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Opposition party unfazed by Mugabe's 'elimination' threats

Zim Online

Fri 10 March 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's fractitious opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party yesterday vowed to keep the pressure on President Robert
Mugabe despite a stern warning by the government that its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and other top officials could be "physically eliminated".

      In a statement, spokesman Nelson Chamisa said a Wednesday threat by
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa to eliminate MDC leaders was
confirmation to Tsvangirai's statement to Harare-based foreign diplomats two
months ago that Mugabe's government was plotting to assassinate him and
cripple the opposition.

      Chamisa - who spoke as armed security agents ransacked the homes of
two senior MDC officials in the eastern Mutare city looking for evidence
linking the officials to an arms cache unearthed earlier this week - said
Mugabe's government was attempting to threaten Tsvangirai and his supporters
into abandoning the struggle for democracy.

      He said: "Mutasa provided the world with the proof that he is prepared
to engage in ZANU PF-inspired thuggery and revert to state-sponsored
banditry to quell any attempt to remove the government. Mutasa is
threatening death to President Tsvangirai and all perceived enemies of this
regime .. (but) we will not yield to threats or any undue pressure."

      Security agents earlier this week arrested MDC legislator for Mutare
North Giles Mutsekwa and the opposition party's treasurer in Manicaland
province Brian James saying the two were linked to an arms cache found on
Tuesday at the home of a former member of the white settler army before
independence, Peter Hitschmann.

      The government claims that the two MDC officials, who have been in
detention since their arrest on Tuesday and Wednesday, were working with a
shadowy group calling itself the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM) which seeks
to remove Mugabe through unconstitutional means.

      Little is known about the ZFM that announced its existence at a press
conference in London about three years ago that was largely ignored by the

      Speaking after the discovery of the arms and the arresting of the two
MDC officials Mutasa, who is in charge of the government's feared spy
Central Intelligence Organisation, said the government would "physically
eliminate" Tsvangirai and his officials accusing them of wanting to
illegally overthrow Mugabe.

      But the MDC has denied links with the ZFM or Hitschmann who was found
with the weapons saying the former soldier was in fact a member of the
police's special constabulary auxiliary unit.

      Chamisa yesterday said the government also wanted to use the weapons
discovery to arrest prominent figures of Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC and
scuttle its congress which the opposition leader hopes to use to galvanise
his supporters for what he has said shall be a programme of popular
resistance against Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

      The congress is schedule to take place on March 17 and 18.

      The MDC split into two rival camps after Tsvangirai differed with
other senior leaders over whether to participate in last November's
controversial senate election. Tsvangirai opposed participation saying the
election would be rigged by the government.

      But his deputy Gibson Sibanda and secretary general Welshman Ncube and
other senior leaders wanted to contest saying boycotting would be to
surrender political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF. Sibanda, Ncube and their
supporters have since appointed prominent academic, Arthur Mutambara, to
lead their faction which also calls itself the MDC.

      Meanwhile, the police have been granted permission by the courts to
keep Mutsekwa, James and other MDC officials in detention beyond the 48
hours allowed under the law before a suspect must be brought to court.

      Sources said the police were hoping to bring the MDC officials to
court either tomorrow or on Monday. - ZimOnline

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US lumps Zimbabwe among worst dictatorships

Zim Online

Fri 10 March 2006

      HARARE - The United States Department of State has listed Zimbabwe
among the worst dictatorships in the world that trample on human rights and
whose rulers are accountable to no one.

      In its 2005 Human Rights Country Report made available to ZimOnline on
Thursday, the Department grouped Zimbabwe among some of the world's most
notorious dictatorships such as the reclusive communist state of North
Korea, Burma, Iran, Cuba, Belarus and China.

       "In Zimbabwe, the government maintained a steady assault on human
dignity and basic freedoms, tightening its hold on civil society and human
rights NGOs and manipulating the March parliamentary elections," the
Department said.

      But officials in Harare rejected criticism from the US saying the
world's sole superpower was itself guilty of trampling on the rights of
weaker nations and of the black section of its population.

      Zimbabwe State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said Washington had
caused an illegal war in Iraq and continued unlawfully occupying that
country. The Zimbabwean official also accused President George W Bush of
having "looked aside while blacks were being swept to death" by Hurricane
Katrina in New Orleans.

      Zimbabwe rejects criticism of its controversial policies by the US and
other Western nations that it accuses of mounting a global campaign to
demonise it as punishment for seizing land from white farmers for
redistribution to landless blacks.

      The US, European Union, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have
imposed targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his officials
for allegedly stealing elections, failure to uphold human rights, the rule
of law and also seizing privately white-owned farms without paying

       The State Department said the Harare government has continued to defy
pressure on it to embrace democracy and has instead continued persecuting
political opponents and forcibly shutting down critical newspapers.

      It said: "The Zimbabwean government arrested persons who criticised
President (Robert) Mugabe, harassed and arbitrarily detained journalists,
closed independent newspapers, forcibly dispersed demonstrators, and
arrested and detained opposition leaders and their supporters."

      The Department also criticised Mugabe's government for amending
Zimbabwe's Constitution to virtually nationalise all farmland by banning
citizens from contesting in court the seizure of their property by the

      Washington said Harare's controversial urban clean-up campaign last
year had further weakened and strained Zimbabwe's limping economy.

      At least 700 000 people were left without homes and means of
livelihood after the government demolished shantytowns, informal business
kiosks in an urban renewal drive that Mugabe said was necessary to smash
crime and restore the beauty of Zimbabwe's cities and towns.

      Another 2.4 million people were said to have been indirectly affected
by the slum clearing exercise, according to a report by the United Nations.

       Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis that has spawned
shortages of food, fuel, electricity, essential medical, drugs and just
about every basic survival commodity.

      Critics blame the crisis on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe,
especially his farm seizure programme that destabilised the mainstay
agricultural sector causing a 60 percent drop in food production.

      Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain 25 years
ago denies ruining the country's economy and instead blames its problems on
sabotage by Western nations opposed to his seizure of land from whites for
redistribution to landless blacks. - ZimOnline

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State media ordered to black out MDC faction leader

Zim Online

Fri 10 March 2006

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's chief press secretary, George
Charamba, has directed state media editors to black out former student
activist and now an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
leader Arthur Mutambara, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Charamba, who has been accused before of interfering with editorial
affairs at the government newspapers and at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation, is said to have instructed that Mutambara be mentioned only
when it was extremely necessary to do so such as when he dies or is

      Mutambara, a radical student leader during his days at the University
of Zimbabwe, was two weeks ago elected president of a faction of the MDC
opposed to founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      "Mutambara is history. We were told not to write anything about him
unless it is extremely necessary such as when he is arrested or dead," said
a senior journalist at the Herald newspaper, which is the country's largest
daily paper and the flagship of the government's vast Zimbabwe Newspapers

      The journalist, who did not want to be named for fear of
victimisation, said the order to black out Mutambara was communicated to
Herald reporters at a meeting held at the paper's Harare offices last

      The instruction has in the last few days also been communicated to
journalists at other state papers and at the ZBH.

      According to the Herald journalist before Charamba's latest
instruction, Mutambara and his camp of the MDC had been treated in a
generally "friendly manner" by state media and also given better coverage
than the opposition faction led by Tsvangirai.

      "This (Charamba's order) marks a shift in government policy because
Mutambara and his camp have of late been a darling of the government and
ZANU PF. We were printing all statements from their information and
publicity department without even asking questions."

      Charamba was not immediately available for comment on the matter as he
was unreachable on his mobile phone for the better part of yesterday while
his secretary maintained that he was out of the office on government

      The government media, known for demonising opposition leaders who it
regularly refers to as agents of the West, had relatively appeared less
hostile to the faction of the MDC that was led by secretary general Welshman
Ncube and vice-president Gibson Sibanda before the election of Mutambara.

      But Mutambara's vow during his acceptance speech when he was elected
that he would fight with every "tooth, claw and nail" to remove Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU PF party from power appeared to have forced a review of how
his camp is treated by the government media. - ZimOnline

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Fugitive judge slapped with three year jail sentence

Zim Online

Fri 10 March 2006

      HARARE - Fugitive Zimbabwe High Court Judge Benjamin Paradza was on
Thursday sentenced in absentia to three years in jail following his
conviction earlier this year on two counts of corruption.

      Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe suspended one year of the sentence for a
period of five years on condition that the run-away judge does not commit a
similar offence during the suspension.

      Mutambanengwe, a retired Zimbabwe High Court judge and now a member of
the Namibian Supreme Court bench who was specially appointed to hear
Paradza's case, said the fugitive judge's involvement in corruption had
tarnished the image of his colleagues.

      He said: "He was a judge looked upon to set an example of integrity
and incorruptibility but by his conduct he has brought the whole judges in
Zimbabwe into disrepute. He did what he did for personal gain. A prison
sentence is the only penalty that will send a warning to like-minded members
of the bench."

      Paradza skipped bail while awaiting sentence after his January
conviction on two counts of attempting to defeat the course of justice by
coaxing two judges to release a passport of his business partner who was
facing murder charges.

      The judge's business partner, Russell Labuschagne, was at the time on
bail after his arrest for murdering an alleged fish-poacher at his fish farm
in Zimbabwe's northern Binga district. Labuschagne, whose passport had been
seized by the state as part of his bail conditions, was subsequently jailed
for 15 years for the murder.

      Paradza wanted the passport released so Labuschagne could travel
overseas to scout for hunting business with the judge standing to gain U$60
000 from the business.

      The disgraced Paradza is said to be hiding in the United Kingdom.

      His lawyers yesterday said they had no instructions from him to appeal
against the sentence.

      Paradza is the first serving Zimbabwean judge to be convicted of crime
and he is also the first accused in the country since independence 25 years
ago to be sentenced in absentia.

      Zimbabwe's Constitution and the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act
accord an accused the right to be present before sentencing and to make
submissions in mitigation.

      But Mutambanengwe earlier this week ruled that Paradza had forfeited
that right by fleeing from justice. -  ZimOnline

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10 held over arms find as Zim claims coup plot

Cape Argus

      March 9, 2006

      Ten people, including a prominent white former opposition MP and a
sitting MP, have been arrested in Zimbabwe after police said they had
uncovered an arms cache, a state newspaper reports today.

      The prominent opposition activists include former MP Roy Bennett, who
served eight months in jail after parliament found him guilty of pushing the
justice minister to the floor during a heated debate on the land issue
during 2004, the government mouthpiece the Herald reported.

      MP Giles Mutseyekwa of the Movement for Democratic Change opposition
group, who is the party's shadow defence minister, was also arrested after
police said they had found the weapons in the eastern city of Mutare on

      "Our investigations are still continuing, with police following some
of the possible leads," senior assistant police commissioner Ronald
Muderedzwa was quoted as saying by the Herald.

      On the day of the alleged find, security agents arrested a man
identified as Mike Peter Hitschmann, whom they described as a member of a
shadowy organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM).

      Investigators said Hitschmann had claimed to have been working with
former members of the Rhodesian forces now serving in Zimbabwe's military.

      State TV alleged the ZFM had arms stashed at locations around the
country and planned to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's government.

      State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa threatened to physically
"eliminate" political opponents seeking to overthrow the government after
the discovery.

      Police also arrested Brian James, MDC treasurer for Manicaland
province, youth chairman Knowledge Nyamhuka and opposition activist Thando
Sibanda as the probe into the arms find continued.
      The MDC has denied any links to Hitschmann and says he is a member of
the police reserves. - Sapa-AFP, Reuters

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Zim lawyers still have no access to clients


          March 09 2006 at 04:10PM

      Harare - Lawyers for a group of men arrested after the discovery of an
arms cache in Zimbabwe's eastern city of Mutare were on Thursday still
waiting for access to their clients, one of the lawyers said.

      "We're still waiting to get access to the accused," said Tafadzwa

      Mugabe and his team travelled to Mutare from Harare on Wednesday
following news of the arrests.

      The lawyer said it was not immediately clear how many people had been

      "We can't really say who's there and who's not," he said.

      The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Thursday that a total
of 10 men had been arrested, including former opposition legislator Roy
Bennett. But state radio says only six have been arrested.

      Bennett's wife, Heather, said that as of Thursday morning her husband
had not been arrested.

      "He hasn't been arrested," Heather Bennett said in a telephone
interview. "He's in a meeting with his lawyers."

      Those known to be in custody are Michael Peter Hitschmann, at whose
home in Mutare's Tiger Kloof suburb the arms were found; Brian James, a
local treasurer for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC);
Thando Sibanda, an MDC activist and Knowledge Nyamhuka, the MDC provincial
youth chairman.

      MDC legislator Giles Mutsekwa was also arrested on Wednesday in Harare
and has been transferred to Mutare, reports said. More arrests appear

      A police spokesperson said the men were linked to a shadowy group
called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, which he alleged was the military wing
of the MDC.

      "Their objectives among with others are to institute regime change in
Zimbabwe and to reverse the land reform programme gains to create a
conducive environment for alleged democratic processes for Zimbabwe; to
identify and eliminate high-profile targets of the state," spokesman Ronald
Muderedzwa told state radio.

      But an opposition spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, has denied the party
has any links with a person or group wanting to bring about change in
Zimbabwe "through the barrel of the gun." - Sapa-dpa

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Peter Tatchell distances himself from 'coup plotters'

      By Lance Guma
      09 March 2006

      Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has distanced himself from the
Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM), a group he initially represented as
spokesperson in 2003. The ZFM was an organisation that many observers felt
did not actually exist and was part of a publicity charade. But the
government is now saying the group is implicated in the 'discovery' of arms
of war in Mutare. Several opposition figures have since been arrested on the
pretext they are involved in the planned use of these weapons.

      Tatchell, a radical campaigner who was once assaulted by Robert Mugabe's
bodyguards after trying to effect a citizens arrest, says he only helped the
group launch their statement to the media but had since cut off contact with
them. He accused the government of deliberately trying to resurrect an old
conspiracy theory so as to undermine the opposition. When the ZFM launched
itself in 2003 the government dismissed the group as non-existent but
Tatchell says they can't turn around and acknowledge their existence when it
suits them.

      He says the majority of Zimbabweans are aware the MDC is a
peace-loving opposition and will not be fooled by the latest gimmick.
Pressed on whether the launch of the ZFM itself was a publicity stunt on his
part, Tatchell denied this was the case. He believes he has been a
consistent critic of Mugabe and would not need to resort to such tactics.
The group, which he says is based in Zimbabwe, approached him for help in
distributing their statement and he made it clear to them this would be a
'one-off' involvement on his part.

      Tatchell says Zimbabweans are the best people to solve their own
problems and as a foreigner he could not set out his own agenda for
resolving the country's crisis.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Bennett, Mutsekwa Among Top MDC Suspects Being Questioned

The Herald (Harare)

March 9, 2006
Posted to the web March 9, 2006

Caesar Zvayi And Cletus Mushanawani

TOP MDC officials -- including Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa and former
Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett -- were arrested yesterday over the arms cache
found in Mutare.

Mutsekwa is MDC shadow minister for defence.

MDC Manicaland provincial treasurer Brian James, a white farmer whose name
was not given and another suspect were among those arrested.

Ex-Rhodesian soldier Peter Hitschmann, who was arrested in Mutare on Monday,
reportedly implicated the three, all of whom have links with the former
Rhodesian forces.

Mutsekwa, Bennett and James are aligned to the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC

Hitschmann was arrested together with the MDC Manicaland provincial youth
chairman Knowledge Nyamhuka, who has had several brushes with the law in the

Another MDC activist, Thando Sibanda, was arrested when police picked up
Hitschmann, who was under surveillance for the past year.

Officer Commanding Manicaland Province Senior Assistant Commissioner Ronald
Muderedzwa said police had arrested six other people in connection with the
arms cache.

"Our investigations are continuing with police following some of the
possible leads. I am not in a position to disclose their names for security
reasons. We will leave no stone unturned to bring to book all saboteurs," he

Snr Asst Comm Muderedzwa said the suspects were linked to the so-called
Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, a shadowy group of ex-Rhodesians.

The group claims to have members within the law enforcement agencies, and
drawn from ex-Rhodesians and war veterans.

The cabal is alleged to have come up with a list of targeted individuals
whom it wanted to eliminate and consequently cause confusion and mayhem in
the country.

Snr Asst Comm Muderedzwa said police were investigating the group's claims
that it had other bases in Masvingo, Gweru and Bulawayo. Mutare had been
used as the group's headquarters.

A high-powered 600cc motorbike -- registration number 43CD90 -- was
discovered hidden at Hitschmann's home.

43CD is the number of the Italian Embassy in Harare, and police believe
Hitschmann used the motorbike with diplomatic plates to ease his movements
to and from Chimoio in Mozambique, where the so-called Zimbabwe Freedom
Movement has a bank account.

There was no one at the embassy who could comment yesterday.

Police discovered two fresh elephant tusks at Hitschmann's home. He was
active in the wildlife movement, working at Cecil Kop Park in Mutare, where
he was employed by the Zimbabwe Wildlife Society. It is suspected that he
could have abused his position to poach game elsewhere.

Yesterday Hitschmann refused to comment, saying he was too tired after the
intensive interrogation he had gone through over the past two days.

"I am not in a position to give details right now. It is all in the report
that I have written for the police. If you come tomorrow when I am fresh, I
can talk to you, not now," he said before closing his eyes as if to
dramatise his fatigue.

Asked for comment, the Minister of State for National Security, Cde Didymus
Mutasa, yesterday said investigations had reached an advanced stage and the
results would soon be made public.

The minister noted with concern the destabilisation intrigues of some former
Rhodesians who were working in cahoots with some misguided elements in
Zimbabwe, warning those intent on assuming power through undemocratic and
unlawful means that they would face the full wrath of the law.

"It is only Zimbabweans who can determine their political destiny through a
sound electoral processes.

"So those still pledging their allegiance to Ian Smith and his stooges
should note that the whole issue of stocking arms for subversive and
destabilising purposes is a wasted effort as this country has the means and
capacity to defend itself from enemies both internal and external," said Cde

The cache -- recovered at 33 Arcadia Road, Tiger's Kloof, in Mutare -- 

l one AK47 assault rifle with a folding butt;

l four FN rifles;

l seven Uzi carbines;

l four Lee Enfield .303 rifles with telescopic sights;

l 11 shotguns;

l six CZ pistols;

l four revolvers;

l a Siemens radio communication system, including a base station and
hand-held radios;

l thousands of rounds of ammunition;

l tearsmoke canisters; and

l 20 flares.

Hitschmann was arrested on Monday at Nando's Chicken takeaway in the company
of Sibanda, an MDC activist who is also a former member of the police
special constabulary, and Nyamhuka, the MDC provincial youth chairman for

Hitschmann is believed to have recruited former members of the Rhodesian
army and police force -- some of whom are senior members of the MDC and
former MPs -- to work towards the opposition party's agenda of illegal
regime change in Zimbabwe.

Some of those reportedly recruited are ex-Rhodesian servicemen who are still
serving in the army and the police.

Police suspect that the so-called Zimbabwe Freedom Movement intended to
target for elimination the remaining white farmers, top Zanu-PF and
Government officials, and business leaders to lend credence to opposition
claims that Zimbabwe was a failed state where anarchy reigned supreme, in
the hope of bringing about foreign intervention and consequent illegal
regime change.

Police also suspect that the group had planned to justify its existence to
the donor community by destabilising the 21st February Movement celebrations
held in Mutare's Sakubva Stadium on February 25, by throwing teargas
canisters and grenades into the venue.

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The lion's share

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 9 March

While most of the world's tourists have been giving President Robert
Mugabe's Zimbabwe a miss for the last five years, nothing stops the hunters.
About 300 operators flooded into Harare last week from America, Britain,
South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe for the government's annual auction of
hunting concessions. They dress tough - lots of khaki and heavy studded
belts. They also drive tough - the car park outside the hotel was full of
bush-coloured 4 x 4s and Land Rovers with platforms and banks of spot lights
for night shooting. Some of the men are so tough they drank beer at morning
tea time, perhaps to brace themselves for having to put in bids in billions
of dollars. Zimbabwe dollars of course. The Zimbabwe government won't allow
any purchases of anything to be even quoted in foreign currency - something
to do with sovereignty. Desired Liaison Auctioneers, who conducted the
sales, were pleased with the outcome and hope by the end of this week to
have concluded purchases of all hunts for the coming season. In the first
round they took US$1.9 million or Z$155 billion at the official exchange
rate. They sold a lion for a hunt in the Zambezi Valley for US$40,000.
ccording to local hunters only Americans want to shoot African cats - lions,
leopards and cheetahs. Locals don't want to shoot Zimbabwe's cats as there
are so few left. Most in-the-know locals say that the Zimbabwe government's
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, which runs the hunts, tries to do a
good job in the face of extraordinary economic hardships. The sale was
conducted in the Harare Sheraton, which from the end of this month has to be
renamed as the "Sheraton" licence has expired and there is no foreign
currency to renew it.

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Zim official in plea against 560% power tariff hike

Cape Argus

      March 9, 2006

      Zimbabwe's central bank governor has asked the government not to hike
power tariffs by 560 percent in one go, saying the move would wreak havoc on
firms already struggling to survive in a moribund economy.

      Gideon Gono told the government in a memorandum received by AFP
yesterday that the hike which was recommended by the cabinet should be
cascaded with quarterly increases of 95 percent and a final increase of 70

      "The proposal seeks to preserve the decision already taken by cabinet,
at the same time supporting the economy's overall objective to vigorously
fight inflation through containment of precipitous cost escalations to
producers and consumers," Gono said.

      "The phased framework will have a more favourable signalling effect,
than would be the case if we move on the basis of the big-bang approach
which front-loads the realignment factor by 560 percent on one go," he said.

      Zimbabwe's inflation rate is currently 613.2 percent but Gono has
warned that it could peak to 800 percent in March before receding to below
500 percent in June and dwindling to a double-digit figure in 2007.

      Its once-model economy has been on a downturn for the past five years,
characterised by runaway inflation and shortages of foreign currency and
basic commodities.

      Gono said if the 560 percent was imposed in a single shot, it would
have a "devastating effect" on other parastatals and major firms.

      He warned that the "shock-therapy way would drive into extinction ...
centre-pivot companies ... and major mining houses".

      The southern African country's power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity
Authority last hiked tariffs in 2003. Power outages are rampant across the

      Zimbabwe generates 65 percent of its power from hydro and thermal
generation whilst 35 percent is imported from South Africa, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Mozambique.- Sapa-AFP

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Mutambara appears on South African television

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      09 March 2006

      The new leader of Zimbabwe's pro-senate faction of the MDC, Professor
Arthur Mutambara, was interviewed on South African television Thursday. His
appearance on the independent etv network was well-received by analysts in
South Africa. Some said he may have more appeal to the international
community, as an intellectual equal to both President Thabo Mbeki and Robert
Mugabe. But intellect does not necessarily make for a good leader and it
remains to be seen how Mutambara will deal with the Zimbabwean crisis and
ZANU-PF, which has managed to hold onto power for nearly 3 decades. Mugabe
came to power as a respected leader worldwide but has managed to destroy
Zimbabwe in a short period of time.

      Tim Hughes of The South African Institute of International Affairs
said that on television Mutambara came off as being confident, intelligent
and pragmatic. He said: "I think what is interesting is that he has accepted
the de facto situation in Zimbabwe that land reform, however brutal, has
taken place, that Zimbabwe's economy is practically in free fall, and that
the senate is a fact of life too. So he has adopted a very pragmatic
position as well." Hughes added that Mutambara appears to be a clear thinker
who offers an alternative for the opposition in Zimbabwe.

      Hughes believes Mutambara has the potential to attract disaffected
ZANU-PF supporters and members of the politburo and cabinet. He said: "We
need not think about the opposition as a given vote that has simply been
divided. There are of course ZANU-PF votes to be collected in any election."
Hughes further explained that Mutambara's credibility could be attractive to
the inner circle of ZANU-PF, including the central committee, politburo,
those that are disaffected with ZANU-PF and Mugabe's leadership. He gave
Emmerson Mnangagwa as an example. As for rumours that Mutambara is a CIO
plant working for the government to destabilise the opposition, Hughes said
so far there is nothing he has done or said to indicate any such
possibilities. The etv interview did not deal with this issue.

      And as for the next step in this recent saga in the opposition, Hughes
said: "What remains to be seen is the degree to which the professor has
political savvy, and the degree to which he can withstand the type of
pressure that is going to be brought to bear against him by ZANU-PF, the
security forces and the intelligence operatives as well. It is going to be

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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'Finance Contract Wheat Farming'

The Herald (Harare)

March 9, 2006
Posted to the web March 9, 2006

Martin Kadzere

GOVERNMENT is inviting the corporate world to finance contract farming for
this season's winter wheat programme as the country seeks to boost
production of the cereal crop.

Agriculture Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday said corporates willing to
contract farmers should check with the Ministry of State for National
Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement to ensure whoever they
intended to contract was on a secured piece of land.

However, he said although they were opening the door to private sector
participation, wheat remained a controlled product.

"Wheat remains a controlled product besides the dispensation we are giving
them and companies should fully fund the production until harvesting," Dr
Made said.

The corporate world, he said, would be required to disclose the price which
they would be offering to the farmers under their contracts.

"We expect them to bring in their profits and not monies from the Reserve
Bank's productive funds."

Under the new arrangement, companies would also be required to regularly
provide information on the status of the crop to the ministry and the Grain
Marketing Board from planting to harvesting.

"After harvesting they (companies) must give information to the ministry
regarding where their crop is stored. This will avoid smuggling."

Agriculture analysts say the route taken by the Government would go a long
way in enhancing production and increased competition.

"It is a brilliant idea," University of Zimbabwe soil and science professor
Sheunesu Mupepereki said.

"It will help to reduce the black market and shortages as companies will be
able to contact farmers who will produce their requirements.

"It's a good recommendation," noted another, "but Government should not
completely pull out agriculture finance facilities.

Dr Made, however, said Government would continue providing fuel, seed and
essential chemicals to enhance production.

Although winter wheat has been a top priority for Government, targets might
be difficult to meet owing to an acute shortage of tillage services.

An official with the District Development Fund said only 312 tractors were
functioning out of the 1 000 required to offer effective tillage services

Wheat supplies have been erratic in recent years causing the price of bread
to rise to over $66 000 two weeks ago. Earlier this week bakers were
pressing for a further increase, which would see a loaf costing as much as
$90 000.

As a result declining productivity, Government has had to import the
shortfall at considerable expense to the fiscus.

The Reserve Bank is currently mobilising about US$170 million for the 110
000ha earmarked for winter wheat production this year.

The Zimbabwe Farmers' Union says if the 110 000ha was fully utilised, the
country would be in a position to produce about 500 000 tonnes of wheat
compared to 350 000 tonnes delivered last year.

Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes of wheat to meet national consumption

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Zim Lacks Adequate Resources for Waste Management:

The Herald (Harare)

March 9, 2006
Posted to the web March 9, 2006


ZIMBABWE still lacks adequate resources, capacity and effective awareness
mechanisms for proper waste management, a situation that has become a cause
for concern in the urban areas, Environment and Tourism Minister, Cde
Francis Nhema said yesterday.

Cde Nhema was speaking during the launch of the National Waste Management
Strategy Draft held on the Africa Environment Day commemorations.

He said there were many mechanisms that could be employed to deal with
various types of waste management although this has been hampered by several
factors, which include lack of awareness on simple disposal methods that
could be effected at household level.

Cde Nhema said lack of attention and focus on waste management has
particularly affected residents in the urban areas who have been exposed to
an unhealthy environment which have seen many succumb to diarrhoeal

The problem of waste management, which dominated Harare's priority list last
year, saw the city fathers setting aside over $20 billion to improve the
outlook of the main market, which had become an eyesore. "The Harare City
Council can not manage the work load on their own without the participation
of communities, the private sector and the civic organisations, which are an
important facet in making people conscious of the need to help deal with
waste at household or community level," Cde Nhema said.

He said his ministry saw the need to come up with a strategy document after
noticing that there was no holistic approach towards the matter.

"There is need for a holistic approach because waste management cuts across
the three pillars of sustainable development, namely the environment, social
and economic," he said.

Cde Nhema said after identifying the challenges, an investigation on how
waste was being managed in Harare alone revealed that about 166 000 tonnes
of waste is generated annually.

Only 48 000 tonnes is collected annually while the rest is normally left to
pose a health hazard or burnt in a reckless manner that further pollutes the

"It is important to note that it was due to lack of resources that saw the
city fathers battling to collect refuse. They had only 12 garbage collection
trucks instead of 60 that could have made the task done properly. There had
also not thought of engaging the ratepayers on other means they could employ
to help the situation. "

Cde Nhema said if enough attention was paid on waste management at household
level, 72 percent of the 166 000 tonnes of waste could have been either
recycled, reused or composted.

"If the private sector had also been involved by ensuring those who
manufacture products that would finally litter the city are made responsible
for their waste, the bulk of the waste could have been processed into other

He said this would in a big way help the City of Harare manage waste, an
obligation he said should not be left to them alone if the city is to meet
its socio-economic and environmental needs.

"The science, technology and research institutions also have a big role to
play in waste management as some of the waste could be dealt with
technologically to release usable energy or come up with certain types of
manure," Cde Nhema said.

He said science and technology institutions in some countries such as
Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa that ventured into this area of
development have realised immense benefits.

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Mining companies to meet government in Zimbabwe ownership threat

Metals Place

9 March 2006

Mining companies are to sit down in Harare with Zimbabwe's mining minister
Amos Midzi on March 13 in an attempt to find a compromise over the
controversial new government ownership plans that many fear may kill the

Government officials rocked mining companies when it announced plans for a
new bill that would see the state take over 51% control of all mining
operations without a cent changing hands. 25% would be obtained on a
so-called "free interest" or non-contributory basis and the remaining 26%
would be paid by future dividends. "We are not going to give up and are
unlikely to do so while there is still room for discussion," said Greg
Sebborn, the chief executive officer of Zimplats, one of the country's
largest mining investors.

Sebborn also confirmed that his company's investments, backed by South
African-based Impala Platinum, were covered by two specific agreements. The
first was drawn up in the mid-1990s when Zimplats invested in the Hartley
Platinum Project, and the second came in 2000 when Implats invested in the
Zimbabwean operations. Both agreements had government signatures and the
latter held the signature of the South African Reserve Bank, he said.

"There is a lot we can do as a company if these agreements are breached, but
we would not like to discuss that right now. All we can say is that we hope
these agreements are honoured," said Sebborn.

The Zimbawean Chamber of Mines will also be at the talks on Monday to
present the mining industry's objections to the proposed new bill. David
Mungari, the COM President, said from Harare: "Frankly, we think there are
many improvements needed in these proposals and we have to talk some more."
Asked about the agreements protecting investors, Mungari said: "This is one
of the things we need to have clarified for us on Monday. We would like to
think that these agreements would be honoured." Economists fear that the
proposals could deter investors from sinking their money in mining in
Zimbabwe and that some projects could be put on hold.

Zimplats confirmed today that its $70 million project to create new
underground portals at its Ngezi site is carrying on regardless of the
furore in Harare. But Sebborn admitted that the company would think very
hard about a proposed expansion of production in May from 85,000 to 145,000
oz/year. The parent company, Implats, estimates that there is 160 million oz
of platinum in the ground in Zimbabwe, enough to support an operation for
more than half a century. The Zimbabwean minister for mining was unavailable
for comment.

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PUMA revisits Gukurahundi

      March 9, 2006

      By George Nyathi

      Bulawayo (AND) The recently launched Patriotic Union of Matabeleland
(PUMA) says it will push government into establishing what it called a Truth
and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) over the 1987 Matabeleland and Midlands
atrocities committed by the Fifth Brigade.

      According to documents availed to AND Network, the political party
said that there was need for the establishment of the TRC as this would help
come up with a real picture of what transpired then as a move to bring peace
between the victims and the perpetrators.

      In the documents, the party said there were conflicting figures of the
numbers of the people who died, hence the establishment of the TRC would
assist government in determining the extent of the atrocities. "We believe
that there is need to set up the commission where the perpetrators and the
victims would come together and seek to pave the way forward.

      We believe that this is a platform where the healing process would
actually start and there would be peace in the region," read part of the
document. PUMA added that it believed thousands of people, especially
children born at independence in 1980 were failing to access identity cards
and other important particulars as these required full information about
both parents to the child.

      We have hundreds of thousands of students roaming the streets because
they do not have birth certificates and other important documents. We
believe that the commission would then have the task of establishing the
whereabouts of some of these children's parents so that they are able to get
these requisite documents," added the documents.


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