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Tsvangirai faction invites rivals to congress

Zim Online

Thu 16 March 2006

      HARARE - A faction of Zimbabwe's splintered opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai has invited his
former deputy Gibson Sibanda and secretary general Welshman Ncube to its
congress next weekend.

      Sibanda, Ncube and other senior leaders - who have since chosen former
student activist Arthur Mutambara as their new leader - broke ranks with
Tsvangirai last year in a move analysts say has weakened the MDC in its
drive to unseat President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

      The spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC, Nelson Chamisa,
told ZimOnline that they had written to Ncube, Sibanda and other officials
of their faction inviting them to attend the congress scheduled to take
place from March 18 to 19.

      He said: "We have written to Sibanda and Ncube advising them that the
congress of the MDC they were instrumental in forming takes place at the
weekend . . . it will give them the opportunity to express any complaints
they have with other members of the party. So we expect them to attend just
like any other invited delegate."

      But it is highly unlikely that Sibanda and Ncube, who together with
Tsvangirai grew the MDC over six years into the most vibrant Zimbabwean
opposition party ever, will take up the invitations, which their spokesman
Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday described as "nothing serious".

      "I personally have not seen the invitations but I have heard that is
what has happened. I think it's just a hoax and nothing serious," Nyathi
told ZimOnline.

      The Ncube/Sibanda faction held its own congress last month at which
Mutambara was elected.

      Tsvangirai was not invited to the congress although Mutambara - a
firebrand student leader during his days at the University of Zimbabwe and
now a prominent academic and businessman - paid homage to the MDC founder,
describing him as a hero of Zimbabwe's struggle for democracy.

      Political analysts are unanimous that a reorganised and united MDC
with Tsvangirai, Sibanda, Ncube and Mutambara at the top would be a
formidable force that Mugabe and his feared military would find hard to keep
at bay.

      But many do not see a unity pact bringing together Zimbabwe's leading
opposition figures anytime soon to confront Mugabe and ZANU PF who have
ruled the country since independence from Britain 25 years ago.

      Instead, analysts see Mugabe taking advantage of a weakened and
bickering opposition movement to strengthen his hold on power.

      Differences that had simmered between Tsvangirai and other leaders
over how to unseat Mugabe and ZANU PF boiled over when the MDC leaders could
not agree on whether to contest last November's senate election.

      Tsvangirai opposed participation in the election saying it would be
rigged by Mugabe's government and also criticised the poll saying it was a
waste of resources for a nation facing severe hunger.

      Sibanda, Ncube and others disagreed, saying the MDC should contest the
election after its national council voted for it to do so. They also accused
Tsvangirai of dictatorial tendencies by seeking to go against the council
vote. The Sibanda group also argued that it would be unwise to donate
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate poll.

      This weekend's congress by Tsvangirai's faction is expected to
formally seal the breaking up of the MDC into two rival political parties
with a possibility of a messy and prolonged battle in the courts over the
opposition party's popular brand name, open palm symbol and assets. -

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Mission impossible for Zimbabwe bank governor as Mugabe eyes stake in mines

Zim Online

Thu 16 March 2006

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's chief economic fixer, Gideon Gono,
is a man on a mission impossible, hampered in his quest to revive Zimbabwe's
economy by the veteran President's penchant for populism such as his latest
programme to seize stake in private mines.

      Government insiders say Gono - a suave businessman seen as a lone
voice of reason in Mugabe's government - only accepted the post of governor
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) at the end of 2003 after firm
assurance from the President that he would get the independence and support
to ensure the country's economic revival.

      Just two years down analysts and observers say Gono, who vowed when he
took over at the RBZ that failure was not an option, is a frustrated man as
opposition to his market-oriented policies grows among Mugabe's hawkish
ministers while the President appears not too keen to shield him.

      "To a very large extent he is fighting a losing battle. In whatever he
is trying to do he has no freedom," James Jowa, an economist with a Harare
financial institution said.

      "The context in which he is working is not conducive for a revival of
the economy. He is being frustrated and whatever he decides has to be
implemented by politicians," added Jowa.

      Analysts said the latest set back for Gono was the government's
proposal to expropriate 25 percent of existing and future foreign mines.

      The proposed new law announced by hawkish Mines Minister Amos Midzi
alarmed the world and even Gono - normally circumspect where it involves
difference with his principal in the government - publicly admitted the new
law could undo all he has strived to achieve.

      The RBZ chief told state media the new mines law was a hot issue
during discussions between himself and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
last week which ended with the global lender refusing to resume assistance
to the southern African nation.

      Gono said there was a great risk that Zimbabwe's "investment landscape
will forever be damaged, much to the detriment of the country's (economic)
turnaround programme and its ideals" if the government forged ahead with its
controversial mining policies.

      He cautioned that the government or its local protégés in the business
community could not just seize stake in private investments but should first
raise enough hard cash to pay for such shareholding.

      But this appears more like wishful thinking on Gono's part if one
considers that a 15 percent stake in Zimbabwe Platinum Mines reserved for
locals six years ago still has no takers because indigenous business groups
do not have the foreign currency.

      And analysts are quick to point out that Mugabe and his Cabinet have
in the past ignored Gono's wise advice to remove subsidies to
underperforming state firms, or his plea to halt farm invasions still taking
place in support of the government's controversial land reforms.

      Gono has branded those seizing land afresh saboteurs whose actions
were hurting economic recovery but Mugabe - who with the click of the finger
can stop farm invasions - has remained largely aloof to the central banker's

      In the latest move, Midzi circulated a draft law which he said was
approved by Mugabe's Cabinet, allowing the government free access to 25
percent of foreign mining firms and paying for another 26 percent over five
years to achieve controlling stake.

      "This is a continuation of the policies that we have seen since 2000
where the government fails to respect the rule of law and property rights,"
John Robertson, Harare based economist said.

      "Such policies belie any efforts by Gono. He should really be
frustrated there is no support from government, which is undoing anything
positive he has achieved," he said.

      Analysts said it was likely the government will favour its cronies
when awarding tenders to indigenous groups to take shares in the foreign
mines, much against the spirit of the government's empowerment dream meant
to benefit all blacks.

      "This mining legislation is an extension of the government's patronage
system we have seen over the years. It is intensifying and so far assets
taken by the government like land have not been distributed in a transparent
manner and there is no indication it will be done right with the mines,"
Jowa said.

      Gono's five-year term will end in December 2008 and analysts say
without bold reforms, the country's top banker will be a frustrated man
presiding over an economy worse than when he started in 2003. - ZimOnline

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UN condemns Botswana's treatment of Zimbabweans

Zim Online

Thu 16 March 2006

      GABORONE - The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) has condemned the Botswana government for ill-treating
immigrants, particularly tens of thousands of Zimbabweans living in that
country after fleeing home because of hunger and political violence.

      In a report released last week but made available to ZimOnline
yesterday, the CERD decried what it called "growing hostility" by Botswana
towards Zimbabweans and accused authorities in Gaborone of attempting to
conceal abuse of immigrants by its security and immigration agents.

      The CERD is an independent body that monitors UN member states'
compliance with various international conventions on the elimination of all
forms of racial or ethnic discrimination.

      It said in its report issued on March 6: "We are concerned by
information according to which there is growing hostility against
undocumented immigrants in Botswana, in particular, Zimbabweans."

      The anti-racism group criticised Gaborone for providing its delegation
with insufficient information on allegations of maltreatment of immigrants
by state agents, particularly policemen.

      Zimbabwe has in the past accused Botswana of ill-treating its
nationals visiting that country but this is the first time that an
international organisation is doing so.

      In one case that attracted much media attention last December, seven
Botswana soldiers and policemen allegedly forced a group of illegal
immigrants from Zimbabwe to have unprotected sex as punishment for breaking
the country's immigration laws. The security men are awaiting trial for the
alleged offence.

      It was not possible to immediately get comment from Botswana's Justice
or Foreign Affairs ministry on the criticism levelled against Gaborone by
the CERD. Gaborone has however in the past denied targeting Zimbabweans for

      But one of Botswana's biggest human rights groups, Ditshwanelo,
welcomed the CERD statement and said instead of harassing immigrants, the
Gaborone administration should rather be doing much more to help resolve
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis that was responsible for the influx
of refugees from that country.

      The influx of immigrants from Zimbabwe has strained relations with
Botswana although both countries officially deny this. - ZimOnline

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Magistrate frees MDC activists

Zim Online

Thu 16 March 2006

      MUTARE - Zimbabwe magistrate Hosea Mujaya yesterday freed six
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party activists who were
being accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

      Mujaya said the state would have to proceed by way of summons against
MDC defence shadow minister Giles Mutsekwa and party activists, Knowledge
Nyamhuka, Edwin Chekutya, Tando Sibanda, Jerry Maguta and Peter Nzungu.

      State prosecutors consented to Mujaya's order.

      The magistrate however declined to free Peter Hitschmann at whose home
police say they found the weapons that were to be used to murder Mugabe
saying Hitschmann should apply for bail at the High Court.

      Policeman Wellington Tsuro also accused of wanting to assassinate
Mugabe was not freed because he had already taken up his case with the High
Court seeking the court to order his release. Mujaya said he could not
intervene in a matter before a superior court.

      The six men were arrested over the past week after state security
agents said they had discovered a cache of arms at Hitchsmann's Mutare home.
The state claimed Hitchsmann, a former soldier in the white army before
Zimbabwe's independence, had confessed plotting to kill Mugabe and overthrow
the government and said he had implicated the MDC activists.

      The MDC strongly denied links with Hitchsmann or the weapons allegedly
discovered at his home and dismissed the alleged plot to kill Mugabe as an
excuse by state agents to destabilise the opposition party.

      Meanwhile, sources in the police force told ZimOnline last night that
the law enforcement agency was still looking for leading MDC activist Roy
Bennett who they want to question in connection with the alleged plot to
kill Mugabe.

      Bennett's whereabouts are not clear with some reports suggesting he
had fled to South Africa after learning that the police wanted to arrest
him. But other sources say he is in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline

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MDC faction complains of media black-out

Zim Online

Thu 16 March 2006

      HARARE - A faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition party led by Arthur
Mutambara on Tuesday wrote to Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya
complaining about non-coverage of their activities by the state media.

      In a letter addressed to Jokonya, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
deputy secretary for information and publicity, Morgan Changamire, called on
the minister to intervene and "take corrective measures".

      "We are reliably informed by sources at the ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation) and Zimpapers that the Permanent Secretary in your Ministry has
imposed news embargo on the MDC led by Prof. Mutambara.

      "Public media are under instruction not to say anything about us
except when one of us is dead or arrested. This embargo is supported by the
'deafening' silence the public media have given to our activities," said the

      Jokonya could not be reached for comment on the matter.

      Last week, ZimOnline reported that President Robert Mugabe's press
secretary, George Charamba, had directed state media editors to black out
Mutambara. Charamba 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

      Zimbabwe's state media is rabidly anti-MDC which it says is a front
for Western governments opposed to Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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Left-wing Monster: Robert Mugabe

            By Michael Radu
   | March 14, 2006

            In comparison to Zimbabwe, neighboring Mozambique and Zambia,
once the far poorer countries, now look wealthy. South Africa and Botswana,
moderately successful by African standards, look like first-world countries.
Zimbabwe is becoming the most benighted sub-Saharan nation, the heart of
Africa's darkness and the soul of its shame. The death of this once-rich and
thriving country has been the lifetime project of its Dictator for Life,
Robert Mugabe.

            Other countries, especially in Africa, suffer from despotism.
But Mugabe's Zimbabwe is a special case. While he is as much a connoisseur
of everyday brutality as other dictators, only Mugabe, along with his
longstanding friend and supporter, North Korea's Kim Jong Il, has used
famine in his quest to bring his people to heel and wipe out all opposition.
As in the case of his North Korea brother in crime, he has made hunger a
weapon.  Over 4 million Zimbabweans--one third of the population--need food
aid. The country is afflicted by 70 percent unemployment, chronic fuel
shortages, and triple-digit inflation. The World Bank has described
Zimbabwe's economic situation as "unprecedented for a country not at war."

            This was not always the case. As recently as the mid-1970s,
Zimbabwe--then Southern Rhodesia--was sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest
exporter of food, primarily wheat, maize, and tobacco, all of it grown on
large, white-owned (mostly Anglo but many Afrikaner) farms. But in 1979,
following a long civil war, blacks led by Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union (ZANU), supported by Maoist China and Castro and subsidized by the
European Left, seized power. As a result, life in the capital, Harare
(formerly Salisbury), and in Zimbabwe generally, began its long spiral
downward. Cleanliness disappeared and crime became a way of life as
apartheid-era Rhodesia, after a brief experiment with pluralism and open
politics, was replaced by Mugabe's tribal Shona dictatorship.

            The Making of a Tyrant

            Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born in 1924 at the Kutama Mission in
Zvimba, then Southern Rhodesia, only months after the country became a
British crown colony. Son of a peasant farmer and carpenter, he began his
education at a nearby Jesuit mission and then taught in various schools
while studying for certification to go on to the University of Fort Hare in
South Africa, from which he received a B.A. in English and History. He then
studied at Drifontein, Salisbury (now Harare), Gwelo, and Tanzania, and
eventually obtained by correspondence a bachelor's degree in economics from
the University of London. Next he began teaching in Accra, Ghana (1958-60),
where he met Sally Hayfron, his first wife.

            When Mugabe studied there, Fort Hare, which was paid for by
apartheid South Africa's white taxpayers, was the premier black university
of all English-speaking Africa, producing a number of famous African
leaders. At that institution Mugabe became radicalized, as did such future
"freedom presidents" as Tanzania's Julius Nyerere and Zambia's Kenneth
Kaunda and future rivals over absolute power in Rhodesia like Herbert
Chitep. Ghana, which at the time was under the rule of American-educated
Kwame Nkrumah, was also a center of anti-Western, "anti-imperialist"
propaganda. By the time Mugabe returned to Rhodesia in 1960, he was a
committed Leninist.

            The term "Leninist" is used purposefully. There is no indication
that Mugabe (or his colleagues, supporters, or mentors among the African
liberation movements leaders, such as Amilcar Cabral in Guine Bissao, Samora
Machel of Mozambique, and Sam Nujoma of Namibia) ever read Marx. If
anything, they perhaps read Lenin and Stalin's brief treatises on how to
take and keep power. One of Mugabe's colleagues in this regard is Mengistu
Haile Mariam, a briefly American-trained Ethiopian dictator and Stalin
emulator, who has been a guest of Mugabe's since 1991, while he faces
charges of crimes against humanity in Ethiopia, whose government has been
seeking his extradition.

            The Zimbabwe liberation movements of the 1970s--primarily Mugabe's
ZANU and  its competitor ZAPU (Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's
Union)--had a confused history of idealistic rhetoric, Marxism-Leninism, and
systematic atrocities. They were encouraged by Western liberals and provided
safe havens across Rhodesia's borders with Mozambique (which supported ZANU)
and Zambia (sponsoring ZAPU). In the larger scheme of things, Moscow helped
ZAPU and China supported ZANU. In fact, the two movements, militarily
ineffective as they were against the (mostly black) Rhodesian military, were
fundamentally instruments of the ethnic/tribal bosses of the country's two
main ethnic groups: the majority Shona for ZANU and ZAPU for the minority
Ndebele, close relatives of South Africa's Zulus. Marxism Leninism was a
cover for political ambition.

            Mugabe's ZANU was always the more violent and racially minded of
the two organizations. The movement's inner dynamics worked in favor Robert
Mugabe, who in the 70s was the least talented, least well-known, but most
ruthless ZANU leader.  His early opponents were the relatively more moderate
Sithole and Herbert Chitepo. The first was defeated by Mugabe in a
leadership struggle in 1974, the latter was killed in Zambia the following
year. His killing remains an unsolved mystery, but Mugabe was clearly the

            By 1979 the choice in Rhodesia was no longer between a white
minority regime or a majority black one allied with the whites. It was
between several competing radical black groups--this despite the fact that
black moderates under Bishop Muzorewa were already in government and allied
with the white minority that produced and controlled most of Southern
Rhodesia's wealth. Against them were pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese radical
groups that, although they had won neither on the military battlefield nor
in the realm public opinion, had the backing of London and Washington.

            The argument was that Muzorewa's alliance with the white
minority somehow made him insufficiently "democratic," and that only the
basically tribal revolutionary organizations like ZANU and ZAPU would be
able to govern. Numbers (and ZANU's open intimidation of voters) ultimately
counted, and Mugabe won the elections in 1980, which resulted in ZANU's
gaining 63 percent of the vote and 57 seats, while Nkomo's  ZAPU won 20
seats. The whites, guaranteed 20 seats, gave them all of the Rhodesian Front
of former prime minister Ian Smith. The black voters, threatened by the
armed thugs of the "liberation movements," inevitably and wisely chose to
support the perceived winners: those very same groups. It was a classic
example of the "one man, one vote, one time" pattern widespread in Africa
then and since.

            Dictator for Life

            Once in power as prime minister, Mugabe allowed no opposition.
First he pushed Nkomo aside. Then in 1982, using militias trained by North
Korea, he crushed ZAPU's military arm, destroying entire Ndebele villages in
the process. In 1987 the position of prime minister was abolished, and
Mugabe assumed the new office of executive president, gaining additional
powers. He was reelected in 1990 and 1996, and, by open fraud, in 2002. Most
of his supporters, including illiterate Shona peasants, voted for him out of
a well-founded fear: The government was not above conditioning deliveries of
outside food aid on political loyalty.

            In this way, Mugabe and ZANU quickly consolidated absolute power
in the newly named Zimbabwe. They have used that authority to concentrate
all political power in the ruler and economic power with his family and
tribal clique, and to openly promote anti-white racism, anti-capitalism and,
in foreign affairs, the pursuit of "anti-imperialist" (anti-Western) goals.
As the Economist put it, "Mugabe feels safer when whites and white-collar
blacks leave the country; then they cannot vote. He pushes them out in
various ways. Employing thugs to break their fingers is one. Confiscating
private property is another. But he also uses more subtle techniques. For
example, in May 2004, his government ordered the country's private schools
to reduce their fees or close. Armed police were sent to enforce the edict,
so most schools complied. Given rapidly rising costs, this guarantees that
standards will fall, which will prompt more middle-class parents to

            Around 1990, Mugabe took his secretary Grace Marufu, 40 years
his junior, as a second wife (his first wife would die two years later). The
marriage was a strange one, entered into under a traditional African law
which allows a junior wife. Grace is infamous for her influence on her
husband and for her family's voracious takeovers of former white farms.

            Mugabe pressured the local Catholic hierarchy to celebrate his
marriage with a nuptial mass. But on social policy, Mugabe has evolved into
a rabid enemy of the Catholic Church, or indeed any Christian church, and a
persecutor of homosexuals. Ironically, in the past Mugabe himself had been
accused of being a homosexual by South African and Rhodesian intelligence

            Stalinist economics and the war against the whites

            From the start, Mugabe was against the whites. He began by
changing laws so as to deny citizenship to whites (always less than 5
percent of the population) such as the Salisbury-born former commander of
Rhodesia's military, Gen. Peter Walls. Whites' guaranteed parliamentary
seats were taken away, and their remaining MPs, including most prominently
Ian Smith, were harassed, isolated, and sometimes denied passports.
Following an interview with Ian Smith, in fact, this author was briefly
detained in Harare in 1984 and expelled to South Africa. No credible
explanations were given.

            As long as the apartheid regime lasted in neighboring South
Africa, Mugabe had to tread carefully, considering his country's reliance on
South African trade and energy.  But these constraints  disappeared when
majority rule came to Pretoria in 1994 where Mugabe's abuses against whites
are now tolerated, if not overtly encouraged.

            The source of Mugabe's anti-white bigotry is not difficult to
discern. About 4,000 white farmers, some of whom had been established in the
country for generations, produced the majority of the country's consumer
foods and all its agricultural and industrial exports. White-owned farms
were an attractive prey for his own family and political clique, as well as
an opportunity for political demagoguery.  By 2006, there were only 200
left, and those were literally under siege.

            Beyond his longstanding racial animosity, Mugabe's main problem
with whites is political and ideological. Politically, he has to satisfy his
own Shona clique's desire for the land and wealth that had long been
concentrated in white hands (althougth only a few of the confiscated farms
were transferred to local peasants). While "land reform" was the pretext for
Mugabe's move, the reality was that most farms were transferred to a
parasitic clique around the president. Tens of thousands of black farm
employees were left unemployed, and the state lost most of its tax and
export revenues.

            Ideologically, the whites initially represented "the
bourgeoisie," Mugabe's equivalent of Stalin's "class enemies." As he stated
five years ago, "As a collectivity, they [white farmers] are a natural
fissure and beachhead for the retention or re-launch of British and European
influence and control over our body politic." That is also the reason why
the assault against the whites went beyond the agribusiness domain. The
regime has now begun confiscating and vandalizing white-owned property in
Zimbabwe's cities. During Mugabe's earlier "Clean out the Filth"
slum-clearing campaign, according to the UN, some 2.4 million people lost
their housing. Many areas "cleared" were in fact prime real estate
locations, ready for the regime's speculator sharks to take over for

            In August 2002, Grace Mugabe, aided by the military, took over a
3,000-acre farm for her family, arresting the 78-year-old owner and
dismissing the farm's black workers. Two of Mugabe's sisters, his
brother-in-law and his wife's nephew, have also received farms. ZANU party
members have burned millions of acres of crops and prevented many more acres
from being farmed. As was the case with Stalin's creation of mass famine in
the Ukraine in the 1930s, the burning of crops had a clear political goal: a
hungry population is easier to control.

            The confiscations, along with arbitrary currency manipulation,
have led to astronomical rates of inflation--more than 500 percent in
2005--and a growing black market. Primary school enrollment has dropped
precipitously with Zimbabweans so poor that they cannot afford state school
fees of $4 a term. Infant mortality has doubled while life expectancy fell
from age 60 to 35. All this is after the regime drove some 3.4 million
Zimbabweans, one quarter of the population, into exile, 1.2 million to South
Africa alone, according to Harare's own figures. Today, Zimbabwe has no
credit. Boeing has cut off supplies to Air Zimbabwe. Even China, Mugabe's
old friend, avoids investments in the country.

            Foreign Policy

            Except for ensuring the survival of his regime, Mugabe's foreign
relations policies have been no more successful than his domestic program.
To a large extent, Zimbabwe's foreign policy is intended to compensate for
the failures of the regime's domestic economic decisions. Thus, its 1999
military intervention in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
which cost millions of dollars a month despite the fact that Zimbabwe had no
interests there, was intended to compensate for the trade loss brought about
by the destruction of Zimbabwe's entrepreneurial native class, largely white
and Asian.

            The beneficiaries of the Congo intervention were of course the
presidential clique. Zimbabwean troops were stationed in the diamond mining
areas of Congo, and, as Zimbabwean Defense Minister Moven Mahachi put it,
"Instead of our army in the DRC burdening the treasury for more resources,
which are not available, it embarks on viable projects for the sake of
generating the necessary revenue." Two companies based in Zimbabwe and DRC
were granted licenses to buy and sell diamonds and gold, and to set up
offices manned by military officers, and in October 2000, the DRC's Kabila,
who barely controls his country's capital, awarded Zimbabwe's Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority more than 500,000 hectares of farming land
in DRC.

            Zimbabwe, with few friends remaining, has aligned itself with
anyone who supports anti-white, anti-Western racism. From the outset,
Mugabe's friends included some of the most odious governments in the world:
North Korea, Libya (which subsidized Mugabe until only recently), Cuba,
Iraq, Iran, and China. While in Rome in October 2005 to mark the 60th
anniversary of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mugabe
accused U.S. President Bush and the UK's Prime Minister Blair of illegally
invading Iraq, asking "Must we allow these men, the two unholy men of our
millennium, who, in the same way as Hitler and Mussolini formed [an] unholy
alliance, formed an alliance to attack an innocent country?" Some FAO
delegates applauded Mugabe, and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez paid tribute to him,
saying "The president of Zimbabwe is made out to be a villain-because he
takes land from those who don't need it to give it to those who need it to
live." It is thought that Mugabe intends to follow North Korea and Iran in
using a nuclear threat to blackmail the West into subsidizing its economy.

            An Enduring Reign

            A combination of factors has allowed Mugabe to maintain his grip
on power. These include the incompetence of Zimbabwe's domestic opposition,
continued outside support, mostly from South Africa, and an unduly indulgent
"international community."

            Many middle-class Zimbabweans have the means to make their ideas
about democracy heard. They bankrolled the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), an opposition party that would have won the last two national
elections had those votes not been rigged. But the MDC, led by Morgan
Tsvangirai and supported by Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, remains
divided, vulnerable to factionalism, and lacking international support, even
from otherwise vocal human rights organizations and from neighboring South

            Because of Mugabe's thuggery, the educated middle classes of
Zimbabwe, by now almost all black, have been forced to leave in droves,
denying the remaining opposition its leadership and resources. However, as
the Economist noted, "You have to admire Robert Mugabe's chutzpah. First he
makes life so miserable for Zimbabweans that busloads of them emigrate. Then
he asks the fugitives to send money home to prop up the regime that drove
them out in the first place." When they do send money, he confiscates it
through currency manipulations.

            Mugabe's destruction of the independent media played a major
role in defeating the opposition, and he was thorough in that respect. His
attacks have been relentless and often Orwellian. In January 2006 Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa stated that "the net will soon close" on those
remaining journalists whose criticism of the government threatens the
nation's security. Journalists were arrested, including those of the
independent radio station Voice of the People (now transmitting from a
Dutch-funded station in the Malagasy Republic), which was accused of being
"driven by the love for the United States dollars and British pounds, which
they are paid by the foreign media houses to peddle lies." There are hardly
any media left in Zimbabwe, and even fewer foreign correspondents. The
regime refuses or postpones indefinitely journalists' accreditation and then
accuses them of breaking the law by operating without it.

            Mugabe has benefited from the support or benign neglect of his
fellow African presidents, particularly South Africa's Thabo Mbeki. It took
a long time but it finally seems that the African Union is beginning to
understand the danger to its credibility represented by its silence over
Mugabe's atrocities. Thus the AU Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights,
meeting in Gambia in January 2006, expressed concern over "the continuing
violations and the deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe,
the lack of respect for the rule of law and the growing culture of

            South Africa almost single-handedly controls Mugabe's fate. Were
South Africa's northern Limpopo border closed both ways, it would bring
Zimbabwe to its knees in a matter of weeks. However, while domestic,
anti-immigrant protests are pushing South Africa toward trying to control
the influx of Zimbabwean immigrants, it continues to send vital supplies to
the very regime that is pushing the emigrants out.

            Zimbabwe's geopolitics are identical to what they were when
South Africa withdrew support from the Ian Smith government, thereby ending
it. But the Communist Party and radical elements in his own African National
Congress would never allow South African President Mbeki to do likewise.
Moreover, there is a growing movement among radicalized blacks in South
Africa who seek to imitate Mugabe's suicidal "land reform" in the name of
the same anti-white racism and economic idiocy. Namibia's president, Sam
Nujoma, for instance, shares Mugabe's racist and Marxist background and
follows the Zimbabwe model.

            The "international community"

            It is important for donor countries and human rights advocates
in the West--Live-8 producer Bob Geldoff, U2's Bono, and NGOs included--to
appreciate that, far from being a unique case, Mugabe's recipe for
destroying a prosperous country appears to have more imitators than critics
within Africa. Indeed, all who wish Africa success can only be shocked and
dismayed when Mugabe's racism, totalitarianism, corruption, and blatant
disregard of all norms of decent behavior are not just tolerated but, by
silence or commission, encouraged by the very same third-world leaders who
demand and expect Western aid.

            Although Prime Minister Blair has taken a strong and persistent
position in condemning Mugabe, virtually all Western media and academia
continue to pretend that the racism at the core of Mugabe's worldview
actually played no part in Zimbabwe's transformation from food exporter to
basket case. Even Western human rights groups, while condemning Mugabe's
atrocities, avoid using the word "racism."

            Not all of Zimbabwe's neighbors support Mugabe, as was
demonstrated when Zambia, and Mozambique cut power deliveries to Zimbabwe
due to nonpayment. Even more significant, both countries welcomed the
expelled white Zimbabwean farmers; Mozambique even offered them free land.

             Similarly, the large and growing Zimbabwean diaspora in Britain
is vocal in its criticism of Mugabe, resulting in an EU ban on travel for
Mugabe and his government members, who were already banned by France and
Italy. As to aid, while it is clear that Zimbabwe's famine is due
exclusively to Mugabe, the West continues to send food aid, even though this
only strengthens the very regime that makes such aid necessary. The
impotence of the United Nations, the African Union, and the West in general
to deal with Robert Mugabe's reign of terror suggests that "world opinion"
is just that: opinion, without action.

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Earth tremor shakes Zimbabwe and Mozambique


          March 15 2006 at 07:47PM

      Harare - An earth tremor shook parts of eastern Zimbabwe and
Mozambique on Wednesday, less than three weeks after an earthquake hit the
same area, state television said.

      "There was an earth tremor in some parts of the country at around
14h00 hours (12h00 GMT)," the state controlled Newsnet said.

      "The tremor is said to have started in Mozambique and was severe in
Chipinge where panic-striken residents were seen running in fear," said
state television.

      "The Civil Protection Unit has urged people to remain calm in the
event of a similar incident."

      A witness in the eastern Mutare town Clement Mashanda said the tremor
shook tall buildings in the town.

      "It was just minor," Mashanda said. "Only tall buildings were affected
but it was not serious at all."

      An earthquake registering 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Mozambique
on February 23 and was felt in parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

      Four people including two children died in the quake that also
destroyed 190 homes in Manica province bordering Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP

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State On Human Rights In Africa


      15 March 2006

The U.S. State Department has issued its latest report on human rights
around the world. The report paints a mixed picture of the human rights
situation in Africa in 2005. Some African governments became more repressive
while others took steps toward democracy.

According to the State Department report, the government of Zimbabwe in 2005
"maintained a steady assault on human dignity and basic freedoms,"
tightening its hold on civil society and human rights groups and
manipulating the March 2005 parliamentary elections. U.S. Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Jeffrey Krilla says
that the government of Zimbabwe "continues to move in the wrong direction":

"They continue to arrest and detain opposition leaders and their supporters.
And then last year they closed down an independent newspaper, showing just
how unwilling they are even to accept criticism. So the Zimbabwean
government continues to be a real human rights offender on the continent."

Other African countries with deteriorating human rights records and climates
of lawlessness and corruption include Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Ethiopia.
Mr. Krilla says Uganda was one of the African countries that had taken some
positive steps:

"You saw citizens last year voting in a national referendum to adopt a
multi-party system of government, parliament amending the electoral laws to,
for the first time in a decade, include opposition party participation in
elections and in government."

But these steps were called into question by the elimination of presidential
term limits.

Another country that made progress last year was Liberia, where voters chose
Africa's first democratically elected female head of state, Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf. Her election, says U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Jeffrey Krilla, was "a very positive step for Liberia and for all of

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States

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Arrest of opposition MP for insulting Mugabe slammed

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 15 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - The arrest of a Zimbabwe opposition MP
for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe has been slammed as yet
another attempt by the state to silence its critics.

Timothy Mubhawu, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested
in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday night, under Zimbabwe's stringent laws
against denigrating the head of state.

He allegedly gave a lift to a group of soldiers on 3 March and asked them
why "do you let Mugabe let you suffer?" A soldier reported the alleged
statement to the police and Mubhawu was taken into custody.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told IRIN that Mubhawu was still in custody but
was expected to appear in court soon. He said Mabhuwa denied the charges and
"our lawyers are dealing with the matter".

"They allege he degraded and derided the name of the president ... but this
is merely part of the ongoing victimisation of opposition leaders in the
country," Chamisa claimed.

The divided MDC's "watershed" congress is scheduled to be held this weekend.

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Genocide verdict for Ethiopia's Mengistu due in May


      Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:01 AM ET

By Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - A verdict in the genocide trial against Ethiopia's
exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is due on May 23 after 14 years
of proceedings, a court said on Wednesday.

Mengistu -- who fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 after guerrilla forces led by now
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ousted his 17-year-old Marxist regime -- is
being tried in absentia.

He and other members of a notoriously brutal military junta are accused of
killing of more than 1,000 people in the so-called "Red Terror" purges,
including former Emperor Haile Selassie whom he dethroned in 1974.

Ethiopia's High Court said it would also rule on the same day on genocide
charges against various of Mengistu's followers, believed to number about

The co-accused include former prime minister Fikre Selassie Wogderesse,
former vice president Fissiha Desta and about 40 other top officials from
the Mengistu era who have been in prison awaiting a verdict since 1992.

The others are also in exile and being tried in absentia.

"The indictment process (against) Lt. Colonel Mengistu Haile Marium on
genocide charges has come to an end," the state-run Ethiopian News Agency
quoted the court as saying.

"The court will give its final verdict against all those accused on May 23,

The iron-fisted leftist dictator escaped Ethiopia after he and two former
military officials were given sanctuary in the Italian embassy in Addis

Under Ethiopian law, genocide is defined as intent to wipe out political and
not just ethnic groups.

Human rights groups have criticized the length of the trial, but the
prosecution argues that the complex nature of the evidence is what has
delayed the verdicts.

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Zimbabwe's 'weak investor confidence'

Business in Africa

Published: 15-MAR-06

After the appointment of Dr Gono as Reserve bank governor in January 2004, a
programme was implemented with the intention of achieving macro-economic
stability by June 2005. But the outcome has been far from that projected. In
the opinion of Standard Bank, "policies have (continued to) increasingly
distort the economic landscape, extending macroeconomic imbalances and
sustaining the recession.

Although inflation fell from an historic peak of 622,8 percent y/y in
January 2004 to 123,7 percent y/y in March 2005, this has been achieved only
through price controls - which boosts the parallel market - and economic
slowdown. Official figures for October 2005 show a renewed acceleration,
rising to 411 percent y/y with upward pressure evident across all categories
of the index.

Domestic public sector borrowing rose sharply as public sector borrowing
rose to 892 percent y/y in August. Private sector borrowing rose only 100
percent which, because it is below the inflation rate, in negative in real

A recent IMF country report shows extraordinarily high foreign exchange
losses borne by the Reserve Bank. With a dual official exchange rate - one
for government and the other for the private sector - the Bank was on a
hiding to nothing when government forced it to effectively finance critical
government services. It had to purchase foreign exchange at the (high)
market rate and resell at the (low) government rate. This effectively
operated as a money creation mechanism, fuelling inflation.

The Zimbabwean economy continues to contract of the back of political strife
and uncertainty about the business environment. The recent macro-economic
stabilisation effort has failed and a re-think is necessary. But
commentators warn that this will avail little unless the issue of "weak
investor confidence" is addressed.

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Iran, Zimbabwe cooperation satisfactory: Iranian minister

MEHRnews, Tehran

      TEHRAN, Mar. 15 (MNA) - In his visit on Wednesday with the Zimbabwean
ambassador to Tehran, Iran's Minister of Cooperatives Mohammad Nazemi
Ardekani expressed satisfaction over the support Iran and Zimbabwe give each
other in the international arena.
      "We feel political, cultural and social affinities with Zimbabwe and
this could be used as a basis for expanding trade relations between the two
countries," the Persian service of IRNA quoted him as saying.

      Referring to the conclusion of agreements on cooperation between the
Islamic Republic and this south Central African country, the Iranian
minister said, "both nations have signed a number of memorandums of
understanding (MOU) on agriculture, industries and mines, energy, trade,
tourism, building power plants and technical services.

      The Zimbabwean official commented on the 15-million euro loan it owes
to Iran and stated that the country had decided to repay its debt before the
next Iran-Zimbabwean joint commission convenes.


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Riot police called in after university students clash with lecturers

      By Lance Guma
      15 March 2006

      Riot police had to be called in Tuesday at the university of Zimbabwe
after students at the law faculty were involved in scuffles with their
lecturers. Faculty Representative Brighton Makunike says although most
students have failed to raise the new tuition fees, the law department
registered the highest number who managed to pay. Some of the students in
this faculty however are not happy because their lecturers are not turning
up to teach. The verbal interchanges degenerated into pushing and shoving
and it was not long before students from other departments joined in the

      The university has been rocked by several student demonstrations since
it opened on the 27th of February. Most departments have gone for almost 4
weeks without any lessons. Students say they cannot afford the tenfold hike
in tuition fees. Under gazetted fees they have to fork out between Z$35 and
Z$60 million a year up from Z$3,5 million, depending on their faculty. To
make matters worse support grants of Z$11,5 million a year remain far below
the new requirements.

      The impasse continues despite a High Court order setting aside the fee
increases. This has created confusion over whether the university can be
technically termed 'open or closed' since there is virtually no academic
activity. Administration officials are alleged to have informed student
leaders the university council is now considering closing the campus until
the matter is resolved. Makunike estimates that less than a thousand
students have paid the new fees and the High Court order has given them hope
for a review of the matter.

      On the 6th of March the University suspended three student leaders,
Mfundo Mlilo, Collen Chibango and Wellington Mahohoma for allegedly inciting
a series of crippling demonstrations. The students however refused to sign
the suspension letters arguing the suspension was null and void since it
arose from a charge the police themselves dropped. Students countrywide have
protested the increases. Under the auspices of the Zimbabwe National
Students Union they have forced the closure of several universities and
colleges around the country. They say they will not back down until
government reviews the fee increases.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Lawyers say Hopley inmates getting raw deal

      March 15, 2006, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 0 seconds ago.

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND) Human rights lawyers say food is being politicised at a
transit camp for victims of Operation Murambatsvina.

      Hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed in May last year are
living at the camp in conditions health experts say are unsuitable for human
      In a petition addressed to the Provincial Administrator (Harare
Metropolitan province), the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights noted that
corruption had taken root at the camp where the victims are living near
destitute lives. They accused officials at Hopley who were in charge of the
camp of depriving the inmates of basic things such as food and medicine.
"The health of our many clients living at Hopley farm has already suffered
much damage as a result of the serious food and other insecurity to which
they have been subjected; this is particularly true of vulnerable groups
such as the children and those who are ill.

      "Thus we seek the immediate rectification of the said corruption
activities in the distribution of basic amenities of life as these are clear
contraventions of basic human rights law. While the different political
opinions held by persons at Hopley farm is none of our concern whatsoever,
we also find it worrisome that 'administrators' thereat have chosen to use
political opinions as a basis for food distribution.
      This is clearly an injustice that must be rectified without delay. The
lawyers said any persons who attempted to raise objection to the
malpractices received threats from the officials. They added even the
chronically ill people were not spared as a home based care programme at the
care was only benefited those who were well connected.

      Many Zimbabwe who were displaced by Operation Murambatsvina are still
living camps, which were said to be for transit purposes. Some are fast
realising that they are likely to stay longer in the holding camps since a
government programme dubbed Operation Garikai/Live well has not produced
houses for them.

      Harare (AND)

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Arms cache case crumbles

      March 15, 2006

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Zimbabwe (AND) The state, in major climbdown, has withdrawn charges of
consipring to possess weapons for the purpose of banditry, terrorism and
sabotage against members of the opposition.

      THE high profile arms cache 'discovery' case is fast crumbling in
Zimbabwe where authorities have withdrawn most of the charges against
members of the opposition party, accused by President Mugabe's government of
possessing arms for the purposes of banditry and terrorism.

      The suspects were said to be working with shadowy organisation, the
Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, in order to remove the government of Zimbabwe by
force. But the latest information from the Mutare court shows that the state
has withdrawn all charges against Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC shadow secretary
for defence. The state has also withdrawn charges against Knowledge Nyamhoka
and have reduced those of Thando Sibanda to that of merely possessing
firearms without a licence. Sibanda has been granted a $1 million bail.

      Wellington Tsuro, a police officer who, the state said was responsible
for supplying the group with weapons, was only charged today with theft of
weapons in what is a major climb down by the authorities. Peter Hitschmann,
in whose possession the weapons were allegedly found, remains in custody
since his case was not heard.
      Hitschmann who allegedly implicated the other suspects refused legal
representation on Friday in a move that surprised lawyers that were working
frantically to have them released after spending more than five days in
custody. The lawyers however said it was only a matter of time before the
ex-Rhodesian soldier was released. The about turn by the state in a lower
court came after the High Court ruled favourably for an application made
late yesterday by the accused's lawyers.

      Justice Charles Hungwe granted bail to $50 million to Mutsekwa. The
legislator was ordered to reside at his Greenside house in the eastern
border city until the case was finalised. Justice Hungwe also ordered the
police not to continue detaining the other suspects from their holding cells
where they were allegedly being tortured and interrogated by security

      Zimbabwe (AND)

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Living Expenses For March - note real rate of inflation - 3 560% pa!

Click here to see break down of monthly expenses for workers as at 03.03.2006 You may all be wondering just what is the exact rate of inflation, particularly when we are fully aware that the Central Statistics Office's figures are manipulated for political purposes.  From John Robertson we know that, not only is the inflationary basket selectively chosen to illustrate a lower than realistic rate, but the indices have been changed as well. 

We employ 140 workers in three companies and each month they are required to submit their monthly costs of a basket that we have chosen, which we believe fairly represents the vast majority of their monthly expenses.  These are:

Soap and Vaseline
Cooking oil

You will note that these prices moved 35% in these last four weeks which, when extrapolated, amounts to 3 560% pa when compounded.

As disposable income becomes less and less, it simply means that there is a continual shift of expenditure from luxuries to essential capital items such as clothes, furniture repairs and maintenance towards the type of expenditure as illustrated in our figures.  In other words, the ordinary man in the township faces this scale of inflation in his day to day expenditure as he simply has to deal with buying these items and not a lot else. 

We do hope that this helps and should you require our updates at any time, please let us know. 


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New wages for farm workers

The Chronicle

Harare Bureau

THE Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare has consented to
the new wages for farm workers that were proposed by the social parties of
the National Employment Council (NEC) for the agricultural industry.

In an interview yesterday, General Agriculture Plantation Workers Union
Zimbabwe deputy general secretary Mr Gift Muti encouraged employers to begin
paying their workers the new wages.
"The Minister of Labour, Cde Nicholas Goche, has reviewed and consented to
the wage proposals we sent to him and most farm employers are complying, but
there have been a few problems in areas where some farmers are not sure of
the new development. We, therefore, call upon all employers in agriculture
to pay the legal wages," he said.
Farm workers will now receive a minimum wage of $1 300 000, up from $665
Meanwhile, GAPWUZ has dismissed a report which appeared in The Standard
newspaper, saying it was full of gross inaccuracies.
The deputy general secretary said there was no standing dispute between the
labour movement and Chief Justice Chidyausiku and that such matters are not
addressed by the agricultural NEC.
"Converse to suggestions by The Standard, we are not in conflict with Chief
Justice Chidyausiku, but rather our officers had gone to his farm to
investigate the allegations made by his workers. The alleged problems, if
there are any, are yet to be established. Then, and only then, can the union
take action.
"GAPWUZ has a legal mandate, proscribed in the Labour Relations Act, to
visit farms and make inquiries that relate to the welfare of farm workers
and we have done so since our formation in 1982, years before the
Agricultural NEC came into being. As the representatives of farm workers we
will pursue any issues concerning their plight," he said.

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Our collective hatred for one another would burn Zanu PF

New Zimbabwe

By Chris Gande
Last updated: 03/15/2006 23:02:10
PROFESSOR Arthur Mutambara's entry into the political scene has undoubtedly
ignited a ferocious flame of debate that has consumed Zimbabweans and those
outside that troubled country watching with interest the unfolding of a
tragic story; that of a rapidly deteriorating economy presided over by an
82-year-old man with the "bones of a 28-year-old".

Never mind that this may sound like a Shakespearean tragedy told by an
idiot. I am talking about Zimbabwe, a country whose tragic slide into a
failed state has baffled economic deduction and now requires something more
advanced like robotics or mechatronics to fix its ailing fiscus.

Lest I be misconstrued as a supporter of Arthur Mutambara, I will hasten to
absolve myself through the disclaimer of my professional journalistic
background as enscounced by the guidelines of the charter of the Voice of
America which demands that I discharge my duty as a journalist in an
objective and non-partisan way.

Mutambara, is a famed student rights activist in his hey days at the
University of Zimbabwe where he led ferocious demonstrations that left
indellible scars on the monstrous Mugabe regime which is now eyeing him with
a hungry red eye as he tries to resuscitate the ghost of one part of what
was once Mugabe's nightmare, the one that nearly saw him lose his grip on

That was nearly 20 yeras ago.

Today Mutambara, who is commonly known in student activism circles as AGO,
his initials, comes into the political arena at a time when student activism
is probably accelerating at an unprecedented speed that threatens to hit the
Mugabe regime where it hurts the most - the falacy of the communist vision
of the provision for the underprivilleged students in society.

I have challenged some journalist friends of mine in Zimbabwe to observe
whether State House also goes dark when there is an electricity power
outage. Of course it would be folly for me to put my colleagues into the
task of checking whether Zim One, Mugabe's customised armoured Mercedes Benz
S600 LV AMG (Pullman size), which guzzles enough fuel for the full tanks of
two kombis in every kilometre that it moves, has been grounded due to lack
of fuel.

Or to check whether the first family had a breakfast of mbambaira and black
unsweetened tea due to the high cost and or shortage of sugar, milk, bacon,
eggs, and sausage.

Education in Zimbabwe, a country that had one of the highest literacy rates
on the African continent, is now probably the most expensive in the
continent, if not the whole wide world. Students are now required to pay $35
million up from $3,5million per semester. Most of the student's parents have
been reduced to objects of mere existence. Their salaries are nowhere near
the astronomous $35 million.

Students, who are exactly the same age as that of the honourable professor
of robotics was when he led the "revolutionary" University of Zimbabwe
Student Council, are today a malignant lot seething with fury at being
denied almost all basic rights, including that one of acquiring knowlege and
then using it to develop their own country and ensuring that the economy
does not limp but surges forward with vigor for the inhabitants to enjoy
their God-given right to live and not survive.

But now they will not afford to go to university or college and may end up
having degrees in violence (and higher national diplomas in pschological
torture and certificates in the art and science of maiming).

Now allow me to indulge in that nocturnal tradition of my spiritual being -
that of being a Sangoma. Now when I flick my flywhisk, I see that the coming
of Mutambara and the upheavals at the colleges and universities are not a
cincidence. But what my spirit cannot reveal is how the students, who are
themselves as divided as the two factions of the once formidable party that
sent a chill down Zanu PF's spine, will be brought aboard a revolutionary
bus. A bus that will carry only those passengers that desire to see a nation
that prospers and rewards those individuals who sweat and not only those who
pilfer or plunder public coffers pillaging a bleeding economy.

Yes, when I flip my flywhisk once more, I see Morgan Tsvangirai, a stronger
force with students on his side. Him courting the students as a potent ally,
symbolising the suffering of the majority, boycotting all elections and
going into the streets. I see him mobilizing the people and giving them
hope, courage and not just talking about removing Mugabe but at least trying
to do so.

University and college students in their teens or early 20s have a longer
future to think about than their geriatric national government leaders who
appear to have forgotten that there is a new generation of "born-frees" who
are beggging to live decent lives rather than the painful specter of anguish
and abject poverty they find themselves in. And a whole lot of people, part
of the nearly ten million disgruntled people whose lives have been reduced
to untold suffering. Millions of my people, as Mugabe would say.

Just like Mutambara curved a niche in the political history of the country
through student activism, we are seeing a new crop of leaders following his
footsteps, names like Garikai Kajauro, Colleen Chibango, Mfundo Mlilo and
Wellington Mahohoma.

Already the student leaders have met Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube.
It is my assumption that soon they will meet their mentor, Mutambara. What
they will decide and agree on I am not privy. But that they have something
in common with the former student leader who crept into the political scene
like the proverbial thief is not in doubt.

Even those who are in both Zanu PF and the other fracture of the MDC; from
almost all spheres of life, policemen, doctors, teachers, kombi drivers,
including the men-in-dark shades had something to talk about.

Even those who could be rightfully classified as the elite but because of
the poor salaries and diminished buying power of the ever-falling dollar,
those who can afford to access the web, had something to talk about on

Some even said that it is because of him that the earth "trembled" in the
early hours of Februrary 23. It's not me who is saying that.

"Who is Professor Mutambara?" "What is robotics or mechatronics?"

Even those with religious despositions asked: "Has the hour cometh yet?" "Is
Arthur the son of man?"

"No! a big fat NO!"Tsvangirai is the man!" Those on the other side roared
their voices hoarse. "Give Tsvangirai another chance."

Some people who have been the best of friends, both in political circles and
in the street are now sworn enemies exuding such immense hatred for each
other that sometimes I think if they could combine their hatred for each
other and channel it towards the demise of Zanu PF the ruling party could
have been gathering dust in the dustbins of history by now.

No such energy has ever been manipulated by members of the divided
opposition as they gun for each other's throats. Not even during Operation

Zimbabweans have exhibited bizarre resilence in the face of a cauldron of
bubbling economic upheavals, the result of an economy in a hellish tailspin
that has completely reduced them to a pathetic laughing stock of the African
sub-region and indeed the whole world.

The last thing that Zimbabwe can afford at this most trying and decisive
moment is a divided opposition. So I will take this contribution to be an
open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara. I know
Mutambara will read this article because only last week he told me that he
reads this website. As for Tsvangirai, I am not sure whether he reads New as I have not spoken to him in almost four months now but I
hope and pray that he gets to read this.

You two gentlemen, the nation is looking foward to your unity. Bow to one
another and look ahead at the horizon for a fresh beginning for this country
afflicted by a malaise of misrule. The nation is on its knees, begging you
to please unite. Sacrifice your pride for the sake of posterity and shake

Chris Gande is a journalist working for the Voice Of America.  You can
contact him on e-mail:

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Explosions rock gold mine

      March 15, 2006, 12 hours, 46 minutes and 52 seconds ago.

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Bulawayo (AND) Loud explosion that unsettled Bulawayo residents was
caused by explosives thrown at the home of a gold mine manager.

      OLD Nic Mine officials have broken their silence over a loud explosion
that rocked Zimbabwe's second largest city on Saturday night, leaving many
residents in a state of panic. In a statement, a senior official with
Olympus Gold Mines Limited said there had been an attempt on the life of the
Old Nic mine's manager and his family.

      "The directors of the above organisations would like to bring to the
general public's attention the cause of two loud explosions at approximately
11.15 pm on Saturday night, the 11th March 2006-03-14. These explosions were
generally heard throughout Bulawayo. "The explosions were the result of
unknown persons who threw two explosive charges at the mine manager's
residence situated at Old Nic Mine, within the Bulawayo municipality." The
loud explosions from the gold producing mine were heard some 10 kilometres

      AD Beattie, the Managing director added: "These explosive charges
could very well have killed or severely maimed the mine manager, his wife
and grand daughter who were asleep in the house at the time." Police
attended the scene and they are still investigating the matter. The motive
of the attackers is not yet clear. Over a year ago, a top of official of
Bindura Nickel Mine was gunned down at the entrance of his home in Harare.
In order to assist in bringing the culprits to book, the company is offering
a reward of $100 million for the proven conviction of the perpetrators.

      Bulawayo (AND)

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DSTV increases subscription fees

      March 15, 2006, 12 hours, 58 minutes and 46 seconds ago.

      By Andnetwork .com

      DIGITAL Satellite Television (DStv), a private TV channel that
broadcasts from South Africa, will increase subscription fees for DStv's
services with effect from 1 April, 2006.

      The monthly subscription for DStv's premium bouquet (full bouquet)
will increase from US$52,50 to US$55 while subscription fees for all other
DStv bouquets will increase on a pro rata basis, with the exception of DStv
Compact (minibouquet), which will remain at US$25 per month.
      In a statement yesterday, MultiChoice Zimbabwe said for those paying
through bank drafts or bank cheques the minimum payments for subscriptions
are US$126 and Ł79 respectively. The subscriptions are also accepted in
South African rand.
      "The new monthly subscription fee for DStv's Premium bouquet will be
R396 and you can pay your DStv subscription via bank draft. Bank drafts are
quick, easy and convenient."
      In addition, MultiChoice Zimbabwe has increased its operating hours at
its Harare office at Kensington Shopping Centre effective 2 April, 2006, and
this includes opening on Sundays.
      Late last year, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and MultiChoice
Africa signed an agreement for the carriage of the ZTV channel on DStv
      The agreement also saw the commissioning of the uplink, which connects
ZTV to DStv at ZBH's Pockets Hill.
      The agreement is in compliance with the Broadcasting Services Act,
which states that every subscription satellite broadcasting licence shall
transmit noncoded signals from a public broadcaster.

      Source : Egyptian Gazzette

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Don't blame past, Annan urges

From The Cape Argus (SA), 15 March

By Boyd Webb

United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan criticised African countries for
blaming their ills on the past, but hailed South Africa's leading role in
new development. Addressing parliament yesterday, Annan said African nations
should accept responsibility for their predicaments, and not blame
outsiders. "It is easy to blame these ills on the past and on outsiders -
the depredations of imperialism and the slave trade, the imbalance of power
and wealth in a flagrantly unjust world. But that cannot absolve us, the
Africans of today, from our own responsibility to ourselves and to our
children," he said. Annan said South Africa, as one of the continent's
stronger nations, had a responsibility to "lend a hand to the weaker". This,
he said, was to be done without seeking to impose domination. "When any
country gets caught in a downward spiral of poverty, misgovernment and
conflict, this is bound to be a problem for its neighbours. And the best
neighbours are those who play a constructive part in helping to halt and
reverse the spiral before it leads to a complete meltdown," he said to an
audience that included Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilda of Belgium.
Earlier in the day Annan endorsed South Africa's quiet diplomacy in handling
the Zimbabwean crisis. The UN leader, who has focused the world's spotlight
on many of Africa's problems, advised the embattled state to also heed South
Africa's advice and urged its other neighbours to contribute more to helping
Zimbabwe out of its economic quagmire.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is extremely difficult. It's difficult for the
Zimbabweans, it's difficult for the region and it's difficult for the
world," he said. "And I would also encourage neighbours in crisis, countries
in crisis to listen to their neighbours to work with them and to solve the
conflict," Annan added. Annan urged South Africa to use its wisdom - derived
from its own history of overcoming resentment and mistrust - to convince
other countries against using confrontation and threats to combat injustices
and misunderstandings. "South Africa can teach all of us that, on the
contrary, the way to a better balance lies through dialogue, and the
establishment of mutual trust. Only in such an atmosphere can the weak win
attention and respect from the strong." Describing South Africa as "a guide
and spokesman" for the developing world, Annan praised it for the way it
fought for the rights of other developing countries. Its battles were often
fought within the UN as it pushed for the world body's transformation, in
particular the UN's Security Council. While he was confident a new "proper"
Human Rights Council would be finalised this week despite opposition from
the United States, Annan was not as upbeat over Security Council reform.
This, he said, was still under negotiation.

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Cooperatives snub Gvt housing delivery programme

      March 15, 2006

      By George Nyathi

      BULAWAYO (AND) COOPERATIVES in Bulawayo have decided to take a back
seat as the roller coaster Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle housing
delievery programme progresses at a snail's pace.

      This became apparent this morning when the head of the housing
programme and minister of Public Service, labor and Social Welfare, Nicholas
Goche paid a courtesy call to the site where the houses were being
      All cooperatives, except one led by alleged rapist and Zanu PF
apologist, Obadiah Musindo, of the Destiny of Africa Network (D.of.A.N),
have disappeared from the Cowdray Park site without having thrown a single
stone to the ground in construction.

      Musindo's cooperative, sources said, has only managed to put up scanty
three housing units with the first one having been completed early last
December. The other two, a visit to the site would reveal, are now past the
foundation level with signs that their construction will take longer than
anticipated given the high-rising cost of building materials.
      Pegs that were set by the Bulawayo City Council can no longer be
traceable as they have been covered by the overgrown grass while the paths
leading to the stands is now inaccessible, a sign that people who were
supposed to have been there have been missing in action for too long.

      The site tour shows that there is still a lot more work to be done if
government is serious about providing affordable housing to its people, with
the need of a fast track programme arising given the hyper-inflation and
rising costs of the building material. Goche however is reported to have
told journalists that he was happy with the progress of the housing
programme, with sources saying that he had expressed contentment with the
"way private players had done a marvellous job with regards to building low
cost houses to the people." Only 450 out of the anticipated 700 houses have
been constructed since the launch of the programme late last year after the
dreaded Operation Murambatsvina. A total of 61 houses are still under
construction while a further 159 housing units are reportedly at various
stages of construction.

      Bulawayo (AND)

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