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Mugabe denounces IMF

Mail and Guardian

Windhoek, Namibia

01 March 2007 08:38

            Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe denounced the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday evening, calling dependence on the crisis
lender and other donors tantamount to economic slavery, reducing African
countries to beggars.

            "We don't have to go to IMF for that, even to any European
donor, for what we can do between and amongst ourselves," Mugabe told a
business meeting organised in Windhoek by the Namibian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry.

            "And when we start doing it on our own, you'll see them coming,
saying 'Ah, you have a factory here. We want to assist you.' Then, if we
want a partner, the partner must come on our terms, because then we will
have the capacity to do things on our own."

            "When we don't have that capacity, then we are like economic
slaves. We go begging. There are still countries in Africa which go begging
for money in order to pay their civil servants, and they got independent in
the '60s," he said.

            Citing non-payments of arrears, the IMF has just frozen support
for Zimbabwe, which has now reached the world's highest inflation rate at 1
600 per cent annually.

            Human rights activists held a small demonstration outside the
Zimbabwean embassy on Wednesday morning in Windhoek to protest Mugabe's

            "The main reason for this protest is to add to the ever-growing
international outrage over the dangerous human-rights, humanitarian and
human security situation, which is prevailing in Zimbabwe," Namibia's
National Society for Human Rights said in a statement.

            The protesters called on Mugabe and his government to "respect
the work of human-rights defenders, restore the operation of independent
print and electronic media, allow all legitimate political opposition
parties the room to operate, restore respect for the rule of law and the
independence of the judiciary and present the requisite constitutional
amendment before the nation as a whole for a referendum."

            The 83-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980,
arrived on Tuesday in Namibia for a state visit.

            Mugabe called for greater cooperation between Southern African
Development Community (SADC) countries, a thinly veiled criticism of South
Africa and its continuing economic dominance through the Southern African
Customs Union (Sacu).

            "One subject that has been lingering on our agenda in SADC is
the one that has to do with tariffs, reducing tariffs at what rate and when
do we expect to get to zero tariff level?" Mugabe asked.

            "Usually where there is bigness and largeness, there is usually
a claim-inherited, historical claim -- for the large partner to want to
continue to be large and also to want the small ones to continue to be
small. I'm not saying this is what is happening."

            Mugabe further called for greater regional cooperation in trade
and sharing of expertise that would allow the region to "add value" instead
of simply selling primary commodities including beef, leather, fruit and

            During the official gala dinner he hailed his land and
resettlement policy as "completed successfully," adding that Britain and the
United States had wanted to punish Zimbabwe for "daring to take our destiny
into our own hands".

            The support Mugabe voiced for Namibia "as you tackle the mammoth
task of land reform in your own way" brought no response by Namibian
President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

            Pohamba, who was democratically elected in 2004, called for
greater "efforts to strengthen democratic governance and the rule of law for
a more peaceful continent".

            While having been given the red-carpet treatment on his arrival,
Mugabe is not seen to be as close an ally of Pohamba as he was of former
Namibian president and liberation struggle comrade Sam Nujoma.

            Namibia's human-rights groups and business community have
criticised the Mugabe visit as "sending the wrong signal" to a world that is
taking an increasingly critical approach to Mugabe's regime.

            Political observers hope that during official talks, Pohamba
will try to influence Mugabe to step down come elections next year, in the
kind of quiet diplomacy for which leaders like South African President Thabo
Mbeki have been criticised.

            Following a visit to a diamond-polishing factory and a meeting
with local businesses, Mugabe is to leave on Thursday for Namibia's east
coast to view dry-dock facilities at Walvis Bay harbour and see a
fish-processing plant before returning Friday to Zimbabwe.

            'The nation will be in darkness'
            Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, told a
parliamentary committee that he was struggling to keep the country's
electricity on and the air force aloft. He admitted he had no funds to buy
police vehicles or print passports and that unless drastic action was taken
on rampant inflation, Zimbabwe could slump "to levels never dreamt before".

            Scant hope of better times was offered by Gono when he came to
the parliamentary committee on defence and home affairs on Tuesday to
respond to appeals from the police, army and other departments for foreign
currency to buy vehicles, vital equipment and basic materials.

            Gono is favoured by Mugabe for his optimism, so many Zimbabweans
will have been surprised by his bleak assessment, published in the state
Herald newspaper on Wednesday.

            He told the parliamentary group that he received desperate calls
daily from state food and petrol distributors, the national airline, and the
state railway and power utility -- all demanding hard currency for imports.
He said an official from the power utility called at dusk saying: "If you
don't give us money the nation will be in darkness."

            But he said the bank's priority was to allocate hard currency
for imports of maize, Zimbabwe's staple grain, to avert a looming food
crisis. He admitted currency had been diverted from almost every government
department to buy food.

            The committee chairperson, Claudius Makova, of Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party, said its investigations showed that the police needed more than 15
000 vehicles but had 1 500. He said the air force needed $2-million to keep
planes in the air.

            The passport office had earlier said it had a backlog of 300 000
applications but could not produce any because it had no paper or ink. It is
resorting to issuing emergency travel documents on plain paper.

            Gono said he did not have the foreign currency to pay those
urgent bills. He said Zimbabwe needed more than $2,5-billionn "to function
well" but he did not know where he could find the hard currency.

            "If we were talking about local currency, I would say, 'Don't
worry, in the next 30 minutes we will print money,'" he said, but added that
he could not print US dollars or British pounds.

            Gono blamed people who had taken over white-owned farms for
failing to produce food. "There are some people who have become professional
land occupiers, vandalising equipment and moving from one farm to another,"
he said.

            Tobacco exports were the nation's main hard currency earners
before the land seizures. Tobacco production this year is forecast at
one-fifth of the 1999 level and food output is down to one-third.

            The economy would fall to "levels never dreamt before" unless
there was an immediate wage and price freeze, he said.

            In a sign of growing public impatience, dozens of people were
arrested yesterday for defying a police ban on demonstrations to protest at
hardship and repression.

            The National Constitutional Assembly said many of those arrested
were assaulted but it vowed to continue demonstrating. "We believe that
demonstrating for a new Constitution is a genuine cause that cannot be
blocked by a corrupt police force whose mandate is merely that of protecting
a failed regime," said the group, which campaigns for constitutional reform.

            Zimbabwe's main labour body, the Zimbawe Congress of Trade
Unions, confirmed on Wednesday that it would hold a general strike on April
3 and 4 to protest at the hardships it blamed on the government. It rejected
Gono's call for a wage freeze, saying poor and hungry workers could not
accept that.

            "People are hungry and they are fed up. The terrible economy is
creating a growing mood of desperation," said John Makumbe, a political
science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. "We have seen battles
between police and protesters and this could grow." - Guardian, Sapa-DPA

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Zimbabwe bank chief attacks land grab

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 2:17am GMT 01/03/2007

      One of the most powerful figures in Zimbabwe has issued a damning
indictment of President Robert Mugabe's policies by publicly criticising the
actions of the people allocated land seized from white owners.

      Gideon Gono, the governor of the central reserve bank, appeared to
acknowledge that his nation had been shattered by Mr Mugabe's "land reform

      According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Mr Gono also
acknowledged that the lack of food production had led to food imports
gobbling up foreign currency reserves desperately needed for fuel and spare
parts for machinery.

      Mr Gono told a panel of MPs in Harare that many black farmers,
including politicians, who resettled on former white-owned farms, were
failing to produce food.

      "There are some people who have become professional land occupiers,
vandalising equipment and moving from one farm to another," Mr Gono told a
parliamentary committee on home affairs.

      Mr Gono said he received desperate telephones calls daily from
government enterprises including food distributors, the state gasoline
procurement agency, the loss-making national airline, the state railroad
company and the main power utility. He said that they had all demanded hard
currency for imported materials.

      He added that the central bank's priority was to allocate hard
currency for imports of corn to avert a looming food crisis, especially in
southern Zimbabwe.

      The committee chairman, Claudius Makova of the ruling Zanu-PF party,
said its investigations showed the Zimbabwe police needed more than 15,000
vehicles but possessed just 3,000, of which half were off the road awaiting
repairs and imported spare parts.

      Mr Mugabe is facing growing unrest, with inflation running at almost
1,600 per cent - the highest in the world - and acute shortages of petrol,
food and medicine.

Last Updated: 2:17am GMT 01/03/2007

      One of the most powerful figures in Zimbabwe has issued a damning
indictment of President Robert Mugabe's policies by publicly criticising the
actions of the people allocated land seized from white owners.

      Gideon Gono, the governor of the central reserve bank, appeared to
acknowledge that his nation had been shattered by Mr Mugabe's "land reform

      According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Mr Gono also
acknowledged that the lack of food production had led to food imports
gobbling up foreign currency reserves desperately needed for fuel and spare
parts for machinery.

      Mr Gono told a panel of MPs in Harare that many black farmers,
including politicians, who resettled on former white-owned farms, were
failing to produce food.
      "There are some people who have become professional land occupiers,
vandalising equipment and moving from one farm to another," Mr Gono told a
parliamentary committee on home affairs.

      Mr Gono said he received desperate telephones calls daily from
government enterprises including food distributors, the state gasoline
procurement agency, the loss-making national airline, the state railroad
company and the main power utility. He said that they had all demanded hard
currency for imported materials.

      He added that the central bank's priority was to allocate hard
currency for imports of corn to avert a looming food crisis, especially in
southern Zimbabwe.

      The committee chairman, Claudius Makova of the ruling Zanu-PF party,
said its investigations showed the Zimbabwe police needed more than 15,000
vehicles but possessed just 3,000, of which half were off the road awaiting
repairs and imported spare parts.

      Mr Mugabe is facing growing unrest, with inflation running at almost
1,600 per cent - the highest in the world - and acute shortages of petrol,
food and medicine.

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Stevenson ejected from Parliament over frequency jamming

1st Mar 2007 01:31 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Trudy Stevenson, the Member of Parliament for Harare North, was
ejected from Parliament yesterday for attempting to defend the freedom of
the airwaves in Zimbabwe after she heckled a deputy minister in the
150-member House on the issue.

Stevenson was responding to an answer given by information deputy minister,
Bright Matonga, on why the Zimbabwe government is jamming independent radio
stations such as SW Radioafrica, Studio 7 and Radio Voice of the People that
operate from the United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands

Matonga, who is currently implicated in a corruption trial in the matter of
a ZUPCO bus tender while he was the chief executive officer of ZUPCO, had
been asked to clarify the government's position on independent radio
stations and why the government was using ruthless means to ensure listeners
were deprived of news.

The question was not on the order paper.

Matonga gloated he was glad that the opposition MDC had noted his government
had the power to jam broadcasts of "propaganda" against the State from
outside the country and confirmed they indeed were jamming those broadcasts.

He said he was also pleased that listeners, mainly those in the rural areas
that do not even receive the local FM stations were no longer receiving the
independent radio station broadcasts as their frequencies were being
disturbed by government agents.

A desk within the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has been set up to
deal specifically with the jamming of the three radio stations' frequencies.

Matonga told Parliament the Zimbabwe government was right to block the radio
stations from reaching people in Zimbabwe, adding the UK did not receive
broadcasts from foreign countries.

"We cannot allow foreigners to invade our airwaves without our authority. We
will continue to do it. We need to protect our sovereignty. If you go to
England you will not receive any foreign radio station," said Matonga.

At this, Stevenson heckled Matonga saying loudly that his statement was
incorrect. To the contrary, the UK received thousands of foreign stations
broadcasting into the country everyday.

Many more heckles were exchanged across the floor, forcing acting Speaker,
Kumbirai Kangai, to order Stevenson out of the chamber.

The Zimbabwe government has since last year been jamming independent radio
stations that broadcast into the country through equipment sourced from
China resulting in many failing to receive the stations on their radios.

The government has also gone out of its way to confiscate radios donated to
rural communities and teachers in particular saying they are being used as
agents for regime change by those donating them.

This has forced broadcasters such as SW Radio Africa to come up with
innovative ways through which to send news back to listeners in Zimbabwe.
The London-based stations is now sending daily text messages to people in
Zimbabwe to feed them on news about their country.

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Cry the Beloved City

The Herald

THE winter season in the City of Harare has lasted too long. Some of us not
too friendly with such seasons are almost reaching freezing point.

Indeed, Harare was once a "Sunshine City" but we have not experienced much
of that in recent years.

The potholes on the roads, malfunctioning traffic lights, uncollected
garbage, raw sewage flowing all over the place, etcetera, does not in any
way give the city a ray of sunlight.

It has all been dark and gloomy. Complaints have been made over and over
about all these but we have not seen much in terms of visible efforts to
restore the brightness.

Of course, once in a while you see some men in overalls filling potholes
here and there you also see others redrawing road markings. These efforts we
do appreciate, but now it's a question of too little too late.

Harare is still one of the best cities on the continent but maybe this is
now the case of the best not being good enough.

Harare has potential to attract both local and foreign investment in a big
way. It is a city that could achieve so much in terms of being the
torch-bearer for the rest of the country but presently, it is far from
holding even a dim candle.

So much has gone wrong in Harare in terms of infrastructure maintenance, let
alone development. The city has failed to meet the demands of the massive
rural to urban migration witnessed, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.

The powers-that-be in the city have failed to live up to growing demands
associated with modern-day cities. Piecemeal efforts have not yielded much
and it's time the occupants at Town House come up with concrete strategies
to turn things around.

Economic turnaround does not happen magically at national level but it
requires efforts even at municipal or city levels to feed into national

Of course, constraints such as inadequate funds, lack of foreign currency,
and other such have been advanced to explain why things are not happening in
Harare but there certainly should be a way around these problems.

I'm sure the city had better use for the $1,6 million it recently forked out
in the case involving the pothole-damaged Mercedes-Benz belonging to Stanbic
managing director Ms Pindie Nyandoro.

Great respect for the action taken by Ms Nyandoro but I hope the City of
Harare learnt a lesson or two on how a stitch in time saves nine. I could
not get the quotations of fixing a standard size pothole, but I should think
the kind of money paid out to Ms Nyandoro could have been used to fix
several potholes.

Most roads in Harare have become very dangerous particularly at night when
it is difficult to see a pothole before you sink into one. Some of the roads
are so littered with potholes, you try to avoid one but in the process you
hit into another.

Soon the City Fathers and Mothers might be preoccupied with raising money
for car damages when they could do better with repairing the roads

Imagine on a single journey from the city centre you avoid an accident by a
whisker at a malfunctioning traffic light-controlled intersection, but you
are met with another as you try to avoid a whole chain of potholes in Malta
Road, Braeside, on your way to the airport.

As stated by High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe in his judgment in the
City of Harare vs Ms Nyandoro case, the council has failed to properly
discharge its duties of maintaining roads.

So much more needs to be done to get things right if we are to return to the
days of glory in Harare.

The central business district is also not what it used to be. It was an
achievement of high proportion to visit Harare years ago and you could feel
the difference the minute you disembarked from a bus or kombi in Harare.

The city had a touch of class you could only experience here but now it's
so, so different.

These are not trivial issues. An investor injects his money after many
considerations, particularly the availability of sound infrastructure, among
other things, hence the need for Harare to ensure everything is in place.

The central business district also needs a serious facelift. In this regard
we applaud efforts to restore sanity and hygiene in many of the buildings
which house informal operators.

However, the inspections should not just be one-off events. Periodic checks
will ensure the high standards associated with the Harare of yesteryear are
restored. The office space and the various designated shopping and parking
facilities should be kept up to standard.

The challenges are there, particularly under the unstable macro-economic
environment but in some instances lack of proper sound management systems
are being camouflaged and wrongly attributed to the economic environment.
2007 has been dubbed a year of restoration, revival and regeneration and I
sincerely hope Harare will go with the flow and ensure plastering, painting,
resurfacings, reconnections and other repairs are done timeously.

Harare is a potentially viable investment destination, which should be
allowed to achieve this potential. Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds
but we hope the Harare Commission and those who man the various departments,
divisions, etc, that fall under it will come up with a sound and practical
programme to restore the sunshine city status.

Indeed, the sun is still high up. It has not moved from its natural posture
but it's just that Harare has drifted a bit away from it. It needs to start
drifting back into position lest we freeze.

Comments and opinions on this and any other issues are most welcome on:

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How the official/parallel forex system works

The Zimbabwean

-making millions for the Zanu (PF) feeding trough
This week the Zimbabwe dollar went through the 1 000 to 1 barrier against
the Rand - the most frequently traded currency. That puts the US dollar over
7 000 to 1 and the Pound to over 11 000 to one - a massive devaluation of
the local currency in the past two weeks.
But the official rate for US dollars is still 250 to 1 and anyone going into
the bank to change foreign exchange will get that rate. Exporters who sell
their goods in USD will get that rate on a third of their total earnings -
the balance can be used by the exporters or traded. So-called free funds -
those foreign exchange resources that are not the proceeds of economic
activity inside Zimbabwe (such as funds from the Diaspora) can also be
traded - but not in the Banks - only on the street.
So if the State buys fuel using the US$500 million a year they take from
exporters at 250 to 1 exchange rates, they can buy fuel - at a cost of about
60 US cents a litre landed and sell it on local markets at Z$325 a litre and
make a very nice profit.  Their problems arise when they have to take into
account all the demands on the official pool of foreign exchange created in
this way.
 The State allocates these funds secretly so no breakdown of what they do
with them is available - what we do know is that they do not have enough to
buy food (US$350 million a year), fuel (US$600 million a year) and
electricity (about US$60 million a year) and meet demands for patronage and
self seeking payments for luxury cars and other Zanu (PF) perks.
So the supply of fuel at these low prices is limited to people who are
connected to the State in some way and perhaps the security forces and the
Police. The rest of us have to rely on the private sector. The private
sector does not get any funding in terms of foreign exchange from the
official system - they have to buy the so-called free funds on the open
market for this purpose and that is where the parallel market for foreign
exchange comes in - at 28 times the official price.
So we who rely on the open market for supplies - 98 per cent of the people
who live here, must pay Z$6 500 a litre for fuel or go without. If the State
was to try and control the open market price, fuel would vanish overnight
and the country would literally come to a halt.
Take maize as another example - the State buys maize from our neighbours at
about R1750 per tonne. This is only Z$62 500 a tonne at the official rate of
exchange for the local currency. However, if it is purchased at the parallel
market rate then the cost rises to Z$1 750 000 or 28 times the "official"
cost. The selling price was Z$600 a tonne (yes - six hundred dollars a
tonne). So the GMB was virtually giving away the product to local buyers.
But if you went into a store to buy maize meal - just milled maize in a bag,
then you would have had to pay about Z$150 000 a tonne - a gross margin over
raw materials costs of 250 times the sale price from the GMB. Who made the
The profits made on such a system are enormous - on the 1,2 million tonnes
of maize sold annually in this market for human consumption, the profit
would be at present prices Z$350 billion a year. That is a massive 500 per
cent gross margin - at the very least. Some traders are demanding Z$550 000
a tonne for maize meal - this is the wholesale price set by the indigenous
millers association, an organisation linked to Zanu (PF).

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Kunzvi dam scandal revealed

The Zimbabwean

As serious water problems continue to haunt residents of metropolitan
Harare, it has emerged that donated funds for the Kunzvi Dam project have
been systematically looted over the past couple of years.
The project was mooted a decade ago as a way of averting water problems for
the capital and its satellite towns by constructing a dam some 20km east of
Investigations reveal that donations provided by Russia, Iran and the UK
have all been either channelled to other self-serving projects by the Zanu
(PF) government or looted by high-ranking government officials.
Sources within the ministry of Water and Infrastructure Development said the
recently appointed minister, Munacho Mutezo, had "unearthed a real scandal".
Mutezo is making concerted efforts to find solutions to Harare's chronic
water and sewage reticulation problems. He declined to open the can of worms
when contacted by The Zimbabwean this week, saying "a lot has been happening
and some things have hampered progress".
Sources privy to goings-on in Mutezo's ministry and those at the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (ZINWA) said he could expose the looting, which is
likely to implicate Vice President Joice Mujuru, who served for a long time
in the ministry of water resources and is reported to have received a many
donations during her tenure.
"If it weren't for corruption the Kunzvi Dam Project could have taken off by
now," a highly place d source said. "Inquiries have shown that a lot of
donated funds were clearly not used for the intended purpose."
A former government minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed
it as a Zanu (PF) culture "that of taking donated funds to use on projects
such as training of militia or hosting Independence celebrations". He added
that government was culpable for not taking the Kunzvi project seriously
despite the growing water problems for Harare "because most chefs have wells
at their homes".

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Seeds of self-destruction

The Zimbabwean

John Makumbe
Some of us have often stated that Zanu (PF) contains the seeds of its own
destruction. Recent reports seem to confirm that some of these seeds are now
germinating and bearing frightfully bitter fruit for the dictator and his
fewer and fewer supporters. The Mujuru faction, for example, boycotted
Gideon Gono's meaningless monetary policy presentation a few weeks ago and,
more recently, Joice Mujuru staged a no-show at the mother of all birthday
parties, Mugabe's annual circus (this year dubbed the 83rd birthday) in
The ever-watchful political analysts in Zimbabwe linked this turn of events
to Mugabe accusing Mujuru of using Tekere and Mandaza to further her
succession crusade. This is all juicy stuff, as it demonstrates that for the
geriatric Mugabe things are really falling apart.
At last, some of the pillars of the former liberation movement are crumbling
in the face of a resurging opposition MDC and a restive populace reeling
under horrendous socio-economic hardships.
In a ridiculous attempt to keep the lid on the boiling pot, the Zanu (PF)
Repressive Police (ZRP) last week imposed a ban on political meetings and
street demonstrations throughout Harare. This was in response to civic
action that the courageous WOZA, MOZA and MDC (Tsvangirai) had successfully
executed in Harare and Bulawayo.
Indeed, the MDC (Mutambara) had also given the ZRP a tough time on the
streets of Bulawayo. This took place while teachers were on strike. Add to
that the fact that junior doctors and nurses are still out on strike, and
might be joined by university academics this week.
It is an exciting time for the Mugabe regime, which is frothing at the mouth
following the EU's renewal of targeted sanctions against the crumbling
government. Not to be outdone, the IMF last week also decided to freeze out
the desperate and bankrupt regime in terms of financial support and voting
rights. It is double trouble for the dictator, both at home and
internationally. The poor chap does not know which way to turn. Where are
the Chinese when you need them?
In addition to the ZRP-imposed ban on political meetings and street
demonstrations, an illegal curfew seems to have been imposed in some parts
of the country. This undeclared curfew caught unawares several individuals
when the vicious running dogs of dictatorship, the ZRP, attacked them late
at night for no apparent reason. Officials in the ZRP deny there is a curfew
in operation.
The regime is desperate to contain these unprecedented levels of despondency
and fury from the people of Zimbabwe. In this desperation, the regime is
becoming increasingly vicious in its brutality against the suffering people.
But it is only a matter of time before the regime is forced to commit
genocide, possibly later this year. This 2007 is turning out to be Mugabe's
final year in office, whether he likes it or not. Sadly, before he departs,
he is going to ruin this bleeding country in order to make sure that whoever
inherits it will have a tough time restoring the nation's fortunes.
With Joice Mujuru sulking away and Emmerson Mnangagwa unsure of whether he
is coming or going, Mugabe has probably become the most isolated and
ostracised head of state in modern-day Africa. He does not know who to
trust - apart, of course, from George Charamba. I doubt very much that he
can even trust one Grace Marufu.

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Aid halted over 'Zanusation' of food

The Zimbabwean

By Herbert Dapi
MASVINGO- The operations of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society have been plunged
into disarray with the withdrawal of food aid because donors are concerned
about the 'politicisation' of handouts by Zanu (PF) officials.
Sources said aid was trickling in, and food had not been handed out for some
The board was made up of politicians and at one time it was chaired by
Dzikamai Mavhaiere, senator, provincial commiserate, and member of the
A Mrs Chiturumani, from the Women's League, was responsible for monitoring
and screening beneficiaries.
It is claimed the names of suspected opposition members were deleted from
the register. It was also found that the register recorded many names of
deceased people.
It is alleged Chiturumani turned herself into a cult figure, as she had the
final say on beneficiaries.
Staff members who questioned the logic of politicising food aid were forced
to leave, or demoted, and it is reported that there was a high staff turn
over. It has also emerged that vehicles were used for political-party
campaign purposes.
A source expressed fears that the organisation was going to fold, not only
in Masvingo but for the whole of Zimbabwe.
Red Cross officials could not drawn to comment.
The Zimbabwean has learnt that the operation has been taken over by another
NGO, Dachcare.

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Demo ban slammed

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - The government has come under withering criticism from civic and
opposition groups for imposing a curfew on Harare and banning demonstrations
and rallies in the capital.
The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute condemned the ban
as a breach of the right to freedom of assembly protected by international
and regional human rights law and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The IBA said it doubted the Constitutional validity of the draconian POSA,
which enables the Zimbabwe Government to undermine the right to freedom of
assembly by
prohibiting or restricting legitimate protests. IBA noted that the
three-month ban exceeded the one-month limit imposed under POSA.
"The Government of Zimbabwe has again undermined the guarantees of human
rights and the rule of law by preventing the citizens of Zimbabwe from
exercising their fundamental right to free assembly," said Mark Ellis,
executive director of the International Bar Association.
"The Mugabe Government's breaches of international human rights law and
complete disregard for the rights enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe
continue to escalate."
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the police were in contravention of
Section 27 of POSA, which empowered police to outlaw rallies for only one
"We want to make it clear to the police that we will not listen to partisan
orders that are meant to protect a failed regime that is desperately
clinging to power," said a spokesman for the NCA. "The police should come
out clear and declare their allegiance to Zanu (PF) as it is wrong to put on
two hats at the same time, attempting to confuse the whole nation."
A spokesman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said intimidation and
autocratic antics would not stand between the people and their vision for a
new Zimbabwe. - Gift Phiri

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Call to halt repression

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - MISA-Zimbabwe has called upon the government to uphold the rights
of citizens to express themselves freely and peacefully, and to cease the
wanton arrests and detentions.
The group said it noted with concern "the unprecedented rise in the number
of arrests of human rights activists during the past week as the Zimbabwean
government intensifies its brutal clampdown.
"The repression and restriction of the fundamental rights of freedom of
expression, assembly and association which puts into serious doubt
Zimbabwe's commitment to the rule of law manifests in the wanton disregard
of court orders by the police and the shocking rise in the number of arrests
and detentions of student leaders, teachers politicians and human rights
activists, among them women and minors.
"More than 200 people were arrested during the week beginning 13 February
2007 in blatant violations of basic human liberties guaranteed under Section
13 of the Zimbabwean Constitution notwithstanding the charters, conventions
and declarations, notably the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,
to which Zimbabwe is a state party."
Some victims of police actions were detained for more than the stipulated
48-hour period in filthy police cells, as lawyers battled to gain access to
the activists, it said.

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Mugabe must go - ZJSN

The Zimbabwean

AFRICA should expect grim violations of media and human rights in Zimbabwe
if President Mugabe continued in office for the next three years, a recent
meeting of Zimbabwe Journalists Support Network (ZJSN) heard in Pretoria
last week.
ZJSN Chairman Victor Kasaga said: "Mugabe is failing to correct his mistakes
and improve the country's economy, he is intensifying fear and intimidation.
What he wants is to watch World Cup in 2010 from state house then he will
MDC National Treasurer Roy Bennett said his party was working with
Zimbabweans in South Africa and other countries to ensure Mugabe would not
stay in office illegally.
Mugabe marked his 83rd birthday with a police ban on political rallies and a
suggestion that though some party members wanted him out of power he would
not bow to pressure.
Meanwhile Itayi Zimunya, of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition media office,
this week called upon the SA government to play a role in solving the crisis
in its neighbour. "We urge our comrades in South Africa to open their eyes
and mouth on Zimbabwe," he said. -  Ntandoyenkosi Ncube

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Letter from America

The Zimbabwean

Stanford G Mukasa
MDC can hasten Mugabe's demise
THE Mugabe government's actions in banning MDC rallies, jailing its leaders
and using brute force on its supporters sends one very clear message to
Zimbabweans: Mugabe is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Mugabe has the monopoly of state-sponsored violence. He controls the army,
police, CIO and youth militia thugs. Their budget far exceeds the needs of
the country.
However, what Mugabe does not control is the economy and the volcanic
rumblings of dissent within Zanu (PF). This leads to the view that the only
real prospects for change come from within the ruling party, or through the
Does this mean that the opposition movement has been effectively
emasculated? The question is: Where does MDC go from here?
What is the MDC's strategy now that all its efforts have been severely
undermined by Mugabe? Mugabe's laws mean that the MDC can be severely
punished even when acting within the law, as happened recently when two MDC
rallies were banned even after officials had followed all the legal
procedures and had obtained permission to hold them.
For seven years now, the opposition movement has followed the same strategy
of fighting futile elections, participating in Parliament, and seeking
permission from the police to hold meetings and rallies. The results have
been dismally similar: rallies denied, elections lost, supporters beaten,
jailed and some even killed.
However, just because Mugabe controls state violence it does not mean the
opposition movement has no strength. Mugabe's own security and military
chiefs have advised him that the masses are now ready, willing and able to
stage protests. They have, in fact, defined the opposition movement's
strength. No military force can overwhelm a determined population.
Examples abound everywhere. Almost every day we read about popular protests
around the world. The latest is the standoff in Guinea where a determined
population has stood its ground and used mass protests to force the
president to make major concessions. A similar protest took place in Togo
last year.
The opposition movement in Zimbabwe should now be strategizing on how to
mobilize the masses. One obvious reason why previous mass protests were
unsuccessful is that announcements were made in the glare of media
publicity - including when and where they would take place! One can well
imagine a smiling Mugabe taking necessary measures to frustrate the
In contrast, recent demonstrations have been relatively effective because
they were not widely announced. The spontaneous demonstrations that have
spread around the country are a crystal clear message to the opposition
movement's leadership that there is a real potential for mass action.
Some opportunities exist in the widening cracks in Zanu (PF). Mugabe's
recent speech amply demonstrates that the jostling for power is now reaching
epidemic proportions. Given the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe, it is
quite possible that mass action may ultimately not be necessary after all,
especially if the regime was to fall on its weight like a rotten fruit. But
the opposition movement would be ill advised to mark time in the expectation
that this will happen.
Zimbabwe is not an island. It relies on the international community in terms
of trade and tourism as well as remittances from Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora. The opposition movement should strengthen contacts and ties with
other civil society groups in neighbouring countries. Namibia, for example,
has a strong human rights organization that has taken effective steps to
protest against abuses by Mugabe. Cosatu in South Africa has expressed
solidarity with the ZCTU. French trade unions reportedly put pressure on
their government to deny Mugabe permission to attend the Franco-African
summit. In the United States, some trade unions are ready to support their
counterparts in Zimbabwe.
Diaspora Zimbabweans can play an important role in helping to seek support.
A civil disobedience campaign, backed by international civic organizations
like trade unions and churches, would significantly invigorate the struggle
against Mugabe's dictatorship.

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Officer 'helped to rob me'

The Zimbabwean

By Bayethe Zitha
BULAWAYO - A police assistant commissioner has been accused of corruptly
intervening in a marital dispute between a Zimbabwean woman and her
Australian-born husband.
Kudzai Machokoto (25) of Mpopoma high-density suburb, who is now trying to
divorce Geoffrey Brian Rievaulx (49), has accused Assistant Commissioner
Crowd Chirenje of ganging up with her estranged husband (a Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe branch manager for Bulawayo and a city businessman) to defraud her
of more than Z$6m.
Machokoto married Rievaulx in Tasmania, Australia in January last year and
the couple relocated to Zimbabwe eight months later.
Machokoto, a qualified nurse who has worked in South Africa and Australia,
accuses the senior police officer of threatening her with unspecified action
and calling her a prostitute.
The couple had decided to sell one of their two cars, a Vauxhall Astra,
through a local car dealer, Mr Shah of Shah Car Sales. The couple fell out
and, when the car was sold, Machokoto found "Mr Shah connived with my
husband to give him the money and sideline me."
Upon learning of this, Machokoto rushed to the garage in the company of two
police officers from Bulawayo Central police station, who witnessed her
receiving a Merchant Bank of Central Africa cheque for Z$6 458 000 from
Machokoto banked the cheque in her Zimbank account on October 31, 2006. She
alleges that Shah immediately phoned the assistant commissioner and told him
what had happened. Chirenje demanded she come to his office at the Bulawayo
provincial police headquarters in Ross Camp.
"When I got there, Chirenje was very angry with me - as if I had stolen
something from him! He insulted me with words that I cannot repeat to you
and said that I should leave his friends alone as I was just a prostitute
like many other Zimbabwean women.
"He then demanded that I should give him the cheque. When I told him that I
had deposited it in my account, he picked up the phone and called the RBZ's
Bulawayo branch and told the branch manager to stop the cheque," said
Chirenje refuted the allegations this week, saying Machokoto was just one of
his many sworn enemies trying to get him.

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War vet leader accused of theft

The Zimbabwean

By Bayethe Zitha
BULAWAYO - Former Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association
secretary-general, Andrew Ndlovu, has been accused of stealing $6,5m worth
of wheat from fellow A2 farmers in Nyamandlovu, which he allegedly sold to
the Grain Marketing Board last year.
Morgan Sibanda and Bekithemba Mafengu, Ndlovu's neighbours at a four-hectare
farm in Plot 02 of Lot A, Mandalay Farm in Nyamandlovu, told The Zimbabwean
that they filed a joint complaint of theft against the war veteran in
November last year.
"He is there at his house in Nkulumane but police have not yet arrested him.
All they tell us is that they are still investigating the case and we have
lost all hope of recovering anything from him. I think he is using his
influence as a member of the ruling party," said Mafengu.
The two men told The Zimbabwean that they share a diesel engine with Ndlovu
to draw water for irrigating their crops. Sometime last year, they used the
war veteran's diesel, with his consent, to irrigate their crops. When he
wanted it replaced, there was none to buy due to fuel shortages.
"We offered to give him money in black-market rates so that he could try and
buy it himself but he refused. One day in November, he took a combine
harvester and harvested our wheat, which he later sold to the GMB.
"When we asked him why he had done that, he said he was trying to recover
his diesel, the value of which was way below that of the wheat he stole from
us," said Sibanda.
Police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they had
received a complaint but were told by their superiors not to arrest the war
"They told us to treat the matter as a civil misunderstanding and tell the
complainants to try and recover their wheat through the Small Claims Courts
but we have not yet told them. They said Ndlovu is a member of the ruling
party and thus must not be arrested," said a junior police officer.
Police spokesman for Bulawayo, Inspector Shepherd Sibanda, refused to

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Massive grain deficit looms

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Zimbabwe faces a massive grain deficit again this year amid reports
that the bulk of Zimbabwe's early planted maize crop has been irreparably
damaged by a prolonged dry spell across the country in January and early
February, says the national crop assessment unit.
"The early planted maize crop in most provinces is reported to be a total
write-off as it was severely affected by the mid-season dry spell at
tasselling stage. The recent rains in most parts of the country have greatly
improved the general condition of the late-planted crop but with high
chances of getting low yields," said the report by AREX, a department within
the Agriculture ministry.
The dry spell had also affected the leaf size of some of the season's
tobacco crop and was likely to cause a fall in yields. Tobacco is Zimbabwe's
major cash crop and rakes in approximately a third of the country's foreign
currency earnings.
In a recent report, the US-based Famine Early Warning System Network
(FEWSNET) said that output from the 2006/7 (November-March) crop was likely
to be down since cash constraints had forced communal farmers to use
low-yielding maize seed varieties. FEWSNET said contingency plans should be
put in place to deal with a possible shortage of the staple grain. - Gift

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Fuel price hike sounds death knell

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - The sharp hike in fuel prices is likely to sound the death knell
for most companies, already weighed down by an acute shortage of foreign
exchange and key inputs, top economists warned this week
Economic experts spoke as the pump price of a litre of petrol rose to a
staggering Z$6,500, inflation shot to almost 1,600 percent, and the country
electricity shortages woes intensified.
Energy minister Mike Nyambuya was not immediately available for comment. But
economist John Robertson said inflationary pressures had pushed up fuel
pipeline costs, such as transportation and storage, resulting in NOCZIM
selling fuel products at below procurement costs. The removal of subsidies
by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono was another reason of the sharp hike in
Robertson said the impact of the fuel price hikes, when fuel was already in
very short supply, would have a disastrous impact on the economy and the
lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
"Everybody will be affected," said Robertson. "We will be in a very serious
predicament in terms of moving production goods, getting food delivered and
moving coal, timber and heavy commodities to the factories. So, we will have
a very serious shrinkage in the volume of business being done.
"Coupled with this is the fact that we're now experiencing power cuts
because South Africa's (power parastatal) Eskom is getting very serious
about being paid, we owe them so much money (and lack the foreign currency
to pay the debt)," Robertson said.
He added that because of the energy crisis in Zimbabwe "we expect to see
worsening shortages of consumer goods in the shops and shortages of export
goods". This would further aggravate the foreign currency shortage in the
The economic problems could not be fixed without solving the political
problems besetting the country, Robertson noted.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the latest fuel
price increase was a massive hike "just two months after another previous
hike of 95 percent".
"In real terms this increase means that for those vehicles which have 60
litre tanks the cost of fuel rises from $240,000 to $360,000. This is way
above the net salary of a majority of ordinary Zimbabweans, even MPs," MDC
spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. - Gift Phiri

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Zimbabwe government reluctant to embrace internet

New Zimbabwe

By Asher Tarivona Mutsengi
Last updated: 03/01/2007 11:39:52
THE IT industry in Africa is growing, attracting foreign investment and
attention and the use of the Internet is fast becoming a phenomenon.

It is highly disturbing that the government of Zimbabwe is lagging behind in
embracing the use of the Internet in all facets of information management
and service provision.

Most governments have official governments websites where they share and
convey policy issues and engage the general populace in governance issues.

I visited, which is listed as the official Zimbabwe
government website. The website takes decades to load, besides it has the
worst design of all the 100
governments websites I visited.

While the homepage offers links to some ministries, there isn't much. Most
ministries' home pages contain the same mission statements that were coined
in 1980, which means you just have to visit the sites once.

A click on the link to the Ministry of Information & Publicity is the most
disappointing because the ministry does not have a website. God forbid! This
is the ministry that is responsible for churning out government propaganda
and the so-called reliable information.

The websites for the ministries of Higher Education, Industry &
International Trade, Public Service and Labor do not exist despite the links
listed. Where would an interested investor find information about investing
in Zimbabwe?

I would have expected the Ministry of Anti-Corruption to have a website
where people can post tip-offs. Other countries publish bids for government
purchasing contracts on the Web, this way they are accessible to all not
only government supporters who read the The Herald or The Chronicle. This
helps fight corruption.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is not even listed, yet this is where
applicants for births certificates could check to see exactly where their
case is being handled in the government approval process.

While some ministries do have websites, for instance the Ministry of Finance
has a website where one can download the latest fiscal policy, it is highly
underdeveloped. The rest are just home pages, never updated and designed
using just basic HTML.

Just across the border, the South African, Botswana and Zambian governments
have some of the highly developed government websites. Ranging from the
president's office to the tinniest department, all have websites with
detailed information about government services.

If you visit, you can locate the full text of current South
African legislation which includes amendments, schedules and regulations and
are updated whenever an amendment is promulgated in the Government Gazette.
One can receive notification by email of any updates, amendments and
additions to the legislation.

From what I see, there is every reason to believe that the opposition MDC
will have an intact IT policy judging from their immediate embrace of the
Internet. It has four official sites --,, and

The websites are fully developed, for instance uses
some of the latest flash technology and is updated timely. In South Africa,
all political parties -- from the Democratic Alliance to Inkatha Freedom
Party have websites, with the ANC having the most developed. You might have
guessed right when it comes to Zanu PF -- the url takes
you to a human rights protest site.

Even Zimbabwean embassies doted all over the world do not have websites
where visitors can find information on the required travel documents,
assistance and other information.

The website supposedly meant to be Zimbabwean Embassy
website in Canada takes you to a home page where the national anthem plays
in the background. Beyond that that's all, if you try to enter the site, you
will be surprised to find raw basic HTML language.

No good news for the embassy based in the Information technology hub of the
United States of America. It does not have a website, neither do our
missions in Australia, China, Libya or anywhere in the world. In sharp
contrast Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Namibia, Angola and Zambia
consulates have embraced the use of the Internet to share information and
offer assistance to their citizens and visitors.

Most governments turn to Internet-based services as a way to cut red tape,
the Internet is a means of advancing and consolidating transparency and
democracy into the overall practice of public administration.

The Internet is arguably the most powerful medium for the sharing and
distribution of ideas man has ever known. Most Zimbabweans, like in other
nations with oppressive governments, have looked to the Internet as a way to
disseminate their anti-government views not only to fellow residents, but
also to the rest of the world.

On line news websites like have filled the void that
exists after the banning of critical newspapers by the Zimbabwe government.

Africa is very far behind the rest of the world in Internet use, and it
seems that the gap will only get bigger unless something is done. Our
government in Zimbabwe is just not committed. The president has been around
the country a few times donating computers to various schools. If that is
not a publicity stunt, then it is good.

However, it is not enough. The government must go the extra mile to
effectively use the Internet to engage with its citizens dotted all over the
world, to face the world and embrace the Internet to improve Zimbabweans'
life standards by spreading awareness about current affairs and policy

Asher Tarivona Mutsengi writes from Edmonton, Canada, and can be contacted

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Zimbabweans to demonstrate in London


Press Notice - 1st March 2007

Supporters of the Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), are to stage a demonstration in London on Saturday, 3rd March
in protest at the latest restrictions on political activity in Zimbabwe.
Police in Harare disregarded a court order and prevented a rally which was
to be addressed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvagirai on Sunday, 18th February.
The rally was to protest against Mugabe's plans to postpone presidential
elections until 2010.  The Mugabe regime has now banned political activity
in Harare for three months as the country spirals into economic meltdown.

MDC supporters from throughout the UK are to gather in Trafalgar Square and
then march to the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand at 2 pm to join the
Zimbabwe Vigil, which has been demonstrating outside the Embassy every
Saturday for more than 4 years against human rights abuses and in support of
free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The meeting will be addressed by the Chair of the MDC in the UK, Ephraim
Tapa, and other leaders.

Interview opportunities with Zimbabwean activists and refugees

Photo Opportunities: Dancing, Singing and Drumming

For MDC UK: Jason Matewu, 07816 619 788
For Zimbabwe Vigil: Rose Benton, 07970 996 003

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