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Family basket shoots to Z$686 0000 a month

Zim Online

Saturday 03 March 2007

By Wayne Mafaro

HARARE - The family basket in Zimbabwe has shot to a staggering Z$686 000 a
month for a family of five, in a clear sign of worsening economic hardships
in the southern African country.

In a statement released to the media on Friday, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ) said an average family of five now needs Z$686 000 a month up
from Z$460 000 that it needed last month to survive.

The consumer rights body said in United States dollar terms, the family
basket had shifted from US$1 835.95 in January 2007 to US$2 744.46 last

"The prices of most basic commodities rose by at least 50 percent in the
period January 2007 and February 2007. Notable increases on a month on month
basis were recorded on washing bars (soap) which rose by 297.8 percent, salt
by 197.5 percent, vegetables by 158.9 percent . . . roller (maize) meal by
87.9 percent and rice by 71.4 percent.

"The major mover for the month of February was washing bar soap, primarily
due to the increased demand for the commodity," the CCZ.

The consumer rights group said it was concerned with the increase in prices
of basic commodities by business as the sector sought to cushion itself
ahead of a proposed social contract that will see a price and wage freeze
later this year.

"For a social contract to work for Zimbabwe, there needs to be a conducive
platform for its establishment and unjustified price hikes undermine and
destroy efforts to a successful social contract," it said.

The latest figures on the family basket are way above the average Z$100 000
that most workers now earn after last January's salary increments.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis that has seen inflation
shooting to nearly 1 600 percent, the highest in the world.

The economic crisis has stoked up political tensions in Zimbabwe which is
also grappling with surging unemployment and poverty.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and major
Western governments blame the crisis on mismanagement by President Robert
Mugabe in power since the country's independence from Britain 27 years
ago. - ZimOnline

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High Court says Harare Commission illegal

Zim Online

Saturday 03 March 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - A High Court Judge on Friday declared a commission appointed by the
government to run Harare illegal, in a surprise judgment that could plunge
the city into administrative chaos while also potentially undoing the
government's hold on the capital and at another major city.

Justice Lawrence Kamocha found that Local Government Minister Ignatious
Chombo's decision to re-appoint the Harare commission that is chaired by
ruling ZANU PF activist Sekesai Makwavarara for a fourth term was unlawful,
null and void.

The Judge made the ruling following an application by former town clerk
Nomutsa Chideya in which he challenged the commission's powers to dismiss
him from his job.

Chideya, fired by Makwavara last year for alleged incompetence, had argued
that the commission could not dismiss him because it was not an elected
council and that its chairperson was not an elected mayor.

"The first respondent (Sekesai Makwavarara) is not at law, a mayor of Harare
and cannot, consequently, lawfully discharge any of the functions and
exercise the statutory powers given to a mayor of a city of municipality by
the Urban Councils Act," Chideya's lawyers argued in court.

Justice Kamocha agreed, ruling that the commission was illegal and that it
did not have the authority to make any decisions adversely affecting the
contractual rights, statutory rights and powers of Chideya in his position
and capacity as town clerk of the City of Harare.

Both Makwavarara and Chombo were not immediately available last night to
comment on the matter.

The ruling effectively outlaws Makwavarara's commission and immediately
created a power vacuum in Harare. It could also derail President Robert
Mugabe and his government's strategy of regaining control of cities from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party by firing elected
councils aligned to the party and replacing them with pro-government

Harare's first ever opposition-led council was dismissed by the government
in 2003 for alleged mismanagement and replaced by the Makwavarara-led
commission. The government also replaced another MDC-led council in the
eastern city of Mutare with a commission, while in Chitungwiza city
opposition mayor Gilbert Shoko was fired and a pro-government politician
appointed to take over.

The government has barred mayoral and council elections in Harare saying the
city is not yet ready for such polls but critics say it fears it could lose
to the MDC.

With Kamocha's ruling the government - which has an option to appeal the
judgment at the Supreme Court - will be forced to accept local government
elections in the politically crucial capital. - ZimOnline

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Arrested NCA demonstrators released as students prepare for strike

By Violet Gonda
2 March 2007

Most of the activists from the National Constitutional Assembly who were
arrested this week, have been released on bail after appearing in court
Friday. The pressure group held demonstrations on Wednesday in Harare,
Masvingo, Mutare, Gweru and Bulawayo in defiance of the police ban on
demonstrations and rallies.

NCA chairperson Dr. Lovemore Madhuku said in statement that 17 Gweru
activists were released after paying a bail amount of Z$25 000 each, eight
were released in Mutare on Z$20 000 bail each and out of the eight arrested
in Masvingo, five paid fines of $Z2 500 each, while the other three are
still to appear in court.

We were not able to get information on those arrested in Harare.

Dr Madhuku said: "The NCA considers the arrests of its members to be nothing
but an act of intimidation meant to scare its members from expressing their
views on the need for a new, democratic and people-driven constitution in

The pressure group said it remains committed to pushing for a democratic
constitution and will continue to defy the bans on public gatherings and

Meanwhile a showdown is looming between the police and disgruntled students
who are planning to defy the ban by holding countrywide demonstrations on
Monday. The Zimbabwe National Students Union is calling for a review of
payouts and tuition fee structures for its members. The students said they
are calling for class boycotts as the government has failed to meet their
demands as education had now become unaffordable for many.

The national student body is also calling for an improvement in food
standards and accommodation, plus salary increases for lecturers in
universities and colleges around the country. Lecturers at several state
universities are currently on strike.

Every sector of Zimbabwean society is being adversely affected by the
economic and political crisis.

The worsening situation prompted the Save Zimbabwe Campaign to arrange a
gathering of key organisations to have access to the broader media in South
Africa. Leaders and officials from the main opposition parties and civic
groups told a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, they would
continue to defy the unlawful ban and were gearing up for civil action.

Some of the key leaders present at the conference to drum up regional and
international support were - Pius Wakatama of the Christian Alliance, Jenni
Williams of WOZA, NCA Chairman Dr. Madhuku, Arnold Tsunga from the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights and ZINASU President Promise Mkwananzi. The two MDC
factions were represented by Nkayi Member of Parliament Abednigo Bhebhe for
the Mutambara-MDC while exiled former legislator Roy Bennett represented the
Tsvangirai-MDC. It's reported ZCTU officials did not manage to get visas.

The ZINASU leader also announced at the press conference that his group
would embark on countrywide protests. The civic groups and both MDC factions
said they would support the demonstrations.

Speaking from South Africa Roy Bennett said the meeting was significant as
it showed that all democratic forces, including the two MDCs, are united and
will fight under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign to press for a new constitution
and presidential elections in 2008.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Police Detain Zimbabwe Student Leaders In Continuing Crackdown


      By Carole Gombakomba
      02 March 2007

A student leader at the University of Zimbabwe remained in police custody on
Friday following his arrest Wednesday on charges he destroyed university
property, and two other student leaders were arrested in connection with
campus disturbances.

Lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe, representing student activist Tineyi Mukweva, said
it was likely their clients would spend the weekend in jail. But he said he
and attorneys from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights would seek a court
order for their release.

The arrests followed a demonstration at the University of Zimbabwe last week
over the closure of dining facilities, sharply higher tuitions and
deteriorating living conditions.

Mugabe told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the continued arrests of student activists straining the capacity of the
judicial system.

Students have not been attending class as university lecturers are on
strike. Sources said the lecturers expect to meet with university and
government officials Monday.

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Police In Masvingo, Zimbabwe, Release President Of Teachers Union


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      02 March 2007

Police in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, on Friday released Progressive Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe President Takavafira Zhou, who was arrested Wednesday on charges
of leading demonstrations in the city and held for the next 48 hours.

Police told his lawyers that they could not find witnesses to his alleged
leadership of the protest, which was organized by the National
Constitutional Assembly.

In an interview, Zhou said the two plainclothes officers who arrested him
accused him of taking photos of them using his cell phone, and when he
insisted that the matter be sorted out at the nearest police station,
accused him of inciting demonstrators.

President Robert Mugabe singled out the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe in a speech last week, accusing the union of trying to destabilize
his government.

Zhou told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he
believed Mugabe's comments resulted in his arrest and detention for two

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Confusion Over Price Freeze Plan Feeds Surge In Zimbabwe Prices


      By Blessing Zulu
      02 March 2007

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said Friday that the cost of basic goods
needed by households surged nearly 50% in February, while economists said
apprehension about a price freeze mooted by the central bank had fueled the
run-up in prices.

The Consumer Council said a family of six needed Z$686,000 last month to
meet its basic needs, compared with Z$459,000 in January. The council noted
large increases in the prices of soap, vegetables, milk, rice and maize
meal, a Zimbabwean staple.

Chief economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development
Research Institute of Zimbabwe said workers at the bottom of the private
sector pay scale earn just Z$90,000 a month - 13% of the council's
"breadbasket" figure, while public workers who just received a large
increase bring home Z$300,000.

The Consumer Council's regional manager for Matabeleland, Comfort Muchekeza,
told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the surge in
prices was partly drive by misinterpretation of a statement by Reserve Bank
Gideon Gono in January recommending the institution of a freeze on prices
effective March 1.

Economist Eric Bloch said an acute scarcity of foreign exchange and the
consequent surge in the parallel market exchange rate drove up prices of
imported goods.

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Zimbabwe gold miner says on brink of collapse


Fri Mar 2, 2007 2:29 PM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's gold mining companies have been pushed to the
brink of collapse due to a fixed exchange rate and soaring production costs,
a leading gold producer said on Friday.

Miners sell gold to the Reserve Bank at Z$16,000 per gram (0.03527 ounce),
which is about $64 at the official exchange rate and $2 on the black market.
They may retain 70 percent of their earnings in foreign currency while the
remainder is surrendered to the central bank at the official exchange rate.

The Zimbabwe dollar is officially pegged at Z$250 against the U.S. dollar,
but trades more than 30 times weaker on the black market, while the Z$16,000
per gramme price for gold has been fixed at current levels for five months
during which inflation has risen by almost 400 percent.

Falcon Gold (FalGold), a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed mining company,
warned in a statement to shareholders that the industry could no longer
sustain operations in the face of rising costs and falling revenues.

"Without a realistic increase implemented shortly, this company, in fact,
the whole gold mining industry in Zimbabwe, faces imminent collapse,"
FalGold chairman Gary Perotti said in the statement. "No business can
sustain an environment where rapidly increasing costs are matched against
fixed revenue."

Miners were disappointed the central bank did not devalue the currency last
January. Overall mining contributes 4 percent to Zimbabwe's gross domestic

"The mining sector, and in particular gold mining, has been dealt a huge
blow with regards the monetary policy... it was a non-event in terms of
Zimbabwe dollar devaluation or any increase in the gold support price,"
Perotti added.

South Africa's Halogen Holdings this week completed the $4.5 million sale of
its majority stake in FalGold -- which has an estimated 2.5 million ounces
in gold ore resource -- to Central African Gold, which is listed on London's
Alternative Investment Market.

Several mines have closed amid a worsening business environment
characterised by exchange rate problems, inflation at almost 1,600 percent
and serious foreign currency shortages that have made it difficult to import
equipment and spares.

Jitters over President Robert Mugabe government's plans to take control of
foreign-owned mines have also seen limited exploration and mine development.

Mining output declined by 14.4 percent, while gold deliveries to the central
bank were 18 percent down to just under 11 tonnes last year.

Gold production, which accounts for 51 percent of total mineral output, was
21 tonnes in 2004.

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'This is the year for change in Zimbabwe'

Mail and Guardian

      Sumayya Ismail | Johannesburg, South Africa

      02 March 2007 03:52

            Arnold Tsunga, chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
on Thursday joined other politicians and civil-society representatives in
calling for an end to the country's "smart genocide" where, instead of blood
and bullets, there is a systematic eradication of human dignity, he said.

            Tsunga was addressing the media at a "Save Zimbabwe" press
conference in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, along with representatives from
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Zimbabwean National Student
Union (Zinasu), Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) and the official opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

            The people of Zimbabwe "experience routine human rights
violations under the guise of pan-Africanism and redressing the balances of
power", he said, adding that many Zimbabweans are now so desperate that they
resort to crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River illegally into South
Africa, just to maintain their livelihoods and self-respect.

            One of the country's religious leaders, Reverend Pius Wakatama
of the Christian Alliance Organisation, said President Robert Mugabe's is "a
government whose laws are satanic and cannot be conquered just by praying
and fasting". A decision was therefore taken to form a coalition to address
the challenges the country faces, he said.

            "[We must] topple down this fortress of the devil called the
government of the [ruling] Zanu-PF," Wakatama told the conference.

            The group said the coalition focuses on two main objectives:
formulating a new, people-driven Constitution for the country, and ensuring
that Zimbabwe has a free and fair national election in 2008. It has also
called on the international community to push Mugabe's government to respect
the rights and freedoms of its people.

            Lovemore Madhuku of the NCA, the main organisation calling for
constitutional reform in Zimbabwe, said the group's two objectives need to
work together, as a legitimate election was not possible without a revised

            Madhuku called Mugabe's government a "brutal regime" that will
not give up its brutality through a simple call for change. He said the
solution can only be found in a "determined coalition" of stakeholders who
will have to engage with the government in a battle of wills until the
government finally gives in.

            He said Zimbabweans need to maintain the pressure they are
putting on the government by defying improper legislation, such as its
decision to ban public meetings. They should not back down, even if they are

            "Continue to do what you are doing, because [the government]
will continue what they are doing," he said, referring to the government's
harassment and even attempted abduction of defiant individuals.

            Key to success
            Jenny Williams of the women's organisation Woza agreed that the
situation is extremely difficult in Zimbabwe, saying that people can be
arrested or killed when they oppose the government. "There have been
attempts to abduct me and to kill me," she said.

            "But it is not about individuals; it's about mobilising
Zimbabweans out on to the streets," Williams emphasised. She said the key to
success in Zimbabwe is getting more people on the opposition's side and
protesting on the streets. "It's a matter of numbers."

            To garner support, the coalition intends highlighting
"bread-and-butter issues" such as education, employment and patriotism among
the country's citizens, who are greatly affected by the policies of the
Zanu-PF government.

            The president of Zinasu, Promise Mkwananzi, agreed that normal
citizens are the worst affected. "These testimonies [of speakers at the
conference] are a drop in the ocean to what is going on in Zimbabwe. What is
happening to the people of Zimbabwe is too gruesome to bring to this
platform," he said.

            Calling Zimbabwe a "de facto state of emergency", Mkwananzi said
he has also been systematically targeted by the government for standing up
for students' rights. "Student activism has been made illegal," he said,
explaining how he was expelled from university and arrested for initiating
student protests.

            "But it's not just within the student movement," he emphasised.
"The ball is in the court of Zimbabweans to solve the crisis facing them.
But Zimbabwe is not in a vacuum . [and it needs] the international
community's assistance."

            Ray Bennett of the MDC clarified that the coalition is "not
asking the international community to find solutions for us, but [for]
assistance such that it amplifies the local process".

            He emphasised the need for solidarity with the region, saying
that countries in similar situations were only able to rise above it through
support from other nations. They needed moral support and possible financial

            "You are too diplomatic," Abednico Bhebhe, also from the MDC,
added, complaining that countries in the region, such as South Africa, need
to stand up to Mugabe. "Mugabe has a history of violence and a history of
killing . If Mugabe is a killer, call him a killer; if he is abusing human
rights, tell him he's abusing human rights . that's the support we need."

            The NCA's Madhuku expressed that coalition members are all
victims of the situation in Zimbabwe, but what they are attempting to do is
"advocate for a democratic path to get Mugabe out of power".

            "This is the year we are likely to deliver change in Zimbabwe,"
he said.

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Zimbabwe government, unions begin key wage talks


Fri Mar 2, 2007 8:17 AM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe labour and business leaders began talks with the
government on Thursday on a wage and price freeze, but union leaders doubted
a deal would emerge to rescue the country from economic collapse.

President Robert Mugabe's government hopes a freeze agreement could help
arrest galloping inflation, the highest in the world at almost 1,600

But labour leaders have said they doubt the government is yet willing to
give into demands that political reforms be included in any economic
recovery package.

The country's largest labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), which has called for a two-day strike in April, took part in the

Labour Minister Nicholas Goche told the meeting the government was eager to
negotiate and would honour any agreement coming out of the talks, including
an as-yet unimplemented pact hammered out in 2001 -- a key union demand.

"This will ... provide a conducive environment for the discussion and
conclusion of a social contract," Goche said.

The 2001 agreement, which Mugabe's government did not sign, calls for
reforms to address Zimbabwe's "political risk factor" following sometimes
violent seizures of white-owned farms under a land redistribution drive.

The agreement asked the government to shore up respect for property rights
and the rule of law to help attract much needed trade and investment.

ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo said he doubted Mugabe's government was now
committed to reform and dialogue.

"Responsibility weighs heavily on government ... We impressed on them that
if we are to make progress in eliminating the political risk factor, there
is need for good governance and the rule of law," Matombo said.

He said the ZCTU would not call off the planned strike on April 3, saying it
was up to government to meet union demands such as a minimum wage linked to
the poverty line and lower income tax before that date.

Political tension has been mounting in the southern African country over an
economic crisis that has sparked a series of strikes as workers battle
inflation. Analysts have warned the worsening economy could trigger
anti-government street protests.

Police last week imposed a three-month ban on protests and rallies across
the capital following clashes between armed riot squads and opposition
supporters in a volatile Harare township.

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Zimbabwe opposition running out of options

New Zimbabwe

By Lloyd Msipa
Last updated: 03/02/2007 12:18:22
THE ban of political rallies in the most inhabited parts of Zimbabwe mainly
the cities was introduced by the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner a few
weeks ago. The ban was issued under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)
following recent violent clashes between protesters and the police.

The Minister of Justice proceeded to confirm that the "restriction will
remain where there is breakdown of law and order" and that "any (police)
commissioner who fails to do that (maintain law and order) will lose his
job," in Parliament. (The Herald, March 1st). When I read this, and I am
sure a lot of people out there experienced a sense of dejavu.

Where have we seen or experienced this before? Senior citizens will be very
quick to point out that this scenario is reminiscent of Ian Smith's
Rhodesia. Ian Smith's Law and Order (Maintenance) Act of 1960 prohibited any
political gatherings without the blessing of the authorities then. It
suffocated any form of free expression by the citizenry of then Rhodesia.
The refusal of the Rhodesian government to embrace any democratic reforms
resulted in them tightening the laws to a point that they infringed on
almost every basic right under the constitution of Zimbabwe.

The old adage that history repeats itself rings true in this instance. Faced
with the restrictions of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act of 1960, the
pro-democracy and majority rule movements then left the country and
organised themselves quite effectively in exile, and challenged the Ian
Smith regime.

The pro-democracy movement of today in Zimbabwe, it seems, has not learnt
anything from all this. When a government of the day controls all the
institutions of repression it is foolhardy to continue to challenge it in
its area of greatest strength. Uncoordinated street demonstrations will
never overthrow a government.

The Zimbabwean government, through the executive, controls the Legislature
and Judiciary. The current government will, of necessity, enact laws to
preserve its existence. It is high time in my opinion that the pro-democracy
movement takes a leaf from the Patriotic Front of the 1970s and consider
other options if they are to remain relevant.

Following the incarceration of the leadership of both Zanu and Zapu, their
operations were moved to neighboring countries. The Patriotic Front had
bases in South Africa, Zambia, and as far afield as Dar es Salaam.

The chief reason for the travel sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean officials
was the flawed or stolen elections of the year 2002. The international
community argued that the opposition political movement was the legitimate
winner of those elections. Considering that all the legal channels for
expression have been curtailed, the pro-democracy movement members need to
seriously consider their options in order to overcome. The continued
participation in a flawed election processes contrary to popular opinion do
not expose the regime; to the contrary it actually legitimises their
continued claim to a popular mandate.

A government in exile, if properly structured and constituted, will almost
get instantaneous recognition from Zimbabweans and the international
community. This will have the effect of taking away Mugabe's legitimacy.
This new government will constitute a government in-waiting with a popular
mandate to renegotiate a new Zimbabwe with international institutions and
hence ensure rapid recovery in a post-Mugabe regime.

It is foolhardy for the pro-democracy movement to even contemplate that the
Harare regime will fall in the absence of extra legal options. The current
government brought the Ian Smith regime to the negotiating table through
extra legal means, mainly the waging of the armed struggle and sabotage of
institutions considered to be the pillars of the regime back then.

The waiting game being played by the opposition groups, hoping I would
assume, that the main man will drop dead or be rendered senile will only
serve to draw out this revolution. Never mind the fact that there are worse
characters waiting by the sidelines, who hope to eventually take over the
reins possibly with greater venom than the current incumbent. It is not a
joke to say we might end up being another Somalia or Uganda.

In the absence of any major policy shift by the pro-democracy forces on the
ground in Zimbabwe to remain relevant, it seems it might be worthwhile
considering a third option that will bring salvation to our beloved country.
A third if not more of Zimbabweans are outside its borders. Instead of
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora attempting to enter politics by being satellites
or being fund raisers of the pro-democracy movements on the ground, it is
not far fetched to consider a political party formed from abroad.

If recent events in the satellite branches of the pro-democracy movements in
the Diaspora, are anything to go by, then I would think this is a viable
idea. This party will have all the advantages that those on the ground do
not have, which include freedom of expression, freedom to raise funding for
its activities, information dissemination and so on.

Whatever the modus operandi of the struggle, sacrificial lambs are required.
The question that arises then is who amongst us will step up to the
challenge. Who amongst us will be the radical leader to organise a
formidable challenge with enough 'umpf' to shake Harare? Thus far,
statements have been thrown around by those seeking this office that they
are "prepared to die for the cause" or something to that effect. However
nothing has come to fruition yet. Whatever happens the pro democracy
movement is fast running out of options. Before we know it, we might have a
military government in place. Remember, as they say, TIA (This Is Africa).

Lloyd Msipa is a lawyer and writes from London in the United Kingdom. He can
be contacted at

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Mugabe's ministers in SA talks

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - A delegation of Zimbabwean ministers is set to leave for Pretoria
tomorrow for talks with their South African counterparts amid reports the
desperate Zimbabwe government is likely to beg its southern neighbour for
desperately needed supplies.
The two-day meeting will take place in South Africa but its venue is being
kept secret. The Zimbabwean heard the Zimbabwean delegation includes Foreign
Affairs officials and ministry of Finance and central bank officials
Although the South African government has not been forthcoming on the
details they will discuss, it is widely believed that the rule of law, fuel
and possible food shortages will be on the agenda.
President Robert Mugabe has been criticised over the manner the Zimbabwean
government has presided over the breakdown in law and order in crisis torn
On Sunday the Zimbabwean delegation is likely to press South Africa to
increase its electricity and fuel loan lifeline.
Reports of an eminent food shortage in Zimbabwe could see South Africa being
asked to intervene.
Opposition parties in South Africa have been calling for a more robust and
public condemnation of the Mugabe regime. They fear an influx of economic
refugees as Zimbabwe slides further into decay.
But, President Thabo Mbeki has been steadfast with his "quiet diplomacy",
which until now has resolved nothing. "There is absolutely no way South
Africa is going to take a position which says: let us contribute to the
collapse of Zimbabwe," one analyst said.
Some industries like Dunlop Africa - the tyre manufacturer - are feeling
nervous about the economic slide in Zimbabwe.
A top executive of Dunlop said: "It's unpredictable we've had fuel
shortages, power shortages, currency shortages and to operate in that
environment is not easy."
The company is considering shutting its manufacturing operation, but it says
closing its distribution network of 20 branches in Zimbabwe has not been
The Zimbabweans are unlikely to yield on human rights issues and it is hard
to imagine any positive outcome from the meeting. Comp-anies sch as Hubert
Davies are either scalng down or considering closing down altogether.

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NamPower-Zim power deal needs thorough analysis

Comment from The Namibian, 2 March

Many unanswered questions surround the announcement this week that Namibia's
power utility, NamPower, will pump between US$30 million and US$40 million
into the renovation and expansion of the Hwange power station in Zimbabwe.
NamPower MD Paulus Shilamba said the money would come from the N$2 billion
reserves that had built up in the parastatal's coffers. Namibians are well
aware of the fact that our future power supply is a burning question, with
the various medium- and long-term options from nuclear to renewable energy
being vigourously debated. They are also cognisant of the fact that Eskom's
supplies to Namibia are in jeopardy given the rising demand in South Africa
itself, and that we need to look at alternatives. The basis and conditions
of the loan for the refurbishment of Hwange in order to meet our short- to
medium-term needs until local alternatives are put in place need to be fully
spelled out to a Namibian public largely sceptical of the deal. A N$25
million loan to the DRC has never been repaid in full, and so taxpayers will
want assurances that the deal with Zimbabwe is a properly managed commercial
one with conditions and guarantees which show that this is not just a
political solidarity gift to the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, which is
desperate for foreign currency.

Shilamba did deal with some of the peripheral questions following the
announcement of the agreement between NamPower and the two Zimbabwean
parastatals. In terms of this deal, NamPower would advance the money on a
loan basis and would in turn be supplied with 150 MW of electricity from the
plant for five years, starting in January 2008. Some of the questions
include: * While the loan will go a long way to depleting NamPower's
reserves, will this mean additional price hikes in addition to the already
fairly steep increases over the past few years? * Will the money be paid
over in a lump sum, or as and when refurbishment of the plant commences, and
will this happen by means of approved tenders in that country? * What
security, if any, is furnished in the event that complications or delays
will jeopardise the start-up of the Hwange plant? * Will our loan
essentially be subsidising the provision of electricity within Zimbabwe
itself, since the plant is capable of generating 480 MW, of which initially
only 40 MW will be taken up by Namibia? * If the loan is to be repaid by the
provision of electricity to Namibia, will the pricing be favourable to us,
and how comparable is this to the Eskom or other bills?

We are also not completely clear on the terminology as a 'loan AND power
purchase agreement'. * The agreement would need to be properly managed from
the outset, and terms and conditions clearly spelled out, hopefully free of
any political considerations. For instance, we must still be able to get the
electricity even if President Mugabe leaves office. * Namibians need to know
that not only will this loan assist us in terms of our short-term power
problems, but also that it will not result in more expensive electricity for
the consumers of this country. We believe it is incumbent on Government
and-or the parastatal in question to properly spell out all the implications
of the deal to our taxpayers.

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Mirror faces collapse as workers strike

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 03/02/2007 11:19:47
JOURNALISTS at the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group (ZMNG) have gone on
strike demanding their February salaries and improved working conditions.

The ZMNG are the publishers of The Daily Mirror and the weekly Sunday

Journalists and other employees from different departments gathered outside
The Charter House Thursday after management failed to resolve their pay
dispute and other demands.

"We have resolved to go on a work stoppage because the company is failing to
pay us. Workers are gathered here outside the company complex because they
have not been paid their February salaries. Management is saying the company
is broke and cannot pay us on time," a senior journalist said.

"This has become a habit. Since November, we have been having problems here.
No-one cares about our conditions. We work under stress and intimidation. If
company is broke as it says, then they should shut down the paper and pay us
our benefits," said the journalist.

ZMNG workers were paid their January salaries in the second week of
February, it was revealed.

The staff were paid in groups as bosses at the paper ran around with their
begging bowls.

The ZMNG woes are blamed on the takeover by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) which booted out founding editor and proprietor, Dr Ibbo
Mandaza, in a move seen as a government attempt to contain media criticism
of President Robert Mugabe.

Workers fear the latest round of problems at the Mirror could lead to its

Workers said the flagship Daily Mirror has suffered significant drops in
advertising revenue and circulation. The Daily Mirror is now selling 2 500
copies a day, a far cry from the steady sales of between 12 000 and 18
000 -- recorded during the Mandaza era.

The Sunday Mirror has not been spared either as it sells between 1000 and 1
500 copies compared to its competitors in a market dominated by the
state-controlled Sunday Mail and the private weekly, The Standard.

As a result of the persistent problems, the ZMNG lost several key personnel
in recent weeks such as the former editor Tawanda Majoni and advertising and
marketing manager Wilson Chivaura and his deputy Evans Sagomba.

Chivaura and Sagomba refused to sign new contracts that the board had
imposed on them, according to sources. They did not agree with the contents
of the new contracts which they said set unrealistic targets.

From a monthly revenue target through advertising of $10m, they were now
expected to generate $200m a week starting in January. Chivaura, once Ibbo
Mandaza's deputy, and Sagomba felt that it was a way of getting rid of them.
Sources say they argued that with a print run of only 2 500, advertisers
would not do business with them.

Since the CIO took over, there have been massive resignations in less than a
year with journalists either forced to leave or suspended.

Journalists who made inglorious exists from the group include, founder
Mandaza, Sydney Kawadza, Paidamoyo Chipunza, Majoni, Clemence Manyukwe,
Innocent Chofamba Sithole and cadet reporters who were banned from the
newsroom during the purge after Mandaza's messy departure.

No comment could be obtained from chief executive officer Tichaona Chifamba
who was said to be in a meeting.

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Mugabe Madness

The Mercury


March 02, 2007 Edition 1

The newspaper cartoon said it all: while President Robert Mugabe and his
cronies were tucking into his 83rd birthday cake at a $Z300 million (about
R1 million) bash in Gweru last weekend, the increasingly starving masses
clamoured for bread. "Let them eat cake," said a haughty Zanu-PF official,
tossing them some crumbs.

Mugabe's regime has now become about as Bourbonesque, surely, as it could
be. But inflation, now hovering at a mere 1 600%, is stampeding towards 4
000% by year's end, says the International Monetary Fund. The economy is
shrinking at about 10% a year and millions of Zimbabweans are fleeing across
the borders. Now it has been reported that 40% of the people are depressed.
Hardly surprising - even from here it's pretty depressing.

It is becoming impossible to imagine how the country - and Mugabe - can
survive such surreal numbers. So far, he has done so by ruthlessly cutting
down his opponents. But there are now signs that even his inner circle is
losing patience with him. Zanu-PF seems reluctant to extend his presidency
from next year until 2010 and there are rumblings of mutiny in the military,
his last defence.

In such circumstances, a Bourbonesque denouement can't be ruled out. Yet
President Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders seem as transfixed as the
rest of us, sitting petrified as they watch the train smash unfolding in
slow motion.

This week, though, former president F W de Klerk rather surprisingly
defended Mbeki's "quiet" (non-existent?) diplomacy on Zimbabwe, saying there
was little else Mbeki could do. But in the same address, De Klerk also said
Nepad would never work if African leaders continued to avoid criticising
countries like Zimbabwe, which were in clear breach of Nepad's values of
democracy and good governance.
It is surely time that his peers told Mugabe that his time was up. Maybe he
would tell them to go to hell. But how will they know unless they try?

And, if they fail, they will at least have salvaged some of their own

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A woolly presidential hopeful with a violent streak

New Zimbabwe


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's political off-spring, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is an
adroit eye-for-an-eye character who, by manipulation and stealth, has worked
his way up the greasy pole and permeated every facet of life.

So ubiquitous is his influence that it is felt almost everywhere; in the
mine shafts, maize fields, legal and business circles.

Needless to mention the security services where he built his political
career and sharpened his administrative skills.

Indeed, no other politician, after Mugabe, is spoken about on serious
socio-political matters like Mnangagwa. Never mind VP Joice Mujuru who is
less of a politician and more of a social worker and a mere chatter box
always as busy as a High School matron.

If the Zimbabwe Independent's revelations that Mugabe spoke glowingly about
Mnangagwa during his birthday interview is anything to go by, it may not be
wayward to hazard that he is a strong contender for the First Person's job.

According to the Independent, Mugabe did not only speak glowingly about his
protégé but appeared to show signs of disappointment with the Mujuru camp
whom he suspects to have thrown spanners into his 2010 project.

The plan had been intended to achieve a dignified exit for Mugabe under the
guise of harmonising next year's Presidential elections and the 2010
parliamentary elections. This was going to see Mugabe emerging as the
Ceremonial President with immunity from any form of prosecution.

Mugabe has always been suspicious and perhaps fearful of a situation where
his immunity would depend on his successor's political goodwill. This got
worse after the Tsholotsho saga and he went on to work out a comfortable
exit method outside anybody's patronage to minimise his vulnerability after

But that has hit a snag and he is back to the drawing board where it appears
his berth is Mnangagwa.

However, pertinent questions arise. Why should he feel confident with
Mnangagwa taking over? What sort of a leader is Mnangagwa likely going to be
if he ever takes over and what course will Zimbabwe take under his

As is well known Mnangagwa is Mugabe's ex-secretary who later became his
confidante as the Minister of State Security, in charge of the Central
Intelligence Organisation which was the the nexus of the 1980's genocidal
campaign in Matabeleland.

It goes without saying that his interests in the suppression of the episode
as a decider of Zimbabwe's political course are intertwined with those of
Mugabe. He will almost inevitably put a lid on the 1980's murky doings of
the government.

That will serve a double purpose of self protection and reciprocation. Under
Mugabe, Mnangagwa got his name linked to several murky deals and far too
many unhappy rumours which could have easily led to his political demise but
Mugabe turned a blind eye.

Instead he retained him in all his cabinets.

Moreover, while Mugabe and Mnangagwa share skeletons, VP Mujuru's husband,
Rtd General Solomon Mujuru, is seen distancing himself from the 1980's
atrocities. Besides, since his departure, Mujuru has very nearly lost touch
with the goings-on in the army as it drifted into full-scale
unprofessionalism and went to bed with the CIO, which is Mnangagwa's

Even though he is most likely going to take a different course from that of
Mugabe, Mnangagwa will do everything in his power to shield his master from
the arm of the law. He will exploit the advantage of the slow pace of
international justice delivery system meaning that by the time it gets to
his master he would either be dead or the world would have been impressed by
with his democratic deceptions and "good record' on other fronts.

Already, he is undergoing personal rehabilitation meant to shackle this
crude hard man image in preference for that of a benign, cordial and jocose
man. That is why not very along ago he said, contrary to the public
perception, he was actually "as soft as wool".

He is, therefore, the wool by which Mugabe will be hanged. Put simply, he
will provide a soft landing, and wont touch the master.

But there are signs that he could go about a major de-Mugabenising agenda
characterised by an ideological shift. Despite their mutual vulnerability,
Mnangagwa seems to be having a different world from that of his master.

Never before have we heard him use the archaic populist and absolutist
language of "anti-imperialism" and "sell-outs". Occasionally, he gives in to
reason and prefers a legal option as opposed to Mugabe who is generally
quarrelsome and is largely given to sabre-rattling noises.

More than once as Minister of Justice, he spoke of a favourable legal
framework for an improved working environment for the media which shows that
he is reformist. As a businessman, he is certainly going to mend fences with
the Western institutions and find a solution to some of Zimbabwe's political
problems. He will try to project himself as a level-headed fellow in tandem
with modern conscience and with a fair grasp of universal economic diktats.

The prospect of him going this route could be sending shivers down Mugabe's
spine and could be at the center of the 2010 plan. Mugabe is a tiny man with
a gargantuan ego who is as worried about his legacy as he is about his life.

Any future departure from his current populist thrust could prove that there
is indeed a link between economic decline and the hollowness of his
posturing. That will certainly deal a blow for the legacy he is trying to

Be that as it may, Mnangagwa is already drifting away. While he is a
beneficiary of the Third Chimurenga project (The supposed empowerment of the
downtrodden black people through an economic revolution), it is difficult to
link him directly to the day-to-day hands on dirty activities of the
carnage. He is one person who will most likely agree with the opposition on
many issues.

And then there are worrying prospects.

Those who know him talk of wool that can turn into a razor wire. They talk
of a man who, like a hangman, works in the shadows with backbone and drive
to swiftly get done with those whom he hates by whatever means.

Mugabe, who wants to be known as a Zezuru, had this heavy reliance on people
from "his" tribe, yet Mnangagwa (who want to be called Karanga) seems to be
having a similar reverse attitude.

It is said he not only habours but openly declares his pathological hatred
for certain tribes. In that light, he will work out political deal to bring
close his tribesman, Morgan Tsvangirayi and leave out the Arthur Mutambara
faction to suffer the label of "tribalists".

After all, Mutambara is Manica, Welshman Ncube an Ndebele while David
Coltart and Trudy Stevenson are white. These are the groups that have always
been on the receiving end of Zanu PF ethnic politics.

This will have a double effect of quashing while at the same time leaving a
semblance of the opposition. But more worrying are the rumours on certain
horrific things he is said to be capable of personally executing.

Try as he may to pull Zimbabwe out of the shadows and to rehabilitate
himself, he will have his sorry history to contend with.

Mthulisi Mathuthu is a Zimbabwean journalist and New columnist.
Views expressed here are his own. He can be contacted at:

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Give us right to vote in next election - Zim exiles

By Magugu Nyathi

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have one big wish. They toil
throughout the year and help take care of their loved ones back home but as
the economic crisis continues to worsen as well as the politics, they also
feel it. It is only through one way that they can express their inner
feelings. They all want to vote in the next election.

It is estimated that over five million Zimbabweans are scattered all over
the world with over 3 million Zimbabweans estimated to be in South Africa.
These Zimbabweans have since demanded their right to vote in the next
presidential elections that they want to be held in 2008 under a new

In two separate meetings that were held in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape
respectively, many Zimbabweans expressed their regret at the worsening
crisis in their country. Some claim they did not run away from the Zimbabwe
regime but that they crossed the border to "position themselves in a
strategic position that would see them reclaiming democracy in the land of
their fore fathers". Others say they left because of the politics but many
others say it was because of economic reasons as the economy continues to go

The Diaspora says it is high time Zimbabwe drew a people-centred
Constitution that will cater for the millions that have been largely ignored
as they live in the chosen communities abroad.

Prof Daniel Makina, Director of the Mass Public Opinion Institute, said it
was no secret that most of the Zimbabwe working class, including artisans
and specialists, was in the Diaspora in exile seeking greener pastures and
as asylum seekers.

He said while the purpose of such a move was fleeing from economic collapse
and a deteriorating state of affairs in the country, there was some good to
be found in it.

"It is the same people who are somehow removed from the circumstances who
can fight for the future of our economy and a better tomorrow for
generations to come. While we are exiled from our country we are on the
other hand, perfectly positioned to bring about change and to make as much
noise as our voices can allow us in order for other nations to take note and
listen to our plight," said Prof Makina.

Makina urged the Diaspora to carry out their national duty to strive, thrive
and grow not only for their own personal gains, but for their country as

"We have the opportunity to learn from the Constitutional make-up of the
countries we find ourselves in, so that we can implement the same in our own
country. South Africa is one of the countries with an excellent
Constitution, whose underlying values include human dignity, freedom, Ubuntu
and equality. The American Constitution is also one of the ones looked upon
Constitutions in the world, with their Preamble stating "In God we trust,"
he said.

"We are the custodians of Zimbabwe and nothing will ever make us South
Africans no matter how long we will stay in exile, we therefore call for a
Constitution that will cater for us as the current one is flawed and has
been amended 17 times since its inception in 1980," Limkani Dewa, the vice
chairperson of the Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe-South Africa

Daniel Molokela the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Civic Society Forum told the previous draft Constitution had not incorporated
the Diaspora, a situation he says needs to be addressed. He said there was
no ownership of the 1979 Constitution.

"Zimbabwe does not have a Constitution, the current one was a transitional
Constitution and since then the government has never at any point in time
tried to come up with a Constitution hence they hijacked the NCA initiative
and came up with a document that was rejected by the Zimbabweans," said

However, Oliver Kubikwa of ZIPOVA suggests that the NCA should create more
time for people to go through the draft unlike last time when things
happened so fast.

"Zimbabweans do not identify with their Constitution hence there is need for
NCA to carry out a massive awareness campaign among the Diaspora and
Zimbabwe at large about what the Constitution entails. As it is almost 90
percent of the Zimbabwean populace doesn't know any section of their
constitution except for POSA and AIPPA that are widely used by the present
government to suppress the majority," Kubikwa said.

Immanuel Hlabangana like Rev Mufaro Hove said maybe it could have benefited
the country if people had not rejected the draft in 2000. He then suggested
that the Diaspora should find a vehicle to use to facilitate its role in the
process of making the new a Constitution.

The consensus among the Zimbabweans here is the need for a new Constitution,
which recognises dual citizenship and Diaspora to vote.

Meanwhile the MDC in the Eastern Cape says it will do all it can to push for
those outside the country to vote in the next elections.

Those who attended the meeting vowed to use all means possible to ensure
their country saw a return of the rule of law and prosperity for its people.

Addressing over 200 people, MDC national treasurer Roy Bennet said
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are demanding to vote and his party will see to
it that their wishes are granted.

"The current situation in Zimbabwe is only conducive to the people outside
Zimbabwe to play a much significant role to bring about change in the
country ravaged by the tyranny rule of the regime," said Bennet.

Zimbabwean police has imposed an unofficial curfew in some high-density
suburbs of Harare and banned rallies and political meetings for three months
a situation that is stoking tensions in the country as the political and
economic crisis continue to spiral.

Butholezwe Nyathi and Remember Moyo, youth leaders of the MDC said
Zimbabweans should unite regardless of their tribes so they can fight
tyranny together as happened during the liberation struggle in the 1970s and

"Time has come for us to unite, we are Zimbabweans before anything else.
Since the regime has turned down our plea to dialogue we have no other
choice than to go the route they took during the liberation struggle. It's
all up to the regime to avoid the splitting of the blood," said Moyo.

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Zim doctors happy with new deal


02/03/2007 20:47  - (SA)

Harare - Doctors at Zimbabwe's main state hospitals have called off a
two-month strike for better salaries and working conditions after reaching a
compromise with government, said the health ministry on Friday.

"The doctors are back at work," said deputy health minister Edwin Muguti.
"They started coming back to work yesterday (on Thursday)."

He said the doctors, who had demanded that their salaries be raised from the
current Z$56 000 (about $224) to Z$5m a month, "are happy with the package
we have put together for them".

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a severe economic recession with four-digit
inflation, massive unemployment and chronic shortages of drugs in state
hospitals and basic foodstuffs such as sugar and the staple cornmeal.

"Although what we gave them did not fully meet their demands they appreciate
that we did our best," said Muguti, declining to divulge the agreed package.

Fees charged by private hospitals

Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, president of the Hospital Doctors' Association,
confirmed the union had called off the strike following a pay deal with

The junior doctors began their strike mid-December initially limiting the
numbers of patients they attended to before the go-slow evolved into a
full-fledged strike when senior doctors joined in.

They ignored calls from health minister David Parirenyatwa to end their
strike after being offered an undisclosed salary package by the government
in January.

As the strike escalated the health ministry had to call on army medics to
step in and augment skeleton staff numbers at some hospitals overwhelmed by

State hospitals cater for the majority of the population who cannot afford
fees charged by private hospitals.

State health institutions have been hit by an exodus of key staff including
specialist doctors, pharmacists and nurses to countries like Australia,
Botswana, Britain, New Zealand and neighbouring South Africa.

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