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Tsvangirai begins nationwide rallies to drum up support for mass protests

Zim Online

Fri 31 March 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai this week begins
the first leg of nationwide rallies in the country's six biggest cities and
towns to drum up support for his call for mass protests against President
Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, buoyed by a successful congress of his Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party that was attended by 15 000 delegates two
weeks ago, kicks off his programme tomorrow with a rally at Mkoba in the
central city of Gweru in Midlands province.

He will hold another rally on Sunday in the southern city of Masvingo,
according to a schedule of the political meetings shown to ZimOnline on
Thursday.

The MDC leader will next week address more rallies in Chitungwiza,
about 20 km south-east of Harare and in the second largest city of Bulawayo.
He will take a break during the Easter holidays before winding up his
programme with rallies in the eastern city of Mutare and in Harare on the
weekend of April 28 and 29.

"The idea is to drum up support among the people before we finalise on
the nature and form of the mass protests. We have learnt our lessons in past
demonstrations against this regime and this time we will adopt different
tactics," said a senior Tsvangirai aide, who chose not to be named.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa would not specifically confirm that the
rallies by Tsvangirai were to lay the groundwork for mass protests only
saying that the opposition leader would be meeting supporters to "outline
the resolutions of congress so that they become clear to all members
countrywide."

Asked whether Tsvangirai will speak about mass protests during his
rallies, Chamisa said: "It (mass protests) is part of the resolutions which
are meant to try and make Zimbabweans take their destiny into their own
hands."

Addressing his party congress, Tsvangirai warned Mugabe that his rule
was coming to an end and vowed to mobilise Zimbabweans in a popular revolt
against the veteran President and his ruling ZANU PF party - in power since
independence from Britain 26 years ago.

But the government, which has in the past deployed anti-riot police
and the military to crush street protests, was quick to remind Tsvangirai it
will not allow him to instigate an uprising against it, warning the MDC
leader that mass action could lead to bloodshed and that he himself could be
"physically eliminated".

Political analysts say although public frustration against the
government is at its worst after six years of a severe economic and food
crisis, Tsvangirai may be putting his political career on the line by opting
for confrontation with a government that has in the past not hesitated to
use the army to silence dissension.

They also say divisions in the MDC - that saw Tsvangirai's former
deputy Gibson Sibanda, secretary general Welshman Ncube and other senior
leaders breaking away to form another party that is also called the MDC -
have weakened the party and could heavily count against it in any
confrontation with the government. - ZimOnline


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Health Minister blocks private clinics from hiking fees

Zim Online

Fri 31 March 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa has blocked
private hospitals and doctors, the only remaining sources of decent health
care in the country, from hiking fees.

The hospitals had earlier this month said they would hike consultation
and admission fees, which currently stand at Z$5 million and $60 million
respectively, by 50 percent while other charges would be increased by 100
percent. Private doctors also wanted to increase fees by 50 percent from the
present $2.9 million.

But at a stormy meeting held in Harare on Wednesday which was attended
by doctors, representatives of private clinics and medical aid societies,
Parirenyatwa ordered a freeze on the proposed increases and set up a new
committee to look into the matter.

Parirenyatwa, himself a medical doctor, has in the past accused
private health institutions and practitioners of charging unjustifiably high
fees that in many cases were several hundred times more than the fees
charged at government-run hospitals which for example require patients to
pay only $10 000 for consultation.

"He (Parirenyatwa) said he was using powers vested in him under the
Medical Services Act but this is dangerous because it kills the thriving
private health sector.

"The government wants us to charge unsustainable rates, the same rates
that destroyed the public health sector," said a doctor who refused to be
named for fear of victimisation.

President of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) that represents
doctors, Billy Rigava, refused to shed more light on what transpired during
the meeting.

"I can confirm the meeting took place but for details talk to the
minister himself," said Rigava.

Contacted for comment, Parirenyatwa denied unilaterally blocking the
tariff increases.

"We all agreed on freezing the tariffs until the committee we set up
comes up with agreeable figures. It was no unilateral declaration as they
(doctors) claim," said Parirenyatwa.

Health experts say the freeze on fee hikes will impact negatively on
private clinics, that have been helping fill the gap created by the collapse
of the state's under-funded and mismanaged hospitals. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe ranked worst destination for mining investors

Zim Online

Fri 31 March 2006

HARARE - A leading international research group, the Fraser Institute,
has ranked Zimbabwe the worst destination for mining investors, following a
survey of 164 countries that was carried out ironically before Harare
unveiled new plans to seize stake in foreign-owned mining firms.

The Canada-based institute assesses risk in the mining industry in
various countries across the globe, looking at factors such as economic
stability and government controls in order to help international investors
in the industry make informed decisions on where to place new investments.

Zimbabwe, grappling a severe economic crisis critics blame on
repression and wrong economic policies by President Robert Mugabe, scored
2.4 percent out of a possible 100 on its mining policies.

"Sadly, many of the states with the greatest room to improve are
developing countries, where additional investment and job, wealth, capital
creation are most needed but still hampered by chaos and uncertainty," said
the report.

The survey covered the 2004/2005 period, several months before
Mugabe's government announced plans to amend mining laws to force foreign
firms to cede 25 percent shareholding for free and to sell another 26
percent stake over five years and surrender control of their investments to
the government.

Although there have been indications in recent weeks that the
government may consider abandoning or significantly changing the draft law,
mining firms remain apprehensive if only because the government has a well
established record of seizing private property after it grabbed farms from
whites.

Analysts say the proposed new mining law will drive away foreign
investors from the only sector of Zimbabwe's collapsed economy that has been
able to defy the country's political and economic crisis to attract fresh
foreign capital. - ZimOnline


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Opposition leader files papers opposing Z$100 billion defamation suit

Zim Online

Fri 31 March 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday
filed opposing papers at the High Court against a Z$100 billion defamation
lawsuit filed by his former colleagues in the opposition party.

Tsvangirai's former close liuetenants Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube,
Paul Themba Nyathi, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and Gift Chimanikire are suing
Tsvangirai for alleging that his former colleagues were plotting to
assassinate him.

But in papers filed at the High Court in Bulawayo this week,
Tsvangirai denied the charge and also denies that he was ever suspended as
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

"The defendant did not utter the words complained of, denies the same
and puts the Plaintiffs to the strictest of proof thereof that Defendant's
Address was restricted to a reading of his written Statement.

"Defendant denies that his prepared Written Address in its natural or
ordinary meaning nor in any secondary meaning was defamatory of the
Plaintiffs particularly given the entire scope and context of the Address,"
reads part of Tsvangirai defence outline.

Ncube and the others say Tsvangirai made the defamatory remarks when
he addressed foreign diplomats in Harare on 20 December 2005 where he
allegedly told the diplomats that his erstwhile colleagues were planning to
kill him and remove him as a stumbling bloc to their schemes to strike a
deal with the ruling ZANU PF party.

Tendai Biti is representing Tsvangirai while Ncube and his colleagues
are being represented by Nicholas Mathonsi.

The MDC, which had offered the greatest threat to President Robert
Mugabe's 26-year grip on power, is severely weakened after it split into two
rival factions over the senate issue.

The two factions have since held separate congresses which saw
prominent academic Arthur Mutambara being elected president of the Ncube-led
faction with Tsvangirai retaining control of the other faction. - ZimOnline


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Tourism Earnings Drop by Half in Zimbabwe

MSN

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Tourism earnings in Zimbabwe dropped by half last
year, the state tourism authority said Thursday, exacerbating an acute hard
currency shortage as the country suffers through its worst economic crisis
since independence.

The authority's annual report blamed the tourism slump on soaring domestic
inflation, currently the world's highest at 783 percent, gasoline shortages
and "negative publicity" abroad about Zimbabwe's problems.

Tourism, which was the third largest hard currency earner after tobacco
exports and mining, brought in just US$98 million (euro81 million) in 2005,
compared to US$198 million (euro165 million) in 2004. Foreign visitors
accounted for 13 percent of tourism revenues last year, the report said. The
balance was made up by local tourists who could no longer afford to travel
abroad.
The report also noted, however, that tourism in Africa as a whole declined
by 11 percent last year, with foreign arrivals down 39 percent.

The Harare Sheraton Hotel lowered its brand flag and logo on Wednesday and
handed over control of its luxury towers, a landmark on the capital city's
western skyline, to the state-controlled Rainbow Tourism group.

A 20-year management contract with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide,
owners of the Sheraton Hotel brand, expired Dec. 31 and was not renewed by
"mutual agreement," Starwood said.

Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy went into free fall after an
increasingly authoritarian President Robert Mugabe in 2000 ordered the often
violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms.

.


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Mugabe blasts Western critics, vows no surrender

Reuters

Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:49 PM IST

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has blasted Western
critics of his controversial policies and rights record, and vowed he will
never retreat or surrender to a "neo-colonialist" onslaught.

Mugabe, 82 and at the helm in Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain
in 1980, has been at odds with the West, which has led charges of misrule
against him.

He is accused of plunging the southern African country into political and
economic turmoil by seizing white-owned farms and destroying the key
agricultural sector, rigging elections and waging a violent campaign against
the opposition.

Speaking at a dinner he hosted for Equatorial Guinea's visiting President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Mugabe said his government had been targeted
by Western powers, particularly Britain and the United States, for
empowering Zimbabwe's black majority and for resolutely defending its
political rights.

"We stand by our principles and shall never retreat, capitulate or shirk our
responsibility," he said to applause at the dinner attended by hundreds of
Zimbabwean officials and some foreign diplomats late on Wednesday.

"Those opposed to our principles have enlisted the services of like-minded
countries and their leaders, and deceitfully and dishonestly used the media
... vilifying us as undemocratic because we have dared to put the interests
of the poor and down-trodden first," he added.

Mugabe accused the United States and Britain of invading Iraq over false
charges, and of pursuing a neo-colonialist strategy over Zimbabwe.

"BORN-AGAIN DEMOCRATS"

"The born-again democrats in London and Washington would like to hoodwink
the world on the situation in Zimbabwe in the very same manner they have
done on Iraq," he charged.

Mugabe called on developing countries to defend their independence, and said
Zimbabwe would discuss political, trade and business deals with Equatorial
Guinea during Obiang's visit.

Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil producer, is a
welcome friend for Zimbabwe as it struggles with economic meltdown and
isolation by Western countries.

One of Mugabe's senior officials said on Wednesday Zimbabwe hoped to strike
an oil supply deal with Equatorial Guinea to help ease its chronic fuel
shortages.

Obiang said he was in Zimbabwe to consolidate ties forged two years ago
after Harare helped break up an alleged international coup plot against his
government.

Mugabe and Obiang share the distinction of being labelled by Western critics
as two of Africa's most repressive leaders.

Without giving details, Obiang, who praised Mugabe as an illustrious and
courageous leader, said his country was ready to bolster links with
Zimbabwe.

"I can assure you that you can always count on the support of the government
and people of Equatorial Guinea to do their best," he said.

On Thursday, Obiang -- who later left Harare for a day trip to the resort
town of Victoria Falls -- met Zimbabwean business and industry executives
and urged them to explore trade and investment opportunities with his
country.


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UN Warns Zimbabwe of Brain Drain


2006-03-31 00:28:10 Xinhua

Zimbabwe should urgently address the issue of massive loss of
skilled personnel from basic sectors, the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) said on Thursday.

"This is a worrying situation needing urgent attention for
home-grown, short-medium and long-term solutions," said Jan Olson, resident
UNDP governance adviser in Zimbabwe.

It is estimated that almost 3 million of the total 14 million
Zimbabweans, the majority of whom are professionals, are living outside the
southern African country. The figure is estimated to comprise almost half of
the country's working population.

The human resource loss largely resulted from a difficult
macroeconomic environment and high cost of living and taxation affecting
disposable incomes and salaries, according to Olson.

Previously, the issue focused the civil service to the private
sector, but today the problem is different, he said.

"Any improvement of the lives of the people of this country will
require an optimal functioning of organizations in the private and public
sector," Olson said.

Meanwhile, the International Organization on Migration (IOM)
said the number of persons living outside their country of birth has doubled
over the last 35 years.

It estimates that more than 175 million people are migrants
worldwide and that one in every 35 persons is a migrant.

"This trend can be expected to continue in the coming decades,"
warned IOM.


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Hippos destroy crops in Zim

News24

30/03/2006 13:43 - (SA)

Johannesburg - Rampaging hippopotamuses have destroyed crops of resettled
and communal farmers in Masvingo in the past few weeks, say reports on
Thursday.

It said some farmers had now lost all hope of harvesting anything this
season.

Worst affected were the Hwendedzo and Mazare resettlement areas, near
Mutirikwi River and Zano in Chikwanda communal lands in Masvingo Central.

The hippos also damaged irrigated maize and beans at Stanmore Resettlement
Scheme in Masvingo, leaving most plot holders facing food shortages.

A farmer Emmanuel Matuma said: "In some of the plots the animals destroyed
almost all the crops and now we do not know how we are going to repay the
loans that we got last year to finance farming programmes."

'We are demanding compensation'

Affected farmers accused the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of not
doing enough to tame the hippos.

Charles Dzingirayi of Zano said: "We have been informing the parks people
about the problems here, but they never came here as they were arguing that
they did not have fuel. We are now demanding compensation for our destroyed
crops."

Wildlife management spokesperson Edward Mbewe ruled out paying any
compensation to the affected farmers saying the authority was not liable to
compensate farmers.

Mbewe said: "Hippos are our national heritage like other wild animals and
there is nothing that ties us to compensate those farmers whose crops were
destroyed by these animals."

He said patrols were being conducted in Masvingo and Chivi to contain the
situation.

Mbewe added: "Only last week, we actually shot one hippo in the area and
this really shows our desire to contain the situation but we cannot be
everywhere at the same time."


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Zimbabwe power cuts bring mine work to standstill

Mining Weekly


--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zimbabwe's mining sector has taken another knock from erratic
electricity cuts that have hit the country as its cash-strapped state power
agency struggles with imports, a senior official said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe buys more than a third of its electricity from South Africa,
Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo but has in recent
years grappled to pay its bills due to severe foreign currency shortages.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has also been
hard-pressed to repair power generation machinery, while vandalism of its
equipment and inadequate coal supplies to its main thermal power station
have contributed to frequent power cuts that have disrupted industry.

On Thursday Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines President Jack Murehwa said mine
production - now the country's top foreign currency earner - was frequently
being brought to a standstill due to power-rationing disruptions by ZESA,
most of which were implemented without any warnings to miners.

"Any unscheduled power cuts, especially if they are unscheduled and
prolonged, have serious implications on production," Murehwa said in written
response to questions from Reuters.

"In a general sense, four hours lost through an unscheduled power cut
equates to around 18 hours of lost production. In some instances, the
negative effects of power cuts are extremely expensive and result in serious
loss of revenue," he added, without giving figures.

The power disruptions have worsened the woes of an industry hit by
mine closures in the last five years, as operating costs soared in a
recession marked by the highest rate of inflation in the world and shortages
of fuel and foreign currency.

Mining has emerged as Zimbabwe's chief foreign currency earner over
the last five years as the country's once-thriving agricultural sector
collapsed following the government's seizure of white-owned farms to give to
landless blacks.

Last month South African utility Eskom denied Zimbabwe newspaper
reports that it would invest $37-million towards the expansion and upgrade
of ZESA's power station in the northwestern town of Hwange.

In another indication of cash-flow problems, ZESA this week came onto
the local market with an offer of Z$500-billion worth of investment bills to
fund managers, insurance companies and commercial banks "to finance power
imports and coal purchases".

"We are cognisant of the difficulties being faced by the power utility
(but) while the difficulties last, communication between the mines and the
power utility would assist in ensuring that the power cuts are scheduled
rather than erratic," the Chamber of Mines's Murehwa said.

The sector has also been rattled by government plans to amend
Zimbabwe's mine laws to cede a 51 percent stake in all foreign-owned mines
to the state, a move seen driving away foreign investment key to the
industry's growth.

Zimbabwe's power crunch has exacerbated an economic crisis marked by
chronic shortages of food, and fuel, soaring unemployment and triple-digit
inflation, which hit a record high of 782% last month.


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Mugabe eyes Equatorial Guinea oil

BBC

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe hopes to sign an agreement to
import oil from Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third-largest producer.
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is visiting Zimbabwe
two years after the authorities there helped foil a plot to oust him.

Zimbabwe is suffering chronic fuel shortages, the result of a foreign
exchange crisis.

Mr Obiang said his country was ready to forge stronger links with
Zimbabwe.

"I can assure you that you can always count on the support of the
government and people of Equatorial Guinea to do their best," he said at a
dinner hosted by Mr Mugabe.

Mercenaries

Mr Mugabe himself accused western governments and media of vilifying
Zimbabwe.

"The born-again democrats in London and Washington would like to
hoodwink the world on the situation in Zimbabwe in the very same manner they
have done on Iraq," he said.

Simon Mann, the British leader of the alleged coup plot against Mr
Obiang, is still serving a jail sentence in Harare after the plane on which
he was travelling landed there in 2004, on its way to Equatorial Guinea.

More than 60 men arrested with him - most of them South African
citizens of Angolan origin - were released last year after serving a year's
sentence.

Others remain in prison in Equatorial Guinea.

Zimbabweans have endured shortages of fuel and basic foodstuffs in
recent years, as a result of a foreign currency shortage.

The government blames the crisis on sanctions, while its opponents say
a controversial land reform programme is responsible for a sharp drop in
agricultural export earnings.


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Journal



After three months away it is good to be back, despite the enormous problems
everyone has to face in this country as we go into our sixth year of
deteriorating conditions. The strange thing, however,is that on the surface,
certainly in the city, but even here in Mutorashanga all seems normal.
People go about the normal occasions, there is laughter, though perhaps not
as much as in the past.

And things seem to still be happening! In Harare there are buildings going
up, the normal bustle and movement of a big city. Traffic is quite heavy
though perhaps not what it used to be. The shops are reasonably full - there
was even mealie meal in Bon Marche - and it is only when you get to the till
that you are brought back to the reality of the situation.

On my way home I stopped to buy a few things I knew I would need: cheese,
some mince, four loaves of bread, potatoes. Not much else. It came to over 2
million - or two bar as the vernacular word is, though quite why I couldn't
say.

I came through the border early in the morning of the 16th - at about
quarter to five to be precise. It was already busy and had the usual crowd
of people milling about trying to get attended to. Inside the customs house
it is relatively simple - one stands in a line, gets one's passport stamped;
and then clears Customs. The officer checks your declaration and then
tellsyou you have to pay about Z$300 000 "Road Access Tax." This is a new
wheeze thought up to extract money from the long suffering public. Never
mind that one has a Zimbabwean registered vehicle on which tax is paid
annually! The young woman attending to me laughed at my astonished dismay
and said something like "well they always manage to think of something new
to take our money from us." The next thing they have worked out is that one
pays duty on fuel brought in. When I left the rule was that 2000 litres were
permitted duty free. Not now. It cost me a further Z100 000 for the 100
litres I was bringing in. The up side is that the Customs and Immigration
staff are all polite and friendly, perhaps they feel the inhospitality of
the impositions they are forced to put on passers through are more than
enough without them adding to it. Maybe it's the early morning atmosphere.
Who knows?

Outside it is more chaotic as the rule is all cars have to be searched. This
is where I resort to a bit of commercial intervention to speed things up -
apart from rather not wanting my car searched too carefully as there is
always something one has forgotten to declare! A pleasant young man acted as
my mediator (his term) for a fee. We were cleared in matter of minutes and
as he was seeking a lift to Masvingo he jumped in and away we went. It
turned out he was a student teacher and comes down to the border whenever he
has time and works for a few days. His salary as a student is 1.5bar and so
he has to augment it to support his family. He had previously been a
policeman and I suppose that is how he managed to worm his way into what
must be a very sought after alternative occupation.

We had long chats along the way. I am always astonished at the erudition and
the almost casual way such catholic knowledge is displayed. This fellow was
into discussing the Greek philosophers and wondered what I could do to
contribute to his knowledge of Plato! I guess I was too dumbstruck to do
more than murmur that he wrote a book called "The Republic", I think, and
had been a dab hand at the philosophy of political representation -and also
gave rise to the expression Platonic love! I was too intimidated to say I
had never read anything of the great man's nor ever intended to!

Driving through Chivi I was on safer ground as he came from there and we
were able to discuss the road to his home in the Munaka Hills about 20 kms
from the station where we used to live so very long ago now, and I could
ask in an off hand way if the Takavarasha family lived anywhere near him
(they do!) So pride was saved!

I arrived home in the early afternoon and there were Taurai and Nyarai to
meet me. The house was spotless and the garden looking green and well kept.
The rains have been excellent this season and so the streams are rushing
down the valley on both sides of the property. I can once more look out onto
our front garden and see the little dams brim full and listen to the busy
gurgle and rush of the stream as it makes its busy way down to the Zambezi!
It was not long before Kathy Martin came stumping over from next-door
shouting amiably in her rich brogue, armed with a tureen of beef stew for my
supper! She was very disappointed to find I was alone, Jill having stayed on
in UK for another couple of months to be with Jean for a little longer.

The next morning a stream of visitors took up most of the morning. First to
arrive was my old friend the retired soldier (he first saw service in the
RAR and has a scathing contempt for any other unit). I had been in touch
with two of his daughters in the UK. They are both nurses and it was good to
be able to tell them the old rogue was still fit and chirpy - nay stroppy -
particularly when it comes to passing opinions on the current situation! Of
course he had to report on the general state of Feoch of which he is a sort
of warden or ranger. In fact he spends more time in the beer halls than in
patrolling the koppies but at his age, indeed why not! (he wants like so
many retired soldiers, to open his own now, he tells me.) So his report was
very similar to the apocryphal story of the orderly reporting to his CO on
return from leave, attributed to the KAR in Tanganyika:
"Everything is fine, Efendi! Lakini (but) the mess orderly has run away with
the company funds and the Bwana captain's wife was caught in bed with the
young Bwana Shauri (DO)!"

In keeping with the times, it was the headmaster of the high school who had
absconded with the school fees, and it was a young policeman who was caught
in more than compromising circumstances with the wife of a senior employee
of the local mine!

After the Cpl. departed I had visits from neighbours and the two reprobates
who constitute the Feoch maintenance gang. They, of course, had to explain
why they appear to have done almost nothing during the last three months.
Their inventiveness was only exceeded by the transparency of their
mendacity. Ill-heath and a lack of any support from anyone formed the
foundation on which they built their accounts, with a hints that witchcraft
and shanje or "majelasi" (envy of their positions?!) may well have been
employed to bring them into disrepute, thrown in for a bit of authentic
colour.

It seems hard to believe I have been back for only a week!


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Stakeholders pleaded for the ICC to help



Steven Price in Harare

March 30, 2006

Cricinfo has been given a copy of a confidential letter sent to the ICC on
March 11 by leading Zimbabwe stakeholders ahead of the recent executive
meeting in Dubai in which they pleaded for help in solving the crisis
affecting cricket in the country. The request seems to have fallen on deaf
ears, as the executive agreed to allow Peter Chingoka, the chairman of the
interim board, to carry on heading Zimbabwe Cricket.

The eight-page letter, from Charlie Robertson, a veteran administrator and
chairman of the provincial associations, and Ethan Dube, a former national
selector, was sent to directly to Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president. In it,
they outlined their take on the situation and argued that since the
appointment of an interim board in January, things had continued to get
worse, calling on the ICC to stop recognising Chingoka as the head of the
board.

"Since we last wrote to you, Zimbabwe cricket as deteriorated further, both
on and off the pitch, to the extent we must now make a last impassioned
direct approach to the ICC to take action." The letter then detailed the
player defections, and warned of the "certain embarrassment and humiliation"
which they predict when Zimbabwe take on West Indies next month, adding that
this also undermined the international game's integrity.

The letter went on to highlight the domestic structure, which it stated was
in "disarray". The suspension of the Logan Cup, Zimbabwe's first-class
competition, "renders it impossible as things stand for any player to have
provincial cricket" and it also slammed the poor standard in the recent
Faithwear Cup, the domestic one-day tournament.

The most damning criticisms, however, relate to governance issues. The
letter lambasted the interim board for its "dearth of cricket experience"
and also for not being racially reflective of Zimbabwe cricket. "We are at a
loss to understand how it is that the ICC can (quite rightly in our opinion)
lay out its policy shunning racism ... but yet at the same time remain
silent regarding the orchestrated racial cleansing of the ZC board." It also
asked why no forensic audit had taken place, querying the "unreasonable
delay which has elapsed (six months) since it was called for".

The letter called on the ICC to suspend funding to ZC pending a "full and
proper investigation" into allegations raised by Robertson last year, and to
appoint an independent legal and/or audit team with terms of reference to
investigate allegations of impropriety in ZC, and assisted, if necessary, by
the ICC's own Anti-Corruption Unit."

The letter concluded with an impassioned plea for action. "In making this
approach, we would like to make it clear this will be our last attempt to
salvage the position. The ICC in its capacity as global custodian of cricket
must now act decisively to end the crisis in our country, or suffer the
consequences of inaction.

"We do not want it said that the ICC appears content to continue to adopt a
policy of appeasement towards ZC, when the latter is so clearly neither
mindful nor interested in meeting the standards which the ICC has laid down.

"The interim committee [of ZC] is on record as stating that Zimbabwe does
not need Test cricket. Such irresponsible and even irreverent public
statements amount to a slap in the face for the ICC, and make it abundantly
clear that the powers-that-be who claim to be in charge of cricket in
Zimbabwe do not possess an inkling of appreciation for how hard this country
worked to gain selection to the ICC."

An ICC spokesman confirmed that the letter had been received and said that a
reply would be sent "in the next few days". He declined to comment further
on what was a private correspondence.

Cricinfo


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Reject piecemeal constitutional amendments, says lawyers organisation

zimbabwejournalists.com

By Sandra Nyaira

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is concerned with the
government's continued piecemeal reforms and amendments to the Constitution
of Zimbabwe. The government announced Sunday the cabinet had approved a
proposal to make a record 18th amendment to the Constitution to establish
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
"This amendment adds onto the numerous constitutional amendments which
have created a mutilated bill of rights and a proverbial constitution which
does not espouse the principles of constitutionalism," the ZLHR said in a
statement. "To establish a human rights commission in the prevailing
legislative and administrative operating environment without corresponding
and simultaneous changes to the current repressive laws is tantamount to
deception and attempts to create illusory remedial."
The lawyers organisation says such a process will compound the human
rights situation in the country.
"ZLHR reiterates its position and that of progressive constituency
based civil society organisations that the government should refrain from
manipulating and implementing piecemeal amendments to the constitution which
have failed to recognise the need for broad-based and inclusive consultation
with stakeholders."
Most governments in Africa have human rights commissions set out by
the United Nation's Paris principles. The UN has for long been urging
countries that do not have such commissions to establish them but
campaigners from Zimbabwe fear the government wants to use the commission to
avoid human rights complaints being taken outside the country. The African
Commission on Human and People's Rights has in the past year dealt with many
human rights complaints from ordinary Zimbabweans and organisations. With
the establishment of the new commission, everyone will first have to exhaust
local channels before getting human rights complaints to regional and
international bodies.
The government argues its opponents and western governments have over
the past few years "waged a campaign to project Zimbabwe as a violator of
human rights".
Said Patrick Chinamasa in a Sunday Mail article on the commission:
"They manufacture and peddle false allegations and they also recycle them as
if whatever is being alleged happened yesterday. There has been that
experience that we have had and we need to respond to it."
The commission will be mandated with investigating human rights
violations and complaints and make findings and decisions on such.
"It is trite that the state is, under human rights law, obliged to
have institutions of protection which offer effective remedies for human
rights violations," said the ZLHR.
It says factors relevant to the effectiveness of the commission, among
others, include issues of composition, the appointment process, the
commission's mandate, to who the commission is answerable, especially its
relationship with the executive, how the commission's decisions will
enforced and by who, resources for use by the commission, budget and
accounts, political will to let it be independent, the existence of
functioning institutions of protection such as a non-partisan police force
and an independent judiciary and a permissive and non-repressive legislative
environment.
The ZLHR says the commission will be a white elephant if laws and
state-sponsored practices are not revisited. For example, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy and the Broadcasting Services Acts
which have been used as a pretext to close independent media houses, harass,
arrest and intimidate journalists, need to be repealed or amended. Other
things that need to be changed for the commission to work effectively are
the practice of defiance and non-enforcement of court orders and decisions
by arms of the state in issues which are of human rights nature. The ZLHR
says also the interception of communications under the guise of protecting
national security and economic interests of the country does not conform
with the establishment of such a commission.
The lawyers organisation says Zimbabwe needs a home-grown Constitution
produced with full people participation with strategic institutions in the
region supporting the call for the opening up of democratic space in
Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabweans must reject piecemeal constitutional amendment processes
which fail to recognise the need for broad-based and inclusive consultation
with all stakeholders," the ZLHR says.


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Zimbabwe, Namibia hope to expand cooperation with Viet Nam

Viet Nam News Agency

03/30/2006 -- 23:52(GMT+7)

Pretoria (VNA) - Presidents of Zimbabwe and Namibia expressed their
hopes of further expanding cooperative ties with Viet Nam in a wide range of
areas, particularly in economy.

While receiving Vietnamese ambassador Tran Duy Thi at a credentials
presentation on Mar. 23, Zimbabwean President Hifikepunye Pohamba acclaimed
remarkable politic and socio-economic achievements made by Viet Nam over the
past 20 years and wished to learn from the country's experiences.

Namibian President Robert Mugabe applauded friendly and traditional
relationship between Namibia and Viet Nam while meeting with Thi on Mar. 29.

For his part, Thi praised progresses made by Zimbabwe and Namibia in
various fields and pledged to make efforts to help enhance all-around
cooperation between Viet Nam and the two countries in the coming
years.-Enditem


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Khupe takes swipe at her detractors and state media



By Tichaona Sibanda
30 March 2006

The MDC vice-president under Morgan Tsvangirai, Thokozani Khupe, has
reacted with anger at suggestions in media reports that a rally scheduled
for the 9thApril in Bulawyo now hangs in the balance following problems over
her elevation to the top post.

The Bulawayo based newspaper The Chronicle, quoting unnamed sources,
alleged that mounting problems over Khupe's election to the post of
vice-president has created many problems for the party in the region.

Reacting to the story a fuming Khupe hit back; 'What is clear from all
this is that I am now a powerful and influential politician in Zimbabwe and
certainly some people, including the Chronicle don't like that.'

Khupe said what her detractors had to learn was that power is not
derived from individuals but is derived from the people and general
membership of the party who voted her vice-president.

'I know who is behind all this, it's those three boys who are not
happy and they should all go and jump into a lake and leave me alone,' she
said.

Khupe remained adamant that the rally, which will be used to introduce
her as the vice-president of the anti-senate camp, would go ahead on the 9th
April at the White City Stadium.

She was also critical of the state media, describing the attacks on
her by the newspapers as working to her advantage because of the publicity.

'What they don't know is that in their attempt to demonise me, they
are actually promoting me, propping up support for our party because many
people didn't know that I was the new vice-president of the MDC until they
read negative reports about me in the Chronicle,' She said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Zimbabwean activist against poverty wins economics award in the UK



By Tererai Karimakwenda
30 March 2006

In 2004 a group of Zimbabweans decided to organise to find ways to
tackle poverty and address the imbalance between the rich and the poor in an
economic climate that was continuing to deteriorate. This desire to help
brought about the formation of Zimbabwe Futures. On Tuesday, barely 2 years
later, co-founder and campaigner Shane Lunga received a prestigious
international award in the category of economic justice. The Sheila
McKechnie Foundation in the UK supports campaigners who work hard to improve
and change the world around them.

Patrons of this foundation include MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer
Gordon Brown and the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Howe. In his speech
at the awards ceremony Chancellor Brown pointed out the importance of the
type of work being done by organisations such as Zimbabwe Futures. He said,
"I want to empower grassroots activists who don't have the backing of
massive networks and paid staff." Lunga said Chancellor Brown was very
interested in Zimbabwe.
But Lunga believes contribution by Zimbabweans themselves is vital to
our progress and our future. He said any economic recovery programme for the
country must have great input from Zimbabweans in order to be accepted as
ours.

Five other campaigners from various countries around the world
received awards from The Sheila McKechnie Foundation this year. They worked
in the areas of conflict resolution, social inclusion, consumer action,
health and social care and transport. Award recipients have the opportunity
to receive training in parliamentary affairs, media and other campaigning
skills. They can also take advantage of one-to-one coaching and mentoring
from successful and established campaigners and decision makers.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Chikerema denied hero status



March 30, 2006

By Tagu Mkwenyani

James Dambadza Chikerema, a veteran of the Zimbabwe liberation
struggle has been denied hero status in a move that has shocked veterans of
the fight for the country's independence.

The ruling Zanu PF has denied a luminary of the liberation struggle
hero status. James Dambadza Chikerema, a cousin of President Mugabe will not
be buried at the national hero acre, the politburo has ruled. The supreme
decision body of Zanu PF said it had taken into consideration that Chikerema
had said, years ago, that he would not want to be buried at the heroes acre.

In Zimbabwe, the remains of heroes are interred at the heroes acre and
their burial is a state occasion, which draws thousands of mourners from
across the country. Some of the heroes lying at the national shrine include
Vice Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joshua Nkomo. However there have questions
about the calibre of some of the people buried at the shrine who have mainly
served the interest of the ruling party, rather than the nation at large.
The decision to deny Chikerema hero status was made at the same meeting
where Mugabe's late bodyguard Winston Changara was conferred hero status.

Changara's contribution to the liberation struggle pales into
insignificance when compared to that of Chikerema, according veterans of the
struggle. However the decision has not shocked to veterans of the struggle
who remember Chikerema's exploits during the protracted battle against the
colonial regime with nostalgia.

Chikerema is among the pioneers of the struggle but differed
fundamentally with some of his comrades when he broke away from a then
liberation movement, the Zimbabwe African People Union (Zapu) and went to
form a splinter group, the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (Frolizi) in
the early 70s. After independence Chikerema was also highly critical of the
ruling Zanu PF. Chikerema died in the States where he was seeking treatment
and his body is expected in the country tomorrow.

AND - Zimbabwe


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Comment from the Financial Mail (SA), 24 March



Editor's note

Barney Mthombothi

The bus was slowly making its way down the runway at Johannesburg
International Airport when its passengers suddenly spotted an Air Zimbabwe
aircraft. And, as if on cue, the passengers burst out laughing. "I didn't
know they still had a plane in Zim," said one wag. "No, it's only here to
fill up for ol' Bob's next trip!" said another. More laughter. That's what
Zimbabwe has been reduced to - a joke. Humour often becomes the last form of
escapism when everything else fails. People don't know what to do or say
about Zimbabwe anymore. They can't make sense of it. Robert Mugabe, with the
staunch support of the SA government, has not only outlasted his critics,
he's hounded and bamboozled them. They have been reduced to a befuddled
heap, squabbling among themselves like rats in a sack. It's not a pretty
sight. There are no angels in this mess. Having sowed confusion in their
ranks, Mugabe can now sit back and enjoy the spectacle as the opposition
tears itself apart. He's succeeding beyond his wildest dreams. Attention has
shifted from his odious behaviour to the turmoil in the opposition.

What was once a credible opposition - it would have formed the government
five years ago had Mugabe not rigged the elections - has splintered into
factions which have more hatred for each other than for Mugabe. Morgan
Tsvangirai, having presided over the shambles, now wants us to believe he's
the man to sort it out. He was elected leader of one faction of the MDC at
the weekend. It's no cause to celebrate. It's a pyrrhic victory. It is
failure that has been rewarded. This does not in any way absolve Mugabe and
his minders in the SA government. They're the real villains of the piece.
Perhaps Mugabe can be forgiven for wanting to cling to power. It's the way
of all autocrats. However, one finds it difficult to understand the ANC
government's stance on Zimbabwe. It defies all logic and is frankly
unconscionable. Our history demands that we should be intolerant of such
behaviour. The mess in the opposition gives Mugabe and his friends an excuse
to sit on their hands. The South Africans' refrain has always been that
Tsvangirai couldn't be trusted. It's not for them to decide for Zimbabweans.
But such words will now gain some credibility. It's no surprise the
opposition has collapsed. It is not sufficiently anchored. Power lies in
people on the ground, not in cocktail circuits. Also Zimbabweans need to
cast off the yoke of fear, which seems to have paralysed them. It's the most
effective weapon in Mugabe's armoury

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