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Inflation crisis fuels Harare stock market surge

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: March 22 2007 02:00 | Last updated: March 22 2007 02:00

Zimbabweans rocked by hyperinflation and eager to make money are turning to
the stock market, generating share price gains that are as volatile as the
country's political crisis.

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange's industrials index rose as much in a
single day's trading as in the preceding 40 years, gaining 569,000 points,
or an amount equal to its total gains in the four decades to December 2006.
Then on Tuesday, the index, which includes all non-mining companies listed
on the exchange, surged a further 1.2m points.

In real money, Zimbabwe's stock market is not large - its entire market
capitalisation is some Z$61,000bn (US$3.6bn). But investors are flocking to
the exchange, causing share prices in the world's fastest-shrinking economy
to outpace both inflation and the country's collapsing currency.

When adjusted for inflation of 1,730 per cent in the year to February,
investors are showing real gains of over 200 per cent so far this year, or
60 per cent in US dollars at the much under-valued parallel market exchange
rate. The reasons for this? No one wants to hold the local currency, which
is losing value by the minute. In the parallel market, the Zimbabwe dollar
has fallen from Z$3,000 to the US unit at the end of December to Z$17,000

Since the start of the year the pace of economic decline in Zimbabwe has
accelerated and in the past fortnight, there has been an increase in
political violence with rallies banned or broken up by President Robert
Mugabe's security forces and opposition leaders hospitalised.

There are limited opportunities for investment in Zimbabwe and many
investors have convinced themselves that so long as inflation continues to
rise the stock market will maintain its phenomenal growth.

Still, there are reasons for caution, among them the possibility that the
government might impose harsh measures to stop the collapse of the currency.

"There are just too many things that could go wrong," said one asset

In the meantime, by the end of yesterday's trading, the industrial index had
gained 850 per cent since the New Year.

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Can the opposition movement finally oust Mugabe?

Taipei Times

By Chris McGreal
Thursday, Mar 22, 2007, Page 9
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has declared that
the bloody assault on its leadership which prompted an international outcry
heralds "the final stage of the final push" to remove President Robert
Mugabe from power. One of the party's leaders has even gone so far as to
warn of "rebellion, war."

Zimbabweans have been here before, and been disappointed. So the coming
weeks will be a crucial test of whether the MDC is finally able to
capitalize on the unexpected transformation of its image from weak to heroic
and mobilize popular resistance to Mugabe's 27-year rule.

Five years ago, the MDC declared that the voters were about to turf out
Mugabe. The opposition then watched helplessly as the ruling Zanu-PF stole
the election.

In the following days the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, backed away from
confrontation with the government just as Zanu-PF was most vulnerable and
ordinary Zimbabweans were still mobilized. He said he did not want to see
bloodshed. Since then the MDC has been on the retreat as it failed to find a
strategy to confront Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai launched a "final push" and "winter of social discontent" but
they failed to get a sceptical population on to the streets. The collapse in
confidence in the MDC showed as many opposition supporters did not bother to
vote in parliamentary elections and the MDC split over Tsvangirai's

Now his party is again presented with an opportunity after the assault on
the MDC leaders laid bare the brutalities of Mugabe's rule and prompted
Washington to lead international condemnation of Zimbabwe's president.

The MDC said it would seize the moment. Arthur Mutambara, a leader of the
faction that broke away from Tsvangirai two years ago, said the party was
putting aside divisions to rally to the cause.

"We have our differences but we will manage them," he 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 talking
about rebellion, war."

But at the weekend, Tsvangirai was still talking about foreign intervention
as key to forcing Mugabe from power. Asked shortly before he was beaten up
why he did not offer more forceful leadership, Tsvangirai essentially said
it was for the people to lead and him to follow.

But ordinary Zimbabweans have not shown a taste for confrontation with the
government even as they have endured a collapsing economy and food

David Coltart, an MDC member of parliament who supports the Mutambara
faction, said he remains doubtful that his party could mobilize large-scale

"For all the publicity of the past week, the fact remains that the
opposition hasn't been able to mobilize tens of thousands of people which is
partly to do with fear, partly to do with divisions in the opposition and
partly to do with a shocking lack of information for ordinary people about
what is going on," he said. "This is a very weak population; weak
economically, unhealthy because of AIDS, and a population that is starving."

The one MDC strategy that may yet pay off is the quiet negotiation between
its two factions and rival wings of Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai has tacitly acknowledged that the best way to encourage change is
through a power-sharing agreement with those in the ruling party who realize
that a coalition government would also ensure a future for Zanu-PF.

But Mugabe's Zanu-PF critics acknowledge that an opposition able to mobilize
popular discontent would strengthen their hand in trying to get the
president to finally relinquish power.
This story has been viewed 51 times.

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Mugabe seizes passports from opposition activists

Independent, UK

By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
Published: 22 March 2007

Security forces in Zimbabwe have been accused of stepping up abductions and
beatings of government critics, while senior opposition figures are having
their passports confiscated to prevent them publicising the crisis to the
outside world.

William Bango, a spokesman for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said:
"At least five opposition officials have been picked up for torture from the
townships by the police every night before they are returned to their homes.
The strategy is to try to ensure that the opposition is destroyed as these
officials would be too scared to participate in our activities in future."
Passports of MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara and senior party officials
Grace Kwinje and Sekai Holland had been seized. The latest accusations of
brutality came as Western powers sought to persuade Africa to confront
President Robert Mugabe. Tony Blair said Mr Mugabe's regime was "appalling,
disgraceful and utterly tragic for the people of Zimbabwe" and damaging the
region's reputation.

"Let's be very clear: the solution to Zimbabwe ultimately will not come
simply through the pressure applied by Britain. That pressure has got to be
applied within Africa, in particular within the African Union," he told

Few African governments have joined the criticism of Mugabe, although
leaders meet in Tanzania next week to discuss Zimbabwe. The Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa said the region would have to get involved. "Quiet
diplomacy has failed to help solve the political chaos and economic meltdown
in Zimbabwe," he said.

In Harare, Mr Mugabe has summoned judicial officials to a seminar geared
towards preparing them to handle "terrorism cases".

Sources revealed that the seminar was being attended by senior magistrates
whom Mr Mugabe wanted to mete out "heavy punishment" to opposition officials
accused of terrorist activities.

Mr Mugabe's spokesman, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, dismissed the opposition MDC as a
"terrorist organisation" and said the government was justified in
implementing any measures geared towards countering it.

Mr Bango said his party was aware of the secret seminar for judicial
officers. They had been told that the seminar was necessary because Zimbabwe
"was facing a deeper terrorism threat than ever before and government wants
to develop the capacity of judicial officers to handle them".

Mr Bango said it was evident that the government was trying to muzzle the
judiciary so it could target the opposition whenever "so called terrorism
crimes by the opposition" were brought before the courts.

Mr Mugabe has over the years weeded out judges who displayed independence.
Mr Bango said his party feared officials would be targeted on trumped-up
charges in the next few months as Mr Mugabe becomes desperate.

"We are being informed that they [the government] want to plant arms of war
at various places to use them as a pretext of arresting us and accusing us
of planning a war to justify their claims that we are terrorists," he said.

Peter Hitschmann, a former Rhodesian soldier and friend of the prominent
opposition activist Roy Bennett, has now spent over a year in jail on
charges that he cached arms to use in an alleged plot to kill Mr Mugabe. Mr
Bango said Zimbabwe was certainly heading for trouble unless regional
countries intervened now. He said the MDC was prepared to accept a dignified
exit strategy for Mr Mugabe if regional leaders pressured him to negotiate
an end to the current impasse.

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Mugabe's brutality

Vanguard, Nigeria


            Posted to the Web: Thursday, March 22, 2007

            The echoes of brutality from far away Zimbabwe does not portray
not only that country but entire Africa in good light. Picture of police
brutality against Margan Tsvangirai, opposition leader of the Movement For
Democratic Change sends the continent back to the age of barbarism. Lovemore
Madhuku of National Constitutional Assembly also suffered a broken arm and a
head wound while in police custody. Many other activists even from the
church suffered similar fate with few wanton waste of lives.

            Tsvangirai was wickedly battered on the head. His swollen face,
closed red eye and wounds in different places were manifestations of police
inhumanity to this leading opposition figure in Zimbabwe. His and many
others offence was their effrontery to call Sunday meeting prayers to
address the myriad of political and economic problems facing Zimbabwe under
President Robert Mugabe.

            The Zimbabwean Police refused them permit and believes that the
only way to cow the assemblage of coalition of opposition, churches and
civil rights groups was to cruelly invade their right of association by
inflicting violence on them. Mugabe has been in power since the country
attained independence in 1980. He has changed the constitution of Zimbabwe
several times to suit his self perpetuation plan and administered all
illegal means to quell opposition fire.

            It is sad that Mugabe who started on a bright note has in the
twilight of his life turned into a monster that could go to any length to
remain in power. Cost of living is said to be soaring in that country while
Zimbabweans are generally tired of the draconian reign of an ex-activist and

            Whatever contributions Mugabe made in the glorious days of
fighting for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe's) independence has been diminished by
his forceful long stay in power and idealess policies that has not moved the
country forward.

            Mugabe has indeed overstayed his welcome while he must be
reminded that, hard as he could, it would not be possible for him to stop
the hand of time. It is trite that change is the only constant thing in life
and millions of Mugabe in Zimbabwe cannot stop it from happening when it is

            It is applauding that tyrannical antics of Mugabe's Police seem
not to be discouraging Tsvangirai and fellow comrades in their crusade
against bad governance in Zimbabwe. They have erroneously believed that
remaining in power forever is their birthright.

            The United Nations, UN, and the Commonwealth must quickly
intercede in the crisis of political, economic and human rights abuses going
on presently in Zimbabwe. the problem going on in the country should concern
leaders within the continent too. the African Union can also help in seeking
out ways that could bring peace and stability in Zimbabwe. On this matter,
we cannot afford not to be our brother's keeper. The excesses of Mugabe
should be condemned and checked.

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At UN, Iran Resolution Is Juggled with Zimbabwe, Uganda Is In, Brammertz Eats Alone


Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 -- Following a Security Council meeting Wednesday
afternoon about Iran, U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff emerged and told
reporters that there is still a possibility of a vote this week on the draft
sanctions resolution, and that the afternoon's meetings were "not a
negotiation session."

            Minutes later, South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the
president of the Council this month, was asked about Wolff's comments.  He
asked rhetorically, if it was not a negotiation session, what was it? South
Africa has issued a two-and-a-half page "non-paper" which proposes that a 90
day time out be built into the resolution, and would omit from the sanctions
list several individuals and companies, including Bank Sepah, Qods
Aeronautics Industries and Pars Aviation Services Company. Others are
requesting that the resolution's proponents come forward with justification
and proof about the names on the sanctions list.

            By Wednesday evening, the UN was full of competing theories on
what will happened next. Some say that the resolution's proponents will put
it "in blue" on Thursday night, and demand a vote within 24 hours. Others
note that Ambassador Kumalo, as Council president, controls when meetings
are scheduled, and at a minimum could hold off action until Iran's
president, who has requested to address the Council before any vote of
further sanctions. Further out, it is speculated that South Africa could run
out the clock until the end of their month heading the Council, and that the
UK, which chairs the Council in April, would preside over the sanctions'
enactment. We'll see.

Zimbabwe as Political Football

            In the eddies of this jousting about the Iran nuclear sanctions
resolution, the issue of Zimbabwe is being buffeted about like a homeless
cause. A briefing of the Security Council about recent events in Zimbabwe -- 
the arrest and beating of opposition leaders, the crackdown on the press,
the economic collapse -- had been scheduled for Thursday afternoon. It will
no longer take place, at least at that time. Ambassador Kumalo Wednesday
evening that "the UK had wanted a briefing on Zimbabwe, that's not going to
happen now."  Amb. Kumalo has previously been heard by correspondents to say
that Robert Mugabe is just a grumpy old man who should be allowed to serve
out his time.

            Soon after Ambassador Kumalo's comments, Inner City Press asked
UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry about the status of the briefing on Zimbabwe,
and any linkage to the negotiations around the Iran sanctions resolution.
Ambassador Jones Parry said that because the Iran text will now been
discussed on Thursday afternoon, the Zimbabwe briefing was bumped. He said
he has requested that it take place, if possible, on Thursday morning, or at
the soonest possible time thereafter. At 7 p.m., Thursday's Council
scheduled was released, with Zimbabwe not included in the morning or
afternoon session. (Northern Uganda / the Great Lakes, a euphemism for the
Lord's Resistance Army conflict, remains on the agency for a briefing at 4
p.m., click here for today's Inner City Press coverage of LRA, Joaquim
Chissano and Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro.) Given South
Africa's position that Zimbabwe issues do not belong in the Security
Council, it remains to be seen what happens with the Zimbabwe issues now.

            One update on a less prominent hotspot: earlier in the week,
Inner City Press asked Russian Ambassador Churkin when Abkhazia will be
considered by the Council, given the request by Georgia after the contested
elections in the region, and the bombing incident which the UN says its is
investigating. "It's on the agenda for next week," Ambassador Churkin said,
then amended the answer to "next month." What will Kosovo, the issues are
piling up. We'll see.

            Finally, a review and in-UN sighting. Serge Brammertz of the
International Independent Investigation Commission on Wednesday spoke at the
stakeout for 23 minutes without saying much of anything. To some degree it's
understandable: a prosecutor can only say so much about an ongoing
investigation. But why then stand at the stakeout for 23 minutes? One wag
noted that those who should speak and have no excuse not to, such as Ibrahim
Gambari, often rush right past reporters, while those who can't or won't
speak seem to hunger for attention. Related or not, Mr. Brammertz was
observed later on Wednesday eating alone in the UN cafeteria. As someone
once said, the UN can be like high school...

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

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Dash to safety may end in tragedy

Gold Coast Bulletin


A 64-year-old former Australian resident trapped in Zimbabwe has won a court
order allowing her to leave the strife-torn southern African country.

But it is feared president Robert Mugabe's corrupt regime will contrive to
prevent Sekai Holland making a dash to South Africa for urgent medical

Mrs Holland's Australian husband Jim told AAP that a Harare judge had ruled
last night that she and her fellow opposition activist Grace Kwinjeh were
free to go.

Mrs Holland has been under armed guard in a Harare hospital where she is
receiving treatment for injuries, including a broken leg, broken hand and
three broken ribs.

She says she sustained the injuries in police custody, where she was also
allegedly lashed more than 80 times by 15 officers.

``The police have been ordered to stop the armed guard, to hand back the
passports and to allow them to leave the country,'' said Mr Holland today.

``They will need to report their movements to police in case of a summons
for any alleged criminal offence.''

Mrs Holland, policy secretary for Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party, and Ms Kwinjeh were arrested on March 11 following
an opposition protest, but have yet to be charged.

The armed guard has been removed from the hospital, Mr Holland said, and he
was now making plans to leave tomorrow for Johannesburg then Durban to seek
urgent specialist treatment for his wife's leg.

But Mr Holland was not hopeful they would be allowed onto the plane, and
he's afraid the authorities could even try to have them killed.

``The order's only been issued against the police so if some other organ of
the state prevents us leaving, we still have a problem,'' he said.

``Perhaps there'll be a little accident in the ambulance on the way to the
airport - you've got no idea, we live in very dangerous times.''

Mrs Holland came to Australia from Zimbabwe in 1961 and married Australian
Jim Holland before the couple moved back to her homeland in 1981.

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Mugabe's Zimbabwe

Khaleej Times Online

22 March 2007

WHAT is going on in Zimbabwe? President Robert Mugabe, at the helm for over
26 years, has broken his own record in his relentless and ruthless
persecution of opposition leaders.

Attacking opposition leaders and beating them up at every possible
opportunity has nothing to do with democracy or civilised behaviour. Mugabe
is accusing his rivals, as usual, of seeking to sell the nation's interests
to the West. While the script is old, the lethal nature of his offensive is
not new.

Over the years, Mugabe has been accused of many things: widespread
repression, corruption and mismanagement of economy to the extent that the
inflation today has shot up to 1,600 per cent, the highest in the world. On
his part, Mugabe says the offensive against him - with the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in the forefront - is sponsored by the West, notably
the UK and its Western allies. Hence his latest call to them, "Go, hang".
Add to this the current diplomatic stand-off, aggravated by a warning to
foreign missions that envoys will be expelled if they are found to be
backing the opposition movement.

Zimbabwe was at one time the most prosperous country in Africa. Today,
poverty is a reigning reality. That has to do with Mugabe's own land reforms
policy, under which foreigners - White farmers - were driven out and their
lands taken in and handed over to local natives a few years ago. Those who
got the land neither had the resources nor the expertise to turn them
productive, which should also be reason why there now is a serious food

Zimbabwe urgently needs a change - change of direction and a change for the
better. While the people of Zimbabwe finally must determine their destiny,
the international community will have to come forward to end their suffering
and persecution at the hands of the present regime.

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Media personalities attacked by police

The Zimbabwean

One of the people attacked by police after a soccer match shows the injuries he sustained.

CAPS United supporters, including three top television and movie personalities, were brutally assaulted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, during the recent weekend of violence.
The Caps United supporters, who were travelling from Kwekwe, were accosted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police at a roadblock mounted near Kuwadzana roundabout along the Bulawayo highway while returning from a soccer match.
The bus, which was carrying 75 supporters, was told to pull over at the Kudzawana roundabout before the AK-74-wielding Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, clad in riot gear, went berserk, assaulting the passengers.
Among the fans that were beaten were 'Mudoori' (Matirasa Silingwana) of the television series Tiriparwendo and 'Mbudzi Yadhura' (Blessing Chimhowa) of the television comedy Gringo. Silvos Mudzvova of the hit movie Tanyaradzwa was also at the mercy of police brutality.
The instant justice meted out to those travelling on the highway followed the torching of a commuter omnibus, which was travelling from Botswana on the same road.
Police said six MDC supporters were arrested in connection with the torching of the vehicle, while the passengers' goods were also looted, according to the police.
"It was the most barbaric incident because we were coming from a soccer match and were all dressed in our Caps regalia but the police took no heed. It was a traumatic experience because we were treated like animals. The police took turns to beat us while we were lying on the tarmac," Chimhowa said.
According to an inventory done by the Caps United Supporters Union treasurer, Tonderai Chimedza their members, who were travelling on the bus lost $1, 8 million after their pockets were emptied by the police.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police members also confiscated Caps United regalia and flags valued at over $3 million.
 The Caps United Supporters Union said at least of sevens of their members also lost cell-phones worth millions of dollars.
Auxillia Madyira, one of the female supporters, sustained bruises on the buttocks and breast after the police whipped her with a baton.
"I was assaulted left, right and centre. I have just been to the doctor and I incurred $200 000 in medical costs. I hid my cellphone in my bra but I was not so lucky as the police whipped me with a baton across my breasts, damaging my cellphone in the process," Madyira said.
Madyira, a vendor at Mbare Musika, said she would not be making a living in the next few days as she was nursing injuries at home.
Police used tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition to crush Sunday's gathering by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of opposition, church and civic groups, in Harare's western township of Highfield.
State radio Tuesday quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu as saying opposition activists had attacked police and were to blame for the violence.
Among those arrested Sunday in Highfield were two journalists on assignment for The Associated Press, Harare freelance photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and freelance television producer Tendai Musiya.

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MDC, COSATU plan border closure

The Zimbabwean

The Movement for Democratic Change South Africa chapter is set to close the
busy Beitbridge/Musina border post in protest against the Mugabe regime's
brutality against its citizens, an official told CAJ News on Monday.
Khumbulani Sibanda, MDC spokesperson for SA, said COSATU had pledged maximum
support for the endeavour.
A massive demonstration against the worsening political situation in
Zimbabwe was planned for Durban on Wednesday, to be followed by one at the
Zimbabwean consulate in Johannesburg. COSATU and the South African Communist
Party (SACP) were scheduled to participate. - CAJ News

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Fuel price rockets

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - This week's sharp fuel price rise in Zimbabwe was the fifth inside
two weeks, as the ripple effects of the removal of price subsidies begins to
take its toll on the economy.
In two weeks, the price of fuel has shot up from Z$6,000 to Z$15,000 driven
mainly by the weakening Zimbabwe dollar against major countries.
"The price of fuel is set to continue rising in line with the value of forex
on the black market," said economist Ronald Shumba.
Diesel, the country's most used fuel, rose to $14,500 a litre, 80 percent up
on the previous cost of Z$8,500. Jet A1 fuel almost quadrupled.
Energy minister Mike Nyambuya told state radio the rise was necessary for
viability, especially at the state-owned oil importer, the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe, or
The oil importer, which until recently had a monopoly on fuel imports, has
been selling fuel to oil companies at a substantial loss for about seven
But the removal of subsidies in the pricing of oil products by Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono upset the applecart.
The result has been steep price increases across all goods and commodities,
which thrive on fuel for distribution. Bus fares have also shot up, with an
average trip in Harare now asking for $5,000 forcing many to walk or cycle
to work. - Gift Phiri

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Mugabe's enemies now within the gate

The Zimbabwean

Editorial 11

Widespread brutality against all those perceived as his enemies, has been
Mugabe's response to his increased terror at losing power. His enemies are
now everywhere. No longer is it just the MDC, or Tony Blair and George Bush,
who frighten him. Now the enemy is within the gate - personified by his
life-long comrades at arms, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Solomon Mujuru.
Both factions, which have been gingerly shadow-boxing for the right to
succeed him, have this week finally had the guts to say they don't want
anything more to do with him. It's now official. Mugabe is liability - even
to Zanu (PF). Faced with unprecedented opposition from within his party to
his intention to extend his rule until 2010 without the mandated
presidential elections in 2008, Mugabe backed down and agreed to elections
in 2008.
He immediately declared his intention to stand for re-election. Loyal
comrade Nathan Shamuyarira immediately announced that Mugabe would be Zanu
(PF)'s sole candidate for the presidency.
However, others begged to differ. Both warring factions were quick to make
know, albeit unofficially through leaks to The Zimbabwean, that the aged
tyrant's days were now over and they would not be supporting his candidacy.
At last the MDC and Zanu (PF) - or at least certain elements within the
ruling party - are in agreement. Mugabe must go. What happens next is
vitally important. This common ground must be recognised and seized. It
provides a fantastic opportunity for the international community to do
something concrete and positive at last.
Every possible avenue must be explored via which support can be extended to
the democratic forces in the country, who have paid such a high price for
their commitment to freedom over the past few weeks in particular. The
Americans spoke of a "toolbox of measures" - these need to be actioned as
soon as possible.
South Africa and Britain, both key players, need to stand up and be counted.
Their silence, in the hour of Zimbabwe's greatest need, is inexplicable and
unjustifiable in the extreme.
They could still redeem themselves by acting quickly to condemn the
shootings and beatings, and offering assistance to the wounded who are
imprisoned in ill-equipped hospitals, unable to travel for specialist
medical attention.
Targetted sanctions need to be broadened and tightened.
The EU action this week in allowing a Zanu (PF) delegation to attend the ACP
parliamentary meeting in Brussels (while the official MDC delegate is
fighting for his life in hospital in Harare having been assaulted with iron
bars by eight state security agents while at the airport en route to the
meeting) is deplorable.
We pay tribute to the voices that have been raised around the world. In
particular we applaud Botswana's principled stance in closing its embassy in
Harare. We implore others to follow suit. This practical step of showing
disgust at Mugabe's behaviour, while at the same time encouraging those
brave enough to resist him, is what is needed right now.

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Gono bankrolls thuggery?

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono is allegedly
bankrolling Zanu (PF) thuggery. It emerged this week that police officers
who assaulted civic and opposition leaders while in police custody on March
11 were given Z$1 million each and a Z$100,000 daily food allowance from
bank coffers.
While Gono this week raced to distance himself from the brutal assault of
the opposition leaders, tortured civic and opposition leaders spoke of their
assailants occasionally referring to "chimari chaGono (Gono's cash)," while
rubbing their hands with glee.
Police officers in Highfield privately confirmed they had a "windfall" from
the governor.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku told a
press-briefing weekend that his assailants alluded to the slush fund
available from the central bank for the "Harare Operation."
 "When they stopped beating me, they said 'tava kunotora chimari chaGono
manje (We are off to go and get Gono's cash)'," said Elton Mangoma, the MDC
deputy treasurer.
Gono issued a sarcastic response to allegations that he bankrolled Fascism
this week, saying the reports were mischievous.
In 2005, Gono allocated an unbudgeted Z$80 million (old currency) for
Operation Murambatsvina, the destruction of people's homes by security and
military personnel. He subsequently allocated Z$3 trillion in a
supplementary budget for Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai, which saw only a
handful of homes being built by government.
And to demonstrate the governor's penchant for bankrolling illegal
activities, last year he promised $40 million (old currency) to green
bombers confiscating money from innocent consumers and cross border traders
under Operation Sunrise, which saw the introduction of a new set of bearer
Analysts said Gono was trying to buy loyalty from the armed forces in overt
maneuvers to position himself to take over from Mugabe.
"Gono wants to be president. He is weak in terms of support of the security
agencies. So he is trying to bribe his way into the security forces, which
is a stronghold of the Mujuru faction," said a political analyst who
declined to be named.

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The spiral of violence

The Zimbabwean

The late archbishop of Olinde in northeast Brazil, Hector Camara, used to
speak of the spiral of violence. When violence is used, it simply gives
birth to more violence. The present struggle between the Hamas and Fatah
parties in the Gaza strip has turned into violence and one matriarch, when
interviewed, was quite open about it, 'we will kill them'. By 'them' she did
not mean the Israelis but her fellow Palestinians of the other party. But
now they are trying to reach out to each other and work together.
Following the events in Zimbabwe last weekend, and hearing the accounts of
the assaults on the leaders who were arrested, we again see the spiral at
work. The government claims the police were provoked but we ask the simple
question: what gives the government the right to assault people in custody
who are completely defenseless? Anger, tension, a desire for revenge - all
are stoked by such actions and can lead to further violence. As we now see
in the petrol bombs - an echo of 1964.
On the other hand we could ask what, in such circumstances, would Gandhi say
and do. By praying and fasting, he became a towering human being with a
moral reach that defeated all the might of the British. For him violence was
poisonous. It caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people - particularly
during the partition of India - but more to the point, it degrades those who
perpetrate it. The real victims in the present struggle in Zimbabwe are
those who order and those who commit acts of violence. They have to live
with their actions for the rest of their lives, unless some healing process
can be organized.
The true test of the present times is whether we can break the spiral of
violence. This calls for courage when faced with violence, conviction about
the power of truth and an inner spiritual fibre that can sustain one in
times of pressure.
The core message is that it is precisely in times of struggle that we
discover our worth. Dare one say it . but this is a precious time for
Zimbabwe - a time of decision? When there is peace we can hide away in the
crowd. But when there is a crisis we have to decide whether to survive
through force, and forget about the consequences for ourselves and our
children, or whether we try to break the spiral of violence that threatens
to drown us. If we make the second choice, we lay a sure foundation for our
When we read the gospels it becomes clear that, while Jesus speaks out
against injustice and hypocrisy, he is not violent. He suffers violence but
clearly breaks its power. "The crowds were appalled on seeing him - so
disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human - so will the crowds
be astonished at him and kings stand speechless before him." (Isaiah
262:14). The Jewish and Roman leaders of his time did everything that
violence could do. But they could not stamp out the power of truth and life
that rose up and proclaimed a new way for people everywhere.
Jesus today tells us that violence achieves nothing permanent or solid. All
its perpetrators will live to regret it - in this life or the next.

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Police 'cannot cope'

The Zimbabwean

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has been ordered to conduct provincial
firearms training courses in preparation for the unpredictable security
situation in the country.
In a recent memorandum from the Deputy Police Commissioner Operations,
Godwin Matanga, all provincial police commanders have been ordered to deploy
armed 24-hour guards in all police camps and to suspend all leave. In
addition, Commission of Police Chihuri has ordered plain-clothed policemen
to be armed with pistols in anticipation of possible public reaction to
recent police brutality.
Matanga noted that the police had no capacity whatsoever to contain massive
demonstrations if they broke out simultaneously throughout the country. -
CAJ News

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'Indict Mugabe for crimes against humanity'

The Zimbabwean

Calls for dictator to be put on trial in the International Criminal Court,
for current brutality and gukuranhundi campaign
'Examples of crimes against humanity and genocide (include) the gukuranhundi
period and the torture of Chavhunduka, Choto and myself'
- Gabriel Shumba
WHEN Saddam Hussein eliminated his political opponents in 1982, the United
Nations turned a blind eye because the world focus was on the war between
Iran and Iraq. The western world then feared the spread of Iranian Muslim
fundamentalism, so the issue of the elimination of Iraq Kurds was of no
In 1994, the UN despatched a force into Kigali, Rwanda - with a wrong
mandate altogether. Instead of a peace-keeping mission with a mandate to
enforce any violations of the law, the mission was of an observatory nature.
The UN observed nearly a million Tutsis being eliminated by the
Hutu-dominated militias.
For nearly 27 years, the UN observed a civil war in Angola with little
effort to stop the carnage. The reign of former Zaire President Mobutu Sese
Seko was never an issue because his regime fitted well into the western
agenda of containment of the spread of communism in Africa.
But when Slobodan Milosevic executed his excesses in Kosovo, the Americans
swiftly sent a fighting force.
When the East Timorese voted 'No' to Indonesian domination, a grand scale
massacre was witnessed an the hands of the Indonesia-backed militias. The UN
was quick to deploy a peace- keeping mission.
In Liberia, Charles Taylor got arrested only when a humanitarian catastrophe
had been committed.
Shockingly, in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe's regime committed a historic
genocide against the Ndebele people in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces
between 1982-6. More than 20 000 innocent people, including children and
pregnant women, were brutally murdered. The commander of the dreaded 5th
Brigade Colonel Perence Shiri (now Airforce of Zimbabwe Air Marshall) is
still happily serving.
The UN never condemned that genocide era. Political commentators assume that
the behaviour of the UN during the Cold War was characterized by the United
States' security programmes that only paid attention to communism
containment, not humanitarian concerns.
Professor Eldred Masunungure, who lectures politics at the University of
Zimbabwe, said, "With the United Nations' mandate to intervene in any
conflictual situations of humanitarian nature, the Zimbabwe's regime's
excesses have surpassed world events which have attracted the United
Nations' intervention.
"Remember, Saddam Hussein was hanged for brutally killing fewer than 200
Kurds. What does the world say about more than 20 000 innocent children,
women and school children butchered in cold blood?"
Zimbabweans are oppressed by the Zanu (PF) regime. Political rallies are
banned. Freedom of association is constitutionally allowed but selectively
The police force is politicised. Brutalisation of the regime's opponents is
identified as a defence against police attack.
A Movement for Democratic Change youth based in Bulawayo points out, "A few
days ago, the Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga, who oversees
police operations, ordered the police to be armed and shoot when provoked.
The standing order has seen small-scale miners getting shot and killed.
"The world through the United Nations is seeing nothing wrong with the
brutalisation of members of the opposition parties and other civic society
groups. "
The question is, Does Robert Mugabe qualify for trial in the United Nations'
International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity?"
The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) Executive Director, Gabriel Shumba, believes
that others who should be tried for crimes against humanity include top
government officials like the police commissioner, and the ministers of Home
Affairs and of State Security.
"ZEF warns that this intolerance to dissent and violence by the state
apparatus may lead to defensive mechanisms that may plunge the country into
anarchy and push it onto the brink of a civil war, a situation that would be
catastrophic not only for Zimbabwe, but for the whole region," said Shumba.
ZEF urged the international community, and SADC in particular, to intervene
urgently before the situation explodes.
"Examples of crimes against humanity and genocide stem from the gukuranhundi
period, as well as the subsequent killings post-1999 and the torture of
Chavhunduka, Choto, myself and thousands of others," said Shumba.

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Mugabe's end - not long now

The Zimbabwean

As it becomes apparent to Robert Mugabe himself that his rule is coming to
an end, he is lashing out with ever-increasing brutality at enemies without
and within his own party. Random beatings and shootings of known MDC
activists have increased daily since last week's assault on MDC and civil
society leaders.
His latest desperate move has seen the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) deployed throughout the country to sniff out senior policemen,
suspected of sympathising with the opposition and supplying it with tear
gas. The spy agency has also been licensed to "incapacitate and paralyse"
the MDC and "problematic" civic groups, sources have revealed.
The Zimbabwean revealed recently that the CIO had compiled a hit list of
political and civic activists, lawyers and journalists targeted for
"silencing". We also reported that the Registrar General had been ordered to
support these efforts by confiscating travel documents belonging to targeted
Sources within the president's office this week said that a bitter Mugabe,
who openly boasted about police brutality and threatened a further crackdown
by the state, had followed up his threats by instructing ministers of state
security and home affairs to "crush the opposition forces".
"It was agreed that the most effective strategy to inflict fear into the
nation would be crushing the leaders of the opposition," a source said. "The
strategy is to incapacitate and paralyse the MDC and NCA ahead of next
year's elections both through legislation and state brutality."
The arrests and brutal torture of MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai together
with other opposition leaders a fortnight ago was followed by the arrest
last week of leader of the other MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara and
Tsvangirai faction
officials Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh at the Harare International
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of the Tsvangirai MDC, was admitted to hospital
for the second time in a week after being severely assaulted by suspected
state agents at the airport while trying to depart for and EU meeting in
Brussels. Security minister, Didymus Mutasa, has ordered police not to
investigate the assault.
But Mugabe also faces increased opposition from within his own party.
Sources from the faction led by former army leader Solomon Mujuru this week
declared: "Mugabe can only stand for the party over our dead bodies"
following an about-turn by the geriatric leader over his plans to hang onto
the presidency until 2010. The faction is already plotting to block Mugabe's
plans to "rig himself another mandate to stand for the party".
"How can he seriously believe party members will accept him as a candidate,"
a member of the faction said. "Look, Mugabe must come face to face with
reality, and understand that he has run his course, in fact has put us in
real danger of losing power to the opposition even after his death."
But Mugabe is already engaged in mobilizing various constituencies to rally
behind his candidature.
"He is clearly not ready to surrender power," a source said. He is busy
buying loyalty in the youth and women's leagues, and using his terror storm
troops, the Green Bombers, to hit at critics within the party. Sources said
the wily Mugabe
was trying to endear himself to party legal affairs secretary, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, by endorsing him as his successor. But
Mnangagwa is reported to have told members of his faction: "we can't afford
this liability any longer".

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Mugabe standing alone

The Zimbabwean


The past few weeks have done much to bring out the full colours of
Zimbabwe's long-standing tyrant and dictator, Robert Mugabe. In the past,
there have been some people who have viewed the 83-year-old ruler as a
reasonable man who is simply trying to run his country in the face of very
difficult circumstances. But after the Battle for Highfields a week and half
ago, even these sympathisers are now fully convinced that Bob has become so
drunk with brutality that he no longer qualifies to be accepted as a sane
human being, least of all a legitimate head of state.
The brutality that was demonstrated by the Zanu (PF) soldiers, the CIO
agents, Zanu (PF) militia and war veterans dressed in police uniforms, must
have been authored in hell. For Mugabe to praise the perpetrators of all
that violence, as he did, is to admit that he has failed to govern this
dilapidated country and has to be removed from office by all means possible.
Indeed, violence begets violence, and Mugabe and his coercive forces deserve
exactly what they themselves are administering to innocent and unarmed
What is amazing is that Mugabe is the first one to cry foul whenever there
is an encounter between civilians and the violent apparatus of state
brutality. It is Mugabe who accuses the MDC and the Save Zimbabwe
campaigners of violence, when he knows very well that the violence we have
witnessed in the past three weeks was initiated by state agents.
How else can anyone explain the murder of Gift Tandare, the beatings of
Morgan Tsvangirai, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and many others? Mugabe has
openly praised the Zanu (PF) hoodlums who beat all these people, and then in
the same breath accused the MDC and the Save Zimbabwe Campaign of violence.
Senility should not inflict this old man in such a vicious manner.
On their way to South Africa for medical treatment, Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai
Holland were detained by the Mugabe agents and placed under arrest. They
faired better than Nelson Chamisa of the MDC who, on his way to Brussels,
was arrested at Harare International Airport and tortured by CIO agents.
There are clear signs that the three policewomen whose houses were
petrol-bombed at Marimba were victims of state agents. This was clearly the
work of any one of the state agents mentioned above. For example, where
would MDC supporters and civic members get the teargas canisters that were
used in that vicious attack? It is alleged that some ZRP agents refused to
participate in the Highfields massacre, hence the resort to Zanu (PF)
militia, war vets and soldiers. The Marimba attack was therefore meant to
send a strong message to the ZRP - that the state agents that had to
undertake the evil attack in Highfields could also punish them.
All of these sad developments have resulted in Robert Mugabe becoming
increasingly isolated and hated throughout Zimbabwe. Indeed, even in his own
party the man now has numerous enemies who are angry about the manner in
which he is destroying this nation. Rumour has it that a week ago Joice
Mujuru actually tendered her resignation from the position of Vice
President, but Mugabe typically refused to let her step down. It is further
rumoured that the geriatric has in the past also refused to let Joseph
Msika, Hebert Murerwa, Simon Muzenda and even Joshua Nkomo resign. Further,
it is rumoured that both the Mnangagwa faction and the Mujuru faction want
Mugabe out of office as soon as possible. It is clear that the evil maniac
is increasingly standing alone.

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Families need Z$1m per month

The Zimbabwean

THE cost of living for a family of five has shot up to almost $1m in
February, the Central Statistical Office said.
The Poverty Datum Line (PDL) registered a 65,58% increase to $937,838 from
the January rate of $566,401, with two Matabeleland provinces emerging as
the most expensive.
Of the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe, the average family now needs $826 000 in
Midlands Province, $890 000 in Bulawayo; $896 419 in Manicaland; $900 000 in
Harare; $937 838 in Mashonaland East, $984 000 for Mashonaland West; $1,07m
for Matabeleland North while Matabeleland South becomes the most expensive
province at $1,2m.
The increase is mainly driven by the continued increase in the prices of
basic goods and services. The latest statistics show an increase of more
than 4,000 percent on the February 2006 figure of $25 533. In January, it
went up by 64,53 percent to $566 401 from $344 255 in December last year.
The PDL is defined by the CSO as the cost of a given standard of living that
must be attained for a person or family not rendered poor.
It is measured by the food poverty line (FPL) and the total consumption
poverty line (TCPL), representing the minimum and maximum consumption
necessary to feed each member of a standard family of five.
The PDL figures have been released at a time when salaries and wages have
remained static while prices of goods and services, fuelled by inflation now
pegged at 1 729,9 percent, continue to increase, which will prompt labour
organisations to lobby for a minimum wage of at least $1m.

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US lauds brave Woza activists

The Zimbabwean

Jenni Williams (far left) and some of the other nine women who were awarded the US State Department's new International Women of Courage Award, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

A ZIMBABWEAN activist was lauded last week when the US State Department honoured 10 women from eight countries around the world for courage and leadership in campaigning for women's rights and advancement.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presided at the event on the eve of International Women's Day.
US Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, presented the awards, saying that most of those cited had braved intimidation and threats for their work of behalf of their country's women.
Jenni Williams, founder and leader of Woza (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) was lauded by Dobriansky, Voice of America reported.
"Ms Williams has suffered arrest, harassment and physical abuse," she said. "By uniting women in Zimbabwe of all races and ethnic backgrounds to advocate for issues affecting them, she has brought social, economic and political issues to national attention.
"Ms Williams and Woza lead annual peaceful marches on Valentine's Day and Mothers' Day to promote peace and development. The government of Zimbabwe has responded with mass arrests, but the women remain undeterred."
The 10 recipients of the State Department's new International Women of Courage Award were chosen from among 80 women nominated by US embassies around the world for human rights activism in their home countries.
Rice, the second woman to hold the top US diplomatic post after Madeleine Albright of the Clinton administration, pledged continued efforts by the United States to combat the dehumanization of women in every form.
"We will not accept that women and girls are sold into modern-day slavery," said Rice. "We will not accept that women and girls are denied an education. We will not accept so-called honour killings, and will do everything we can to end forced early marriages. And we will work to improve healthcare opportunities for all women so they can help to build a more helpful future for themselves and their children."
The honourees included two women from Iraq and Afghanistan, and one each from Zimbabwe, Argentina, Indonesia, Latvia, the Maldives and Saudi Arabia.
The two Iraqi women honoured, including a member of parliament from an Islamic party, are both prominent advocates for a greater role for women in the war-torn country's political life.

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Botswana closes embassy?

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Botswana government has
closed its embassy in Zimbabwe in protest at the repressive actions of
President Mugabe. In addition, Zimbabwe's neighbour has tightened its border
controls amid fears that the increasing unrest could lead to a renewed flood
of illegal migration, a senior police spokesperson said on Monday.
Border officers in Botswana have been told to check those entering or
seeking to remain and ensure they have enough money for their stay, the
government said in a statement.
The order came after a high-level meeting on Friday between police and
immigration officials. The statement referred to the need to keep
"undesirable people" out of the country, but did not specifically mention
that Zimbabweans would be the targets of the tighter controls. - Own

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A time for unity of purpose and reflection

Silence Chihuri

We have seen yet again, the regime scaling to even alarming heights in their
madness and murderous pursuits. The needless killing of Gift Tandare and the
shameful attacks on other MDC activists that left even members of the
general public scurrying for cover in Harare townships is another stuck
reminder that the regime will not lay down its weapons in the face of
growing opposition. At least not for now especially when Mugabe shouts to
foreign critics to go and hang while employing Nazi tactics on the home

This is a cornered regime led by a half in-sane geriatric who has lost all
his senses and would brook no appeal for common sense from whichever
quarter. Even Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania could not even say a word that
would betray his innermost feelings after meeting Mugabe for hours on end.
We all know how embarrassing the situation in Zimbabwe has become to African
leaders but cover up is one of their virtues, or is it weakness? At least
Ghanaian President John A. Kofour was brave enough to label the situation as
it now is. And now Levi Mwnanawasa of Zambia has weighed in even more
heavily and referred to our country as a sinking ship. This is a man who had
been labelled a Mugabe apologist after the way Tsvangirai and his ill
advised 'delegation' were ejected like border jumpers from Zambia during a
botched trip.

There are particularly two very essential aspects that have been highlighted
by these very latest events however. The first aspect is that the extremely
deplorable death of Gift Tandare is particularly sad in that it also exposes
how ZANU PF has infested the generality of our institutions with their
poisonous and shameful denigration of human dignity. These institutions are
the police who shot Tandare, the CIO who forcibly gained access to his body,
and the Chief Kandeya who had the tenacity to declare that an MDC supporter
would not be buried in his fiefdom. The CIO's defiance of the sanctity of
death was particularly chilling. Where in this world have we ever heard of
such insanity? . Even Tandare himself must have quietly protested his
disapproval of this gross violation of his person from his life through to
his death.

The second aspect is of course the beating and the literally attempted
murder of Morgan Tsvangirai and those other activists such as Sekai Holland,
Grace Kwinje and Nelson Chamisa. Seeing Tsvangirai in that sad state speaks
volumes of what the MDC faithful have endured not just recently but for all
these years the party has been in existence. The beatings and torture all
echoed in the minds of those who have been close to the MDC party especially
on seeing our colleagues in that appalling state. There are many other
people who have suffered at the hands of this regime and their ordeals have
at times gone unnoticed and without the same level of international media

It should be noted however, that while all these pathetic events were
unfolding, Mugabe himself was nestled in the comfort of State House. Whether
this was done at the behest of his direct, indirect, telephonic, mega-phonic
or otherwise command, the bottom line is that those executing the so-called
orders from State House demonstrated religious submission to do so and it is
that last aspect that should worry the MDC leadership. How to change this
mentality will be the key turning point to any renewed efforts to unseat

It was of course slightly re-assuring to note that there are still some
untainted apples among the police forces in the light of reports that by the
end of the week the names of the perpetrators had already been leaked to the
MDC so they could be shelved for 'future use'. Also, the alarm caused to the
police and army chiefs by the 'sharing' of grenades and tear gas canisters
between their own charges and the "enemy" was to some of us a source of
solace. We hope the perpetrators will meet their comeuppance in a court of
law when the curtain eventually comes down on ZANU PF.  Not vindictive eye
for any eye punishment that would be have been called for during the heat of
the moment.

MDC strategy under Morgan Tsvangirai has also been laid bare because his
leadership is not just s risk to his followers but to himself as well. The
chain of events has clearly shown that it will take the MDC under Tsvangirai
forever to wrestle key institutions from the grip of Mugabe and his ZANU PF.
This is a party and government that have spent the last twenty or so years
investing heavily in the rural communities. This has been coupled with
brainwashing state institutions and it will only take either equal or
greater efforts on the part of the MDC to reverse that trend. The MDC
squandered a great opportunity to buy into the essential rural electorate.
Concentration of MDC support in urban areas and cities has proved that it
will not be enough to unseat ZANU PF as evidenced by past elections that
were lost by the MDC. The theory of rigging is not applicable in the rural
areas. It is about support and the numbers.

Also, beatings and torture alone will not anoint Tsvangirai as the next
president of Zimbabwe as long as he lacks proper judgment and real strategy
to unsettle ZANU PF. This is not about fate. The next course of action from
this juncture will be key to determining Tsvangirai's future role at the
heart of Zimbabwean politics. Whether he will play a front row or back stage
role will depend on his next course of action. Any pleas to neighbours or
the West to "help us deal with this regime" will not deliver Zimbabwe, nor
will they release the button from Mugabe's dying grip. Chiluba led an
internal rebellion in Zambia against Kaunda and he did with very little
limelight and diplomatic briefings. No wonder why Kaunda would seek to
sympathise with Mugabe because he is another dictator who grudgingly let go
of power in the face of the then fiery Chiluba.

Zimbabwe today is an extremely polarised country socially and politically,
and there is great need to re-unite the country because even hardship seems
to be failing to achieve that end. The rich have become even richer, while
the poor are getting poorer and there is no common denominator for the two
classes. Not even politics seems to be uniting people, because currently the
politics of ZANU PF is favouring the rich and the poor are merely pawns in
the tag of war that pits ZANU PF and the MDC. However, the lure of
occasional (mainly during elections) ZANU PF handouts continues to scar the
consciences of most of the poor especially in the rural areas where the ZANU
PF stranglehold continues without any serious check. The game of numbers
that Tsvangirai played from the time of the March separatist congress has
not washed up so far because electoral trends and events on the ground show
that the numbers are yet to be converted into motional effect. Due to lack
of clear strategies Tsvangirai is no longer as guaranteed to become next
president as he was four or five years ago. Neither is Mugabe now guaranteed
a peaceable retirement after his contribution to the liberation struggle.
You reap what you sow.

When the MDC was formed it immediately proved to be one of the most blessed
if not well-endowed opposition parties to emerge on the African continent.
It was a party whose leadership immediately assumed global recognition jet
setting across Western Europe and Scandinavian countries, as well as America
and Australia where they were warmly received and were given a lot of
support. The success of the MDC in drumming up foreign especially western
support was on a scale unrivalled elsewhere on the African continent. That
foreign appeal was never matched with domestic following and the pleas for
Western support and satellite TV coverage have proved not enough to stir a
country past a stumbling dictatorship that is now consuming even the leaders
of the revolution. No wonder the so-called "jacket of puppetry" jibe from
Mugabe seemed to resonate with his hypocritical African compatriots. Which
African country or government does not look to the west for support anyway?

But what became of that massive support? Why did the MDC fail to buy into
rural Zimbabwe and disturb this seemingly eternal ruling party monopoly? Was
it all because of ZANU PF bigotry? Maybe latterly so with ZANU PF becoming
more and more paranoid and chasing so many shadows but where there is a will
there is always a way. The will to invest into the rural communities is what
has been evasive on the party of the MDC. Mugabe's secret weapon is the
rural masses and their presiding chiefs and he will tell the west to go and
hang as long as the rural folk are behind him. He will never tell the povo
to go and hang. Never.

The initial massive resources that could have captured the elusive rural
vote for the MDC instead found their way into individual pockets at the
expense of developing the party's grassroots structures. All this happened
at a time when the party should have done everything to counter the ZANU PF
charm offensive in the rural areas. The chiefs and headmen would menacingly
enforce the ZANU PF hegemony with religious verve because it is now a case
of survival rather than scruples. They would rather put their faith where
their food comes from and who would blame them anyway? The MDC need to
quickly discover a communities approach to Zimbabwean politics.

A chief who drives a car that he got from ZANU PF and gets an allowance from
taxpayers money, all of which he can lose overnight should he show an
wavering in his support for the ruling party.  This is why Chief Kandeya was
doing the unimaginable thing that a chief could ever do by denying Tandare
to be buried in his rural home. What chief could do that had it not been
ZANU PF poisoning? In the conditions of torrid hardship that the government
has created, people are learning to sing for their supper and do the
unthinkable and the chief is simply proving that he is no exception. Of
course this is unacceptable and has to be condemned with the utmost contempt
it deserves

The political field is now as open as ever and no one is guaranteed anymore
to become president, not even being an under-achieving MDC president. Not
even the perennial hers apparent, nor the anointed of ZANU PF are still
guaranteed of the presidency any more. That is just how dynamic Zimbabwean
politics has become. It is now up to the judgement and strategy that will be
able to bring such a ruptured society back to unity again. If a leader
cannot unite a political party, how on earth can he unite such a polarised
country as Zimbabwe is today? So many issues that are springing up that
border on the issue of national unity and weak leaders with weak visions
will not help on those matters.

There are certain individuals who had invested so much not necessarily in
the future of Zimbabwe as a nation, but in Tsvangirai becoming the next
president because they thought that would put them on the path to
prosperity. It is such individuals who would exalt Tsvangirai at any cost
just as Mugabe continues to have his boots licked while he looks aside.
While writing to the UK Independent Tsvangirai said he has been accused of
weak leadership because he does not believe in violence. It is not about
believing in violence, it is about the clear and sound strategy to take your
own party forward before you aspire to run the country. What leader fails to
unite a political party but dreams to fix a country?

At a time when Zimbabwean people's anger is sky there are still people who
would not take Tsvangirai for an alternative to Mugabe, yet such people
would not take Mugabe either, and they would rather just stand alone. People
are looking for real serious leadership not the hide-and-seek politics of
waiting to fall into the leadership pit like what is happening. Zimbabweans
will simply get fed up of the childish feuding and the amateurish antics at
the summit of the MDC just as much as they have become fed up with ZANU PF
and look elsewhere. There is need for real bold steps towards unity
punctuated with bold and not vague statements.

So many people have died and been maimed in the name of the MDC and that is
enough indication that being beaten alone will not be the get way to
statehouse. Otherwise the fallen heroes of this democratic struggle would
have to be accorded much high status. Yes, it is a time for unity of
purpose, but most importantly, this is a time to reflect on past mistakes,
the near achievements, missed opportunities as well as redefining the MDC
(or even another party's) strategy to take not just the party, but the
entire country to that next level.

Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwean and writes from Scotland - contact him on

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