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Mugabe pressed to quit

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his Tanzanian counterpart Jikaya Kikwete
yesterday held critical talks at State House in search of an urgent
resolution of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe as
international pressure mounts on Mugabe to quit.

While Mugabe was meeting with Kikwete, US Assistant Secretary of State
for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Barry Lowenkron was headed for Addis
Ababa for emergency talks on the situation in Zimbabwe with an African Union
(AU) team.

US ambassador to the AU Cindy Courville was expected to be part of the
talks. AU chairman John Kufour has already said the situation in Zimbabwe is
"embarrassing". The US was yesterday lobbying the UN Human Rights Council in
Geneva to adopt a strong stance on Mugabe following nearly a week of
state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe.

The Mugabe/Kikwete meeting, which is part of a broad Sadc initiative
to resolve the Zimababwe crisis, came against a background of international
outrage at brutal police assaults on opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leaders for defying a ban on political rallies on Sunday.

Sadc is keen to secure a Mugabe exit settlement in Zimbabwe ahead of
the regional summit in Zambia in August. The Zambian foreign minister last
week said the region could no longer ignore the Zimbabwean issue. President
Levy Mwanawasa said he was gravely concerned about Zimbabwe's problems.

But Mugabe, in a typical show of defiance yesterday after meeting
Kikwete, said those complaining about attacks on MDC leaders could "go
hang".

"It's the West as usual . . . when they criticise the government
trying to prevent violence and punish the perpetrators of that violence, we
take the position that they can go hang." Mugabe claimed those beaten by
police were resisting arrest.

MDC officials reacted with anger to Mugabe's remarks.

"He is lying to himself and no one even in Zanu PF still believes him.
He can no longer fool anyone either in the region or internationally," said
Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC.

Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, dismissed Mugabe's assertion,
saying: "We were inside the police station and ordered to sit in an area
between the main building and police cells when scores of police pounced on
us beating everyone up. How can Mugabe say we were resisting arrest when we
were already inside a police enclosure?"

Bango said Tsvangirai could not have resisted arrest when he had gone
to the police station on his own to check on his colleagues.

The Mugabe/Kikwete meeting came as South Africa stepped up efforts to
tackle the Zimbabwe crisis after a period of disengagement from the issue.
President Thabo Mbeki recently met with Mugabe in Ghana where he is said to
have tried to revive talks by pointing out his grave concerns about the
situation in Zimbabwe.

Official sources said Kikwete, who currently chairs the Southern
African Development Community organ on politics, defence and security,
openly told Mugabe the situation in Zimbabwe was worrying regional and
international leaders and needed urgent attention.

"Kikwete was here to tell Mugabe that world leaders are now fed up
with him and he must shape up or ship out," the sources said. "Mugabe was
very shaken by the world reaction to the assaults on MDC officials, but he
is putting on a brave face."

Kikwete confirmed he discussed the Zimbabwe crisis with Mugabe and
they reached a solution on the way forward. While it was not possible to
confirm what the "way forward" was, sources said Kikwete has of late been
trying to secure an agreement with Mugabe over how he could be eased out of
power without causing mayhem.

It was said Kikwete told Mugabe that Western leaders were getting
increasingly impatient over his continued controversial rule.

"I came to brief the president on my visit to Europe and discussions
that always cropped up on the situation in Zimbabwe," Kikwete said. "There
are so many issues we discussed and we agreed on the way forward on a number
of issues. Give us time."

Last month Kikwete sent his country's Director of Intelligence
Services, Rashid Othman, to talk with Zimbabwe's senior government officials
and Central Intelligence Organisation chiefs on how to resolve the country's
crisis.

Othman is a close ally of Kikwete and took over the spy job in August
last year. Othman's trip was meant to lay the basis for the meeting between
Mugabe and Kikwete, although Tanzania claimed it was a routine trip around
Sadc.

Mugabe and Kikwete recently held talks about Zimbabwe on the sidelines
of an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, the ANC's acting chief whip, Andries Nel, has tabled a
motion in parliament in Cape Town noting with concern the current situation
in Zimbabwe, including reports of alleged assaults on opposition leaders
while in police custody and calling on all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to
respect and uphold the constitution and the laws of the land and to
safeguard the rights of all citizens. It called for a thorough investigation
of the assaults. - Staff Writer.


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. . . as he hatches survival plan

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

DETAILS of President Robert Mugabe's latest plan for joint
presidential and parliamentary elections next year emerged this week after
it became clear he has been defeated over his unpopular 2010 poll proposal.

Sources said Mugabe was now determined to go for combined elections on
or before March next year as part of his new survival strategy following the
collapse of his 2010 plan that was blocked by Zanu PF heavyweights led by
politburo member, retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru.

Mugabe three weeks ago said in a ZBC interview Mujuru's wife,
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, had lost the plot by joining forces with people
who want to oust him. He said Mujuru had dashed her prospects to take over
from him.

This angered the Mujuru faction, which has threatened to fight back
with a vengeance, reports say. The situation is likely to get more explosive
after Mugabe said he wants to cling to power for another five years.

The sources said Mujuru was so upset by Mugabe's remarks that she
contemplated resigning but her husband stopped her as he wants to fight it
out. The mood in the Mujuru camp is one of defiance, even though insiders
say they failed to confront Mugabe at last week's politburo meeting.

The sources said Mugabe was forging ahead with his new plan in the
midst of intensifying Zanu PF infighting. They said Mugabe recently met with
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Zanu PF legal affairs secretary
Emerson Mnangagwa to discuss the latest election agenda.

Chinamasa is Mugabe's point man on electoral laws and constitutional
amendments. Mnangagwa, whom Mugabe recently spoke about in glowing terms, is
involved as the party's legal affairs specialist.

The sources said Mugabe told Chinamasa and Mnangagwa that he wants to
stand for re-election next year and needed mechanisms in place for the
election. The two ministers are said to have been shocked because they had
expected Mugabe to quit, but had to proceed with the assignment all the
same.

The new plan, which will come via Constitutional Amendment Number 18,
involves reducing the presidential term from six to five years - which will
take Mugabe to 2013 when he will be 89 - increasing the number of MPs in the
House of Assembly and senators in the Upper Chamber.

It is said the expansion of parliament will allow Mugabe to
accommodate more of his cronies in the patronage system and consolidate his
insecure regime.

Under this plan, which will be sweetened through the introduction of
the proposed Human Rights Commission, parliament will be dissolved by Mugabe
to facilitate the joint elections. However, parliament can resist this
through a two-thirds majority and impeach the president.

This means Mugabe will also have a daunting task of convincing Zanu PF
MPs to accept an early election next year instead of 2010. Checks with a
number of MPs this week revealed resistance to this design. Most MPs are
afraid of losing their seats and think it would be unwise for them to
contest the election under current conditions.

Mugabe apparently wants joint elections because they will stake the
MPs' and his own fortunes at the same time. This will force MPs to campaign
for him even though they may be opposed to his candidacy because they would
share his fate.

Sources said Mugabe fears he will lose if he fights the presidential
poll alone because disgruntled party officials, such as those in the Mujuru
camp, will not campaign for him. Zanu PF members know that it will be very
difficult if not impossible for Mugabe to win without the party machinery
fully behind him in current social and economic conditions.

Mugabe scraped through in 2002 after narrowly beating MDC candidate
Morgan Tsvangirai by 400 000 votes in the disputed election largely run by
soldiers and in which polling stations were reduced in towns to block
opposition supporters from casting their ballots. Political violence and
intimidation were rife nationwide. Tsvangirai alleged vote-rigging but
unsuccessfully contested the result in the courts.

Sources said Mujuru's camp would oppose the new proposals by Mugabe
who last week expressed doubts while he was in Namibia whether MPs will
support that plan. Most MPs interviewed said they would not.

The defiance of MPs would leave Mugabe facing resistance similar to
what he came across when he proposed the 2010 plan.

The 2010 proposal - which may still be revived after a Zanu PF central
committee meeting later this month - was shot down at the party's Goromonzi
conference in December where Mugabe and allies were stopped in their tracks
through an internal party revolt.


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Police remain on warpath

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police crackdown intensified this week following
the arrest and assaults on about 50 opposition leaders on their way to a
Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting organised by the Christian Alliance at
Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, last Sunday.

Despite having the opposition leaders in custody, police remained on a
warpath, arbitrarily arresting and threatening opposition party supporters
and members of civic groups allegedly for inciting demonstrations.

Reports from nearly all provinces show increasing repression with
police on high alert to thwart any demonstration. The renewed crackdown this
week resulted in more than 100 trade unionists, student activists and
opposition supporters being arrested throughout the country.

* Former Daily News chief executive and now MDC Tsvangirai faction
national executive member Sam Nkomo became the latest victim of the
round-up. Nkomo, a former Zapu leader and brother of the Zanu PF chairman
John Nkomo, was on Wednesday arrested by police in Bulawayo. He was arrested
together with 19 others at the MDC offices. Yesterday afternoon Nkomo and
the rest of the group were still detained at Bulawayo central police station
without charge.

* Gweru executive mayor, Sesel Zvidzai, was arrested on Tuesday for
embarking on a demonstration in solidarity with arrested detainees and the
Save Zimbabwe Campaign. The mayor was arrested together with 10 other MDC
supporters.

* Police in Kwekwe have also arrested 10 activists who were
demonstrating against the beatings of Save Zimbabwe Campaign activists and
supporters.

* On Tuesday in Mutare the police arrested 140 MDC activists including
the entire Manicaland provincial executive who were detained at Mutare
central police station. Their crime was holding a peaceful march demanding
the release of Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders. They were also
protesting the shooting of Gift Tandare in Harare on Sunday.

* In Harare the crackdown continued on Wednesday as police raided

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) offices in the morning and
many of the staff were held against their will inside the building.

Later that morning police surrounded Harvest House, MDC headquarters,
hours after the state released Tsvangirai and other prominent political and
civil society arrested last Sunday. Heavily armed riot police were deployed
at Harvest House for three hours in anticipation of an upsurge of protests.

* Five activists - three student leaders and two Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition secretariat members - were arrested at Rotten Row Courts on
Wednesday for standing in solidarity with the detained Save Zimbabwe
Campaign leaders.


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ZLHR file lawsuits for assaulted Save Zim Campaign members

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

HUMAN rights lawyers will today institute lawsuits on behalf of Save
Zimbabwe Campaign officials who were assaulted while in police custody
following a foiled attempt to attend a prayer rally.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) will institute the civil
suit for general damages, pain, disfigurement and loss of amenities of life
on behalf of the Movement for Democracy Change (MDC) leadership and other
pro-democracy civic groups as a result of the assault they suffered when
they were in police custody.

ZLHR clients, including MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested on
Sunday in Highfield when police called off a planned prayer meeting
organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign - a coalition of civic groups, trade
unions and student unions.

Police brutally assaulted those arrested while they were in detention.

"This is the intention of those who were injured to institute a
lawsuit against the Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, the police
commissioner Augustine Chihuri, and other senior and junior police officers
in their personal capacity in terms of the State Liabilities Act," a lawyer
with ZLHR, Andrew Makoni, said.

"There is actually a group of lawyers which include lawyers from ZLHR
and others in private practice who are working on the lawsuit and by
tomorrow (Friday) we should have instituted the lawsuit", said Makoni.

Individuals or groups intending to institute lawsuits against them,
according to the State Liabilities Act should give government officials a
60-day notice.

Among the 50 who were arrested and assaulted were Tsvangirai, who is
among those still detained in hospital.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of the MDC pro-senate faction, St Mary's MP
Job Sikhala, Mike Davies, chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents
Association, Madock Chivasa, spokesperson for the National Constitutional
Assembly and Gladys Hlatshwayo, information officer for the Crisis
Coalition, were also hospitalised.

Lovemore Madhuku suffered a broken arm and head injuries because of
the assault while Grace Kwinjeh's ear was perforated and a piece of it was
cut off after a sharp object pierced her.

The assaults have since received condemnation from the international
community and the government has tried to justify the assaults by blaming
the main opposition MDC for using violence to achieve its goals.


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Save Zimbabwe meets this morning

Zim Independent

THE opposition MDC will hold another gathering with the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, other stakeholders and diplomats today at the NCA offices in
Harare despite mounting pressure from government on its leadership.

The MDC/Save Zimbabwe Campaign joint press conference, scheduled for
11:00 this morning, is meant to update diplomats, the press and other
stakeholders on last Sunday's events.

Sources said opposition activists and MDC leaders are expected to give
personal testimonies of what they went through in police custody. Diplomatic
sources confirmed they had been invited and would attend the press
conference.

"We will definitely attend the press conference to get a first hand
appreciation of what happened," a diplomat said.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed the joint press conference
under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign auspices to update people on events since
Sunday's arrests.

"It will be a press conference that will be attended by the MDC
leadership, victims of last Sunday's violence and other stakeholders under
the Save Zimbabwe Campaign," Chamisa said. "Morgan Tsvangirai's presence
will depend on his condition."

He said the meeting was also intended to thank the people of Zimbabwe
for their support and to dispel falsehoods spread by the state media.

"All the victims will be there to narrate their ordeal one by one,"
Chamisa said. - Staff Writer.


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Tsholotsho plot back to haunt Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube /Pindai Dube

THE Tsholotsho powerplay plot is back to haunt the ruling Zanu PF
after it emerged that the party leadership has ordered fresh elections in
two provinces that initially backed Emerson Mnangagwa for the vice-president's
post.

This week it emerged that Zanu PF national commissar, Elliot Manyika,
had ordered that the provincial executive committees for Bulawayo and
Masvingo provinces be dissolved and elections be conducted in the last
weekend of April.

It also emerged that there was a bitter struggle between the Mnangagwa
and the Solomon Mujuru camps to take control of the two provinces ahead of
the Zanu PF conference where delegates will elect a candidate to replace
President Robert Mugabe.

Sources said indications on the ground showed that presidential
elections will go ahead in 2008 and not in 2010 and each of the contesting
camps was anxious to control most provinces ahead of the party conference at
the end of the year.

"There will be fresh elections in four or five provinces in the
country before the end of the year and those mandated to reform the party
are now restructuring the party to their camp's advantage. But this will
create problems in future," said a party source in Bulawayo.

It also emerged that a party delegation from Bulawayo met with
President Mugabe on the sidelines of his birthday party celebrations in
Gweru and pleaded with him to order fresh elections in Bulawayo.

President Mugabe is said to have ordered Manyika to call for fresh
elections urgently.

Zanu PF's deputy national commissar, Richard Ndlovu, confirmed that
Bulawayo and Masvingo provincial committees had been ordered to prepare for
fresh elections.

"The elections in the two provinces will go ahead during the last
weekend of April," said Ndlovu. "Elections will be held in Masvingo on April
28 while those in Bulawayo will be held in April 29. There is nothing
sinister about this since these were not substantive committees but interim
committees," Ndlovu said.

He however was not forthcoming with information on whether elections
would be held in other provinces where the provincial chairmen were
suspended together with the Masvingo and Bulawayo provincial leaders.

The party chairman for Masvingo province, Samuel Mumbengegwi, was
livid when contacted on whether he will contest the April elections.

"It's a lie," Mumbengegwi said. "There are no provincial elections in
Masvingo and this has got nothing to do with you. What business do you have
over who contests what positions in Masvingo? You Independent (newspaper)
people are mischievous."

When it was put to him that Ndlovu had confirmed that elections would
be held in Masvingo, Mumbengegwi angrily charged that this reporter should
then get all comments on the matter from Ndlovu.

The dissolution of the two provinces is seen as part of the ongoing
power struggles in the party.

Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Effort Nkomo, confirmed that
Manyika wrote to the province ordering new elections but said the province
had written back seeking an explanation why the party was calling for early
elections.

The term of office of the two provinces was expected to expire in
2009.


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Govt faces contempt of court charge

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

GOVERNMENT has been charged with contempt of court after officials in
the Ministry of Mines including the late deputy minister Tinos Rusere
assisted a local businessman to illegally take over a gold mine from a
registered mining company in Masvingo.

Although Mines minister Amos Midzi is cited as a respondent in the
case in his official capacity, affidavits lodged with the High Court
indicated it was the late Rusere who last year helped Fred Moyo of Larmona
Enterprises to evict Knobthorn Mining Company from Lennox Mine in violation
of a court order. In a ruling made last month, Bulawayo High Court Judge,
Justice Nicholas Ndou, found Midzi, Masvingo mining commissioner a Mr
Wekwete, Moyo and three other respondents guilty of contempt of court.

In addition, Moyo was ordered to vacate the mine immediately and also
to pay Knobthorn $2 million "per day calculated from 24 November to the date
on which the mine is delivered" or face imprisonment.

This followed an urgent High Court chamber application by Khobthorn
through lawyer Josephat Tshuma of Webb, Low & Barry contesting its eviction
last year from Lennox Mine by Moyo's Larmona Enterprises with the help of
Rusere, Wekwete, the mining commissioner and F Furusa, the regional mining
engineer.

In the application, Larmona Enterprises, Moyo who is the company's
director, Wekwete, Furusa, the officer in charge of Mashava police station,
and Midzi, in his official capacity, were cited as the first, second, third,
fourth, fifth and sixth respondents respectively.

Justice Ndou declared the six "to be in contempt of the order of this
Honourable Court.in evicting applicant from Lennox Mine without an order
from the High Court".

The eviction was carried out despite a relief by High Court Judge
Francis Bere on July 20 last year "ordering the respondents not to evict the
applicant from Lennox Mine save by reason of the order by a Court".

Ndou added: "First and second respondents be and are hereby ordered to
pay to applicant the sum of $2 million per day calculated from the 24th of
December 2006 to the date on which the mine is delivered to applicant,
inclusive.

"Second respondent be and is hereby committed to jail for a period of
one day for each day that he fails to deliver up the mine to the applicant
from the day following that on which the applicant was served at the offices
of Mwonzora & Associates to the day on which it is delivered up, inclusive."


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Viable strategy needed to oust Mugabe

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's unexpected remarks that he will contest the
2008 presidential election have raised a challenge to opposition candidates.

Mugabe last week told the Southern Times, a newspaper set up by the
governments of Namibia and Zimbabwe, he was prepared to fight the
presidential election "if the party says so".

But the question in most voters' minds now would be whether or not the
MDC candidate - if not candidates - is ready to take on Mugabe who has shown
willingness to use all sorts of methods to retain power.

Events this week provided further evidence Mugabe would do anything to
hang on to power. A check on the political record would show Zanu PF
believes Mugabe has to win elections by hook or by crook.

Against this background, are MDC contestants sufficiently prepared to
confront Mugabe head-on in the election?

At the moment, unless things change as they might, the two MDC
factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara appear to work at
cross-purposes at a time when unity is a precious commodity.

Attempts to unite the camps have so far failed, leaving Mugabe with an
added advantage over his rivals. The MDC disunity is a political windfall
for Mugabe.

Observers have rightly been asking whether Tsvangirai or Mutambara,
individually or collectively, would defeat Mugabe if the poll goes ahead in
March next year. While it is generally agreed that Mugabe is much weaker now
than ever before given internal rivalries and an economy in free-fall, it is
also true to say that opposition leaders are weaker compared to him in a
number of respects.

Mugabe is under siege on many fronts. The collapsing economy is blamed
on mismanagement by his regime while internal wrangling in Zanu PF has
created serious fault lines in the party. Mugabe is isolated inside his
party and internationally.

However, he has the state machinery on his side. He also has a lot of
resources at his disposal to prop up his rule, the sort of things Tsvangirai
and Mutambara can only dream of.

Tsvangirai is battling to re-establish himself as the undisputable
leading opposition politician after the split of his party in 2005. While he
has in a way managed to reclaim that mantle, the reality on the ground is
that without a united opposition front behind him, his prospects diminish
compared to 2002 when he was undisputed leader of the anti-Mugabe forces.

The MDC vote will certainly be divided, even though Tsvangirai may win
the bigger stake. Every vote counts in the presidential election.

Mutambara is likely to pick up some votes in constituencies where his
faction has solid support and this will split the opposition total.
Mutambara is weaker than Tsvangirai because he has no established power
base. The performance of Mutambara's faction in two by-elections has left
many asking if he would make an impact at all in major elections, but the
point is the MDC needs a sole candidate and every vote it can get to beat
Mugabe.

Jacob Mafume, Crisis Coalition coordinator, said the opposition has to
contend with so many barriers in elections that they can ill-afford more
problems, especially of their own making.

"They have to deal with vote-rigging, political violence, lack of
resources, partisan electoral institutions, and a hostile state media," he
said.

"They need to put emphasis on a new constitution to level the playing
field and intensify outreach programmes to win the rural electorate."

However, the odds against Mugabe are also heavy. He will enter the
election knowing very well that over and above MDC candidates, he will have
to fight the economic meltdown which has also become the greatest threat to
his rule with his traditional supporters - civil servants, the army and the
rural populace - reeling from the consequences of his failed policies.

The general public is frustrated by current economic hardships.

Mugabe will also vividly remember the 2000 constitutional referendum
and the bruising 2002 presidential election which he won narrowly amid
charges of vote-rigging.

But unless the MDC has a new viable strategy of fighting the election,
it would be very difficult for its candidates to win so long as they are
divided.

While the MDC performed well in the 2000 and 2002 elections, observers
say that its strategies have been at best questionable, at worst hopeless.
The MDC seemingly got it wrong at the strategic level from the beginning.

The MDC, working with allies like the National Constitutional Assembly
and the labour movement, opposed and defeated a government-sponsored draft
constitution which - as some now believe - would have changed the political
landscape.

Some analysts say if that draft constitution - which would have
significantly reduced Mugabe's executive power, introduced a new system of
parliamentary representation and a prime minister - had been adopted, the
situation could be very different.

They say Mugabe would have been defeated at the polls way back in 2002
and Zanu PF's parliamentary majority would have been either reduced or the
party would also have been defeated.

Those who differ claim that the referendum defeat of government
boosted the morale of the MDC, but alerted Mugabe to imminent danger.

The MDC also made another strategic mistake after the disputed 2002
presidential election, analysts say. Instead of mobilising against Mugabe,
the party chose to feebly complain when voters were ready to take to the
streets to protest what they considered a stolen election.

In 2003 the MDC also failed to capitalise on the momentum built after
a five-day stayaway which left government powerless in the face of open
nationwide defiance.

The MDC did not seize the political initiative to bring government to
its knees by failing to follow through a process which people had supported
en masse. It also failed to oppose Operation Murambatsvina.

As if that was not enough, the MDC in 2005 finally lost the plot when
it bought into a Zanu PF agenda of senate elections hook, line and sinker.
This led to the party's split and subsequently the cold war between the
factions. Now the party is seemingly unable to reverse the damage. The
question then is how ready is Tsvangirai, Mutambara or both jointly to fight
Mugabe in next year's election?

Only time will tell whether the two factions put the country's
interests before their own futile quarrel.


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Zim doomed as long

Zim Independent

By Jonathan Moyo

ALTHOUGH President Robert Mugabe has of late been displaying bravado
by ruthlessly attacking in public some Zanu PF contenders for his 27-year
tainted rule, such as Joice Mujuru, and unleashing violence against
opposition politicians in police cells, while giving the impression he is
still like an invincible lion, the inescapable home truth visible to all and
sundry is that he is now behaving like a cornered rat whose quandary is that
every escape route it tries is a dead-end.

This became clear after his astonishing yet revealing indication last
week that he is set to dissolve parliament in the next few months to enable
him to yet again stand for re-election under controversial circumstances
that are certain to widen and deepen Zanu PF divisions. At best, the
threatened dissolution of parliament which has angered Zanu PF MPs is
designed to give Mugabe assured campaign assistance from the ruling party's
parliamentary hopefuls who would be forced to support his divisive candidacy
in joint presidential and parliamentary elections he wants to call well
before the expiry of his current term in March 2008.

But there could be another sinister agenda to resuscitate Mugabe's
dead 2010 plan.

In effect, Mugabe does not want to be succeeded by anybody. Zanu PF
factional leaders who imagine that they are Mugabe's preferred successors
are living in a fools' paradise because Mugabe does not want any successor.
This is because in his book there will never be a vacancy for the presidency
as a long as he is alive.

Witness how, because he has no shame in putting himself above
Zimbabwe, Mugabe has become so determined to play all sorts of dirty games
in his shocking quest to find any pretext to justify his ambition to remain
in office and rule for life. As a result, his public pronouncements have
become an embarrassing tale of flip-flops.

In December 2004 he was settling to retire in 2008 while publicly
putting his weight behind Joice Mujuru as his designated successor whom he
had clumsily imposed on the hierarchy of Zanu PF and government against laid
down rules and procedures and to the detriment of the democratic process
inside the ruling party.

But by December 2006 at the Zanu PF annual conference in Goromonzi the
same Mugabe had changed tack as he was now bad-mouthing Mujuru and asking
for a two-year extension of his rule under a deceitful plan to harmonise
presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.

Come March 2007, against the background of a decisive rejection by his
own party of his sinister 2010 plan, Mugabe is now asking for a fresh and
full presidential term while threatening to cause chaos and mayhem in Zanu
PF by dissolving parliament in what is an utterly reckless pursuit of power
for its own sake.

Besides his personal and maybe family interest, there is no
ideological content, no policy thrust and no enduring national agenda or
principle behind Mugabe's latest bid to extend and further entrench his rule
through a self-indulgent re-election campaign that would require a premature
and ill-advised dissolution of parliament. Even the usual anti-Blair
gibberish would not do because Tony Blair is leaving office this July.

And the notion that the defence of Zimbabwe's sovereignty or land
reform is possible only if Mugabe is in office is now a silly joke that is
not funny. What everyone can now see and understand is that Zimbabwe is
doomed as long as Mugabe remains in office. This is not a realisation of
people who hate him but people who love Zimbabwe more and who want to put
their country first and above any individual.

Yet Mugabe's indication that he will now seek re-election is revealing
and most welcome in so far as it validates the fact which he has thus far
strenuously denied that his earlier plan to scrap the 2008 presidential
election under the pretext of harmonising parliamentary and presidential
polls in 2010 was indeed designed to extend and entrench his rule via the
backdoor.

What is now clear is that Mugabe believes he needs not two but at
least five more years in power which he hopes will translate into a lifetime
of his rule to secure immunity from likely prosecution for his alleged human
rights violations and other indiscretions.

What this means is that, along with some of his Zanu PF succession
contenders who think they are his preferred choice, Mugabe is also now
living in a fools' paradise since he apparently does not realise that he has
put himself in an untenable lose-lose situation whether it's heads or tails,
given that what most people in and outside Zanu PF now want is for him to
retire in the national interest.

Mugabe's determination to remain in office until death do him part is
apparently driven by a fatal combination of old age, his unquenchable thirst
for power, his having a young wife with young children and his getting
sycophantic advice from unscrupulous politicians, incompetent bureaucrats
and delinquent propagandists all influenced by insecure and increasingly
nervous securocrats who are better informed about political developments on
the ground and who can see that Mugabe's empire is crumbling.

It is notable that, unlike the dead 2010 proposal which was initially
championed by Nathan Shamuyarira who is now conspicuous by his silence on
all major issues, Mugabe's latest bid to extend his rule by standing for
re-election did not emanate from Zanu PF structures but came direct from his
embattled office using the government-controlled media. This is because the
desperate bid does not have structural or political support within Zanu PF.

There are some roving Zanu PF political schemers who fancy themselves
as kingmakers and who have been hoping and jumping from one faction to
another since 2004 and who now, because they are still shopping around
either for a leader or a factional home within the ruling party, are
encouraging Mugabe to stand for re-election with the promise of their
campaign support. These schemers are using their alleged support for Mugabe
as a convenient weapon to block the presumed political interests of Joice
Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Gideon Gono.

Among these Zanu PF schemers are the likes of Elliot Manyika, Nicholas
Goche, Sydney Sekeramayi, Oppah Muchinguri, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick
Chinamasa who, by virtue of his ministerial portfolio, is drafting the legal
instrument to facilitate Mugabe's re-election bid that would include the
unpopular dissolution of parliament.

Most of them want Mugabe to stay for their own self-interest, not
because they think that he is a good leader.

As influential leaders of the Zanu PF youth and women's leagues
respectively, Kasukuwere and Muchinguri are key to Mugabe's controversial
re-election bid and they are expected to provide powerful endorsements from
their leagues. But their tasks will be more than a tall order because the
majority of the youth and women in Zanu PF are saying they have had enough
of Mugabe whom they accuse of failing to turn around the economy which has
become Mugabe's effective opposition.

Against this backdrop, it appears that Mugabe's bid to seek
re-election is intended as a ploy to regain lost political leverage in the
negotiation stakes for his failed 2010 plan which he hopes to resuscitate
through the bid. His strategy is to threaten to dissolve parliament in order
to render every Zanu PF politician currently in public office as politically
insecure and vulnerable as he himself has become.

Mugabe's hope is that by spreading his political insecurity to make it
a shared threat within the leadership of his party, Zanu PF critics of his
2010 plan would be forced to rethink their opposition purely for reasons of
safeguarding their own positions which are now in jeopardy as a result of
Mugabe's re-election bid.

But Mugabe is in a zero sum quandary. What complicates the game plan
for him to the point of being left behaving like a cornered rat, despite his
roaring posture of a lion, is that, whether it's about his wish for a
two-year extension of his rule under his old 2010 plan or his quest for a
fresh and full presidential term under his new 2008 re-election bid that
would be preceded by the unpopular dissolution of parliament, there is one
irreversible constant: the growing chorus within Zanu PF's rank and file for
him to retire now as a statesman or face the inevitability of a humiliating
exit at the polls, as happened to Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia, or worse, be
thrown out through chaos and mayhem, as happened to Mobutu Sese Seko in
Zaire.

* Professor Jonathan Moyo is independent MP for Tsholotsho.


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Mugabe a stumbling block to recovery

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

IF President Robert Mugabe stands and wins next year's election,
prospects of an economic recovery will be bleak.

Mugabe last week announced his intention to stay in power at the same
time that the Central Statistical Office was releasing new figures which
showed a major surge in inflation to 1 729%, up from 1 593%, proving that
Zimbabweans have more horrors in store.

It is generally agreed by observers that the first major step towards
economic revival is Mugabe's exit followed by a comprehensive package of
reforms supported by the international community.

If Mugabe hangs on to power there is no realistic possibility of an
economic recovery programme which will have a buy-in from stakeholders or
international goodwill.

Each day Mugabe spends in power makes the situation worse. He is seen
as by far the biggest obstacle to inter-party dialogue urgently needed to
resolve the current political deadlock and diplomatic engagement with the
international community necessary for economic revival.

Although the problem is not Mugabe per se, the problem is that he has
now come to personify Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis. It is
therefore reasonable to say his continued stay in power makes it extremely
difficult to address the prevailing problems.

Many a stakeholder in the economy including Reserve Bank governor,
Gideon Gono, would by now have realised that no matter how well-intentioned
and hardworking they could be, under Mugabe, their efforts are simply doomed
to fail. The extent to which Mugabe has become part of the economic problems
makes it impossible for him to be part of the solution.

His rule has spawned one of the biggest economic calamities in
post-colonial Africa which is made dramatic by the fact that Zimbabwe in
1980 was the most industrialised country in sub-Saharan Africa outside South
Africa. A glance at all economic indicators bears testimony to this
assessment.

The country had a wide range of manufacturing industries, a
sophisticated agricultural system, thriving service sector, an abundance of
natural resources, a fairly educated population, good infrastructure and a
functioning financial services sector. This made the economy the second
largest in the region.

But all this has changed.

We now have a de-industrialising economy characterised by inflation
close to 2 000%. The standard of living has gone down to the levels of 1953,
according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Interest rates, currently the highest in the world, are bleeding
businesses while eight in every 10 economically active people are
unemployed. Companies are shutting down at alarming rates while those still
surviving are operating far below capacity with very slim possibilities of
them avoiding collapse.

Basic services, education, health, water, housing and the road
infrastructure have collapsed. Even though Mugabe claims that the land
redistribution exercise was one of his major success stories, by all
accounts the programme has been a huge failure. It has only succeeded in
ruining agriculture and thus spawning food shortages.

At its conference in Esigodini two years ago, Zanu PF admitted that
the new farmers were failing to produce. Six land audits initiated by Mugabe
himself have all proven the land reform was chaotic, marred by corruption,
capacity under-utilisation and misuse of farms.

The Zimbabwe dollar has of late been tumbling relentlessly on the
parallel market, now trading at $15 000 to the US dollar due to lack of
exports and balance of payments support.

It has become evident that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will
not bail out Zimbabwe as long as Mugabe remains in power. Mugabe has
persistently ignored IMF's recommendations for "fundamental structural
reforms", including public enterprise and civil service reforms, stronger
property rights and improvements in governance.

Last month the IMF indicated it was not convinced that Zimbabwe had
taken any steps to resuscitate its ailing economy by refusing to lift
sanctions on Harare, further isolating the country from the international
community. The IMF recently said while Zimbabwe's debts continued to mount,
authorities have continued to be indifferent to the economic situation.

The IMF expressed "deep concern over the deteriorating economic and
social conditions", saying it was dismayed the authorities were not taking
the situation seriously.

Angered by this, Mugabe re-launched his old attack, saying he did not
need IMF help even though the situation on the ground clearly indicates the
country does.

Mugabe's announcement that he wants to extend his power would have
sent alarm bells ringing in the business sector because they have been
banking on his departure for them to start rebuilding their companies, most
of which are tottering on the brink of collapse. Contrary to their hopes,
Mugabe is now planning to stay put until 2014.

"There are very few companies that can survive for another five years
under Mugabe's regime. Almost all of his policies from price controls to
exchange rate management are hurting us," said a chief executive of a listed
company.

"Each day we have to grapple with his hostile policies that seem to
intensify in their meanness and flip-flop nature at every turn," he said.

That Mugabe has nothing new to offer is shown by the fact that his 10
economic turnaround programmes for the past 27 years have failed. These
include the Growth with Equity (1981), Economic Structural Adjustment
Programme (1991), Poverty Alleviation Action Programme (1994), Zimbabwe
Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (1996-2000) and the
Zimbabwe Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (2001).

Over the past six years Mugabe has tried but failed to turn around the
economy with policies that include the Ten Point Plan (2002), the National
Economic Revival Programme: Measures to Address the Current Challenges
(2003); and Zimbabwe: Towards Sustained Economic Growth - Macro-Economic
Policy Framework for 2005-2006. The National Economic Development Priority
Programme, lauded as the solution last year, has collapsed in spectacular
style.

"Mugabe's policies are the chief causes of the current mess in the
economy," said John Robertson, an economic commentator. "This country will
continue to be in crisis as long as Mugabe refuses to let go of power. There
is no sign that he will change from his destructive course," Robertson said.

So irrelevant is Mugabe to the needs of the day that he does not even
have the spine to name and shame corrupt officials in his party who are
involved in mineral smuggling and other dirty deals. All he could say was
that he was aware of such characters in the party's leadership.

The worst aspect of the problem is that he knows he has no solutions
to offer but is intent upon punishing his critics and clinging to office.


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State violence widely condemned

Zim Independent

GOVERNMENT'S campaign of political repression which resulted in brutal
attacks on dozens of the main opposition MDC leaders in police custody has
backfired and exploded in President Robert Mugabe's face.

With the state unable to prosecute badly injured MDC leaders - even on
trumped-up charges - pressure is mounting for Mugabe to quit or embark on
major reforms that will convince Zimbabweans and the rest of the world that
he is serious about ending the current crisis.

Mugabe has never been so roundly condemned or put under such scrutiny
by angry world leaders. From the United Nations, African Union, individual
African leaders, the United States, European Union, neighbours such as South
Africa and Zambia, to international human rights groups and local civic
organisations, the message was the same: this is unacceptable.

Government and police reactions simply made the situation worse. They
failed to explain their actions, except through a clumsy propaganda spin
which tried to present victims of state-sponsored violence as perpetrators.
It convinced nobody.

The political scene was more than sombre during the week. Television
images of battered MDC leaders shown around the world triggered the current
torrent of global outrage over the vicious assaults, especially on key MDC
faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was widely feared to have sustained a
skull fracture due to beatings in police custody.

As more information about the injuries filtered out, it became clear
that the police brutality would worsen international indignation and
compound Mugabe's isolation.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office said the
attacks on opposition leaders "violate the basic democratic right of
citizens to engage in peaceful assembly", while the German presidency of the
European Union (EU) condemned the "ongoing violent suppression of the
freedom of opinion and of assembly".

In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour,
called on Zimbabwe to launch a full investigation into the violent arrests.

"This form of repression and intimidation of a peaceful assembly is
unacceptable, and the loss of life makes this even more disturbing," Arbour
said. "I urge the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure an immediate, impartial
and comprehensive investigation into these events."

US Secretary of State Condo-leezza Rice upped the ante by demanding
the immediate release of the MDC leaders. Rice said Mugabe's regime was
"ruthless and repressive". She said the US administration held Mugabe
directly responsible for the brutality. Rice has in the past said Zimbabwe
was an outpost of tyranny.

US Ambassador to South Africa Eric Bost said in Pretoria that he was
"very disappointed" by the lack of reaction from Sadc. However, South Africa's
deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad asked Zimbabwe to respect the
rights of opposition leaders and the rule of law.

Britain's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, Lord Triesman said: "Mugabe has resorted to further
violence and intimidation, clinging to power as Zimbabwe crumbles around
him."

British MPs said it was about time the Zimbabwe issue was referred to
the UN Security Council for action. In Canberra, Australian Foreign minister
Alexander Downer said Mugabe's "brutal suppression" showed his desperation
to stay in power. "The fact is the situation in Zimbabwe is going from awful
to catastrophic," Downer said.

Canadian Foreign minister Peter MacKay said: "Canada condemns the
government of Zimbabwe's continued disregard for democratic principles and
fundamental freedoms, such as the right to assembly and association, and its
increasingly violent repression of its citizens."

New Zealand and Sweden added their voices, saying government actions
were appalling.

Ghanaian President and African Union chairman John Kufuor said the
Zimbabwean situation was embarrassing to the continent. He said what was
happening in Zimbabwe was making the AU uncomfortable."We want accountable
government. We want multi-party democracy," Kufuor said in remarks likely to
infuriate Mugabe. - Staff Writers.


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Doctors detail MDC leaders' injuries

Zim Independent

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has said
MDC leaders and activists sustained serious injuries after their assaults by
the police.

"The injuries we have documented were consistent with beatings with
blunt objects heavy enough to cause the following: fractures to hands, arms
and legs on five individuals including Lovemore Madhuku with a fractured
ulna. Three of these, Elton Mangoma, Sekai Holland and Morgan Tsvangirai
sustained multiple fractures," the group said.

"Severe, extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to their backs,
shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs on 14 individuals. Head injuries on
three individuals, Nelson Chamisa, Tsvangirai and Madhuku with the latter
two sustaining deep lacerations to the scalp. A possibly ruptured bowel in
one individual due to severe blunt trauma to the abdomen. A split right ear
lobe sustained by Grace Kwinjeh."

It said prolonged detention without accessing medical treatment
resulted in severe haemorrhaging by Tsvangirai leading to severe anaemia
which warranted a blood transfusion.

"Injuries sustained by Holland were also worsened by denial of timely
access to medical treatment which led to an infection of deep soft tissue in
her left leg," ZADHR said.

"Denial of access to treatment in another individual suffering from
hypertension could lead to angina. Further tests are currently being carried
out to determine the fuller extent of injuries in several of those currently
admitted. Some will require surgical procedures as part of their treatment.
Holland has already undergone a surgical fixation of the fracture in her
left ankle."

Two individuals hospitalised were admitted due to conditions resulting
from poor conditions of detention with severe diarrhoea in one victim and
extensive and severe flea bites on another. - Staff Writer.


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RBZ/ tobacco growers talks in deadlock

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

TALKS between the central bank and tobacco growers this week faltered
after the Reserve Bank insisted it would not budge in response to growers'
demands for a special exchange rate.

Growers insisted they would not sell their crops until the central
bank granted them a special exchange rate, saying the fixed rate of $250 to
the US dollar would precipitate significant losses on their operations.

Tobacco growers are demanding a special review of the exchange rate to
$500 to the US unit and a price of at least US$4 per kg to maintain
viability and enable them to remain operational next season. The average
price last year was US$1,99 per kg.

The impasse between the central bank and growers had forced the
Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) to reschedule the opening of tobacco
auction floors, which should have opened on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe Growers Trust president Lovegot Tendengu said floors would
remain closed until a favourable package between the two parties was
reached.

"Tobacco farmers want a better exchange rate and selling prices.
Floors would remain closed until an agreement between the two parties is
reached. Farmers want rates that would enable them to have another crop next
season but the Reserve Bank has not been forthcoming," Tendengu said.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) president, Julius Ngorima,
said the central bank was adamant it would not cave in to growers demands
for a special exchange rate dispensation.

"Nothing concrete has come out of the meetings held so far," Ngorima
said.

He indicated that in the absence of a review of the exchange rate,
growers were proposing that the central bank reviews the 15% foreign
currency retention by tobacco growers to 50%.

The central bank last year announced that tobacco farmers would retain
15% of their earnings in foreign currency in special zero balance accounts
with authorised dealers.

Officials from TIMB said yesterday negotiations between farmers and
the central bank were still on.

Floors would only open after the two parties reached an agreement and
tobacco growers accepted to sell, the official said.

"Farmers would be advised when a new date has been set, but if
deliveries continue to increase, sales might resume," the official said.

Sources said Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono was cagey on meeting
growers' demands as that would open the floodgates for more demands from
other industrial sectors for special exchange rate terms.

"The governor said he would not give any sector a special exchange
rate as it would promote multiple exchange rates. Sectors such as gold would
be knocking on his doors if tobacco farmers' requests are met," a central
bank official said.

About 80 million kg of tobacco are expected to go under the hammer
this season, from 55,5 million kg sold last year.

Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has been declining over the years from
a peak of 236,13 million kgs in 2000 to the current levels due to shortage
of inputs and recurrent droughts, a fixed exchange rate and low prices.

In 2001 about 202 million kgs went under the hammer while 165,84
million kgs, 81,81milion kgs and 69 million kgs were sold in 2002, 2003 and
2004 respectively.

A total of 73,3 million kg and 55,5 million kgs was sold in 2005 and
2006 respectively.


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Dollar touches $17 500 to greenback

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

ZIMBABWE'S foreign currency market was this week struck by a fresh
wave of turbulence as the local unit plummeted to a low of $17 500 to the
greenback on the parallel market on renewed buying pressure.

It emerged yesterday that the parallel market had developed into two
levels, one a lower tier dealing with cash-to-cash transactions, usually
involving small volumes and unsophisticated dealers, and another a higher
tier involving the banking sector for huge transactions on behalf of the
central bank, state enterprises and government.

Market sources said government was on Wednesday on the market looking
for US$1 million for unspecified commitments.

At least two financial institutions had been given the mandate to
scout for the foreign currency on a strapped market.

"They are looking for US$1 million in cash," a market source
indicated. "We don't know why they want it in cash - maybe someone wants his
money in cash because of the government's increased default risk."

Authorised dealers with the central bank's mandate were paying a huge
premium on the prevailing parallel market rates, and were making payments
through the real time gross settlement (RTGS) system into the accounts of
selling corporate institutions and individuals.

The dollar hit $12 000 against the benchmark greenback on the second
tier parallel market, with the British pound fetching between $22 000 and
$25 000 and the South African rand buying $1 700.

The local unit was at $17 500 to the greenback on the first tier
market, with the pound and rand rates revolving around the benchmark US
dollar rate.

Businessdigest reported last week that the central bank was "the
mystery mover" on the market as it had been buying aggressively from the
parallel market to raise cash for unspecified commitments.

The local unit was last week at $9 500 to the greenback on the
cash-to-cash market, and at $17 500 against the British pound, and between
$1 300 and $1 350 to the South African rand.

Zimbabwe is currently battling an acute foreign currency shortage that
has stoked severe fuel shortages and disrupted normal economic activities.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono in January refused to devalue the
local unit, saying devaluation was unlikely to result in "planeloads" of
foreign currency into the country. Eight devaluations since he assumed
office had failed to give any spark to the distressed foreign currency
market, he said.

He kept the rate fixed at $250 to the benchmark US unit, the rate he
had fixed in July from $101 to the US unit.


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Global Steel actions cost Zisco: Parly report

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

INDIAN steel giant, Global Steel Holdings, exposed Ziscosteel to
costly litigation after cancelling several contracts between the
Redcliff-based steelmaker and its service providers, businessdigest
established from parliamentary documents.

A parliamentary portfolio committee on foreign affairs, industry and
international trade said in a damning report that Global Steel's actions had
been detrimental to Ziscosteel's operational viability.

While noting that there had been some positive developments emanating
from the Indian steel company's management at Ziscosteel, the report said
documentary evidence had revealed that Global Steel "made some arrangements
that were detrimental to Ziscosteel whilst it was in control".

"It appointed Stem Cor of South Africa to be the sole buying and
selling agent of all Ziscosteel products, and existing contracts were
cancelled. This kind of arrangement was bound to have conflict of interest,"
the committee noted.

The report noted that the cancellation of contracts had been
arbitrary, resulting in some of the parties like China's Shougang suing
Ziscosteel and demanding payments.

Shougang, which was offering Ziscosteel with "operating knowledge and
experience", had a contract with Ziscosteel valued at US$2,6 million.

Other companies whose contracts were cancelled by Global Steel include
Morewear (coal wagons supply); Reclamation Group (for technical services);
and another company listed as Reclamation and MMC2 which supplied Ziscosteel
with unspecified products and bought from the steelmaker pool iron.

During Global Steel's tenure, the committee noted that the Indian
group had entered into a purchase agreement with its customer, Stemcor,
which had the potential for "cross indebtedness and disputes between
Ziscosteel, Global Steel and Stemcor since purchases done on behalf of
Ziscosteel had no exchange control authority".


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Government begs African Development Bank for cash

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

THE African Development Bank (ADB), which terminated financial aid to
Zimbabwe because of a worsening credit rating, this week received a plea for
economic support from President Robert Mugabe's embattled government
desperate to restore confidence in the faltering economy.

Zimbabwe urgently requires offshore support to prop up its foreign
missions as well as pay for critical food imports to curtail millions from
starving due to poor harvests.

Sources indicated that Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi pleaded
with a seven-member ADB delegation that came into the country this week for
financial support.

The ADB delegation, which was led by executive secretary general
Abraham Kukuri, had visited the country for routine consultations with
Zimbabwe's government. Zimbabwe is a member of the ADB.

Sources in the business community, who had also been consulted by the
ADB team, said government had outlined the problems facing the country and
that prospects for economic recovery depended on support from friendly
institutions like the ADB.

Industry had supported government in its plea for financial support.

A source in the business community said the ADB had indicated that it
was looking at the possibility of re-engaging Zimbabwe.

ADB has previously expressed grave concerns over the non-payment of
debts by Zimbabwe, a situation that could affect possibilities of fresh
support.

Zimbabwe had outstanding arrears to ADB amounting to US$300 million by
the end of 2005.

Mumbengegwi confirmed he had met the ADB delegation but refused to
reveal the nature of their discussions.

"It is just part of their annual visit to member countries",
Mumbengegwi told businessdigest.

"There were no specific issues to discuss but they were assessing the
situation in a member country. The delegation had been to other countries
like Zambia. They wanted to get a feel of the situation in a member
country", he said.

Analysts said prospects for new funding would depend on government
adopting comprehensive economic and political reforms backed by the West and
international lenders like the International Monetary Fund which cut off
financial support to Zimbabwe after the country accumulated arrears to the
Bretton Woods institution's general resources account in 2001.

Zimbabwe also has outstanding arrears with the World Bank, the
European Investment Bank and several other international and regional
lending institutions.

An ADB economist, Stephen Owusu, who visited Zimbabwe early last year,
said while Zimbabwes's debt to the institution "had reached alarming
levels", the bank was willing to explore avenues of normalising relations
and cooperation with Zimbabwe to solve the economic crisis.

Owusu met government and other stakeholders in the business community
as part of the consultative process that was aimed at collecting social and
economic information.


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Fuel dries up on scarce forex

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

FUEL supplies this week began dwindling on drying foreign currency
supplies on the thriving parallel market from where the central bank has
been aggressively buying over the past four weeks.

Dealers said fuel importers were finding it difficult to compete with
the central bank - which was said to have been joined by several
parastatals - in the hunt for foreign cash on the parallel market.

The dealers said government had authorised power utility Zesa and Air
Zimbabwe to scout for forex on the parallel market.

The two institutions, together with the central bank which is said to
have splurged huge sums to buy "all the foreign currency in the economy",
were said to be the prime movers of parallel market rates.

Fuel dealers said the highly volatile parallel market rate was
creating costing problems for the commodity; rates were moving daily but
fuel adjustments to match the changing exchange rates were meeting
resistance on the market.

Major oil companies confirmed problems related to the cost of
importing fuel, saying weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar on the parallel
market was creating pricing problems.

Importers cited the crush of the local unit to the US dollar on the
parallel market to reduced supplies of fuel.

Parallel market dealers were quoting the Zimbabwe dollar at $12 500 to
the US unit and at as high as $17 000 to the greenback for large volumes on
Thursday morning, as foreign currency shortages escalated.

Fuel was selling at over $11 000 at most pump stations.

A number of fuel stations in Harare said they had not received
supplies of either petrol or diesel over the past two days.

Fuel prices have surged by over 100% in the past two weeks, a
situation that has triggered a wave of massive price increases for goods and
services.

A litre of petrol and diesel, which cost between $4 500 and $5 000 a
fortnight ago, now costs over $11 000 per litre.

Government last year gazetted the prices for petrol and diesel at $335
and $320 but dealers have ignored these unrealistic prices because of the
cost of foreign currency sourced from the parallel market.

Government has not given fuel importers foreign currency for fuel
imports from the official foreign currency market, where the rate remains
fixed at $250 to the US dollar.


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Minister leaves committee aghast

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi this week surprised legislators
when he refused to tell a parliamentary portfolio committee the source of
the foreign currency government used to import 400 000 metric tonnes of
maize to feed millions of starving Zimbabweans.

There is widespread concern that the foreign currency could have been
bought on the illegal parallel foreign currency market.

It was not immediately clear if this was the reason for the budget,
finance and economic development committee's interrogation of Mumbengegwi to
establish the source of the foreign currency.

Businessdigest reported last week that the central bank was
aggressively buying foreign currency from the parallel market, pushing up
rates in the process.

A hostile Mumbengegwi shot down the committee's questions, saying it
was improper for a country under undeclared sanctions to reveal its sources
of foreign cash.

"For a country facing economic sanctions, it would be very unwise for
me to tell you the source of the foreign currency," he said.

"I am not talking about perceptions. The EU (European Union) has
extended its sanctions against Zimbabwe. The US has renewed sanctions
against us. These are not perceived perceptions but reality. We are in an
economic warfare here, not perceptions," he said.

He was apparently referring to targeted sanctions imposed by the West
on President Mugabe and members of the regime, which have been blamed by
government for the escalating economic crisis in the country.

Mumbengegwi remained unmoved even when MPs charged that he was trying
to conceal information from the public.

"I am withholding nothing from you. I am telling you what I should. I
will tell you all I know within my limits. I cannot tell you how and where
we got the money. But last week I was running around looking for money. I
found the food and it is coming. We have secured 400 000 metric tonnes of
maize," he said.

He indicated, however, that the country had vast mineral resources and
the MPs were ignorant of that fact, but did not explain if the foreign
currency had been secured from their exploitation.

Mumbengegwi told the committee, headed by Zanu PF legislator for
Guruve North, David Butau, that while there had been an increase in foreign
currency inflows through money transfer agencies, government had not
benefited from the inflows.

Most of the money, he said, had found its way into the parallel
market.

Butau ordered Mumbengegwi to be serious, saying they were discussing
critical economic issues concerning the welfare of people, to which
Mumbengegwi responded by saying the committee did not have to embarrass him.

Responding to questions over his role in the country's economic
revival programme since he became Finance minister in February, Mumbengegwi
said he would say nothing because he could trigger speculative behaviour on
the market if he disclosed his ministry's strategy in dealing with the
economic crisis.

"I feel constrained to say what new systems I will implement. It does
not make economic sense for me to say specific issues of what I want to do.
Look at what happened when the governor (Gideon Gono) announced his
proposals for the social contract," Mumbengegwi said.


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Mugabe: tale of a spectacular fall from grace

Zim Independent

By Anthony Harrisson

WHILST President Robert Mugabe presided over the establishment of a
viable African country with a relatively strong economy and standard of
living (he is to be congratulated for that), in his declining years his
actions seem to suggest he is intent on destroying everything, reverting to
the Stone Age.

Only four actions have destroyed his previously good name. Firstly, he
sought to destroy the economy by taking over white-owned farms, giving them
either to bands of war veterans with no experience of farming or to his
cronies.

Farming production, once the engine of the economy, is now laughable.
Mugabe should have re-distributed the land through better planning,
education and co-operation with previous owners in training.

He chose not to, either because he did not see the dangers of a failed
agricultural sector, or because he didn't care.

Secondly, his policy of slum clearance within the cities has created
poverty on a wide scale. There were better ways this could have been
achieved.

His actions appear to indicate his intent was political rather than
anything else. It is pretty close to ethnic cleansing.

His restriction of the opposition parties, newspapers and general
disregard for the law have allowed his excesses to evade the spotlight in
the same way they would have in a proper democracy.

Robert Mugabe, a man many thought they would remember for achieving
great things during the early years of his rule, has presided over
destruction of the economy, impoverishment of the populace, and usurped the
legal framework for his own ends.

After his departure, Zimbabwe will take decades to recover and even
then, recovery will be reliant on the support of nations Mugabe has insulted
and shunned.

The future cannot get any bleaker while Mugabe still rules, and it
will barely improve once he is gone. Such is the shameful state in which
Mugabe has placed this country.

* Anthony Harrisson can be contacted through abharrisson @yahoo.co.uk


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Time running out for MDC reunification

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

TIME is fast running out for the opposition to reunite and form a
formidable political force against Zanu PF in the light of President Robert
Mugabe's declaration that he wants to stand in the presidential election
next year.

While Mugabe's recent statement unravelled the 2010 extension project
that was creaking from opposition by contestants to his throne at the
Goromonzi conference, it places greater urgency on the opposition's
reunification process that has so far failed to meet its March 1 deadline.

Morgan Tsvangirai's faction spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, last week
admitted unity talks had stalled.

"We are waiting for the committee to report back to the executive and
the national council and we will see what their findings are," Chamisa told
the Zimbabwe Independent.

Analysts say there is a better chance for reunification now following
the arrest of Tsvangirai and his rival Arthur Mutambara last Sunday while on
their way to a joint prayer rally in Highfield. But it would take one of the
leaders to be more magnanimous and make a bold step to announce a concrete
unity plan, analysts say.

"It would be better now to unite after Sunday's events. But I don't
think the two formations will unite immediately," says John Makumbe, a
political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.

Makumbe said the Save Zimbabwe Campaign could take charge to urge
unity between the two opposition MDC factions led by Tsvangirai and
Mutambara.

"The coalition is likely to bring the two MDC formations together and
in Mutambara's view this should be possible," Makumbe said, adding that the
issue was more urgent now than ever.

If elections are held without a new constitution, Makumbe said, the
opposition faces a greater risk that the poll will be a repeat of the 2002
poll. He said unity would entail a daunting reconfiguration of both
formations' structures from the grassroots level up to the executive.

Together, with the collaboration of civic groups, they can defer
elections until a new constitution is in place and still hold elections next
year, he said.

"As long as there is national consensus, the elections can be deferred
to allow proper arrangement of the elections under a new constitutional
dispensation," Mutambara said at the launch of his wing's defiance campaign.

Makumbe said elections in 2008 without a new constitution must be
stopped at all costs.

"It won't change anything," he said.

But if the way secretary-general of the Mutambara-led Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) formation, Welshman Ncube, reacted to earlier
prospects of unity reflects the party's position, the prospects are very
slim.

And if responses by the national chairman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC,
Isaac Matongo, are any harbinger, the prospects are even slimmer!

"You cannot expect me to sit and discuss unity with Sam Sipepa Nkomo
whom we discarded from our structures. Tsvangirai has to be more serious
than that," Ncube said on the prospects of a reunification.

Equally dismissive was the response by Matongo to reunification: "We
are the MDC and have always stated categorically that the door is always
open for our former colleagues who want to rejoin us."

Matongo suspects the media is anxious to set an agenda. "The talk
about unity is a media agenda," he says.

A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) - a
Brussels-based think tank - says the MDC would greatly benefit from
reconciliation to salvage its domestic and international image which has
suffered since the October 12 2005 split.

The MDC was badly but not irreparably damaged when it split into two
factions over participation in senatorial elections, analysts say.

Mutambara is reported to have said: "There is no alternative to all
democratic forces working together to bring about democratic change."

Yet Tsvangirai sees unity in a different light. He says his party
believes in unity of purpose.

"There is the mistaken belief that the burden of responsibility in
resolving the national crisis is the so-called disunity in the opposition.
We believe our focus on unity of purpose is more important," he says.

The ICG report says personal friction remains the key obstacle to
reunification.

Officials who were elevated to higher echelons of the party after the
split could be feeling threatened by loss of status in the event of
re-unification.

Tsvangirai officials say, according to ICG analysts, reunification
would not be a problem if Ncube was out of the equation.

Both sets of leaders have recently indicated they can at least still
work together towards the common objectives of restoring democracy and
ending Mugabe's rule.

"I think the two factions have signed a code of conduct that seems to
working," Makumbe said, citing Sunday's events as a confluence of the two
formations' defiance campaign as an example.

He said the Save Zimbabwe Campaign would have to sustain the civil
disobedience campaign that has shown that the people are willing to repeat
the event on a weekly basis.

The ICG says so far most leaders are saying the right thing.

"While elections are an important form of struggle, they are not the
only form. We will defeat this regime through a multi-pronged approach,"
David Coltart, the Mutambara faction's secretary for legal affairs, said.

Tendai Biti, the secretary-general of the Tsvangirai faction, agreed
the party should support all positive efforts at opposing the government
instead of trying to identify a single method.

Tsvangirai has often drawn similarities between the 1963 split in Zapu
to the current MDC schism.

"We want unity of purpose not just unity for the sake of it,"
Tsvangirai said explaining that Zapu and Zanu faced a common enemy but their
joint efforts still achieved the goal.

The two MDC formations could take some comfort in the realisation that
they could have helped stop Mugabe's 2010 project in its tracks through
their launch of a defiance campaign and could achieve even more by courting
disaffected members of the ruling Zanu PF party opposed to Mugabe standing
for re-election on their side.

But what remains is setting the groundwork for free elections in order
to restore the opposition status to its pre-split strength.


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We must abandon lone warrior mentality

Zim Independent

By Morgan Tsvangirai

The following is Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's address to the Annual Foreign Correspondents Dinner in
Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday last week.

I UNDERSTAND you had invited the governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to be with you at this important occasion today. I present myself
to all of you as a representative of a battered nation: a nation bleeding
from a dysfunctional political system, with a people reeling under the
weight of a criminal state; a nation under a dictatorship that has defied
local and international advice on universal principles of governance, and
respect for individual and property rights.

I lay myself before you as a leader of a people under siege from a
dictatorship that has adopted a lone warrior mentality in the conduct of
international relations to defend its waning political power base.

I am here this evening with a firm conviction that open debate and
discussion about Zimbabwe's national affairs is healthy for democracy and
for our own humanity as Zimbabweans.

I further submit myself to all of you as a leader of the MDC, a symbol
of a post-liberation alternative seeking a new epoch whose signposts for
national advancement are being spearheaded by broad social movements. The
MDC assumed guardianship of the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people; it
is an idea whose time has come.

Recent events and developments point to an inevitable collapse of the
criminal regime. Widespread pressure for change has seen the virtual
imposition of a state of emergency across the country. Meetings and all
forms of political gatherings have been banned - and usually that signals
the last kick of a dying administration.

We are in a hard transition, both political and generational. Our
founding fathers have lost focus and are failing to establish a legacy our
people shall respect and cherish. They can't even give way to their own
people in Zanu PF, nor can they allow a free and fair vote to enable
Zimbabweans to look for alternatives.

Zimbabweans are a peace-loving people. That they have avoided an armed
conflict, as is normal throughout Africa, to resolve the crisis shows their
maturity and firm belief in an orderly transition.

In the MDC, our proposals for a lasting resolution of the national
crisis are fast becoming the only acceptable avenue for a soft-landing. We
have to save Zimbabwe through stakeholder dialogue, a confidence-building
transitional window, a people-driven constitution and free and fair
elections - a process now accepted by other Zimbabwe watchers like the
International Crisis Group as the only way out of the current stalemate.

The odds against us in this struggle may be daunting. But I am fully
convinced that we shall triumph. It is common cause that the regime in
Harare has failed during the past 27 years. The high levels of
marginalisation, discrimination and retribution are clear to all, including
open reverse racism.

The biggest challenge facing a new Zimbabwe shall be the development
of a diverse nation in which a person's ancestry shall never be seen in
political terms as a source of friction and discrimination.

Across the racial and ethnic divide, access to our birthright and to
our national resources has been severely restricted by the criminal regime
in Harare, using an outdated and opportunistic form of nationalism grounded
in the militarisation of civilian governance institutions and corruption.

The new Zimbabwe before my eyes is a country an MDC government shall
expose to a rigorous programme of national healing and national integration
before it can take off in earnest. The wounds are too deep. Our people need
to speak out and express themselves out of the present racial and ethnic
fragments to a distinct nation.

In my vision, no single social or political grouping must be permitted
to dominate any other. We have committed ourselves to a complicated,
post-colonial struggle for freedom, justice and democracy in a continent
still trying to come to terms with a realisation that black-on-black
oppression exists. In a new Zimbabwe, everyone must be free to be different.

We have to eliminate the current misery and mistrust, and the sense of
betrayal; and to enable the women, men and children of Zimbabwe to
experience a changed political dispensation. We need to develop a culture of
openness and accountability in public affairs.

Our economic programmes shall be anchored on an unfettered and
non-negotiable respect for the rule of law, respect for private initiative
and property rights, equity and equal access to national opportunities. We
fully recognise the depth of our current democratic crisis and the harm that
has been caused to our society.

We pledge to undo the social fragmentation and economic disarray that
has cast such a long and dark shadow over the basic dignity of our people.
Our economic programme shall emphasise stabilisation and food security as
national emergencies.

As a priority, we shall set free land ownership from the current
emotional trap and allow this finite resource to perform as an economic
asset through a serious revival of commercial agriculture.

Zimbabweans are aware that a piece of land requires a balanced mixture
of science, capital and expertise in order to make sense. Access to land and
land use patterns shall draw lessons from the chaos we have experienced. We
shall balance our business needs, our environmental concerns and the need
for fairness and equity in our land policy.

We desire a new Zimbabwe that realises its inter-dependence on a
global culture and a moral ethic that upholds the sanctity of life, the
indispensable place of a human being in a nation and the centrality of the
rule of law to an individual's sustenance.

Zimbabwe shall require a massive injection of international capital,
either through direct foreign investment or partnerships and basic therapy
normally associated with emerging democracies.

As a product of civil society, I respect the place of social movements
to any nation's quest for advancement. We value the voices from labour and
business; we value a free press; we believe in justice and fair play. We
listen. We value our basic and non-negotiable freedoms and rights, guided by
the ideals of the liberation struggle.

Such a background commits us to the desire to end all forms of
oppression and discrimination, in pursuit of a society based on equality,
cultural advancement and national prosperity.

We subscribe to the principle of sustainable development grounded in
prosperity, quality of life and community stability. Our social agenda
starts and ends with our social democracy thrust.

In the new Zimbabwe, my role shall demand a speedy implementation of
my contract with the people. The people demand the establishment of
irreversible institutions of governance to safeguard their freedoms.

I am determined to oversee an essential transitional process whose
thrust shall see the critical building blocks for a society whose main
institutions shall protect everybody - from a peasant to a president.

We must end our pariah status; inspire investor confidence; and
implore on our neighbours in the Sadc region to assist us to rejoin the
family of nations.

Our behaviour shall be critical to the process. We have to abandon the
present lone warrior mentality that has weakened us substantially. We know
that Zimbabwe needs the world. We shall engage all nations that share
universal norms and standards on the dignity of the human being and quality
life.

As we navigate through a delicate transition to a new Zimbabwe, much
depends on the support we draw from our neighbours in the Sadc region. The
people stand ready to avoid a violent end to the regime in Harare.

The coalition of forces that sustained the regime in Harare over the
past 27 years, once cemented by force and material inducements, has
virtually collapsed.

It is doubtful whether Robert Mugabe will be able to reconstruct a
consensus, even if he tries to use the old carrot-and-stick strategy. As the
warring factions inside Zanu PF continue to tear each other apart, the
country might gradually move towards a power vacuum which, as you know, in
other countries, such a vacuum has led to adventurism and disaster.

Sadc is thus implored to maintain a keen eye on the situation in
Zimbabwe, more than at any other time. Mugabe's primary concern now is
simply to manage factions which no longer share a common set of interests.
In turn the factions themselves have abandoned any hope of achieving a
consensus or compromise. They are now involved in a dog-eat-dog political
game. As a people, we need an exit strategy from this trap before it is too
late.


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Black Sunday

Zim Independent

By Pedzisai Ruhanya

ON Sunday March 11 2007, the day scheduled for the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign prayer rally, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was dressed in a khaki pair of trousers and a cowboy hat.

His colleague in the opposition Arthur Mutambara, also of the MDC, was
clad in a black outfit, while Lovemore Madhuku of the National
Constitutional Assembly was in his usual simple dress reminiscent of a
tested and tried revolutionary cadre.

Their faces displayed determination - all ready to assert and defend
Zimbabwe's civil and political space and ultimately to prevent the return of
Rhodesia, a project that President Robert Mugabe is fighting hard to impose
on this once independent state.

At first I saw Mutambara along Harare's Central Avenue and I wondered
what he was up to given his dressing but when I came across Tsvangirai,
Madhuku, Morgan Changamire, Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri, Grace Kwinje and
Sekai Holland, among others, I then realised that the project of national
redemption was gathering momentum.

On that day, there was no talk of factions in the MDC. Tsvangirai,
Mutambara, Madhuku, Mike Davies and others greeted each other and talked
briefly at some place in Kambuzuma before they proceeded to Highfield, venue
of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer rally.

They discussed the national question and the strategies to resolve the
twin crisis of governance and legitimacy that Zimbabwe has been grappling
with for the last seven years. They also chatted about how they were to
reach the venue of the prayer meeting given that there were police
roadblocks at 50-metre intervals along the way. They all agreed not to
succumb to political intimidation even it meant being arrested and tortured
which prophetically happened.

Without saying much, I could see that all the leaders were
pre-occupied with the urgent need to unite oppositional and pro-democracy
forces, to stop infighting, to respect each other and define a common
national agenda that encompasses the overhaul of the governance structure in
Zimbabwe leading to free and fair elections under a new constitutional and
democratic framework.

What I observed is that Zimbabwe's oppositional and pro-democracy
forces have managed to define a common strategy and are clear that they have
to confront the current political repression organised by Mugabe and his
regime.

These empirical political gestures by Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Madhuku,
civic society leaders, the church leadership and others should not be taken
for granted because if the kind of common cause and agenda that I witnessed
on Sunday were to be taken down to the grassroots and unify these political
formations then this country could be closer to the resolution of the
crisis.

What is also crucial about the Save Zimbabwe Campaign grouping is that
Zimbabweans in their oppositional and civic differences have come to an
agreement that they need each other's efforts and they should not invest
their energies and resources in confronting each other but the regime which
is the source of the national crisis.

This coming together takes me back to the liberation struggle where
various political formations such as Zanu and Zapu despite their differences
were able to define the national question and fought alongside each other
against the Rhodesian regime and brought about Independence in 1980.

It is critical that those who want this country to gain Independence
from the native imperialism that Mugabe is presiding over should not
celebrate infighting but should constructively differ while understanding
the broader national goals that this country needs united efforts to deal
with Mugabe's political project of privatising national affairs.

But beyond the critical political gestures and the unity in action
that Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Madhuku, the church leaders and civic society
have shown to their fellow Zimbabweans, their followers and others who
support the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe, this understanding should
be based on sincerity, respect and should be sustained until this country is
free from Mugabe's dictatorship.

Tsvangirai's attire was prophetic about events that followed his
brutalisation by the regime's thugs, so was Madhuku's while Mutambara's
black outfit summed up the events of Sunday March 11 2007. It was a Black
Sunday.

A life was lost through police murder while several leaders and
activists were tortured while in police custody contrary to the provisions
of the law and international human rights statutes governing the treatment
of detainees.

What I witnessed on Sunday was the behaviour of a criminal state that
sends thugs to violate its citizens' constitutional rights to freedoms of
assembly, expression and association without shame.

I saw undisputed violation of life integrity rights, in the form of
state-sponsored torture, extra-judicial killing, political imprisonment and
disappearance, organised by a government that purports to have liberated
this country from a racist colonial regime.

The fatal shooting of MDC activist Gift Tandare in Highfield for
allegedly being a ringleader of legitimate protesters is defined as
extra-judicial killing at law. Being a ringleader is not criminal warranting
death outside judicial proceedings. The imprisonment and denial of legal
representation to arrested people is an affront to the promotion of
democratic governance in Zimbabwe.

My understanding of a democracy is a system of governance in which the
governors or rulers, in this case the regime of Mugabe are held accountable
for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through
competition and co-operation of their elected representatives.

If Mugabe's government argues that it is an elected regime then there
was nothing criminal about Tambare leading people to protest against the
regime. There would be nothing wrong in Zimbabweans demanding political
accountability from a legitimately elected government. Consequently there
would be no need for the government to ban political expression, assembly
and the right to organise.

In a functional democracy, it has been argued that the fear of leaders
not to get re-elected, or even to be pushed out of power before the end of
their constitutionally defined terms shapes the way they treat their
citizens. Under these circumstances, elected leaders do not send thugs
masquerading as the police to assault opposition leaders and prevent
peaceful protests.

These elected leaders would also not create extra-legal bodies such as
the Border Gezi youth militia to violate citizens' rights. They would not
use the army to prevent peaceful expression and newspapers would not be
banned.

Under these circumstances, it becomes clear in my view that the
current regime in Zimbabwe does not meet the criterion discussed because it
does not bother to listen to the views of those that elect it. This gives
credence to the widely held view that this regime is an illegitimate one. It
does not bother about political persuasion but its administration of
national affairs is premised on political coercion.

In a democracy, when the political leadership is held accountable for
their action, they are far more likely to use non-violent tools to pursue
their goals than if this kind of public control did not exist.

The events of Sunday March 11 2007 where the Zanu PF government
criminalised political activities, tortured detainees, denied detainees
access to food, legal representation and the general disregard of the norms
and values governing democratic administration has proved beyond any
reasonable doubt that Mugabe has taken this country back to the days of
Rhodesia and has now become an undoubted native imperialist and colonialist.

Under Rhodesia, extra-judicial killings were the order of the day and
Mugabe's government has been doing the same through the murders of Tichaona
Chiminya, Talent Mabika, former MDC MP for Lupane David Mpala and lately
Gift Tandare.

Political detainees were numerous under Ian Smith and today several
people languish in prisons without trial under Mugabe. The way out of this
madness should be clear to Mugabe just as it was clear to Smith.

The people have a legitimate right to liberate themselves from
colonial bondage be it foreign or native as personified by Mugabe's regime.
These are not political hallucinations but surely as the sun rises from the
east, this country will be free one day.

* Pedzisai Ruhanya is a human rights researcher.


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Seize the moment

Zim Independent

Comment

ZIMBABWE'S rulers this week attempted to justify their violent
crackdown against the opposition by claiming the MDC and its civic allies
were planning mass protests for which the scheduled prayer meeting was
merely a ruse.

Even if it were true that opposition leaders planned to carry out a
more militant protest, what justification can there be for the vicious
assaults that took place against the individuals concerned while in police
detention? They were brutally beaten, denied access to their lawyers, and
denied medical attention or sustenance.

What we have here is a rogue regime where the police have become the
agency of state violence against opposition and civic supporters whose only
offence has been to protest against the rapidly deteriorating conditions
that persistent misgovernance and repression have spawned.

The attacks on Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters were so severe and
so evident that even the supine South African authorities were stirred into
action, urging Zimbabwe "to ensure the rule of law, including respect for
the rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties" is
upheld.

British ambassador Andrew Pocock's description of police treatment of
detainees as "ghastly" and "barbaric" was nearer the mark.

But however you look at it, this was a lawless episode in which
fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly were crushed by
police who ignored a court order two weeks ago to allow an MDC rally to
proceed. They exceeded their authority by banning rallies in whole swathes
of Harare, and then on Sunday used unprecedented force to break up a
peaceful demonstration before it could proceed, in the process shooting dead
an opposition supporter.

In pursuing this course of action the Zimbabwe government has placed
itself in breach of constitutional rights, abused the provisions of the
Public Order and Security Act, and ignored international conventions to
which it is a signatory.

Torture is outlawed under a number of international conventions to
which Zimbabwe is a party. This was not a casual or spontaneous beating the
opposition leaders were treated to. It was a systematic and vicious assault.
The extent of their injuries bears testimony to that.

Civil society is not altogether powerless in this situation. The
victims of the assaults must have some idea of the perpetrators. When they
are able, they should sit down, compare notes and prosecute those
responsible for violating the Police Act. Whatever happened to the Police
Service Charter?

The same goes for those politicians giving the orders. If this
opportunity is missed the public will be less sympathetic the next time. The
state criminals responsible for violence, including Joseph Mwale and his
colleagues instrumental in the deaths of farmers and opposition activists
since 2000, need to be brought to justice.

The United Nations has for too long lent legitimacy to the police by
assigning them peace-keeping missions abroad. Remarks by the new UN
secretary-general are welcome. But he needs to do more than express his
abhorrence at events in Harare. It should now occur to the UN that it has
been recruiting officers for UN duties from the ranks of torturers who
should be tried under international law.

This is not about revenge but elementary justice. Tsvangirai and his
fellow victims of police violence, some of them prominent lawyers, need to
keep a record of what transpired this week. In that way, the perpetrators of
state violence will know they are accountable for their actions.

Generally a culture of arbitrary arrest, torture and impunity has
crept into our law-enforcement agencies. In the circumstances, ruling
politicians must not complain when the international community reacts with
understandable disgust.

The noose is clearly tightening and the attacks on the MDC and civic
leaderships have both exposed the insecurity felt by the regime and boosted
the prospects of unity in the opposition.

The public will be quick to forgive nearly two years of squabbling if
the opposition can now show true leadership. They have this week undergone a
baptism of fire. It was a terrible fate at the hands of a cruel regime. But
the future is theirs, not the cowards who currently abuse power. They need
to act wisely - above all in unison - while they enjoy national and
international sympathy.

They need to seize the moment.


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ICG needs an open mind

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

IF the National Vision bishops were accused of being too close to
President Mugabe, the ICG report is guilty of going to the other extreme. If
the bishops were guilty of giving Mugabe a lifeline, the ICG is equally
guilty of a false deconstruction of Mugabe.

Both have not achieved their ends - the bishops because a vision is
essentially a dream still to be acted on, the ICG because of a false premise
about Mugabe's exit.

For purposes of space, I will leave out the problematic structure of
the ICG report - Zimbabwe: An end to the stalemate - to focus on its
contents -its weaknesses and false assumptions.

It opens its Executive Summary by claiming "a realistic chance has at
last begun to appear in the past few months to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis,
by retirement of President Robert Mugabe, a power-sharing transitional
government, a new constitution and elections".

Would a foreign reader be wrong to assume that Mugabe had retired and
we were in a process of reconstruction when the truth is that Mugabe is
still president and the real bloody fight lies ahead? Their first
recommendation is also foreign-based. They say Zanu PF should not extend
Mugabe's term but "support Sadc-led negotiations to implement an exit
strategy for him". Shouldn't it be Sadc supporting local initiatives, or is
this an admission that opposition forces are unable to spearhead such a
process?

What I found extreme about the ICG report was the direct taunting of
Mugabe by suggesting that an exit package is being worked out for him so
that Zimbabwe can quickly re-establish relations with the West and the
Commonwealth. What is the point of this provocation?

While Mugabe's party may be riven by factions, this is a proposal that
makes it even more difficult for so-called Zanu PF moderates or Sadc leaders
to approach him without being accused of advancing a dirty agenda. It is an
agenda crafted in a way which ensures it is a stillbirth and therefore of no
use to Zimbabweans.

The ICG states that the MDC is "prepared to negotiate an end to the
crisis, accept a power-sharing agreement and support constitutional
reforms - if Zanu PF delivers Mugabe's exit".

This is to stand logic on its head. Shouldn't it be the dominant party
saying it is prepared to negotiate? What are the MDC's other options, as the
ICG admits that the party has limited "organisational capacity and
resources"? This analytical sloppiness leads to the next error about the MDC
accepting "a power-sharing agreement". Is that what the people said? What is
the MDC's claim to that power-sharing deal? I thought the idea of a
"stalemate" was an acceptance that the opposition was in a weak position to
set terms. Zanu PF's problem is one of legitimacy at home and abroad, not
one of numbers to change the constitution.

If the Zanu PF factions can get rid of Mugabe on their own, which they
want and can do, then they don't need the MDC. Morgan Tsvangirai admits as
much when he warns that Zanu PF infighting is creating "a power vacuum" that
could lead "to dangerous adventurism", implying the MDC is not ready to fill
that vacuum.

The report admits that Zanu PF sees the MDC weaker as a divided party.
This point takes us to a nebulous phrase about a "new constitution". This is
supposed to guarantee free and fair elections if there are foreign
observers. The ICG puts itself in an invidious trap here in which an
election won by Zanu PF must be rejected outright while that won by the
opposition is invariably free and fair. This is gratuitous opportunism, no
more than wishful thinking, because politics is more complex.

Talking of Zanu PF moderates, the ICG makes the point that Solomon
Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa want Mugabe out for purely personal reasons -
their businesses are hurting from lack of Western investment. So how do
their personal commercial interests qualify them to be national leaders?
Well, their background.

The ICG commits the sin of linking future leaders to the military
establishment. Is this an attempt to nurture a culture of warlordism? What
are the military leaders who back either Mujuru or Mnangagwa supposed to do
should their candidate loses an election?

What bothers me is that it is taken as a given that one must have the
support of the military without resolving the contradiction with the
democratic imperative and civilian administration it rests on. Where does
that leave opposition leaders like Tsvangirai who have no military
background but are popular?

The ICG proceeds from there to give us sanitised criteria by which
future leaders are judged by their inaction. All aspiring Zanu PF candidates
are said to "have dark spots on their records". Simba Makoni's sin is that
he is not doing anything to stop Zanu PF's damaging economic policies;
Gideon Gono is guilty of defending these policies while Mnangagwa's "dark
spot" is his failure to provide houses for Murambatsvina victims. What about
Gukurahundi?

Who is responsible for this Martian version of history? So democracy
needs no more than a few lies about our past for it to work!

What values does the MDC share with Zanu PF? This leads to a fallacy
in which opposition to Mugabe equates to democracy, hence vague phrases
about a "restoration of" or "return to democracy". When did we part company
with it? Is democracy the same thing as majority rule? If so, how is this
different from periodic, ritualistic elections held since 1980 which have
led us to where we are today? At what point did we enter a dictatorship?

Finally, I still insist that a "new constitution" is no use if it
doesn't enshrine in it the values and principles encapsulated in the
National Vision document affirming the dignity and equality of man before
God and the law.


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Attacks on activists thrust Mugabe atop list of notoriety

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

WHAT government sets the police to bludgeon the official opposition
leader and still claim to be democratic?

This is the same government that tries to pitch itself as a victim of
international conspiracy when there is worldwide condemnation of its
brutality. If any of President Mugabe's praise singers doubted the
callousness of his regime, our dear leader this week overdid himself to
prove that he rules the roost in the stakes of notoriety.

Pictures of the face of Morgan Tsvangirai, the bruised limbs of Grace
Kwinjeh and dozens of other opposition supporters were this week flighted
around the world.

The ghastly images were splashed on the Internet, on news pages and
were aired on television stations together with unapologetic comments
supporting the barbarism.

Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi was on national television on
Tuesday brandishing a sharp-edged tool in a vainglorious bid to convince us
that the MDC was a violent party.

Zanu PF has done everything in its power this week to tell the world
that it is a murderous regime that will not hesitate to pull the trigger on
civilians to keep Mugabe in power.

The police have justified the shooting of an NCA activist on Sunday
"because he appeared to be the ringleader". The government has done well to
confirm President Mugabe's Defence Forces Day speech last August when he
threatened those wanting to take his throne.

"We want to remind those who might harbour any plans of turning
against the government: be warned, we have armed men and women who can pull
the trigger," he said. His men and women indeed pulled the trigger to murder
NCA activist Gift Tandare and injured several others on Sunday.

If anything, this Zanu PF-crafted repression has boosted opposition
ranks. It has lifted Tsvangirai to the pedestal of greater importance than
before police gave him a swollen face and a fractured skull. Victims often
get more followers than villains.

But Zanu PF appears to believe that this is how a democratic
government conducts itself. To justify state brutality, ZBC this week found
a group of women, supposedly attacked by MDC supporters in Waterfalls, to
show their tiny bruises and to denounce the opposition. They all called for
government to deal with the perpetrators.

There were more statements of solidarity with state violence from a
group of clergymen who denounced the violence but conveniently forgot to
mention the death of Tandare and the torture of opposition leaders by the
police.

But this PR project will have no impact whatsoever on the soiled image
of Mugabe and his party. The pictures of violence inflicted on the MDC
leadership and NCA chair Lovemore Madhuku, and news of Tandare's death, is
the big Zimbabwean story today. It is a story of tyranny, repression and
intolerance.

This is the news that went to Zimbabwe's tourist source-markets in
Asia and Europe. Cable TV delivered the pictures to the lounges of potential
investors whom central bank governor Gideon Gono has spent a fortune trying
to lure to Zimbabwe.

For a long time, there have been shrill complaints from government
spin doctors that Mugabe and his cronies are victims of demonisation by
hostile foreign and local press.

But there has always been evidence that the Zanu PF government is the
architect of our misery. It has authored, directed and starred in violent
plots which it expects the media to report as national achievements. But the
media is much wiser than that.

The violent conduct of the police on Sunday is the latest episode in
this drama. Shockingly, still the Zanu PF government expected to get a good
press from this butchery of civilians, to the extent that its information
handlers appeared surprised by international condemnation raining down on
the country.

Condemnation has not only come from vocal "Western detractors", but
also from the United Nations, and South Africa which ironically was this
week battling to protect Zimbabwe from being placed on the UN Security
Council Agenda.

South Africa currently holds the presidency of the Security Council
but will be handing it over to Britain next month. This is likely to
increase the heat on our blundering leaders who for too long believed they
had the Sadc region behind them.

Sadc's silly strategy of sanitising the tyranny of Mugabe's government
is evaporating in the heat of Mugabe's repression, hence the guarded
comments on Zimbabwe but definitely no toadying flattery. Those days are
over.


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Lawlessness by any definition

Zim Independent

Muckraker

WHY is Information minister Sikanyiso Ndlovu making such a fool of
himself? Every time he opens his mouth he sounds like Jonathan Moyo on a bad
day prior to 2005.

Moyo has since improved. Ndlovu hasn't. He rants and raves as if he
has somebody he needs to impress.

Contrary to the assertions of the International Crisis Group that
sanctions had divided Zimbabweans, they were more united than before, he
asserted last week.

A few days later hundreds were arrested as youths fought running
battles with police on the streets of Harare's townships. They were united
against tyranny.

The ICG was urging people to rise against government "in order to
institute a stooge imperialist megaphone government" which the MDC and NCA
chairman Lovemore Madhuku were working on without the mandate of the
Zimbabwean people, he fatuously stated.

What mandate does Ndlovu have? Who elected him to office? Here is a
minister who has been rejected in every democratic contest since 2000 but
sits in parliament courtesy of his patron, who by the way promised in 2004
not to appoint unelected MPs to cabinet. Compare Madhuku's bravery at the
weekend with Ndlovu singing for his supper.

Ndlovu should be careful. He may get away with bombastic behaviour at
the Bulawayo Press Club, but in Harare it doesn't wash. As an unelected MP
he evidently feels a need to impress his boss. But nobody else is impressed.
He should shut up until he has something intelligent to say - which is
obviously not just yet!

Muckraker's attention has been drawn to a claim by William Nhara's
lawyers that their client was the "shadow MP for Harare Central".

Muckraker has been battling for a number of years with the media habit
of referring to MDC MPs as "shadow ministers". This is a British tradition
that simply looks pretentious in our scheme of things. Renson Gasela, for
instance, is billed by his party as the "shadow Minister of Agriculture".

But we have never heard of a shadow MP. Nhara lost the contest for
Harare Central. He is not a shadow MP because no such creature exists!

Those who suspected Bishop Trevor Manhanga was closer to the regime
than was healthy for a Pentecostal minister will have had those suspicions
confirmed by a letter in the Johannesburg Sunday Times last weekend.

The newspaper's editor Mondli Makanya is an articulate and
well-informed observer of this country's affairs having lived and worked
here over several years. Therefore when he called on the South African
authorities last weekend to adopt a more helpful approach to the crisis
unfolding north of the Limpopo his voice carried considerable weight.

But Manhanga has foolishly chosen to pick a fight with him. Using
arguments that the Office of the President would applaud, Manhanga says that
while "we have made grave errors in the manner in which we have managed our
affairs, we must not underplay the role played by powerful outside forces
whose interests were threatened by events around the land redistribution
exercise".

So a brutal and lawless assault on law-abiding farmers and their
workers by thugs directed by a regime avenging electoral losses can be
justified in terms of "outside forces"? And this from a church minister!

He warns South Africans that Zimbabwe's land-grab was a Sunday school
picnic compared to what will transpire in their country.

This disingenuous argument presupposes that Zimbabwe's land
occupations in 2000 were spontaneous when even an apologetic bishop should
by now know something of the role of the state in masterminding the attacks
on the farms. What about the police, does he think they stood there with
arms folded of their own accord?

And Manhanga's defence of Zimbabwe's intervention in the Congo will
win him approval in the circles he clearly aspires to.

Those who are working with him in the "Zimbabwe We Want" campaign had
better beware. Apart from a scrupulously non-specific statement by his
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe issued under the authority of the
Ecumenical Peace Initiative, Manhanga appears not to have noticed the police
assaults on trade union leaders last year and on MDC officials last week.
Instead of declaring his opposition to state brutality Manhanga, it would
seem, is more comfortable telling editors that "we liberated ourselves
through a protracted armed struggle the likes of which many south of the
border have never experienced".

This was in response to Makanya's claim that Zimbabweans were docile
and needed external support.

"We do not need anyone to help us along," Manhanga insists.

Let's hope the US embassy notes the contents of Manhanga's letter. For
some reason he is held in high regard there. Here is a bishop who watches
while his own people are crushed but wants South Africans to know that
Zimbabwe can solve its own problems without their help. Whose agenda is
this? And how would South Africa have managed without external help?

State warns MDC against lawlessness", the Herald reported on Tuesday.

Why does the paper think all its readers are morons? Footage of Morgan
Tsvangirai two weeks ago showing a police officer his High Court order
permitting him to hold a rally was beamed around the world. The police chose
to ignore that order. They then attacked people gathering to attend the
rally. Last weekend they assaulted MDC and civic leaders while in detention.

That is lawlessness by any definition. So was their refusal last
weekend to allow lawyers access to the detainees. Why did the lawyers have
to go to court to obtain something they were entitled to? As for the Herald's
front page pic of two riot policemen with bandaged heads, the Herald missed
an obvious heading: "Boot on the other foot now". Instead they headed it
"Assaulted cops recovering at Support Unit Camp Hospital".

Anyway, we are sure the nation's sympathies go out to the two brave
young men and that the public will take every opportunity to show the police
how highly regarded they are.

We were interested to note, by the way, that Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri is not allowed to speak to foreign diplomats based here
without the permission of his political masters.

The Business Herald recently reported that the government was trying
to lure Qatar Airways into landing in Harare because the Victoria Falls
airport runway was too short. The airline, one of the biggest in the Middle
East, had been due to open its service to Zimbabwe this month.

The Herald reported that Qatar "flies an all Airbus fleet comprising,
among other Boeing aircraft (sic) 16 Airbus A300-200, 11 Airbus A320-200,
and nine Airbus A300-600R."

No aviation specialists on the staff, evidently! But the point is,
this is a huge operator. At the 2005 Paris Airshow it ordered 60 Airbus
A350s and 20 Boeing 777s. There was thus a big opportunity for Vic Falls to
benefit from direct flights. But all Transport and Communications minister
Christopher Mushohwe could say was: "Qatar could have started flying into
Zimbabwe if Victoria Falls airport had facilities to accommodate bigger
aircraft."

But it doesn't. And none have been provided.

Instead, government has offered Qatar free rerouting for its
passengers from Harare to Vic Falls.

Mushohwe evidently knows nothing about the aviation business. Vic
Falls offered an attractive prospect for Qatar. Harare doesn't. And no
passenger likes to change aircraft unless they absolutely have to. The
lengthening of Vic Falls runway would have paid for itself within a couple
of years. But government has been spending money on other things.

By the way, we hate to rain on the ZTA's parade for 2010, but does
Karikoga Kaseke and his Zanu PF-aligned team really think tourists will want
to come to Zimbabwe when their newspapers back home are full of stories of
arrests and assaults by police on trade unionists and civic activists? If
this is the face of repression today you can imagine what it will look like
three years hence! And will there be any bread?


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Revisiting Zinwa's shenanigans

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

ALTHOUGH, as a general rule, I have relatively little regard for
politicians (of any political persuasion), inevitably there are some
exceptions.

Regrettably, most politicians and especially so in Zimbabwe, are
dogmatically obdurate in the pursuit of their political objectives, are
driven primarily by self-interest, and are extremely infrequently in any
friendly relationships with veracity, reality and integrity.

I have long thought one of the exceptions to be Vice-President Joseph
Msika for, although one must inevitably have reservations and concerns as to
his political colleagues and associates (or, at the least, many of them),
nevertheless he has long demonstrated very real motivation for the best
interests of his constituents (the people of Zimbabwe), to national
development and advancement, to good ethics, and transparent fulfillment of
his mandates.

It was therefore that reports of some of his advice to last week's
inaugural workshop for rural and district councillors from Matabeleland
North and South, Midlands and Masvingo, held in Bulawayo, were distressing,
although others of his comments were indisputably well-founded.

He should be unhesitatingly commended for his advice to councillors
that they should properly acquaint themselves with the various legislation
that governs their duties, and should have regard for people's views on
tangible and sustainable projects for the benefit of their communities.

Of particular merit was his statement that it was incumbent upon them
"to be endowed with virtues of integrity, honesty, accountability,
selflessness and cadreship" if they were "to succeed in delivery of adequate
and first-class service to the common people".

However, he also said that "we deliberately adopted the decentralised
form of government in order to bring the lot of our people as close as is
practicable to the decision-making process."

He continued that "the hallmark of good corporate governance dictates
that communities should actively participate in generating solutions to the
challenges facing them and setting up their own priorities with regard to
projects and programme implementation in their own localities".

Such "decentralisation" may be the theoretical philosophy of
government, but the practice and realities are diametrically at variance
with the theories.

In Zimbabwe, decentralisation has been, and is, minimal and, in most
instances, naught but a fašade. Any decisions of substance are made in the
capital city, at best by central government as a whole, and more often than
not by the upper echelons of the politically-empowered.

Democratic decision-making is a rarity, individual communities'
interests are secondary or disregarded in such decision-making, and
authoritarianism is the usual order of the day. Governmental policies are
founded upon, and pursued, by authoritarian dictate and regulation,
excessive prescription and direction, interminable and excessive controls,
and highly-centralised governmental excesses of will and decree.

Although the vice-president is probably a genuine proponent of
decentralisation, and that in consequence of the fašade of decentralisation
structures that characterise the Zimbabwean governmental framework,
inclusive of underlying allegedly provincial, rural and urban local
government administrations, he presumably believes in the existence of the
decentralisation he espouses, the harsh facts are that all issues of import
are subject to intense centralised determinations and controls, all too
often through the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, but often also through the
Ministry of Energy and Power Development, and the Ministry of Water
Resources and Infrastructure Development.

It must be assumed that it is on the strength of his good faith, but
regrettably misguided belief that such decentralisation exists, that the
vice-president has been "hoodwinked" into supporting the intended Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa) expropriation of the city of Bulawayo's
water supply services.

He informed the rural district councillors that those services would
"eventually be returned to the local authorities, if we are to follow local
authority policies and principles".

He emphasised that water delivery, sewerage and roads in cities and
towns would always remain the responsibility of local authorities, and he
contended that the takeover of water reticulation services in towns and
cities by Zinwa was not intended to be on a permanent basis, but is "only to
assist the local authorities to overcome current operational challenges in
the provision of water".

In fact, despite the continuing insistence of the Minister of Water
Resources and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Munacho Mutezo, and of
Zinwa, that the decision that Zinwa shall take over all of the city of
Bulawayo's water supply services was irrevocable, and will be determinedly
implemented, Vice-President Msika said that "the truth is water delivery,
sewerage, roads in your town will always remain the responsibility of the
local authorities".

However, he did qualify this by adding that whilst water management
would be taken "for some time" it would eventually be returned to the local
authority.

At the same workshop, Mutezo claimed that the takeover of the water
supply services was not meant to prejudice local authorities of their
assets, but was instead aimed at enhancing efficient water supply delivery,
as local authorities were (he claimed) failing to meet the demand due to
growth in population and other commitments, and because in the past few
years, water and sewerage services had been deteriorating in nearly all
towns across the country.

These statements were blatant insults to the intellect of the audience
and the populace.

How on earth can the transferal of water supply services to Zinwa
rationally be expected to yield improvements when that body's track record
of ill-performance is viewed?

On all available reports, Zinwa has been incapable of addressing the
needs of Victoria Falls, of Kariba, and of Harare, among others. It has the
repute of having released millions of litres of effluent into Harare's
principal supply rivers, and hence into its main dam, very possibly being
the primary cause of the cholera outbreak which has reportedly already
occasioned 12 deaths!

Despite being provided massive funding by the city of Bulawayo to
refurbish supply resources at the Nyamandlovu aquifer, it has failed to
provide the anticipated supplies from that source. It has done nothing to
enhance availability of water to Bulawayo from the Mtshabezi and other dams.
And this is the body that is supposed to improve the efficiency of water
supply to Bulawayo's residents?

The mind boggles at the thought and the declared intents defy all
credence.

Admittedly, the water supply circumstances of Bulawayo are parlous,
primarily due to adverse climatic conditions which were not pre-empted by
necessary central government development of required water collection,
conservation and enhancement resources, notwithstanding endless urgings and
pleadings of the local authority.

They have been worsened by the ageing infrastructure, not fully
maintained and refurbished due to funding constraints and, to a significant
extent, those constraints are also attributable to central government, its
record of timeous settlement of debt to the local authority being abysmal.

But although Bulawayo's water supply problems are necessarily of very
great concern, and in need of urgent redress, it is inconceivable that Zinwa
can be an effective path to that redress. If anything, it can only
reasonably be expected that, if past performance of government in general,
and of Zinwa in particular is a guide, the intended takeover can only
grievously exacerbate the situation.

Of course, this could well play into government's hands, for a
by-product consequence of the takeover would be to further impoverish the
city of Bulawayo.

As a result, other services would unavoidably decline despite the
intense municipal efforts to the contrary, and ultimately government could
use that as a ploy to dislodge the city council, which is primarily
comprised of political opponents of the ruling party, and replace it with a
commission appointed by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
Urban Development, to mismanage the city of Bulawayo as effectively as has
done that which dominates the city of Harare.

Government would win threefold: enhancing revenues of the indigent
Zinwa, ousting its political opposition in Bulawayo, and enabling
authoritarian control of Zimbabwe's second-largest city.

As said before, all Bulawayo must unite to resist government's
unacceptable, potentially disastrous intents, and those resisting must
include the city of Bulawayo, all in commerce and in industry in the city,
the Matabeleland Council for Tourism, the Bulawayo and District Publicity
Association, the Bulawayo United Residents' Association, the
non-governmental organisations active in the city, all the city's residents,
its members of parliament, the governor of metropolitan Bulawayo, and
Vice-President Msika whose oft proven concern for the well-being of others
must once again come to the fore, overriding all else.

Unity can overcome government's ill-conceived, potentially evil
intents, even if that unity must encompass recourse to the protections
accorded by law, by resorting to appropriate legal actions to frustrate the
intents of Minister Mutezo, and of Zinwa.


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Zim Independent Letters



Probe cops' assault of activists
THE International Bar Association (IBA)'s Human Rights Institute
expresses shock and dismay in response to the brutal police action on
protesters in Zimbabwe, which resulted in one death and arrests of more than
100 opposition members last weekend.

Following a three-month ban on political rallies and protests recently
imposed by the government, police responded violently to a public gathering
held in Highfield on Sunday.

The police reportedly fired on protesters resulting in the death of
Gift Tandare, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change, and injuring
many others.

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai
and other activists were arrested.

The IBA is extremely concerned about reports that Tsvangirai and other
opposition leaders were beaten up by police and held without access to their
lawyers.

The IBA is opposed to any form of police brutality and torture, and
calls on the Zimbabwe government to take immediate action to investigate
these serious allegations and to make accountable those responsible.

The IBA continues to oppose the ban on protests which breaches
international and regional human rights law and the Constitution of
Zimbabwe.

The IBA also condemns any denial of detainees' rights of access to
lawyers and calls for the activists to be charged legitimately or released
immediately.

The IBA further calls for a public inquiry into the police force's
response to the meeting and the constitutionality of the three-month ban on
public rallies.

The government of Zimbabwe continues to disregard its obligations to
protect the human rights of its citizens.

Action must be taken to bring to account those state agents at all
levels responsible for crimes against persons legitimately exercising their
fundamental right to free assembly.

International Bar

Association.

--------
Manheru's obsession with trivialities plumbs new depths
IT was interesting reading petty Nathaniel Manheru seething with anger
over what he thinks represents attempts by Britain and the US to re-colonise
Zimbabwe.

The tide of irritation against his increasingly isolated and cornered
superior seems to gain momentum despite his long hate editorials directed at
nearly everyone else.

For fear of being part of the suffering many, Manheru wants us to
believe that our problems will be over as soon as Ambassadors Christopher
Dell and Andrew Pocock complete their terms of office in Harare.

Did he not sing the same tune when Sir Brian Donnelly was in the
country?

Quack the same mantra he did when Rod Pullen and Sweden's Kristina
Svensson spoke against abrogation of the rights of citizens?

Has the economy improved since their departure?

Taurai Mfowabo,

Harare.

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

Activists' attack a blow to bridge-building efforts
By Sten Rylander

COMING into the packed chamber at Rotten Row Magistrates' Court
on Tuesday afternoon:some 30 detained activists, having committed the
"crime" of fighting for democracy and human rights and of praying for
Zimbabwe; men and women, old and young, blacks and white;

most of them seriously beaten up and tortured; even the women
beaten up and abused; one of the detainees on the chamber floor, having
passed out because of the pains, shock and strains; priests and church
persons mingling with dedicated and committed defence lawyers intensely
fighting for the rights of the detainees; a small but important victory -
all detainees are allowed to go for urgent medical treatment at the Avenues
Clinic; herded up and sitting on the floor outside the chamber waiting for
transport; when staggering out in the sunshine - led by Morgan Tsvangirai
and Lovemore Madhuku, both heavily bruised and roughed up but still somehow
unbroken - the detainees are met by concerned supporters; spontaneously
people start singing Nkosi Sikelela; a magic moment that I will not forget.

Is it an evil dream?

Have I been through this before somewhere else?

Are we reliving the time of struggling against apartheid South
Africa in the 1980s?

How is it possible that these disgusting police actions can take
place in free and independent Zimbabwe?

How is it possible to defend these senseless actions which are
being condemned by a whole world?

How can we get on with true bridge-building and constructive
efforts which can help heal the wounds of this great nation?

* Sten Rylander is Ambassador of Sweden in Zimbabwe.

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