF team to visit Zimbabwe this week
Tue 7 June 2005
  HARARE - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation visits Zimbabwe
this week on a routine consultative mission, three months after the Bretton
Woods institution postponed a decision to cancel Harare's membership.
      The delegation will hold talks with representatives from the
government, banking sector, opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
and international donors operating in the crisis-hit southern African

      "The four-member team will be in the country this week for
consultations with the government and other relevant economic players in the
country," a senior Finance Ministry official told ZimOnline. The official,
who insisted on not being named, declined to give the exact date of the IMF
team's arrival.

      The IMF cut balance-of-payments support to Zimbabwe six years ago
following disagreements with President Robert Mugabe over fiscal policy and
other governance issues. Withdrawal of IMF financial assistance compounded
foreign currency shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

      This week's mission follows the IMF executive board's decision on
February 16 to postpone Zimbabwe's expulsion from the Fund although it
described government policies to halt a five-year economic decline as

      Zimbabwe owed IMF US$300 million in outstanding arrears as of April
30, 2005.

      The IMF board began the process of expelling Zimbabwe last year after
the government continued to fall behind on its debt repayments to the global
lender, as the economy struggled with its worst crisis since independence
from Britain 25 years ago.

      The Washington-based Fund has closed its office in Harare and in
September expressed "grave concern" over Zimbabwe's failing economy, once
the bread-basket of southern Africa but which shrank by over 9 percent last

      IMF officials have indicated in the past that Harare wanted better
relations with the IMF but the fund had laid out strict conditions the
country should meet to escape being expelled from its ranks. - ZimOnline

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Like most of us, I have been trying to work out why the regime has embarked on this Operation Murambatsvina -  "Operation Arrest and Destroy Everything" as I translate it freely!
It makes no sense, at first glance, for them to be turning people against them at this moment, especially their own people!  And quite a lot of the dispossessed are their own people.  The majority of Hatcliffe Extension voted ZanuPF in March, not because they necessarily supported that party, but they were too intimidated to do anything else.  White Cliff was set up by war vets, ultra-ZanuPF supporters!  Harare South has a ZanuPF MP.
I believe there are several reasons for the apparent madness: 
a) Retribution - the cities voted MDC, and they need to be taught a lesson.
b) Distraction - people don't notice the failure of the state and the drastic economic decline if they are busy salvaging their wordly possessions - and even their lives!   There is also a lot that can be done under the cover of "Arrest and Destroy Everything" - like sorting out the Tsholotsho element! 
c) More sinister, however, is the Pol Pot agenda: drive everyone out of the towns and cities back into the rural areas, so they cannot organise themselves and challenge the regime.  I doubt that Mugabe really believes they will grow food.  If those already in the rural areas are not growing food, why would urbanites do any better?  And where are their inputs and implements, and where are they going to be settled?  Indeed, where is food available at present?  In the cities, not in the rural areas.  So - drive people out into the rural areas, and they are likely to starve to death, this year.  Extreme?  Wasn't it a minister who said a few years ago Zimbabwe would be better off without the 6 million who can't be fed, anyway?  He is now a very senior minister.
I do not think we should assist in moving people out of town.  That will not help those people, in the long run, especially if my analysis is correct.  They will be much worse off in the rural areas.  We need to find ways to allow people to remain in their homes and on their stands, especially if they have been paying rent there.  If "The People's Choice" was really concerned about people and the cleanliness of the cities, they would first have established the market places (many official market places have been destroyed by the regime) and the alternative accommodation (many people had lease agreeements or paid rent to government/city council), and THEN moved the people. 
That they did not do so indicates, in my view, that Operation Arrest and Destroy Everything is intended literally to get rid of a lot of what they consider rubbish - for good.  Let us not allow them to do that.  Let us stand in solidarity with the suffering and the dispossessed, and help them in every way we can to regain their human dignity and their livelihoods. 
It is time to stand together, as Zimbabweans.
Trudy Stevenson MP
Harare North Constituency
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Zim Standard

By Foster Dongozi

 MDC, civic bodies call for mass action OPPOSITION political parties, civic
organisations and labour unions have called for a potentially crippling mass
stayaway this week in protest against the government's ongoing crackdown
against its citizens, The Standard can reveal.

The mass stayaway is scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week.
The stayaway will see people not going to work, while protests have
reportedly been plotted throughout the country, The Standard understands.

Sources close to the planned mass actions told The Standard that the
showdown was being organised by a coalition comprising the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe National Students'
Union (Zinasu) and several other bodies opposed to the government's conduct
in the clean up campaign and crippling transport crisis.

This is the first time that a large number of organisations have been
involved in calling for a mass stay away.

The convenor of the Broad Alliance, which incorporates the MDC, ZCTU, NCA
and other civic and political organisations, Lovemore Madhuku, all but
confirmed the stayaway when contacted by The Standard.

He said: "The Broad Alliance is prepared to provide leadership to the masses
of Zimbabwe in their struggle against the oppressive dictatorship. Some
activities are being planned which will be announced during the course of
the week. The people should look forward to the announcement of the

Madhuku said the Broad Alliance was a coalition of democratic forces, which
were co-ordinating activities in pushing for democratic reforms in the

"The regime has turned against its people to the extent that they are
beating them up, destroying their homes and flea market stalls. "Instead of
addressing pertinent issues like food, fuel and electricity shortages, the
government is arrogantly embarking on a process to introduce a Senate
without consulting the people," said the fiery Madhuku.

The stayaway was also being announced on mobile phones via Short Message
Service (SMS) and the Internet. The organisers of the stay away have kept
their cards close to their chests amid concerns that the government could
pounce on them and thwart their plans.

Over the last two weeks, the government has embarked on a scorched earth
policy in which more than 20 000 people have been arrested under the guise
of eliminating illegal foreign currency dealers, criminals, flea market
operators and illegal shacks and houses.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president, told a press conference on Tuesday
that the only option left in dealing with state brutality was resistance.

He said: "We have reached the upper limits of tolerance against an
insensitive regime that does not have answers to our national plight.

"The only option available to us is to organise the people to resist,
through legitimate and democratic means, the assault on their basic civil
and political liberties.

Tsvangirai added: "We must avoid pushing the people to a position where the
only fall back position requires the adoption of extreme measures to restore
direction, protection and order."

Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU president, said the crisis in which the country
finds itself in should galvanise Zimbabweans from across the political
divide to demand accountability.

"The mess that we find ourselves in is such that all Zimbabweans should
stand up and defend their livelihood because everybody is feeling the pinch
through shortages of almost every basic commodity."

Fliers urging people to take to the streets are already being circulated
throughout the country.

One of the fliers quotes the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo's biography,
"The Story of My Life" which says: "Today, the people of Zimbabwe live in
fear, not of their enemies, but of their own government."

Meanwhile AP reports that the United Nations on Friday urged Zimbabwe's
government to halt its campaign of mass evictions, saying it was a clear
violation of human rights.

Zimbabwe's policy of evicting urban poor and demolishing their shacks around
the country represents a form of apartheid and must be halted, said Miloon
Kothari, a UN expert on the right to adequate housing. "We are seeing in the
world, and Zimbabwe is a good example now, the creation of a new kind of
apartheid where the rich and the poor are being segregated," Kothari told
reporters. More than 200,000 people have already lost their homes and a
further 30,000 people have been detained since the government began the
crackdown on 19 May, he said.

Amnesty International has also condemned the crackdown, saying it has left
whole communities without shelter and destroyed thousands of livelihoods.

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Zim Standard

Army commander invades farm
By Savious Kwinika

THE Commander of 3 Brigade, identified only as General Tazira, has invaded
Geran Farm in Mutare taking over the tobacco crop and equipment worth more
than $10 billion after forcing the owner, Hammy Hamilton, off the property,
The Standard has been told.

Hamilton is the chairman of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) for Mutare
and has been in commercial farming for more than 45 years.
In an interview with The Standard last week Hamilton said that Tazira
invaded his 612-hectare farm just after he had reaped and cured his crop of
tobacco worth about Z$1,5 billion.

Hamilton said:"As I speak to you right now, my farm has been taken. I
brought this matter to the attention of Vice President Joice Mujuru, Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, (former) Manicaland Governor (Mike
Nyambuya) and Florence Bhuka, Minister of State for Special Affairs
Responsible for Land and Resettlement Programme, but to no avail.

Apart from having practised commercial farming for nearly half a century he
has also been on the boards of parastatals including Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA).

Hamilton said the end to his 45 years of dedication to commercial
agriculture in Zimbabwe was a "tragedy".

"I am going to see Brigadier Tazira with my lawyer. I will try some legal
procedures," said Hamilton.

Efforts to get comment from Brigadier Tazira the whole of last week were
fruitless. Tazira's secretary said the 3 Brigade Commander was away. She
promised her boss would call back but he did not up to the time of going to

There was no immediate comment from Vice President Mujuru, Gono or Bhuka.

The Zimbabwe National Army spokesperson, Colonel Ben Ncube, said he was not
aware that Tazira had invaded a farm. "I will check for you because I am not
aware of that," Ncube said.
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Zim Standard

Public outrage at State brutality
By Foster Dongozi

THE people of Harare South, Epworth, Manyame and other peri-urban
constituencies who 'voted' for Zanu PF in the recent 31 March parliamentary
elections appear to have finally come face to face with the true colours of
the ruling party after it turned against them in the on-going crack-down on
illegal settlements and unauthorised business activities.

In the run-up to the elections, a lot of illegal settlements were set up by
Zanu PF stalwarts, among them, Joseph Chinotimba, Christopher Chigumba,
Nyasha Chikwinya and Zanu PF praise singer, Obadiah Msindo.
Local government minister, Ignatius Chombo, officiated at the "hand-over
ceremonies" of some of the illegal settlements whose members were mainly
drawn from card-carrying groups.

In Harare South, the "resettled" people actually managed to "vote" into
Parliament a Zanu PF candidate while in Hatfield Constituency, Zanu PF
candidate, Amos Midzi lost "narrowly" to the MDC candidate Tapiwa Mashakada.

After the crack-down on city dwellers, many are licking their wounds after
the regime descended on them and confiscated their wares, arrested more than
20 000 people and destroyed their homes and livelihoods.

The crackdown, which has been described as a war of retribution in some
quarters, saw thousands of people being rendered homeless after their homes
were razed to the ground.

The government has over the years failed to come up with comprehensive
housing schemes to accommodate the ballooning urban population.

On the few times that the State came up with housing schemes for civil
servants, the schemes ended up with funds being channelled towards other
construction projects. A typical example is the Borrowdale mansion for the
First Lady, Grace Mugabe.

The house, an edifice that spoiled the grace and elegance of the affluent
suburb, was later sold as it continued to cause embarrassment to the First

In the latest clamp down, thousands of city dwellers, among them Zanu PF
supporters were uprooted from their homes, disturbing the education of
children in the process as many were forced to return to their rural homes
empty- handed and even poorer.

Others, especially with roots in neighbouring countries are still stranded,
as they are not sure where they should go.

Families are exposed to the windy and cold nights of the winter season,
because they cannot immediately afford the expensive cost of relocating to
their rural homes.

Their woes have been worsened by the shortage of fuel, which has grounded
many transporters.

Harare spokesman, Leslie Gwindi, believed to be politically connected to
Zanu PF, summed up the attitude of the ruling elite when he spoke about the
evictions during an interview with a local newspaper.

He said: "All we are saying is that we want all the illegal structures to be
removed. And we will not look for other places for them (residents) because
how did they come to be where they are staying now?"

Officer Commanding Harare Police Province, Edmore Veterai, did not mince his
words when he uttered what amounted to rubbing salt into the already
festering wounds of Harare residents.

He said: "These are the very same people (street people), who commit crimes
and we will deal with them in accordance with the law.

"They (people) must go where they belong. No one in Zimbabwe comes from
nowhere. Everybody belongs somewhere," Veterai told a local newspaper.

Cynics have drawn comparisons between the current wave of retribution and
acts of brutality against the citizens to the pre-independence era when the
Ian Smith regime unleashed terror on the citizens.

Combined Harare Ratepayers' Association chairman, Mike Davies, says simply
put, Zanu PF has "used" residents as political pawns.

He said: "It is hypocritical for the same government which allowed the
people to build flea markets to suddenly turn around and say they are

"What has been done is indicative of the fact that the government regards
its citizens as political pawns after they allowed people to build houses at
White Cliff Farm and then cruelly render them homeless by bulldozing their

War veterans and soldiers who were the majority at Tongogara, meekly
submitted as the party they have always supported with passion presided over
the tearing down of the structures they painstakingly built as their
permanent homes.

Jabulani Sibanda, the combative Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans'
Association leader, blasted the operation. "We are in the middle of winter
and the government has decided to organise a Tsunami against its own people.

"No person wants to live in a shack but those people found themselves there
because that is all they can afford because of economic hardships caused by
economic sanctions or corruption in high places."
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Zim Standard

Cash strapped NRZ sends out SOS
By our own Staff

THE loss-making National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which has been failing
to pay its workers on time for the past six months, has appealed for a
government guarantee to enable the organisation to access bridging finances
from their bankers, The Standard has established.

According to documents in our possession, the NRZ management last month
appealed to the Ministry of Transport and Communications for government
guarantee in an effort to resolve financial problems bedevilling the
In one of the letters, dated 5 April 2005, to the staff, the NRZ General
Manager, Munesu Munodawafa wrote: "Staff are advised that in an effort to
resolve this problem, management has appealed to the Ministr

y of Transport and Communications for a government guarantee to enable them
to access bridging finance from their debtors."

The documents indicate that on a number of occasions, Munodawafa , recently
appointed principal director in charge of parastatals and local authorities,
wrote to the workers informing them about the delays in payment of their
monthly salaries and wages.

The documents show that there were delays in the payment of workers'
salaries and wages last November, January and March this year.

In the letters Munodawafa attributed the non-payment problems to failure by
some of their major debtors to remit payment on time.

"This untenable situation is to some large extent attributable to the
failure by some of our major debtors to remit payments for services rendered
by the NRZ on time," wrote Munodawafa in one of the correspondences marked
"Special Notice 2760".

"It will be seen that if the debtors were to pay 50 percent of the amounts
owed, the Railways would not be experiencing the late payment of salaries,"
wrote Munodawafa.

According to the documents, as of 3 December 2004, the parastatals was owed
a total of $89 005 billion by other firms, including Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company (Zisco), Zimbabwe Power Corporation, Wankie Colliery and the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB).

Fanuel Masikati, the public relations manager of NRZ, confirmed that the
parastatals had been experiencing serious cash flow problems over the past

"It's true that we have been experiencing some cash flow problems but that
is now water under the bridge. Our finances have improved significantly and
we were able to pay our employees on time last month," Masikati said.

He added that the government had approved the guarantee.

Masikati said the NRZ had already received $3.5 billion of the allocated
$1.1 trillion from the fiscus for the parastatal's information technology
(IT) tracking system. "We have also received $25 billion as working
capital," he said.

Economic analysts last week, however, said it was not viable for an
organisation to access bridging finances for non-profit making expenses and
added that government guarantees have failed in the past and financial
institutions have no confidence in them.
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Zim Standard

Exor retrenches as fuel crisis bites
By Caiphas Chimhete

ZIMBABWE'S fuel crisis has claimed the scalp of one of the leading
indigenous oil procurement companies, Exor Petroleum (Pvt) Limited, which is
set to shed off half of its entire workforce, Standard Business can reveal.

A senior manager with the firm last week told StandardBusiness that the
company was restructuring, in the process off-loading half of its 250-strong
workforce as it struggles to remain afloat under the current fuel crisis.
One of the managers, who requested anonymity, said: "Employees have been
told to go on a voluntary retrenchment package and by the 7th of this month
we would have finalised the formula on how the packages would be

If volunteers fail to come forward, said the manager, management will force
some workers, whose duties are considered not key to the company's
operations, to leave.

One of the workers said: "However, workers are not willing to come forward
because it is not clear how much they are going to get as packages. In any
case, it was hinted that they will not get much."

The fuel crisis, which has prevailed for the past two months, has paralysed
the country's transport and manufacturing sectors.

Exor, which is scaling down operations - closing down some of its depots and
service stations - would soon move from the upmarket Eastgate Complex to
less expensive premises.
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Zim Standard

Demolitions leave thousands homeless
By our own staff

THE government's on-going clean up operation left hundreds of homes
demolished, throwing pupils out of school, The Standard can reveal. In
Hatcliffe Extension, police destroyed a school, leaving thousands of
children with no place for their classes.

THE government's on-going clean up operation left hundreds of homes
demolished, throwing pupils out of school, The Standard can reveal.
In Hatcliffe Extension, police destroyed a school, leaving thousands of
children with no place for their classes.

A drop-in home for disadvantaged children, Batsirai Children's Centre, which
was assisting more than 100 orphans, mainly affected by HIV and Aids, was
not spared either.

The lawyer for the orphans, Tafadzwa Mugabe, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, said the centre provided medical treatment, counselling and paid
school fees for the orphans.

The clean up campaign has created a lot of uncertainty has engulfed most
unaffected Harare suburbs because of the fear that more demolitions may

The destruction of houses at the former Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco (ZLT) farm in
Kambuzuma, where war veterans settled at the height of the so-called Third
Chimurenga in 2000, presented a climax to the controversial clean-up

Two housing co-operatives - the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Heights and Leopold
Takawira Housing Co-operatives - had been established at the farm situated
between Kambuzuma and Mufakose.

On Friday morning, after an unsuccessful urgent High Court application by
the co-operatives to stop the demolitions, police moved in and pulled down
the structures.

Some families, who heeded the government's notice to vacate, had removed
their asbestos roofing sheets and furniture in order to minimise their

Hundreds of residents of the housing co-operatives watched helplessly as
police razed their houses to the ground knowing it signalled cold nights in
the open before alternative accommodation can be found.

One young mother burst into tears after her three-year-old daughter asked
her what was happening and she could not explain.

"These children ask difficult questions. I don't even know how to explain to
her all these things," Mercy Makamba said as she struggled to regain her

One war veteran, who identified himself as Comrade Zvichapera, said he still
could not believe that the co-operative was illegal and that it had become
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Zim Standard

Zim delegation to ILO conference faces snub
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ZIMBABWE'S delegation to the 93rd International Labour Organisation (ILO)
conference underway in Switzerland faces ostracism following revelations
that the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) is
challenging the legitimacy of the workers' delegation.

The ICFTU is basing its complaint, submitted to the ILO's Credentials
Committee on Wednesday, on article 3, paragraph 5, of the ILO constitution,
which stipulates that members of non-government delegations must be "the
most representative in their respective countries".
The ICFTU, the world's largest trade union body, petitioned the ILO to annul
the credentials of the current workers' delegate attending the two - week
long conference, insisting ILO delegates have to be appointed by genuine,
representative union structures. The global workers' body says Zimbabwe's
delegate Edmund Ruzive who is the third vice president of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions is not a legitimate choice.

".. the ICFTU urges the Credentials Committee to invalidate the credentials
of the current workers delegate of Zimbabwe," read part of an ICFTU letter
to Juan Somavia, the head of ILO, which is in The Standard's possession.

Guy Ryder, ICFTU Secretary-General said the global labour body recognizes
the valid claim of Lovemore Matombo, the elected President of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to represent his fellow worker members.

Inspite of repeated warnings from the ZCTU, the government picked its own
delegates to the (ILO) conference in a bid to destabilise and paralyse the
most important independent force in Zimbabwe's civil society. The government
is accused of coercing the ZCTU's second vice president Elias Mlotshwa and
Ruzive to attend the conference in order to destabilise the ZCTU.

Sources told The Standard that Ruzive arrived in Geneva on Friday, joining
officials from the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare
against the usual labour delegation, which normally consists of Matombo and
Wellington Chibebe. Lancaster Musaka, the ministry's permanent secretary is
leading the Zimbabwean delegation, while Labour Minister Nicholas Goche is
expected join them.

Mlotshwa wrote to the ILO indicating that the government had used his name
and that he had no intention of attending the conference since the
legitimate representatives of the ZCTU should have been Matombo and Chibebe.
Chibebe, the combative ZCTU secretary-general has already outwitted a
spirited campaign sponsored by the government to bar him from the
conference. He is already in Geneva for the conference.

Apart from labour and the government, Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ) President Mike Bimha and CEO John Mufukare are also attending the
conference. The ZCTU had seconded Matombo and Chibebe. The government meets
delegates' travel and other expenses.

Each member country has the right to send four delegates to the conference -
two from government and one each representing workers and employers, each of
whom may speak and vote independently. But because of the bungling by the
government, it is feared that Zimbabwe could fail to contribute and
participate meaningfully.

Besides Zimbabwe, the ICFTU has in recent years objected to the credentials
of the workers delegates from Yugoslavia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Fiji and Kiribati and Myanmar.

Zimbabwe is expected to come under the spotlight when delegates to the
conference consider the situation of workers. The 178-member ILO conference
will also discuss issues ranging from forced labour and working hours to
work in the fishing industry, occupational safety and health and youth
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Zim Standard

Gweru blasts raids
By our own correspondent

GWERU - The Mayor of Gweru, Sesil Zvidzayi, has condemned the destruction of
vendors' stalls in the city, which resulted in millions of dollars worth of
property being destroyed, saying the heavy-handed action by police was not

He said the police blitz, which targeted informal traders both at designated
and undesignated selling points, had caused more problems as the vendors are
now operating from the city centre.
Zvidzayi said: "The police raid on vendors in the city of Gweru came to us
as a surprise as we were not informed nor consulted.

"The move was actually not called for as some of the vendors were operating
from designated places, where health facilities and control by the
municipality was exercised and generating some revenue for us."
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Zim Standard

Milk in short supply
By our own staff

SERIOUS milk shortages have hit the country with most retail outlets going
without milk for the past month.

A snap survey by The Standard established that many consumers are unable to
buy milk because of inadequate supplies to the market.
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) has laid blame on the dairy farmers for the
erratic milk supplies.

"We are not milk growers. We are only milk processors," said Emelda Shoko,
DZL Communications Officer.
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Zim Standard


IN both law and practice, education and shelter became human rights for all
citizens of Zimbabwe on attainment of Independence in 1980.

The government's actions over recent weeks demonstrate utter contempt for
the rights of children to education, and for the right of citizens to
It is the main responsibility of any elected government to protect the poor,
weak and vulnerable groups in society.

A secure and sheltered home and access to education are critical in
preparing Zimbabweans for their social and economic well-being, and for
meeting the new challenges presented by the era of information and
communication technologies. But we have seen during recent weeks that the
same government that won international acclaim for its commitment to
education for all of its citizens has suddenly recanted.

School children have become victims of the joint government/City of Harare
Operation Restore Order/Murambatsvina.

If it had not been for circumstances beyond control, school children would
have been writing their June examinations. There is no prize for guessing
what effect the destruction of their houses would have on their ability to
perform well in examinations. But not only have they not been able to write
the examinations, many will now miss them altogether because they have been
uprooted and scattered far away from centres they had registered to write
the examinations.

The government, of course, is not one to let such things trouble its
conscience. Last year, its security agencies descended on Porta Farm, a
squatter settlement it created ahead of the October 1991 Commonwealth Heads
of State and Government Meeting and drove the settlers out. No notice was
deemed necessary and the plight of school children who were due to write
their primary school finishing examinations, were not issues the government
bothered itself with.

There has been general contempt in the way the government has dealt with
ordinary people in the recent past. Instead of learning from the mistakes of
Porta Farm, where people were forced to relocate to Caledonia Farm near
Mabvuku, the government has decided to repeat the Porta Farm debacle, but
this time on a grand scale.

It is difficult to reconcile the actions of the government and those of
elected representatives, supposedly governing in the interests of the people
who put it into power. The critical element of consultation has been wiped
out of the process of governance. Instead, the government has decided to
create a humanitarian crisis. There is no difference between the destruction
that the natural phenomenon, the tsunami, wrecked on South East Asia and the
theatre of tragedy that is being re-enacted in Sakubva, Chikanga in Mutare,
and Mbare, Kambuzuma, Mufakose and many other high-density suburbs of

Nobody disputes the need to instil order and maintain a clean capital. But
what is callous is the manner in which the whole exercise has been and
continues to be conducted.

The education of many children who have to travel from one suburb to the
next has been adversely affected because school children, as do adults, wait
for hours on end for transport that never comes.

It is common cause that many of the school children travel from the
high-density areas to the low-density suburbs for their education, but
thanks to the government - it has managed to place all imaginable obstacles
in the way of children's pursuit of education.

The only explanation one finds in all this is that the government has
finally decided that it will not bother about elections, and instead it will
continue to rule by other means.

What sane person will go out and vote to retain a government whose cruelty
and brutality outclasses that of former oppressors. And it is this that
hurts so much and is distressing. Zimbabweans expected a much more
sympathetic conduct in the bid to restore order and maintain Harare as a
proud and clean capital. They did not expect a fascist approach.

It is most insensitive for the government to uproot people from Churu Farm
and plant them at Hatcliffe Extension or to encourage land invasion in and
around the cities and then to turn around and proclaim these settlements
illegal, when it is the one that identified where these settlements should
be located.

There may have been rogue elements that infiltrated these settlements, but
it is the function of the security agencies to investigate and weed these
out. It is not as if the anti-social elements are unknown. They live with
and among the people, and the people will know who is engaged in what
extra-legal activities.

What the government has carried out in recent weeks and continues to is a
new form of apartheid.
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Zim Standard


Zimbabwe beefs up air arsenal

THE arrival of new military aircraft for the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) has
always been shrouded in secrecy and over the past decade the AFZ has beefed
up its air arsenal by acquiring an undisclosed number of state-of-the-art
fighters and helicopter gunships.

In line with the government's new 'look east policy', all the aircraft were
acquired from the Far East at an unspecified but obviously huge cost because
combat aircraft do not come cheap. Zimbabwe has a small but competent air
force, which proved its worthiness during the Mozambican campaign, where it
played a decisive role in ending the Renamo war and more recently the DRC
war, where it stopped rebels right on the doorstep of Kinshasa. The
acquisition of the aircraft has greatly enhanced the AFZ's operational
capabilities and subsequently shifted the regional balance of airpower in
Zimbabwe's favour for now.
At a function held at Thornhill Air Base in Gweru in April, President Mugabe
commissioned six Hongdu K-8 'Karakorum' state-of-the- art jet trainer
aircraft bought from China by the government for use by the AFZ. The K-8, a
jet trainer jointly produced by China and Pakistan, replaced the British
made BAe Hawk-60s which the AFZ withdrew from service due to a severe
shortage of spare parts caused by a crippling arms embargo imposed by
Britain in 2000.

It is worth noting that the K-8 is largely a Chinese copy of the BAe 'Hawk'.
The K-8 will be used to train jet fighter pilots, weapon instructors,
provide armed tactical reconnaissance and air support to ground forces. They
can also be armed with air-to-air missiles for airfield defence. The K-8s
will join the MiG-23 'Floggers' at Thornhill Air Base in Gweru, home of the
AFZ's fighter aircraft together with the Chengdu F-7M 'Airguards' and the
BAe Hawk-60s.

Zimbabwe once had a keen interest in acquiring the Mikoyan MiG-29 'Fulcrum'
in the late 1980s but eventually cancelled the order it had placed in 1992
citing diminishing tension with the then PW Botha's apartheid South Africa.
In their place the F-7s and MiG-23s were acquired. Had the AFZ stuck to its
original order and taken delivery of the MiG-29s then, maybe by now the AFZ
could have been ordering top notch fighters like the Su-35 'Flanker' or the
MiG-31 'Foxhound'.

However, Zimbabwe's interest in the MiG-29 has been rekindled as some recent
reports in aviation journals suggest that Zimbabwe is about to take delivery
of fourteen MiG-29s from Russia. The Su-27s flown by the air forces of
Angola and Ethiopia and the MiG-29s flown by Algeria, Eritrea, Sudan and
very soon Zimbabwe- are the most advanced jet combat aircraft in service in
Africa to date, together with the Egyptian Air Force's F-16s.

The government also placed an order for a dozen Chengdu/PAC FC-1 lightweight
multi-role combat aircraft worth US$240 million. The FC-1 also known as the
Super-7 is jointly produced by Chengdu Aircraft of China and Pakistan
Aeronautical Complex (PAC). It is a relatively new aircraft having made its
maiden flight in August 2003 powered by an up rated Russian Klimov RD-93
engine (a derivative of the RD-33 engine which powers the MiG-29) initially
earmarked for the yet to fly Russian MiG-33.The FC-1s are likely to be
delivered as early as next year and their arrival at Thornhill will open a
new chapter in cutting edge military aviation in the region. With a higher
payload, longer range and a more advanced avionics and weapons suite the
FC-1s will certainly set the standard for air superiority in Southern Africa
and even beyond.

Zimbabwe's shopping for new military aircraft is not isolated as our
neighbouring air forces have also been rearming quietly. Zambia received
eight K-8 fighters from China. Two MiG-23s, two Mi-8s, two Mi-24s and twelve
K-8 trainers have been delivered to Namibia. Botswana bought a dozen second
hand CF-5 fighters (from Canada).

Perhaps the most significant order for new military aircraft was signed by
South Africa which ordered 28 Saab JAS-39 'Gripen' fighters from Sweden, 24
BAe Hawk-120 fighter trainers from Britain and a whopping 30 Augusta A-109
helicopters from Italy. An order of this magnitude is a very clear indicator
that South Africa intends to transform itself into a military powerhouse in
Africa, south of the Sahara. Once all these aircraft are delivered and
become operational, the South African Air Force would become the undisputed
lord of the skies- with absolute air superiority.

Cassius Sande

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Zim Standard

Coke market slumps
By Kumbirai Mafunda

MOUNTING viability constraints and rising poverty have cost Zimbabwe's
ranking as Coca-Cola Central Africa's fifth largest consumption market to
Kenya, StandardBusiness has gathered.

In 2003 the country, which is muddling through one of its worst economic
crisis since independence, was positioned fifth but latest rankings pieced
together by StandardBusiness reveal that the country slipped a place down to
sixth position. Zimbabwe now trails South Africa, which maintained its pole
position as Coca-Cola's largest market in Africa followed by Nigeria, Egypt,
Morocco and Kenya.
Some statisticians use the consumption of luxury foods and goods such as
soft drinks to measure the general wealth of ordinary citizens.

The US multinational is Africa's leading carbonated soft drinks seller and
the continent's largest foreign consumer product investor. Its beverages are
marketed and distributed by bottling partners in more than 160 plants,
serving more than 830 million consumers in Africa.

Harare's slide in the Coca-Cola rankings is synonymous with the country's
general decay marked by severe shortages of food, hard currency, fuel and
worsening poverty.

Analysts and bottlers attribute Harare's trip over to a cocktail of
constraints currently rocking its three bottlers, namely Delta Beverages,
Mutare Bottling Company and Schweppes.

Zimbabwe's retail and supermarket shelves have gone for several months now
without soft drinks owing to a deep-seated shortage of hard currency to
import beverages concentrate from Swaziland. Underlying shortages of bottle
tops, plastic granules, carbon dioxide, fuel, spares and intermittent power
outages are some of the foreign currency induced import shortages that have
aggravated the erratic supply of soft drinks. Apart from the foreign
currency induced raw material shortages, price dictates imposed on soft
drinks in 2001 have had a bearing on supply.

Zimbabwe's bottlers source their beverage concentrate from Conco Limited, a
Swaziland company which trades as Coca-Cola Swaziland and have to settle
payments in hard currency, which is in short supply here. Juice concentrate
used to manufacture non-carbonated range of beverages is sourced locally.
Apparently Kenya, which has overtaken Zimbabwe on the coke rankings, also
has three bottling partners - same as Zimbabwe. These are SABCO, ICDCI and
the Shah Group.

Coca-Cola's trademark brands of non-alcoholic beverages are produced and
distributed in Zimbabwe by three bottling partners, Delta Beverages, Mutare
Bottling Company and Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited. Of the three companies,
only two manufacture the carbonated range of soft drinks, which, led by
brand Coca-Cola, include brands Fanta, Sprite, Sparletta and Schweppes.
Mutare Bottling Company manufactures for and distributes in the eastern
parts of the country and Delta Beverages manufactures and distributes in the
remainder of the country. Schweppes Zimbabwe exclusively manufactures and
distributes the non-carbonated range of Coca-Cola's beverage brands, led by
the flagship Mazoe brand.

Sherree Shereni, Coca-Cola Central Africa's public affairs and
communications director, confirmed that Zimbabwe had lost its footing
although she insisted that Harare holds out opportunities for incremental
beverage consumption growth in the long term.

Shereni told Standard Business from her Johannesburg base: "Normal
production of our CSD's in the recent past has been disrupted by, among
other challenges, the nationwide acute shortage of foreign currency needed
to source imported essential inputs into CSD manufacture."

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Zim Standard

Mugabe's arrogance knows no bounds
sundayopinion By Patrick Kombayi

THE long - suffering Zimbabweans have once again been brought to their knees
by the actions of their insensitive, cruel and selfish rulers.

The attitude of this government and that of its leader, President Robert
Mugabe, to the plight of starving masses of Zimbabwe is obscene to say the
Right now, Zimbabwe has insufficient maize to meet the national requirements
for the people's staple food, sadza, which has become an elusive luxury -
available only to a few who are well connected or those whose pockets are
bottomless and can afford to buy it at any price on the parallel market.

Of course, the government and Zanu PF chefs themselves do not run short of
the commodity. The country is facing a critical shortage of all basic
commodities such as cooking oil, sugar, soap and other commodities. What the
suffering innocent Zimbabweans are being subjected to is not necessary at
all. It is simply the work of an incompetent, arrogant and corrupt
government which is determined to line the pockets of its ministers and top
officials while the nation starves.

The arrogance is evident in the manner the President reacts to the crisis.
He ignores his subjects completely. As if that is not enough, he goes on to
allocate scarce foreign currency to acquisition of jet fighters and arms of
war, while the nation scrounges for a few American dollars to buy maize so
that millions of hungry Zimbabweans can be fed.

We have no maize, we have no petrol and we have no basic commodities such as
sugar, flour, milk and we are experiencing crippling power cuts because the
country can not pay suppliers of electricity yet Mugabe sees it fit to buy
jet fighters from China and expensive anti-riot amoured tanks, all for the
purposes of suppressing hungry citizens.

What kind of a father goes to buy a gun when his own family is starving?
This shows how cruel and insensitive Mugabe can be. He has no heart for his
people at all.

Already the media today is awash with stories of starvation, fuel shortages
and power cuts throughout the country. Shortages have become a national
curse. Rumblings of hungry people standing for hours on end in long queues
of food, fuel and bus stops, jostling for transport to take them home after
work, may appear harmless and localized disgruntlement, but they should be
seen as manifestations of national anger and desperation.

Zanu PF may rig elections but as is now evident, they can never rig the
economy. If anything, it is the economy, which they have messed up by their
incompetence and fraud, which will rig them.

The suffering of ordinary people cannot be allowed to go on forever. The
people have been made to suffer for far too long! The patience of
peace-loving Zimbabweans has been stretched to the limit!

But the arrogance and insensitivity of this regime does not end there.
Zimbabweans watched in horror on the eve of Independence Day seeing people
like Solomon Mutsvairo and Bernard Chidzero being honoured for liberating
Zimbabwe while great liberation heroes like Josiah Tongogara, Herbert
Chitepo, Ndabaningi Sithole, Enoch Dumbutshena, and Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, who
was at one time Mugabe's great friend and who was his best man at his
wedding in Ghana, were sidelined.

How can someone who simply composed the national anthem long after
independence be awarded a gold medal for liberating the country while the
names of those that fought the war are not even mentioned?

On occasions that he sits in Parliament, Mugabe can boast having himself,
his sister, Sabina, as well as her sons, Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuawo.

Mugabe is also a man who does not forget a grudge easily. Even in death,
Chitepo is paying for chastising Mugabe and ordering a reversal of his
action to depose Ndabaningi Sithole from the party leadership.

When Mugabe and Enos Nkala went to report to Chitepo at Mulungwishi Village
in Lusaka, that they had removed Sithole from the party leadership, Chitepo
simply laughed and told Mugabe and his friends that: "That is
unconstitutional. Go and bring Ndabaningi Sithole." I was present at this
meeting as regional chairman of the party in Zambia.

So the background to what the real person Mugabe is goes far back during the
liberation struggle and I am not surprised that he is treating his
countrymen like trash today. I have known him to be a crafty, insensitive,
arrogant and ruthless man of great ambitions who stops at nothing to get
what he wants. Remember he was my teacher at one time in my life. Remember,
too, it is his regime that gunned me down at point-blank range, living me
with scars that I will carry to my grave.

Patrick Kombayi is the MDC spokesperson for the party's Midlands South

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Zim Standard

Preparing a funeral for democracy
By Dumisani Mpofu

IT was a formidable show of firepower. From morning until sunset, it
appeared the whole of Freedonia's air force had been scrambled. Fighter
planes were all airborne and they zoomed and swooped overhead in such a
manner that buildings shook, as if some seismic force had moved.

We quaked in our shoes.
Those who knew said not a word. But those in the dark suggested this show of
force was in preparation of the opening of the assembly, a few days later.

Only the gullible accepted such explanations. To the majority, the
explanation seemed an ingenious obfuscation.

Here was the reason why: For the preceding four months Freedonia had
suffered from acute shortage of fuel, reducing the whole nation into one
characterised by queues for this and for that.

The most cynical among us suggested a new slogan to market the country:
"Come to Freedonia, where the major preoccupation is queue and wait." It was
discarded on account of its alleged lack of patriotism.

What defied logic was that a country suffering from a series of shortages of
anything imaginable under the sun could afford to keep its air force
airborne for days on end slavishly mimicking a colonial ritual, when such
fuel could have gone to ensuring there was more fuel available to take
people to and from their workplaces.

The national airline, which generated a lot of much needed foreign exchange,
faced forced cancellations and delays because, at times, it could not secure
the required aviation fuel to fulfil its commitments.

Freedonia's quiet old man was not among those who claimed to know and
preferred silence. He did not know but his reading of the state of the
nation, offered a riveting explanation.

One can only attempt to paraphrase his analysis. Over the past half decade,
said the quiet old man, Freedonia's ruling Revolutionary Party (FRP) had
been shocked profoundly. Its intelligence agencies reported that its
fortunes had taken a turn for the worse.

There was nothing earth-shattering about this disclosure for it did not
require a rocket scientist to alert us. The truth was self evident.

But the quiet old man said that during the last poll, Freedonia's
Revolutionary Party had been rattled when it discovered what the majority of
Freedonians really thought about it.

His look pensive and his voice measured, the quiet old man said: "It was
both a shock and a nightmare for the self-centred and self-indulgent
revolutionaries to learn from their intelligence agencies that Freedonians
had overwhelmingly indicated their preference at the most recent great
selection. It was then, that Freedonia's Revolutionary Party realised its
time was up. The problem was that this was the kind of reality it could not

The reaction from Freedonia's Revolutionary Party to the decline in its
popularity and support was to unleash a series of anti-people measures. The
central objective was to secure and entrench its hold on power - by any
means necessary.

The quiet old man suggested we were witnessing the strangulation of
democracy. Then he made an observation that was as wild as it was scary.

In his view, the government and Freedonia's ruling Revolutionary Party had
decided to abandon any pretence at democracy. He gave several examples of
what he believed was a move towards a State of Emergency, "because this is
the only route that will guarantee their future in power. Be very afraid and
prepare for the worst".

We were silent for some time. Then a formation of the newly acquired fighter
planes screamed overhead as they circled Freedonia's capital.

Leave for the law enforcement agencies were cancelled and they were placed
on alert. There was pronounced visibility of the military wherever we
turned. ".You can run but you can't hide.", came the words from a military
song playing on one of the radios.

We hoped what we saw did not confirm our worst fears. Freedonia was
preparing the funeral of democracy.

"The people shall decide," the quiet old man said, as if in answer to the
numerous questions that raced in our minds.

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