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Mugabe under threat from within his collapsing state

The Times
March 07, 2007

Jan Raath in Harare
Robert Mugabe's party is splintering under the impact of Zimbabwe's
catastrophic economic crisis and may remove him from office to avert a
bloody political meltdown, an influential think-tank said yesterday.

Citing widespread unrest within the Government, International Crisis Group
said that the situation in Harare was "reminiscent of the last stage of the
last stages of Mobutu's reign in the Congo", a reference to the overthrow of
the former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who fled his country in 1997 after
almost three decades of corrupt and violent rule.

"Economic issues, discontent among underpaid police and troops and the
increasing willingness of opposition parties and civil society to protest in
the streets, all increase the risk of sudden major violence," the
Brussels-based ICG said.

The think-tank said that the realisation among the top echelon of Zanu (PF),
the ruling party, that the economic crisis was destroying their own business
interests, is likely to persuade them to combine to block President Mugabe's
attempt to extend his rule by two more years beyond 2008, as a first
manoeuvre to shift him out of office. Mr Mugabe, 83, has been in power since
independence from Britain in 1980.

The ICG published its report amid growing evidence that the security forces
are struggling to prevent public disorder as shortages of food and other
essential goods are exacerbated by the breakdown of the civil administration
and by rampant inflation.

Yesterday the value of the currency fell to its lowest so far, crossing the
rate of Z$10,000 to the US dollar.

Zimbabwe Online, an independent internet news service that has effectively
taken the place of the country's now-banned free daily press, quoted from a
leaked memorandum by Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner, announcing
the cancellation of all police leave and ordering all officers to be ready
for riot duty.

One of Mr Chihuri's deputies also ordered lists of "able-bodied" officers
from stations outside Harare and the second city, Bulawayo, pending their
transfer to the two cities, said Zimbabwe Online.

The orders coincided with outbreaks of violence, unprecedented in the past
eight years, in one of the most volatile township areas of Harare on Sunday,
when antigovernment youths took control for several hours, setting up
roadblocks of boulders and burning tyres. Police admitted yesterday that a
group of 16 policemen in Budiriro township had been surrounded and
outnumbered by a mob and escaped only by firing teargas. They were unable to
make any arrests.

For the past two weeks, much of Harare has been under bans on political
rallies and demonstrations similar to a state of emergency.

This week the Zimbabwean roads department, once responsible for maintaining
the most extensive network of high-quality roads in the continent outside
South Africa, joined the list of other national failures, in agriculture,
education, health, finance, justice, local government and even sport.

The roads department used to have nine roadbuilding units. "None are in
existence now," George Mlilo, Permanent Secretary at the ministry, said.
"All of the equipment has collapsed."

Outspoken remarks by Mr Mugabe during his birthday celebrations last month
revealed that he sees enemies not only among the opposition, civic and
church bodies but also at the heart of Zanu (PF).

He openly railed against Joice Mujuru, the Vice-President anointed as his
apparent successor two years ago, and the wife of Solomon Mujuru, a former
army general and the leader of one of two of the main factions contending
for the presidency when Mr Mugabe finally goes.

However, Mr Mugabe continues to manipulate party organs to ensure that he
gets their support for his plan to delay presidential elections, due next
year, until 2010, and so extend his rule by another two years.


The official annual inflation rate this year - although private sector
estimates put the figure much higher. In 1998 it was 32 per cent

Source: Times archives


The official exchange rate yesterday for the (revalued) Zimbabwean dollar
per US dollar. In 2003 the rate was approximately 1 to 1

Source: CIA World Factbook

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Red alert as Zim unrest threatens to erupt


Basildon Peta
          March 07 2007 at 06:49AM

      The Zimbabwe government has cancelled leave for police and army
officers and put them on alert to quell protests as the political
temperature escalates.

      In a memorandum to all police stations and headlined "Cancellation of
Leave and Placement of Members on Standby", and referenced MJ57/2007, Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said: "All police officers granted leave
should return to their respective stations with immediate effect and be
deployed as commanded by their provincial commanders.

      "The dress order of the day will be full riot gear until further
notice and those members who remain at stations should be alert for urgent
calls of action."

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Zim bus disaster points to economic woes

Mail and Guardian

Angus Shaw | Harare, Zimbabwe

07 March 2007 04:49

            Investigators are looking at a host of factors that could have
led to Tuesday's bus-train collision in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, that
killed 35 people. The bus had been speeding, carrying double its passenger
capacity, and the driver was underage.

            Another possible culprit in the crash was Zimbabwe's worst
economic crisis since independence in 1980.

            With inflation running at nearly 1 600% -- the highest in the
world -- and foreign exchange scarce, neither the government nor private
employers can afford basic maintenance of roads, rails and vehicles, or to
pay trained staff.

            The decline of what was once one of the region's strongest
economies followed the often-violent seizures of more than 5 000 white-owned
commercial farms that began in 2000 on the orders of President Robert
Mugabe. Agriculture had been the mainstay of the economy.

            In a report on Tuesday, the Brussels-based International Crisis
Group said that rifts in Mugabe's ruling party over his continued leadership
and rising discontent in the armed forces, along with "energised" opponents
and civil society groups, could trigger unrest.

            In the bus-train crash, investigators noted that electric
warning signals and booms had not been functioning for several years at the
western Harare crossing where the overcrowded, 33-seater bus collided with a
freight train. The state railroad company and the local town council also
failed to cut long grass obscuring the view of oncoming trains,
investigators said.

            The money-losing National Railways company has reported huge
losses to thieves and vandals of its signals and cables across the country.
This has disabled much of its signalling in recent years.

            State enterprises are facing acute shortages of hard currency
for replacing equipment and spare parts. Shortages of spares and petrol have
also crippled garbage collection, road repairs and other routine services.

            On Monday, the Transport Ministry said it had run out of money
for street and highway repairs. It said all its nine main road-repair units
were shut down.

            "The road department had nine units and none of them are in
existence now. All the equipment has collapsed," ministry official George
Mlilo told a meeting of lawmakers.

            Soaring prices for petrol, parts, tires and maintenance have led
transport operators to continue using dangerous vehicles despite checks at
undermanned police road blocks, to overload them and to employ unqualified
workers -- often relatives whom can pay less.

            They have also stepped up their schedules and paid bonuses for
quicker turnarounds to earn more on commuter routes.

            The driver of the bus involved in Tuesday's crash, Givemore
Makowe, was too young at 24 to hold a bus licence. The bus was ordered off
the roads last year by government inspectors. Its rear brakes, examined in
the wreckage, had not been functioning.

            Most of Tuesday's dead were impoverished market-stall holders
eking out a living in Harare market. They were headed to the market with
baskets of wares when the crash happened just after 5am local time.

            The government declared the crash a national disaster and on
Wednesday promised to compensate the families of the victims. But past
promises of money and state assistance for funerals of national disaster
victims have largely not been honoured by cash-strapped authorities. -- 

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Zimbabwe Opposition Faults Government On Deadly Train-Bus Collision


      By Jonga Kandemiiri & Thomas Chiripasi
      Washington & Harare
      07 March 2007

The deadly collision between a commuter bus and a train in a suburb of
Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, gave rise Wednesday to recriminations by the
opposition, which faulted the government what it said was a failure to
ensure transport safety.

Thirty-five people died in the crash in the Harare suburb of Dzivarasekwa.

At Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr. Blessing Mukumba, leading the trauma
team, said 15 victims had been admitted and two of those were receiving
critical care.

It emerged Wednesday that the driver of the bus, Givemore Makowe, who was
killed in the crash, was too young at 24 to hold a bus license, the
Associated Press reported. And the bus itself was ordered off the roads last
year for faulty brakes, AP said.

Meanwhile, political battle lines were being drawn around the issue of
responsibility for the collision. Though witnesses said the driver of the
overcrowded bus failed to stop to check the crossing, local residents said
the crossing signal had not been functional for some time and that overgrown
vegetation obscured visibility of the train line.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe and Harare City Council came under fire
for the lack of a working signal at the level crossing and poor maintenance
of the site.

The general condition of the railways is also at issue, and the opposition
has called for a parliamentary investigation into the accident and transport
safety in general.

Chairman Leo Mugabe of parliament's committee on transport and
communications, a member of the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert
Mugabe, declined comment but said his panel will meet at its normally
scheduled time on Monday.

But parliamentarians of the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by
Morgan Tsvangirai met on Wednesday and resolved to demand of Transport
Minister Chris Mushowe what the government is doing to prevent more such

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction and member of
parliament for Kuwadzana, Harare, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is the duty of the opposition to press Harare
on public safety issues.

Tsvangirai himself visited Dzivarasekwa and met with family members of some
of the victims of the accident, as reporter Thomas Chiripasi reported.

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Two Journalists Fined for Practicing Journalism Illegally; Two More Charged for "Criminal Abuse of Duty"; Two Others Convicted Under AIPPA

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

March 7, 2007
Posted to the web March 7, 2007

Zimbabwean E-TV reporter Peter Moyo, who is based in South Africa, has been
fined Z$40,000 (approx. US$160) under the controversial Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) for practising journalism
in Zimbabwe without accreditation.

Moyo was convicted and fined together with Trymore Zvidzai, who is based in
Zimbabwe, when they appeared before Mutare magistrate Tsungisai Madzivaidze
following their arrest in that town on 5 February 2007, for contravening
Section 83 (1) of AIPPA, which prohibits " . . . persons other than an
accredited journalist (to) practise as a journalist (or to) be employed as
such . . . "

They were arrested together with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)
employees, Manicaland bureau chief Andrew Neshamba and Harare-based
cameraperson William Gumbo, after they were found in possession of video
equipment which they were using to cover illegal mining activities in
Marange village in Manicaland Province.

Neshamba and Gumbo, who are being charged under Section 174 (1) of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, which deals with
criminal abuse of duty by public officers, were remanded to March 21, 2007
for trial.

Their arrest and conviction follows that of Beauty Mokoba and Keketso
Seofela from Botswana Television (BTV), who were the first non-Zimbabwean
journalists to be convicted under AIPPA since its promulgation in 2002.
Mokoba and Seofela pleaded guilty to contravening Section 83 (1) of the Act.

The BTV journalists were also convicted on their own plea of contravening
Section 12(1) of the Immigration Act. Beauty Mokoba and Keketso Seofela were
arrested on 30 April 2006 in the south western town of Plumtree while
covering measures being taken in Zimbabwe to combat an outbreak of foot and
mouth disease.

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Agriculture sector can recover, say analysts

Photo: IRIN
Maize production has slumped
HARARE, 7 March 2007 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's struggling agriculture sector can be turned around with more "nuanced" government support targeting smaller-scale farmers, agricultural experts said.

Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono this week signalled an end to preferential loans and inputs for wealthier black commercial farmers in the next growing season, the official daily, The Herald, reported. He argued that seven years since the start of land redistribution, the so-called "A2" farmers needed to be "weaned off" government support.

Gono said the government would rather now concentrate on assisting small-scale "A1" farmers.

Zimbabwe's chaotic fast-track land reform programme, launched in 2000, nationalised all agricultural land and then leased around 4,000 previously white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks for 99 years. The programme, condemned by Western governments for its forced evictions, slashed the country's foreign exchange earnings and helped trigger the current economic crisis.

Sam Moyo, a Harare-based land expert, said it was "correct to call for priority support to be directed at more farmers", but not all the new black commercial growers have had access to government assistance. He noted that of the 15,000-odd new A2 farmers, the bulk - 7,000 to 8,000 - were from the rural and urban working class, who had little or no personal savings and plots averaging 50ha each.

Moyo pointed out that in contrast an elite section of about 3,000 commercial farmers, most of them politically connected, had been allocated 350ha plots and enjoyed access to preferential loans. These farmers were often reluctant to invest their personal savings in their farms, relying instead on government handouts.

Milestones in Zimbabwean land ownership
1889: Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, is colonised by Britain
1930: Land Apportionment Act restricts black access to land
1960s: Black nationalist groups emerge; liberation war follows
1980: Robert Mugabe and his ZANU party win first post-independence elections
1998: Major donors participated in a land conference and agree on land reform on condition there would be a two-year inception phase, during which various resettlement schemes would be tried.
March 1996: Mugabe wins uncontested presidential election
June 1999: Draft constitution includes land reforms, with farmers compensated by "former colonial power"
February 2000: Squatters and ZANU-PF liberation war veterans seize white-owned farms
April 2000: Constitutional amendment says Britain should compensate evicted farmers
July 2000: "Fast track" land reform launched to resettle 162,000 families on some 5 million hectares of white-owned farmland by 2004
2001: Zimbabwe pledges to end illegal occuptions at Abuja commonwealth meeting. Laws amended to allow expropriation; owners have no legal recourse.
November 2001: Laws amended to allow expropriation; owners have no legal recourse
April 2002: State of disaster declared as food shortages worsen
November 2002: Agriculture Minister Joseph Made announces end of white-owned property seizures
June 2004: Lands Minister John Nkomo replaces title deeds of seized farms with 99-year leases
November 2006: Government starts issuing 99-year leases to resettled farmers
Sources: Global Integrity, IRIN, BBC, CNN, The Herald
Former white commercial farmers owned estates averaging 1,500ha, but under the land reform programme these were sub-divided into smaller plots and distributed among landless black farmers. Many analysts believe the well-connected got the most developed portions of the expropriated farms.

On Tuesday, The Herald applauded the government's decision to discontinue support to A2 farmers, but urged the authorities to consider "those other farmers who were just allocated barren land without any buildings and tillage equipment. These should not be lumped together with those who got fully developed farms. We feel this is the group which is productive and should continue to be in the government inputs programme for a while."

Moyo suggested the government should "develop a more nuanced approach - providing assistance on the basis of the earnings [and] type of crop, and should also take into account the macroeconomic environment in the country". It was "extremely difficult" for any farmer to function in an "abnormal economic situation", characterised by hyperinflation and a shortage of foreign currency, which severely affected the supply of fertiliser and fuel.


Despite the odds, tobacco production, once the country's top foreign exchange earner was improving. "Tobacco production, which was about 40 million kg in 2005, rose to 55 million kg in 2006 and this year [2007] we are expecting 65 or 70 million kg. It is of course nowhere near the peak 220 million kg production [before land reform] but it is recovering," Moyo said.

However, Chris Sukume, an agricultural economics expert at the University of Zimbabwe, pointed out that many tobacco growers had been contracted by multinationals and a large portion of the foreign exchange earned went into their hands. "At the current exchange rate, even the little bit of foreign exchange earned does not amount to a lot. The farmers need the forex to purchase much needed agricultural machinery."

Maize production in Zimbabwe, previously a grain exporter, has slumped. A recent report by the United States Department of Agriculture forecast a reduced national crop of 850,000mt, at most, from the 1.3 million hectares planted in the 2006/07 season. Zimbabwe's annual maize consumption is estimated at 1.4 million mt per annum, in a country that used to produce more than 2 million mt.

Moyo said it was a misperception that maize production had collapsed directly as a result of land reform. "Seventy percent of the country's staple crop, maize, was produced by small-scale farmers. Recurring droughts, lack of inputs [as a result of the economic crisis], such as fertiliser and seeds, has affected production."

Sukume also blamed government control of seed and fertiliser distribution. "A core of the communal farmers would prefer to buy their seeds from the market, but since the government took control many of them have been unable to access the inputs on time. Often fertilisers are not available on time and, if found in the private markets, it is extremely expensive."

Sukume felt production could recover if the government relaxed control of input distribution. "Rains have improved in some of the areas this year; unfortunately the inputs were not available on time."

The government's bid to buy produce from farmers at higher prices had also misfired, Moyo added. "The prices [offered by the government] were still nowhere near what the communal farmers could have fetched in the market at market-related prices."

Evicted farmers were prepared to lend their expertise to help Zimbabwe recover, according to John Worsley-Worswick, chief executive officer of the Justice for Agriculture Trust, an organisation fighting for the rights of black and white former commercial farmers and their workers.

More than 2,000 farmers have moved to neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa, and further afield to Nigeria, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.

Most of them are battling to get compensation for their seized properties. Under current Zimbabwean law, former commercial farmers can be paid compensation for improvements, such as houses, barns, dams, roads and farm equipment, but not for the land.

Between 300 and 400 A2 farmers have signed 99-year leases. "The farms have to complete a survey process for valuation, which is happening at a slow pace," Moyo said.

In an interview with The Voice, a state-controlled newspaper, the permanent secretary in the ministry of land reform, Ngoni Masoka, said new farmers were reluctant to sign the 99-year leases.

"Thousands of people are coming to our offices to collect the application forms [for 99-year-leases] but only a few people are returning the forms for processing. This is probably because some of them are reluctant to pay for the developments made on the farms on which they have been resettled, as required. A significant number of our farmers do not appreciate the value of the 99-year lease agreement," Masoka told the newspaper.

According to some analysts, despite assurances by government that new farmers would be able to use the leases as collateral for raising finance, it was unlikely that banks would accept the leases as guarantees for loans, as lenders would be unable to repossess leased land if the loan fell into default.

Moyo said most farmers were aware that they had to pay for the improvements when they took over the farm. Government evaluators have put the total value of improvements at US$3.6 million. "Some of the farmers have paid for the improvements ... It is now up to the authorities to pay that money to the former commercial farmers."


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Condoleezza Rice to honour Jenni Williams at US Courage Awards

By Violet Gonda
7 March 2008

Many said she was on a road to nowhere with her street protests and various
efforts to resist the most brutal government clamp down on free expression
in our time, but Jenni Williams - with the other Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) - has soldiered on regardless. She has been imprisoned, beaten,
battered and suffered head lice in detention so many times she had to shave
her head.

For the last five years, however, Williams has been an inspiration for
peaceful campaigners throughout the world. Now her efforts have been
recognised by becoming one of 10 recipients of the first International Women
of Courage Awards. This is an annual award that has been established by the
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in honour of International Women's

The WOZA coordinator is the only African woman among this first group of
women from different regions around the world to receive the award.

A press statement by the US State Department said this award honours women
around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in
advocating for women's rights and advancement. This is the only Department
of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide, and
offers a unique opportunity for transformational diplomacy in the field of
international women's issues.

Jenni Williams has led the brave women of WOZA through countless street
protests in Zimbabwe since 2003. The group, started with only a handful of
women, has now a countrywide membership of an estimated 35 000 people.
Williams founded WOZA as a women's civic movement to empower women to stand
up for their rights. Based on their principles of strategic non-violence the
group, including men and babies, continue to defy the authorities through
street protests in their quest for fundamental freedoms

These frontline human rights activists have endured beatings, harassment and
arrests at the hands of the police and have in the last three years seen the
walls of prison cells more times than any other pressure group in the

The courageous Zimbabwean activist will receive her award at a colourful
ceremony in the US on Wednesday afternoon, together with 9 other women -
from Iraq (2), Afghanistan (2), Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Maldives
and Argentina.

Meanwhile, the WOZA activists continued to defy a police ban on all
demonstrations throughout the country by launching their social justice
campaign and People's Charter in Mutare on Wednesday. Although there were no
arrests this time the pressure group said 20 people were arrested in
Masvingo on Tuesday. Lawyers are trying to secure their release.

27 protesters who were arrested in Gweru on Monday were released on bail
after appeared in court on Wednesday. WOZA said: "The nine others that had
been arrested later in the day when taking food to those in cells remain in
custody and are expected to be taken to court today. Police are still trying
to decide what charges to bring against them."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Interview: Sydney Masamvu

New Zimbabwe

Interview Part 2: Coltart, Majongwe and Tsunga

• Interview Part 1: Coltart, Majongwe and Tsunga

Interview Part 2: Margaret Dongo

• Interview Part 1: Margaret Dongo

Interview Part 2: Morgan Tsvangirai

• Interview Part 1: Morgan Tsvangirai

Interview Part 4: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft

• Interview Part 3: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft

• Interview Part 2: Prof Moyo and Thornycroft

• Interview Part 1: Prof Moyo, Prof Raftopoulos and Thornycroft

Interview Part 3: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa

• Interviewe Part 2: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa

• Interview Part 1: Masamvu and Prof Mukasa

Interview: Muleya on Ziscogate

Interview: Archbishop Pius Ncube

Part 2: Bishops on Zimbabwe We Want

• Part 1: Bishops on The Zimbabwe We Want

Interview: Thabitha Khumalo

Interview Part 3: Kagoro and George Ayittey

• Interview Part 2: Kagoro and George Ayittey

• Interview Part 1: Kagoro and George Ayittey

Interview Part 2: Eric Bloch

• Interview Part 1: Eric Bloch

Interview Part 6: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti

• Interview Part 5: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti

• Interview Part 4: Madhuku, Prof Ncube and Biti

• Interview Part 3: Madhuku, Ncube and Biti

• Interview Part 2: Madhuku, Ncube, Biti

• Interview Part 1: Madhuku, Ncube and Biti

Interview Part 3: Raftopoulos, Moyo and Robertson

Interview Part 2: Moyo, Raftopoulos and Robertson

• Interview Part 1: Moyo, Raftopoulos and Robertson

SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda talks with Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group:

Last updated: 03/07/2007 10:55:43
Broadcast on Tuesday, March 5, 2007

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme ‘Hot Seat’ is Sydney Masamvu a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. The respected political Think Tank released a comprehensive report on Monday, which examines the deadlock in the Zimbabwe and sees a chance to resolve the situation through the retirement of Robert Mugabe when his term ends in 2008.

The ICG recommends a power-sharing deal to create a transitional government that will prepare a new constitution and democratic elections in 2010. The various suggestions in the report all make sense but some critics have said it relies upon a large number of theoretical transitions – such as whether Mugabe could realistically be persuaded to retire.
I started by asking Sydney how do you begin the process suggested by the report.

Sydney Masamvu: Well, from the onset I need to point out that the report, which we have just released in the International Crisis Group, is based on firm and ground research in Zimbabwe, in the region and with all the political actors across the political divide. And, what we are seeing and what we are pushing is we are looking at the economic and political stalemate in Zimbabwe and we are looking at the prospects of President Mugabe’s retirement and the chances or the opportunity which can be seized by all actors
to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.

And, as such, we are spelling out a roadmap and recommendations for every actor to seize this opportunity and to try to bring a resolution to the seven year old crisis. So, in a way, as you might say Violet, that it all sounds good on paper and it’s theoretical. But, I want to add on to say if there is political will by all actors involved in the Zimbabwe situation, this is the best opportunity for every regional leaders, the Zimbabwean population, politicians in Zimbabwe across the MDC and Zanu PF and the rest of the International Community to structure an exit for President Robert Mugabe and allow Zimbabwe to move forward and to return to democracy and to implement sound economic reforms. So we are looking at an opportunity where Zimbabwe can be tugged, can go on a course correction. So really the starting point and we have to emphasise this, it’s not the end but the starting point is to get President Robert Mugabe off the political radar.

Violet: Some have said it’s very easy for international observers to say these things but on the ground the situation is completely different.

Sydney Masamvu: But you see, Mugabe no longer has the hold on power, yaanga ainayo (that he used to have) for the past seven years. You see, there are divisions in ZANU and there is consensus between Morgan, anaMujuru, anaMnangagwa that Mugabe has to go it’s only the figure ya Mugabe yaita loom large but now the economy, it’s really hit him on the belly.

Violet: Are you saying that the main stakeholders, that is - the two MDC factions and some people in Zanu PF actually support this report by the ICG?

Sydney Masamvu: Indeed! Indeed, this is based on interviews across factions.

Violet: Can you give us some of the key groups that you spoke with even from Zanu PF?

Sydney Masamvu: I can tell you that I spoke to all factions within Zanu PF. It’s up to you to define because there’s also an element of confidentiality Violet. We spoke through all the factions in Zanu PF. You can, even when you read our report, you can see when we are quoting that a leader allied to Mujuru faction or someone allied to Munangagwa, it’s so clear in our report that we spoke to everyone. We spoke to the Tsvangirai side, we spoke to the Welshman side and we distilled the way forward, what’s the way forward. We’ve also been liaising with the region, regional leaders, and political actors.

Violet: So Sydney what needs to happen for Zimbabwe to begin to recover first of all?

Sydney Masamvu: President Mugabe holds Zimbabwe to ransom. He has actually stifled any form of succession within his own party, I mean as an exit strategy. He has never sort of encouraged the issue of succession and passing on the baton. In a way Violet, when you look at the events in Zanu PF, the bitter fight on the issue of succession, and when you look at the economic collapse and you look at the repression of pro-democracy and the opposition parties, there’s a common factor there that President Mugabe’s rule sees us in the crisis which we find ourselves in.

For starters, for Zimbabwe to begin to move forward, President Robert Mugabe has to exit the political radar. That’s the first, but that’s not the B and end all, but that’s the beginning. So, Mugabe is the stumbling block to any reform, even within Zanu PF, even within his own party and let alone the country at large and as a way of moving the political process forward. So, for starters in the beginning, our starting point, even what we are recommending in our report, is that beyond March 2008 President Robert Mugabe should not be allowed to be a political factor beyond March 2008.

Violet: You say if Mugabe is out of the way it will create the way for a transitional mechanism leading to elections. How do you get rid of this stumbling block then?

Sydney Masamvu: Indeed, we are looking at right now, if President Robert Mugabe were to go according to his pledge, he had said he wanted to retire, there was an issue of harmonisation which was being floated, now we are asking all figures to rally around the idea of stopping Mugabe in his tracks. What we are saying, President Robert Mugabe, once he sees his term out, we are now looking at people within Zanu PF, people within MDC and all the negotiating partners to provide an exit strategy for President Robert Mugabe after the expiration of his term. This may be done through the election of a non-executive President and a Prime Minister that is dealing in all those positions from Zanu PF, who is not Mugabe, the non executive President, who can be elected by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and head a Transitional Government which should prepare for elections under a new constitution and which will set bench marks and which are mandated by de-militarising and de-politicising state institutions and preparing elections possibly by 2008 or by 2009 or any time agreed by the Transitional Government. We are not putting a magical sort of time line to 2008, but we are saying a Transitional Government which is set after Mugabe’s retirement in March 2008 should be mandated with creating an environment which should lead to an election and a democratically elected government in Zimbabwe, which is ready to re-engage with the International Community and begin to move on a path towards economic recovery.

Violet: Now let’s say if Mugabe does agree with this, some may say this is an easy way out for him. Is this the right way to go because bad guys are not held accountable, or to account?

Sydney Masamvu: Violet, the best way for Zimbabwe is to create an environment where the people of Zimbabwe are allowed or are given an opportunity to elect a government which they want which has not been the case in the past seven years, an issue which has prolonged the crisis. So, really, what we are saying, the best way for everybody, we are not saying the MDC should come to power, neither are we saying Zanu PF should stay in power for as long as it wants. We are saying, we need a roadmap which creates conducive conditions under a new constitution which produces a legitimate outcome.

Any election, if it brings back Zanu PF leadership or an Opposition leadership, any election, carried out under a new constitution and under conducive circumstances should eventually yield a legitimate government which is ready and which will be embraced by the rest of the International Community.

Violet: Sorry to go back to the same issue, but what kind of pressure, because many people know what Zanu PF, especially Robert Mugabe is like, so what kind of pressure is going to be big enough to get Mugabe to negotiate?

Sydney Masamvu: Violet you can see the way Zimbabwe has been isolated, that the economy is caving in, you are having a Zimbabwe dollar which is crashing by the day, you are having a country right now, I can tell you Zimbabwe is importing maize from Zambia, from Malawi, there’s no food in the country and business empires of senior Zanu PF stalwarts are crumbling because of isolation and because of lack of direct foreign investment. And, the pressure on the economic front is the one which is going to force President Robert Mugabe to yield and to some form of compromise and negotiation. If you look at the decline in the economy, you are looking at something like 1, 600% inflation for a country which is not at war.

You are looking at a country where even the dollar on the official, the so-called official, now the parallel market, where the dollar is trading at 1 is to US$10, 500 or 1 is to 1, 200 to the Rand. You can see the economy is crumbling by the day, prices are increasing by the day and the wages of workers across civil and private sector are being eroded by the day. Zimbabwe cannot move forward unless it is brought back within the family of the International Community and whereby it begins to access financial assistance from multilateral institutions. So, the pressure on the economy is the one which is going to bring Mugabe to the negotiating table.

Violet: You also say in the Report that SADC leaders have an opportunity to talk to Mugabe about a retirement package to be implemented not later than 2008. So what are your recommendations on this issue in particular?

Sydney Masamvu: Indeed, you know, I will go back to the issue that, Violet, this report took about four, five months of thorough research in Zimbabwe, in the region and internationally. And, I can tell you privately that all the majority of the SADC leaders they want a change of guard in Zimbabwe and they are now willing even to persuade and they are now even talking to some leaders within Zanu PF to persuade President Robert Mugabe to exit the political radar. And, they are willing to help by way of negotiations, by way of supporting a transitional arrangement and even the issue of a smooth and a dignified Mugabe exit, they are willing to go that extra mile because they have seen the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and the impact which it is having in their countries and in the region in terms of economic growth. So really, all the leaders within SADC, they agree that there has to be a roadmap which gives everyone faith and allows for a legitimate political outcome and bring Zimbabwe back into the international fold. They still believe that Zimbabwe is key within the region, and as such, a resolution to the political crisis is the first before everything else falls into place, including economic reform.

Violet: And you know Mugabe always uses his political rallies to attack the West and the Opposition, now, when we’re talking about the International Community in particular, how can it really influence things without it becoming or being seen as interfering in a domestic issue?

Sydney Masamvu: Our Report is quite clear and sets out a strategy whereby we are saying we agree with the issue of African solutions to African problems. We are actually advising even the West that they should begin to talk through with the SADC leaders. You know most of the leaders in the West, Britain, the US, the EU, they have various forums where they interact with the African Union, and they interact with the SADC leaders. So we are now saying, even if the West has something to offer as a resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis, they should come through the African Institutions and as such, no wonder why in our Report we are signposting that SADC should take a lead and all the other supporting actors should come through SADC.

We are not going, in this Report, we are not working at pleasing any aspect, we are looking at practical sort of recommendations which are grounded on the situation on the ground and we are saying that once SADC takes a lead in trying to push for a resolution to the crisis, all the other actors, including the Commonwealth, including the EU, should come through and support an initiative which is lead by SADC, and no wonder why even in our recommendations we are saying SADC should take the lead because we believe SADC is key in talking to Mugabe through its institutions.

Violet: Still on the issue of the retirement package, is it not a shame though, this is what others will ask, that in situations like this we tend to forget or you forget about justice for the interest of peace?

Sydney Masamvu: Violet these are processes. We look at what is the immediate short-term. The immediate short-term is to stop the Dictatorship from prolonging its constitutional term in Zimbabwe and allow the country to move on a recovery path. Zimbabweans are suffering. Let’s put in our recommendations or in our solutions what we are trying to say is we are opting for a political solution thinking of or with the idea of putting Zimbabweans first; we are ensuring that the meltdown in Zimbabwe, the economic meltdown is put to a stop and as such, we are looking to resolve the political stalemate and every other process will follow later. Let’s not jump the gun but lets start with the key issue which is to find a political solution to the Zimbabwean crisis and to proffer recommendations which will yield a legitimate outcome and which will allow Zimbabweans to chose a government which they want.

Violet: And what happens if Zanu PF refuses to co-operate with these efforts to begin a transition and restore democracy?

Sydney Masamvu: Indeed, as we outline in the recommendations; they are very clear; that pressure should be increased if at all Zanu PF is becoming intransigent and refuses to embark on any transitional arrangement to bring Zimbabwe back to democracy. We are saying there should be increased pressure, increased isolation. Those on the targeted sanctions we have even gone on to say they should include their business partners; some of them who are in the West who are bankrolling some of the senior Zanu PF politicians; we are saying some of their business partners should be put on the targeted sanctions list and even some of their family members should even be included. We are saying if the Zanu PF government does not sort of engage in any transitional mechanism, there should be all out pressure from all ends, including SADC, including even the AU where even Mugabe is beginning to be shunned. That all pressures should be applied and all the targeted measures already in place should be tightened and expanded.

Violet: And what about the Opposition, what do they need to do for Zimbabwe to recover?

Sydney Masamvu: We have said actually the Opposition should actually begin to push, should first of all begin to get its act together by sort of agreeing on a joint strategy to engage Zanu PF on the transitional mechanism and on the agenda with safe bench marks. We have also called on their unity, that it is key, as we reach the next five, six months, which are key in defining whether Mugabe is going to go or whether he is going to extend his term, that the unity of opposition forces is key as people look at creating a platform for negotiations between the MDC, Zanu PF, regional forces and the international actors. So, the unity of the opposition becomes also paramount in strategy and as well as an entity.

Violet: And you know there is also general unrest in Zimbabwe right now and we have seen in recent weeks, people beginning to retaliate. Could this be the emergence of a new force like the work force, and what are the ICG’s recommendations regarding this other group of disgruntled workers?

Sydney Masamvu: Violet, exactly, this ventilates or this further proves to us that the pressure points in Zimbabwe are coming out on multiple fronts. There is a disgruntled worker here, disgruntled civil servants, disgruntled workers who are protesting. We have seen Doctors, we have seen Teachers, whatever, all serving to underline the fact that the economy is in a freefall and is collapsing. So those are multiple platforms which are putting pressure on the Regime. No wonder why we are saying this creates actually the pressure which the workers are ventilating creates, the more it creates the urgency for a transition or for a negotiated political settlement to be obtained in Zimbabwe so that Zimbabwe can move forward and really go on a course correction to change the issue of governance and also to arrest the decline in the economy.

So, what we are seeing is there are so many pressure points, the workers, the opposition parties are protesting, the civil society is protesting for a new constitution, the bread and butter issues; people are going on the streets on issues of bread and butter. All are underlining the fact that the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating. No wonder why we see an opportunity which should be seized that Mugabe should not be allowed to extend his term of office beyond 2008 and thereby allow all forces of good will in Zanu PF and the MDC to negotiate a political settlement which should yield a government which is elected by the people under conducive circumstances and bring Zimbabwe back to the international arena and on an economic recovery path.

Violet: And you know some have said ultimately change would come from the Army. How strong a hold on the Security Forces has Mugabe got?

Sydney Masamvu: When you look at this idea, indeed, yes, I agree with you that Mugabe has the support of the Securocrats. But, when you look at the top tier of the military, the military has now spread its allegiance across factions so Mugabe has no monopoly of the military, though I want to add on a rider to say that is now his last port of call. He has a stronger hand in terms of that his exit strategy is actually being crafted by the Securocrats but he has no monopoly. So the issue of the Army taking over is really, does not concern us because the allegiance of all the top tier within the Army is spread across the three factions, namely the Mujuru, the Mnangagwa and the Mugabe faction. The leadership of the military is also split along the same factions.

Violet: You know your report and what you’ve just been saying shows us or emphasises the need for the stakeholders to negotiate a political settlement. Is there any movement right now that will see all these different groups of people from Zanu PF, from the MDC Opposition, Civic Society – all the stakeholders to meet. What movement is there to see that this is actually starting to happen?

Sydney Masamvu: Yes, there’s movement, one, in Zanu PF, because there are factions in Zanu PF, the two major factions in Zanu PF all agree that Mugabe should not proceed beyond 2008. That’s movement number one. There’s movement number two that across factions or across there’s a cross-party dialogue where cross factions in Zanu PF are agreeing with some factions in the MDC that we need a negotiated political settlement, but they are also agreeing on the point that Mugabe should not go beyond 2008.

So we are seeing movement in Zanu PF for beginning to push where even the Mujuru faction has come outright to say that they wont allow Mugabe to go beyond 2008. The Mnangagwa faction has also said they won’t allow Mugabe to go beyond 2008. We’ve seen all the provinces; the majority of the provinces; after the Goromonzi Conference that they failed to endorse that bid by Mugabe to extend his term beyond 2008. So we have seen movement in Zanu PF.
We have seen a joint strategy within the MDC where there’s a pact between the two factions, a memorandum or a working arrangement whereby they are trying to have a common front. So, really we are beginning to see a common ground where across factions there is need that Mugabe is the stumbling block. And now, we will see it further if Mugabe tries to push it, the voting which will occur in parliament on the issue will further reveal that there has been movement and there is cross-party dialogue to get Mugabe off the radar and then maybe begin a process of negotiated political settlement discussions and the way forward.

Violet: And Sydney, you know since both factions within Zanu PF agree that Mugabe is the stumbling block, where is Mugabe getting his power from then? Even from within his Party people don’t want him?

Sydney Masamvu: You should understand the power of incumbency and also that Mugabe has the control of the Securocrats. There is also the issue of power of incumbency. But, even when you ask within Zanu PF, there is even the feeling that even if Mugabe is to defy the Party, Violet, and stand for another re-election in 2008, I have, or, indications are that he will be beaten even in an unfair election. He will be beaten because Zanu PF factions are ready to withdraw that support from him.

Violet: And, a final word before you go?

Sydney Masamvu: The final word Violet is that the only way out of the Zimbabwe crisis is a negotiated political settlement which will go with the following: the exit of Mugabe, the drawing up of a new constitution, the drawing up of a new voters’ roll and the holding of an election at an agreed time by the political actors. The only way out of the Zimbabwe crisis is a negotiated political settlement.

Violet Gonda: Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. He is based in Pretoria, South Africa.

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to


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Chombo and Makwavarara Contemptuous


RESIDENTS of Harare are extremely upset by the defiant and contemptuous
utterances by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development Ignatius Chiminya Morgan Chombo and his puppet Sekesai
Makwavarara saying the courts will not resolve the scandal at Town House.

Chombo was quoted in the Herald (06/03/07) saying 'the status quo at Town
House shall remain both in force and effect' while his puppet was also
quoted in the Standard (04/3/07) saying, "We are working. Can we be stopped
by these silly things" and went on to declare, "Only the Minister of Local
Government Public Works and Urban Development can stop me from working."

The Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) wishes to set the record
straight regarding the illegal commission. The High Court ruling in Case
Number HC 5604/06 and HH 13-2007 of Nomutsa Chideya vs. City of Harare, the
eight commissioners, Minister Chombo and the four-member probe team that
recommended Chideya's dismissal was categorical in its ruling.

Our lawyers the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have advised us
that the proper procedure to be followed if the City of Harare and or any of
the people cited as respondents, including Chombo is for them 'to seek leave
of appeal' which means they have to approach the High Court and get the
relief to appeal to the Supreme Court. Without following this procedure,
their appeal is of no effect. Makwavarara and Chombo are two wrongs to local
government who cannot right the damages they have done to local government.

The Makwavarara led commission is illegal and has no mandate to make any
rules or regulations on behalf of the City of Harare, including the
implementation of the 2007 City Budget. For the record, the Supreme Court
and the High Court have made categorical rulings on this matter.

Chombo's defiance clearly indicates that the Government he serves wilfully
ridicules and violates the law in the interests of the ruling party, making
a mockery of their resolve to return to the observance of the rule of law,
among others. The courts have established beyond doubt that Chombo
deliberately misinterprets Section 80 (5) of the Urban Councils' Act
(Chapter 29:15) to justify his lawlessness.

Residents must send a clear message to both Chombo and Makwavarara that the
residents are the masters of their own destiny. They will determine who runs
Town House. Even those commissioners who purport to advance the Chombo
agenda shall be liable to contempt of court in their personal capacities.

CHRA acts in the best interests of Harare residents and whatever the
Association does is a result of widespread consultations on key issues
affecting them. The residents have mandated CHRA to make concrete and
substantial demands to the Government.

We are concerned with the trend in government where overzealous officials
hide behind their positions to undermine the judiciary by making
contemptuous and irresponsible statements. These have contributed to the
tensions building in the country. No one should be a law unto himself or
herself. Chombo and Makwavarara are literally insulting the intelligence not
only of the honourable judges but the entire citizenry.

The citizens believe there is every reason to defy Chombo and his cronies
and hold peaceful demonstrations and marches to protest over the collapsed
service delivery, the continued imposition of the Commission at the expense
of elected representatives and the hostile and unjustified takeover of water
and sewer reticulation by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority from Local

For these reasons, CHRA continues to demand;

The immediate holding of Mayoral and Council elections in Harare, and the
removal of the illegal commission from Town House in line with the High
Court ruling in Case Number HH 210/2001 Hungwe J (CHRA and Another vs. RG),
HH 80/ 2005 Makarau J (Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo vs. City of Harare and
Dominic Muzawazi) and in delivered by Sandura J (Stevenson vs. Minister of
Local Government and Others SC 38/02) and HC12862/00.

Failure to heed these demands, the residents of Harare shall continue to:

 -  Withhold paying any rates to the City of Harare.

-   Actively demand their stolen democratic space by engaging in peaceful
protests and actions against Makwavarara within their suburbs or at Town

 "CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Government"

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Violence charges against Zimbabwe opposition MPs dropped

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Prosecutors in Zimbabwe dropped public violence charges
against opposition lawmakers and activists Wednesday who were detained by
police on the eve of a foiled opposition rally in the capital.

Members of parliament Tendai Biti and Paul Madzore were arrested in the
middle of last month together with nine supporters of their Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party and charged with public violence following
clashes between police and opposition supporters.

Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare said the state was withdrawing charges for lack
of evidence but said the accused could still be summoned to court if police
investigations yield evidence.

"The accused's charges are withdrawn before plea," magistrate Gloria
Takundwa said.

The two MPs and opposition activists were arrested ahead of a planned rally
planned by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the populous township of
Highfields in Harare which was thwarted when riot police used tear gas and
water cannons at activists trying to reach the venue.

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Aid agencies hit out at clamp down on Zimbabwe church groups

By staff writers
7 Mar 2007
British aid agencies have hit out at a clamp down by Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party on Zimbabwean church groups carrying out human rights work.

The arrest of eight church leaders and the closure of an office of a
church-based human rights organisation - funded by Christian Aid - in Harare
are the latest examples of the pressure ZANU PF is putting on human rights

Christian Aid and Tear Fund are speaking out on behalf of these church
groups following a spate violence and intimidation. Zanu PF militia have
stormed meetings and threatened violence against participants.

The leaders from the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) were arrested at a
church gathering in Kadoma.

ZCA is a Christian network which is trying to tackle the worsening crisis in

Following interrogation, the eight men were accused of preaching incitement
to violence - a charge ridiculed by ZCA who were watching a video of Martin
Luther King at the time.

At trial the charges facing five of the leaders were dropped but the
remaining three were charged with 'incitement'. The trial will continue on
the 23 April.

'This harassment is unacceptable,' said Christian Aid's Africa policy
manager, Babatunde Olugboji.

'State services have all but collapsed in Zimbabwe and the poor have limited
access to healthcare, education, clean water, food and other essentials. Aid
agencies are playing a major role in keeping people off the bread line,'
said Mr Olugboji.

'The physical assaults, the intimidation and arrests of our church partner
organisations are outrageous - it puts people's lives at risk.'

Tearfund's Karyn Beattie said: 'Churches and NGOs must be allowed to
continue the work they are doing to help the poor. They are filling the
vacuum left by the actions of a dysfunctional government, and cannot simply
stand by and watch while people are robbed of their fundamental human

Secular organisations and opposition groups have been persecuted for years
for speaking out. As these groups have been increasingly silenced, church
agencies have been forced to stand up for basic human rights - such as the
right to freedom of assembly and expression.

In retaliation, the Zimbabwean government has clamped down on essential work
of church agencies through draconian laws and bans on public rallies and

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Church urged to act on Zimbabwe


March 07 2007 at 08:40PM

      The spiritual head of the world's 77 million Anglicans urged the
church to speak out against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and said on
Wednesday the impact of sanctions should be considered.

      Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a statement he was
concerned about human rights in Zimbabwe and the southern African country's
fast deteriorating economy.

      "We encouraged the development of an independent voice for the church
in response to these challenges," Williams said in a joint statement with
the Archbishop of Central Africa after a meeting with the Anglican Bishop of
Harare near Johannesburg.

      Williams, who is in South Africa for an Anglican conference on
tackling poverty, called for regional talks to discuss development and
justice in predominantly Christian Zimbabwe, and to consider the impact of

      Zimbabwe is struggling with its worst economic crisis since it gained
independence from Britain in 1980 and is battling inflation at almost 1 600
percent, widespread food shortages and some of the most drastic contractions
in per capital income ever recorded in a country not at war.

      Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic archbishop, Pius Ncube, is a vociferous
critic of Zimbabwe's government and has urged the world to step up pressure
on President Robert Mugabe to quit.

      Mugabe has been accused of human rights violations and of wrecking
Zimbabwe's once thriving agricultural sector through the seizure and
redistribution of white commercial farms to landless blacks.

      Mugabe blames the country's crisis on economic sabotage by the West,
which has imposed financial and travel sanctions on the veteran leader and
senior officials in his government.

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16 students released, four still in detention

by Staff Writer
07 March 2007

According to a newsletter from the Zimbabwe National Students Union the 20
students who were arrested in Bulawayo on Tuesday were subjected to assaults
by the police. 16 students were released Wednesday while 4 are still
detained at Hillside police station.

ZINASU Secretary General Beloved Chiweshe, Trust Nhubu, Lawrence Mashungu
and Simbarashe Mukusha are still in custody. This brings the number of
arrested students in the month of March to 23.

ZINASU says the class boycotts are spreading to other parts of the country.
The union says reports from Masvingo, where the union Vice President Gideon
Chitanga is spearheading the process, reveal that all the colleges, with the
exception of Bondolfi Teachers College , were deserted. ZINASU president
Promise Mkwananzi has vowed to continue with the class boycotts despite the
arrest and victimisation of students by the police.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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DA: Africa is starting to acknowledge chaos in Zim

Mail and Guardian

Donwald Pressly | Cape Town, South Africa

      07 March 2007 01:36

            African governments are beginning to acknowledge that South
Africa's neighbour, Zimbabwe, has slipped into chaos, Democratic Alliance
(DA) chairperson and spokesperson for Africa Joe Seremane said on Wednesday

            In a statement, Seremane -- who is a candidate for his party's
national leadership -- said Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Mundia Sikatana
"should be commended and supported in his drive to get his country's
counterparts in the Southern African Development Community [SADC] to stop
pretending that 'all is well in Zimbabwe'".

            Sikatana's acknowledgement of the problems in Zimbabwe is "one
of the frankest, most upfront so far by any political leader in Southern
Africa since Zimbabwean President Mugabe first began his despotic ways in
1999", said Seremane.

            Seremane said South African President Thabo Mbeki "now, more
than ever, needs to break his curious silence on the deteriorating political
and economic situation in Zimbabwe or face further ridicule in this regard".

            Seremane said his party "wholeheartedly agrees" with what
Sikatana is reported in the media as saying -- that the SADC states have a
responsibility to make Mugabe realise he needs to enter dialogue.

            "Indications from Lusaka diplomats confirm the DA's long-held
suspicion that the governments of our neighbouring countries look to the
South African government for leadership in dealing with the Zimbabwean

            "The loyalty that some SADC members, including South Africa,
might still feel towards their erstwhile comrade-in-arms, President Mugabe,
is completely misplaced when more than a quarter of Zimbabweans have had to
flee their country to escape the oppressive regime and economic situation.
This goes against the 'African Renaissance' vision," said Seremane.

            He said he looks forward to Zambia's reign as chairing
member-country for the 12-month period, beginning in August.

            "If Minister Sikatana's comments are anything to go by, then the
SADC may at long last be tackling the bull by the horns when it comes to
Zimbabwe." -- I-Net Bridge

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Zimbabwean gems under the spotlight

Business Report

March 7, 2007

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's diamond mining industry will be reviewed by the
Kimberley Process, which monitors an international accord designed to
prevent illicit gem trading.

The review comes after the New York-based World Diamond Council, which
represents diamond exchanges and cutters, expressed concern over reports
that Zimbabwean gems were being smuggled out of the country and passed off
as having come from other nations. - Bloomberg

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Fuel Prices Rise Sharply

The Herald (Harare)

March 7, 2007
Posted to the web March 7, 2007

Jeffrey Gogo

FUEL prices have shot up by well over 100 percent to between $7 500 and $8
000 for a litre of both petrol and diesel in just a fortnight, in defiance
of the regulated prices.

A survey by Herald Business this week showed that petrol and diesel prices
had risen from around $4 000/litre two weeks ago to the current levels. In
January, a litre of petrol or diesel cost about $3 000.

Service stations around Harare's central business district are openly
selling fuel at the ungazetted prices in flagrant contravention of the law.

The gazetted prices for petrol and diesel are pegged at $335 and $320
respectively. The prices have been in force since last year.

Fuel players cited the high cost of foreign currency to finance imports
among other overheads as the biggest driver of prices.

However, international crude oil prices have relatively remained steady this
year, with a barrel going for an average US$59.

No comment was immediately available from Energy and Power Development
Minister Mr Mike Nyambuya, whose mobile phone continuously went unanswered.

Economists this week warned continued fuel increases would have far-reaching
effects on prices of other commodities and services across the board.

Commuter omnibuses have already hiked their fares in line with the fuel
price increases.

ZABG economist Mr David Mupamhadzi commented: "The starting point is that
the market is reacting to expected policy change.

"However, this has not happened, and the longer the authorities take to
implement the social contract the more the market will be driven by

"After talking so much about March 1 and failing to see any new policy on
this date, inevitably, the market has gone directionless. A huge policy
vacuum has been created, and this has to be addressed urgently.

"Authorities should come clean and announce an urgent statement that
clarifies the position on prices and wages going forward, failure which
could lead to further speculation."

Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon Gono has proposed a social contract as part
of a long-term economic stabilisation policy to run until the end of the
year. Phase one of the social contract included a transitional freeze on all
prices and wages, and was scheduled to last from March 1 until June 30 2007.

The social contract is designed to curb arbitrage opportunities in the
economy, bring down inflation, trim the civil service and reopen the economy
to the outside world.

But all this is yet to happen, opening the way for a free-for-all among
producers, retailers and other service providers. Most of them have been
unilaterally hiking prices in anticipation of the freeze.

There are now genuine fears that continued delays in implementation of the
social contract will drive inflation even higher. Year-on-year inflation
stood at 1 593 percent at the end of January while the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe's consumer basket came in at over $600 000.

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Ordinary Level Results Delay Worries Senators

The Herald (Harare)

March 7, 2007
Posted to the web March 7, 2007


SENATORS yesterday expressed concern over delays by the Zimbabwe School
Examinations Council to announcing last year's Ordinary Level examination

Contributing to a motion on the Presidential Address, Midlands chiefs
representative Chief Freddy Gambiza said it was disheartening that O-Level
results had already been announced in private schools where those who passed
were already proceeding with their education.

He said it boggles the mind to think whether students whose results were yet
to be announced would catch-up with the syllabus if they intended to proceed
to Advanced Level studies.

Contributing to the same debate, Harare-Mbare-Hatfield Senator Cde Vivian
Muchicho (Zanu-PF) said the delay in the announcement of the examination
results would negatively affect thousands of candidates.

"The delay has inconvenienced our children as they do not know what to do.
Children are our future and teachers and markers should be well looked
after," she said.

A shortage of markers that resulted from a payment dispute between
prospective markers and Zimsec has delayed the announcement of the
examination results.

The limited number of markers that were commissioned to mark the
examinations was battling to cope with the huge number of papers they were
supposed to deal with.

Under normal circumstances, the results should have been announced a few
weeks ago to give prospective Lower Sixth students ample learning time
during the first school term.

Since localising examinations, Zimsec has over the years faced several
problems, including examination paper leaks.

On the number of accidents on the country's roads, Cde Muchicho said most
drivers were reckless and people were losing lives unnecessarily.

Referring to yesterday's accident in which 35 people died after a train hit
a commuter omnibus in Tynwald, she said such accidents could be avoided.

Cde Muchicho said her younger sister who was on the bus died in the

"Let's look at the causes of these accidents. There are older drivers, and
when they drive, you feel safe unlike the younger ones that speed," she

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Van Hoogstraten Relinquishes Falcon Gold Stake

The Herald (Harare)

March 7, 2007
Posted to the web March 7, 2007

Martin Kadzere

BRITISH business tycoon Mr Nicholas Van Hoogstraten is now US$4,5 million
richer after his disposed of his 57 percent stake in the Falcon Gold.

Mr van Hoogstraten, who was until last week the majority shareholder in the
mining firm, said he had decided to de-invest from the company "because we
had been offered a good value for the shares".

The recent de-investment in Falcon has left the controversial businessman
with a mere 1 percent stake in Halogen Holdings through Edwards Nominees.

Halogen, listed on both the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock
Exchange, was the major shareholder in Falcon.

Mr van Hoogstraten regards himself as a shrewd businessman who has vast
interests in Zimbabwe and England, particularly in property sectors.

His local empire comprises his 35 percent equity in Hwange Colliery Company
Limited, Rainbow Tourism Group (40 percent) and CFI Holding among others.

Last year, the Briton whittled down his shareholding in the NMB from 20
percent to 11 percent and offloaded 10 percent shareholding in Tedco's

Mr van Hoogstraten claims that that he took the decision to offload the
shares in the furniture retail group due to the company's weak financial
performance over the last two years.

His bid to up his stake to 40 percent in NMB Bank suffered a major setback
after the bank's management pooled their equity into a family trust in
addition to denying the Englishman the chance to underwrite the group's $100
million rights offer last year.

He did not hide his frustration, telling the media soon afterwards: "You
cannot have any major policies with such a small shareholding."

"You cannot appoint directors, you cannot make strategies, and yet this has
been my major thrust ever since. I think I would have to move capital
elsewhere where I can have a bigger say."

He has also not forgiven the Rainbow Towers Hotel Group board for blocking
his bid to become the major shareholder in the hospitality group.

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Court makes Nhara sweat

From The Daily Mirror, 7 March

Fortune Mbele, Court Reporter

Principal director in the Ministry of State without Portfolio, William
Nhara, was yesterday sent to remand prison on accusations of possessing
diamonds worth $32 million and bribing a police officer with US$700. The
precious stones were contained in a blue bag, the State said. Nhara (46) was
arrested last Thursday and arraigned before Harare magistrate Mishrod
Guvamombe after the Attorney General's Office finalised its papers. Nhara
was nabbed at the Harare International Airport after he allegedly sought the
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) officials to release 1 874
pieces of the precious stones with a gem value of 10 773, 85 carats, which
they had intercepted. The bag was in the possession of a Lebanese woman
Carole Georges El Martni. She was reportedly on her way to Dubai when she
was nabbed. Both suspects were charged for unlawful possession of diamonds.
Nhara was also charged alongside Tonderai Masimba Guhu (21) under the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for offering Detective Inspector
Ignatius Muganiri US$700 in return for the bag after the police had seized
the consignment. Martni also faces a charge of attempting to illegally
export the said diamonds and paying Detective Inspector Canaan Marufu Z$51
000 for the release of the stones.

Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare alleged that Martni arrived at the airport
carrying a blue bag and checked in. The bag was detected to be containing
strange objects and was impounded. Martini was asked to open it, but she
claimed that she had left the keys at her hotel room and phoned "someone" to
bring them. After a while, Nhara allegedly arrived and approached a CAAZ
officer Peter Chimbo and asked him to release the bag for an undisclosed
fee. Chimbo, in turn, took the politician to two police officers Muganiri
and Marufu at Catercraft Restaurant who posed as CAAZ officials. Nhara
allegedly coaxed Muganiri and Marufu into accepting a bribe in return for
the bag. Muganiri asked for $40 million, but Nhara allegedly forked out
US$700 and promised to pay the balance three days later. Marufu brought the
bag to the airport exit where Nhara would collect it, the State alleged.
When Marufu arrived at the airport Arrivals Section, Nhara allegedly
intercepted him and got hold of the bag and left with Martni. On exit, a
Detective Chief Inspector Muchengwa stopped them and demanded to know the
owner of the bag. Nhara reportedly said it belonged to him and the Lebanese

Muchengwa took the bag and asked the two to follow him to the airport charge
office where Nhara allegedly told the law-enforcement agent that the bag
contained diamonds and asked if they could "talk." Muchengwa opened the bag
and formally arrested Nhara and Martni. Upon investigating the matter
further, the police discovered that Guhu, who had previously given Nhara
US$4 500, had sent a message to the politician on his mobile phone telling
him Martni's bag had to be released without fail. Yesterday Nhara applied
for bail through Chris Venturas of Byron Venturas and Partners, but the case
was postponed to today for continuation. Martni and Guhu are also expected
to apply for bail today. The State is opposed to bail arguing that they
believe the police had exposed an illegal international diamond racket that
needed to be investigated further without undue interference. The prosecutor
feared that Nhara could skip trial if granted bail arguing that he was an
influential and well connected politician who had the means to flee from

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