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Mugabe: the final showdown looms

The Sunday Times
March 25, 2007

Christina Lamb
POLITICIANS inside and outside Zimbabwe are scrambling to find an exit
strategy for President Robert Mugabe amid warnings that the country is on
the brink of widespread famine.

The government admitted last week that two-thirds of its maize crop - the
country's staple food - has been wiped out by drought. But many fear that
the brutality of the past two weeks against opposition activists is
distracting international attention from a bigger catastrophe.

"We have the world's greatest humanitarian crisis on our hands," said David
Coltart, an MP from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "We
already have the world's lowest life expectancy and highest inflation;
imagine on top of that drought? There will be famine."

The warning comes as Mugabe faces unprecedented international condemnation -
including criticism from other African leaders for the first time - and
opposition within his ruling party, which will meet this week to decide his
future.

The main item on the agenda of the Zanu-PF central committee on Thursday is
whether Mugabe should run again in presidential elections due next year. His
original plan to extend his mandate to 2010 was rejected at the annual party
conference in December.

Any such move will be blocked by his deputy Joyce Mujuru, wife of the former
army chief General Solomon Mujuru, who many believe is the real power in the
country and who fell out with Mugabe over December's conference.

Sources close to the general told The Sunday Times that he will threaten to
form a breakaway party if Mugabe insists on standing again.

On Friday Joyce Mujuru held secret talks in Johannesburg with her South
African counterpart Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in what appeared to be a warning
shot to Mugabe.

Meetings have also taken place between emissaries of Mujuru and those of
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one of the two MDC factions. Tsvangirai is
currently recovering from a savage attack by Mugabe's thugs two weeks ago,
which he described as "an orgy of heavy beatings".

The two sides have apparently been discussing forming a transitional
government to try to rescue the country from its downward economic spiral
that has

seen inflation reach 1,700%. It is predicted by the IMF to reach 4,000% by
next year.

It would not be the first time that Solomon Mujuru and Tsvangirai had met.
The pair come from the two main Shona tribes - Mujuru, like Mugabe, is a
Zezuru and Tsvangirai a Karanga - so an alliance between them could avoid
ethnic strife.

Although Tsvangirai would not ideally like to ally himself with a military
leader, he has always been anxious to avoid bloodshed. His beating, along
with that of about 50 MDC activists, has shown the lengths to which Mugabe
is prepared to go.

Despite the international outcry at the attack on Tsvangirai, repression has
worsened over the past two weeks. There are now unofficial curfews in
townships, with people being picked up and beaten at random, and lists at
borders of MDC members and journalists. The regime has instructed state
hospitals not to admit MDC victims.

One of Mugabe's staunchest critics, Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of
Bulawayo, exhorted people not to be daunted. "I am ready to stand in front,"
he said. "We must be ready to stand, even in front of blazing guns.
Starvation stalks our land and the government does nothing."

"This is no longer about the MDC and its political aspirations," Coltart
said. "We've had a total crop write-off in the south where people were
already living on the edge."

Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of southern Africa, but this will be the
sixth consecutive year of food shortages since Mugabe launched his violent
programme of seizing white-owned farms. The World Food Programme is giving
food aid to 1.5m people, nearly 10% of the population.

Authorities have consistently attributed the low yields to drought. But
critics blame the farm seizures for the sharp decline in agricultural
production. Just 100 to 200 white farmers are left on their farms, compared
with 4,000 in 2000. Most farms are now in the hands of "cellphone" farmers,
ruling party cronies who coveted the farmhouses for weekend getaways and
have no real interest in farming.

But this year there is no doubt that southern Zimbabwe has suffered a severe
drought. The state television ZBC quoted Rugare Gumbo, the agriculture
minister, as admitting that crops in many areas had failed. "The dry spell
experienced this season has badly impacted on agriculture. Crops, especially
maize, in most parts of the country are a write-off," he said.

He expected a maize harvest of just 600,000 tons - only one third of the
minimum annual requirements, and declared 2007 a drought year. With most
Zimbabweans already struggling to find one meal a day, aid workers say food
shortages will push many over the edge, particularly its 1.6m Aids orphans.

"We're greatly concerned about the increasing pressures on families," said
James Elder, of Unicef in Zimbabwe. "Hyperin-flation and another drought are
going to mean ever more stress on orphans as they strive to feed and educate
themselves." Raymond Majongwe, head of the Progressive Teachers' Union, said
recently that an average teacher's salary of Z$200,000 (£5) a month was only
enough to buy 4Ň bananas a day.

The price of fuel has almost trebled in the past week to Z$14,500 (35p) per
litre. Bus drivers in Harare now hike up their prices twice a day, forcing
some of those with jobs to quit because they can no longer afford the
transport.

It is not clear where the government would find the foreign exchange to
import food. Zambia, on which it has previously relied for maize, has
announced that it will not export any more because part of its own crop was
wiped out.

"If the international community ignores this situation, the rate of economic
collapse will escalate, tension will continue to rise and there may well be
bloodshed, in fact a bloodbath," Coltart warned.

He claimed that Mugabe's increased use of violence was a sign of
desperation. "The attack on Morgan was clearly an own goal," he said. "It
has raised Morgan's profile; rather than deter people it has fuelled their
momentum and brought the two factions of the MDC together."

He conceded that most Zimbabweans may still be too fearful and weakened by
hunger and disease to act, but suggested that desperation could force their
hand.

"I believe the regime is already a paper tiger," he said. "The question is
when people realise that, because at that moment Mugabe is in real trouble."
Pointing out that police salaries were way below poverty level, he
explained: "Three years ago when I was stopped at roadblocks I was treated
with hostility. Now when I'm stopped, 90% of the time the police ask me when
things are going to change."

But whether regime change comes through street agitation or political
negotiations, the problem remains of what to do with Mugabe. Not only does
the 83-year-old president show no sign of wanting to retire but he has so
much blood on his hands that he would be fearful of being put before a UN
war crimes tribunal.

Mugabe told a meeting of the Zanu-PF Women's League in Harare on Friday that
he had no intention of stepping down. "The opposition is always calling for
change, change, change," he said. "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's like a cornered bull," said a diplomat in Harare. "I fear we are
heading for a dark tunnel where things will get worse before they get
better."

Both ruling party members fed up with their country's decline and MDC
leaders are working to find some kind of exit strategy. "Personally I find
it an anathema but for the sake of saving lives we recognise we may well
have to agree some form of amnesty," Coltart said.

Anger at 'shrine'

The Zimbabwean government is planning to construct a grandiose monument to
Robert Mugabe, commemorating his life and achievements, writes Christina
Lamb.

The monument is to be built in his home town of Zvimba and is expected to
include a statue.

"The idea has been discussed and we are moving onto the planning stage,"
Ignatius Chombo, the local government minister, told the ZimOnline news
service.

"It would be a shrine for the local community and one that would be used to
depict the president's life history and legacy as well as aspects of the
liberation struggle."

Unlike other dictators Mugabe has previously eschewed any form of
personality cult.

Building a statue, while the country is in an economic crisis so severe that
hospitals have no drugs and the government had to stop issuing passports
because it could not afford the ink, is likely to provoke an outcry. The
site chosen is the size of a football pitch and there have been reports of
nearly £200,000 being made available to buy materials from Asia.


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Mugabe's aides plot to force him out of office

The Telegraph

Tim Shipman, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:54am GMT 25/03/2007

††††† Robert Mugabe's political colleagues are working on a plan to force
the Zimbabwean president to stand down next year that may win the support of
the South African government, the region's major power broker.

††††† Senior members of Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF party are understood to have
discussed a way of ending his rule which would see the 83-year-old president
take a back seat before retiring after national elections next March.

††††† The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, denied reports by the BBC
yesterday that he had had a meeting with Zanu PF's Solomon Mujuru, who is an
ex-army leader, and Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former state security chief who is
now a housing minister and was singled out by Mr Mugabe as a potential
successor.

††††† However, officials from Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
confirmed that the elements of a possible deal have been widely discussed in
political circles in the capital, Harare, and that their leader had been
visited by South African officials.

††††† Mr Mugabe's retirement would clear the way for free elections and
financial support from the international community to stave off the economic
collapse that has brought rampant inflation, expected to hit 4,000 per cent
this year. Under the proposals, Mr Mugabe would be granted immunity from any
prosecution surrounding his 27-year rule and would be allowed to retire,
either to his palace north of Harare or into exile, probably in South
Africa.

††††† Mr Tsvangirai, who has the support of many Western governments, would
call for international aid to reverse the ruinous effects of Mr Mugabe's
economic policies.

††††† Sources close to the Zimbabwean government regard it as highly
significant that General Mujuru's wife Joyce, who is one of Mr Mugabe's two
vice-presidents, was invited last week to South Africa to see her opposite
number Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka. They believe it was a political tactic to
ensure that Thabo Mbeki's administration could hear the Mujurus' plans.

††††† Sources in Zimbabwe believe the South African government is now keen
to help fashion an end to Mr Mugabe's rule that satisfies both his own party
and the opposition. In the past, South Africa resisted Western leaders'
wishes and applied only gentle pressure on him behind the scenes.

††††† South Africa is keen to avoid political turmoil in the region in the
run-up to the 2010 football World Cup, which it is hosting. A source close
to the Zimbabwean government said: "The South Africans are very active.
There is intense diplomatic work under way. They cannot meet with Mr Mujuru,
because he is a retired general, but he had no choice but to send his wife.
It will have greatly annoyed Mugabe."

††††† Yesterday the leaders of Lesotho, Namibia and Tanzania met under the
aegis of the South African Development Community to discuss Zimbabwe. They
are expected to put further pressure on Mr Mugabe to stand down.

††††† The internal party rebellion was prompted by his determination to
extend his term in office for another two years to 2010. Mr Mujuru and Mr
Mnangagwa are expected to make clear at a meeting of the Zanu PF central
committee on Thursday that they cannot countenance the extension. Mr Mujuru
is expected to tell the president that he must not run again next year.

††††† Mr Mugabe's support among former allies has been fading since
December, when he failed to gain the unanimous endorsement of the party's
annual conference for the extension. The conference delegated the decision
to the central committee. His international reputation has been eroded
further by a violent crackdown on opposition leaders this month when Mr
Tsvangirai suffered a brutal beating.

††††† But Mr Mugabe is not expected to give up office without a fight. On
Friday he vowed that Mr Tsvangirai would "never rule Zimbabwe for as long as
I live".


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'Awkward' South Africa accused of playing politics with human rights

The Telegraph

Philip Sherwell in New York and Stephen Bevan in Pretoria, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 25/03/2007

††††† South Africa has been branded a member of the "awkward squad" of
anti-Western states because of its behaviour at the United Nations - and
elsewhere - over Burma, Iran and Zimbabwe.

††††† The country, which currently holds the rotating chair of the UN
Security Council, spent much of last week attempting to scupper a new
package of UN sanctions against Iran over Teheran's nuclear programme, only
preparing to climb down as the vote on the planned measures loomed late last
night. Pretoria had earlier failed in its solo effort to roll back existing
sanctions to which even China and Russia had finally signed up.

††††† The British ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, dismissed this call for a
90-day "time out" on sanctions as it would be "totally perverse" to "reward
Iran's non-compliance".

††††† Thabo Mbeki's ruling African National Congress is meanwhile continuing
to bankroll its old guerrilla liberation ally Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe,
despite his regime's bloody suppression of the democratic opposition. It has
opposed a Security Council debate on the situation there.
††††† The government also recently voted against a Security Council
resolution condemning human rights abuses in Burma. In a striking reversal
of policy, the same ANC leaders who long pleaded for UN support during the
apartheid era now argued that the Security Council has no right to intervene
in "domestic politics".

††††† Pretoria claims that the Security Council is being abused by the US
and Britain to impose their agenda on the world. But in taking its
"principled" stand at the UN, critics claim it is playing politics with
human rights and nuclear threats and could make itself an international
pariah.

††††† The Burma vote shocked even many ANC supporters as the parallels with
their own past suffering seemed so clear. While Nelson Mandela was
eventually freed to lead a democratic South Africa, his fellow Nobel
laureate and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house
arrest.

††††† The backlash in South Africa was fuelled by the fact that Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, another hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, was co-author of
a report arguing that Burma's appalling human rights record was a Security
Council issue. South Africa's vote, the archbishop said, was a "betrayal of
our own noble past" and "inexplicable".

††††† In New York last week, the South African ambassador to the UN,
Dumisani Kumalo, made clear that the proposed amendments on Iran were
intended largely as a protest against the negotiating power of the
veto-wielding permanent five members of the Security Council - America,
Britain, France, Russia and China.

††††† Western diplomats argue that Pretoria's decision to indulge in
political posturing over such important issues demonstrated that South
Africa was now going out of its way to be awkward.


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Edinburgh moves to strip Mugabe of degree

The Scotsman

MURDO MACLEOD POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
EDINBURGH University has finally started proceedings to strip Zimbabwean
tyrant Robert Mugabe of his honorary degree, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Amid mounting international fury over the chaos and brutality Mugabe has
unleashed on his people, Edinburgh University admits it is "reviewing" the
1984 doctorate for "services to education in Africa".

But the university was last night widely condemned for taking so long to
reach this point and for failing, even now, to make a clear statement of
intent to remove his degree.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has urged Edinburgh to act decisively against Mugabe and has offered to meet
with university chiefs to argue the case for removing his degree.

The Zimbabwean president has been the focus of mounting international
concern in the wake of a renewed crackdown on dissent. A fortnight ago
police broke up a peaceful prayer rally which had been banned from
convening.

Police arrested several MDC activists including party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who was severely beaten up while in detention, suffering a
fractured skull.

The case is a massive embarrassment for Edinburgh University, which awarded
the degree to Mugabe amid euphoria over his country's transition to
independence and in recognition of his rapid expansion of education in his
country in the early 1980s.

In January, Scotland on Sunday revealed that Edinburgh was drawing up plans
to change its rules to allow the university to strip recipients of their
honorary degrees. It is understood that the power to revoke honorary degrees
has been approved.

Edinburgh flatly refused to say whether it had changed its rules on revoking
degrees but admitted in a statement: "The University is acutely aware of
ongoing developments in Zimbabwe and the issue of Robert Mugabe's honorary
degree remains under review." The spokesman confirmed that talks had taken
place on the subject.

Leading critics of the Mugabe regime questioned why the institution was
taking so long to act on the matter or even confirm whether they had changed
their own rules.

Kate Hoey, the chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Zimbabwe,
said: "I would back such a move by the university very strongly. But while I
realise these things take time it would surely not be beyond them to issue a
statement saying it was their intent while working out how to remove the
degree."

Ephraim Tapa, a Zimbabwean and the UK Chairman of the of MDC, said: "They
should revoke his honorary doctorate on the grounds that achievements in
education for which he received the degree are no longer there. He did
expand education in the first few years, but I am very sad to say that
education is now in a state of terrible decline.

"Many families can no longer even afford to send their children to school
and there are examples of 11-year old children who should be at primary
school are forced to go into prostitution to earn money for their families.
It is very very sad."

Robin Harper, the Green MSP and the former Edinburgh University rector,
said: "I strongly believe that he should be stripped of the award and I have
already urged so. While these things take time, I do think that the
University should act with greater urgency."

Sir Nicholas Winterton, the Tory MP and vice-chair of Parliamentary group on
Zimbabwe, added: "Normally, I would not agree with removing an honorary
degree, because people do act wrongly from time to time. But in the case of
Mugabe, his actions have been so systematic and damaging and outrageous that
he should lose his award to bring home to this megalomaniac that the world
does not approve. And while he will pretend in public that it will not
matter and accuse the university of being a lackey of the state, I believe
that deep down to be stripped of it will cause him sorrow and make him
reflect."

And students have said that they will renew their campaign for the doctorate
to be revoked.

Tim Goodwin, the president of Edinburgh University Student Association said:
"We believe that he should be stripped of the award and that our university
should have no connection with him. And I believe it will have more effect
than we might think. The last time the subject was raised publicly, my
predecessor in the post, Ruth Cameron, found herself on South African radio
talking about it and the station was flooded with calls from all over the
region. People have a high regard for what Edinburgh University thinks and
we do matter."


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10 reasons why this man should be stripped of his honorary degree

The Scotsman

MURDO MCLEOD

1 ETHNIC CLEANSING
Mugabe's notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade waged war against the
Ndebele people in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Zimbabwean Midlands
during the mid- 1980s. Mugabe's own Shona-dominated government and armed
forces organised the killings, which cost an estimated 20,000 lives among
the other ethnic group. Most of their operations were targeted at
defenceless civilians, whom Mugabe referred to as supporters of dissidents.
In April 1983 Mugabe stated: "We eradicate them. We don't differentiate when
we fight because we can't tell who is a dissident and who is not."

Most of the dead were shot in public executions, often after being forced to
dig their own graves in front of their families and fellow villagers. The
largest number of lives to have been taken in a single incident was 62, when
a group of young men and women were killed on the banks of the Cewale River,
Lupane, on 5 March 1983. The soldiers would also often burn their victims in
their huts.

2 SHANTY TOWN DEMOLITION
A 2005 campaign involved bulldozing the homes of around 320,000 people.
Although the move was ostensibly aimed at eradicating shanty towns and
illegal settlements in which poverty and disease were rife, the end effect
was to drive out and make homeless large sections of the urban and rural
poor, who comprise much of the opposition to the Mugabe regime. The
operation caused mass unemployment across the country. Those whose homes
have been flattened have been told to return to their traditional dwellings
in rural areas of the country or they will be "dealt with" by the dreaded
Central Intelligence Organisation, Mugabe's intelligence service.

Demolished buildings include the office blocks of a Roman Catholic
orphanage, a mosque, and even schools. In addition to the destruction of
buildings, there has been a crackdown on independent markets, which have
often been banned from operating. Instead, locals are expected to get their
supplies from the newly-arrived Chinese traders. Critics of the regime
suspect that favouring the foreign traders is a device Mugabe is using to
curry favour with China, which has a permanent place on the UN Security
Council.

3 THE LATEST CRACKDOWN
Police arrested 50 people at a banned Harare prayer rally on March 11. They
included Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition figure and founder of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). All were beaten up while in detention,
and Tsvangirai was attacked so severely that he had to be treated in
intensive care for a fractured skull. Only the quick-thinking of his lawyers
saved him when they realised how badly he had been attacked. Since then,
other MDC figures have been attacked, supposedly by unidentified assailants,
although few believe there is no link to the government. Nelson Chamisa, the
MDC's spokesman, was beaten with an iron bar by eight assailants at Harare's
airport in broad daylight and in front of people about to catch a flight to
London. His skull was fractured. At first, injured MPs were not allowed to
seek medical care in South Africa.

4 A CRUMBLING ECONOMY
Prices rise daily. At 1,700%, Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate is the
highest in the world. Many citizens spend their money in a rush as soon as
they are paid, before its value evaporates. The International Monetary Fund
estimates that inflation will hit almost 4,280% this year. Basic items such
as bread, sugar, petrol are often not available in shops. Most factories and
other employers have closed as the economy has gone from bad to worse. In
the mid-1970s, £1 bought about one Zimbabwean dollar. Now, it will fetch
$38m.

5 A HEALTH CATASTROPHE
According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO),
Zimbabweans have the shortest life expectancy in the world - listed as 37
years for men, and 34 years for women. Hospitals are affected by a chronic
lack of money and resources, in some cases closing their doors to patients
because they have no food, and others have made do without ambulances for
months or even years. Hospitals are also afflicted by a brain drain, as
qualified staff have fled for greener pastures abroad, often to neighbouring
South Africa.

6 POOR HUMAN RIGHTS
There are severe restrictions on freedom of assembly, and peaceful protests
and meetings are either banned outright or broken up by the police. Last
year, hundreds of demonstrators were arrested and many were violently
attacked. Homosexuality is banned, and gay people are pursued through a
"moral campaign" which makes "unnatural sex acts" illegal, with a penalty of
up to 10 years in prison. Mugabe has even used this law to sideline other
politicians, including his predecessor as President of Zimbabwe, Canaan
Banana, who was convicted of gay sex offences.

7 LACK OF FREE SPEECH
Tough new laws restrict the freedom of the press in Zimbabwe. Journalists
are regulated by a government-dominated Media and Information Commission,
which retains the power to licence and to fine journalists who spread
"false" stories. Journalists are threatened with being stripped of the
ability to work legally if they displease the government, and have to
re-register each year with the government to be allowed to carry out their
jobs.

The state has used the re-registration system to intimidate critical
newspapers, insisting they must retract "unhelpful" pieces or have their
accreditation renewal turned down. The government's intelligence services
buy out newspapers and then sack dissident editors and reporters, replacing
them with government-friendly stooges. Many foreign media are banned,
including the BBC and CNN.

8 THE VIOLENT TAKEOVER OF WHITE FARMS
Today there about 600 white farmers left in Zimbabwe, down from 4,500 in
1999. In 2000 the government decided to "fast-track" land reform in an
effort to win over a hostile electorate, resulting in farm seizures by
supporters of his ruling Zanu-PF party, who claimed to be landless veterans
of the country's war for independence. Dozens of white farmers and black
farm workers were killed in violent land seizures.

The takeover of white-owned farms turned one of Africa's most productive
farm systems into a shambles. Most people are now trying to feed themselves
by growing food where they can find space. Commercial production of maize,
the main staple, has fallen from 810,000 tonnes in 2000 to barely 200,000
today.

9 CORRUPT ELECTIONS
The Commonwealth group of observers invited by the Zimbabwean authorities to
observe the presidential election in 2002 strongly condemned the conduct of
the poll. They said it was conducted in a climate of fear. The group blamed
"paramilitary youth groups" for a systematic campaign of intimidation
against known or suspected opposition supporters.

In addition, international observers said that opposition officials were
unable to oversee polling in about half of constituencies, that they were
deliberately waylaid on their way to polling stations and were subjected to
violence and harassment by police and government-supporting militants.
Furthermore, a law passed just ahead of the election stripped many citizens
of their right to vote.

10 EDUCATIONAL COLLAPSE
Edinburgh University originally awarded Robert Mugabe his honorary degree in
1984 for his services to education in Africa. At the time, there was
considerable justification for the award as he rapidly expanded free primary
and secondary education across the country, including the traditionally
deprived rural areas.

However, the very reason for the award has now evaporated and the progress
in the initial phase of independence has been largely undone. Those schools
which are still operating are struggling to function with a shortage of
teachers and books, and many have returned to levying fees, which few
families can afford.

The economic crisis means that, the fees notwithstanding, families are often
forced to remove their children from school in order to earn a living and
help provide for their parents and other family members.

LEADING GRADUATES CALL FOR ACTION
JAMES MacMILLAN classical composer
Anyone with anything to do with Edinburgh University will want them to
remove his degree and take steps to distance the university from this ogre
and do it as soon as possible. Perhaps the left-wing liberals who feted him
in the 1980s should now admit that they have some egg on their faces and
that maybe they should have seen this coming. His actions are completely
unacceptable and the university should have no link with this man.

IAN RANKIN novelist
If there is to be a list of the people who should lose their degree, Mugabe
should be near the top, and it should be removed. The university should
definitely act. I do think that what the university does is somewhat
peripheral to the wider issue of improving things for the ordinary people of
Zimbabwe.

DOUGLAS AlEXANDER Scottish Secretary
Speaking as a graduate of Edinburgh University, I would welcome such a step
as a sign of the university's revulsion at Mugabe's treatment of the people
of Zimbabwe.

TIM GOODWIN president of the Edinburgh University Student Association
We want the university to strip him of his degree. Maybe Mugabe himself will
act like he doesn't care. But an honorary degree is a sign of approval and
therefore its removal is a sign of disapproval and it would show critics of
Mugabe that the world is taking notice.

This article: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=462842007

Last updated: 25-Mar-07 02:41 BST


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No place for monster Mugabe

Trinidad and Tobago Express

††††† Raffique Shah

††††† Sunday, March 25th 2007

††††† THERE are times in the lives of perennial political activists like me
when we have to admit we were wrong in our evaluations of political
situations, and more so of personalities in whom we once had implicit faith.
When that happens there is a sense of having been betrayed, of being
"conned" by leaders, in this instance one who portrayed himself as the
consummate revolutionary. I refer to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. I have never
before commented on alleged atrocities against his people mainly because I
have learnt over the years to be circumspect about western media reports
about leaders like Mugabe.

††††† But recent brutal physical attacks on opposition politicians, some of
whom have had to seek medical attention in South Africa, have exposed Mugabe
for what he is-a tyrant who is drunk with power. From rigged elections in
2002 (which still gave him a bare six per cent win over the opposition) to
training the one-time guns of freedom on those who dare disagree with him,
Mugabe has proved himself no different to the architects of apartheid, to
murderous dictators who have stained their countries with the blood of their
own people. He has so angered those who once held him in high esteem that
South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu recently referred to him as "Africa's
shame".

††††† Those who have little knowledge of what colonialism did to Africa,
what imperialism continues to inflict on the wretched of the earth, will
hardly understand why so many of us were gypped by Mugabe. When Cecil Rhodes
marched into that part of Africa in 1888, he literally seized several
countries that would later bear his name, Rhodesia. The Ndebele and Shona
people who formed the main ethnic groups were dispossessed, reduced to
slaves in their own homelands.

††††† This iniquity would reach new depths in 1966 when Ian Smith
unilaterally declared Southern Rhodesia independent, and was not even rapped
on the knuckles by the West for stealing a whole country. In contrast,
sometime in 1968 when tiny Anguilla seceded from St Kitts, Britain sent in
troops to confront and subdue Mr Webster and his cutlass-wielding "rebels".

††††† It was against that background that Joshua Nkomo, and later Mugabe,
launched guerrilla armies to topple Smith, which they finally came close to
achieving in the late 1970s. The Brits, sensing Smith's imminent defeat,
hastily summoned all parties to London where a formula for elections was
agreed upon. A peculiar caveat in the electoral process allowed the Whites
to retain 20 seats in the Parliament and all the prime farm-lands they
occupied. Indeed, one per cent of Zimbabwe's population controlled 70 per
cent of its arable lands. By then Mugabe had overtaken Nkomo as Zimbabwe's
liberator, and it is in that context his elevation to revolutionary status
must be seen. In 1980 his ZANU-PF combination convincingly won the election.

††††† But unlike Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela who remained faithful to
their people and committed to their countries, Mugabe soon descended into
becoming a despicable dictator. I recall back in 1983, at the Commonwealth
Heads of Governments conference in New Delhi, where I came face-to-face with
this hero of mine, I instinctively thought: this man looks more like an
arrogant monarch than a revolutionary. But looks could be deceptive, so I
gave him the benefit of my doubts.

††††† Even when he started appropriating farm-land from the Whites I did not
condemn him. I understood the historical context in which he had to act.
What I, and many like me, did not know was that choice properties were
distributed to Mugabe's relatives and close allies, not to the poor people
of Zimbabwe.

††††† By then Mugabe had fallen victim to the highest form of addictive
corruption-the overwhelming thirst for absolute power (to borrow a term from
fiction writer Clive Cussler). With his popularity at an all-time low, and
having alienated (some swear massacred) the Ndebele people (he's Shona), he
is living a wretched life knowing that his end is near. Really, how can
anyone justify spending millions of dollars on a birthday bash, as he did a
few weeks ago, while the majority of his people are starving?

††††† Clearly, Mugabe has "morphed" into a monster. Maybe he was always a
vicious dictator clothed in revolutionary garb. But I have no doubt that his
end is nigh. I don't know if the battered Opposition Leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, is any better. In fact, in situations like this, where one feels
compelled to "take a side", I am reluctant to if only because I have felt
betrayed so many times by so many "men of the people". I prefer to wait and
see. History has taught me, though, that such monsters meet their demise
when they least expect it.

††††† Now that Bishop Tutu, the conscience of Africa, has spoken out, I
expect other African leaders to ostracise Mugabe. They cannot close their
eyes to his atrocities the way Caricom did in the cases of Forbes Burnham
and Eric Gairy. A modern, humane Africa has no place for monsters like
Mugabe.


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Mbeki breaks the silence with Zim

iafrica.com

Sun, 25 Mar 2007
President Thabo Mbeki had telephoned Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
after the detention and torture of Movement for Democratic Change president
Morgan Tsvangirai, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper reported that a senior government official had confirmed that
Mbeki had made the call, but did not say when and what was discussed.

SA gets talking

On Friday, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka met Zimbabwean
vice-president Joyce Mujuru in Johannesburg, while senior government members
held talks with the secretaries-general of Zimbabwe's divided MDC.

The MDC planned to defy Zimbabwean government's continuing ban on public
protests on Sunday, the report said.
Sapa


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Zimbabwe rights leader predicts trouble

UPI

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- A leader of Zimbabwe's human rights movement
says this could be a pivotal year for his country as turmoil and sanctions
squeeze President Robert Mugabe.

Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo told the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus in
Washington that western sanctions could not be blamed for the rising level
of violence in Zimbabwe because they affect the elite class that controls
the entire economy.

"People think this is a defining year," Gwatidzo said Friday, adding that
the rough tactics used to break up an opposition rally this month had
galvanized Zimbabweans of all stripes to push for Mugabe's removal.

Mugabe, who has ruled for 27 years, has vowed not to give up his power
despite western pressure.

The Washington Post said Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of
Doctors for Human Rights, told the U.S. lawmakers he expected more violence
to occur in Zimbabwe in the near term as Mugabe hangs on and the economy
crumbles.


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Mutambara gives way to Tsvangirai

Zim Standard

† BY WALTER MARWIZI

††††† THE 2008 presidential election will pit Morgan Tsvangirai against
President Robert Mugabe in a repeat of their 2002 contest, The Standard can
reveal.

††††† The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will field one candidate
against Mugabe.

††††† Last week, Arthur Mutambara pledged not to challenge Tsvangirai in the
contest for the country's presidency.

††††† The Save Zimbabwe Campaign (SZC), which brokered the peace pact
between the two MDC factions, is said to have received assurances from both
sides that the opposition will field one candidate for the presidency.

††††† It is anticipated this united front is likely to frustrate any
attempts by Zanu PF to sow seeds of division between the two factions, as
the election deadline draws nearer.

††††† At a Save Zimbabwe Campaign press briefing last week, Mutambara
confirmed he would not stand against Tsvangirai in any election. He said he
would not challenge Tsvangirai and Tsvangirai would not challenge him in any
election.

††††† Asked to clarify his statement, Mutambara who was in South Africa
yesterday, said: "We are presenting one candidate to face Mugabe. There is
momentum against him and we do not want to destroy that by bickering."

††††† About the politician who would face Mugabe, he said: "We will discuss
the candidate but that should be an easy discussion. I have said enough. I
am in a meeting."

††††† As 83-year-old Mugabe presses ahead with his unpopular plans to seek
another six-year term as president, sources in the SZC, a broad alliance of
opposition parties, churches and civic organisations, told The Standard the
MDC factions were closing ranks on a common enemy - Mugabe.

††††† They said there was consensus that only one candidate from the MDC
should be fielded in March 2008 to face Mugabe who appears to be at his
weakest, politically.

††††† He faces what amounts to an internal rebellion, fuelled initially by
his ill-conceived attempt to prolong his term into 2010 through a
harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections.

††††† At his party's conference in Goromonzi last year, Mugabe failed to
garner unanimous support from all the provinces for what some of his critics
saw as a ruse to prolong his term.

††††† The SZC sources in Harare said Mutambara was persuaded to allow
Tsvangirai to run against Mugabe to avoid a devastating splitting of
opposition votes. This was the culmination of a process that began on 29
July when the two leaders embraced warmly in public, together with leaders
of other parties at the Rainbow Towers, the SCZ sources said.

††††† At the meeting organised by the Christian Alliance, the leaders
pledged to work together to bring about democracy in Zimbabwe.

††††† What followed over the past few months were behind-the-scenes
manoeuvres that resulted in Mutambara and Tsvangirai openly working together
under the SZC auspices, sources said.

††††† Mutambara and Tsvangirai were both arrested two weeks ago when they
intended to address a prayer meeting. On Tuesday, barring any police action,
they are expected to share the stage at the memorial of Gift Tandare, an
opposition activist gunned down by the police in Highfield.

††††† Mutambara has in past confirmed to The Standard he was willing to work
with Tsvangirai for national interest's sake. But some officials in his camp
have openly resisted moves to unite with the other faction.

††††† On Friday, Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson for the Mutambara
faction, said there was a shift over the matter.

††††† "We are looking at a one-Mugabe, one-opponent scenario," he said.

††††† "That understanding was arrived at in the context of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign. We want every single vote to be against Mugabe and it is in this
context that you hear Mutambara announcing he won't contest Tsvangirai."

††††† Pius Wakatama, a senior official of the Christian Alliance which
co-ordinates the Save Zimbabwe Campaign confirmed Mutambara had pledged not
to challenge Tsvangirai.

††††† "We have been working towards a common goal, a common enemy. Mutambara
took the bull by the horns. We applaud him for that," Wakatama said.

††††† Tsvangirai could not be reached for comment yesterday.

††††† Zimbabwe goes to the polls in March 2008 and a united opposition could
present a major challenge to Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for 27 years.


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Mujuru in secret SA visit

Zim Standard

† BY OUR STAFF

††††† VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru was in South Africa yesterday, according
to media reports in that country.

††††† Mujuru reportedly met South African Deputy President Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka for what were said to be private talks.

††††† The Vice-President was accompanied by her husband, Retired Army
Commander, General Solomon Mujuru.

††††† It was not immediately clear whether she was on official business or
not but there were suggestions this could have been part of a diplomatic
offensive by the Zimbabwean government.

††††† According to Channel Four News, Mujuru's visit could have been a
secret one. South Africa has been pursuing a policy of so called "quiet
diplomacy" over Zimbabwe for the past few years.

††††† Mujuru's visit comes at a time when President Mugabe's government has
been heavily censured for beating up leaders of the opposition.

††††† Criticism has emerged in the Southern Africa Development Community
(Sadc) in which Mugabe had enjoyed unstinting support over the past five
years.

††††† Mujuru's visit came as South Africa's deputy Foreign Minister Aziz
Pahad made the country's strongest comments on Zimbabwe, warning it was on
the brink of a meltdown.

††††† Pahad said it was difficult to see how the country could avoid a
complete collapse.

††††† Other reports from South Africa yesterday said Mujuru held "crisis
talks" over President Mugabe's leadership with Mlambo-Ngcuka. No immediate
details on the outcome were available yesterday.

††††† At the same time, the two secretaries-general of the MDC factions,
Tendai Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube also reportedly met SA government
officials.

††††† The details of their discussions were kept secret. Biti and Ncube are
said to have met the SA government as one group while Mujuru did so on her
own.

††††† Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson of the pro-Senate MDC faction said
Ncube accompanied the faction's leader, Professor Arthur Mutambara, to the
general council assemblies of the ANC, Cosatu and SACP. He said it was
possible that some of the ANC officials who met the Zimbabwean delegations
were people also in government.

††††† South Africa has come under pressure from the West over its reluctance
to voice criticism of Zimbabwe. But Pretoria insists there is no alternative
to its approach of quiet diplomacy towards Mugabe.

††††† International outrage at the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe was
heightened two weeks ago after a brutal police crackdown on the opposition
that left National Constitutional Assembly chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku,
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his party officials - Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai
Holland - requiring urgent specialist medical attention.

††††† Meanwhile, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa was in Zambia last
week.

††††† Mutasa denied he was in Zambia to complain officially after President
Levy Mwanawasa likened Zimbabwe to "the sinking Titanic".

††††† Speaking during the 23rd Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) Defence
Forces meeting in Lusaka, Mutasa said: "I did not come to complain. I came
at the invitation of my Zambian colleagues, which invitation was made a year
ago."

††††† He added: "I come to thank my Zambian colleagues and President
Mwanawasa for the co-operation that we have between us."

††††† Mutasa said the JPC could not have come at a better time than now when
the desire by the sub region to foster development was being stifled by
forces bent on sowing seeds of disharmony and division.

††††† He said the challenges the region faced now needed close
collaboration.


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Threats to kidnap MDC official

Zim Standard

† By Nqobani Ndlovu

††††† BULAWAYO - Anonymous people last week threatened to kidnap anti-Senate
Movement for Democratic Change vice-president, Thokozani Khuphe as the
intimidation of opposition activists continued around the country.

††††† A letter addressed to Khuphe, who was attending the African, Caribbean
and Pacific parliamentary forum in Belgium was delivered at her flat in the
city centre on Wednesday evening.

††††† It warned her about the intended plan to kidnap her and her daughter.

††††† She had gone to Brussels as a last minute replacement for MDC
spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, who was brutally attacked by suspected state
agents at Harare International Airport last weekend on his way to the
meeting.

††††† The matter was reported to the police on Thursday at the Bulawayo
central police station, as case number 4182/07.

††††† MDC national secretary for integration, healing and reconciliation,
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said the opposition party was taking the threats
seriously, coming as they did after the police "tried to assassinate our
leaders while in custody".

††††† Nkomo said yesterday: "The letter was written by one Ndabembi (bad
news) Khumalo saying he is from the (Arthur) Mutambara faction. The letter
said they had planned to kidnap Khuphe and her daughter and then blame the
government.

††††† "We viewed the threat very seriously and reported the case. It can
never be the Mutambara faction as they are our friends. These are CIOs and
the message we have for them is that you will never pull wool over our
eyes."

††††† Bulawayo police spokesperson, Shepherd Sibanda could neither confirm
nor deny the report when contacted for comment.

††††† But anti-Senate MDC spokesperson, Chamisa said: "We are aware that
there is a deliberate strategy to target the leaders of the opposition. What
is happening is that the threats and the beatings are part of the strategy
to eliminate individuals perceived to be a problem. Eliminating people will
not help Zanu PF; neither will it heal the crisis in the country."


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Opposition leaders to speak at Tandare memorial service

Zim Standard

† BY WALTER MARWIZI

††††† PRO-DEMOCRACY groups under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign will this week
hold a memorial service for Gift Tandare, shot dead by police in Harare two
weeks ago.

††††† The announcement is set to raise tension between the government, on
the one hand, and the Movement for the Democratic Change (MDC) and the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), on the other.

††††† MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and NCA chairperson
Lovemore Madhuku are lined up to speak at the memorial.

††††† Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube from Bulawayo will deliver what is
expected to be a fiery anti-government main sermon. Yesterday, the memorial
organisers remained tight-lipped on the venue, apparently for security
reasons.

††††† Police sources suggested yesterday there were unconfirmed reports the
security agents planned to disrupt the memorial service.

††††† Tandare was gunned down by the police near Mhizha primary school in
Highfield as they pounced on unarmed civilians in a bid to thwart a prayer
meeting planned at the Zimbabwe grounds by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

††††† Fearing the possibility of massive protests erupting at Tandare's
funeral, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), rendered skittish at
the possibility of a burial ceremony during which anti-government speeches
could get out of hand, seized Tandare's corpse at a funeral parlour, before
clandestinely arranging its burial in rural Mt Darwin.

††††† The government tried to defend its actions by suggesting that Tandare,
chairperson of the Glen View constituency committee of the National
Constitutional Assembly, as well as an MDC activist, had been given a state
funeral.

††††† Traditionally, these are reserved for heroes declared by the Zanu PF
politburo.

††††† Several MDC activists killed by security agents in the past have not
been assisted by the State. An unimpressed Madhuku said his organisation was
concerned by the way the State had taken over Tandare's burial arrangements.

††††† "The NCA wishes to condemn the government of Zimbabwe for interfering
with the burial arrangements that had been made to give Gift a fitting
send-off as a hero of this struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe," Madhuku
said.

††††† He said Tandare was one of the 120 grassroots leaders who led
constituency committees across the country.

††††† "His death is therefore a great blow to the NCA, yet he is a hero of
the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe. He was killed by the government of
Zimbabwe. We hold the government fully responsible for his death. It was
brutal. It was unnecessary. It was an unforgivable act."

††††† Tandare was buried in Mashanga Village in Dotito, Mt Darwin.


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Zimbabwe prepares for Global Fund Round Seven

Zim Standard

† By Bertha Shoko

††††† THE Global Fund to fight malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids is calling
for countries and organisations wishing to obtain funding in Round Seven to
send their proposals before the deadline in May.

††††† Standardhealth can confirm that despite an unsuccessful Round 6
application for funding last year, Zimbabwe plans to send a proposal in the
seventh round.

††††† Last year, Zimbabwe's application for more than US$300 million to the
Global Fund for malaria, TB and HIV/Aids was turned down by the funding body's
Technical Review Panel (TRP).

††††† The TRP is a panel of independent experts in disease control and
development economics from universities and development institutions around
the world. Chairman of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) to the
Global Fund and Minister of Health and Child Welfare David Parirenyatwa told
Standardhealth that although the CCM was still to decide tomorrow whether or
not to apply, he was optimistic that he would be able to convince them the
need for external funds to mitigate the effects of the HIV/Aids pandemic is
enormous.

††††† Parirenyatwa said: "We have not yet met as the CCM to decide over the
issue but I expect we will meet tomorrow and decide what we want to do
exactly.

††††† "There is no doubt, really, that we need the money and I am sure the
CCM will agree with me."

††††† Parirenyatwa said he would want to see more funds going towards the
procurement of Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARVs) to expand the current public
sector programme and orphan care. There are now about 40 000 people on ARVs
on the government programme, compared with the more than 300 000 in urgent
need of the life-prolonging drugs.

††††† Since launching the ARV programme in 2004, the government has been
unable to expand it to cater for more people, as there are currently
hundreds on the waiting list.

††††† The major hospitals in Harare - Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospital and
Bulawayo's Mpilo and United Bulawayo - are the only ones offering ARVs.
There are even reports that the current government programmes are facing
viability problems.

††††† Zimbabwe's relationship with the Global Fund has been stormy. Last
year, its Round Six proposal was turned down amid speculation that the
denial of funds was politically-motivated.

††††† It now remains to be seen what Round Seven holds for hundreds of
Zimbabweans in need of ARVs.With the worsening political and human rights
situation in the country, they can only wait and hope.



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Novel revisits Murambatsvina

Zim Standard

† The Uncertainty of Hope

††††† (Weaver Press 2006)

††††† By Valerie Joan Tagwira

††††† Reviewed By: Bertha Shoko

††††† Uncertainty of Hope is a tragic story that captures the lives of two
women from Mbare - Harare's oldest high-density suburb - who take us through
some of the most difficult patches of Zimbabwe's political and economic
problems in 2005.

††††† The main character in the book is Onai Moyo, a vegetable vendor and
mother of three.

††††† Her best friend is Katy Nguni, an illegal foreign currency dealer who
disguises herself as a market vendor. We are introduced to the harsh
realities of Zimbabwe's troubled economy and subsequent social problems as a
result.

††††† Onai is married to Gari: abusive, irresponsible and an alcoholic,
employed as a section manager by a beverage company but fails to provide for
his family, forcing his wife to irk out a living as a vegetable vendor. Yet,
he is prepared to take good care of his numerous mistresses, better known as
"small houses", while ignoring the needs of his own family.

††††† Through his extramarital affairs, two of them with self-confessed
prostitutes, he exposes his wife to HIV and Aids.

††††† In contrast, Onai's friend Katy is married to John, a loving and
caring husband who earns a living as a cross-border truck driver. So great
is his need to provide for his wife and daughter and escape the poverty of
Mbare that he is caught up in the illegal trafficking of young girls and
women into South Africa† and doesn't tell his wife about this.

††††† His daughter, Faith, a final year law student at the University of
Zimbabwe is looking up to him for tuition fees and will miss the
examinations if he does not get the money somehow. His crude forex deals
with a senior police officer and his illegal trafficking land him in trouble
one day and he is forced to flee the country to escape arrest.

††††† Katy and John are concerned about Onai's abusive relationship and fear
that the worst can happen if she stays put but their friend is adamant. Even
after almost a week's stay in hospital after being seriously beaten by Gari,
and attempted counselling by a female doctor who attended to her, Onai
cannot gather the courage to leave Gari and uses her children as an excuse.

††††† Like a battered wife, Onai defends her position and attacks her friend
Katy during one such conversation: "And where do you think I will take my
children? Huh? Have you gone that far with your plans to re-arrange my
life?"

††††† She even makes excuses for her husband's abusive nature: "Please, let
me be, Katy. Gari will change. He is going through a difficult time at work.
I know he'll change as soon as things get better for him."

††††† But she gets a rude awakening when Gari brings into their family home
Gloria, his mistress, and introduces her as his second wife; she would be
moving into the family home at the end of the week, he says.

††††† This was the last straw for Onai. In a fit of rage she fights Gloria
but her husband runs to his mistress' defence and beats up his wife, before
chucking her out of the family home for "being disobedient". Feeling
dejected and betrayed, Onai leaves home and hearth and is taken in by her
friend Katy.

††††† But these social problems are only part of the rot in the country.
Through the lives of the two heroines, Valerie Tagwira boldly shows how
operation Murambatsvina affected Mbare, the home of the informal sector,and
left hundreds homeless and without any sources of income.

††††† Katy and Onai are some of the people who lose their vending spaces and
find they have no source of income any more. Their backyard shacks and
cottages are also destroyed during the operation and they watch helplessly,
as they sleep in the open.

††††† The state of the country's hospitals, with no medicines and drugs and
demotivated and burnt-out health workers are depicted graphically in the
novel.

††††† After admission in hospital with a deep cut on her forehead, Onai is
stitched up by a grumpy doctor, with no local anaesthetic. The food
shortages, the fuel queues and the runaway inflation, shortages of
Anti-retroviral Drugs - Tagwira touches on them all.

††††† This is a "must read" for anyone with a passion for good literature.
Tagwira manages to make me angry, happy, hopeful, and hopeless, as she
narrates this touching story about Zimbabwe through these two powerful
female characters.



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Pius Ncube urges civil disobedience

Zim Standard

† By Foster Dongozi

††††† ARCHBISHOP Pius Ncube (pictured) of Bulawayo has urged church leaders
throughout Zimbabwe to mobilise their followers to stage non-violent civil
disobedience against the declining standards of living.

††††† Addressing scores of pastors in Harare on Thursday, Archbishop Ncube
said he was prepared to lead such a campaign.

††††† "I am willing to lead that non-violent civil disobedience and prepared
to face even blazing guns. It is time to stand up to this government and
fill the streets with people and demand that this man, Robert Mugabe should
just go away now."

††††† Ncube said Zimbabweans needed to be brave when confronting the
government.

††††† "Generally, Zimbabweans are peace-loving people but they are also
cowards, including myself. The problem with some of our pastors is that they
are too fond of their comfort and luxury to worry about leading the people."

††††† Ncube said: "I think we may have to turn to women to lead us in
confronting this government because they have the courage to stand up to
dictators and I believe if 20 000 women took to the streets, they would have
a huge impact."

††††† The Catholic prelate said after the government embarked on anti-people
programmes, including Operation Murambatsvina, the citizens had overwhelming
reasons to take to the streets.

††††† "More than 3.5 million Zimbabweans have fled to the diaspora to escape
the harsh economic conditions; hunger is stalking this land; health and
education delivery are in a shambles.

††††† Ncube, a long time critic of President Robert Mugabe, said he had
softened his stance and no longer prayed for Mugabe's early death.

††††† "I realised that when I said I was praying for Mugabe to die, it
offended some people. So I now pray that he should be away from the seat of
power."

††††† He said civil disobedience would drive home the point that people were
struggling to survive.

††††† "The problem with Mugabe is that he is arrogant and full of himself
and does not listen to advice," Ncube said.

††††† The archbishop said Mugabe would not go without a fight.

††††† "He knew that this country had an economy which was agro-based but for
the sake of political power, he was prepared to destroy the agricultural
sector."

††††† Describing the current government as "liars" Ncube said: "Right now
inflation is pegged at 4 000%. I don't believe the lies they tell us because
I consulted economists and businesspeople who came up with an inflation
figure of 4 000%. This government thinks we will believe any propaganda
which they tell us."


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Zanu PF endorses ZINWA

Zim Standard

† BY OUR STAFF

††††† BULAWAYO - In a major climb-down, the Zanu PF Bulawayo province last
week endorsed the proposed controversial take-over of the management of
Bulawayo's water and sewer by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).

††††† Provincial chairman Mcloud Chawe confirmed they were no longer opposed
to the Zinwa take-over.

††††† Zanu PF has in the past few weeks fiercely opposed the take-over and
even put its weight behind the Movement for Democratic Change-dominated
council, the Bulawayo United Residents' Association (BURA) and other civic
groups' campaigning against the move.

††††† Insiders said the embattled executive led by Chawe decided to recant
following attempts to remove it from office. Early this month, Zanu PF
commissar, Elliot Manyika, unexpectedly dissolved the executive and ordered
fresh elections in the province.

††††† But his decision was reportedly vetoed by Zanu PF heavyweights in the
region who referred the matter to the ruling party's central committee,
which meets this week. Attempts to dissolve the executive were linked to its
stance on the ZINWA take-over and President Robert Mugabe's bid to extend
his term beyond next year, which they opposed.

††††† Chawe claimed they decided to support ZINWA after Vice-President
Joseph Msika assured them the take-over would not be permanent.


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Family of police shooting victim to sue for $150 million

Zim Standard

† BY CAIPHAS
CHIMHETE

††††† THE family of the 17-year-old Chitungwiza boy, Prince Chabuda, who was
gunned down by police detectives in August last year, has filed a $150
million lawsuit against the police.

††††† The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, which is representing the family,
filed the notice of intention to sue on 8 February against the Commissioner
of Police, Augustine Chihuri, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and
the three detectives that were involved in the shooting.

††††† Prince, who was being driven by his brother, Emmanuel, was shot dead
near High Glen Shopping Centre after the driver failed to obey police orders
to stop, fearing they could be carjackers as it was in the dead of night.

††††† The police, who were using an unmarked car and did not fire warning
shots, pumped several shots into the teenager's abdomen, ripping it open.

††††† Winnet Chabuda, Prince's mother is the applicant.

††††† "As a direct result of her son's death, our client incurred funeral
expenses in the sum of $150 000 000.00 (one hundred and fifty million
dollars). Kindly acknowledge receipt of this notice and advise us of your
attitude towards liability," said the NGO Forum in the notice.

††††† The notice was also copied to the Deputy Secretary (Finance and
Administration) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Civil Division of the
Attorney General's Office and the three detectives identified as Sergeant
Chivinge (No 045739Q CID - Drugs), Sergeant Marimbo (No 043465T - Homicide)
and Constable Naine (No 042931L - Homicide).

††††† The NGO Forum, which works towards the reduction of organised violence
and torture in Zimbabwe by representing victims in claiming compensatory
damages against the perpetrators, has given the police up until end of this
month to respond.

††††† The NGO Forum said the police acted negligently and had no reasonable
suspicion that Chabuda had committed an offence that warranted shooting.

††††† "This shooting was wrongful in that it was made negligently and
recklessly as it was done in wanton disregard of life," said the Forum.

††††† In an interview with The Standard last week Winnet expressed concern
over the selective application of the law.

††††† She said despite the fact that the detectives are known, the police
were reluctant to institute investigations into the matter.

††††† "The problem in this country is that there is a law for the poor and
another for the well-up. They (police) are trying by all means to protect
the rogue officers who murdered my son," Winnet said.

††††† She said the family never received any assistance from the State,
although her son was killed by detectives who were on duty.

††††† Ironically, the government "assisted" the family of Gift Tandare, who
had been shot dead by the police while on his way to a Save Zimbabwe
Campaign prayer meeting a fortnight ago.

††††† But it emerged that the State, through the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), seized Tandare's body to pre-empt the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which had planned to turn the burial
into a massive gathering.

††††† Tandare was declared a national hero by the MDC


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Soldiers take over State institutions

Zim Standard

† BY FOSTER DONGOZI

††††† A story which appeared recently in a government-controlled newspaper
all but confirmed the militarisation of State institutions through the
elevation of serving and retired soldiers into senior positions.

††††† Transport and Communications minister, Chris Mushowe announced board
members for several parastatals in which the military has a strong presence.

††††† Potraz board members announced include Colonel Livingstone Chineka,
Lieutenant Colonel Reuben Ngwayi and Wing Commander M Dengura.

††††† Brigadier Charles Wekwete and Wing Commander Kapondoro are new members
on the TelOne Board.

††††† Jocelyn Chiwenga, the wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces' Commander,
Constantine Chiwenga, is a new board member at the Traffic Safety Council of
Zimbabwe.

††††† Zanu PF recently fielded Lieutenant Colonel Kallisto Gwanetsa, the
deputy commander of 2 Brigade, as a candidate in the Chiredzi South
by-election.

††††† The soldier went on to win the election.

††††† Gwanetsa is the latest in a series of elevations which have seen
soldiers taking control of key state institutions.

††††† With Zimbabwe facing food shortages caused by clueless new farmers,
soldiers have now been deployed to ensure some grain is produced.

††††† The army launched Operation Maguta to which soldiers were deployed to
ensure that newly resettled farmers delivered their grain to the Grain
Marketing Board.

††††† Colonel Ronnie Mutizhe is in charge of Operation Maguta while Colonel
Samuel Muvuti is the GMB acting chief executive officer.

††††† Under the programme, farmers can access farming inputs such as seed
and fertilizers for use in producing the staple maize under contract to the
military.

††††† GMB has been accused by small-scale farmers of long delays in paying
for grain delivered to their depots while payments for senior politicians
are made promptly.

††††† At the time that President Robert Mugabe was said to have been paid
millions of worthless Zimbabwe dollars last year, after his maize was
delivered to the GMB, hundreds of impoverished communal farmers were
complaining of not having received payments from GMB for grain deliveries.

††††† Zimbabwe is now being run by sub-committees with a strong military
component.

††††† At the helm is the Zimbabwe National Security Council, (ZNSC) headed
by President Robert Mugabe and his two vice-presidents.

††††† Other members of the council are defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi,
home affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi and State Security minister, Didymus
Mutasa.

††††† In Cabinet, soldiers are beginning to make their presence felt with
Retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri having been appointed as Minister of
Youth Development and Employment Creation.

††††† Retired Lieutenant-General Mike Nyambuya is the Minister of Energy and
Power Development.

††††† Two retired senior officers, Major Edwin Muguti and Colonel Hubert
Nyanhongo are serving as deputy ministers.

††††† Retired Colonel Christian Katsande is the permanent secretary in the
Ministry of Industry and International Trade.

††††† The Attorney General, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, is a former director of
military intelligence.

††††† George Chiweshe, the head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which
runs all national elections, is a retired senior army officer and war
veteran.

††††† The seemingly innocent Sports and Recreation Commission, to which all
sporting disciplines are affiliated, has retired Colonel Charles Nhemachena
as its director-general while the chairman of the board is Retired Brigadier
Gibson Mashingaidze.

††††† The soldiers are also involved in the transport sector where the
National Railways of Zimbabwe, (NRZ) has Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai as
the general manager while Colonel Douglas Nyikayaramba is the chairman of
the NRZ board.

††††† With Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri approaching the end of his
career, Major General Engelbert Rugeje is already being tipped as the next
police commissioner after some army generals laughed off suggestions by
President Mugabe to appoint his relative, Deputy Commissioner, Innocent
Matibiri as Chihuri's replacement.

††††† Rugeje is a former board member of Radio Zimbabwe.

††††† The head of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Happyton Bonyongwe
is a retired Brigadier.

††††† Army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Tsatsi, said there was
nothing irregular with soldiers being appointed to parastatals.

††††† "I think they are just being appointed after meeting the requirements
of the! boards. Organisations would obviously be aware of their records and
qualifications," Tsatsi said.

††††† Desmond Moyo, a Harare resident said the appointment of senior
soldiers to key positions could be linked to the political chess game by
former army general, Solomon Mujuru, who has managed to catapult his wife,
Joice to the position of vice-president.

††††† "What we have is an unofficial coup, where soldiers have taken over to
make it easier for whoever they want to succeed Mugabe to take over," Moyo
said.

††††† National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Lovemore Madhuku
differed with that interpretation.

††††† "This has absolutely nothing to do with the succession issue. By
appointing soldiers to key posts, Mugabe is simply buying loyalty. He knows
that by appointing soldiers, it is much easier to get their loyalty than if
he appointed civilians. But where he can find more loyal civilians, he will
appoint them to very key positions."

††††† Madhuku said in any case, there was no law which stipulated that
retired or serving soldiers could not hold key public office.


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Shocking realities inside the DPRK iron curtain

Zim Standard

† By Foster Dongozi

††††† "DON'T touch!"

††††† That was the greeting I received from a North Korean soldier manning
the border with South Korea when I reported to the immigration desk last
week.

††††† I had presented my temporary permit to visit North Korea for a day and
placed it on a counter before a cold, narrow-eyed soldier.

††††† As I waited for him to scrutinize my permit, I rested my comparatively
large hands on the counter. I was startled almost out of my skin when the
soldier yelled at me to stand clear of the counter.

††††† He continued to scream, telling me that putting my hands on the
counter would compromise security at the border.

††††† I was one of more than 200 journalists from all over the world who had
gathered in Seoul, South Korea, for a special peace conference organised by
the South Korea Journalists Association under the auspices of the
International Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 500 000
media practitioners worldwide.

††††† The conference was aimed at uniting journalists from the two divided
countries and one of the exercises was a field visit to North Korean,
described by one United States diplomat as "an outpost of tyranny".

††††† The two Koreas split following the war that broke out between the
north and the south with the Soviet Union and China backing Kim Il Sung
while the United States backed the south.

††††† In Zimbabwe, the North Koreans are loathed after they were used by the
then Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Robert Mugabe as "consultants"
to train and arm the 5 Brigade, (Gukurahundi), held responsible for the
deaths of 20 000 people in the Midlands and Matabeleland in the early 1980s.

††††† This brief encounter with the North Korean soldier left me convinced
that anybody wishing to unleash terror on their people would most likely,
naturally approach these hostile people.

††††† Officially, the country is known as the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea (DPRK), but after going through immigration formalities, my
colleagues and I were convinced that this was neither a democratic nor a
people's republic.

††††† Before leaving Seoul, the journalists had been given pieces of paper
listing what we could not carry into North Korea.

††††† We were told we could not cross with audio recorders, laptops, video
cameras and cellphones - basically all tools a journalist needs to function.
A note book and a pencil would do just fine, we were informed.

††††† We were reminded by our South Korean hosts that foreign newspapers and
magazines were prohibited in North Korea. Talking to North Koreans or taking
photographs was also forbidden.

††††† The journalists were strongly reminded that they should feel free to
spend as many US dollars as they could in North Korea.

††††† I had read about the excesses of the North Korean despotic leader, Kim
Jong Il, who has starved and jailed his political opponents and maintained a
tight grip on his fellow countrymen and women but seeing it unfold before me
was like a bad joke.

††††† Before crossing into North Korea, soldiers at the border ensured that
all the number plates of our five coaches had been covered over.

††††† When we sought an explanation from our tour guide, we were told that
North Koreans were not supposed to be exposed to different number plates as
it would make them curious about lifestyles in other parts of the democratic
world.

††††† Another requirement that the "comrades" in North Korea had insisted on
was that each one of our five buses should have a giant communist red flag
attached to the front, to help reassure the local population that even
foreigners supported the communist party.

††††† After driving a few hundred metres into North Korea, it became evident
that we were in the territory of a regime which relishes sabre- rattling.

††††† Armed soldiers lined the road and were deployed every 500 metres along
the route.

††††† Heavy T-35 tanks were tucked into the mountain sides while several
menacing mobile 40 barrel Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, also known as
Stalin Organs, patrolled the border with South Korea.

††††† All soldiers wore badges of Kim Il Sung, the late father of the
current leader.

††††† They all looked sad and depressed.

††††† For a country where thousands of people have starved to death because
of famine, it looked bizarre that they could have such a huge arsenal.

††††† Another shock awaited us at the hotel we were booked in.

††††† There were no beds provided and we were told by dead pan-faced hotel
staff that sleeping on the floor was "part of the North Korean culture".

††††† With hotel staff unable to explain coherently to the mainly
English-speaking journalists why there were no beds, we gave up and slept on
the floor.

††††† Word soon spread that there were small microphones concealed inside
the rooms for eavesdropping on guests.

††††† Over dinner, it was observed that all the waitresses wore Kim Il Sung
badges. Further inquiries established that the hotel itself belonged to Kim
Jong Sook, the mother of the current president.

††††† After a largely unexciting tour of the famous Mt Kumgang Mountains, we
returned to the South.

††††† The differences between the two countries are stark, as the north is
so poor while the south has First World affluence.

††††† At the border, a Polish journalist who, like many others, had smuggled
his camera into the communist side was caught as he took pictures of
soldiers.

††††† Angry soldiers detained him for half an hour during which they forced
him to destroy the pictures he had taken inside the people's republic.

††††† Unfortunately, their lack of exposure to emerging technology worked
against the North Korean soldiers: the Polish journalist retrieved the
photos as soon as we rolled back into South Korea.

††††† The pictures were splashed around the world.


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Outrage over $100m NUST junket

Zim Standard

† By Nqobani Ndlovu

††††† BULAWAYO - National University of Science and Technology workers have
reacted with "outrage" to a senior administrators' $100 million weekend
"strategic retreat" in Masvingo.

††††† They said the timing was inappropriate as the university was facing
financial hardships.

††††† Academic staff went on strike a month ago to push for higher salaries,
while non-academic staff returned to work after staying away for a week,
demanding better working conditions.

††††† Lecturers complain the university is unable to fund research
programmes, crucial to their work, citing lack of funds.

††††† The workers complained the money would be spent recklessly on
expensive hotel bills and daily allowances at the two-day Masvingo retreat
which began on Friday, 11 days ago.

††††† It was attended by all senior administrators from the country's second
largest university.

††††† Delegates were entitled to an additional $90 000 in daily allowances
and sources said 100 attended.

††††† Single rooms with bed and breakfast at Chevron, Great Zimbabwe and
Flamboyant hotels where the senior administrators were booked cost $180 000,
$345 000 and $280 000 respectively while lunch and dinner, range from $60
000 to $90 000.

††††† Double rooms for bed and breakfast at the respective hotels cost $260
000, $431 000 and $380 000.

††††† Academic and non-academic staff said the money should have been
channelled to other pressing commitments.

††††† "It's quite surprising and shocking that senior staff will embark on
such an expensive endeavour, yet there are protests over low salaries and
shortages of material," said one lecturer.

††††† "The money for research is being channelled to trivial issues which
are not the core business of NUST."

††††† Zimbabwe State Universities Union of Academics Association president
Bernard Njekeya, a lecturer at NUST, said the workers were not happy "about
the lavish spending when the university is burning".

††††† "Staff have raised concerns about spending so much money when there
are problems at the university," said Njekeya. "But the administration said
they had already budgeted and paid for the retreat in advance."

††††† NUST director of information and public relations, Felix Moyo said the
meeting was necessary "for capacity building so that NUST can achieve its
mission and vision".

††††† He noted that the funds were donated by Kellogg Foundation. The
conference, he said, was for about 100 people, but not all of them were from
NUST. They invited participants from other universities.

††††† The seminar was for capacity building in the spirit of achieving or
making the university a world class centre in teaching, research . . . of
walking the NUST talk towards a world class university, Moyo said.


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Corruption rife among traffic cops,study finds

Zim Standard

† BY OUR STAFF

††††† POLICE officers meant to enforce traffic legislation are ineffective
because of corruption, results of a research show.

††††† The study, which investigated the training needs of commuter bus
drivers in Harare, says police officers took bribes from traffic offenders.

††††† "Commuter omnibus drivers were inadequately trained to shoulder
responsibilities of passenger public service vehicle drivers," says the
study. "Eighty-three percent of commuter omnibus drivers exceeded the
statutory eleven working hours per day. Some (15%) commuter omnibuses
operated without permits/licences."

††††† The research by Martin Shangwa Simbi says commuter buses were rated as
the most risky mode of transport in Harare.

††††† He says his findings and recommendations may be useful especially in
the wake of the Dzivaresekwa disaster in which nearly 40 lives were lost
after a commuter bus rammed into a goods train three weeks ago.

††††† A 1997 ZRP random public opinion survey, according to Simbi, found out
that bribery and failure by the police to act against bus drivers who drive
as they like and exceeding speed limits were cited as part of the problem.

††††† "In the same survey," he says, "some respondents stated that police
accept bribes in front of the public."

††††† Simbi, quoting media reports said: "The traffic police are now working
to enrich themselves. Out of 200 omnibuses that they stop a day they may
issue only fifteen with tickets. If you refuse to pay up, they will come up
with an offence or even decide to issue you with a ticket . . ."

††††† He cites the case of an officer who swallowed the bribery upon arrest.

††††† Simbi identifies lack of political will, interest and priority in
solving road safety problems on the continent. Citing a 1996 study
undertaken in France, Simbi says driver fatigue was found to be responsible
for up to a third of all road accidents between 1984 and 1993.

††††† The French study, he says, also showed that educating drivers to drive
only when they are alert can eliminate up to a third of road accidents.

††††† The research by Simbi sought to establish whether commuter bus drivers
met the legal requirements - a driver's licence, medical certificate and a
defensive driving certificate.

††††† The need for the research arose after national concern over the
care-free attitude and reckless driving as well as use of abusive language
associated with commuter bus drivers in the capital.

††††† Simbi says the selection process for a driver for passenger public
service vehicle industry in developed countries "is thorough, hence only the
best become passenger public service drivers".

††††† ". . . Bus drivers undergo a compulsory refresher-training course
annually. This is done in order to maintain competencies and
professionalism."

††††† Among the recommendations he makes are that an anti-corruption unit be
established to deal with corruption in the police in general and traffic
section in particular.

††††† He also suggests that council provides toilet facilities at bus
terminuses for use by bus crews and commuters.

††††† Simbi recommends that rather than being on commission, commuter
drivers should be paid a salary.


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Seed-Co faces viability problems

Zim Standard

† By Our Staff

††††† THE current ban on seed exports and shortage of fertilizers are a
serious threat to the viability of the country's leading seed house,
National Seed Company of Zimbabwe (Seed-Co), the company's managing
director, Dennis Zaranyika said last week.

††††† Addressing farmers at a field day at Kadoma Research Centre, Zaranyika
said the unavailability of inputs such as fertilizer delayed the start of
farming activities countrywide.

††††† This, he said, was going to have a negative impact on the yields.

††††† "This year we got to January without the Ammonium Nitrate (AN)
fertilizer which is a crucial element in the growth of crops.

††††† "The shortage of foreign currency and the current ban on seed exports
are some of the challenges we are facing and we are calling on the
government to issue us with seed export permits," he said.

††††† Zaranyika also highlighted the unavailability of vehicles for
Agricultural Rural and Extension Services (AREX) officers, lack of tractors,
irrigation tools and equipment as some of the obstacles facing farmers.

††††† In the past, AREX officers used to visit farms to assess crops and
advise farmers on the best cultivation methods but they rarely did these
days because of the harsh economic environment.

††††† The low prices of farm products gazetted by the government have
resulted in most farmers going out of business and eventually resorting to
other activities, such as gold panning.

††††† Seed-Co is a government company concerned with research on yields,
crop disease tolerance, hybrid seed production, drought resistance, crop
productivity and educating the farming community.

††††† The company also produces seed for wheat soya-beans, millet, sorghum
and groundnuts.

††††† Over the years Seed-Co, one of the leading seed production houses in
the country, used to export five to eight tonnes of maize to neighbouring
countries such as Zambia and Malawi.



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Zanu PF seduced by world politics while Zimbabweans starve

Zim Standard

†Comment

††††† A SNAP survey of ordinary people in any city, town or village in the
country today would probably yield a predictably bleak scenario of their
discontent.

††††† Some would grouse about loss of jobs, others about not being able to
afford a decent meal for their families, even after receiving their paltry
wages.

††††† Still others would be aghast at the rapid-fire increase in the prices
of any commodity, particularly food, or in transport costs.

††††† In the villages, there would be discontent with the irregular
availability of agricultural inputs and the arbitrary pricing of their
produce by the government.

††††† There is not one section of the population which would applaud the
government's performance since 2000. Even some of the ruling party's
supporters might find a whole host of reasons to be as thoroughly
discontented as everyone else.

††††† Under the primitive Public Order and Security Act (POSA), expressing
such discontent publicly could earn a citizen a long spell in jail -which is
precisely why the law was passed.

††††† Shortly after the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000 and
2002 respectively, Zanu PF realised it was completely out of its political
depth: it had no ready panacea for the people's mounting discontent, which
had manifested itself in the two elections.

††††† Accompanying POSA in this obnoxious crusade to silence the people from
expressing their discontent was the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).

††††† Under it, journalism was criminalised and, in its wake, four
newspapers were shut down, raising even higher the government's profile as
one of the worst violators of freedom of expression, outside communism

††††† Once the government decided that there might be even an iota of truth
in accusing the West of imposing sanctions on its key figures which,
nevertheless, could be said to hurt ordinary people, it was thoroughly
seduced by the sound of its own voice.

††††† For their own reasons, a number of African countries, their latent
sense of revenge against the former colonial masters inflamed, joined the
chorus - until after the 11 March debacle and the bloody aftermath.

††††† The most unequivocal condemnation came from the Zambian president,
Levy Mwanawasa. Not surprisingly, the founding father of his nation, Kenneth
Kaunda - himself not a paragon of democracy during 27 years of one-party
rule - came to Robert Mugabe's defence.

††††† What is astonishing in all this circus-like charade is that, even as
Mugabe and his ministers condemn the West for supposedly orchestrating a
regime change, the people of Zimbabwe still go hungry, without jobs, food,
drugs, shelter or enough money to pay their children's school fees.

††††† The government has become so seduced by the fascination of listening
to its own voice attacking the West, it has forgotten - it would seem - why
its popularity dipped in 2000 and is still dropping.

††††† The people themselves are filled with discontent. It's extremely
insulting to maintain that, were it not for the West, they would not
recognise the cause of their discontent. They would have to be idiots not to
know who to blame for the miserable state of their lives.

††††† The government must cease its self-delusion of being the victim; the
people are the victims and they will effect regime change, not Washington or
London or Paris.

††††† After 2000, the people realised that after 20 years in power, Zanu PF
had lost the will to campaign for the betterment of their lives. It had
become obsessed with staying in power at all costs.

††††† As the economy deteriorated after the land fiasco of 2000, the people
discovered a new menace - corruption in high places. While their living
standards plummeted, the lifestyles of the ruling class attained obscene
levels of opulence.

††††† The people didn't need the West to point this out to them. Most see
the evidence of their poverty and hunger in the distended bellies of their
children, afflicted by kwashiorkor.

††††† The bellies of the leaders have bulged too, but for different reasons.

††††† The people will never need the West to tell them why they are poor and
hungry while the leaders are rich and obese.


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Mugabe's 'last throw of the dice'

Zim Standard

† sunday opinion by Bill Saidi

††††† THE incurable pessimists - in today's Zimbabwe, they are a dime a
dozen - believe Zanu PF is implementing its scorched earth policy before
fleeing in disgrace, or being thrown out of power on its ear.

††††† The worst case scenario has Zanu PF doing such a thorough demolition
job on the economy and every conceivable structure of government whoever
takes over will inherit nothing but the proverbial whirlwind.

††††† The perennial optimists - fortunately, there still are many of those
too - believe just as firmly that the "bashing" campaign constitutes the
last throw of the dice by a desperate gambler, the last kicks of a dying
horse, the would-be carcass being the embodiment of Zanu PF and all its
slimy, corrupt paraphernalia of 27 ruinous years of power.

††††† It's hard to be level-headed or rational when reviewing the savagery
of the last few weeks.

††††† How do you begin to put a name to a party which unleashes a deliberate
policy of physically crippling members of the opposition? This reign of
terror is so calculated there must exist, in Zanu PF or the government, or
both, a super secret unit of thugs, trained and paid out of the taxpayers'
money, to brutalise every citizen who dares to speak out against this
regime.

††††† If both prognoses are flawed, then after the bashings and killings,
nothing will change. Zanu PF will remain in the saddle, even if the
10-gallon Stetson sits a little askew on the head with the dyed hair, as the
hero rides on this scrawny nag, not into the sunset, but into a hole darker
than The Black Hole of Calcutta.

††††† This would be like insisting that the results of the 2000
parliamentary election made no impact whatsoever on the political landscape.

††††† For one thing, the political bonanza of the 2000 results, though not
universally applauded, is almost incalculable and irreversible.

††††† For another, President Robert Mugabe is 83 years old, his political
sinews as aged and frayed as any octogenarian's capacity to run the
three-minute mile.

††††† Zanu PF, its vision of a one-party system tattered beyond recognition,
was almost hurled out of the window of history and dumped on the rubbish pit
of political obscurity in 2000.

††††† To survive the near-mortal blow delivered by a new political party of
virtual novitiates, it resorted to violence, duplicity, chicanery and
deception - to which it is no stranger.

††††† Today, the party lies bruised and battered, its self-confidence dealt
a blow to the solar plexus by internecine bickering and its prospects of
survival - to quote Edgar Tekere - virtually in the intensive care unit.

††††† Mugabe has been glorified, ad nauseam, as the perennial survivor. He
has survived Ndabaningi Sithole, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, James Chikerema,
George Nyandoro and even Eddison Zvobgo - all men whose frank opinion of him
was unprintable in a family publication.

††††† But Morgan Tsvangirai is much younger than all these men. In 1952,
when he was born, Mugabe was 28 years old. He would have been Mugabe's third
or fourth child, if the schoolteacher had pursued a typical Shona male
lifestyle.

††††† What does Tsvangirai possess that so frightens Mugabe he is willing to
sin against one of the Ten Commandments many, many times over?

††††† Apart from age, Tsvangirai has innocence on his side. As a politician,
he is almost without any blemish. He himself has admitted to a period of
being politically naive, particularly in the early days of the Movement for
Democratic Change.

††††† An admirer has compared his innocence with that of Jimmy Carter, the
Plains, Georgia, peanut farmer, who lasted only one term as president of the
United States.

††††† Tsvangirai has since undergone a crash course in African politics,
where the cut and thrust of the game is translated, literally. The recent
physical bashings on his person would not have shocked him much, not any
more than his encounter with a group of war veterans when, as
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, he opposed a
levy on the workers' overtaxed wages to pay for the ex-combatants' grossly
inflated gratuities and allowances.

††††† He has been thrown into the police cells a number of times. Even if he
had been so incarcerated during the early days of the struggle, he too would
have been bestowed with the accolade P.D. - prison graduate.

††††† Now, there has to be a new degree - Bashed Graduate.

††††† What may eventually deter Mugabe from going for broke - that is,
prolonging the persecution of the opposition to its logical conclusion - is
a word from the people, a loud, unequivocal voice of protest from the
people.

††††† There can now be little doubt that only a few people in this country
see this persecution as a legitimate pursuit compatible with the aims and
objectives for which thousands died.

††††† Independence, whose 27th year we are due to celebrate next month, has
been thoroughly abused. For the majority, 18 April will be a day of wailing
and gnashing of teeth.

††††† Ye shall know the few who will sing and dance and feast by the size of
their girth. saidib@standard.co.zw


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Selfish self-interest behind SA's 'quiet diplomacy'

Zim Standard

† reflections with Dr Alex T Magaisa

††††† For quite some time now, most observers have been mystified by South
Africa's apparently lethargic and nonchalant approach to the political and
economic problems obtaining in Zimbabwe, which sometimes goes by the
appellation of "Quiet Diplomacy". A commonly cited explanation is that it
follows the usual pattern of African leaders of the liberation era using the
cover of African solidarity and comradeship sown during the days of the
struggle against colonial rule. But, there is more to the story in the case
of SA and Zimbabwe, which probably accounts for SA's velvet glove approach
to the Zimbabwean government. And instead of ignoring the plight of their
neighbours up north, South Africans have cause to worry.

††††† As I see it, SA's reluctance to take an active role arises from its
own circumstances, which closely reflect those of pre-crisis Zimbabwe, and
it is these shared circumstances that make it difficult for the SA
leadership to take a bold stand against the Zimbabwean leadership. There is
a measure of selfishness on the part of the SA leadership, who although
uncomfortable with the tactics and results of the actions of the Zimbabwean
leadership, share similar ideas in relation to the challenge redressing the
colonial legacy if unequal wealth distribution. The SA leadership finds
itself incapable of asserting any moral leverage over the Zimbabwean regime
because in their eyes the Zimbabwean leadership has done no more than they
(in SA) would like to do.

††††† Besides their physical proximity, Zimbabwe and SA share a similar
colonial history and legacy, which is not common elsewhere in Africa, of a
large white population, co-existing, rather uneasily it must be said, with
the new black leadership. Compared to the rest of Africa, they were among
the last colonies to achieve independence. They both share a key factor that
at independence, there remained the unresolved question of resource
distribution between the black and white populations. So even in the
relative stability of present day SA, beyond the frenzy of the "Rainbow
Nation", there is myriad of unresolved questions and contradictions, which
threaten to unravel with the passage of time.

††††† In this context, we know that there are things that the SA leadership
would like to do but has not yet done, for fear of disturbing the current
balance. They know that the Zimbabwean leadership has done these things that
it would like to do, and although this has had disastrous consequences, they
still find it hard to rise to the top of the mountain and admonish what they
would like to do, given the opportunities.

††††† The SA leadership is aware of the great challenges it faces,
particularly given that the needs and expectations of the people are
beginning to escalate into demands. Yet it faces a dilemma, knowing that any
sudden change Zimbabwe-style is likely to affect the stability of its
economic base but also that any further prevarication is likely to draw the
ire of those whose expectations have not been fulfilled, 13 years into
independence. Hard as it might appear to believe, President Mugabe still
retains some admirers among considerable numbers of Africans who choose to
view his actions through the prism of anti-imperialism.

††††† Similarly, by virtue of SA's circumstances and the views held by the
SA government that probably closely resemble those of the Zimbabwean
government, at least in principle, the lens through which the SA government
views the Zimbabwean problem are different from the lens through which the
West and other international observers or indeed the bulk of the opposition
in Zimbabwe sees the same issue.

††††† There is a selfish basis for SA's approach, which is apparent in its
oft-repeated line that the Zimbabwe's problems are best solved by
Zimbabweans themselves and do not require outsiders. SA appears to be
suggesting the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of
Zimbabwe. But what is the difference between Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast,
Lesotho, Burundi and even Haiti where SA appears to have taken a bolder
approach in the past? The difference is that the SA leadership is keen to
intervene more "loudly" where its self-interest is not at stake. Unlike
others where it has intervened boldly, the Zimbabwe issue presents a
sensitive challenge to its own interests and designs. There is in this, an
unspoken message to the rest of the world, that SA would prefer
non-intervention should issues similar to those in Zimbabwe arise within its
own confines so it is doing to Zimbabwe, what it would want others to do
unto it.

††††† This must worry those in SA and others with an interest in the
country, because SA does not seem to know how to handle and satisfy the
growing expectations and demands of its formerly marginalised population.
The conduct of the ANC suggests that it identifies and sympathises with the
Zanu PF as opposed to the opposition MDC, which it probably views in the
same vein as its own internal opposition. South Africans must ask themselves
whether this identification and sympathy extends beyond ideas to adopting
similar tactics and approaches towards the opposition. Does the ANC, like
Zanu PF, view the opposition as nothing more than puppets of imperialism?

††††† The real source of support for Zimbabwe is the people of South Africa
themselves, who can if they have the will; influence their own government to
take a bolder approach. To be sure, South Africans must call on their
government to do more to address the legacy of apartheid and colonialism
beyond the cosmetic Black Economic Empowerment which has been hijacked as
has happened elsewhere in Africa by a minority class of blacks. But if there
is one lesson they can learn from their northern neighbour, it is that they
must demand their government to address the issue in a properly planned way.
They must not allow their plight to be used by a failing ruling party to
launch a campaign camouflaged in the rhetoric of anti-imperialism. The irony
is that having stood by all along while Zimbabwe's attempt has failed, the
SA leadership appears to have put itself in a difficult position, because
every move it makes towards resolving the key questions of inequality is
likely to be viewed with suspicion. There will always be the question
whether SA is becoming another Zimbabwe. The people themselves must remind
their government to stop quitting responsibilities via quiet diplomacy,
which has failed to address the questions.

††††† But then again, does the South African leadership consider that they
have the moral leverage to challenge the actions of their Zimbabwean
counterparts? I doubt it, though I would be pleasantly surprised if they
prove me wrong.

††††† * Alex Magaisa can be contacted at wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk


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Zimbabwean refugees unwelcome in Botswana

Zim Standard

† GABORONE - Zimbabweans trooping
across the border looking for jobs in Botswana face hardship, but would
rather stay than return to face the worsening economic crunch at home.

††††† That is a problem for an increasing number of Motswana, who believe
Zimbabweans have worn out their welcome. Xenophobia is being stoked by the
daily arrival of economic migrants, and the popular belief that Zimbabweans
are responsible for increased crime in this diamond-rich middle-income
success story.

††††† "Coming up with the exact number of Zimbabweans now living here is
impossible because a sizeable amount of them are illegal immigrants who use
undesignated crossing points," an immigration official, who asked for
anonymity, said.

††††† He alleged that more than a thousand Zimbabweans trudged through the
Ramokgwebana border post daily. Many fibbed on their entry forms, getting a
90-day entry visa by claiming they were visiting relatives or friends. "It
is common knowledge that the majority of the people would be coming to look
for jobs," said the official.

††††† Precious Kunonga (26), a single mother, has been in Botswana dodging
the authorities for almost a year, trying to make enough money to put her
eight-year-old son through school and look after her elderly parents.

††††† At home she had been impressed by the stories spun by friends in
Botswana, who boasted about how much easier it was to earn a living. When
she turned up at the main bus station in the capital, Gaborone, to try her
luck, no one was there to greet her. Three nights spent sleeping at the
terminus gave her a crash course in urban survival.

††††† The first lesson was how to make some money as an undocumented
migrant. Early each morning Kunonga goes to Broadhurst shopping mall, an
unofficial employment exchange in Gaborone, and waits with scores of other
Zimbabweans to be hired to wash clothes, clean houses and tend gardens - the
chores that locals prefer not to do.

††††† Since 2000, when Zimbabwe's economic problems took a turn for the
worse, millions have left the country - to mainly South Africa, Botswana and
Britain. The skilled and the unskilled are all looking for a way to get
ahead, but also to help family at home, who are struggling with an annual
inflation rate close to 1 700 and unemployment of 80 percent.

††††† On a good day, Kunonga can take home 60 pula (US$10) but she can also
go for weeks without work, "and that means then I hardly have anything to
buy food with".

††††† To save as much as she can, she shares a small room without
electricity with four other Zimbabwean women. Between them they pay US$8 per
month; the landlord has already told them he is going to double the rent at
beginning of April.

††††† Despite all the hardships, suffering and embarrassment, the lure that
keeps Kunonga in Botswana is that in a good month she can earn US$115. When
that's converted on the parallel market in Zimbabwe, it's more than the
salary of a senior magistrate.

††††† Migrating from Zimbabwe is not only the prerogative of the young.
Catherine Zindoga (52), is also hustling a living in Gaborone. "I was forced
to come to Botswana by the fact that I have to fend for four children, who
were left in my custody by my two daughters, both of whom died of AIDS," she
said.

††††† Her visa has long since expired, a situation she says her employer is
taking advantage of. "I have not been given time to rest in the last seven
months and I sometimes go for months without receiving my salary," said
Zindoga. She has not only worked long hours, but has sometimes been taunted
by her employer's children as being "mukwerekwere", a derisive term for
foreigner.

††††† The South African Migration Project of the University of the
Witwatersrand quoted Botswana officials as saying the government had rounded
up and deported 6 000 Zimbabweans in the first week of October 2006.

††††† Zimbabwean-run businesses, such as bus and truck operators, funeral
parlours, vehicle repair shops and sawmills, have mushroomed in the northern
city of Francistown and the satellite towns of Tati and Tonota to the south,
all near Botswana's border with Zimbabwe.

††††† But the popular perception is that Zimbabweans are linked to
criminality. In 2004 - during which around 72 112 Zimbabweans were
deported - the Botswana government issued a statement accusing "illegal
Zimbabwean immigrants (of involvement) in criminal activities." - IRIN


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Zim Standard Letters



†Mugabe blaming MDC for own proclivity to violence
††††† PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has become so obsessed with power to an extent
of not understanding what he says and not believing what he sees and hears.
He does not know what to do when faced with an array of self-made problems.
In 2005 he announced that he would not stand for re-election in 2008,
meaning he would retire.

††††† We thought the geriatric leader had come to terms with common sense
and could spend the remaining years of his life away from State House.
Unfortunately the man changes colours like a chameleon in order to suit the
environment. The man has since shifted the goal posts as reported recently
when he said "if the party elects me, I will not turn down the wishes of the
people".

††††† Why is he afraid to go? The country needs to go forward without
Mugabe. The country is now in a mess because of Mugabe's arrogance. At 83,
he is talking about turning around the economy when he failed to do that
when he was in his sixties. It is like expecting scorching heat when the sun
is about to set.

††††† In order to show that he is afraid, he ordered the police to defy a
High Court Order granting the MDC the right to hold their rally in Harare at
the Zimbabwe Grounds.

††††† As a result of the ferocity of the raging fire advancing towards him,
he is undecided - run away or face the consequences of the inferno. He is
also facing internal ruptures in his party and this he publicly
acknowledged, although ZBC edited his 83rd birthday interview.

††††† It can be argued that ZBC realised that the man was out of his mind
and decided to edit it.

††††† When the MDC arrived at Zimbabwe Grounds the overzealous and suffering
anti-riot police, popularly known as Rovai had sealed the stadium in
defiance of a High Court order barring them from interfering with or stop
the rally. The same anti-riot police muddied the waters by provoking the
people, making the situation nastier. They beat defenceless people despite
their illegal actions and the people responded in whatever way they could.

††††† After the violence in Highfield, Mugabe declared a state of emergency,
anchored by one of the draconian laws ever produced in the world, POSA.
Since then the police have been on the rampage, beating up people in Harare,
as if they realise that their days are numbered. This exacerbated a
situation that had already turned tense due to the police's ruthlessness
against the people. This was all at Mugabe's behest, reminiscent of the
brutality he showed during the Gukurahundi era, which legally he must be
tried for.

††††† The man has been the same, will be the same and will never reform. We
have seen funerals turned into Zanu PF rallies and prayer services also
turned into Zanu PF rallies.

††††† The prayer meeting under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign on 11 March 2007
was disrupted by the police who beat up those who were in attendance and
targeting MDC leaders. In fact, most of them were left for dead - Morgan
Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku, Tendai Biti, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and
others. The violence by police against defenceless people who are exercising
their democratic right should be condemned by everyone.

††††† The flimsy allegations of violence levelled against the MDC, by Mugabe
and his propaganda machinery to justify the beatings must be dismissed with
the contempt they deserve. Mugabe's apparatus of violence are working 24
hours, seven days a week to increase the tension and justify the crushing of
innocent and defenceless people.

††††† People are much wiser. They know cheap propaganda when they see it.
They know what happens when Mugabe is cornered and wants to justify his
brutality.

††††† As police intensified the beatings, on 14 March 2007, we were shown on
television a police quarters housing several female officers. This had been
"bombed" by alleged MDC "thugs" leaving one woman officer severely burnt.
The Central Intelligence Organisation is working full throttle.

††††† We know what they did to Cain Nkala when the government was cornered.

††††† The problems facing the country can only be dealt with by removing
Mugabe from office and disbanding his diabolical apparatus of violence.

††††† Andy Mangoma

††††† Bulawayo

-------
†Retired civil servants reduced to paupers
††††† CIVIL servants the world over are an essential arm of governments. No
government can hope to succeed without the services of this group of people.

††††† The lot of these government servants in Zimbabwe is horrible, to say
the least. They are grossly underpaid while they are still employed. They
are given very little on retirement. They do not receive any word of thanks
for using up half of their lifetime working or rather slaving for a
thankless master.

††††† Whenever civil servants anticipate going on strike, they are
threatened with all forms of punishment. Some governments even declare that
civil servants are not allowed to go on strike.

††††† Once a civil servant retires, he/she loses a lot of allowances such as
transport and housing allowances. Salary adjustments made for serving civil
servants are at the discretion of a very stingy paymaster. Does retirement
mean that one no longer needs travelling or living in rented accommodation?

††††† On the contrary, retired civil servants need their transport
allowances because they have to travel a lot if they are ever going to
receive their meagre pensions. They need their housing allowances because
landlords are not going to forfeit their monthly rents from retired civil
servants.

††††† Rumours from the grapevine, once upon a time indicated that very
attractive packages were being prepared for retired civil servants and for
those intending to retire. The so-called attractive pensions have remained
pie in the sky. Civil servants, fight for meaningful pensions while you are
still able to fight. Those already retired are at the mercy of unscrupulous
pension officers. What is being received by already retired civil servants
is so little that the former government workers have been reduced to
paupers.

††††† Does our government have such a short memory that it has already
forgotten the role played by civil servants? The majority of civil servants
who are now retiring worked slavishly for colonial masters who gave them
nothing when they relinquished power. The same government workers went on to
work for their black masters who are today giving them next to nothing for
their labour.

††††† Today, corruption has taken root because of the raw deal given to
civil servants who have seen their black masters getting rich beyond belief
while they have become worse than beggars.

††††† The government must review the salaries of all the civil servants,
backdated to the year we attained independence and then work out proper
pensions using the reviewed salaries. Please improve the living standards of
all civil servants, past and present, otherwise this government will be
doomed forever.

††††† Retired

††††† Masvingo

----------
†Time we confronted the dictator on the streets
††††† I am writing this letter in extreme anger, after seeing the damage
done to Morgan Tsvangirai and Lovemore Madhuku by state agents.

††††† My question to all progressive Zimbabweans is: "Why should we be cowed
by one Robert Mugabe who continues to destroy this country with impunity?
Ambori nemangani . . . anoita kuti 12 million or so Zimbabweans fear him so
much?

††††† It is high time we now show him that he has had his time.

††††† I just wish someone out there could rally people who could block the
man's motorcade right in the centre of Harare and tell him that it is time
for him to go, and go forever! If millions of people respond and corner him
along Samora Machel Avenue or somewhere in The Avenues, I don't think the
six or so soldiers who always accompany him can do anything; even armed to
the teeth, as they usually are.

††††† They have already shown that they are prepared to waste innocent lives
if the shooting to death of Gift Tandare is the harbinger of things to come.
That, my fellow countrymen, was a declaration of war and we must rise to the
occasion.

††††† We will challenge them to shoot as many people as they can, until the
bullets run out, after which the survivors can pounce! Killing of innocent
civilians is not new in dictatorships. It happened at Tiananmen Square in
China and Sharpeville in South Africa. This is how martyrs are made.

††††† Zvakwana!!

††††† Ndugu

††††† Harare

------------
†SA seeing the reality THE cost was too high but I don't believe things will
ever be the same again in South Africa. The Business Day had Sekai Holland,
terribly bruised, bandaged and plastered lying across the front page under
the heading "Mugabe's Dirty Work" and the Cape Times had Morgan Tsvangirai
lying across its front page.

††††† The front page cartoon in the Cape Times is of the SABC interviewing
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad who is saying: "Well, we called on both
the government and the opposition to respect human rights and act
peacefully. Already we have received reports of several policemen suffering
from severely fractured batons".

††††† Judith Todd

††††† Cape Town South Africa

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