The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Mail and Guardian

Mugabe hopes to ease land takeovers

Harare, Zimbabwe

28 May 2005 08:24

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Friday that his party
is considering amending the country's Constitution to make it easier for the
government to take over land owned by the country's former white farmers.

He told a meeting of his ruling Zanu-PF that the government's
controversial five-year-old land reform lacks finality. Under the land
reform, thousands of white-owned farms were seized for redistribution to new
black farmers.

"There are a few other areas of our Constitution which we need
to consider for amendment," Mugabe told senior party officials in comments
broadcast on state television news. "These include that area that relates to
land acquisition and land resettlement."

He added: "That process [of acquiring land and handing it over
to new black farmers] should have finality."

It was not immediately clear what amendments the veteran leader
had in mind, but in an apparent reference to the numerous court objections
lodged by the former white landowners to the "compulsory acquisition" of
their farms, Mugabe accused them of employing "delaying tactics".

Earlier this year, state media reported that the courts have to
clear more than 5 000 challenges to the government's land takeovers.

Despite the court objections, only a few hundred or so white
commercial farmers are still on their farms. Since 2000, Mugabe's government
has taken over 5 890 farms measuring 7,8-million hectares for redistribution
to black farmers.

Mugabe also expressed regret on Friday at some of the damage
caused by a police operation to stamp out illegal activities in the
country's towns and cities.

In Harare, the operation, dubbed Restore Order, has mainly been
aimed at street vendors and flea-market operators whom the government
accuses of lowering the image of the capital as well as dealing on the black

Market stalls in Harare have been torched by the police and
ramshackle settlements on the outskirts of the city have been flattened.

"Whilst we regret any damage that was done to places that did
not need to be damaged, we are full of praise for the action the police have
taken," Mugabe said. -- Sapa-DPA

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'Dramatic' price increases in Zim
28/05/2005 18:32 - (SA)

Michael Hartnack

Harare - Zimbabwe imposed dramatic price increases for certain staple food
products on Saturday, but the capital is reportedly quiet after a weeklong

The blitz on street traders and shack dwellers saw tens of thousands
arrested or left homeless in the midwinter cold.

State radio announced that the price of maize meal would increase, effective
immediately, to Zim$19 000 a 10kg bag, while a standard loaf of bread would
increase 29% to Zim$4 500.

Similar price rises in 1998 triggered riots in which at least seven people
died after President Robert Mugabe deployed troops backed by tanks and
helicopters to townships.

Saturday's price hikes were accepted with apparent resignation in Harare,
where residents had fought running battles with police last week as
paramilitary squads torched and bulldozed roadside kiosks, known as
tuckshops, and hundreds of homes.

"Things are really calm now," said Lovemore Machingedzi, an official of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the capital's southern suburbs,
which bore the brunt of the unrest of the past few days.

'An explosive mood

Machingedzi warned, however, of an explosive mood among former guerrillas,
powerful supporters of Mugabe's government over the past five years who face
the demolition of settlements they established after seizing white-owned
farms with official encouragement.

"My understanding is that the situation where they are is very, very tense
because they thought they could do what they want," he said.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of launching what was described
as a nationwide "clean-up campaign" to punish the urban poor for voting
against his ruling Zanu-PF in March 31 parliamentary elections, and to deter
protests as economic catastrophe looms.

At a meeting of his ruling party central committee on Friday, Mugabe
publicly backed the crackdown on street traders and shack dwellers,
officially code named "Operation Murambatsvina", or "Operation Drive Out

"Our towns and cities, including the capital, had become havens for illicit
and criminal practices which just could not be allowed to go on," he said.

His government has blamed speculators, black market dealers and alleged
Western economic sanctions for the current crisis. He promised compensation
for those who had "wrongly suffered damage".

Many arrested traders had vending licences while those left homeless had
official lease agreements for sites developed with World Bank and US aid.

One such project was in Harare's northern Hatcliffe area, where opposition
legislator Trudi Stevenson said on Saturday that 500 evicted families had
been left shivering in winter frosts.

James Morris, head of the World Food Programme and personal emissary of UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is due here on June 1 for talks on the
humanitarian crisis with Mugabe.
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Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 6:34 PM
Subject: Out of sight is not out of mind

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I find myself as a stranger in my home town. Familiar faces have
gone, familiar stopping places have been demolished. Men and women who
would nod, wave and smile as I passed, have disappeared and I feel an
overwhelming sadness at what has happened to them and to their struggle to
make a decent living in these most desperate of times.

Around the corner from my home a woman used to sit on a concrete block
with her vegetables laid out for sale on a piece of cardboard in front of
her: butternuts, tomatoes and onions. She has gone, chased away by Police.
At the end of the road a young woman, sometimes with her little boy in his
bright red jersey, sat on the ground under a tree with a few things to
sell to passers by. She had pushed four sticks into the ground and
fashioned a little table to hold her products: popcorn, matches and
vegetables. Often her little boy would smile and wave when I passed by,
but they have gone, chased away by the Police.

Outside the junior school four women waited every day to sell their wares
to parents and children when the last bell of the day rang. They sold
frozen drinks, toffees, peppermints and bubble gum balls. They have gone,
chased away by Police. Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with
children at their feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and
vegetables to nursing staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were
substantial and made of treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting
overhead to protect them and their produce from the weather. Here you
could buy bananas and apples, avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes
and almost any fruit or vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away
by Police.

On the main road through Marondera town there were at least a dozen places
where young men stood with pockets of oranges, potatoes and butternuts for
sale and on upturned crates they had jars of golden nectar which they were
adamant was honey but we all knew was syrup. They too have gone, chased
away by Police. Near the main petrol station a group of men used to weave
baskets, stools and wicker chairs which they sold on the roadside along
with hand woven rugs and mats. For years those men have been there, their
fingers twisting and pulling the canes into intricate designs with such
skill that it was a delight to watch them work and an insult to bargain
with them over their prices when you knew how much work had gone into the
finished product. These men too have gone, chased away by Police. Outside
the main Post Office the woman with her battered enamel basin crowded with
bananas and twisted cones of newspaper filled with ground nuts or nyimo
beans has gone, chased away by the Police. In this case out of sight to
the authorities is not out of mind to us, the ordinary people.

What I am describing is the tip of the iceberg. In towns and cities across
the country the Police are embarking on what they call a clean up
campaign. It is not only street vendors who are having their stalls
demolished and goods confiscated but also people who the police say have
built illegal houses in illegal areas. On Thursday night I watched in
shock as the main TV news carried film footage of a crowd of riot police
standing watching a bulldozer demolishing "illegal houses" . The camera
focused on three young children, one with a school satchel on her back,
watching the brick house being torn down; the walls were plastered and
painted blue and I cried inside knowing exactly how it felt to have the
place you call home stolen from you.

It is winter here in Zimbabwe. Last night the temperature in Marondera
dropped to just seven degrees Centigrade. In Harare last night over 500
families spent their second night out in the open as their homes had been
demolished by Police. I have seen such cruelty and such a lack of
compassion and humanity this week that I cannot imagine which way now for
Zimbabwe. No one can understand what this is about or why it is happening

There are already so few voices speaking out for the desperate ordinary
people in Zimbabwe that it is with overwhelming sadness that we heard this
week that Short Wave Radio Africa is about to stop broadcasting as they
have run out of money. Through SW Radio Africa ordinary people could tell
of their own struggle to survive and for those of us who have listened
faithfully every night, I do not know how, now, we will find the courage
to go on without our voice of hope. We feel more alone now than ever
before. Until next week, with love, cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 28th May 2005.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

NGO urges State to stop 'clean-up'

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-May-28

Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), a non-governmental organisation fighting
for human rights and good governance, has urged the government to stop
immediately the war against informal traders and urgently compensate victims
of "Operation Murambatsvina." In a statement yesterday, CZC spokesperson
Elizabeth Marunda said it was ironic that the government was spending
millions destroying market and industrial stalls while senior ruling party
and government officials continued sending their children for education
abroad paying in foreign currency.
She said: "The Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition strongly condemns this uncivilised
behaviour and urges the government to halt its illegal attacks against the
unemployed, women and children."
Marunda scoffed at Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
Minister Ignatius Chombo's remarks on national TV that the clampdown was
aimed at improving the image of Zimbabwean towns.
"Why now, two months after the parliamentary elections? Why now, when we are
faced with the 2008 Presidential elections? The reason should be simple, the
movement of rural folk from towns back to the rural areas will increase the
electorate for those elections," Marunda charged.
She added: "In an economy where the informal sector employs 80 percent of
the labour force, torching peoples' markets and arresting street kids will
not help the economy, let alone bring fuel, foreign currency, or fill the
granaries of Zimbabwe."
CZC said the government must use taxes to secure fuel and food, rather than
torment citizens by importing teargas.
"Arrests, torture and property vandalism in the name of "cleaning the city"
does not bring foreign currency, food or fuel. The government must urgently
compensate at the full market value properties of informal traders. It must
withdraw its regiment of violence from residential areas. The current
onslaught against Zimbabweans will not solve the twin crises of legitimacy
and governance. It shall and never will through violence," Marunda said.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Master plan for Bulawayo

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-May-28

THE Bulawayo City Council has drawn a 15-year strategic development plan
which seeks to transform the informal sector, urban agriculture and energy,
and also hunt for alternative bulk water sources.
According to the council's latest minutes, the new master plan's - now open
for public viewing - main goals are to ensure provision of adequate and
appropriate housing and social facilities.
And to meet the set goals, the local authority said it would mobilise land
and other resources to provide decent dwellings.
Over 200 000 housing units are expected to be constructed with emphasis be
on provision of low cost housing. Houses with structural defects would be
demolished, while communal toilets would be replaced with internal ones.
The master plan also makes provision for additional schools. Apart from
providing more facilities, the council envisages to set aside 7 300 hectares
of land for industrial, commercial and other economic activities.
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Lawyers Worried By Bennett's Health

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

May 20, 2005
Posted to the web May 27, 2005

Grace Kombora

THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has raised concern over the
deteriorating health status of Roy Bennett, the former MDC's MP for
Chimanimani who is jailed at Chikurubi Prison.

The ZLHR said Bennett was subjected to terrifying conditions.

In a statement, the ZLHR said Bennett had been transferred to Chikurubi
Prison from Mutoko without notice. He had been held at Mutoko under the same
area and conditions as hard-core criminals.

"He or his lawyers do not know the reasons for his transfer," the ZHLR
report said.

On his arrival at Chikurubi Bennet was made to sit in the sun with other
prisoners for two hours without justification, the report said.

Bennett also had to sleep without blankets on the floor with inmates helping
him with blankets out of sympathy.

"Some of the prison guards have been very hostile and abusive physically and
verbally without justification whatsoever," ZLHR said.

ZHLR also noted that Bennett reported that prison guards had been subjecting
him to "all sorts of humiliating, inhuman and degrading treatment".

At Chikurubi Bennett is not being given clothes to change and water to bath.
He can only use water used for flushing the toilet, it said.

"Bennett is not being given food as per doctor's dietary specifications and
going for days without a proper meal," ZLHR said.
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Gono Recommends More Jails

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

May 20, 2005
Posted to the web May 27, 2005

Ray Matikinye

ZIMBABWE'S prisons are full to the hatches with petty criminals and remand
prisoners owing to a tardy judiciary system that is failing to cope with

An exodus by magistrates from the Justice department over low remuneration
and poor working conditions has worsened the situation.

Yet Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono yesterday asked government to
construct more jails to accommodate an expected influx of inmates convicted
of economic crimes as a way of "breaking the spirit of greed and the demon
of indiscipline" in the economy.

Gono proposed that the additional jails be established in outlaying rural
areas so the prisoners can play a supportive role in tilling the land.

In his monetary policy review, Gono railed at all sectors of the economy for
corrupt tendencies which he said had retarded efficiency across the
productive sector and threaten efforts to put the economy back on the rails.

"We are aware of the iniquitous parallel market rates for foreign currency
and goods in short supply currently prevailing in this market and find it
ludicrous that Zimbabweans are forced by circumstances to trade their toil,
sweat and blood at these ridiculous levels," Gono said.

He said those behind ridiculous exchange rates should not expect the RBZ to
legalise such trading "or worse still agree to index the Zimbabwe currency
and economic activities on the back of some shadowy figures which are being
set and determined in some dark alley or street corners of our cities".

Gono proposed stringent legislative measure to curb corruption in both the
private and public sectors, citing rampant corruption in parastatals such as
Zimra, the Tender Board, National Parks and Wildlife Authority, NRZ,
Immigration, Zimbabwe Republic Police and government ministries.

Gono fingered the police for abetting corruption by interfering with
evidence and connivance with suspects, lack of dedication to enforce
prosecution and deliberate misrepresentation of the law.

He blamed Zimra officials for accepting bribes from individuals and
corporate bodies to underpay taxes and import duties and under-invoice
export shipments.

He also attacked black empowerment proponents.

"It is folly for us to hide behind black economic empowerment while we
engage in self-destructive tendencies," Gono said.
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Gono Stutters

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

May 20, 2005
Posted to the web May 27, 2005

Dumisani Muleya

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono yesterday proposed a chain of
desperate measures while lashing out at alleged saboteurs of his recovery
programme to save the economy from a further slide.

Presenting his monetary policy review, Gono agonised over macro-economic
fundamentals - exchange, inflation and interest rates - only to emerge with
piecemeal measures that do not address the structural distortions in the

Gono admitted his claims of an economic recovery were "ill-founded", saying
we were still "in the woods". He blamed drought and indiscipline in the
economy for the failure of his recovery agenda but put on a brave face using
military terms and threats to declare "no surrender" on his mission.

Verbose as usual, Gono blamed everyone - including himself when he admitted
he was perhaps "naive" in some of his policies - for fuelling the
"iniquitous parallel market" which spawned "ridiculous exchange rates".

He attacked politicians, police, parastatal bosses, tender board officials,
National Parks authorities, hotels, lodges and their booking agencies,
retailers, estate agents, financial sector executives, empowerment groups,
city councils, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials, cross-border traders,
safari operators, and foreigners for his failure to meet policy targets.

In a desperate proposition, Gono said government should "build more jails"
and "economic crimes courts" to contain black market dealers.

However Gono, who now looms large in economic affairs, did not come up with
credible solutions on shortages of foreign currency fuel, power, food, water
and basic commodities which came flooding back after the March 31 general
election. He was also silent on how government would fund maize imports
required to avert starvation.

Gono's increasingly political monetary policy framework appeared to be
premised on a business-like turnaround strategy and not a realistic
econometrics recovery model.

While in denial, Gono devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by adjusting the diaspora
exchange rate at the foreign currency auction system from US$1: $6 200 to $9
000, a massive 45%.

Gono's action was targeted at containing the rampant parallel market, and
giving exporters incentives to stimulate foreign exchange generation.

But the measure will not help much to narrow the yawning gap between the
official and parallel market rates. The Zimbabwe dollar crashed yesterday to
new lows of US$1: $25 000 on the black market in anticipation of a
devaluation. The South African rand stood at R1: $3 800 compared to the
official rate of R1: $1 000.

This makes the local currency about the weakest in the region, almost at par
with Mozambique's meticas, when it was the strongest at Independence in
1980. The Zambian kwacha, a laughing stock until recently, is now stronger
than the Zimbabwe dollar.

In a desperation search for foreign currency, police were this week
unleashed in Harare to spearhead a crackdown on black market traders.

Gono has been under intense pressure largely from exporters to review the
fixed exchange rate. Despite a clear fundamental disequilibrium - a serious
deficit in the balance-of-payments position which justifies a devaluation -
Gono has been blocked by government from adjusting the exchange rate.

He has been using a pegged exchange rate to fight inflation, but that has
had disastrous consequences on the economy.

While inflation managed to fall from a record 622,8% in January last year to
123,7% in March this year, it surged to 129,1% last month. As a result Gono
revised his year-end forecast from between 20% and 35% to between 50% and
80%. He warned inflation could surge to 200%.

He also changed his overly optimistic economic growth figures from a maximum
of 5% GDP growth to 2,5%.

Gono issued a blueprint titled "Inflation Drivers in Zimbabwe" which lists
food, rents and rates, education and energy as the main factors fuelling
inflation. But he did not address his loose money supply system that has
been causing exchange rate instability and inflation. Money supply grew
222,6% last year and is still growing. Gono increased secured lending
interest rates to 160%, from 95% per annum. He also increased unsecured
lending rates to 170%, from 105%. Concessionary lending was cut from 50% to

In a move that could put him on collision course with President Robert
Mugabe, Gono launched a thinly-veiled attacked on the "Look East" policy and
substandard clothing imports flooding the market from West Africa and East

Gono emphasised the need to work with key Western institutions like the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. To his credit, he attacked
politicians who misled the nation on food stocks and suggested a need to
reverse the damage caused by the land reform programme.

He also slammed corrupt and incompetent officials, as well as foreign
currency externalisation and money-laundering.

To revive agricultural and other productive sectors, he maintained cheap
lending facilities, although he admitted abuse in the past, and also invited
"specialist" evicted farmers to come back. He offered incentives to gold,
cotton and tobacco producers.

Exporters who repatriate earnings within a month will get 25% of the
proceeds in hard currency. A public housing fund was also set up.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Big hikes in food prices in Zimbabwe but capital calm after week of protests

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Major increases in the price of staple foods
went into effect Saturday as President Robert Mugabe, who recently refused
assistance claiming the country had a bumper harvest, acknowledged that
Zimbabwe needs food aid to avert famine.
The price hikes - 51 per cent for maize meal and 29 per cent for
bread - came days ahead of a meeting with James Morris, World Food Program
chief, to discuss Zimbabwe's massive food aid requirements despite its
longstanding claims it was self-sufficient.

Zimbabwe's economy has slowly collapsed since Mugabe introduced his
land reform program and confiscated white-owned farms, beginning five years
ago. Zimbabwe's once thriving agricultural sector, which made it the
regional bread basket, is destroyed.

Still, Saturday's price hikes, announced on state radio, were taken
with apparent resignation in Harare, where residents had fought running
battles with police last week as paramilitary squads torched and bulldozed
roadside shops and hundreds of homes.

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Tens of thousands of people were arrested or left homeless in the
midwinter cold.

Opposition politicians said the blitz by authorities was intended to
subdue the population and so forestall riots which followed price rises in
1998, when at least seven people died after Mugabe deployed troops backed by
tanks into the townships.

"Things are really calm now," said Lovemore Machingedzi, an official
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the capital's southern
suburbs, which bore the brunt of the unrest of the past few days.

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Machingedzi warned, however, of an explosive mood with the
once-landless blacks who were powerful supporters of Mugabe's government now
facing the demolition of settlements they established after seizing the
white-owned farms.

"My understanding is that the situation where they are is very, very
tense because they thought they could do what they want," he said.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of launching the attacks
to punish the urban poor for voting against his ruling Zanu-PF, which won
the disputed March 31 parliamentary elections. The clampdown on street
traders last week, opposition politicians said, was to intimidate people
ahead of the food price hikes and to deter protests as economic catastrophe

At a meeting of his ruling party central committee Friday, Mugabe
publicly backed the crackdown on street traders and shack dwellers,
officially code named Operation Murambatsvina, or Operation Drive Out Trash.

According to the opposition, Mugabe wants the urban poor, who lived in
the small shacks and ran the roadside shops, to return to rural areas where
he can control them.

"Our towns and cities, including the capital, had become havens for
illicit and criminal practices which just could not be allowed to go on," he

Mugabe's government has blamed speculators, black market dealers and
alleged Western economic sanctions for the current economic crisis.

After predicting a "bumper" 2.5 million tonne maize harvest and
scorning aid offers, Mugabe now admits the country urgently needs more than
1.2 million tonnes to save four million Zimbabweans from famine.

His fiercest critic, Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo,
has accused Mugabe of using access to food to intimidate rural voters, while
the MDC alleges a plan to drive the urban poor back to the countryside
"where they can be more easily controlled."

The Canadian Press, 2005

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The Scotsman

Best gift to Africa? Letting it help itself


JUST over 20 years ago, American Express had an idea that changed the world.
Every time someone used its credit card, it donated one cent to charity,
thus linking its product to a good cause. The result was an explosion of

Its link with the Statue of Liberty restoration appeal sent its credit card
usage soaring by 28%, ensuring AmEx recouped far more than it gave away.
This act of commercial genius was given a name: cause-related marketing.

Give a little to charity, get a lot of kudos - it's a seductive win-win
equation which has been adopted world over. And we can see this theory at
work today when politicians, needing a reputation lift, head so quickly to

The secret of cause-related marketing is proportion. The act of fundraising
creates a profile far greater than the good actually being done; but the
target audience is often more interested in the idea of helping a good cause
than doing any sums.

Tesco, for example, is now in the 14th year of its computers-for-schools
scheme, where shoppers are issued one voucher for every 10 spent. This is
given to children, who give it to teachers, whose schools redeem the
vouchers for computer equipment.

What they don't tell you at the checkout is that each voucher is worth just
under 3p and that it would take the average shopper 93 years of loyalty to
Tesco (that is, 210,000 of spending) to collect enough tokens for just one
school notebook computer.

Parents implored to join the scheme would benefit the school more by posting
a fiver to the headmaster, and shopping where they like. But instead,
vouchers are collected with hardly any idea of their real worth: the
attraction lies in the spirit of giving.

The genius of the Tesco scheme is the feelgood factor. When asked "are you
collecting vouchers" by the cashier, shoppers can feel civic pride by saying
that they are. Aunties put them aside for their nieces, who have fun
collecting them. Every little helps.

This brings us to Africa, where the echoes of cause-related marketing can be
heard while Gordon Brown noisily rattles the African charity box around the
world. Subliminally, we may associate him with good causes just as we do the

This is not to say that the Chancellor lacks a genuine desire to help
Africa. Like the Tesco vouchers, it is a scheme which - to achieve the
maximum effect - must be carried out in ignorance of the true economics at

This is the aid versus trade debate. Trading with Africa has no role for
politicians - other than for them to get out of the way. It is the most
effective way to help, and has allowed India and China to make more progress
on poverty than at any time in history.

Aid, by contrast, gives politicians a starring role. It can lend a moral
dimension to governments, which is often sorely lacking (especially after an
illegal war). And if it is done with enough pizzazz, it can divert attention
away from their own failings at home.

Jack McConnell, for example, has come back from Malawi - where he found the
money he is entrusted with can go far further. Back home, his record
spending has meant record homelessness - and soaring hospital waiting lists.

The First Minister was out of the country when it emerged that the average
hospital wait in Scotland is now a record 15 weeks - up a staggering 11 days
this year so far. No matter how much money he's given, he just can't seem to
crack it.

Little wonder he's calling for Scotland to "raise our heads" to Africa - so
the nation's attention comes off his dismal failure to look after the most
vulnerable in his own country. Here stands a man in sore need of a public
relations boost.

Unlike McConnell, Tony Blair and Brown are both paid to look after Africa -
though both clever enough to realise that their agenda has more than a touch
of the Tesco about it.

First, the Chancellor is promising to give 0.7% of the national wealth in
donations. This was a pledge which the Heath government committed Britain to
in 1970 - and Brown says he won't even hit this generation-old target until

A maximum of noise is being made with the minimum amount of cost:
cause-related marketing at its best. Next, we can ask how much money will go
to Africa. The Chancellor wants a scheme to give more aid now, and less
later - raising 30bn.

However, Africa's main problem is not poverty, but dictators - whose grip is
often strengthened by debt cancellation or large cash donations. The real
problem is that countries cannot generate wealth for themselves, and this
will not be solved by handouts from the West.

The economic vandalism of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe has already destroyed
more wealth in five years than Britain had given to the whole of Africa
since 1945. Against such odds, it is far from clear what a new era of
handouts can achieve.

There is a positive story in Africa - but, tragically for cause-related
marketing, it's one that involves no politicians or charities. Earlier this
month, the Africa Economic Outlook projected economic growth of 5% - twice
the speed of Britain's.

Foreign investment, which now dwarfs aid in developing countries, is paying
off. Trade is entrenching stability and wealth - without any help from
politicians. It is a formula which, with a little help, could allow Africa
to find the answer itself.

Oxfam calculates that if Africa could increase its share of world trade by
1%, it would be worth 45bn a year - more than Brown hopes to raise by his
convoluted International Finance Facility scheme. So this is the real prize.

To achieve it requires tearing up the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a
scandalous European Union scheme which keeps Africa on its knees by denying
it free access to Western markets while protecting Western farmers.

The Institute for International Economics estimates 200 million people can
be lifted out of poverty in developing countries if only politicians allowed
the West to trade freely - and buy from African farmers the kind of produce
they are ready and able to sell cheaply.

The United Nations estimates that the abolition of tariffs would increase
trade by 400m a year - that is, 14 times today's aid. But it means
upsetting the carefully balanced protectionist system. For Europe's
politicians, this is beyond the pale.

So at the G8 summit, the message to Africa will be "sorry, we're not going
to trade freely with you, it would upset the political authorities in
Brussels too much. But here's a cheque to buy a water well, and a few
nutrition biscuits".

Not that we will hear this message at Gleneagles. It will be drowned out by
a jamboree of pop stars and protesters wearing special wristbands. In this
way, the Africa agenda is a great example of cause-related marketing for the
UK government.

But all this is a woeful substitute for what Africa truly requires. Africa
is growing, and desperate to trade fairly with us. To abolish the CAP would
be a true step towards making poverty history. Anything else will be little
more than conscience money.
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