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From prosperity to abject misery: how a nation is dying on its feet

The Times
March 24, 2007

The graveyards of Zimbabwe are the only places blossoming under Robert
Mugabe's evil gaze
Martin Fletcher in Harare
Teksure and Silibaziso Gumbo weep as they tell their story from the safety
of a walled church compound in the township of Mbare in southern Harare.
Their house was torn down when President Mugabe launched Operation
Murambatsvina (Drive Out Trash) in 2005 to raze slum areas that were
opposition strongholds.

Mr Mugabe then banned street vendors, destroying Teksure's livelihood. He no
longer dares to sell groundnuts because, like his six-year-old daughter
Sarudzai, he has Aids and cannot run from the police. The family lives in a
tiny shelter fashioned from plastic and corrugated iron, and lacking any
sanitation, on a patch of wasteland.

Sarudzai desperately needs sustenance but her parents can give her little
more than a daily bowl of sadza - the maize-meal porridge on which millions
of people in this desperate nation now survive. They have tried traditional
African medicines without success. They have taken her to the hospital five
times, but are turned away for lack of money. They went to the social
welfare office, but it had no paper to type up a hospital referral.
"Obviously she will die. It's heartbeaking. It's so painful," says Teksure.

Despite her suffering, this tragic little girl turns and waves goodbye to us
as she leaves.

Sarudzai's fate mirrors that of her country. The beauty of both has been
corrupted by something evil. In Zimbabwe's case that evil takes the form of
an octogenarian with outsize glasses who has destroyed a country that was
once the envy of Africa.

At first sight Harare still appears a modern, prosperous city. Potholes are
appearing in the roads, verges are uncut and some traffic lights no longer
work, but lush suburbs of affluent-looking homes radiate out from the city
centre's shimmering high-rise office blocks and there are expensive cars on
its broad avenues. It is an illusion. Zimbabwe is like a tree whose trunk
has been hollowed out by termites, leaving only a shell.

The world's highest inflation rate - officially 1,700 per cent but actually
higher - has rendered the currency, salaries and pensions almost worthless.
In the mid1970s £1 bought aproximately one Zimbabwean dollar: yesterday it
was buying 38,000 - or 38 million had Mr Mugabe not recently lopped three
noughts off; £100 gets you a wad of notes the size of a small brick. There
are new SUVs and Mercedes on the roads only because saving is pointless: you
invest in anything that holds its value, so even cars have become a form of

The economy is shrinking faster than any on the planet. Life expectancy has
fallen one year for each year since independence in 1980, and is now the
lowest in the world at 37. More than a fifth of the population has left the
country - a rate of exodus that exceeds Iraq's. Eighty per cent are
unemployed, meaning more Zimbabweans now have jobs abroad than at home.
There are reckoned to be 4,000 more deaths than births each week.

The grim statistics roll on. Agricultural production has halved since Mr
Mugabe's thugs began seizing white farms in 2000. Commercial production of
maize has fallen from 810,000 tonnes to barely 200,000. More than 350,000
black agricultural workers have lost their jobs. Industry is operating at 28
per cent of its capacity.

Hunger stalks a land that used to be Africa's breadbasket. More than four
fifths of Zimbabweans live on less than £1 a day, and two fifths are
suffering from malnutrition. Many survive only on remittances from relatives
abroad. These amount to somewhere between £12.5 to £50 million a month, but
unfortunately they help the Government as well by damping down popular anger
and providing hard currency.

Aids is rampant. The official rate is about 20 per cent, but a senior doctor
in Bulawayo, the second city, said it was 80 per cent in some rural areas
and 90 per cent in some military barracks. The disease kills 3,500 a week,
and a quarter of Zimbabwe's children - more than a million - are Aids

The human suffering behind those figures is everywhere apparent: in the
gaunt faces, in the rows of freshly dug graves in the Luvere cemetery in
Bulawayo, in the pathetic piles of produce women hawk beside the empty
highways, in the lines of people walking or hitch-hiking into cities because
bus fares now exceed their wages. Some work for food or fuel, not money.

From country roads you see great tracts of farmland reverting to nature, or
parched fields of shrivelled maize. The corridors of Agriculture House, the
grand headquarters of the Commercial Farmers Union, are almost sepulchral.
More than 3,000 farmers used to attend the CFU's annual conference. Last
year fewer than 100 did. The 500 or so whites still farming - of an original
4,500 - are still battling eviction, though Mr Mugabe has unwittingly
highlighted just how critical they are to Zimbabwe's economy.

The Bulawayo doctor said that the country's health service was facing a
"desperate crisis". People could no longer afford to visit hospitals where
items as basic as intravenous fluids were almost unobtainable. Eighty per
cent of newly qualified doctors left immediately to work abroad, and
standards were plummeting as the Government rushed to replace them. "I
fluctuate between wanting to throw in the towel and thinking that if I do it
will be even worse," the doctor said.

Paupers' burials in mass graves are becoming increasingly common. In Mbare a
broken young man named Leroy Manyonda told us, in barely a whisper, how he
could not afford to bury his wife when she died of meningitis, so he fled
with his two-year-old daughter. They lived on the streets until his daughter
died of dysentery. He buried her in woodland by night.

Oskar Wermter, a German Jesuit priest in Harare, says the destitute are
taking dying relatives to hospitals under false names, and failing to
collect bodies from mortuaries. That is remarkable because "in traditional
African culture not to bury your relatives properly is monstrous and exposes
you to enormous danger because the unburied person becomes an avenging

Also in Mbare, Agnes James, 38, told us how she lost her house in Operation
Murambatsvina and her husband died of tuberculosis. She now sells her body
for Z$10,000 (less than 30p) a time to feed her two children. Many clients
refuse to wear condoms. Some do not pay. She is ashamed, and terrified of
Aids, but says: "There is nothing I can do." A pretty 16-year-old orphan
named Tatenda Banda said she was selling herself to six men a day for the
same price.

In Hatcliffe Extension, another township razed by Operation Murambatsvina, I
met a 75-year-old man who had lost four of his six children to Aids. He and
his wife were raising 11 grandchildren in a one-room shelter. They slept on
hard earth, ate one meal a day and survived on handouts.

Just when we thought we could find nothing worse, we were taken to a vast,
stinking rubbish dump outside Bulawayo where hundreds of people scavenge for
food and rags. They live in makeshift shelters in the surrounding bush and
get water from a stream. John Ncube, 55, is one of the skeletal inhabitants
of that hellish, fly-infested place. He is raising four children in a
shelter made from asbestos sheets recovered from the dump. He scours the
dump for bottles, which he sells for Z$100 - a fraction of a penny. He finds
a bottle every couple of days. His best find, he told us, was the filthy,
ragged T-shirt he was wearing.

It is not only black Zimbabweans who are suffering. Whites without access to
foreign currency are also being reduced to poverty. One afternoon a
14-year-old girl named Kristy and her 11-year-old brother, Ray, walked up
the drive of our Harare guesthouse. They were begging. Their family had been
thrown out of their flat because they could not afford the rent.

Another afternoon we drove about 40 miles out of Harare to a remote
agricultural college to meet Dirk Buitendag and his wife, Maxi, so crippled
with arthritis that she can barely walk.

For more than 40 years Mr Buitendag ran a 930-hectare farm that employed
nearly 200 people and was a model of its kind. He abandoned it in July 2002
after five attacks by Mr Mugabe's war veterans. "We decided our lives were
not worth a farm," he said. The Buitendags gave their two sons their foreign
currency so they could emigrate. They believed they could survive on their
pension and savings, but both were consumed by inflation.

Mr Buitendag once went back to his farm to find the house stripped bare,
barns sold for scrap, trees felled and fields abandoned. "It's
heartbreaking. They have destroyed everything."

Now, at 78, he has gone back to work as the college's stockman. He earns
Z$460,000 before tax - less than £7.50 - but the job comes with a tiny house
and use of a vehicle. They use friends' cast-off furniture and rely on
remittances from their sons for food. Their only indulgence is an occasional
glass of whisky.

Mrs Buitendag needs a spinal operation costing Z$16 million, and her husband
has turned to the Farm Families Trust, which helps about 50 destitute former
farmers. "It's the first time in my life we have ever accepted charity," he
said. "We were well off once, but now we are beggars."

Life and death

85% probability of dying between 15 and 60

12% probability of dying before the age of 5

£23.50 annual government health spending per person

180,000 Aids-related deaths a year

160,000 children with HIV

1.1 million Aids orphans

8% of HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral treatment

Sources: UN, WHO

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Zimbabwe Police Shut Down Office Of Harare Residents Association


      By Patience Rusere
      23 March 2007

Zimbabwean security officials on Friday shut down the offices of the
Combined Harare Residents Association, sources in the civic organization

CHRA spokesman Precious Shumba said dozens of plain-clothes police
surrounded the group's offices in downtown Harare. The group staged a
demonstration Tuesday at the offices of the non-elected commission that
governs Harare, and he said since then members have been receiving
threatening phone calls and visits from police.

Shumba told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
security officials warned of further trouble if civic activists continued
their activities.

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Mugabe denies his rule in Zimbabwe is ending; critics renew calls for him to be ousted

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 23, 2007

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe dismissed
claims Friday that his rule was in its last throes while a longtime critic
renewed calls for a peaceful campaign to oust him.

Vice President Joyce Mujuru and South African Deputy President Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka, meanwhile, met in what was described as a private visit.

It followed a threat by the Zimbabwean government to clamp down on
reporters, telling foreign correspondents not to engage in peddling false
stories on security issues.

Addressing a convention of the ruling ZANU-PF's women's league and youth
members in Harare, Mugabe dismissed claims that his people and forces were
no longer loyal, state television reported.

He said that those that are power-hungry in the party must be patient and
that the future of leadership of the country would decided by Zimbabweans,
it reported.

Mugabe, 83, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 27 years since independence, is under
increasing pressure to step down. Tensions are said to be rising in his
party over his succession, which could topple him faster than street battles
with a reinvigorated and determined political opposition.
The report also said Mugabe dismissed opposition claims that he and his
government were on their final push, saying that at his age and with his
experience he could not be pushed.

"The opposition is always calling for change, change, change. I am not pink.
I don't want a pink nose. I can't change. I don't want to be European. I
want to be African," he said.

Mugabe said the west was supporting the opposition in the use of violence to
re-colonize Zimbabwe, the report said.

"They want our gold, our platinum, our land. These are ours forever," he
said. "I will stand and fight for our rights of sovereignty. We fought for
our country to be free. These resources will remain ours forever. Let this
be understood to those in London."

Mugabe said police used minimum force to stop the March 11 meeting in which
opposition activists were allegedly assaulted by police and warned political
leaders "if you are a violent man you will meet more violence from the

South Africa's foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the visit
between Mujuru and Mlambo-Ngcuka was a private one, the South African Press
Association reported.

"The vice president of Zimbabwe is on a private visit to South Africa and
therefore it is not on an official diary," he said.

A local television station,, showed footage of Mujuru at the plush
Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg. She declined to answer a reporter's

Mujuru and her husband, the powerful former army commander Gen. Solomon
Mujuru, are leaders of one of the factions vying for succession in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe's choice of Mujuru as one of two vice presidents was seen as favoring
her faction, but there has been a chill in relations as the debate in the
party intensifies.

Earlier, Zimbabwean Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, repeated a
call for street protests he had made a day earlier in an appearance before a
gathering of clerics, pro-democracy activists and diplomats in Harare.

"This dictator must be brought down right now," Ncube said at a meeting of
the Solidarity Peace Trust, headed by church leaders and working for human
rights in Zimbabwe. "If we can get 30,000 on the streets then Mugabe will
come down. I am ready to lead it. But my wish is to avoid violence."

Ncube has long been an ardent critic of Mugabe but efforts by him in the
past to rally Zimbabweans have not led to mass protests. His latest comments
come at a time when the opposition appears particularly determined.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of a Zimbabwean opposition faction, told a trade
union meeting in Johannesburg that events of the last few weeks had unified
the opposition and supported calls for further protests in Zimbabwe.

"We are going to drive Mugabe out of power through collaboration and working
together." Mutambara said.

Meanwhile, foreign reporters were told to beware of authorities and avoid
opposition politicians, state radio and television reported Friday.

The Zimbabwean media singled out the U.S. network CNN for what it called
biased reports on political unrest and on the alleged assault and torture
earlier this month of opposition leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change.

Earlier this week, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the United States was
interviewed on CNN. Machivenyika Mapuranga said a ban on allowing CNN
reporters into Zimbabwe would continue, saying the broadcaster and the
British Broadcasting Corp. "champion the imperialist interests of the
British and the Americans." CNN anchor Michael Holmes responded: "Reporting
the comments of other governments is not acting on their behalf; it's

In a statement, the Information Ministry said CNN's editorial policy "echoed
the United States government's policy of regime change in Zimbabwe."

Both state television and radio have harshly criticized CNN's Africa
correspondent, Jeff Koinange, now doing most of his reporting on Zimbabwe
from outside the country.

"Sadly, CNN has embedded itself within such a treacherous imperialist policy
... it can no longer validate its claim to be a trusted source of accurate
and balanced news opinion," the statement said.

Four foreign journalists have been expelled under sweeping media laws
enforced since 2003. The British Broadcasting Corp. is officially banned.
Scores of independent local journalists have been assaulted or arrested and
jailed under the media laws.


Associated Press Writer Brandon Reed contributed to this report

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Some Medical Staff Back on Strike at Zimbabwe Government Hospitals


      By Carole Gombakomba
      23 March 2007

Some staff at Zimbabwe government hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo have gone
on strike again. Sources said supporting staff at Parirenyatwa Hospital,
Harare, stopped work this week over salaries - the lowest paid earn Z$40,000
(US$2) a month.

Derek Mangoya, who represents junior residents at United Bulawayo Hospital,
said junior and senior residents, nurses, and other staff walked off the job
Thursday when their pay slips indicated that their salaries had been cut in

Harare Hospital sources said some residents received as little as Z$17,000
while others received up to Z$700,000 - still less than the settlement
reached last month of a strike by residents that lasted for 10 weeks,
crippling the state health system.

Hospital Doctors Association President Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa said more than
100 junior and senior residents at Parirenyatwa were not paid at all this
month, prompting some to stay home.Many of those still on the job have
launched a work slowdown.

Nyamutukwa told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that conditions in government hospitals are now chaotic because there has
been no explanation from the government as to why payrolls were disrupted.

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Talkin' About a Revolution

Fahamu (Oxford)

March 22, 2007
Posted to the web March 23, 2007


Sokwanele present a moving and shocking account of last week's brutal attack
on Zimbabwean pro-democracy activists, the 'Save Zimbabwe Campaign', by
Mugabe's government forces.

A week ago, Zimbabwean pro democracy activists, campaigners, political
leaders and supporters tried to attend a rally in Harare, organised by the
Save Zimbabwe Campaign. Their purpose was to come together and collectively,
peacefully, protest against the terrible conditions in Zimbabwe. The
government's forces were lying in wait for them.

Riot police surrounded the venue and many of those trying to attend were
arrested en masse. Gift Tandare, a young NCA and MDC activist was killed,
shot by the police, whilst running to escape. Those taken to Machipisa were
viciously tortured and many suffered serious injuries. In fact, the attacks
were so brutal and callous, that those being beaten struggled to comprehend
the enormity of what was actually taking place. Tendai Biti, who witnessed
the attack on Morgan Tsvangirai, described the experience as 'like being in
an old bad violent movie, surreal, but where you find that you are one of
the actors'.

International audiences learned of all these atrocities within a relatively
short space of time, the news spreading like wildfire through the
international media; images and interviews prompting analyses, comment and
endless interpretation. By the time the news - our news - filtered through
Zimbabwe, it was already 'old news' in neighbouring countries and abroad.
Zimbabweans held hostage by Robert Mugabe's repressive AIPPA laws (Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act) struggled for information and

Tracey Chapman famously informed us in song that 'Talkin' about a revolution
sounds like whisper". Zimbabweans could add that 'talking about a revolution
looks like an sms message'. The first message I received from Harare read
'mass arrests @ rally. 1 killed. lots beaten by police. v v bad. r u ok
where u r?' It was the first of many sms messages that day. The details of
our collective experience filtered down slowly via texts, emails, and phone
calls from concerned family and friends in the diaspora who have blissful
access to extensive information.

Those involved with, or on the fringes of, activist work benefit from a
network of trusted friends who freely share their information among
themselves. Those outside the network, occupied with the daily business of
trying to survive in Zimbabwe, exchange the information they have in guarded
language - eager to find out more, but careful or fearful of whom they can
trust. The majority of people in Zimbabwe do not have the luxury of an
internet connection or a cell phone, and they rely on second or third hand
information, constantly re-cycled and checked. On their way to work they
walk pas newspaper billboards broadcasting disinformation and blatant lies.
If they are lucky enough to have a radio, the state controlled media brings
more of the same to their ears.

On Monday 12 March, the day after the torture and assaults, The Chronicle's
headline was 'Mugabe ready to stand in 2008 poll'. On Tuesday, as the news
started to trickle down, the headline changed to 'State warns MDC against
lawlessness'. The article emotively and deceptively informed its readers:

'Tsvangirai and Mutambara were actually commanding (hooligans) using
children as shields". Wednesday's headline: "Suspected cop killer appears in

On Thursday, the propaganda machine kicked in with an article titled 'Govt
warns MDC on violence'. A lengthy article consisting mostly of quotes by
Zanu PF Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, ducked all
mention of torture by deftly sweeping it under a sentence that described the
police action as an 'appropriate response from officers of law and order'.
The images of Morgan Tsvangirai with a swollen battered face, so widely
circulated in the international media, have still not been seen by the
majority of people in our country. But by Thursday, a tiny minority of
Zimbabweans with DSTV subscriptions had seen the footage and images on their
screens of the government's barbarity - most notably in the 24 hour news
programmes (BBC World, Sky News and CNN International) - and the detailed
descriptions will have started filtering down. Note the channels that
horrified Dr Ndlovu the most; note too how any condemnation of violence and
brutality is re-written in the Zanu PF lexicon to be an 'unconditional
statement of support' for the opposition:

'Government has noted with utter dismay the unconditional statements of
support to the violent MDC by a number of western governments, including
those of Britain, America and New Zealand. It also notes the role played by
big western media networks, led by the British Broadcasting Corporation and
Cable News Network, in seeking to absolve and whitewash the MDC from obvious
and inescapable blame of public violence.'

Information threatens Mugabe. Days after the attacks, Grace Kwinje and Sekai
Holland were prevented from leaving the country to receive specialist
medical attention on the spurious grounds that they required a letter from
the ministry of health granting permission to leave Zimbabwe; Arthur
Mutambara was arrested while trying to leave Zimbabwe to visit his wife in
South Africa. Violence was shamelessly used to stop Nelson Chamisa from
attending an EU-ACP meeting in Brussels - he was viciously attacked at
Harare International Airport by men with iron bars.

This is the Zanu PF regime's way of silencing their voices. Kept within the
country, their first hand accounts of torture and brutality can be moderated
by limited access to the international media. Outside the country, the press
would be queuing up to interview and speak to them.

The fight for information is key to the looming non-violent revolution in
Zimbabwe. A colleague described how she had watched the BBC News footage
with all her friends and associates assembled together. The footage
concluded with a statement by one of the opposition leaders that Zimbabweans
were angry and ready to take action. There was silence in the room until
someone said, 'I'm ready, but how?'

'How' to get the message of the revolution to the people is one of the
biggest challenges facing the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, how to synchronously
organise and mobilise a nation from within an information vacuum.
Information will also help ensure a non-violent revolution; chaos is
Mugabe's friend and his excuse. Ordinary Zimbabwean can help too. The
message to them is to be less careful, to share information more freely. If
you have not signed up to mailing lists delivering information by email,
then do so now. Share with others. Print out articles and images and leave
them in a public toilet as reading matter for the next occupier of the

Think about how we can collectively fill the silence with sound.

Zimbabweans are ready. The initial shock at the brutality is wearing off and
has been replaced with outrage and anger at the regime's vicious tactics.
Perhaps the single most important outcome from the recent events are the
strong messages of unity emanating from the opposition movement. Morgan
Tsvangirai has said:

'They [...] brutalised my flesh. But they will never break my spirit. I will
soldier on until Zimbabwe is free" and Arthur Mutumbara has said: "I can
assure Robert Mugabe that this is the end game. We are going to do it by
democratic means, by being beaten up and by being arrested - but we are
going to do it.'

Unified messages like these reinvigorate hope and bolster flagging spirits.
The excessive violence was designed to instil fear in the population and to
intimidate the opposition leaders. But by being so extreme, Robert Mugabe
also revealed his fragile position, and for the first time looked weakened.
Rather than being his usual despotic self, using dirty tactics to stay
one-step ahead, Mugabe looks increasingly like a crazed dictator cornered
and fighting his last fight. He is a man surrounded by battles and by
enemies he has created for himself. They are coming at him from within his
own party, from the opposition, from Zimbabwe's civil society, and from the
international community; but, his biggest enemy is the economy.

People who are struggling to survive, talk openly and endlessly about their
daily battle to feed, educate and care for their families. People who are
careful about 'talkin about a revolution' are less careful about talking
about the internal succession battle within the Zanu PF party. We are
looking for someone to be accountable for our misery. The combination of
poverty, Zanu PF conflicts and outrage at the torture inflicted on our
leaders has left ordinary Zimbabweans feeling a little more emboldened.

Mugabe is famous for once saying: 'absolute power is when a man is starving
and you are the only one able to give him food'. But what happens to the
person holding the reins of power when the food runs out and the cupboard is

Mugabe is on the brink of finding out.

* Sowkwanele - This is Zimbabwe is a Civil Action Support Group based in
Zimbabwe. In order to protect themselves under the repressive brutal regime
of Robert Mugabe they have to remain annoymous.

* Please send comments to or comment online at

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Mugabe and Mabira

New Vision, Uganda

Friday, 23rd March, 2007

John Nagenda


Surely the best news out of Africa this week is that there seem to be
tangible signs that Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, 83, seems at long last
to be approaching the end of his bloody reign.

It might prove yet another mirage, of which there have been too many, but
along the principle of a trickle of water growing into a mighty wave far
from its source, this might suggest that the Mugabe edifice will soon crash
to the ground.

Even if it took, say, another whole year, the sweetness would not be
significantly less. Starting some years ago, this column became engrossed at
what had happened to Comrade Mugabe. He had, more than two decades before,
first come to public prominence (during the times of Sithole, Muzorewa,
Nkomo; to say nothing of the dreadful Smith).

It did not take long realising that here was the man destined to carry the
torch forward; as indeed he was. Never mind that Smith had said that Black
Rule would never happen in hundreds (or was it thousands?) of years, if
ever. He had not learnt never to say never!

Mugabe started off well; in fact more than that. And then rumours started
filtering through of dreadful things happening to his competitor Nkomo's
Bulawayo stronghold, headed by North Korean "trainers". For a time it was
easier, more politically expedient, to dismiss them as propaganda.

I was chilled to the marrow, sometime in '79, on my first visit to India
(with my brother Stephen) to be told by a couple of Zimbabwean girl students
(one a niece of Muzorewa's) that these rumours were deadly true. In the
years that followed this became increasingly clear, reaching the crescendo
we are now witnessing.

About four years ago I wrote that Mugabe was a disgrace to his family, his
country, Africa and the Black world. On another occasion, that God in his
wisdom should do the right thing (by calling him to his better chambers),
thus saving Zimbabwe from total catastrophe. Is this now coming about in the
nick of time?

In the end I became bored, as I am sure my readers also, at repeating
myself. But when you see a leader of the Opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, and
countless others, beaten to a pulp by Mugabean forces; worst of all when you
see a woman leader, 64-year old Sekai Holland, savaged into a destroyed mass
in a hospital bed, then it is time to risk boring again.

Incidentally, I hope investigations being carried out on the alleged
battering of a Uganda lawyer at the High Court in the famous "stand-off"
recently, will, if true, result in the strong punishment of those
responsible, if convicted. The lawyer one day, poor Ms Holland the next! I
regret not having come out strongly enough last week regarding the High
Court violence, no matter the capital being earned out of the incident by a
combination of the usual suspects!

Usually I would, rightly, snort and sneer at those who flee into the apron
strings of the Mighty Donors, but in the case of the Zimbabwe ex Army
Commander currently cultivating them vigorously, I will close an eye.
Reports say it has made President Mugabe, for the first time in a long
period, lose his sleep at what this spells to his continued stay in State
House. Halleluiah (Praise the Lord)!

I am crossing my fingers to believe it is not already too late for him to do
the right thing even at this latest of hours. He should abdicate, gaining
fantastically comfortable exile in, say, DR ("Dear") Congo, or South Africa;
thus perhaps minimising the tornado headed his way.

He took risks as a true freedom fighter, which he was, for the good of
Zimbabwe (and Africa); let him do the same again, in the same cause. Failing
which, may God's avenging fires consume him.
Call me heartless but I couldn't help clapping at the fate of the South
African ex Minister of Health. There are strong questions in her country how
she was able to jump the queue to have an operation for her Hepatitis A
disease. This is the woman who in her pomp, during her country's backward
period of doing little for Aids sufferers, suggested a cure of aubergine
cooked in garlic. How brainless!

I really hope she follows, Aids or not, her own sage (pun intended) menu,
and not waste time on operations! We started with the best news out of
Africa, here's arguably the worst.

Wednesday's Vision carried the heart-churning headline: CABINET GIVES AWAY
MABIRA. Even if not already signed, the likelihood is that cabinet will
again cave in. (Incidentally, who bags the felled forest money?!)

Setting aside technical procrastination, or even word-games, this game is
nearly over. But awful though that is, and catastrophic as it might prove,
the worst nightmare is that it is being done without the deepest research
necessary. This foolhardy approach is like basing a science on a whim.

Waiting for the absolutely crucial research, widely available worldwide,
would not stop the Sugar Barons turning our revered forests into their sugar
(pun intended); if the research showed it to be propitious.

Why has cabinet not made allowances for this; what is its fear? Where is the
sense in cutting down ancient forests and planting brand new ones; are we

Uganda is embarking on a terrifying journey shrouded in mystery, and
possibly posing the greatest of lasting dangers. Ask the Sahara Desert! Only
parliament now stands between us and people-imposed catastrophe. Parliament
must turn it down.

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The Crisis in Zimbabwe: How the U.S. Should Respond

The Heritage Foundation
March 23, 2007
WebMemo #1407

The United States and human rights NGOs have sought to raise international awareness of the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan and spur international action to address the situation. This effort is warranted but should not distract from the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, which has also caused great suffering and a large refugee population.

In a ruthless, seven-year campaign to maintain political power, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has targeted his opponents for abuse, legal harassment, and economic punishment. At the same time, he has used his authority to reward allies and elicit support from the police, the military, and other key groups. These policies have resulted in a precipitous economic decline, political repression, and humanitarian crisis rivaling that in Darfur. Recent attacks on opposition party leaders have drawn worldwide attention. The United States should strengthen its existing sanctions on Zimbabwe and press other nations and international organizations to ratchet up pressure on Mugabe and his supporters.

History of a Crisis

Spurred by a decades-long civil war and economic sanctions, the government of Rhodesia accepted a series of agreements in 1979 that led to the establishment of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, one of the leaders of the Zimbabwean independence effort, became Zimbabwe's first prime minister in 1980 and president in 1987. He has been the country's sole leader since it gained independence.

In its first decade, Zimbabwe achieved steady economic growth while pursuing efforts to recover from the civil war and provide education, health care, and other governmental services. But by the mid-1990s, inflation, unemployment, and growing political repression led to discontent, protests, and the formation of the first major opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in 1999. The MDC achieved its first major victory when its campaign managed to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have "legalized the president's continued rule, made government officials immune from prosecution, and allowed uncompensated seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers."[1] The MDC capitalized on this victory by winning nearly half the seats of parliament in the 2000 election despite numerous efforts by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to influence the election in its favor.

Stung by the first substantial challenge to his power in 20 years of ruling Zimbabwe, Mugabe has employed increasingly brutal tactics to intimidate and undermine the political opposition. According to the State Department 2006 Human Rights Report:

The ruling party's dominant control and manipulation of the political process through intimidation and corruption effectively negated the right of citizens to change their government. Unlawful killings and politically motivated kidnappings occurred. The state sanctioned the use of excessive force and torture, and security forces tortured members of the opposition, union leaders, and civil society activists…. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists, demonstrators, and religious leaders; lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Executive influence and interference in the judiciary were problems. The government continued to forcibly evict citizens and to demolish homes. The government continued to use repressive laws to suppress freedom of speech, press, assembly, movement, association, and academic freedom. Government corruption and impunity remained widespread. High ranking government officials made numerous public threats of violence against demonstrators.[2]

According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, there were 368 incidents of torture from January through November 2006, over 500 politically motivated assaults, and 11 politically motivated abductions/kidnappings.[3] Other, specific examples of political repression include these:

  • Both the presidential election in 2002 and the parliamentary elections in 2005 were deemed "neither free nor fair" by international observers and resulted in President Robert Mugabe's and the ruling ZANU-PF party's continued political domination of Zimbabwe. Election observers reported numerous incidents of intimidation and abuse against opposition supporters.[4]
  • The government launched Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Trash) in May 2005. The operation was ostensibly intended to remove illegal housing settlements but, in reality, operated as a program of political intimidation and retaliation against poor, urban supporters of the political opposition. Over 700,000 people lost their homes or livelihoods due to Operation Murambatsvina.[5]
  • Earlier this year, the government imposed a blanket ban on political rallies from February 20 until May 20.[6] On March 11, government troops arrested dozens of MDC members and severely beat opposition activists who attended a Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting. Those injured included MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, and one man was killed.[7] Zimbabwean police also stormed the offices of Zimbabwe's labor movement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and harassed and assaulted staff while seizing documents, files, and videotapes.[8] British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew Pocock called the latest political attacks "ghastly and barbaric."[9] United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned Mugabe's regime as "ruthless and repressive."[10] U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the attacks as violations of "the basic democratic right of citizens to engage in peaceful assembly" and called on "the authorities to allow peaceful assembly and to provide a space for the exercise of legitimate political rights."[11]

Despite international criticism, the political attacks continued. Mugabe responded to foreign critics by telling them to "go hang" and threatened to throw Western ambassadors out of the country for interfering in its internal affairs.[12]

These latest incidents of repression follow years of mismanagement by Mugabe's government that have left the country in crisis.

Economic Collapse

When Mugabe assumed leadership of Zimbabwe in 1980, he inherited well-developed manufacturing and mining sectors, a competitive agricultural sector, a thriving tourist industry, and sound infrastructure. The country has rich mineral deposits of asbestos, chromite, coal, copper, diamonds and other gems, gold, iron ore, nickel, and platinum. To solidify his hold on power, Mugabe has pursued a number of policies over the past decade that have crippled the Zimbabwean economy.

Seizures and Redistribution of Farmland. Considered the breadbasket of Africa only a decade ago, Zimbabwe is now unable to feed itself and regularly appeals to international programs for food aid. Zimbabwe's agricultural success resulted from its modern, large-scale commercial farms. These farms were largely owned by white Zimbabweans, many of whom supported the MDC. Beginning in 2000, Mugabe's administration began forcibly seizing commercial farms owned by white Zimbabweans. The stated aims of this program was to redistribute land to black Zimbabweans, but most of the land ended up in the hands of Mugabe's supporters. According to the Department of State,

Implementation of the government's ongoing redistribution of expropriated, white owned, commercial farms substantially favored the ruling party elite and continued to lack transparency. Top ruling party officials continued to hand pick multiple farms and register them in the names of family members to evade the government's one farm policy. The government continued to allow individuals aligned with top officials to seize land not designated for acquisition.

The land redistribution program has effectively destroyed Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture sector. Large farms were broken up into smaller, less profitable plots and given to individuals with little experience in farming. Production plummeted. Production of tobacco, previously the largest export crop, fell from 2 million kilograms in 2000 to 60,000 kilograms in 2006.[13] Production of corn, the country's primary grain, has fallen sharply since 2000, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Zimbabwe will produce just 850,000 tons of corn this year, less than half of its domestic needs.[14]

Irresponsible Monetary Policy and Rampant Inflation. Inflation has exceeded 1,000 percent since April 2006, and the country now has the highest rate of inflation in the world. In March 2007, Zimbabwe's inflation rate rose to 1,729 percent,[15] and the International Monetary Fund predicts it will top 4,000 percent by the end of the year.[16] Inflation has impoverished the working population, whose wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of basic necessities like food, cooking oil, and clothing. Doctors and nurses have been on strike seeking a pay raise of nearly 9,000 percent. Teachers staged a work slowdown despite a raise of 300 percent in January and succeeded in winning a 400 percent raise in February.[17] Some workers find that their daily wages are taken up by bus fare to and from work.[18] Yet, as noted by The Daily Telegraph, "It takes only a few weeks for the value of every pay rise given to civil servants to be wiped out. But the bankrupt regime can only cover the cost of further wage rises by printing money—which fuels inflation still further and creates pressure for yet more pay increases."[19] Local governments cannot meet budgets or provide basic services, and with prices soaring, businesses are unable to afford raw materials.

Disastrous Economic Policies. Zimbabwe maintains an official exchange rate of Z$250 to US$1, but the unofficial exchange market trades at Z$7,000 to the US$1 or even lower.[20] Zimbabwe's government ran a deficit of 43 percent of GDP in 2006, and the economy shrunk by over 7 percent in 2005.[21] The government maintains subsidies and price controls for key commodities, including gasoline, bread, agricultural seeds, fertilizer, and other basic goods, and for favored sectors of the economy.[22] The government recently announced that all prices are to be frozen from March 1 to June 30 and that anyone raising prices will be arrested and punished.[23] As a result of these policies, Zimbabwe has experienced persistent shortages of foreign exchange, fuel, and food. Black markets, which can evade the price restrictions, have flourished.

In addition, Mugabe has seized or encouraged his supporters to impede businesses owned by political opponents and threatened to nationalize entire sectors of the economy without compensation. This process is already underway. In 2006, Mugabe announced that the government intended to expropriate 51 percent of all mines without providing any compensation. In an effort to clamp down on private mining, the government arrested as many as 20,000 miners in late 2006 and early 2007.[24] Most recently, Mugabe announced plans for the government to take control of Zimbabwe's diamond mines.[25]

Land expropriation, obviation of property rights, and unrealistic price controls and exchange rates have led the economy to contract every year since 1998 and by 34 percent overall between 1998 and 2005 in constant terms.[26] Per-capita GDP has fallen by 38 percent over that period, from $675 to $422.[27] An estimated 30 percent of Zimbabwe's population lived in poverty in 1999; today, over 80 percent are believed to live in poverty.[28] Direct foreign investment is non-existent, and the unemployment rate exceeds 80 percent.[29]

Humanitarian Disaster.Mugabe's economic and political policies have had a dire effect on the people of his country. Most immediately, the government land redistribution program has devastated agricultural production, and Zimbabwe, which once exported food crops, is now dependent on international food assistance to avoid starvation. Five million Zimbabweans received food assistance in the first quarter of 2006.[30] According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, "In November 2006, more than 3,000 [metric tons] of food was distributed to at least 500,000 people [by the World Food Programme and its partners]…. The Zimbabwe vulnerability assessment estimates that about 1.4 million rural people will not have sufficient entitlements with which to access adequate food during the peak hunger period…."[31] UNICEF estimates that up to 2 million people are vulnerable to starvation.[32] Worse, numerous sources report that food aid is being distributed by the Mugabe government to reward supporters and punish those who support the opposition.

The government's Operation Murambatsvina demolition of informal housing and markets directly rendered 700,000 urban Zimbabweans homeless or unemployed. Fully 70 percent of the urban population may have lost shelter or employment. In addition, over 2 million (more than 15 percent of Zimbabwe's population) are believed to have been indirectly affected from loss of customers, employees, or markets.[33] The government told those affected to "return to their rural origins," even though most had no such home to which they could return. Indeed, many had initially become homeless when the government sanctioned the seizure of commercial farms.[34] Reports indicate that forced eviction continued into December 2006.

Zimbabwe, which once had one of the best health care systems in Africa, now has the world's lowest life expectancy at less than 37 years—a drastic fall from the life expectancy of 62 years in 1990.[35] An estimated 42,000 women died from childbirth in Zimbabwe in 2006, over 40 times the figure in the mid-1990s.[36] According to UNICEF, one in four children are orphans.[37] Zimbabwe also has a significant HIV/AIDS problem; the disease infects an estimated 18 percent of the population. Most Zimbabweans are unable to afford medical care or are unable to obtain medicines due to the lack of foreign exchange, strikes by doctors and nurses, and shrinking incomes.

In addition, the lack of resources has forced the government to abandon vital public services. Power is erratic in parts of the country due to strikes over pay and an inability to maintain generators. Harare's sewage treatment plant broke down in January 2007, causing 50 percent of the city's raw sewage to be dumped into the main reservoir. As a result, cases of cholera are rising.[38]

Perhaps most telling is the fact that over 3 million Zimbabweans—a quarter of Zimbabwe's entire population and a majority of the working age population—have chosen to flee the country for neighboring South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique.[39] This refugee population is equivalent to the number that have fled the Darfur region of Sudan and is actually much higher as a percentage of the population. It has also imposed a substantial burden on the other countries in the region. Botswana has built a fence along the border in order to stem the flow of Zimbabweans and tightened border checks on people seeking to enter Botswana.[40] South Africa has been struggling to cope with an estimated 3 million Zimbabweans believed to be in the country and deported an average of 12,000 Zimbabweans per month in 2006.[41]


The situation in Zimbabwe ranks among the world's worst government-created humanitarian disasters. Tragically for the Zimbabweans still in the country and those who have been forced to flee, the world has failed to give the situation as much attention as it has to other crises. As noted by the Financial Times:

The persistence of the crisis has dulled international senses to the looming danger that it could yet get far worse. South African and other regional leaders remain reluctant to weigh into issues that Mr Mugabe has cleverly manipulated around race. And there are signs in Europe of weakening resolve to isolate his regime. The United Nations has itself dropped attempts at promoting a more orderly post-Mugabe transition. It is time to end the hand-wringing and start constructing incentives for change.[42]

Recent media attention following the assault and arrest of opposition party leaders has shaken this complacency and focused the world's attention on Zimbabwe. The U.S. should take advantage of this moment to increase pressure on Mugabe.

Strengthen and Expand U.S. Sanctions. The U.S. has been strongly critical of the Mugabe regime. For instance, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Zimbabwe an "outpost of tyranny" during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[43] The U.S. has suspended all non-humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe in response to Mugabe's repressive policies, but the U.S. does provide food aid and disaster relief, HIV/AIDS funds, and assistance for democracy promotion.[44] It is a legitimate question whether these funds can achieve their objective while Mugabe is in power—a key example being the allegations of politicized distribution of food aid. The U.S. should reconsider all assistance to Zimbabwe that is open to manipulation or distribution by the government.

The U.S. has also imposed targeted sanctions against top Zimbabwean officials and "those who formulate, implement, or benefit from policies that undermine or injure Zimbabwe's democratic institutions or impede the transition to a multi-party democracy" since 2002 and prohibits the sale of military items and services to Zimbabwe.[45] Since 2003, the U.S. has added to the list of Zimbabwean individuals and entities whose assets owned or held in the U.S. are frozen by executive order; currently the list includes 128 individuals and 33 entities.[46] President Bush extended these sanctions and restrictions for a year on March 1, 2007, explaining:

I took this action to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions. These actions have contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe, politically motivated violence and intimidation, and political and economic instability in the southern African region.[47]

Following the crackdown on MDC leaders, State Department spokesman Tom Casey indicated that the U.S. was considering additional sanctions. One way to enhance the targeted sanctions would be to apply the travel ban, which currently extends only to spouses, to the families of Mugabe and others subject to existing sanctions and to extend the restrictions to more individuals in the Zimbabwean government. Another option is to adjust current sanctions, which permit U.S. importers and exporters to trade with Zimbabwe on most goods, to prohibit trade with Zimbabwe on selected items that benefit Mugabe, his associates, or his policies. Unilateral trade sanctions are usually ineffective but can send an important political signal.

Push for Stronger International Sanctions. Although the European Union has a travel ban and asset freeze in place on 125 Zimbabweans, Britain has announced that it plans to urge other EU members to adopt stronger sanctions on the Mugabe regime. According to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, "The Zimbabwean Government's continued brutal treatment of the opposition and recent actions show its total disregard for international law and the will of the international community…. We must look urgently at ramping up the pressure on these individuals."[48] The U.S. should support this effort.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have suspended lending to Zimbabwe for non-payment of arrears. The U.S. should oppose any effort to reinstate Zimbabwe as long as Mugabe remains in power.

The U.S. and the U.K. should also seek travel restrictions and other sanctions on Mugabe and his supporters in the United Nations Security Council. South Africa, which currently serves as president of the Security Council, rejected the possibility of considering the situation in Zimbabwe in the Security Council. According to the South African Ambassador to the United Nations Dumisani Khumalo, "We truly regret what's happening in Zimbabwe, but it's not the matter that belongs to the Security Council."[49] But the U.K. takes over the presidency in April and the U.S. assumes the presidency in May. Both countries should use this position to place the situation in Zimbabwe on the Council's agenda.[50]

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced on March 14 that the U.K. wants "the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into the situation in Zimbabwe urgently, and will be pushing for this in the coming days."[51] Hopefully, such action will take the form of a resolution condemning the government's abuses or a special session focusing on the situation in Zimbabwe. Such an action would signal that, despite its profoundly disappointing performance thus far, the Human Rights Council can overcome its weaknesses to address human rights crises.[52] The U.S. should support efforts to have the U.N. Human Rights Council take up the human rights violations occurring in Zimbabwe.

Press African Nations to Condemn Mugabe. Mugabe has been under severe criticism for years, mostly from Western countries, for mismanagement of his country's economy and human rights violations. However, this pressure has had little effect without support from Zimbabwe's neighbors. Indeed, Mugabe routinely rejects such criticism as "imperialist" or "colonial" intervention in Zimbabwe's affairs—a message that resonates in Africa.

Criticism also has had little influence in the United Nations, which is dominated by regional voting blocks and groups like the Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77. These groups often act to protect their members from scrutiny. Even countries from Latin America and Asia are unlikely to support resolutions condemning Mugabe or Zimbabwe unless some African countries sign on. Support from African nations, which usually support one another in international forums, is critical if proposals to apply pressure from the United Nations and other international institutions are to move forward. Without support from some African countries, efforts to condemn Zimbabwe in the U.N. General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the Human Rights Council, and other international bodies will likely fail.

In the past, African nations have demonstrated little interest in confronting Mugabe, who enjoys continent-wide respect as an elder statesman. The African approach is best illustrated by South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" initiative aimed at resolving the problems in Zimbabwe through negotiations and dialogue between the MDC and the government. South Africa continues to champion this initiative despite its ineffectiveness. There are signs, however, that patience among African nations is eroding after the latest crackdowns. In reaction to the arrests and beatings of MDC leaders, South Africa urged the "Zimbabwean government to ensure that the rule of law including respect for rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties is respected."[53] Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union, was more critical, calling the situation in Zimbabwe "very embarrassing" and stating that the African Union was doing all it could to help.[54]

The U.S. should work with individual African nations and the African Union to prevent reflexive support for Zimbabwe and help them recognize the necessity of holding Mugabe and his supporters accountable for the suffering of Zimbabweans.

Prepare for a Post-Mugabe Transition.President Mugabe's current term in office expires in 2008. Mugabe is reluctant to leave office and recently proposed extending his current term to 2010 or even running for another six-year term in 2008. However, support for Mugabe in Zimbabwe and within his own party is declining rapidly, and several influential ZANU-PF party officials are jockeying for the presidency.[55] There are indications of unrest among the broader population and within the armed forces, the police, and ZANU-PF. This raises the possibility of Mugabe's ouster.[56] Even if Mugabe is able to remain in office, he is an elderly man of more than 80 years and will eventually expire.

While the end of Mugabe's reign is long overdue, it will be no guarantee that his successor will prove more willing to support multi-party democracy or abandon the repressive economic and political policies that have led Zimbabwe into its current crisis. Mugabe's ouster or death could precipitate a chaotic period of instability with dire consequences for Southern Africa. The U.S. needs to have a plan in place to assist the transition of Zimbabwe to the post-Mugabe era. The first principle of such a strategy is a public statement that the U.S. will not recognize any successor to Mugabe unless he or she is the choice of the Zimbabwean people in a free and fair democratic election that permits participation by citizens living outside of the country. Any transition authority promising to facilitate such elections should be granted limited time to accomplish this goal, and the removal of sanctions and restrictions should be made contingent upon following through with steps toward a free election and the adoption of economic reforms necessary to alleviate the crisis. The U.S. should offer to assist this process financially and logistically. The U.S. should appropriate funds now so that they are available when needed to address instability in Zimbabwe and assist in the process of reintegrating refugees. It should also enter into discussions with Zimbabwe's neighbors to develop a coordinated strategy.


For nearly a decade, President Robert Mugabe has abused his authority to maintain his brutal stranglehold on power. He has bankrupted and ruined one of the most robust economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Political and economic repression under Mugabe have precipitated a humanitarian crisis that rivals the genocide in Darfur. While the United States has adopted targeted sanctions and pressed for the U.N. and the African Union to confront the ongoing crisis, little progress has been made.

But now attacks on opposition party leaders have focused international attention on the situation. The U.S. should seize this opportunity to strengthen sanctions against Zimbabwe, press for condemnation of the situation in Zimbabwe by the United Nations and the African Union, and achieve the adoption of international sanctions targeted at Mugabe and his political supporters in the Security Council. The U.S. should also begin to develop a plan to assist the transition of Zimbabwe to the post-Mugabe era to minimize the chaos and negative consequences for the region and the people of Zimbabwe.

Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

[1] Lauren Ploch, "Zimbabwe: Current Issues and U.S. Policy," CRS Report for Congress, March 13, 2007, summary and pp. 1–2.

[2] "Zimbabwe," Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, March 6, 2007, at

[3] Ploch, p. 15.

[4] Ibid., pp. 3–6.

[5] Ibid., pp. 15–20.

[6] Tony Hawkins, "Mugabe bans political rallies after clash," The Financial Times, February 22, 2007, p. 5.

[7] Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: Calls for investigation into killing of activist and release of peaceful protestors," Press Release, March 12, 2007, at

[8] Michael Wines, "50 Protesters Hospitalized in Zimbabwe After Beatings," The New York Times, March 14, 2007, p. A8.

[9] Basildon Peta, "Injured Tsvangirai vows to fight on for change in Zimbabwe," The Independent, March 14, 2007, at

[10] Tony Hawkins, "US warns Mugabe over clampdown on opposition," The Financial Times, March 14, 2007, p. 7.

[11] "Secretary-General Urges Release of Detained, Beaten Zimbabwe Opposition Leaders," Secretary-General Document SG/SM/10908, U.N. Department of Public Information, March 12, 2007, at

[12] "Mugabe tells critics to ‘go hang,'" BBC News, March 15, 2007, at, and "Zimbabwe summons, threatens to expel Western envoys," Reuters, March 19, 2007.

[13] Andrew Meldrum, "Zimbabwe is broke and hungry," The Guardian, March 1, 2007, p. 20.

[14] "Key facts about Zimbabwe's crisis," Reuters, at

[15] World News Digest, "Zimbabwe annual inflation hits 1,729%," The Financial Times, March 10, 2007, p. 8.

[16] Meldrum, "Zimbabwe is broke and hungry."

[17] Michael Wines, "Zimbabwe: Teachers End Strike After Pay Deal," The New York Times, February 24, 2007, p. 6.

[18] Michael Wines, "As Inflation Soars, Zimbabwe Economy Plunges," The New York Times, February 7, 2007, p. A1.

[19] Peta Thornycroft, "Zimbabwe on the brink of total collapse," The Daily Telegraph, February 9, 2007, p. 19.

[20] Meldrum, "Zimbabwe is broke and hungry."

[21] Tony Hawkins, "Zimbabwe reveals budget deficit of 43% of GDP," Financial Times, December 1 2006, and Word Bank, World Development Indicators Online. Data are in constant U.S. dollars.

[22]Tim Kane, Kim R. Holmes, and Mary Anastasia O'Grady, 2007 Index of Economic Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation and Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 2007), p. 398.

[23] Wines, "As Inflation Soars, Zimbabwe Economy Plunges."

[24] Peta Thornycroft, "Miners arrested as Mugabe eyes goldfields," The Daily Telegraph, January 10, 2007, p.13.

[25] Bloomberg News, "Zimbabwe: Takeover of Diamond Mines," New York Times, February 22, 2007, p. C15.

[26] World Development Indicators Online. Data are in constant 2000 U.S. dollars.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Andrew Meldrum, "Zimbabwe heads for economic meltdown," The Guardian, February 7, 2007, p. 19.

[29] Ploch, summary and p. 2.

[30] Ibid., p. 20.

[31] U.S. Agency for International Development, "Zimbabwe: Food Security Update," Famine Early Warning Systems Network, January 2007, at

[32] Meldrum, "Zimbabwe is broke and hungry."

[33] Ploch, pp. 15–20.

[34] Ibid., pp. 15–20.

[35] "Key facts about Zimbabwe's crisis," Reuters, March 14, 2007, at

[36] James Kirchick, "A Real Refugee Problem," The New York Sun, February 26, 2007, at

[37] Meldrum, "Zimbabwe is broke and hungry."

[38] Meldrum, "Zimbabwe heads for economic meltdown."

[39] Reuters, "Key facts about Zimbabwe's crisis."

[40] Reuters, "Botswana tightens border after Zimbabwe tension," March 19, 2007, at

[41] Ploch, summary and p. 34.

[42] Editorial, "Crunch in Zimbabwe," Financial Times, February 14 2007, p. 14.

[43] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "Opening Remarks by Secretary of State-Designate Dr. Condoleezza Rice," Senate Foreign Relations Committee, January 18, 2005, at

[44] Ploch, summary and pp. 29-30.

[45] President George W. Bush, "Zimbabwe Proclamation," The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 4, 2002,

[46] President George W. Bush, "Executive Order: Blocking Property of Additional Persons Undermining Democratic Process or Institutions in Zimbabwe," The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, November 23, 2005, at Annex available at

[47] President George W. Bush, "Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe," The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March 1, 2007, at

[48] Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, "Beckett Condemns Opposition Treatment in Zimbabwe," U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, March 14, 2007, at

[49] "Zimbabwe crisis haunts SA in New York," SABC News, March 14, 2007, at,2172,145390,00.html.

[50] ZimNews, "Zimbabwe crisis haunts SA in New York," March 15, 2007, at

[51] Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, "Beckett Condemns Opposition Treatment in Zimbabwe."

[52] See Brett D. Schaefer, "The U.N. Human Rights Council Does Not Merit U.S. Membership," Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 1392, March 12, 2007, at

[53] South African Government Information, "South African government on the current situation in Zimbabwe," South African Department of Foreign Affairs, March 13, 2007, at

[54] Associated Press, "African Union chairman calls situation in Zimbabwe ‘embarrassing'," March 14, 2007, at

[55] Ploch, pp. 9–10.

[56] "Zimbabwe bishop ready to face guns," CNN, March 22, 2007, at


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To topple a tyrant

The Herald, UK

      EDITORIAL COMMENT March 23 2007

Is Zimbabwe ripe for revolution on the model that swept autocracy from power
in the post-Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe? This is the hope of
Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo who calls on Zimbabweans to take to
the streets and force Robert Mugabe, the embattled president, to step down
with immediate effect so that free and fair elections can be held. At
present, the hope appears sadly pious, despite some promising developments.
Mr Mugabe's power base within the ruling Zanu-PF party has been undermined,
and the army and security forces he depends upon to stay in power must
subsist on a monthly pay packet that lasts only a couple of days. Do they
have the stomach to go on defending brutally the indefensible?

At least they have a wage. Most Zimbabweans are out of work and hungry. The
country has the highest inflation rate in the world: 1400%. The former bread
basket of Africa has, itself, become a basket case. The strategy Archbishop
Ncube advocates is bold and contingent on mass, peaceful protest gaining
sufficient momentum to cause the security apparatus to stand aside,
hastening Mr Mugabe's toppling. A sprightly 83-year-old, he says he will run
again for President in next year's poll (that would be another election to

The strategy is brave, given the thuggishness of Mr Mugabe's forces. Not
even respected opposition politicians are safe from the boot and the baton.
Archbishop Ncube's plea is probably born of frustration. Zimbabwe teeters on
the brink of collapse, yet the man responsible clings to power. The
archbishop is right to say the situation cannot be allowed to continue. But
the opposition is divided and impoverished. If a green, red and gold
revolution (the main colours of Zimbabwe's flag) is an unrealistic option,
what is realistic and achievable? Mr Mugabe exploits a reputation as
liberator of southern Africa to quell criticism from his neighbours, notably
South Africa, face of the vibrant, forward-looking continent. But Mr Mugabe
has shown that, having secured power and the backing of the security forces,
a leader can behave with impunity, even as his country collapses and his
people suffer depredations on a scale shocking by African standards. Is this
the standard to set for the continent, the message to send out to the wider
world? If President Mbeki of South Africa thinks not, he should use his
influence to force the tyrant's departure.

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"This Dictator Must Be Brought Down"

IPS news

Moyiga Nduru

JOHANNESBURG, Mar 23 (IPS) - Zimbabwe's outspoken Catholic archbishop, Pius
Ncube, has volunteered to lead peaceful, mass protests to remove President
Robert Mugabe from power, as Cardinal Jaime Sin did to unseat dictator
Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines more than two decades ago.

Sin made headlines around the world in 1986 after calling on a million
people to form barricades to protect 300 army rebels against the advancing
tanks of Marcos.

"If we can get 30,000 people in the streets, Mugabe will go down," Ncube
told a briefing on Zimbabwe that took place in South Africa's commercial hub
of Johannesburg, Friday. "I am prepared to lead the people against Mugabe.
Like in the Philippines, our security forces will side with us if we are

The 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader has been in office since his country
gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Rights groups hold him responsible for the death of up to 20,000 civilians
at the hands of security forces in Matabeleland, southern Zimbabwe, during
the 1980s -- a campaign that government conducted under the pretext of
putting down a rebellion.

More recently Mugabe has been on a collision course with the country's
leading opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Parliamentary and presidential elections held over the past few years have
been marred by irregularities and human rights abuses, even as authorities
clamped down on media freedom.

A controversial land redistribution programme has contributed to economic
decline in Zimbabwe, which currently has the world's highest inflation rate
(official figures indicate it is about 1,700 percent). Widespread hunger has
become the norm.

"Right now some 2,000 people are dying in Zimbabwe every day. They die of
AIDS and of malnutrition," Tendai Biti, an opposition member of parliament
in Zimbabwe, said at the briefing in response to a question by IPS.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS puts adult HIV prevalence in
Zimbabwe at just over 20 percent. Anti-retroviral drugs that prolong the
lives of those who have contracted HIV are scarce.

"Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is now 35 years.Eighty percent of Zimbabweans
live below the poverty line of one dollar a day. An average family affords
only one meal a day," Biti added, as Ncube chipped in to note: "Our church
clinics say a lot of (people) die of malnutrition. The doctors are not there
and the nurses have taken off (for posts overseas)."

Hundreds are said to have been killed in the political violence that has
wracked Zimbabwe since 2000, when the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front faced its first credible challenge at the polls, from
the MDC. The latest victim is Gift Tandare, a pro-democracy activist who
died Mar. 11 when police shot him during a prayer meeting organised by the
opposition in the capital -- Harare.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten during the gathering by police, who
reportedly fractured his skull. The abuse meted out to the opposition leader
and other activists elicited global condemnation.

"I was present when Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders were assaulted
for one-and-a-half hour at Machipisa police station in Harare. I've watched
a lot of movies but nothing prepared me for such brutality. It seemed
surreal," Biti recounted.

Police have since refused to release Tandare's body to his relatives.
Instead they fired live ammunition at a group of mourners, injuring two
people -- one severely, in his left ankle. Video footage of the two patients
lying in hospital was shown at the briefing; in the film, it was noted that
amputation was being discussed for the mourner shot in the ankle.

Following the beatings of the opposition leader and supporters, Mugabe told
his critics to "go hang". He also noted that "police have a right to bash"
opponents, a comment that drew fire from Ncube.

"Police have no right to 'bash' anyone under any law in Zimbabwe, or in
terms of any international conventions we are signatory to. We note that the
state culture of impunity, which emanates from the highest office in the
land, is generating a more general culture of violence," the cleric said.

"When a government allows impunity to its uniformed forces -- when police
officers who torture and murder are not brought to justice, and are in fact
told they have a right to do this -- it is tragically predictable that
people's patience will run out. And, as anger and desperation rise,
vigilante-style violence will rise," Ncube added.

"Reprisals have already taken place with a bus of mourners being vandalised,
and three policewomen being tragically injured in their beds by petrol
bombs. In Bulawayo (Zimbabwe's second largest city) an alleged attempt to
derail a passenger train was thankfully unsuccessful."

Ncube appealed to Zimbabwean authorities to end impunity amongst the armed
forces immediately, and prosecute those who violate the rights of citizens.

Furthermore, "The government should allow the citizens of Zimbabwe to hold
peaceful gatherings and should restore to them their constitutional rights
to do so. The government should refrain from inciting its supporters to
violence, as should all citizens of Zimbabwe," he said.

"Zimbabweans are angrier now than they have been before. And I'm ready to
lead them, in a non-violent mass action to get rid of Mugabe. This dictator
must be brought down."

Nicholas Karonda, a Zimbabwean church minister and human rights activist
based in South Africa, has criticised the deafening silence on abuses in
Zimbabwe that is evident across much of Africa.

"We have heard some voices from South Africa, Ghana, Botswana and Zambia.
Although they came late, they are better than never," he told IPS.

A relatively low key approach to the Zimbabwean crisis is being maintained
by economically-powerful South Africa -- widely viewed as playing a key role
in the fortunes of its northern neighbour.

However, Pretoria's policy of "quiet diplomacy" in respect of Zimbabwe came
under heavy criticism Friday.

"The quiet diplomacy has manifestly failed," said South African Bishop Kevin
Dowling, who chaired the briefing.

Noted Ncube: "South Africa can't be hypocritical when it's hosting about
three million Zimbabweans who have fled Mugabe's tyrannical rule. People
have died; people have been eaten by crocodiles while trying to cross the
border to reach South Africa."

"Some young people come here and find no one they know, and sell themselves.
They catch AIDS and die. I have buried many myself whose bodies were
returned to Zimbabwe."

Joyce Dube of the Johannesburg-based Southern African Women's Institute of
Migration Affairs, a non-governmental organisation, told IPS that the
grouping receives between 50 and 200 Zimbabwean newcomers everyday.

"These figures only account for those who come to us to seek assistance.
Other organisations also receive refugees from Zimbabwe every day," she
said. (END/2007)

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Congo army chief says government has regained control of Kinshasa

Globe and Mail, Canada


Associated Press

KINSHASA, Congo - The head of Congo's army said in a nationally televised
address Friday that security forces had regained control of the capital
after two days of intense fighting against the militia of a former warlord
who lost last year's presidential runoff.

Lt. Gen. Sungilanga Kisempia said order had been restored in Kinshasa and
that Jean-Pierre Bemba's army had fled, according to the broadcast on
state-run RTNC television. He urged members of the militia to turn
themselves in at the headquarters of the U.N. mission in Congo, saying that
if they don't, "We will pursue them to the very end."

Mr. Bemba, who sought refuge inside the South African embassy, accused the
government of starting the violence and said he had asked his men to stand
down, but that he no longer commands them. "I am not in control," he told
the British Broadcasting Corp.

Congo's chief prosecutor has issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of
high treason.

"He has caused serious infractions by organizing a militia and by ordering
looting... his actions amount to high treason and we will pursue him
wherever he is," Tsaimanga Mukenda said, adding he would ask parliament to
strip Bemba of his immunity as a newly elected senator.
Sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the capital late Friday, but the
intensity had significantly decreased from earlier in the day when mortar
rounds sent buildings up in flames, including a nearby oil refinery.

Hospital officials said at least 12 people were killed and as many as 47
wounded in two days of fighting between security forces and Mr. Bemba's
personal guard, believed to number in the thousands.

An Italian citizen was among the wounded, the Italian Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry gave no details about the man, but the Italian news agency ANSA
said he was struck by a bullet.

Mr. Bemba came in second in last year's presidential election, the country's
first in more than 40 years. After losing the run-off, he promised to
disband his army, but has repeatedly missed deadlines to do so, most
recently last week.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo welcomed the return of order to the
capital, but said it regretted the use of force to resolve the situation.

"The immediate losses and damage are plainly evident," the mission said in a

More than 90 members of Mr. Bemba's army had turned themselves in at the
U.N. base in the capital, according to an official with the mission who
asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The army had seized two of Mr. Bemba's three residences in the capital, the
governor of Kinshasa, Andre Kimbuta, said Friday.

The street fighting erupted Thursday near Mr. Bemba's home and appeared to
ease by Thursday night, only to resume Friday.

During the height of the fighting, mortar rounds landed as far as 2½ miles
away in Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of Congo,
damaging the home of the defense minister, said government spokesman Alain
Akouala. In Kinshasa, the Spanish Embassy was hit and thick black smoke
poured out of a damaged oil refinery.

Embassies had begun making plans to evacuate foreign nationals after the
Zimbabwe Embassy was looted. The European Union called on factions in
Kinshasa to settle their differences through dialogue - and to ensure
civilians were not caught up in the violence.

"The international community, and the European Union in particular, will not
allow democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a major success for the
entire African continent, to be compromised," EU foreign policy chief Javier
Solana added in the statement issued in Brussels.

This week's fighting is the first in the capital since Congo installed
Joseph Kabila as president on Dec. 6, making him the nation's first freely
elected president since 1960.

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Zimbabwe Labor Body Dismisses Reports Of Economic Solidarity Pact


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      23 March 2007

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions took issue Friday with a report in the
state-controlled Herald newspaper that said business, labor and government
had united behind a "Zimbabwe First" campaign to promote socio-economic

The Herald said the economic partners agreed to join forces in the campaign
during a meeting in the eastern city of Mutare organized by the United
Nations International Labor Organization and the U.N. Development Program.
The ZCTU said that the session was merely a workshop unsuited to coming to
such agreements.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he believed
the Herald story was intended to divert attention from his union's April 3-4
stay-away action.

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MDC youth wing vows to press ahead with protests

Zim Online

Saturday 24 March 2007

By Batsirai Muranje

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
youth wing on Friday said it would press ahead with public rallies to drum
up support ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next year
despite a police ban on all public gatherings.

The chairman of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC Youth Assembly, Thamsanqa
Mahlangu, told journalists in Harare that the youth movement would defy the
police ban because it was illegal and a violation of basic police freedoms.

"The MDC Youth Assembly will not be cowed by threats of violence. We vow to
continue holding our rallies and meetings across the country," said
Mahlangu, at a Press conference also addressed by leaders of the Zimbabwe
National Students Union (ZINASU).

"It is clear that the banning of meetings, rallies and demonstrations are
unconstitutional because they are against our basic freedoms of assembly,
movement and speech," Mahlangu added.

The MDC youth leader said the opposition was also pressing for next year's
elections - whose date and timing remains hugely uncertain- to be held under
a new constitution that would ensure a free and fair contest.

While the presidential poll is due around March next year when President
Robert Mugabe's term expires it was thrown into doubt after the veteran
President  said he wanted it moved to 2010 so it could be held together with
elections for Parliament to save on administrative costs.

But opposition from within his own ruling ZANU PF party forced Mugabe to
backtrack on the plan to postpone the poll and he has now said he will stand
in 2008 when the country holds joint elections for president and Parliament
at a date he is still to announce.

ZINASU President Promise Mkhwananzi said the students deplored police
brutality against opposition leaders who were beaten up and tortured two
weeks ago after attempting to organise anti-government protests.

The ZINASU leader said students would push for an end to the deteriorating
political and economic crisis which he said had led to a fall in standards
and learning conditions at public schools and tertiary institutions that
have to struggle for resources. - ZimOnline

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Harare orders probe into MP's rape

Zim Online

Saturday 24 March 2007

By Thabani Mlilo

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has ordered a full-scale probe into last
week's alleged rape of a ruling ZANU PF legislator saying the rape could
have a chilling effect on rural party supporters.

Mudzi West legislator, Acqueline Katsande, was last Saturday gang raped by
two armed robbers who later stole household property worth about millions of
dollars in her home in Mudzi district.

In a memo entitled, "Implications of alleged rape and robbery of Mudzi West
MP," dated March 20, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi ordered Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to fully probe the matter.

Mohadi said the police should stop "treating the matter as just an act of
barbarism" adding that the Office of the President was seriously concerned
over the malicious incident.

"It is imperative to treat this matter meticulously and desist from treating
it as just an act of pure barbarism as this could be the works of enemies of
the state who have upped their orgy of violence on perceived supporters of
the government.

"Failure to bring the culprits to book would have a domino effect on
supporters of the ruling party as this would be perceived as an act of
vulnerability on those manning our strongholds (MPs).

"It is against this background that you should launch a full scale
investigation into this matter and keep this office fully advised on the
progress of your investigations," read part of the one and a half page memo.

The memo was copied to Deputy Commissioner Crime, Innocent Matibiri, police
national spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena and to Officer Commanding Mashonaland
East province.

Bvudzijena refused to comment on the matter when contacted for comment on
the matter on Friday. - ZimOnline

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Water crisis plan needed

The Herald

Zinwa justified their takeover of the water supply for greater Harare quite
early on, fixing up the treatment plants, cleaning out accumulated muck and
generally fixing up the supply system.

Over the last few months, there have been ever fewer water cuts and even the
residents of the far eastern suburbs - Manresa, Tafara and Mabvuku - began
to hope that perhaps continuous water supplies from their taps was not some
sort of pipe dream.

But, come a crisis, almost any crisis, and Zinwa seems to be at a loss.
There is simply no clear thought, no plan, or rather, since we know that
plans do exist, no thought of implementing a disaster plan. The first
reaction of Zinwa staff is to keep deathly quiet why all the reservoirs run
dry, in the hope that no one will notice.

Of course very soon, considering the small size of some outlying reservoirs,
people do notice that their taps are dry and they start complaining.

These complaints start in the first dry suburb, usually Manresa or Tafara,
the highest suburbs in Harare, and then grow to a flood as an ever larger
area of the eastern, north eastern and finally the northern and north-west
suburbs dry up.

So Zinwa switches to the second mode. It looks for someone to blame, anyone,
although Zesa Holdings are convenient and, to be honest, are quite often a
contributor to the mess.

But, as the Deputy Minister of Water and Infrastructural Development, Cde
Walter Mzembi, said yesterday, residents do not care who is to blame, they
just want water from their taps.

And some suburbs in Harare have had no water since Monday and now face days
more of shortages as the water authority starts refilling reservoirs. But in
other suburbs, pressure is so high, and water flows so continuous, that
people can water their lawns all day.

Any organisation, especially an essential service like Zinwa, must make
plans for the day when things go wrong. And when that day comes, as it will,
it must immediately implement these plans.

The present crisis was an excellent case study. The electricity line to
Morton Jaffrey Water Works went down. These things happen. Zesa patched in
an alternative feed, but this could only supply enough power for three of
the six pumps.

Zesa then had to find the fault and fix the fault. It may have done at least
part of this work far more slowly than desirable, but it was working on the

Zinwa should have - as soon as it established that the crisis would last
more than a few hours, a period it could use its reservoir system to
cushion - taken the people of Harare and Chitungwiza into its confidence.

Warnings could have been issued almost immediately over radio and
television, backed by more detailed explanations the following day in the

These warnings would carefully state that the area was getting only half its
water and would appeal to all, to use water carefully and sparingly. People
would be asked not to water gardens or wash cars, for example.

At the same time the old rationing scheme so carefully worked out, and
successfully implemented, when Zinwa and the City of Harare shared
distribution would be brought into effect.

This plan, so simple and reasonable, divided suburbs into two groups and
then cut supplies for up to 24 hours to each group on alternate days. Most
households, given a little warning, can cope with a 24-hour cut. Containers
can be quickly filled, laundry postponed and the family will sail through
the day with no serious problem.

If the crisis was worse and that scheme could not cope, it would be easy to
cut the supply to the group that was getting a full day's supply to just a
few hours, enough time to arrange a batch of showers and refill containers,
but saving a lot more water since no one would wash cars, water lawns or see
water disappear through underground leaks.

Zinwa neither gave warnings nor managed the crisis. We hope that they will
now learn the lesson and that the team led by Cde Mzembi will insist that
Zinwa and Zesa experts draw up suitable crisis plans and be ready to
implement these the moment trouble arises.

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