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Mugabe fights Zanu PF over 2008

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

AFTER the collapse of his 2010 election proposal which would have
extended his term by two years, President Robert Mugabe will next week fight
in his party's make or break politburo and central committee meetings to
secure endorsement of his candidacy next year.

Mugabe failed to get support for his controversial candidacy at last
week's Zanu PF Youth League National Assembly meeting in Harare.

The youths did not formally endorse him as the presidential candidate
despite his public pleas that he wants to run for re-election. Mugabe has
been very tentative in his campaign for support, now always qualified by "if
the party says so", showing his anxiety over internal dissent.

Sources said the Zanu PF youth leadership did not come up with a clear
resolution on the matter due to divisions in the party. While Mugabe is
supposed to be the automatic candidate in terms of the party practice
because he is the elected leader until the 2009 congress, growing opposition
to him in Zanu PF has made his candidature disputable.

Mugabe's loyalists are putting a brave face although there is mounting
opposition to his continued leadership inside the party.

Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said Mugabe was the "automatic
candidate", which is correct in practice but unpopular, while party youth
leader Absolom Sikhosana pledged support for Mugabe "even if you call an
election today". Mugabe needs nomination because the party constitution,
except practice, does not make him the automatic candidate.

But senior Zanu PF officials, especially those aligned to heavyweight
retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, are opposed to Mugabe running
for another term.

Mugabe has said he wants to run for another term in joint presidential
and parliamentary elections on or before March next year.

Zanu PF MPs are also not happy that their tenures would have to be cut
by two years to help Mugabe stay in power for another five or six years.
Mugabe wants to amend the Zimbabwe constitution to reduce the term of the
president from six to five years.

Sources said Mugabe would next week push hard in the politburo and the
central committee for endorsement of his candidacy to extend his term. While
he is likely to bulldoze his way in politburo and central committee meetings
stuffed with pliant members, senior party officials warn Mugabe is risking
defeat and embarrassment after the election. They said Vice-President Joseph
Msika had warned of this.

"The issue of Mugabe's candidacy will be the major agenda item in next
week's meetings, but the fact of the matter is that there is now resistance
to his proposals," a Zanu PF source said.

But sources said Mugabe was determined to go for combined elections as
part of his new survival strategy after his 2010 plan was blocked by Mujuru
and his allies. Mugabe has said Mujuru's wife, Joice, has damaged her
chances to succeed him following the flop of the 2010 plan. This will make
Mugabe's campaign for support within the Women's League difficult, hazarding
another failure similar to the 2010 fiasco.


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. . . as Sadc corners him

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is now increasingly getting cornered by his
peers in the region who are pushing for a speedy resolution of the Zimbabwe
crisis ahead of a Sadc summit in Zambia in August.

The renewed pressure from Southern African Development Community
leaders has left Mugabe further isolated. He is already isolated in his
party, country and internationally.

The United States and the European Union, especially Britain, are
tightening the screws on him. Mugabe's isolation has compounded Zimbabwe's
image of a pariah state.

The US and EU are now pushing for the Zimbabwe issue to be tabled
before the United Nations Security Council, but South Africa is resisting.

Diplomatic sources said this week key Sadc leaders have a masterplan
to force Mugabe to quit in view of the upsurge in political violence and the
economic emergency now affecting the region.

The Sadc troika of Tanzania, Namibia and Lesotho meets in Dar es
Salaam tomorrow in a bid to find a solution to Zimbabwe's problem.

After that Sadc foreign ministers will meet to deal with the same
issue. This process will build up to the Sadc heads of state summit in
Lusaka, Zambia, in August. The Lusaka summit is being dubbed a watershed
meeting because leaders want to decisively tackle the Zimbabwean crisis.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa this week said Zimbabwe was a like a
"sinking Titanic" and that rescue measures were needed to save it.

Sources said the Zambian leader, who was visiting Namibia when he
fired the broadside at Mugabe, wanted to convince his counterpart
Hifikipunye Pohamba to work with other regional leaders to deal with the
issue. Zambian Foreign minister Mundia Sikatana has suggested Zimbabwe is
now a Sadc hotspot.

Mugabe this week dispatched Security minister Didymus Mutasa to Lusaka
to engage Zambians in a bid to stave off growing pressure, but sources said
he was told to back off. Diplomats said the Zimbabwe issue was informally a
talking point yesterday during the Sadc Council of Ministers meeting in
Maseru, Lesotho, where there was a discussion over the 2007/2008 Sadc budget
and other issues relating to regional economic integration.

They said it was also talked about at a Standing Committee meeting of
senior Sadc officials who gathered on Monday in Maseru to prepare for the
Council of Ministers conference.

Diplomatic sources said South Africa - which this week said it was
"extremely concerned" about the Zimbabwe crisis - was working
behind-the-scenes to rally Sadc leaders to speak with one voice.

It is said Pretoria wants to engage Angola and Namibia, which signed a
mutual defence pact with Zimbabwe during the DRC war for joint security, to
connect with other Sadc countries in confronting the Zimbabwe problem.
Namibia openly supports Mugabe while Angola is indifferent. Kinshasa is now
closer to Pretoria than Harare.

Zimbabwe's critical four neighbours - South Africa, Botswana, Zambia
and Mozambique - no longer support Harare's position, sources say. Their
policy is said to be in accord with that of Tanzania, Lesotho and Mauritius.
The other countries are either neutral or uninterested.

The sources said the Sadc drive was to make Mugabe realise that he has
to quit both in his own interest and that of the country to avoid a
full-scale conflict exploding in Zimbabwe.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete met Mugabe last week to tell him
that he had met with European Union leaders who have stated that they view
the Zimbabwe situation as a dangerous trouble-spot. The sources said Kikwete
informed Mugabe the international community was mobilised against him, hence
the need to quit.

Kikwete also noted, the sources said, that Sadc leaders had lost
patience with Mugabe and were gravely worried about Zimbabwe.

Last month Kikwete sent his country's director of Intelligence
Services, Rashid Othman, to talk with Zimbabwe's senior government officials
and Central Intelligence Organisation chiefs on how to resolve the country's
crisis. The sources said Othman told Kikwete after his regional tour that
Sadc leaders had now abandoned Mugabe, hence the need to move urgently to
deal with the problem.


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CIO replace immigration officers

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

GOVERNMENT is removing civilians from the Department of Immigration at
border posts and airports and replacing them with security and intelligence
officers in a bid to beef up security.

The move exposes the growing insecurity of a government faced with
social discontent and political unrest.

Government this week started staffing the Immigration Department with
security officers after appointing three senior assistant commissioners from
the police to run the operations of the department. The move means chief
immigration officer, Ellasto Mugwadi, could be reassigned in government to
make way for the three senior police officers.

The Registrar-General's office, the Immigration Department and the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) are all linked to the security structures
of the country. The registrar-general sits in the Joint Operation Command
(JOC) which is the main joint security board in the country.

The Immigration and Zimra also participate in JOC by invitation.

The three officers, who were introduced to the workers yesterday, will
take full-time employment at the department but will not leave their post in
the police force.

Sources said the three were drafted into the department as part of the
new security measures that government has introduced to monitor the borders
and airports. One of the officers will take over the newly created post of
principal chief immigration officer while the other two become assistant
principal chief immigration officers.

The sources last night said there were plans to reassign Mugwadi to
the president's office. They said the move was part of a wider plan to fill
all strategic security area jobs with either the CIO, police or the army.
They said more security agents would be employed by the department to man
the country's ports of entry.


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Opposition remains defiant

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE opposition MDC has vowed to step up its defiance campaign against
a government ban on political activities despite last week's arrests and
torture by the police of its leaders and civic society players.

In separate interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, Arthur
Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa, said they
were prepared to pay the ultimate price and that no amount of beating would
deter them.

"We have been made hungrier for freedom by the beatings and the
continued arrests," Mutambara said. "The price of freedom is death and the
people of Zimbabwe should not expect to be free without offering their
lives. We are here to provide the leadership to that freedom."

Mutambara, who was arrested together with 50 other opposition
activists a fortnight ago, was re-arrested on Saturday at Harare
International Airport. In both instances he was released without charge.

Chamisa was attacked by unknown assailants at Harare International
Airport on Sunday and is still in hospital. He vowed from his hospital bed
to continue with the struggle, declaring that he was prepared to pay with
his life.

Chamisa was attacked as he was planning to catch a flight to Brussels
to attend the EU-ACP regular round of meetings. He is one of three MPs who
represent Zimbabwe at the EU-ACP forums. He was accompanied by Highfield
legislator Pearson Mungofa at the time of the attack.

Chamisa said as he entered the departure lounge at the airport, three
men dressed in black suits blocked his way to the check in point while
another group of three approached him from behind.

"Before I could figure out what was happening, one of the three people
in front of me pulled out a black object from his jacket and hit me on the
forehead," Chamisa said.

"One of them pressed me to the ground with his shoe. Passers-by and
onlookers started screaming. In no time people had gathered around and the
assailants ran away. They rushed into two vehicles that were flashing hazard
lights in the airport concourse and drove off at high speed."

Chamisa lost his passport, laptop, suitcase, mobile phone, money and
all his documents.

"What makes everything suspicious is the failure of the police to
respond to the melee," Chamisa said. "There were lots of riot police at the
airport but they behaved as if nothing was happening, showing that the whole
thing was planned. The state was determined to block me from going to
Brussels."


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Zim's choice is either violent or peaceful change

Zim Independent

By Trevor Ncube

THE escalation of violence in Zimbabwe over the past week is a sure
sign of a panicking regime desperately lashing out at its political
opponents. The situation threatens to deteriorate unless regional and
international diplomatic initiatives are hastened to find a peaceful
solution to the crisis.

Perhaps to say this is about a desperate regime is not accurate. The
current situation is fuelled by President Robert Mugabe whose bid to extend
his term of office to 2010 has been rejected by his own party. He therefore
believes violence might secure him extended political tenure.

One thing is clear though. Mugabe has no intention of stepping down on
his own any time soon for a number of reasons.

His own explanation is that Zanu PF is currently divided over the
succession issue and needs him to face the opposition. This is a crisis of
his own making for he has not put in place a succession plan or created an
environment in his own party that would allow for the emergence of a new
leader.

However, the real reason for his refusal to step down appears to be
his fear of prosecution for human rights abuses perpetrated against innocent
Zimbabweans since Independence in 1980. These include the Matabeleland
massacres, the violent land invasions that saw hundreds of white commercial
farmers and black opposition activists killed, and the Murambatsvina
atrocities which the United Nations report recommended should be referred to
The Hague. And he continues to add onto these crimes through the current
round of violent attacks on opposition activists.

Playing on Mugabe's mind must be the recent Charles Taylor incident,
the death of Nicolae Ceausescu and the recent events in Iraq. Thus, the main
reason for staying in office is not because he has a vision of a better
Zimbabwe under his leadership but that the office offers him protection from
prosecution for human rights abuses. For the sake of progress, Zimbabweans
might have to consider guaranteeing him immunity under certain conditions.

Zimbabweans have already suffered long enough and there is no price
too high to pay for peace. They will have to choose between continued
violence and pardoning Mugabe if he leaves office now. This demands
political maturity and the international community will have to take a cue
from Zimbabweans.

Should this immunity be extended to all his close associates? This
could be worth considering in exchange for full disclosures of all
documented human rights abuses.

It is important to realise that unless this is done, Mugabe is
prepared to use violence against all Zimbabweans calling for change towards
a more democratic dispensation. Zimbabweans must pay the ransom so that they
are freed from Mugabe's violent clutches.

People need another chance to live and dream again and only Mugabe and
those whose fortunes are wedded to his stand in the way. Mugabe has nothing
to lose and is prepared to take down the country with him but he must not be
allowed this evil scheme.

With Mugabe gone, we can then contemplate the future and its
challenges. As part of the transition to a new Zimbabwe, we will have to
draw a line in the sand and ensure that we don't allow another Mugabe to
emerge from our midst. An all-party negotiated constitution along the South
African model which is rights-based would be a necessary building block for
a new Zimbabwe.

It is instructive that so far violence, as a political tool has worked
perfectly for Mugabe. The current round of violence is partly intended to
divert attention away from calls within Zanu PF for him to step down.

Mugabe has orchestrated the violence against the weak and divided
Movement for Democratic Change as a way of focusing his divided party on a
perceived outside enemy. Mugabe hopes that the factions in his party will
buy into this gimmick and rally to his call to eliminate an ineffectual
opposition and help him purchase a few more years in office.

The violence is also intended to send a clear message to those within
his party who are opposed to him that they could face similar treatment from
his band of hired thugs.

It appears that for the moment the two factions opposed to Mugabe are
not taken in by his diversionary tactics. They have woken up to the fact
that he is using them to achieve his personal goals. They are realising that
there is no national purpose to be served by Mugabe's selfish political
survival project.

Indeed, Mugabe's indication last week that he wants to run in 2008 is
another tactic meant to force his enemies within Zanu PF to fall into line
and campaign for him under the threat that if he loses so will the party.

In that regard, calls by British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week
for more action against Zimbabwe plays into Mugabe's hands and forces his
protagonists into an uncomfortable corner with him.

It is now common cause that two powerful factions have emerged within
Zanu PF which want to see him leave office. These factions take the kudos
for defeating Mugabe's 2010 project. There is also a faction which supports
Mugabe.

The more powerful of these is led by retired general Solomon Mujuru
whose wife is one of Mugabe's vice-presidents. A year ago this faction was
on the ascendance but has clearly fallen out of favour as evidenced by
Mugabe's attack on Mujuru's ambitions during events around his birthday
celebrations.

The flavour of the moment is the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction which
suffered a major reversal of fortunes following the Tsholotsho incident in
2004. Now Mugabe is making this faction believe they are his preferred heirs
as a way of dealing with the Mujuru camp.

It would be political folly for the Mnangagwa camp to get false
comfort from Mugabe's political embrace. He will dump them as soon as they
become a real threat and once he is secure again. Politics in Zimbabwe is
about Mugabe and nothing else.

And Mugabe has his own faction fighting for his survival in the top
echelons of the army, the police and the intelligence services. It must be
noted however that there exist deep divisions within the middle and lower
ranks of the uniformed forces which mirror the three factions in the party.

Two things are instructive as Zimbabweans ponder the way forward.

The first of these is that the defeat of Mugabe's 2010 project was
delivered by forces for self-serving change within Zanu PF and had little to
do with pressure from the opposition or the international community.

Also, the weakness of the opposition MDC, unfortunate as it is,
removed an outside threat to Zanu PF, focusing the party on internal
dynamics. The factions have since realised that Mugabe is the problem.

This points to the fact that Zanu PF's internal dynamics might be key
in finding a way out of Zimbabwe's crisis and that the MDC might not be the
place to look for relief. While this is an unpopular view, it is a pragmatic
one informed by the current weakness of the MDC and the potential offered by
progressive forces in the ruling party.

Equally important is the realisation that Zimbabwe's problems are far
bigger than Zanu PF and the MDC put together. We need to disabuse ourselves
of the notion that talks between the MDC and Zanu PF will solve Zimbabwe's
problems.

A durable solution requires getting a broad section of Zimbabweans
talking to each other about their problems and structuring the future
together. This is clearly not a winner-takes-all strategy but a process of
negotiating how Zimbabwe's future is going to be ordered. For this project
to have wider purchase, trade unions, the churches, business and all other
civic society players will have to be involved.

What Zimbabwe needs from the region and the international community is
an honest broker who commands respect from all players. Zimbabweans have
become so polarised that it would be difficult to find anybody internally to
play this role.

First, there needs to be a realisation that we need to talk to each
other, followed by agreement on the things to talk about. The latter appears
daunting but should really be the easiest because Zimbabwe is sick and needs
fixing urgently.

We need to tear up the Lancaster House constitution and start afresh
in fashioning a progressive rights-based founding law.

We would then need to agree on an electoral law and the rules of
engagement and invite the international community to help in running a
democratic election whose outcome would form an important bedrock for the
future.

We would need to put in place a process to rebuild key national
institutions such as parliament, the army, the police force and
intelligence.

The people would need to be given reasons to believe in their power to
elect and unelect governments.

Our recent past tells us that we have lost our humanity and respect
for each other and we need to define who we are. Our national psyche has
been poisoned by Zanu PF discourse and we need to cleanse it and rebase our
norms and values.

We need to confront the ghosts of our recent past and decide how we
deal with them in a fair and just manner so that they don't revisit us in
the future. We are where we are largely because we failed to deal with
troubling issues around our war of liberation which have all come back to
haunt us.

Talking of peace, justice and reconciliation will find few takers
among the hardliners in the opposition and the ruling party. But we should
refuse to have extremists on both sides dictate a winner-takes-all and
narrow political agenda to the nation. Zimbabweans have been brutalised,
dehumanalised and need political maturity and not grandstanding from their
leaders. Indeed, Zimbabweans desperately need a visionary leadership.

This all-inclusive political approach realises that while the MDC has
played a significant role in confronting Mugabe's dictatorial regime, it is
far from ready to govern.

On the other hand, while cognisant of the fact that Zanu PF is largely
responsible for our current predicament, there are good people in the ruling
party who are prepared to play a role in fashioning a new Zimbabwe if they
re-organise their leadership and party structures. They need clear policies
and a programme of action.

Apart from simply wanting to dislodge Mugabe and grab power, none of
the Zanu PF factions has shown they can be trusted to govern on their own.
Thus a new Zimbabwe will have to be the outcome of a collective and
consultative national effort.

My favourite quote from Brutus in Julius Caesar is very pertinent in
our current circumstances: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which
taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their
life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now
afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

Indeed, we face a choice between violent or peaceful change and we
need to make the right choice for the future of our country.


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Violence has always been Mugabe's solution

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

EACH time President Mugabe is confronted with a crisis that threatens
his position, he has come up with threats that have taken predictable
patterns.

His political opponents are only too familiar with how quickly Mugabe
unsheathes the sword from its scabbard.

There is now a discernible style to his sabre-rattling since his
disagreements with veteran nationalists from the late Ndabaningi Sithole,
Joshua Nkomo, to Edgar Tekere and now with both factions of the Movement for
Democratic Change.

Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC and Ndabaningi were both accused of
trying to assassinate him.

Save for Tekere, all others have at one time or other been stooges
enough to want to unseat his regime.

Addressing Zanu PF party youths at the weekend, Mugabe gave them a
sense of importance which has often turned out to be ephemeral: "You are the
party's big fist and history concedes that Zanu PF has a big hard knuckled
fist which it can summon effectively once challenged," he said.

Lambasting the opposition, he said: "They think we are weak, think we
have lost the resolve to defend our freedom. They are wrong and stand for a
great shock if they continue to stretch our patience. We are Zanu PF and
please check our record."

Rewind to 1982.

Mugabe accused his comrade-in-arms the late Nkomo of trying to unseat
his government. Nkomo was in cabinet, but was soon accused of plotting a
coup together with South African double agents, after the "discovery" of an
arms cache on the farms owned by his party PF-Zapu.

In a public statement at a rally in Mashonaland East, Mugabe said:
"Zapu and its leader, Dr Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in a house. The only
way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head."

He unleashed the notorious Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland and the
Midlands in an attempt to destroy Zapu and create a one-party state.

After the Gukurahundi era, Nkomo consented to the absorption of Zapu
into Zanu PF, leaving Zimbabwe effectively a one-party state.

When asked late in his life why he allowed this to happen, Nkomo said
he did it to stop the murder of the Ndebele and Zapu politicians and
organisers who had been targeted by Zimbabwe's security forces since 1982.

With monotonous predictability, Mugabe has scoffed at friends and foe
alike seeking to restrain him.

His speech to party youths last week in response to public outrage
over the state's ban on basic rights to assemble and to associate, provides
a harbinger of dire things to come.

"As for stooges, let them get this friendly advise: no monkey business
here," Mugabe said.

History is replete with such instances.

When President Mugabe, in early 2002 called on his party to wage "a
real war" on the opposition MDC, politically-motivated violence escalated
resulting in number of deaths.

In December the same year, he told a Zanu PF conference: "We must
continue to strike fear into the heart of the white man. The white man must
tremble."

Subsequent to this, white farmers and their workers were terrorised,
assaulted and sometimes killed.

Mugabe's speech to the youth conference sounded like a record stuck in
a groove - a rehearsal of what he said five years ago in Domboshava.

"We are people of the fist. Zanu PF will never lose in such a
situation." Mugabe said.

"We will wage another war if Britain wants to enslave us through its
puppets.", his loved crude reference to the MDC.

Witness how this dovetails into his speech to mark International Women's
Day in Harare last Saturday.

"We have given too much room to mischief makers and shameless stooges
of the West. Let them and their master know that we shall brook none of
their lawless behaviour," he said in reference to pro-democracy activists
who were brutalised in police custody as part of a fresh crackdown on the
opposition.

This callousness has not been limited to the opposition only. In 1998,
the late Mark Chavunduka, the then editor of the weekly Standard newspaper,
and his chief reporter Ray Choto, were severely tortured for reporting an
alleged coup attempt in the armed forces.

Mugabe told Voice of America radio: "The army had been provoked. I
will not condemn my army for having done that. They can do worse things than
that."

Mugabe has not been found wanting in using the rhetoric of revolution
to excuse repression.

Like the dancing of the Carmagnole in Charles Dickens' Barnaby Bridge,
his speech exhorted the youths to defend a law of the suspect that strikes
away all security for liberty.

That law delivers over any good or innocent people into prison who
have not committed any offence and cannot obtain any hearing.

Veteran nationalist and Zanu founder president, Ndabaningi Sithole,
passed on with a "traitor and assassin's" tag to his grave, accused of
funding Chimwenje, a shadowy rebel group that turned out to be a CIO
creation.

Notwithstanding Nkomo's capitulation to save the people in
Matabeleland, tragic memories of victims of Mugabe's belligerence linger in
the minds of thousands today.

Mugabe's speech to this party youths potends ill ahead of elections
next year.


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EU probes rights abuses

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

THE European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)
lawmakers on Wednesday resolved to send a delegation to assess the human
rights situation in Zimbabwe as international pressure against increasing
brutality in the country rises.

The EU-ACP decision on Zimbabwe was passed at the same time that the
country was being discussed at length at an informal meeting of Foreign
Affairs ministers of five Nordic and 10 African countries in Norway
beginning on Tuesday.

The EU-ACP assembly passed the resolution to send a team to assess the
situation on the ground after condemning the attack on MDC spokesperson
Nelson Chamisa at Harare International Airport on Sunday.

Chamisa was on his way to attend the EU-ACP meeting which began in
Brussels on Tuesday this week.

Reports from Brussels say the EU lawmakers urged the Zimbabwe
government to cooperate with the political opposition to restore the rule of
law.

The EU lawmakers and representatives from 78 ACP countries also called
on the government to investigate the attacks on opposition leaders,
allegedly perpetrated by the police and security forces.

Efforts to get a comment from Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
on whether Zimbabwe would allow the team into the country were fruitless as
he continuously said he was in meetings.

Opposition leaders who include Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and
constitutional reform activist Lovemore Madhuku were seriously injured after
they were arrested and assaulted by police last week.

The EU-ACP assembly also demanded that the perpetrators of the attack
on Chamisa be brought to justice speedily.

"Mugabe's government must re-establish, in cooperation with the
opposition, the respect of human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe,"
the EU-ACP assembly said in a statement.

In Norway, the Foreign Affairs ministers of Nordic and African
countries that include South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana,
Senegal, Botswana, Mali, Benin and Lesotho also raised concern at the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.

Norwegian Foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store was quoted saying of
tensions in Zimbabwe: "We will raise this matter and clearly state where we
stand but in such a manner as not to harm its purpose."

Pressure is mounting on President Mugabe to respect human rights and
stop the harassment of opposition leaders and their supporters.


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'Payouts too little'

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

A PARLIAMENTARY portfolio committee was this week stunned by
government disclosures that it was paying a paltry $8 000 in monthly
allowances to the country's poor.

The money is hardly enough to buy two loaves of bread or for a bus
fare return trip into the city centre to collect the payouts.

"We are concerned with that amount. Why is it very little?" asked
Mabel Mawere, chairperson of the committee, after presentations by Sydney
Mhishi, acting permanent secretary for the Ministry of Social Welfare.

But Mhishi was surprised by the legislators' concern.

"This is not a salary," Mhishi retorted. "It is not income that one
can sit down and look forward to every month-end; it is just assistance
given to keep one's soul."

Mhishi said social welfare beneficiaries had to live with the payouts
which could only be revised at the end of this year.

Prices have been escalating daily and inflation is close to 1 800%.

Social welfare assistance is usually given to destitute elderly,
disabled and sick people after social welfare officials satisfy themselves
that these are no longer capable of working to earn a living. Mhishi said
once figures are worked out in the national budget, his ministry could not
revise them.

"We have to wait for another budget at the end of the year," he said.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in history, characterised
by runaway inflation and basic commodity shortages.

Humanitarian aid agencies have estimated that at least 4,1 million
people face starvation in Zimbabwe due to a combination of poor harvests and
mismanagement of the economy and these would depend on donor handouts for
survival.

Government has already declared this cropping season a disaster
following poor harvests due to low rainfall during the wet season.

Agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo this week painted a depressing
picture of the agricultural sector, saying traditionally productive areas
had suffered extensive crop failures.

He said government was working on drought mitigating strategies to
avert hunger.

Mhishi said he was mindful of the plight of the country's poor.

"We don't know what will happen this year with the $8 000, given that
a 50kg bag of maize at the Grain Marketing Board costs $2 000. With the high
costs of transport, the income will not be enough. But cabinet has approved
the $8 000 that we had applied for in 2006," said Mhishi.

A 10kg bag of maize meal costs around $8 000.

"We got into trouble with the World Bank, who funded most of the
reforms and technically, from 2000 we were winding up the Social Dimensions
Fund (SDF) because there was no money.

"The SDF board last met in 2001. They had no reason to meet because
there is no activity and no funds to account for," said Mhishi.

The SDF was a donor-funded facility to assist the country's vulnerable
groups and was largely bankrolled by the World Bank. The Basic Education
Assistance Module (Beam), which was established to assist children from poor
families with school fees, was the largest loser with the number
beneficiaries plunging from 900 000 in 2005 to 351 000 in 2006.


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Diplomats unpaid for four months

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWEAN diplomats abroad have gone unpaid for over four months and
could find themselves working from the streets as their landlords are said
to be threatening to evict them for failure to pay rent.

Most of the 40 missions abroad face eviction for non-payment of
rentals for chanceries and staff accommodation because Zimbabwe does not
have the foreign currency required to pay for expenses.

Sources said the government would not be replacing staff members whose
contracts have expired as it does not have the capacity to pay them.

Some diplomats and their spouses have been forced to "moonlight" to
survive, the sources added. Zimbabwe's mission staff in New York have not
been paid for four months. Diplomats are said to be contemplating moving to
smaller houses where rentals are cheaper.

Rentals are said to have risen sharply in East Africa. Zimbabwe's
embassies are said to be selling sculptures and artifacts to raise money for
rentals and daily expenses.

Officials at Air Zimbabwe confirmed that sculptures and artifacts were
flown out of the country occasionally but could not single out the exact
destination saying "most of them would be heading for Europe".

While this is going on diplomats sent in as military attaches have
been receiving their salaries regularly. The military attaches are said to
have turned themselves into liaison officers mainly from the Central
Intelligence Organisation and are said to also routinely claim huge amounts
in allowances.

Efforts to get comment for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were
fruitless. Foreign Affairs secretary Joey Bimha recently told a special
parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade
that diplomats were not being paid due to foreign currency shortages.

"The rental arrears at chanceries have gone for up to three months
while staff have endured up to two months without salaries," Bimha was quote
saying.


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Police continue crackdown

Zim Independent

POLICE this week stepped up the harassment of opposition activists
after they arrested close to a dozen activists from Bulawayo Agenda and the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in Masvingo, Lupane and Karoi.

This came as the Zimbabwe Council of Churches issued a statement
yesterday condemning "police brutality" and called for the lifting of the
ban on political gatherings.

"ZCC notes with concern statements being made by the police that they
will resort to maximum force - when tenets of the law say minimum force -
whenever the ban is defied," the ZCC said in a statement.

"We strongly condemn the brutal treatment of opposition leaders and
their supporters whilst in the hands of the police leading to their
injuries," the ZCC said.

The ZCC also called on government and the police to consider lifting
the ban on political gatherings as "this will continue to provoke acts of
violence".

"We therefore recommend that police should restrict themselves to
their duties of arresting and investigating all criminal activities and not
to use torture and ill-treatment as a means of interrogation," it said.

On Monday two Bulawayo Agenda officials were arrested in Lupane after
they were accused of holding an illegal meeting. The police also arrested
seven ZCTU members in Masvingo the following day.

They accused the ZCTU activists of distributing what they termed
subversive materials announcing next month's planned nationwide two-day work
boycott.

Those arrested in Masvingo include Gilbert Marembo, of The Worker, a
newsletter published by the ZCTU, and two others who were distributing
fliers with information on the job stay-away.

Four ZCTU workers were also arrested in Bulawayo while distributing
similar fliers.

The ZCTU said it was mobilising workers for a two-day work boycott to
protest the country's deteriorating economic crisis and worsening conditions
for workers.

On Tuesday, Jacob Magombedze, the ZCTU chairman for Kariba district,
was summoned by members of the CIO for interrogation regarding the
stay-away. He was accused of distributing fliers allegedly containing
subversive information. Other ZCTU activists were arrested in Karoi for
distributing fliers urging workers to take heed of the ZCTU stayaway.

Bulawayo Agenda director, Xolani Zitha, confirmed to the Zimbabwe
Independent the arrest of two workers and said the organisation was appalled
by the manner in which they were treated by the police.

"The two employees were arrested and thrown into the back of a truck
that was carrying a corpse and they spent the whole day with the corpse as
police went about their business. We feel that this was not proper," said
Zitha.

In Harare on Monday two members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) were
taken from their homes at gunpoint by allegedly CIO operatives in Warren
Park.They were blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination in the bush
where they were questioned about Woza and assaulted with weapons and fists
and then dumped.

They later got a lift back to Harare where they raised the alarm. The
women are currently receiving medical attention for their injuries.

Meanwhile, several MDC supporters were yesterday arrested and
assaulted in Chitungwiza for distributing fliers mobilising residents to
attend a defiance rally to be addressed by Arthur Mutambara and other MDC
officials at Huruyadzo shopping centre in St Mary's on Sunday.

Police raided the home of Job Sikhala, MP for St Mary's. They
proceeded to raid more homes in Zengeza and St Mary's, indiscriminately
beating up anybody suspected of having distributed the fliers. Those
assaulted include Patience Chisvo-Mhiripiri, an expectant mother. The
arrested activists are detained at Makoni police station. - Staff Writers.


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Police killed another supporter - MDC

Zim Independent

THE opposition MDC this week said a second activist, Itai Manyeruke,
was two weeks ago shot dead by the police in Canaan, Highfield and his body
dumped at the Harare hospital mortuary.

His relatives discovered the body after a week when they conducted a
search at mortuaries in Harare. Police have so far confirmed shooting to
death Gift Tandare.

Manyeruke was buried on Monday in Buhera South, his rural home, at a
funeral attended by MDC national youth leaders and officials.

MDC MP for Kambuzuma, Willas Madzimure, confirmed that Manyeruke's
relatives found the body at a city mortuary after searching for him for a
week following an outbreak of violence in Highfield after policy banned an
MDC rally.

"The police after shooting Manyeruke did not inform his relatives of
the death," said Madzimure. "They just dumped the body at a city mortuary
and the relatives discovered it after a week," Madzimure said yesterday.

Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, said he had no information on
Manyeruke's death and said police only had records of Tandare's shooting and
of another victim who was shot in the arm in Highfield.

"The information that I have involving shootings is that of Tandare
and of another opposition supporter who was shot in the arm in Highfield,"
Bvudzijena said.

It has now emerged that there are several unreported victims of police
beatings who are still detained in hospitals around the city receiving
medical attention.

This week the Zimbabwe Independent discovered that an MDC youth,
Dickson Chagonda who was shot in Highfiled, is still detained at the Avenues
Clinic with leg injuries.

Chagonda was allegedly shot twice on the leg by a major in the
Zimbabwe National Army.

Bvudzijena confirmed the shooting incident but said he did not have
details.

"I know there was shooting in Highfield but I don't have names at the
moment," he said. "I will check for details," said Bvudzijena.

The incident occurred at Machipisa shopping centre where 50 members of
the opposition MDC were arrested when police called off a prayer meeting
organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

MDC Tsvangirai faction secretary-general, Tendai Biti, confirmed that
Chagonda was admitted at the Avenues Clinic with gun wounds and that the
party had records of seven other people who were being treated for wounds
sustained during police and army shootings.

It also emerged that a report of the shooting was made at Waterfalls
police station.

ZNA spokesman, Colonel Simon Tsatsi, however professed ignorance of
the involvement of the army in the Highfield attacks but said he would
check.

"As it is, I am not aware of that but I will look into the issue. You
can also phone the police to verify that," Tsatsi said.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights coordinator,
Primrose Matambanadzo, this week said MDC leaders and activists sustained
serious injuries after their assaults by the police.

"Last Sunday alone 64 people were attended to by doctors in Harare
alone," Matambanadzo said. "20 were hospitalised with the rest being treated
and discharged. We are in the process of compiling the figures throughout
the country and they should be ready soon," she said. - Staff Writers.


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UN, Bubye vehicle row deepens

Zim Independent

THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe's row over
vehicles with Bubye Minerals Pvt Ltd has deepened with the agency saying it
has no cars registered under its name being used by River Ranch Mine Ltd.

However, Bubye Minerals lawyer Terrence Hussein insisted yesterday
that records at the Central Vehicle Registry - which he has inspected
again - show that the cars in question were registered under UNDP, although
they were now allegedly being used by River Ranch. The vehicles in dispute
include a Toyota Land Cruiser VX - registration number 200 TCE 666 - and a
Toyota Hilux whose number plate is AAQ 9041. The UNDP said the Land Cruiser
is grounded, while River Ranch said the other car (according to them a
Toyota Surf not a Toyota Hilux) was stolen from its office in Johannesburg
last year.

Hussein said his clients were now taking up the issue with the United
Nations headquarters in New York, United States. He said he had invited the
UNDP to come to his office for him to show them his records, but they did
not come.

The wrangle follows a recent letter to the UNDP resident
representative Agostinho Zacarias from Hussein complaining that UN cars were
being used by River Ranch in controversial circumstances.

However, the UNDP said Hussein's allegations were not true. "We hereby
state explicitly that UNDP has no such vehicle (AAQ 9041) because in
accordance with the Zimbabwean laws and the UN agreement with the government
of Zimbabwe all UN vehicles have to bear white diplomatic or non-diplomatic
registration number plates."

Hussein insisted records inspected yesterday show that the car belongs
to the UNDP. "Records at the Central Vehicle Registry, which is the only
custodian of files of vehicles registered in Zimbabwe, show that the vehicle
AAQ 9041 belongs to the UNDP but it was being used by River Ranch," Hussein
said yesterday.

The UNDP also said the other car - 200 TCE 666 - which Hussein said
belonged to them was also not theirs. "The vehicle registered 200 TCE 666
actually belongs to the Global Fund sub-recipient operating in the Binga
district supporting an HIV and Aids project," the UNDP said.

"Furthermore, this vehicle is currently grounded after it was involved
in an accident on 14 December 2006. Therefore, there is no remote
possibility for the same vehicle to be seen at the River Ranch mine in
Beitbridge. UNDP as the temporary principal recipient merely facilitated the
procurement and the registration of the vehicle."

Hussein said his clients have an affidavit to support their claim
concerning vehicle 200 TCE 666.

The UNDP said Hussein's "erroneous impression" might have been
triggered by the fact that it has a relationship with African Management
Services Company (Amsco). The UNDP said it facilitates Amsco's engagement in
the country through government by way of registering staff and vehicles.

Hussein maintained his story. But River Ranch legal consultant retired
Justice George Smith said Hussein's allegation "is completely false". "The
allegation by Mr Hussein that a Central Vehicle Registry certificate shows
the registered owner (of the cars) is UNDP is not true," Smith said.

Bubye Minerals and River Ranch are in a dispute over ownership of a
diamond mine in Beitbridge. The quarrel over cars has been characterised by
claims that the UN-registered vehicles were being used to smuggle diamonds
to South Africa.

The UNDP said this was also incorrect. "In the light of the facts
adduced and issues clarified above, we categorically refute any allegation
that UNDP Zimbabwe has been involved in any diamond smuggling," it said.

Hussein the matter was now going to UN head office. "My clients are
now taking the issue up with the UN HQ in New York," he said. - Staff
Writer.


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MDC lawyers threatened

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

LAWYERS representing opposition leaders and civic groups who were
arrested and brutalised while in police cells for trying to hold a prayer
meeting 12 days ago have been threatened by the police to prevent them from
lodging court papers against the state.

On Wednesday police officers manhandled and threatened human rights
lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, and her assistant whilst serving them court papers,
drawing strong condemnation from the International Bar Association.

On Tuesday this week, lawyer Harrison Nkomo was allegedly threatened
with arrest by head of the Law and Order Section at Harare Central police
station, Assistant Commissioner Mabunda when he tried to serve court
notices. Nkomo had earlier been assaulted with a baton by officers at
Machipisa police station in Highfield after inquiring about the whereabouts
of opposition leaders arrested on their way to the prayer meeting organised
by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

The day before, Andrew Makoni, another lawyer, was reportedly
threatened with "disappearance" at Harare Central police station whilst
attempting to serve a High Court order on Mabunda.

Another lawyer, Tafadzwa Mugabe, was threatened with assault and
arrest when he tried to assert Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh's rights to
leave the country to access medical treatment in South Africa. The same day
lawyer, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, was threatened by officials at the airport and
was told to stop taking up cases involving opposition members.

These police actions have courted condemnation from the IBA and the
Human Rights Institute.

"The recent threats made to lawyers place the rule of law in Zimbabwe
in even greater peril," Mark Ellis, executive director of the International
Bar Association, said.

"The international community must increase pressure on the Mugabe
government to end this series of unprecedented attacks on basic human
rights."

Justice Richard Goldstone, co-chair of the Human Rights Institute,
expressed concern over what he described as disregard for international
human rights obligations and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the MIC has jumped to fight in government's corner
following international coverage of the crackdown on the opposition.

MIC chair Tafataona Mahoso in a statement yesterday said he was aware
that several foreign journalists had been brought into the country to "boost
the current racist campaign against the government".

"The purpose of this statement is to warn all citizens of Zimbabwe
that Section 83 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
as amended makes third parties liable for complicity with unaccredited
journalists," he said.


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Slump in output thrusts Zim in perilous spot

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

ZIMBABWE is drifting towards an embarrassing loss of membership to the
London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) due to a slump in gold production
that could see the country failing to produce enough to maintain its
association with the international gold market regulator.

The loss would be a major indictment on Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono who has steadfastly refused to devalue the local
currency and allow gold producers to sell gold at prices that would ensure
their viability and boost output.

A loss of LBMA membership would deprive the country of exclusive
privileges to sell bullion directly to the international market. LBMA
licences gold refineries globally to trade on the world market.

Fidelity Printers & Refiners, a subsidiary of the RBZ and the only
legal buyer of gold in Zimbabwe, is a member of LBMA.

LBMA accreditation is the biggest surety of quality that traders
consider before they buy gold from any refinery or country. The organisation
monitors the quality of gold produced by refiners for on-selling to the
market.

LBMA stipulates that members should produce a minimum of 10 tonnes per
annum in order to maintain their licences.

Cumulative gold deliveries in 2006 stood at 10,96 tonnes.

Latest figures indicate that gold production levels remain on a
downward spiral and that the country is highly unlikely to produce over
eight tonnes of gold this year.

Statistics obtained by businessdigest indicate that the country only
managed to produce 819 kg of gold in January and 600 kg in February.

This, mining experts said, was a clear notice that production would
plunge to levels below 10 tonnes this year, threatening Fidelity's
accreditation with LBMA.

A loss of the LBMA accreditation means that Fidelity will no longer be
an internationally-recognised gold refiner.

To trade its gold on the international market in the event that
Fidelity loses its accreditation, Zimbabwe would have to go through an
accredited third party.

The effect of this would be that Zimbabwe would immediately surrender
control of its gold to the third party whom it would have to pay fees in
foreign currency to get the required approval to trade the precious metal on
the international market.

Fidelity and South Africa's Rand Refinery Ltd are the only two African
refineries accredited by the LBMA.

"There are very slim chances that we will remain accredited to the
LBMA because we will certainly not reach the 10 tonnes required this year,"
a senior official with Fidelity told businessdigest.

He said the cost of going through a third party could "run into
hundreds of thousands of United States dollars".

Zimbabwe is grappling with crippling shortages of foreign currency.
The local productions figures have been on a slide since the peak of 1999
when the country produced 27 tonnes.

Production has nose-dived on the back of mine closures caused by
galloping operational costs which have not matched revenue due to a
controlled exchange rate.

But gold expects say the worst is yet to come.

"The mines are in trouble, they can't get their foreign currency from
the central bank which means they are not able to get raw materials," said
one mine chief executive.

Gono had this year promised to expedite payment for gold deliveries in
order "to free up gold producers' working capital requirements".

Sources indicated gold miners were still battling to get overdue
payments for their gold deliveries to Fidelity. Some of the payments have
been outstanding since last year.

This year's production is likely to be even lower because of the
closure of small-scale mines under operation Chikorokoza Chapeara.

Last year, small-scale mines contributed about 20% of the total gold
output.

More than 100 mines have shut down since 1998 due to hostile economic
conditions. The remaining large mines face a bleak future.


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Zim falls out of world top 5 tobacco exporters

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE has lost its place among the world's top five tobacco
exporters due to dwindling output largely caused by disturbances on farms,
lack of critical inputs and a fixed exchange rate.

According to January's global production figures from the US
Department of Agriculture, the top five exporters are now listed as Brazil,
the United States, India, Malawi and China.

Zimbabwe used to occupy the second spot after Brazil as the world's
top exporter of tobacco.

The country's tobacco, once the most-sought after by the world's
blenders, significantly experienced a major decline last year, hitting an
low output figure of 55 million kg last year, the lowest output since 1972.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) president Julius Ngorima
said the decline in output was largely a result of late disbursement of
inputs and a fixed exchange rate which had forced farmers to reduce the
amount of hectarage planted.

Delays in the processing of loan applications with banks had also
weighed down production during the year, he said.

"If inputs are made available on time while attractive incentives are
offered, production would increase," Ngorima said.

The latest global production figures also revealed that the country
had been overtaken by Malawi as the continent's largest exporter of tobacco.

Zimbabwe is expecting to harvest about 80 million kg of tobacco this
year.

Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has been declining over the years from
a peak of just over 236 million kg in 2000 to current levels.

A new breed of black farmers, who displaced former white land owners
under an agrarian reform, is said by experts to lack the technical expertise
and collateral to secure loans and inputs.

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

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

Tobacco farmers who spoke to businessdigest said it was going to be
difficult for the country to regain its status as one of the top exporters
of tobacco in the world since the infrastructure conducive for tobacco
production was no longer in place and there was a massive shortage of labour
in the tobacco growing sector.

Three types of tobacco are grown in Zimbabwe. These include flue-cured
Virginia which is produced by large scale commercial farmers. The other two
are burley and oriental tobacco which are grown by peasant farmers. Oriental
tobacco accounts for less than 1% of total Zimbabwean tobacco output.

Despite dwindling output, tobacco remains Zimbabwe's major foreign
currency earner.


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Mines face collapse as RBZ fails to pay

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

ZIMBABWE'S small and medium-scale miners say the controlled price of
gold is financially hurting their operations, a situation that has forced
many of them to stop production.

They are reportedly angry with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's
refusal to review upwards the price of gold as well as the exchange rate in
line with inflation, currently topping 1 700%.

The small-scale gold producers had relentlessly pushed Gono to
increase the gold price during his monetary policy presentation in January,
but were surprised that he did not change anything while they struggled to
stay in business.

The current gold producer price stands at $16 000 per gram.

Fidelity Printers & Refiners, an arm of the RBZ, are the only
authority allowed to purchase gold from local miners

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president, George Kawonza, confirmed
that small and medium-scale miners had decided to stop gold production until
the RBZ gave them a reasonable price.

"It's true that we have decided to stop gold mining until Gono reviews
the producer price of gold. Surely, when the production cost is higher than
the selling price, is it possible to survive in business?" asked Kawonza.

Businessdigest understands that monthly gold production levels have
gone down drastically, with miners only managing to produce 600 kg from four
tonnes they used to produce monthly.

Kawonza said small and medium-scale miners wanted the price of gold to
be pegged at $180 000 per gram.

"We had a meeting (this week) and according to our calculations, with
the inflation rate standing at 1 729, 9% we agreed that the gold price
should be pegged at around $180 000 per gram" he said.

Kawonza criticised Gono for not accommodating their views and
concerns.

"The problem with our RBZ governor is that he doesn't want to listen
to grievances while he knows that we are struggling to survive in business,"
he said.

ZMF represents 28 mining associations in the country.

Chamber of Mines president, Jack Murehwa, whose association represents
the big mining companies in the country, said the price of gold was
worrying.

"The price of gold is so worrying; it should move (in tandem) with the
inflation rate since the rate has been going up every month," said Murehwa.


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Zimbabwe's gold mines face imminent collapse

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

ZIMBABWE'S gold mines face imminent collapse as it emerged this week
that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is failing to pay them for gold
deliveries made since last November.

Sector players say they could be forced to shut down their mines if
the central bank does not pay for deliveries in foreign currency in the next
few weeks.

Businessdigest understands that troubles in the gold sector are also
likely to intensify on news that the central bank has no plans to devalue
the dollar in the first half of the year.

Mines have been clamouring for a devaluation, arguing that the current
rate of $250:US$1 at which they are getting 25% of their gold sales is
undermining their viability.

Gold mines are supposed to get 75% of their gold sales to the central
bank in foreign currency while the remainder is paid in Zimbabwean dollars
at the official rate.

Sources say numerous efforts by mines to make representations on their
plight to central bank governor Gideon Gono have not yielded much.

Already some mines have started bleeding as they fail to acquire the
foreign currency required to import inputs crucial for their operations.

Mines import more than three quarters of their crucial inputs. The
source said at a recent Chamber of Mines meeting some companies announced
that they were contemplating sending their workers on unpaid leave if the
central bank does not pay them soon.

The central bank is however understood to have told some mining
executives that it does not have foreign currency and instead offered to pay
them in local currency at the ruling exchange rate.

The miners rejected the offer. They want Gono to pay them in time and
devalue the dollar because the current rate is pushing them into massive
losses.

Source said Gono was afraid that a sectoral devaluation would open
flood-gates for other industries to demand the same preferential treatment.

"If we don't get an immediate payment then some mines will have to
shut down," said an official with one of the troubled mines.

Sources said Gono had indicated to some of them that devaluation was
only likely to come in June by which time most mines would have shut down
due to unsustainable losses caused by the overvalued exchange rate.

A central bank official said it was highly unlikely that gold mines
would get any joy because the central bank does not have foreign currency.

The situation is made dire by the fact that most outside suppliers of
raw materials are now demanding cash upfront from local mining companies.
The worst hit company is said by sources to be Metallon Gold - the largest
single gold producer operating five mines: Shamva, Mazoe, Penhalonga,
Arcturus and How - which contribute more that 20% of the country's gold
output.

Metallon, which employs just over 5 000 workers, has been battling to
get its foreign currency from the central bank over the past four months.

The mining industry contributes approximately 8% towards the country's
gross domestic product and about 30% to export earnings.

It employs just over 40 000 people. A closure of the gold mines would
worsen Zimbabwe's foreign currency shortages.


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Construction of Beitbridge industrial park abandoned

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

THE multi-billion dollar, government-backed industrial park project in
Beitbridge remains incomplete nine years after it was hastily abandoned due
to lack of funds, businessdigest established this week.

There is no sign that the project will be revived as there are no
funds available this year to complete the project, initially the brainchild
of the Export Processing Zones Authority which merged with the Zimbabwe
Investments Centre to form the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) this
year.

A visit to the industrial park site, whose construction briefly took
place in 1999, revealed that it remains idle, with no planned factory shells
in place.

The factory shells were meant to accommodate manufacturing companies
particularly those in the agro-processing sector.

The 42-hectare piece of land on which the park should sit was also
earmarked to accommodate a multi-billion dollar orange processing plant.

ZIA public relations manager, Phenius Mushoriwa, confirmed that the
project had not been completed because of lack funding from the government.

"We are still on the first phase of the project which is the
construction stage," said Mushoriwa.

Newly appointed ZIA board chairperson, Mara Hativagone, said she was
aware of the abandoned project.

"I am aware of the abandoned project in the border town and I suspect
the main reason (for its abandonment) was lack of foreign currency to buy
building material," she said.

She indicated that she would identify the problems that had stalled
the project and deal with them.


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Assaults boost chance of MDC unity

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro/ Ray Matikinye

CHANCES of the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
forming a Kenya-style "rainbow coalition" to defeat President Robert Mugabe
in next year's presidential election have been boosted by the brutal attacks
by government security forces of dozens of opposition activists in the past
two weeks.

Statements this week by both factions and main groups of the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign (SZC) - a coalition of churches, trade and students unions
and civic groups - presage a confluence of interest and a renewed desire to
form a united front to confront Mugabe in the crucial poll.

But there are hurdles that have to be overcome by the warring camps of
the MDC which have been widely condemned by the public as constituting the
biggest threat to the party compared to a collapsing Zanu PF regime. The MDC
finds itself under attack not just from Zanu PF but also from people
committed to its cause for failing to resolve its internal differences.

Since the 2005 split, MDC leaders appear hell bent on burning the home
simply because a snake has entered the house instead of flushing the snake
out.

That the MDC leaders have not seen this up to now is not just strange
but a serious indictment of their capacity to deal with internal
contradictions, including those that emanate from outside.

History will judge the MDC harshly if it persists on the current
self-destructive path against the well-meaning and good advice of
well-wishers.

The MDC coalition's major task is to convince progressive members in
the ruling party to put their weight behind efforts for a new constitution
that will usher in an internationally acceptable electoral dispensation.

There is likely to be serious resistance to the proposal from diehard
ruling party followers since it will whittle some of Zanu PF's undeserved
advantages derived from the current set up.

A people-driven constitution would seek to remove the power of the
president to appoint unelected members to parliament, establish an
independent electoral commission and entrench a Bill of Rights.

There is also agitation to repeal Posa and Aippa, among other
draconian laws.

Apart from the daunting task of choosing a single candidate, the
coalition has to marshal the electorate and convince individual party
members that it is in their best interest to put party differences and
ideology aside for a common cause.

SZC members have insisted there is enough time to put together a new
constitution and an internationally acceptable electoral dispensation. They
argue that all stakeholders from political parties, including the ruling
party, to civic societies, have drafts which can be synthesised into a
comprehensible new constitution.

They expressed fears that an election under the present constitution
and prevailing political conditions would be a waste of time.

Polls under present circumstances, they agree, are susceptible to
outright rigging, resulting in predictable outcomes that attract
international condemnation as has happened since 2000.

Morgan Tsvangirai refused to comment.

MDC pro-senate faction leader Authur Mutambara said the elections must
be held under a new constitution. His party and other democratic forces were
taking advantage of the past week's events and momentum to push their demand
for a new constitution, he said.

"If there is political will to come up with a new constitution, time
will not be of consequence," Mutambara said. "We are prepared to take all
the time required to work on the constitution if there is political will and
irreversible commitment to the process," he said in an interview yesterday.

Mutambara said the current electoral conditions were inimical to their
cause and they would not be interested in participating in sham elections.

"If Mugabe throws elections at us without changing the current
constitution, we will not be interested. However, a common position will be
taken by all democratic forces if such a worst scenario happens."

He said events of the past week - the arrests and torture of the
opposition activists - had shown that Zimbabweans were capable of working
together for a common cause.

"Events of the past week have demonstrated that we can work together
in the trenches, battlefield and everywhere. With this in mind, we have
declared a zero competition against the opposition, be it at the
presidential level, MP level or even council level.

"We are not going to compete against each other. We are going to field
a single candidate against one common enemy, which is Mugabe. We have our
differences but we will manage them for a common cause to drive Mugabe out
of power," said Mutambara.

Mutambabra said the people of Zimbabwe would be reinvigorated by
having a single candidate. "A one candidate resolution would give people
confidence in us and re-energise them."

Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe coordinator, Jacob Mafume, said SZC was in
the process of pushing for a new constitution or even an interim measure
that would level the electoral playing field.

"There are many frameworks for a new constitution to hand," Mafume
said. "We need to build the desire for a new constitution among all
stakeholders and then progress on one platform. It's easy to work out the
modalities once there is commitment from all stakeholders," he said.

"It would need about four weeks to put together the various proposals
and then call for a referendum."

Mafume said the call for a new constitution was to level the political
playing field.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku said
there was enough time and material to come up with an internationally
acceptable constitution before the presidential election next year.

"Government itself has a constitutional framework that was rejected in
2000, the MDC factions have frameworks and the NCA also has a framework,"
Madhuku said.

"All these frameworks can be used as starting documents. What is
required is an all-stakeholder national conference, which will agree on a
new constitution. It would take at most six months to come up with the
desired constitution."

Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said
there was sufficient time for stakeholders to agree on an acceptable
electoral dispensation.

"We are agitating for the removal of electoral hurdles that have made
free and fair elections impossible," Matchaba-Hove said.

"We are calling for a new constitution that will establish an
Independent Electoral Commission, repeal sections of Posa and Aippa to allow
free campaigning and give unlimited access to media to all parties," he
said.

"Holding elections under the current conditions would be a waste of
time because it will give the same results as 2000 and the same reports of
electoral fraud will be reproduced."

Matchaba-Hove said his organisation was encouraging people to go and
vote beginning at local levels because that is where democracy starts.

Zimbabwe Peace Project chairman Alouis Chaumba said their push for a
new constitution was aimed at eliminating electoral barriers that have
discouraged ordinary people from viewing elections as a way of making a
change.

"We are working towards the elimination of barriers such as the
prohibition of political gatherings, violence and intimidation," Chaumba
said.

"We are already encouraging people to participate in elections at all
levels and view elections as a way of making a change to better their
lives," he said.

"Under the current situation people often don't see the importance of
their vote. So unless these fundamentals are addressed, the elections would
be just a routine exercise that will not improve anyone's life."

Other political parties have also thrown their weight behind a new
constitution and are ready to support a single candidate to challenge
Mugabe.

"We are prepared as a party to forgo individual ideologies and rally
behind the chosen candidate," says Reketai Semwayo, the publicity secretary
for Zanu (Ndonga).

"Our members have already agreed to work together with others under
the SZC. What is left is coming up with who will stand," Reketai said.

He said Zanu Ndonga was encouraging its members to register in order
to avoid being turned away in the event that internationally supervised
elections are held under a new constitution as demanded. Leader of Zapu FP,
Paul Siwela, said political leaders must be seen to meet the demands by the
electorate.

"There is need for a new constitution before the next elections. What
the opposition must contend with is generating sufficient pressure on Mugabe
to accept the need for a new constitution," he said.

Siwela said other constituents of the SZC must also fully understand
that no single party can unseat Mugabe.


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Mugabe attacks UN foundation

Zim Independent

By Pedzisai Ruhanya

THE attempted murder of Nelson Chamisa, the MDC MP for Kuwadzana, as
well as the torture of Grace Kwinjeh, Morgan Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku
and Sekai Holland among other civic and opposition leaders by President
Robert Mugabe's regime cannot be described as a domestic matter that the
international community should not pay attention to.

One of the critical reasons for the formation of the United Nations in
1945 was to safeguard and protect the rights of citizens from the
arbitrariness of the state. This followed the mass killings of citizens in
countries such as Germany under Adolph Hitler's dictatorship where more than
six million Jews were
murdered in concentration camps and gas chambers.

In order to avoid similar circumstances, the founders of the UN came
up with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which some scholars
have described as the international bill of rights which every member of the
UN, Zimbabwe included, must abide by.

The preamble of the UDHR states: "The General Assembly proclaims this
Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement
for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every
organ of society, keeping this declaration constantly in mind, shall strive
by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms
and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their
universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples
of member states themselves and among the peoples of territories under their
jurisdiction."

It is my opinion that the human rights enshrined under the UDHR which
include freedom of expression, assembly, expression, the right to life, the
right not to be subjected to any form of torture, inhuman and degrading
treatment are supposed to be observed by UN member states, Zimbabwe
included.

Pursuant to this view, the argument by the Zanu PF government that
diplomats and foreign governments who remind it of its international
obligations under the 1969 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations are
interfering in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe does not hold. These nations
and their representatives have an obligation to assist this regime to make
sure that it fulfils its international obligations under the international
human rights regime.

Most critical is the UN Charter whose preamble urges member states to
reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the
human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and
small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the
obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can
be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life
in larger freedom.

The international community and the people of Zimbabwe including those
who were brutalised by the Mugabe regime in the past weeks are calling for
the observation and respect of Zimbabwe's obligations under international
law and norms and standards governing member states of the UN. The concept
of non-interference cannot be invoked in order to promote impunity and the
general breakdown of law and order by a regime that has lost the conscience
to govern.

Furthermore, Article 55 of the UN Charter which among other things
calls for universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and
fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language,
or religion does not assist the non-interference idea being parroted by the
Mugabe regime as a cover-up to its violation of human rights in the country.

The Mugabe regime must also be cognisant of the idea that the concept
of human rights observation has assumed a universal status which every
civilised country should respect. It therefore does not make sense for a
government that purports to be a member of the UN to use the sterile
argument of non-interference when it unashamedly violates both domestic and
international human rights statutes in its dealings with peaceful civil
dissent.

Most critically, Mugabe must also realise that issues such as
torturing people are both forbidden under the country's constitution and
international law under the 1985 Convention Against Torture (CAT).

It is important for the regime to realise the idea of torture has
crystallised into a pre-emptory norm of international law. This means that
both signatories and non-signatories of CAT are bound to respect the
provisions of this treaty.

Simply put, torture is forbidden under international law. Mugabe and
his regime should therefore understand and should be prepared to stand
trials against humanity when the time comes for their continued violation of
human rights.

The current political crisis in Zimbabwe has been experienced in many
African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and apartheid South Africa but the
end result has been clear for everyone to see, including the Mugabe
dictatorship.

For instance, under Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the Ugandan government
denied allegations of human rights abuses including the arbitrary seizures
of property belonging to foreigners such as Indians. Like Mugabe, Amin's
government threatened to expel British diplomats and their nationals from
Uganda and the international media for continuing to report on his human
rights abuses.

Amin went further to fool himself by mobilising support within Africa
and in 1975 the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, heads
of state met in Kampala and elected Amin as their chairman for 1975/6. In
order to counter mounting human rights criticism, Amin appointed a
commission of inquiry to whitewash his domestic criticisms.

Similarly, the Mugabe government's attempts to mislead the world by
attempting to make police investigations on the attempted murder of Chamisa
when it is clear, just like the torture of Madhuku and others, that the
state was heavily involved.

Like Amin, whose demise came when he attacked Tanzania in 1978 leading
to the invasion of Uganda by Tanzanian forces, Mugabe's downfall will be
witnessed when Sadc states, particularly South Africa, abandon him and join
the struggling but defiant pro-democracy forces and reject his dictatorship.

The extra-legal killing of opposition activist Gift Tandare and the
abuses that followed the Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer rally scheduled for
March 11 should send clear messages to the international community that if
they remain silent, Mugabe has the capacity and zeal to repeat the massacres
that Zimbabwe witnessed in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in the
1980s where more than 20 000 innocent civilians were murdered.

The time to speak against Mugabe's continued violation of
international human rights law is now and President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa should take note.

I make reference to Mbeki because his country has been involved in
similar circumstances under apartheid in which the international community
stood up to condemn and put sanctions against the apartheid rulers. Zimbabwe
was one of the states that opposed the abuse of human rights in South
Africa.

Most critically, former president Nelson Mandela has created a stable
state in South Africa - at least for now where human rights and the rule of
law are observed by the government. This tradition should continue and Mbeki
should assist Mugabe by telling him that what is good for South Africans
should also be good for Zimbabweans especially the creation of a country
premised on the observation of the rule of law and promotion of human
rights.

* Pedzisai Ruhanya is a human rights researcher.


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The meaning of Mbeki

Zim Independent

By Sipho Seepe

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki finds himself increasingly
isolated. A tone of condemnation of Mbeki's presidency cuts across the
political spectrum, with the harshest criticism emerging from within the
ranks of the tripartite alliance.

The image of a dictator is routinely evoked by the Congress of South
African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party (SACP), the
Young Communist League and the ANC Youth League in describing his tenure.

The mask of the democrat is being chipped away bit by bit. Barney
Mthombothi could not have expressed it better when he wrote: "For President
Thabo Mbeki, it doesn't rain these days; it pours. And Jacob Zuma couldn't
help but delight in his misfortune. He's keen to dance on Mbeki's political
grave . . . Zuma's court appearances have simultaneously become
breast-beating sessions and Mbeki-bashing exercises by his supporters. Never
in the history of the movement have its members used such a squalid platform
to publicly defy and denounce its leader."

This portrait is a far cry from Mark Gevisser's 1999 picture-perfect
depiction of Mbeki at the beginning of his presidency as the prophet
supreme, the astute strategist, the philosopher king, the reconciler who is
forthright and pragmatic, able to appease and accommodate the communists,
the Africanists and the high-flying capitalists. Africa had finally produced
the elusive Renaissance Man.

The unflattering portraits derive from real experience of Mbeki's
rule. Gevisser's picture was the product of wishful thinking, arguably
necessary as Nelson Mandela loomed larger than life. It was also an attempt
to explain why Mbeki was selected (not elected) and preferred above popular
figures like Cyril Ramaphosa.

Economically, Mandela's presidency was not a success. South Africa
remained the world's second most unequal society after Brazil.

In Mbeki's words, South Africa was a country of two nations, one
"white, relatively prosperous, regardless of gender or geographic dispersal"
and the other black and desperately poor. Corruption had become endemic in
government, and HIV and Aids was beginning to wreak havoc in black
communities.

Dealing with these challenges would require a leader with the wisdom
of Solomon. If such an individual did not exist, it would be necessary to
invent him/her. So began the making of Mbeki. The end product was an
all-embracing solution - an anti-populist who was also a studious and
reflective academic, an urbane democrat and incorruptible.

The reassuring image of a hands-on managerialist presidency was vital
to boost business and investor confidence. The ease with which this image
was embraced indicated the level of political and social desperation of the
times.

Evidence to the contrary was brushed aside. The picture-perfect
evocation became a product of a fertile collective imagination and Mbeki
became the victim of image-making as he began to live the part.

The few brave souls who refused to buy into this world of make-believe
exposed themselves to virulent personal attacks. They were projected as
"counter-revolutionaries" who had suddenly "sprung from nowhere".

Wilmot James, an insightful scholar based at the Institute for
Democracy in South Africa, intimated that Mbeki's government would require
close monitoring with regard to democratic and human rights.

The ANC machinery was galvanised into action. James was roundly
condemned, with some in the ANC's national working committee suggesting he
should be fired.

Interestingly, Mandela had made a similarly prescient observation.
Handing over the reins of the ANC to Mbeki, he warned: "One of the
temptations of a leader who has been elected unopposed is that he may use
his powerful position to settle scores with his detractors, to marginalise
them and in some cases get rid of them, and to surround himself with yes-men
and women . . .

"People should be able to criticise the leader without fear or favour.
Only in that case are you likely to keep your colleagues together."

For his part, Mbeki spent time diverting attention from his
weaknesses, levelling accusations against a range of people both inside and
outside the organisation, insisting on blind obedience, and ensuring that
his views were not questioned. The ANC was reduced to a party run by cliques
and committees made up of individuals beholden to him.

Mbeki's stroke of genius was in neutralising potential critics, the
educated class, by co-opting them into this personal project. As Gevisser
correctly observed, it was important "not only to grow a black middle class
but to find a way of bringing it into the ruling elite and to hold it there
with a set of policies (black economic empowerment) and an ideological frame
(Africanism) which resonates with its own aspirations.

"Mbeki has used the African renaissance to bring on board articulate
black journalists, lawyers and academics who might otherwise become the ANC's
most damaging critics."

In so doing, Mbeki cultivated a symbiotic relationship between himself
and this class of supporters, who sacrificed their own beliefs on the altar
of political expediency. The unstated pact was that they would affirm his
brilliance and he would provide the comforts they required. They have become
dependent on him for direction, definition and analysis.

Blinded by loyalty, they are hypersensitive when Mbeki is criticised.
Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya puts it elegantly: "(We) have
voluntarily handed over our collective brain to him. He does all our
thinking and our agenda setting and we just limp lamely behind him.

"Even when he asks us to engage with him, all we do is look upon him
with awe or disdain. Without him, it seems, we cannot initiate any thinking
projects."

Yet Mbeki's performance on key issues has been lacklustre. He was
billed as a crime buster, an anti-corruption crusader, a deliverer of jobs,
an entrencher of democracy, and an ardent contributor to the non-racial
project. The reality of his rule suggests otherwise.

Mbeki enjoys having enormous power yet he is given to blaming
everyone - blacks are counter-revolutionaries, whites are racist, and unions
are ultra-revolutionaries.

He sees threats and conspiracies everywhere. In a fit of paranoia he
endorsed the concept of a plot to topple him, fingering Mathews Phosa, Cyril
Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale. The plot was nothing more than an elaborate
political strategy to ensure that he was not challenged.

Mbeki's once erudite speeches and righteous words now fall on deaf
ears and are dismissed as empty promises or incorrect assertions. His
supposedly epoch-making 1996 "I am African" speech was carefully crafted to
allay white fears and sought to address Mbeki's own sense of identity. It
could be said that only those plagued by self-doubt need to proclaim their
identity.

Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka, a brilliant poet and dramatist, drove
this point home in a critique of Leopold Sedar Senghor's Negritude
philosophy, when he wrote: "The tiger does not proclaim its tigritude."

It did not take long for the president's inclusionary words to be
exposed as a farce. Whites are Africans if they sing his praises. Otherwise
they are corrupted by the disease of racism.

Mbeki's response to Tony Leon's criticism of government's handling of
the HIV and Aids crisis is an example which underscores this expediency.

Mbeki wrote: ". . . the white politician makes bold to speak openly of
his disdain and contempt for African solutions to the challenges that face
the peoples of our continent. According to him these solutions, because they
are African, could not but consist of the pagan, savage, superstitious and
unscientific responses typical of the African people, described by the white
politician as resort to 'snake-oil cures and quackery'."

While Mbeki wants to save the African continent and integrate it into
the global economy, he presides over a dysfunctional educational system.
Political membership takes precedence over competence and political
independence.

In addition, Mbeki fell short in nation-building and reconciliation.
His strong opinions about how he believes whites perceive Africans betrays a
troubled soul.

His is a love-hate relationship with the West - condemning it but
constantly seeking its affirmation. He could not bring himself to
acknowledge the contributions of the likes of Robert Sobukwe, Chris Hani,
Zephania Mothopeng and Steve Biko, and his attempts to airbrush them out of
history invited a stinging rebuke from journalist Abbey Makoe in a piece
titled "Mbeki how can you forget them?" Perhaps he tried too hard to leave
an intellectual mark.

HIV and Aids is probably Mbeki's biggest failure. He remains
impervious to the huge body of scientific evidence demonstrating the causal
relationship between HIV and Aids.

While he routinely berates the West for its uncaring attitude towards
the developing countries, he displays the same callousness towards his
compatriots who are affected by and infected with HIV. His government had to
be hauled before the courts before it would provide anti-retroviral drugs to
HIV-positive patients.

Buoyed by Zuma's travails with the law, Mbeki has conveniently
displayed an exaggerated confidence in the independence of the judiciary.
Yet, in 2005, as head of the ANC, he led the charge against the judiciary
and expressed the ANC's intention of transforming its "collective mindset".

His government introduced a package of draft bills aimed at
concentrating "administrative control of the judiciary in the hands of the
justice ministry" to "an extent that is fundamentally incompatible with the
separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary".

Crony capitalism grew under Mbeki's regime. His anti-corruption
crusade is recent and convenient. He led the attack against those who called
for an investigation into the arms deal. He ensured that corruption-busting
judge Willem Heath was excluded from the arms deal investigation. Touted as
job creating, this expensive project has not delivered. Instead of the 65
000 jobs promised, fewer than 15 000 have been created, while the cost to
the taxpayer has soared.

In response to expressions of frustration by the restless masses and
as accusations of cronyism abound, Mbeki has attempted to reinvent himself.
He now castigates those intent on being instant millionaires. Yet he is the
chief sponsor of the black elite project. His presidency has promoted this
elite and given it unbridled space to reign.

Mbeki's anti-rich stance is transparent and expedient. Allegations of
a plot against him by Ramaphosa, Sexwale and Phosa failed to take root, so
another strategy had to be found. What could be better than to exploit the
masses' frustration with the uncaring rich, the logic being that the
uncaring rich cannot be trusted as leaders?

It took the intervention of Nelson Mandela to make Thabo Mbeki
announce that he would not run for a third term.

His attempt to test the water backfired. Opening the Africa Conference
on Elections, Democracy and Governance in April 2003, he observed: "Great
Britain does not limit the period during which a person may hold the
position of prime minister, to say nothing about the hereditary position of
the head of state. It does not have an independent electoral commission that
conducts elections.

"I have never heard of international observers verifying whether any
British election was free and fair . . . In a sense, the challenge we face
is to understand why the rulebook of democratic musts applies unevenly
between ourselves and other countries of the North, such as Great Britain."

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation,
having correctly pointed out that the succession debate is diverting ANC
members from discharging the electoral mandate, he contradicted himself by
declaring his availability for a third term as president of the ANC.

In the end, Mbeki is arguably the architect of his own downfall.

As he disappears into the sunset, and casts a lonely shadow, will
Thabo Mbeki finally come to the realisation that multiple meanings derive
from the statement "the people have spoken" - an assertion he once used
triumphantly to trumpet his victory? Will it dawn upon him as he recedes
from the political scene that the people have indeed spoken once more? -
Focus/Helen Suzman Foundation.


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May the real men from the East stand up

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

THE debate below is not for those of a nervous disposition, those
allergic to the truth or those who have already chosen their future
political leaders according to their immutable laws of ethnicity. If you are
one of them stop reading right here.

The only Zimbabwean leaders who have ever enjoyed real popularity are
the late Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe. The greatest service performed for
Zimbabwe by Morgan Tsvangirai was to stop Zanu PF's hegemonic drift towards
a one-party state dictatorship. What the MDC failed to stop was the
emergence of a fully-fledged tyranny. What Zimbabwe desperately needs is a
leader whom the nation can trust, is committed to democratic values and rule
of law, not by law.

As the political stalemate moves swiftly and inexorably towards an
indeterminate self-resolution, President Mugabe still casts a long shadow
over our future even as his evil rule nears its inevitable end. He is no
longer the popular, gripping orator he was at Independence in 1980 and now
evokes near universal revulsion by his repressive policies.

Beyond his support for police brutality against opponents, what Mugabe's
regime has managed to do is stifle and kill open debate about the country's
leadership. The result is that voters are never fully informed about the
people who want to lead them. Instead Mugabe has occupied all the space for
27 years and people have by default elected the only person they know.

So far as debate about his successor goes, Mugabe has kept Zimbabwean
playing the sunflower as his sun scuds across the sky. The feigned
ambivalence about his preferred choice between Joice Mujuru and Emmerson
Mnangagwa keeps the nation vacillating from one faction to the other.

This is astounding - that a nation which seeks a complete break with
Mugabe's violent culture should look up to him to select for it the person
to lead it. How can a person who perpetuates Mugabe's legacy give Zimbabwe a
better future? Thankfully, Mugabe has refused to oblige this illogical
expectation. He can't trust anyone to guarantee his security, hence the push
for life presidency.

Those in Zanu PF who want the presidency will have to step out of
Mugabe's shadow for the people to see them. Future leaders should make a
clean breast of their past and tell us what they stand for. Transparency
demands that leaders account for their actions. In short, a leader should
justify his claim to national office by selling us realistic, measurable
policies.

So far the people we have been sold by the media as potential
successors to Mugabe in Zanu PF have opted to remain inscrutable. We hear
the names but not who they are or their national agenda. We have been told
of their links to the military and other security agencies yet the Zimbabwe
we want is not a latter-day Sparta but a modern Athens. It doesn't bode well
for any nation that its political leaders are elected on the basis of
speculation about who they are, what they stand for or purely for belonging
to a particular party.

In addition to Mujuru and Mnangagwa, the media has given us Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono and former Finance minister Simba Makoni. Both
have however been waved aside for two misconceived reasons. One is that they
are not Mugabe's clear favourites. The other is that they lack grassroots
support.

I have already dismissed the first as illogical. The second reflects a
failure to understand how Zimbabwean politics works, which is gravely
detrimental to the national good.

Up until now, Zimbabwe's national leaders have not been chosen by the
people but by the party. People only elect them. That was the full meaning
of the late Simon Muzenda's statement when he said if Zanu PF selected a
baboon as its candidate, people should vote for it. That is why Zanu PF's
presidential aspirants can't be bothered to go public with their credentials
but still expect to be elected once selected by the party.

Outside Zanu PF, it is no secret that many Zimbabweans didn't know
most of the 57 MDC MPs they voted for in 2000. They wanted change, any
change, not the calibre of the people they voted for and the MDC has not
moulded that protest mentality into a sustainable ideological framework. How
do you sell a new constitution, free and fair elections and international
observers to a hungry villager in Tsholotsho, Omay or Buhera whose wish-list
is precise and concrete: food, water, shelter, medicine and roads?

The problem with this system of selecting leaders is that once they
are elected, they rule in their own interest at worst or on behalf of the
party at best. They are under no obligation to fulfill national pledges they
never made - we are too desperate to see the back of Mugabe to care whether
Zanu PF or the MDC wants us to vote for a baboon. We run the danger of
moving in circles and then blaming history for repeating itself. Let's not
repeat errors of the past where the sole qualification for high political
office was to have crossed the border into Mozambique before 1979.

*To respond to those who ask me how the current crisis will end, my
answer is simple: I don't know. The situation is flux. Mugabe is still
holding on tenuously. Tsvangirai warned recently of a dangerous leadership
vacuum because of faction fights in Zanu PF while his MDC enjoys ephemeral
resurgence after attacks on its activists last week. A power vacuum must be
avoided at all costs, even if it means making what the ICG calls "an
alliance of convenience" with the devil, an odious phrase. It stinks of PF
pre-1980.

Still, it is time we made our political leaders pass through the
crucible of public scrutiny on their way to the top.


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Sadc, Western govts' meeting of minds signals time is up

Zim Independent

Comment

IF President Mugabe thought he could continue playing the race card
about Zanu PF's dictatorship, statements by northern neighbour Zambia's
President Levy Mwanawasa this week smashed that to smithereens.

All along, regional heads have offered Mugabe a shoulder to lean on
through solidarity messages for his rule or by telling the West to leave
Zimbabwe alone. Buoyed by this, Mugabe has tried to portray all criticism of
his rule as a Western construct steeped in racial prejudices and a quest to
recolonise Zimbabwe.

But times are changing and the heat on Mugabe is now coming from
closer to home. In fact, there is a meeting of minds between Western
governments and Sadc states that Mugabe's time is up.

Mwanawasa, on a visit to Namibia this week, which ironically Mugabe
visited three weeks ago, likened Zimbabwe to a sinking Titanic. He said Sadc
had achieved little through negotiations with President Mugabe.

"Quiet diplomacy has failed to solve the political chaos and economic
meltdown in Zimbabwe," said Mwanawasa. "As I speak right now, one Sadc
country has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a
sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their
lives."

He added: "Zambia has so far been an advocate of quiet diplomacy and
continues to believe in it. But the twist of events in the troubled country
necessitates the adoption of a new approach."

Mwanawasa's comments are a clear signal that President Mugabe's peers
in the region are fed up with his continued stay in power. The brutal
crackdown on dissent last week, culminating in the beating up of opposition
leaders and civic activists, has done a lot to sway those with a soft spot
for our ruler. They have now realised that he has gone way beyond the limits
of rehabilitation on the basis of African brotherhood.

Mwanawasa, whose country takes over the Sadc chair in August, could be
preparing the ground for a new responsibility to show Mugabe the door. But
Mugabe has thrown his hat in the ring to contest next year's presidential
poll in an act of defiance of popular will. This is the examination Sadc's
new resolve will have to pass and open a new political chapter by acting
against a comrade once regarded as the epitome of pan-Africanism.

While enamoured of the policy of quiet diplomacy, an invention of
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe has used the opportunity to try
and vend his discredited land reform programme in the region and keep alive
the camaraderie of the old club of nationalists. The heydays are over for
our Mugabe who now sits grotesquely at the heart of the region like a
stranded monster. He has failed to gain currency for his mantras on land
while his contemporaries have moved on.

Former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda, while trying to sound
sympathetic, avoided flattering our octogenarian leader.

"Mugabe should not be demonised ... he will not accept any
humiliation. He needs to be talked to to see sense in doing something to
change things in Zimbabwe because he is a victim of broken promises from
Britain," Kaunda told Reuters. "We need to find an answer and not to throw
accusations at him."

The answer from a Sadc point of view lies in Mugabe leaving the
political scene. The new approach hinted at by Mwanawasa replaces quiet
diplomacy. It is a blend of megaphone diplomacy and Sadc withdrawing its
support for Mugabe. The leaders have now realised the folly of believing
that Mugabe is amenable to reform.

By trashing the efficaciousness of the policy of quiet diplomacy,
Mwanawasa is speaking a new language that is fashioned to nudge regional big
brother South Africa to also adopt a resolute stance against Mugabe. But
what can South Africa do?

Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, interviewed on an e-tv
magazine programme this week, was disappointing in his response to that
question. He could only say that South Africa knew what it should do without
stating what he expects Tshwane to do.

He missed the opportunity to say that SA should stop entertaining any
hopes that change in Zimbabwe can come from a rehabilitated Mugabe.
Tsvangirai should have pointed out that Mugabe was handed this opportunity
to create national consensus and chart a new path for the country without
external interference from Sadc after the 2000 and 2006 presidential polls.
He squandered the opportunity and the results are too obvious for Sadc to
ignore, hence Mwanawasa's concerns. How long Mugabe holds on depends on the
latitude Sadc gives him. Definitely not up to 2013!


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Mumbengegwi's brazen contempt for human decency

Zim Independent

Muckraker

SO it's now official - the National Economic Development Priority
Programme has failed. The Business Herald quoted a senior government
official this week as saying the NEDPP had been extended to December after
it failed to "meet its original targets".

At its launch in April last year, the programme was touted as an
action-oriented and results-based project to tame inflation, mobilise
foreign currency and boost agricultural productivity. All these targets were
supposed to be achieved in nine months.

Its failure has been as spectacular as were its dreamland objectives.
Inflation is now close to 1 800% from 1 092% when the programme was launched
and there are no foreign currency reserves in the country if we go by the
spectacular collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar from $230 against the US dollar
on the parallel market last April to more than $16 000 this week.

Agricultural productivity is a scandal worth of a Hollywood movie.
Suffice to say we are importing maize from the same countries which before
2000 depended on Zimbabwe to meet their own requirements.

The government official admitted there had been no significant foreign
investment in the past six years. Instead companies were closing down or
shifting their operations to South Africa and Mozambique, while those still
based locally were operating at less than 50% of capacity, he said.

More importantly, the official should have added, the country has
experienced a huge flight of skills which are needed for the mirage-like
turnaround.

The official said the programme had been extended because it had
failed within the timeframe it was set in, but didn't say why it had failed
or why he believes it will now succeed when all its targets are far off the
mark. It's a classic example of a political leadership which has run out of
ideas.

The NEDPP process appears to have faltered in tandem with the fortunes
of its key driver VP Joice Mujuru whose romantic dream of economic recovery
included telling Vapostori to rear pigs. We wonder if she said this as
symbolism for investors to come and set up shop in Zimbabwe. What happened
to Chinese coal mining and the thermal power station project in Dande?

Another fallout from our "successful" land reform was a story in the
same issue on Zimbabwe experiencing a shortage of oranges. The report said
the country was having to import juice concentrates from South Africa.
Production had declined greatly at Mazoe Citrus Estates.

The company also reported that outgrower production had fallen by 44%
since our land chaos began seven years ago.

Muckraker believes Sunday Mail chief reporter Emelia Zindi could tell
us a thing or two about reaping where you did not sow, or Information deputy
minister Bright Matonga can tell us how he is managing "his" orchards in
Chegutu.

Deputy police commissioner Innocent Matibiri offered a clue on the
causes of our misery. He told an anti-stock theft meeting in Chinhoyi last
week that the police were "perturbed by the prevalence of vandalism of farm
equipment in newly-resettled areas".

"Indeed," he warned, "if unchecked this trend can compromise the
productive capacity of our farmers."

Beware of the enemy within. Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono also
recently complained that there were senior government officials who had
"become career land occupiers, vandalising farming equipment from one farm
to another".

Isn't that what happens when you bring up "farmers" on a diet of
lawlessness and turn looting of private property into an industry? Why
should they change now when government tolerated and encouraged acts of
vandalism for seven years in the name of land reform?

Still on vandalism, the most egregious comment on the issue was given
by Transport and Communications minister Christopher Mushohwe this week.

He said he was concerned at the growing culture of vandalism involving
road and rail infrastructure.

At first he said he didn't know where this culture was coming from
since it was a new phenomenon in the country.

Then Eureka! The answer struck him suddenly with the force of a
lightning bolt.

"I think it is coming from the opposition," declared Mushohwe
triumphantly. "We never used to have a situation where people would go on a
rampage and vandalise road and rail infrastructure."

Any wonder most normal people want to avoid politics like a plague?

Yet there was still more dross coming to churn your stomach.

In a story headlined "Government reads riot act" in the Herald on
Tuesday, Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi claimed Zimbabwe
was a sovereign state "with a vibrant democracy, judiciary and police force
that is committed to its constitutional duty of protecting its citizens by
maintaining law and order".

This brazen contempt for human decency follows the barbaric beatings
last week of opposition leaders and their supporters for attempting to
exercise their constitutional right to assembly and worship.

Isn't it contradictory that Mumbengegwi attacks the Western diplomats
for interefering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs when all they have done is
ask the government to observe constitutional provisions against torture,
freedom of worship and assembly?

Where in the civilised world do you find a president of a country
praising the police or army for assaulting citizens for merely telling their
rulers that they are hungry, they need better medical facilities and good
education for their children?

Where in the civilised world is giving food or water to a person
detained by the police described as "political interference" in a country's
affairs?

We wonder if there are any diehard Zanu PF supporters who still
believe the facetious nonsense about somebody trying to recolonise Zimbabwe.
Mumbengegwi is pitiable excuse for a foreign minister.

Probably realising that his blatant lies about opposition parties
causing an orgy of violence would not sell, Mumbengegwi tried to raise the
stakes, telling a sceptical nation and disgusted foreign ambassadors that
the MDC was in fact engaged "in acts of terrorism" so he could catch George
Bush's ear.

Who is causing terror between unarmed civilians huddled in a church
for worship and armed police gangs who fire teargas into the church?

The ruling Zanu PF party has adopted President Mugabe's self-serving
position that there is no vacancy for a new president.

Mugabe reinforced this position with his dubious self-offer that he
would stand as the party's presidential candidate next year after his bid to
move the polls to 2010 hit a brickwall in the party and faced resistance
from opposition parties.

Last week he confirmed to the party's youth league in Harare that he
"was not afraid" of elections and was therefore offering himself as a
potential candidate "if the party chose" him.

It's a huge gamble and desperate act of bravado. But Mugabe has been
known for this kind of brinksmanship if noone stops him. Which his party
should do if it is interested in the welfare of this country.

We were therefore surprised to read in the official Zanu PF
mounthpiece, The Voice, that the party's information secretary Nathan
Shamuyarira had declared Mugabe's candidacy "automatic".

"We are very pleased that he has made a clear statement on his future
plans," Shamuyarira told The Voice.

"Our task has been made all the more easier and we support him in the
party and there will be no other contestant," he declared with the finality
of an oracle.

Will the Zanu PF central committee let Mugabe get away with this "no
vacancy" threat or will it stand up to his bully tactics we wonder?

Is this the internal democracy that Zanu PF fought for? No wonder the
opposition is seen as such a mortal threat to the fossilised status quo.

Neo-Rhodesian, neo-apartheid and global media all portray the
democratic state of Zimbabwe as a monster," said MIC chair Tafataona Mahoso
in his column in The Voice this week.

"Some of our people start to accept this demonised image of the
state," he said in an article titled "The propaganda war against Zimbabwe".

We found this utterly callous coming in the midst of rising state
brutality against opposition party supporters. Zimbabwe does not need
foreign media to do propaganda pieces with apologists like Mahoso. Their
defence of these acts of lawlessness exposes the democratic deficit in the
country and the way in which human life has been cheapened by constant
violence.

Muckraker has no doubt that Gideon Gono means well when he says there
are many unscrupulous fuel dealers out to rip off desperate commuters. In
his effort to fight this cancer, he needs our support.

It is however in bad taste for the governor to use crude comparisons
between these vampires and the deadly HIV/Aids pandemic. In his anger, Gono
said the law should take its course against those who increased the price of
fuel to unrealistic levels in a space of one week.

"We have no sympathy for them," the Herald quoted Gono as saying on
Wednesday. "The spirit of profiteering in this country is now almost as
deadly as the disease (HIV/Aids."

That's a bit over the top Mr Governor. Not all who contracted the
disease were quite as reckless or as rapacious as some of our business
fellows.

Still, in the spirit of helping, on the flip side of the governor's
angry threat was a prominent advert for "bulk petrol and diesel" going for
$13 000 compared to the official figure of $325. The telephone numbers were
there. Are we going to see some action or is it another lost cause like
inflation?

We have been viciously attacked in the past for trying to debunk the
Big Lie about EU and American sanctions on Zimbabwe. We were therefore
interested to read in the Sunday Mail Business a story announcing "Zimbabwe
trade with US soars to US$103 million".

The story boasted that political differences between Zimbabwe and the
United States had "not stemmed the tide of the country's exports" to the US.

Trade had in fact risen by 9% to US$103 million last year from US$94,3
million in 2005, the report said. This trade was fuelled by the textile and
clothing sectors.

It said while the country had not benefited from Agoa, several
companies had continued to export into the vast US market.

"Statistics from the Central Statistical Office," said the story,
"have shown that Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands, Germany, Namibia and the United States are some of the country's
top trading partners in terms of exports."

A comment from the apostles of "illegal sanctions" would have been in
order here. So much for official posturing about the Look East policy.

á


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Further tainting of a wretched image

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

THE Old Testament's book of Proverbs states: "A good name is more
precious than oil", but there is indisputable evidence that Zimbabwe has a
totally different sense of values (or, perhaps, has none!).

For many years Zimbabwe appears to have striven assiduously at
destroying its international image, notwithstanding the immensely negative
consequences of a severely tarnished appearance.

The Guinness Book of Records does not give evidence which country has
tainted itself in the eyes of the world more often than any other, and it
also does not record which country has resorted to more ways of doing so
than have others. But Zimbabwe would surely be a foremost contender for both
records.

Upon attaining its Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe was one of the world's
most admired nations. Having gone through many years of racial oppression
and a prolonged and embittered struggle for release from that oppression,
and for the creation of an independent free, democratic country which would
be a responsible member of world society, Zimbabwe came into being, with a
declared intent to be exactly such a country. And, for a short period of
time, it did so brilliantly. Within a very few years it enhanced Zimbabwean
education to an extent and rapidly doubled its literacy levels. It
vigorously addressed health delivery systems, resulting in an exponential
increase in average life expectancy.

It interacted constructively with its neighbours to the economic and
infrastructural development of the region at an impressive scale. It adopted
an international role of positive interaction and converted a distraught
economy to one of progressive virility, primarily founded upon dynamic
development of the agricultural sector and exploitation of its potential.

But, after five years the "real" Zimbabwe exposed itself. Intense
genocide was energetically pursued against the Ndebele people, with
government's 5th Brigade resorting to bestial attacks upon many thousands of
innocent people, horrendous murders becoming the order of the day, and the
economic upturn being halted and reversed. Two years later, with great
razz-ma-tazz, a Unity Accord was negotiated between the ruling party and its
principal opposition, and hope developed that Zimbabwe would revert to that
which it had been in its first five years.

However, it fairly soon became apparent that, to all intents and
purposes, the accord was essentially a fašade and that, in reality, not only
did democracy not exist, but autocracy was developing transcendentally.

However, the determined destruction of the Zimbabwean image became
pronounced 10 years ago, and with the efficacy of government's endeavours to
taint that image beyond recognition, government has steadfastly escalated
its drive to lower the country's international image to levels below any
possible redemption.

It did so by displaying a blatant disregard for the fundamental
principles of human rights (very clearly defined by the United Nations, of
which Zimbabwe pretends to be a responsible member, although it objects
vociferously to any attempt to have the Security Council debate Zimbabwe's
contemptuous disregard for those human rights).

It did so, and continues to do so, by an equally flagrant breach of
the concepts of justice, of law and order, of respect for property rights,
and by its practices of racial and tribal discrimination (being the essence
of the liberation struggle that brought Zimbabwe into being, and now being
practised, albeit in reverse, almost horrendously as was then the case - as
evidenced, for example, by some of the very antic-caucasian statements of
the Minister of State for Security and Lands).

In the last fortnight Zimbabwe really excelled at its efforts of image
destruction. Whether or not the political opposition breached the law by its
attempted convening, under the aegis of the churches, of an alleged prayer
meeting, contended by the authorities to be a fašade for a political rally,
is not the issue. The key issue was that, by all accounts, the so-called
guardians of law and order resorted to excessive violence in breaking up the
gathering and in arresting those considered to be breaking the law.

And, of even greater consequence was that, having effected the
arrests, the violence did not discontinue. Not only have there been numerous
contentions that the large numbers of those arrested were subjected to
beatings and torture after they were in custody, but it is very significant
that government has not attempted to deny and refute those contentions.

Of course, any denials would inevitably be very difficult to have any
semblance of credibility. Over 50 people had to be hospitalised, including
some into Intensive Care Units, and some of the injuries were as extensive
as fractured skulls and limbs. As these injuries were inflicted after the
arrests, and not in effecting them, it cannot be argued that they were
unavoidable consequences of attempted resistance to arrest.

As a result, Zimbabwe's already gravely blackened image was lowered to
unimaginably great depths, with worldwide condemnations becoming the order
of the day.

But government evidently wishes for an even worse international
perception (it's difficult to imagine unless one assumes that government is
vested with extreme masochism).

As the world voiced its dismay and disapproval at the holocaustic
actions of Zimbabwe against the political opposition, Zimbabwe moved rapidly
into a defence mode, applying two defensive strategies. The first was to
berate the critics, accusing them of unjust interference in Zimbabwe's
internal affairs, of supposed sponsorship and support of the political
opposition, and of pursuit of own vested interests, at Zimbabwe's expense.

Its second defensive posture was one of justification, contending that
the actions were wholly warranted because the political opposition also
resorted to violence. In other words, government considers that "two wrongs
make a right!" If the opposition resorts to violence, the law must be
enforced, by arrest and prosecution of offenders, but not by assault,
beatings, and torture, of others.

Resentful of the international community's justifiable condemnation of
Zimbabwean brutality, of Zimbabwean rejection of precepts of justice, of
Zimbabwe's intensifying authoritarian rule, in conflict with its own
constitution, and with international norms of good governance, the political
hierarchy that dominates Zimbabwe is resorting evermore to hurling insults
at the international community in general, and at USA, the European Union
and, especially, Britain.

Its outpourings of childish vitriol have achieved nothing other than
to polarise Zimbabwe even more, and to taint Zimbabwe's image to a greater
extent than ever before.

That adverse image has innumerable adverse consequences for Zimbabwe,
but among the greatest is that it leads to even greater impoverishment than
is already the case. The negative image precludes Zimbabwe's access to
balance of payments support, development aid and lines of credit from
international monetary bodies, and the world's private sector financial
institutions.

Zimbabwe pretends that non-access to such facilities is the
application of "illegal" sanctions although any such sanctions are not in
breach of any law and, therefore, would not be "illegal". But the reality is
that Zimbabwe's image includes that of being an appalling credit risk.

The negative image is a deterrent to desperately needed investment,
for few wish to invest in an environment of economic morass, injustice,
excessive regulation and untenable political divide. Similarly, that image
discourages trade, for supplier nations doubt whether payment will be
forthcoming, whilst purchasing nations are uncertain as to reliability of
delivery, and many are reluctant to be even indirectly supportive of
dictatorship.

And the understandably concerned perceptions of Zimbabwe demotivate
tourists from patronising Zimbabwe, fearing for their security and safety,
and not wishing to experience the declining sociological environment.

Thus, it is not the international community that is destroying
Zimbabwe. It is Zimbabwe that is destroying Zimbabwe. If government is
imbued with any genuine concern for Zimbabwe and its peoples, it will
belatedly recognise its own culpability, determinedly seek to transform
itself and, in so doing, transform Zimbabwe's image and thereby curb the
unnecessary deaths of thousands from malnutrition and economically-driven
ill-health.


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Caricature of a diplomat

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

FOREIGN Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi takes himself so
seriously that he wants to be regarded as a tough diplomat who strikes fear
in the hearts of Western envoys accredited to Zimbabwe.

This week, taking a cue from President Mugabe, Mumbengegwi summoned
Western diplomats to "read the riot act" to them for their alleged support
for opposition MDC leaders who were bludgeoned by police last week.

There was the usual gobbledygook about a desire by the West to
recolonise Zimbabwe and the soporific refrain that "Zimbabwe will never be a
colony again". He threatened to invoke the Vienna Convention to expel the
errant diplomats from Zimbabwe. Ha, ha, ha!

If Mumbengegwi believes that it is his mandate to defend the actions
of his party, no matter however egregious those actions, then his
performance this week turned him into a caricature of a diplomat.

To begin with, last Friday he called Sadc ambassadors and the Chinese
and Russians diplomats to win their sympathy in the face of international
criticism over President Mugabe's repression.

There is no doubt that the ambassadors saw through his funny story
trying to justify the beating up and torture of opposition leaders. Perhaps
the nodding of the head by the Chinese ambassador gave the minister
confidence but that was all. Last week's events were not a good
advertisement for a country seeking investment, even from the Chinese!

Then came the session with Western diplomats on Monday at which the
minister threatened to expel them. This was empty talk because despite the
bluster and posturing, Mumbengegwi knows that his government does not have
the conviction to expel the diplomats.

Mumbengegwi, like his predecessors, believes that he can cow Western
diplomats by summoning them to dressing-down sessions at which they are not
given an opportunity to respond to insipid lectures.

The diplomats are happy to assemble to listen to the warnings and
threats as this only exposes the level of desperation in the Zimbabwean
aristocracy. The message that has come out very clearly from the Zanu PF
government is that diplomats must support the government's action at all
costs.

The level of political intolerance is being extended to the
ambassadors. Everyone must love Zanu PF's obtuse policies, its dictatorship
as well as its ruthlessness. Freedom of political choice is a crime.

Just assessing the way Zimbabwe has brandished the Vienna Convention
lately, one would easily surmise that the spirit of the treaty is to empower
host governments to expel diplomats opposed to misrule.

Mumbengegwi and his comrades carry this misinformed belief that they
can employ the pact as a weapon to whip diplomats into line and force them
to cheer Zimbabwe's democratic deficit. But the convention is actually
fundamental to the conduct of foreign relations and ensures that diplomats
can conduct their duties without threat from host governments.

As stated in its preamble, the convention seeks to facilitate the
development of friendly relations among nations, irrespective of their
differing constitutional and social systems. The purpose of such privileges
and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient
performance of the functions of diplomatic missions.

The convention also requires diplomats to obey local laws. However,
the only sanction permissible under the convention, in the absence of a
waiver of immunity, is expulsion. This prevents the potential abuse by host
governments of the power of a state's law enforcement system.

Zimbabwe can expel the diplomats if they have violated laws of the
land. According to Mumbengegwi the diplomats have, by attending court after
the arrest of the opposition leaders and visiting them in hospital,
committed crimes. The ambassadors' other crimes include giving the
hospitalised activists and politicians food and failure to compliment
government for its crackdown.

Our Foreign minister thinks that these acts constitute a crime because
poor Zimbabweans are often arrested, detained and beaten up for simply being
members of the opposition.

It would be laughable to expel diplomats because they went to observe
a court hearing of opposition activists or because they condemned the police's
torture of civilians and the disregard of court rulings. Mumbengegwi knows
this, hence he can only threaten.

In 2005 Mumbengegwi issued another battery of empty threats to expel
US ambassador Christopher Dell after the diplomat's speech in Bulawayo
blaming President Mugabe for the country's economic crisis.

A month before the incident, the government had accused Dell of trying
to provoke a diplomatic standoff after he entered a restricted area near
Mugabe's residence. He was held at gunpoint by the Presidential Guard as he
strolled through the Harare Botanical Gardens, apparently not realising it
was off limits.

Referring to the incident, Mumbengegwi said Dell "cannot flagrantly
violate the laws of Zimbabwe and interfere in its internal affairs". That is
as far as the threat went. The current threat is set to end up in the same
dusty file at Munhumutapa Building. The diplomats ain't scared of you Simba.


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Zim Independent Letters



Concern over violation of activists' health rights
By ZADHR

THE Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) expresses
grave concern over the continuing violation of the health rights of
opposition party leaders, particularly Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland.

Both Kwinjeh and Holland were tortured in police custody on March 11
and sustained serious injuries as follows:

Holland - multiple fractures to her left leg and left arm, severe,
extensive and multiple soft tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms,
buttocks and thighs.

Injuries she sustained were also worsened by denial of timely access
to medical treatment which led to an infection of deep soft tissue in her
left leg; and

Kwinjeh - a split right ear lobe, severe, extensive and multiple soft
tissue injuries to the back, shoulders, arms, buttocks and thighs and a
brain contusion.

The two activists were prevented from seeking further medical
attention in South Africa on March 17 when they were blocked from boarding
an air ambulance and forcibly taken from Harare International Airport to
Harare Central police station where their travel documents were confiscated
by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda of the Law and Order Section.

At the station, the ambulance was instructed to take Kwinjeh and
Holland back to the Avenues Clinic where they were placed under police
guard.

These activists have a right to seek medical care at institutions of
their choice. ZADHR calls upon the authorities violating this right to allow
these two activists to seek the medical care they have chosen.

On March 18, Nelson Chamisa, who was also tortured on March 11, was
attacked at Harare International Airport, sustaining a fractured right orbit
and sub-conjunctival haemorrhage (under the lining of the eye) as well as
multiple lacerations on the face.

ZADHR condemns the continuing violations of health rights of
Zimbabwean citizens and requests the Minister of Health and Child Welfare
(David Parirenyatwa), ZiMA and other regional national medical associations
to take a position on this matter and apply the influence in their capacity
to put an end to these violations.

* ZADHR is a NGO for doctors dealing with health rights.

--------------
Chamisa's assault should make Brussels agenda

KUWADZANA MP Nelson Chamisa was brutally attacked on March 18 at
Harare International Airport en route to Brussels to attend the bureau
meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific/European Union Joint
Parliamentary Assembly.

Reports indicate that he was assaulted with an iron bar by six to
eight male persons who took his luggage, computer and cellphone and made off
in two unmarked cars, one of which was described as a Peugeot 306.

Chamisa suffered a fracture to the bone surrounding his eye and
massive lacerations to his forehead and face.

While not able to identify the perpetrators, it is clear that the
attack was intended to stop the participation of the MP at the Brussels
meeting in his capacity as a representative of the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

He would have been in a position to give a first-hand report of the
brutality of state agents towards those with differing political views and
the increasing impunity which accompanies their actions.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of 16 human rights
NGOs, has placed its grave concerns on record with the assembly and has
requested that they in turn place this barbaric assault on one of their
members on the agenda for the Brussels meetings this week.

Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum,

Harare.

----------
Be wary of deadly Zanu PF/CIO trap

THIS past week has been traumatic for the entire country, and many are
still in shock, frightened or angry.

I share the emotional turmoil but we should all try to get a grip on
ourselves and prepare carefully for the coming weeks because the turmoil is
likely to continue until the people - the majority - who are suffering and
now traumatised - regain control of their lives during the transition to a
new, democratically-elected government.

This transition is now clearly visible on the horizon. The regime has
cracked and will never again have a stranglehold on power in this country.
It will never again be accepted by either Sadc or the African Union as a
democratic nation among equals.

It will never again be able to grandstand at the United Nations using
racism as its populist tool to divert attention from its evil deeds which
are clearly visible to all. No one is taken in by the rhetoric any more,
apart from a few apologists lacking the intelligence of the majority.

Let us all mourn with the family of Gift Tandare, the NCA/MDC activist
shot and killed on March 11 in the midst of mayhem in Highfield. Let us all
sympathise and stand in solidarity with all the 50 plus activists arrested
in Harare, many badly tortured in police custody in the ensuing mayhem.

Let us not be stupid enough to fall into the Zanu PF/CIO trap of
believing that some were not tortured because they are pro-Zanu PF or CIO.
Surely we all know the classic Zanu PF tactic of divide-and-destroy by now!

"The biggest scar is the scar (President) Mugabe has inflicted on the
nation to oppress us, and that is the scar that must unite us," as Arthur
Mutambara said at the Save Zimbabwe press conference.

Let us also stand in solidarity with the other hundreds of activists
and innocent members of the public who have been harassed, beaten and
incarcerated in the last week or so.

Let us also send our sympathy to the injured policemen and women who
were attacked for we abhor violence and declare that we will not respond to
violence with violence, because that is the one sure way to ensure that
chaos reigns, and that many will suffer and die. We do not want chaos and
anarchy.

We want peace - but real peace - not a false peace imposed by
"security forces". We want peace where people are free to move about
unhindered, free to assemble to pray or even to speak out their minds
without hindrance, free to nurture their families as they wish, and free
eventually to vote for the government they want to represent them.

Let us keep our eyes on the prize: a free, democratic Zimbabwe. To
move towards this we need to be disciplined as citizens and to act
strategically.

First of all we need to work in solidarity with others of like mind
and one thing I have learned is that practically everyone is of like mind,
now! People are speaking openly in the streets, in supermarkets, on buses,
on the phone condemning this regime and calling for change. Let us open our
arms and hearts and greet our neighbours and fellow citizens, and share the
next few weeks gladly and in solidarity, certain that a better Zimbabwe is
on the way, and that we can help it to become a reality.

Secondly, let us try to prevent the escalation of violence whenever we
can, by not succumbing to either the regime's divide-and-destroy tactics or
to the desire for revenge. The unity of purpose displayed by the two MDC
formations and civil society under the umbrella of the churches in trying to
attend the same prayer meeting, subsequent arrest and torture and the Save
Zimbabwe press conference is what has given all Zimbabweans renewed hope
that we can indeed defeat the oppressor.

We do not need violence, we need to act together as one Zimbabwean
people to bring in a new, people-driven constitution to protect us against
the excesses of any and all future governments - MDC, Zanu PF and others not
yet thought of which will allow us to elect the government of our choice
peacefully in order to reverse the destruction of our beloved Zimbabwe.

So, friends, we stand together, strengthening each other and
strengthened by God and the knowledge that we are doing the right thing for
ourselves and for future generations. We are fighting for a free and
prosperous Zimbabwe, and it is right there, on the horizon!

Trudy Stevenson,

Harare.

---------------
Threats now part of Zesa culture?

OUR factory in Marondera was closed down in July last year and one of
the reasons was due to the two or three times a week electricity cuts.

I on numerous occasions held meetings with Zesa Marondera to try and
ask them to give us notice or at least give a schedule as to when
load-shedding would occur so that we could prevent huge losses.

Zesa could never help us but put all the blame on Harare whose top
officials were not forthcoming with any type of assistance.

Even after the factory has been closed down and electricity switched
off to try and cut down on costs, we are still getting estimated bills from
Zesa.

Our actual reading now is 431096 but Zesa's last reading is 449661.

Thrice since July, Zesa has given us estimated bills based on our
previous average of 4 500 to 5 000 units and the latest bill of $254 280,35.

When we try to point out the anomaly we are told to pay up the bill or
risk being cut off. Zesa even has the temerity to decline actual readings on
the grounds that they are not made by their employees.

Zesa officals have threatened to remove our sub-station which we paid
for on a non-refundable deposit.

Would it not be better for Zesa employees to put their efforts into
providing a better service rather than spending time and fuel on dead ends.

I am sick and tired of being threatened by lazy and inefficient
officials who don't help in any constructive way. Are threats now part of
the Zesa culture?

Burnt Out,

Marondera.

---------
The blame game is futile
By Clydez Chakupeta

THE absence of logic in our government is baffling. Statements made by
leaders beg one to question not only their sanity, but their moral authority
to continue leading us.

They have been misleading us and taking us for granted for quite a
long time.

Recently, at the donation of $7 million worth of books at Chitekwe
Primary School in Mutoko by one Mr Kamunhu, the Governor of Mashonaland
East, Ray Kaukonde, made a statement that cries out for outright
condemnation.

He applauded the donation and called on all citizens from rural
communities but residing in towns and the diaspora to emulate Kamunhu's
gesture.

This I found to be tantamount to an insult to most of those people in
the diaspora, for many are either economic or political refugees pushed out
by the very government that Kaukonde is part of.

Create problems so that people flee the country, then call upon them
to assist with foreign currency they earn to develop areas that Zanu PF has
destroyed, seems to be the logic behind Kaukonde's thinking.

The government has taken us for granted for too long a time and now
seems to realise its folly.

Feigning lies won't take us anywhere. Neither will blaming others when
we know the architects responsible for the problems we are faced with.

Being objective enough to own up to our mistakes is the first step
towards revival of both the economy and the political arena.

* Chakupeta writes from Harare.


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Freedom lies ahead

Zim Independent

By Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo

THE hardest lesson of my life has come to my realisation too late. It
is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free. I have
told in this book (The Story of My Life) how all my experiences from my
earliest childhood taught me to oppose, first by argument and then by armed
struggle, the domination of the black people of Zimbabwe by the tiny white
minority within the country.

I have told of the triumph of that struggle, and then of how the new
African government (now under President Robert Mugabe) adopted the
repressive techniques of its illegitimate predecessor. Zimbabwe is liberated
but freedom for the people still lies ahead.

I am a Zimbabwean patriot and an African patriot too. I refuse to
accept that we cannot do better than we have so far done, or to reach out
for the easy excuse that all our mistakes are simply a colonial inheritance
that can conveniently be blamed on the invaders. Of course our history has
made us what we are, and the recent period of that history was distorted
first by the influence of remote empires, then for 90 years by direct
colonial rule. It is up to us to do better now and we can do better.

Under colonial rule the development of our social and political life
was controlled, and could not change naturally with the changing times. In
the best of traditional African communities, the group was governed by
consent: the leader summoned his council, the council debated, a decision
emerged, and that decision became bind-ing law. Those outside the ruling
council who criticised its decisions were regarded as treasonable: the idea
that authority can be con-trolled and its decisions improved by independent
discussion and criticism did not exist.

Nor could it develop during the colonial cen-tury, when all authority
was vested in a governor subject to the orders of a remote metropolitan
power. Even the few Africans invited to take part in legislative councils or
local authorities had to accept the law as it was given to them, not
participate in making or correct-ing it.

The new African rulers who came to power at Independence have all too
often claimed the same unquestioned authority as their tradi-tional and
colonial predecessors. Instead of welcoming debate as the necessary means
for improving government, they have confused opposition to particular
policies with general disloyalty. Constructive criticism is brushed aside,
and suggested improvements are de-scribed as attempts to undermine the
state.

Far too often in Africa, authority has become intolerant. The easy
answer is to claim that opposition must be absorbed within a one-party
state, a modern version of the traditional chiefs council within which full
discussion took place before an acceptable and unchal-lengeable policy
emerged. This is to miss the point.

A one-party state, sincerely operated, may indeed be a way of
encouraging an open and constructive debate. A multi-party state, badly
operated, may be just another way of keeping an elite in power. The point is
it is not the formal system that really matters, but the spirit in which a
single or multi-party state is managed or operated.

What matters is that the leadership should tolerate and encourage
diverse opinions to be heard - opinions of different social groups,
differ-ent economic interests, different regions. Since geographical regions
within Afri-can nations tend to be inhabited by people of different
languages and cultural backgrounds, partly as a result of colonial
boundaries, regional dynamics to national politics are vitally important:
recognising and accommodating regional differences is the best way to
prevent them turning into counter-productive tribal rivalries. Diversity
must be appreciated, celebrated and tapped for collective national good.

Of course some African nations are generally decently ruled by leaders
who try to listen and take into account opinions of the people. But far too
many leaders have come to believe that their own interests and those of the
people are the same. They confuse self-preservation with national security,
and to preserve their own regimes throw the safeguards, the checks and
balances, of the constitution and of individual rights out of the window.

When in prison, I was visited by the representatives of the
Inter-national Red Cross. I heard with dismay of the conditions in which
political prisoners were living in other African states. They did not claim
I was well-treated - they knew about prisons, they understood that a man or
woman deprived of liberty is deprived of the most precious thing in life.
But they had observed how in some black-ruled nations the loss of liberty
was made far more evil by the inhu-manity with which prisoners were treated.

In South Africa, they told me, the wicked system of political
imprisonment imposed by the rac-ist apartheid government was made worse
because the jailers hardly treated their charges as human beings;
nevertheless, there, the physical conditions of the prisons were at least
clean. But too often in Africa, they told me, the injustice of imprisonment
was compounded by squalor and personal brutality.

African leaders must improve their record on human rights, and African
people too must have a greater regard to their national responsibili-ties. I
appeal in particular to our young people, especially the stu-dents and the
soldiers, to accept the challenge of political develop-ment. They too often
see in their governments the signs of corrup-tion, of nepotism, of
tribalism, sapping the legitimate authority of the state.

Patience in the face of injustice is hard, but it is necessary. It
would be easier to achieve if our rulers listened to the people and accepted
a shared stan-dard by which to judge their own leadership and seek to
improve it through debate and ideas.

Less than 30 years ago I was a guest in Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana at the
ceremonies heralding the end of colonialism in Africa. Since then, at
different speeds and in different styles, Britain, France and Portugal have
removed their occupying forces and their alien institutions from our
continent.

Southern Rhodesia, although constitutionally a colony, shared the main
characteristic of those neighbouring regimes, which is why its freedom as
Zimbabwe had to be won with such pain. In southern Africa, unlike the rest
of the continent, the white people came to settle and to stay, not just to
exploit and go home. Our problem was not alien rule, but minority rule
backed by alien commercial interests. Most Zimbabweans are black, and their
rights were for far too long denied. That is all the more reason why, now
that the problem of minority rule has been solved, the rights of all the
people of Zim-babwe should be equally respected.

The white people fought so hard because they feared that, if they
handed over power, we, the black people, would treat them badly as they had
treated us. It is up to us now to prove them wrong, to show we really
believed in the equality we said we were fighting for. We owe special care,
too, to the coloured Zimbabweans as well as to the black people, and to the
Zimbabweans of Indian origin, who are in our country not because their
ancestors were oppressors but because they were themselves oppressed. We
need to uphold human rights and equality of all Zimbabweans.

The strange racial policies of our past governments have grossly
distorted the way we use our most precious resources. We have rich mines and
prosperous factories, but our main wealth comes from the land. We feed our
own growing population, and we normally ex-port large quantities of tobacco,
grain and meat. But about half of our usable land produces our entire
surplus of food. It was owned by only about 6 000 commercial farmers, all of
whom were until very recently white. The other half of our productive land
is communally farmed, exclusively by Africans.

The success of the white farmers had several causes. The colo-nial
governments made sure that the best land was allocated to the whites. Public
investment, especially in irrigation, roads and power supplies, was for
whites, not blacks. The whites received free tech-nical advice on how to
work their land most profitably. Since they owned their land, they were able
to borrow on security from the banks for investment in their farms. They
worked hard, and had almost absolute authority over their black employees,
who therefore worked even harder. All this made Zimbabwe's white-owned
commercial farms highly productive.

Our communal - that is to say, African - farms are by contrast among
the most wretched on the continent. While the best land was being grabbed
for the whites, the black farmers were herded into the poorest and the
driest areas, denied public investment and the edu-cation that would have
enabled them to do better. Since their land was in communal rather than
private ownership, they could not borrow from the banks for investment. Any
successful African farmer found his stocks limited by order of government
officials, as the growth of population forced more and more people into the
commu-nal lands.

As a result, the pattern of land use that has developed in the
communal areas is terribly wasteful. Homes are scattered widely across the
country, the intervening ground beaten by footpaths rather than used for
grazing. Cultivated fields are small, and each one must be wastefully fenced
against wandering livestock. Fuel is obtained by random cutting of trees,
which damages the fertility of the soil and the climate itself.

The women, whose traditional task it is to fetch wood and water, must
travel greater and greater distances to find them. Since homes are
scattered, it is difficult to supply them with electricity or clean running
water. Because there can be no communal sanitation, water is often polluted,
lead-ing to the spread of diseases.

This great national problem arises from past policies of racial
discrimination which made a tiny minority rich and the vast majority poor.
Now all of us in Zimbabwe must face the consequences to-gether.

There is no reason why our country, properly cultivated and organised,
should not provide food security for the population. But the wasteful farm
practices that have been encouraged to grow up in the communal areas would
soon destroy land and it would be disastrous to urge new settlements on
hitherto underused land without at the same time ensuring that the communal
lands do not continue to be laid waste. The full use of unexploited
commercial land, the development of planned commu-nities there, and the
reallocation of badly farmed land in the commu-nal areas must go hand in
hand.

Land reform must result in new settlements in the commercial areas,
produc-tive farming communities, not scattered huts, uncontrolled grazing
and loose dogs on the run on farms. We need planned villages, fields and
paddocks carefully laid out to get the most from the land. These new
communi-ties must include three important groups: land-hungry people from
the existing communal areas, workers on existing commercial farms and the
ex-combatants. Above all, they must be offered the technical advice they
will need if they are to use the land well. Such rational settlements,
whether on un-used land or on farms bought from their white owners, would be
positively welcomed by commercial farmers.

Zimbabweans have fought a long and terrible war. It disrupted their
lives. But it also left them with an extraordinary sense of national
solidarity. However, that national energy is being dissipated by a
government which instead of providing good governance is intent on damaging
partisan authority which is destroying the country.

It is not too late to change all that, to muster the collective energy
of our people and build the new Zimbabwe for all we promised during those
long years of suffering and struggle.

* The late Joshua Nkomo is former vice-president of Zimbabwe.

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