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Mugabe arms police as opposition prepares 'final push' to oust him

The Times
March 17, 2007

Jam Raath in Harare
President Mugabe ordered police to be deployed "fully armed" yesterday to
deal forcefully with unrest in Harare. He also threatened to expel Western
diplomats who showed support for the opposition Movement for Democratic

Mr Mugabe, whose comments were reported on state radio, heightened tension
at the end of a week in which police dealt brutally with protests against
his regime, inflicting serious injuries on Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC

It was an open challenge to opposition politicians who earlier agreed to set
aside 18 months of infighting, that left their parties bitterly divided, to
challenge Mr Mugabe.

Political and civil leaders, some of whom bore the scars of savage beatings
inflicted by the President's security forces, stood together on a podium to
mark what they said was "the final stage of the final push" to force him out
of office.

"Sunday was the demonstration of commitment to working together; there is no
better place to demonstrate unity than in the battlefield," said Arthur
Mutambara, the leader of a breakaway faction of the MDC. There were loud
cheers when Mr Mutambara declared: "We have our differences but we will
manage them. Arthur Mutambara will not stand in an election against Morgan
Tsvangirai; Morgan Tsvangirai will not stand against Arthur Mutambara. "I
hope, Robert Mugabe, you sick old man, you are listening," he said.
Mr Tsvangirai, who suffered a severe head injury when security forces broke
up Sunday's Opposition rally, was unable to attend yesterday's act of
reconciliation because of his injuries, although he was later released from
hospital in a wheelchair.

However, Tendai Biti, his secretary-general, sitting next to Mr Mutambara,
endorsed the statement. The MDC break-up in 2005 was "tragic," he said. "We
have been seeing [in recent weeks] beginning to emerge the unity of
opposition. This is the endgame."

Mr Mutambara said: "We are in the final stages of the final push. We are
going to do it by democratic means, by being arrested, beaten, but we are
going to do it. We are continuing with defiance in spite of what Robert
Mugabe says. We are talking about rebellion; war."

Asked whether this meant setting aside the MDC's long commitment to
nonviolence, he said: "You can do your own interpretation. Mugabe is
fighting against his own people. That is war against the people. Already
there is violence."

Mr Mugabe, 83, who has been in power for 27 years since Zimbabwe's
independence from Britain, appeared to be preparing for further
confrontations when he gave orders for police to carry guns. A curfew is
being enforced in some parts of Harare between 8pm and dawn.

Yesterday there were reports that the unrest had spread to Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second city, where police reported an attempt to sabotage a
railway line, and said that youths had set up roadblocks in townships.

Earlier this week a defiant Mr Mugabe said that critics in the West could
"go hang" in the face of strong international condemnation of his violent
treatment of opposition protestors. Yesterday he gave a warning to Western
diplomats not to intervene in Zimbabwe's domestic affairs or risk expulsion.

His comments are believed to refer to Andrew Pocock, the British Ambassador
in Harare, and Thomas Dell, the US Ambassador. Yesterday Britain called for
a briefing of the UN Security Council on "the appalling events" in Zimbabwe.
Emyr Jones Parry, Britain's Ambassador to the UN, said that Britain would
also raise the crackdown on the Zimbabwe Opposition before the Human Rights
Council in Geneva.

Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate, said that African leaders
should feel ashamed for their silence on this week's violence in Zimbabwe.
"We Africans should hang our heads in shame," said Archbishop Tutu. "How can
what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit hardly a word of concern, let alone
condemnation, from us leaders of Africa?

Bloggers' view

"Mugabe is a tyrant and murderer and any rational society should be urging
that he be summarily put up against a wall, shot and then thrown in a
garbage dump, not 'reconciled' with. Well I guess we should look on the
bright side: things will not be so violent in Zimbabwe one year from now as
all Mugabe's opponents will either be dead or Mugabe will be hanging on the
meat hook that he deserves by then

Perry de Havilland

"Mugabe is a dictator inflicting a harsh regime on his people. We have taken
a stance on similar dictators in the past ... why aren't we doing something
about this one?

Jane Williams, Cheshire

"Zimbabwe has become George Orwell's Animal drunk with power and the poor
people of Zimbabwe have no hope while a mad man like Mugabe is in charge

Clive Thompson, London

"God is indeed working in Zimbabwe, and the regime is terrified by His

Kerry Kay, Dep. Sec. Health, MDC

"Morgan Tsvangirai is a Western sponsored "terrorist", he plotted in London
to assassinate Mugabe and overthrow the elected government. The only reason
the British Government is antiMugabe is they still consider Zimbabwe to be

"We risk grave error if we keep on choosing not to listen to the concerns of
the common man in Zimbabwe, opting instead for premeditated standards of
what democracy should be like


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Britain Wants UN Security Council Attention on Zimbabwe


By Peter Heinlein
United Nations
16 March 2007

Britain is calling for a U.N. Security Council briefing on events in
Zimbabwe, including the crackdown on government opponents. But as VOA
correspondent Peter Heinlein at U.N. headquarters reports, the Council
president, South Africa, is resisting the request.

Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones-Parry, Friday, said the widely
condemned recent events in Zimbabwe, the attack on opposition leaders,
including Morgan Tsvangirai, and what he called 'the impossibility of the
present situation' warrant the Security Council's attention. He says the
Council should be formally briefed by the U.N.'s political department.

"It is right the situation should be brought to the Security Council of the
United Nations," he said.  "That's what the briefing will do, actually
making sure that the focus of attention here is on the appalling events of
the last week, and the economic meltdown of a country, who, by it's own
figures, its inflation rate is 1,740 percent, and the implications of that
for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, and potentially for the region."

But the request for a briefing immediately ran into opposition from regional
power South Africa, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency
this month. South Africa's U.N. ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, called the
British request 'surprising,' and said his country sees no need to bring the
issue of Zimbabwe before the Council.

"We did put South Africa on record that we do not believe that the issue of
Zimbabwe belongs to the Security Council, because it is not a matter of
international peace and security," he said.

In the past, China, Russia and several African nations have opposed bringing
Zimbabwe before the Security Council.

Britain demanded and received a Council briefing nearly two years ago on
Zimbabwe's controversial urban slum demolition drive. In a rare protest,
several ambassadors walked out of the Council chamber after a motion to hold
the briefing passed by a narrow margin.

British ambassador Jones-Parry argued Friday that the earlier vote
effectively placed Zimbabwe on the Council's permanent agenda.

"Remember, Zimbabwe is a formal agenda item," he added.  "Yes, it was agreed
last year. It was agreed by a majority vote in the council, formally."

U.N. diplomats noted Friday that, if South Africa succeeds in delaying a
briefing on Zimbabwe, conditions could change next month, when Britain
assumes the Security Council presidency.

Jones-Parry said Britain is also pursuing the Zimbabwe issue at the U.N.
Human Rights Council in Geneva. The United States and Australia have also
joined the call for increasing sanctions on President Robert Mugabe's

In a related development, Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu
issued a statement saying Africans should hang their heads in shame over
what is happening in Zimbabwe. He questioned how African leaders could show
so little concern.

News reports from Harare say the injured opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, was discharged from the hospital Friday, and he and other
opposition leaders vowed to keep battling against President Mugabe's rule.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Coalition Plans More Prayer Meetings Nationally


      By Patience Rusere
      16 March 2007

Organizers of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, an umbrella organization of
political and civil society opponents of President Robert Mugabe, said
Friday they will hold more prayer meetings despite the police crackdown on
their first attempt last Sunday.

Save Zimbabwe officials said they have been contacted by organizations that
want to hold such prayer meetings in their localities and have asked the
group's help.

The campaign held a news conference in Harare today at which the secretary
general of the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai,
Tendayi Biti, recounted the experience of opposition leaders in the police
custody following their arrest Sunday at the prayer meeting called in
Highfield by the campaign.

MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara was present and National Constitutional
Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku outlined future strategies.

Campaign spokesman Jonah Gokovah told reporter Patience Rusere that events
of the past week have unified the opposition, which underwent a split in
late 2005 over issues of strategy and conflicts among some of its leading

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Opposition Coalition Notifies Zimbabwean Police Of Intent To Sue


      By Carole Gombakomba
      16 March 2007

Rights lawyers have filed a notice of intention to sue the Zimbabwe Republic
Police on behalf of the Save Zimbabwe campaign and opposition officials
alleged to have been severely beaten while in police custody from Sunday
through Tuesday.

Members of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign were arrested and assaulted by the
police as they attempted to hold a prayer meeting in the Harare suburb of

Those injured included Movement for Democratic Change founding president
Morgan Tsvangirai , National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore
Madhuku, senior MDC officials Sekai Holland, Grace Kwinjeh, Nelson Chamisa,
Tendai Biti, Willas Madzimure and William Bango, and about 50 supporters of
the party.

Tafadzwa Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the notice was
delivered to the assistant police commissioner at the Harare Central police
station who was in charge of operations on Sunday when the police actions

Lawyer Mugabe told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the aim of the suit is to hold the police accountable for their

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Zimbabwe teachers earning 4½ bananas a day

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: March 16 2007 18:41 | Last updated: March 16 2007 20:41

A common sight for early morning joggers in Harare's northern suburbs these
days is that of black Zimbabweans sifting through plastic rubbish bags
outside plush homes in search of food scraps or anything they can use or

It didn't used to be like this. But inflation of 1,730 per cent - rising
towards 5,200 per cent by year-end, by the International Monetary Fund's
count - has forced all but the super-rich to tighten their belts.

The evidence is everywhere. Thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of
families depend in part on informal income to survive. Many teachers have
become cross-border traders, spending their weekends and holidays travelling
to and from South Africa or Botswana to supplement their meagre pay. Dozens
of middle-aged white women spend months of the year earning sterling as
carers in the UK.

Cecilia Shiri works part-time as a gardener in neighbouring Botswana to
supplement her teacher's salary. For a day's work, she earns 50 Botswanan
pula, or Z$75,000, less than half the monthly salary offered to striking
teachers last month.

Last month, Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of Zimbabwe's Progressive
Teachers' Union, estimated that graduate teachers were earning "four and a
half bananas a day".

"I can't survive on my salary," she says. "When I weed in the fields, I don't
think about the plight of my children but how [changing money in] the black
market can help us survive these never-ending hardships."

The poverty datum line (PDL) - the official poverty level - for a family of
five is Z$260,000 a month (£11 at the black market rate) - more than three
times the minimum wage for a farm labourer of Z$82,000. There are no
reliable figures for the monthly average wage but a bank economist estimates
it at less than Z$200,000 - also well below the PDL.

Many Zimbabweans rely on remittances from relatives working abroad. Official
figures put the net inflow at more than US$100m (£51.5m) annually, but
because virtually all deals are done on the black market the actual inflow
is believed to be substantially higher.

The difference between official and black market exchange rates is vast. One
US dollar will officially buy Z$250 but the parallel ­market quotes a rate
of about Z$12,500. A rate of Z$2,500-Z$3,000 would better reflect Zimbabwe's
economic situation, according to a bank economist.

This huge gap between exchange rates has turned Zimbabwe into a nation of
money changers. "It is the only game in town," says an affluent young
black ­businessman.

Like other African states that have slumped to basket-case status, the
income gap between the affluent rich and the mass of the population is
widening by the month. Three-quarters of Zimbabwe's population live on less
than US$1 day, unemployment exceeds 40 per cent of the workforce and life
expectancy, at 35, years is the world's lowest.

However, for the politically well-connected, Zimbabwe offers a lifestyle
un-matched in much of Africa. They are the ones who can obtain foreign
exchange at official rates to import and sell at vast profit smart Japanese
vehicles in Harare's burgeoning car dealerships.

In many societies such disparity between haves and have-nots would be enough
to bring people on to the streets.

Whether the example of Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, - who was
released from hospital yesterday after being beaten by police after a
protest meeting in Harare - will inspire his supporters to risk the wrath of
the Zimbabwean security forces remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe yesterday threatened to expel western
diplomats who support Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. He
said he had told his foreign minister to "read the riot act" to diplomats.
If they did not "behave properly ... we will kick them out", he said.

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Police arrest seven suspects over Bulawayo violence

Zim Online

Saturday 17 March 2007

By Menzi Sibanda

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean police on Friday arrested seven suspected opposition
supporters who are accused of staging violent protests in the second city of
Bulawayo last Thursday.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the seven were among a group of
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters who barricaded
the main railway line in the city on Thursday morning.

"There have been some arrests and the police are still looking out for more
suspects. These are clearly MDC thugs whose actions are deplorable. They are
inviting trouble for themselves," said Bvudzijena.

Bvudzijena said the suspects will be taken to court on Monday facing charges
of public violence.

Meanwhile, the police released two senior MDC officials, Lovemore Moyo and
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo who were arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly
holding an illegal political meeting in the city.

Political tensions are on the rise in Zimbabwe following last weekend's
brutal torture of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several other
senior officials of his party by security forces. - ZimOnline

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Group wants Mugabe charged for rights abuses

Zim Online

Saturday 17 March 2007

By Farisai Gonye

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) says it will renew this week's
torture of Zimbabwe opposition leaders to renew efforts to have President
Robert Mugabe indicted for human rights abuses in international courts.

The Pretoria-based rights group last year failed to have Mugabe prosecuted
in Canadian with the Canadians saying the Zimbabwean leader could not be
dragged before the courts because he was a serving head of state.

Gabriel Shumba, the ZEF executive director on Friday said his organisation
was already liasing with Canadian lawyers to press the country to revisit
its decision not to indict Mugabe following this week's events in Harare.

"The latest torture and state-sanctioned savage attacks on opposition and
civil society activists vindicates our position that Mugabe must be hauled
before regional and international courts," said Shumba.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party, together with several senior officials of his party,
were severely tortured while in police custody.

Images of a bruised Tsvangirai triggered international condemnation of the
Zimbabwean government this week.

Shumba said his organisation would also seek to use legislation in other
countries to indict Mugabe.?

"ZEF is now intensifying its lobbying and advocacy efforts towards the
issuance of an international warrant of arrest against Mugabe and those
serving under him. We will soon urge the Canadian government to review its
stance regarding the commencement of criminal proceedings against Mugabe.

"The contempt with which court orders are treated in Zimbabwe is another
evidence why justice cannot be obtained inside the country, apart from the
fact that the judiciary is hugely intimidated and in many instances
deliberately biased in favour of the government," said Shumba. - ZimOnline

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External Pressure No Substitute for the Efforts of Citizens

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 16, 2007
Posted to the web March 16, 2007

Aubrey Matshiqi

ROBERT Mugabe is not going to rule Zimbabwe forever. He is either going to
leave voluntarily or be forced out of office.

If he does not vacate the presidency voluntarily, a popular uprising, an
electoral defeat or dynamics within Zanu (PF) will free Zimbabweans from the
pernicious effects of his misrule.

If recent reports are anything to go by, he intends seeking another
presidential term next year. This is another indication of how impervious he
has become to external opinion and is evidence of the failure of diplomatic
approaches in all forms to bring about a resolution of the crisis.

Given Mugabe's intransigence, neither the proponents of quiet diplomacy nor
its detractors should take credit for what seems to be a deepening crisis
for the Mugabe regime. The deepening crisis results from neither external
intervention nor quiet diplomacy on the part of African leaders but from the
realities of an economy on the verge of collapse and a struggle icon gone
mad. Debates about what the South African government should do or should
have done are academic and pointless if they are still influenced by the
illusory notion that tough talk and tough action would have made an
impression on the Zimbabwean despot.

I still maintain, as I argued five years ago, that no amount of external
intervention can be a substitute for required levels of resistance on the
part of Zimbabweans themselves. Whatever external forces do or say must be
in support of the efforts of Zimbabweans to rid their country of
undemocratic rule as the first step towards Zimbabwe's social, political and
economic renaissance.

To this end, Zimbabwean civil society, both factions of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and other opposition forces, have strategic and
tactical choices to make about the form opposition to Mugabe must now take.

These strategic and tactical choices must in part be anchored in the
understanding that the Zimbabwean state is characterised by an imbalance: on
the one hand its capacity for repression and on the other its inability to
satisfy citizens' basic needs.

The capacity of the state for repression should inform the nature of
mobilisation as well as the forces that should be mobilised. The failure to
deliver basic services, coupled with the imminent collapse of the economy
and a restless population, present opportunities for new ways of engaging
the Mugabe government.

These new opportunities will pose serious challenges to both nonstate and
in-state actors in the country. Civil society formations and the opposition
must find ways of working together to harness the growing spirit of protest
and resistance among ordinary citizens to ensure that the mobilisation of
Zimbabwean masses does not become a phenomenon limited only to the urban

They must also anticipate possible shifts in the balance of support for
Mugabe within the security forces and how these shifts will affect the
repressive capacity of the Zimbabwean state, and therefore, the nature of
tactical advantages that this may present to a united opposition.

Furthermore, the inability of the Zimbabwean state to pay its public
servants opens up a range of possibilities for the building of tactical
alliances, including the reconfiguration of opposition forces. It also means
decisions must be made about whether Zanu (PF) or elements within it should
be engaged when resistance to Mugabe begins to undermine the unity and
cohesion of the ruling party.

But members of the ruling party are themselves faced with difficult choices.
They must choose between aligning themselves with the movement for democracy
and the unsustainable option of buying more time for their leader. They must
appreciate that the achievement of personal political goals will at some
point be in conflict with Mugabe's agenda. There will come a time when the
advancement of Zanu (PF) leaders' political careers will depend on them
distancing themselves from Mugabe or face the alternative of sinking with

Ultimately, Zimbabweans who are thirsty for a return to democracy must forge
a broad-based alliance of opposition forces as a basis for the adoption of a
process aimed at constitutional reform and the launch of a national
conversation about the shape of a post-Mugabe order.

Such a conversation will also have to be about whether opposition forces
should support participation in the 2008 presidential election if Mugabe
reneges on his undertaking to step down. In addition, tactical decisions
must be made about the content of an opposition platform to build positively
on the failures of the MDC.

All these strategic and tactical considerations must take into account the
fact that Mugabe's age has not affected his ability to inflict pain and
suffering on Zimbabweans who refuse to worship him. Zimbabweans must,
therefore, prepare themselves for more police brutality and the torture of
opposition leaders.

The current opposition momentum will have to be maintained under conditions
of severe repression and the impotence of external actors.

There must, therefore, be less emphasis this time on international publicity
campaigns to focus more urgently on the task of internal mobilisation. The
help of Africa and the world must be sought in support of practical
expressions of unity by Zimbabweans around the idea of building a new

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'Mbeki to blame for Zim crisis'


16/03/2007 20:35  - (SA)

Cape Town - President Thabo Mbeki's "dithering, inaction and often tacit
support" was largely to blame for the bloody shambles in Zimbabwe, said
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon.

"Let me put this bluntly: Much of the blame for the present lamentable
condition of Zimbabwe must be laid at President Mbeki's door," he said in
his weekly newsletter, published on the DA's SA Today website on Friday.

For reasons of sentiment as well as practicality, Mbeki was the one person
outside Zimbabwe with the greatest possible leverage over its president,
Robert Mugabe.

"We are that country's biggest trading partner and, as rotating chair of the
United Nations Security Council this month, able to place the matter
squarely on the world's agenda.

"Yet Mr Mbeki's dithering, inaction and often tacit support have let us all
down - both the people of Zimbabwe and the people of South Africa, who live
every day with the disastrous consequences of Mugabe's wrong-headed
policies," said Leon.

His sharply critical comments come in the wake of the arrest, beating and
torture last weekend of Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai by
members of Mugabe's security establishment.

"While the world condemned (this), the African Union confessed to being
'embarrassed' by Zimbabwe (and) for two days, SA remained deafeningly

'Justifiable howls of outrage'

"On Tuesday, foreign affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa issued a bland if
not wholly predictable statement: Zimbabwe's problems should be solved by
the people of that country.

"Amid justifiable howls of outrage, deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad
sounded a little tougher: he urged the Zimbabwe government to 'respect the
rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties'.

"Yet the damage to our already tarnished reputation as an honest broker in
the Zimbabwean conflict had been done. Pahad's statement was too little, way
too late."

Leon said Mbeki had ensured Zimbabwe was provided with a steady supply of
electricity and fuel, "despite Mugabe's inability to pay his bills and his
continued economic mismanagement".

In June 2003, Mbeki had explicitly promised the World Economic Forum the
Zimbabwe crisis would be resolved "within a year" and that talks between
Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were taking
place - a claim that was furiously denied by both parties.

In July that year, Mbeki had gone further, reportedly promising United
States President George W Bush that Mugabe would "step down" by December,
and assuring him: "We have urged the government and the opposition to get
together. They are indeed discussing all issues. That process is going on".

Hindsight confirmed Mbeki had been "merely drawing the heat off Mugabe and
buying him time".

Ransacking of public purse

SA had said little despite the naked assault on civil liberties and free
political action in Zimbabwe, a clamp-down on the courts and the media,
Mugabe's ransacking of the public purse, and the wholesale perversion of
land "reform" in the interests of Mugabe's cronies.

"Most telling of all has been our government's continuous policy of
whitewashing the shamelessly rigged elections there in 2002 and 2005.

"While foreign observer missions - including the DA - condemned these
ruthless exercises in state terror, Mr Mbeki and the ANC hailed them both as
legitimate, warmly congratulating Mugabe on 'a convincing majority win' and
a 'peaceful, credible and well-organised election which we feel reflects the
will of the people'.

"In what Orwellian world of doublespeak could the bloody shambles to our
north... be described as peaceful, never mind credible or well-organised?"
Leon asked.

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Zimbabwe Economic Partners Seek Agreement on Wages And Prices


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      16 March 2007

A technical committee of Zimbabwe's Tripartite Negotiating Forum was
scheduled to meet Tuesday to try to iron out differences on the wage-price
protocol of the Kadoma Declaration that prevented signature of the
socio-economic pact this past week.

The declaration was drafted in the Midlands town of Kadoma in August 2001.

On Friday, business and labor representatives were taking issue with a
report in The state-ruin Herald newspaper quoting Labor Minister Nicholas
Goche as saying that TNF members would sign the Kadoma Declaration on

Officials of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the rival Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions said the declaration was adopted Thursday by
business, labor and government, but that the parties could not agree on the
wage and price stabilization protocol that is tied to the declaration,
drafted in 2001.

ZFTU Secretary General Kenias Shamuyarira said the pact could be signed
Wednesday if technical committee members meeting on Tuesday could surmount
differences over the language and terms of the wage-price protocol.

Rampant inflation which reached an annual 1,729% in February has been the
bane of business and labor alike, and impeded progress in negotiations.
Labor wants prices held down and wages to keep pace with inflation, but
businesses say they cannot freeze prices while inflation climbs or make
untenable wage commitments.

ZCTU Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri
that the meeting Tuesday will involve only the specialist committee on wages
and prices.

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