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

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Independent (UK)

'Freedom fighters' may be Mugabe trap
Opposition warns that new resistance movement may be a set-up by the regime
as excuse for further repression
By Oliver Owen
23 November 2003

Britain and the official opposition in Zimbabwe are steering clear of a
shadowy new resistance group called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM),
amid fears that it may be a trap laid by President Robert Mugabe for enemies
such as the British gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell.

Most new guerrilla movements announce themselves by claiming responsibility
for an attack or act of sabotage that captures media attention. The ZFM,
however, made its debut earlier this month at London's ICA, one of Britain's
premier arts venues, where Mr Tatchell launched the group by showing a

Apparently shot inside Zimbabwe, the tape shows an interview with two
balaclava- wearing men -- Commander "Charles Black Mamba" and his deputy,
whose nom de guerre is Nthuthko Fezela -- in which they outline the aims of
the ZFM. They say Mr Mugabe should be removed from power to resolve
Zimbabwe's problems. Although their intention is not to kill the President,
but to take him alive in a bloodless coup so that he can "receive the
truth", they warn that if Mr Mugabe does not want the ZFM to resort to the
use of force, the next move is up to him.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, is on trial for his life on treason charges, has reacted
sceptically to the ZFM's appearance. The ruling Zanu-PF had used
"pseudo-dissidents" in the 1980s, warned David Coltart, the MDC's justice
spokesman. "I suspect that these are people from the military and the
Central Intelligence Organisation," he said. "You have to ask whose
interests this serves ... Mugabe will make the most of the propaganda from
this sort of thing by blaming the British for meddling in Zimbabwe's

The main evidence produced against Mr Tsvangirai is a secret video which his
lawyers say has been crudely doctored to make him appear to be plotting to
assassinate Mr Mugabe. This has fuelled MDC suspicions about the ZFM video.
Following Mr Tatchell's launch of the new group, Chris Mullin, a Foreign
Office minister, said informal approaches to Britain, believed to come from
the ZFM, had been firmly rejected. The MDC's secretary general, Welshman
Ncube, told The Independent on Sunday: "If it [the ZFM] is not a deliberate
creation to discredit us, then it is a group of people who really don't know
who they are playing with, because it's a very dangerous game and one which
will cause a lot of hardship for people on the ground."

Opposition groups fear another crackdown by Mr Mugabe's regime may be immi-
nent as Zimbabwe stumbles into further political and economic chaos. Last
week police and paramilitaries began confiscating foreign currency
indiscriminately from travellers - a desperate measure which state media
explained as necessary to buy imported fuel for farm vehicles, but which has
been more widely interpreted as funding military fuel stockpiles in
anticipation of civil unrest. Some believe the advent of the ZFM could be
used as an excuse for repression.

Mr Tatchell, who has twice attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Mr Mugabe
on visits to Europe - he was beaten up by the leader's security men on one
occasion - insists that the ZFM is genuine.

"They have been in contact with me for over 18 months, and have cautiously
delayed their announcement several times to concur with their aim of
patiently creating underground cells," he said.

Mr Tatchell noted that the regime's officials had belittled the ZFM: if the
movement was a government set-up, he said, the regime's officials would have
played up the threat rather than disparaging it.

Mr Tatchell is a particular bęte noire of Mr Mugabe, who has likened gays to
"pigs and dogs" and claims Zimbabwe is being destabilised in a conspiracy
orchestrated by the British government of "gay gangsters", in league with
international capital, white Zimbabweans and black opposition

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Sunday Times (SA)

Mugabe blows his last chance

Free to fight another day

Zimbabwe's suspension from Commonwealth is extended
Sunday Times Foreign Desk

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's hopes of a last-minute invitation to
attend next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Nigeria have
come to nothing.

Mugabe was hoping to convince Nigeria's president and this year's host of
the meeting, Olusegun Obasanjo, of Zimbabwe's right to attend the talks in
Abuja when Obasanjo visited Harare earlier this week.

Obasanjo, however, was clearly unimpressed by his visit - and Zimbabwe
remains barred from the Commonwealth.

Mugabe, meanwhile, has stepped up a crackdown on his opponents by arresting
more than a dozen people over e-mails supporting anti-government protests.

Zimbabwean state media reported on Friday that 14 people had been arrested
in the past week and charged with "circulating a subversive e-mail inciting
the public to oust President Mugabe from office".

They were later freed on bail. But the report did not give details of how
the authorities had found the message, which said: " Starting on November 24
there would be nationwide violent demonstrations and strikes to push
President Mugabe out of office."

Riot police detained the country's main labour leaders and some rights
activists for two days this week after they tried to stage street
demonstrations against Mugabe's policies. They were later released.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Lovemore Matombo said after his
release from custody on Thursday that Mugabe was bent on clamping down on

After Obasanjo's departure from Harare, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan
Mudenge still insisted that the country was back as a full member of the
54-nation organisation.

He said its 12-month suspension had lapsed on March 19 - despite an
announcement by Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon on March 16 that
it had been extended for a further nine months.

In a reference to Nigeria, Australia and South Africa, Mudenge told
parliament that the "troika" which had imposed the year-long suspension had
not renewed it.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth after presidential elections in
March last year were declared neither free nor fair by many international

Mudenge launched a spectacular attack on white Commonwealth leaders, saying
McKinnon's statement on March 16 was "based on falsehood and therefore
without effect" because South Africa and Nigeria had rebutted his claims.

"Put blatantly, the secretary-general lied," said Mudenge, accusing
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and McKinnon of "breathtaking
arrogance" and of being "consumed by racist emotionalism".

"There are many who regard Mr Howard as a notorious international outlaw who
was recently involved in the illegal invasion of Iraq, murdered innocent
women and children and effected unauthorised regime change," Mudenge said.

"In fact they believe that he should be told clearly and firmly that 'regime
change' is not a Commonwealth policy or principle and that he must stand
trial at the Rome International Criminal Court for his crimes."

But Zimbabwe's continued suspension appeared to hinge on Mugabe's refusal to
meet Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai for discussions
about the country's future.

Earlier, Mugabe had announced that his ruling Zanu-PF party was, in fact,
engaged in talks with the MDC.

Obasanjo tried in vain this week to secure a meeting between Tsvangirai and
Mugabe. Tsvangirai, according to Nigerian diplomatic sources, was prepared
to meet Mugabe.

However, Mugabe insisted that he could only meet the MDC leader in February
after consulting other Zanu-PF leaders.

Tsvangirai informed the Nigerian president that there had been no progress
in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis since Obasanjo visited the country with
President Thabo Mbeki in May.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that in the national budget presented to the
Zimbabwean parliament this week, it was announced that inflation was
expected to reach 700% next year.

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The Scotsman
'Club for despots' in last ditch reform bid


WHEN it was formed after the Second World War, the Commonwealth was applauded as a crucial way to maintain prosperous trading links and close political relationships between the former members of the British Empire.

Millions of people in some of the poorest countries in the world were told that Britain would help economies prosper and democracies grow by promoting international trade and free enterprise.

But today the Commonwealth has gained a reputation as a club for ageing despots more interested in political posturing than promoting the coalition’s founding spirit.

And so next month’s biannual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nigeria is seen as a crucial chance to turn around the 54-nation organisation Prince Charles recently said was "drinking in the last chance saloon".

Prince Charles is not the organisation’s only critic. Others believe its days are numbered because it spends more time disciplining errant members such as Zimbabwe and Pakistan than helping the world’s poor. The first big Commonwealth meeting in Africa took place in Nigeria in 1966. Then the talk was about how to control Ian Smith, Rhodesia’s prime minister. Nearly 40 years later, Zimbabwe, as it is now, is still the cause of acrimony.

The Queen will seek to set the tone when she delivers her keynote speech in Abuja by highlighting the need to give the 1.8-billion-member club a new meaning and a set of moral goals for the 21st century.

For one expert it is the lack of leadership and interest from Britain which has contributed to the Commonwealth’s lack of direction. Sir Andy Chande, a Tanzanian businessman who has been an economic affairs adviser to three Tanzanian presidents since 1967, said: "It’s as if the British were embarrassed about their old Empire. I travel the world and can talk to children in Botswana, India, Pakistan and Australia about the Commonwealth. You can’t do that in Britain. No one seems to care whether it survives or sinks."
It’s as if the British were embarrassed about their old Empire

The challenges for the Commonwealth are great if it chooses to tackle them. Hunger and famine afflict many of its member states and the Aids epidemic and social unrest are having a profound effect on others.

Marianne Haslegrave, the director of the Commonwealth Medical Services, said there were elements of the Commonwealth that still worked, but that tensions were growing.

She said: "It’s good at providing opportunities for governments from developed and developing countries to talk about the things that really impact on people’s lives... and how richer countries can help poorer countries in the Club."

But she added: "One of the big problems the Commonwealth faces is it’s made up of so many countries with utterly different backgrounds and traditions. In Britain, we expect everyone to be democratic in the Westminster sense of the word… Most Commonwealth states are de facto one party states."

But it is the issue of Zimbabwe which threatens to tear the organisation apart and prevent it tackling these issues. Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe was suspended from the Commonwealth in March last year after the presidential elections, which he won, were rigged. But he has mobilised support among other African leaders, including South African president Thabo Mbeki and CHOGM’s Nigerian host President Olusegun Obasanjo, and plans to turn up on December 5.

This is likely to overshadow any agenda Tony Blair, Australian Prime Minister John Howard or the New Zealand-born secretary general, Don McKinnon, are pushing. Indeed Blair could decide not to attend if Mugabe turns up.

Mugabe’s actions are causing a black/white split in the Commonwealth. He has recently called on all African governments to throw white landowners off their farms and return them to their original people, a policy he has carried out with terrible effect in Zimbabwe.

And he remains defiant. Only last week in Harare he raged against Blair and Howard for blocking his entry back into the Commonwealth, calling on other members to reject their "arrogant position".

And President Obasanjo has agreed that Mugabe has every right to attend the gathering as a private individual. "It’s a move supported by senior African leaders in Lusaka, Dar-es-Salaam, Johannesburg and Windhoek," said Chande. "Robert Mugabe has massive and growing support throughout Africa."

Many observers believe the Commonwealth will survive of it institutes radical changes, but ominous voices in Africa suggest time might be running out.
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Sunday Times (SA)

Mampara of the Week: Stan Mudenge

Oh, shut up

Once again, Zimbabwe's ruling elite have demonstrated their extraordinary
grasp of the complexities of international relations - and so eloquently,

Dealing with those who continued to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth,
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge singled out Australian PM John Howard, a man
apparently "consumed by racist emotionalism", and told parliament:

"There are many who regard Mr Howard as a notorious international outlaw who
was recently involved in the illegal invasion of Iraq, murdered innocent
women and children and effected unauthorised regime change."

Gee. And we thought the suspension might have had something to do with the
fact that mampara Mudenge and his chums were hell-bent on basket-casing both
his country and the region. Silly us.

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Zim Standard

      Hospitals collapse
      By Valentine Maponga

      GOVERNMENT hospitals are on the brink of total collapse after senior
doctors and thousands of nurses yesterday downed tools to join junior
doctors who have been on a protracted job action that has virtually
paralysed the entire public health system.

      State nurses, the backbone of the public health delivery system, went
on strike at the weekend after the government failed to honour pledges that
it would hike their salaries by up to 800 percent translating to $1,6
million each per month.

      "Our pay day was on Thursday and we were really shocked to find out
that nothing was added on our November salaries. In fact, an allowance we
have been getting has been cut Š We feel cheated," said a nurse at
Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, who refused to be named.

      Other nurses who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity, said
they were "shocked" to find that the new salaries they were promised last
month were not reflected on their payslips on Thursday.

      At a meeting held at the Zimbabwe Nurses' Association house on Friday,
the nurses agreed that they would embark on the job action until the Public
Service Commission (PSC) addressed their grievances.

      When The Standard visited Parirenyatwa, Harare and Chitungwiza
hospitals yesterday, not even a single nurse was on duty except
sisters-in-charge and student nurses, who kept themselves busy trying to
normalise the situation.

      Some patients waited hopelessly at the outpatients department at
Harare hospital. Other patients whose conditions were deemed "not very
serious", were turned away while foreign doctors attended to serious
emergency cases.

      Chitungwiza hospital acting medical superintendent, Leslie Mtariswa,
confirmed that the strike had virtually paralysed the system.

      "We have no staff right now and we are not in a position to take in
new patients. The strike has virtually paralysed the whole system, we always
rely on the assistance of nurses in order to execute our duties. We only
hope that the strike ends as soon as possible as the situation is not
sustainable," said Mtariswa.

      At Bulawayo's Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals, nurses and doctors
yesterday reported for duty but were keeping their "ears to the ground"
about the strike.

      "We are not on strike Š I hope we will join the strike on Monday,"
said a nurse at Mpilo.

      David Parirenyatwa, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare,
yesterday said he had not been informed about the latest developments at
government hospitals.

      "I have not yet been informed about that, usually when people go on
strike we are normally informed," said Parirenyatwa.

      "I just hope nurses do not go on strike again as this might cause a
lot of suffering in most of our hospitals. This is a very undesirable
situation in the health sector as junior and middle doctors are already on
strike," he said.

      He added that the issue of doctors' and nurses' salaries was
determined by the PSC and in his role as a minister, he was determined to
see that his employees were satisfied.

      "I want all of them to get better remuneration, given how the economy
is right now but I think the solution is not to go on strike. We need to sit
down and negotiate on all the problems that are affecting our employees.
Nurses and doctors should always put the health of patients first before
anything else," said Parirenyatwa.

      Official sources say specialist doctors, who have been working during
the junior doctors' strike, had also joined the job action. According to the
sources the doctors were only waiting for their November salaries before
joining the strike, which has now effectively shut the public health system.

      Among the senior doctors' grievances, say hospital sources, are that
they no longer get allowances such as fuel to drive to and from work.

      Zimbabwean nurses and doctors, who have fled the country in their
droves for hospitals in the UK, South Africa, the US and the Middle East,
say their salaries and working conditions are the poorest in the region and
need to be improved.

      They accuse President Robert Mugabe's bankrupt administration of
procrastination and failing to honour pledges when confronted with demands
for salary reviews.
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Zim Standard

      Banks corner parallel market
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s recent sanctioning of the
National Merchant Bank (NMB) for illegally dealing in hard currency, has
failed to curtail other banks from closing such foreign exchange deals, it
emerged last week.

      Sources in the financial services sector told Standard Business that
NMB's suspension had only sent "shivers" on the market for a short-lived

      The RBZ in August stripped NMB of its foreign currency dealership
licence, slapping it with a 12-month ban for engaging in illegal foreign
currency transactions in contravention of the Exchange Control Act.

      The clampdown sent shivers across the financial market, forcing many
banks to retreat from openly trading in hard currency.

      However, banking sources said many of them had now resumed illegal
trading in foreign currency "full-scale" despite having the riot act read to
them by the central bank.

      They said the renewed activities follow the end of raids on commercial
banks by officers of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
a perception that new RBZ Governor Gideon Gono - the former head of Jewel
Bank - was likely to be more sympathetic to their plight.

      "Trading is very much alive and continuing. It is only that they are
restricting it to a closed group," said a source. "Even the big banks are
now engaged in it full time."

      Besides penalising NMB, three other commercial banks and a merchant
bank were understood to have survived suspensions "by a whisker" - according
to a source - but were now also openly trading on foreign currency on
parallel market rates.

      The Zimbabwe dollar has since February lost heavily to the currencies
of the country's major trading partners on the thriving parallel market.

      Other sources last week said the dollar would continue to plummet
because of the participation of government officials and government entities
in the illegal foreign currency deals.

      "Parallel market rates fall each time Zesa and Noczim go on the market
to look for foreign currency," said one analyst.

      Zesa, Noczim and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have habitually
raided the money market in search of funds to procure fuel, grain and
electricity imports.

      To deal with the illegal trade in foreign currency, experts have urged
the government to devalue the local currency to realistic levels.

      Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' Chief Economist, Godfrey Kanyenze,
said putting sanctions on commercial banks would not solve the problem of
illegal foreign currency trading.

      "It doesn't work as long as there is no forex on the market. People
are more desperate and will still head-hunt on the parallel market," said
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Zim Standard

      Zimsec strike exposes serious conflicts in the exams body
      By Henry Makiwa

      THE strike by workers at the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council
(Zimsec) amidst schools' end-of-year examinations, is the final stroke on
the epitaph of Zimbabwe's collapsing education system, observers have said.

      Though workers at the beleaguered national examination board downed
tools a fortnight ago demanding a review of their pay and working
conditions, the underlying causes of their job action go much deeper than
meets the eye.

      For instance, investigations by The Standard show that simmering
discontent among the workers over the alleged lavish spending of Zimsec
funds by top officials of the institution is at the centre of the crisis.

      Says Mathias Guchutu, the information officer of the National
Education Union of Zimbabwe (NEUZ) which represents Zimsec workers: "Workers
here would not be so incensed if they did not see their bosses flaunting
obscene riches while they languish in abject poverty. Just recently they
acquired seven mobile phones for the top management at $2 million each.

      "They have also bought a new fleet of luxury Mazda sedan cars and yet
workers are literally working for transport fares alone."

      "In fact," said the trade unionist, "Some workers are earning as
little as $75 000 and yet transport fares alone call for a minimum of $120

      But while the workers and management fight their battles, it is the
young and innocent students, especially those currently sitting for their
'O' level and 'A' level examinations, who are going to be hardest hit by the
job action, say observers.

      Already thousands of Grade Seven pupils countrywide may have to stay
at home a little longer before they can enrol at high schools because the
results of their examinations will take longer to be known.

      Marking on the 'O' and 'A' level examination papers has also been
delayed because some papers were redirected back to their schools as the
Zimsec Harare headquarters is reportedly incapable of handling them because
of insufficient manpower in the wake of the strike.

      A messy scandal involving allegations of some top Zimsec officials
"fixing" the results of children of friends and family early this year,
sounded the death knell for Zimbabwe's once reputed education system.

      The Standard broke a story in February this year, which revealed that
there was a racket within Zimsec whereby some officials forged results for
payment, sometimes even preparing pass marks for people who had not sat for
exams. Two junior Zimsec employees were subsequently arrested and convicted
on charges of contravening the Prevention of Corruption Act.

      Workers at the examination centre however say because the real
culprits behind the scandal were never exposed, the culture of corruption
has remained entrenched at the institution.

      "They only sacrificed a few junior guys while the big fish survived
the net. Everyone knows that management here claims that Zimsec is
cash-strapped and does not have money for even the most important things
like the marking of examination papers and yet they go on to buy themselves
sleek vehicles," said a source at Zimsec.

      The Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture has drafted proposals
that could result in Zimsec being replaced by a new examinations body in
2004, according to Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere. Plans are also
afoot to merge

      Zimsec and the Higher Education Examination Council (Hexco),
Chigwedere said early this year.

      Zimsec sources however suspect that some elements within the company's
management were taking advantage of these plans to loot the examinations
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Zim Standard

      Soldiers missing in DRC to be declared dead
      By Caiphas Chimhete

      THE government is seeking the go-ahead to declare dead at least 67
soldiers who went missing in action in the then war-torn Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) where they had gone to prop up the administration of the late
President Laurent Kabila from 1998.

      Official sources said the Ministry of Defence will soon publish scores
of names of soldiers who went missing in the vast central African country as
government seeks to declare all those that it cannot account for in the DRC
as dead.

      On Friday, The Herald published notices of 67 names of missing
soldiers suspected to have perished in war in the DRC, where hundreds of
Zimbabwean soldiers died in combat against rebels supported by Uganda and

      A worker in the newspaper's classifieds section yesterday said The
Herald's Friday advertisements, which had the names of the missing soldiers,
were billed under the Police General Headquarters' account.

      Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena, professed ignorance on why the
legal notice of missing soldiers was billed under the PGHQ account.

      Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said he could not comment on the
legal notice because he had not seen it.

      He also declined to divulge the total number of Zimbabwean soldiers
who died in the vast central African country.

      The legal notices read: "Application has been received for an order
presuming the death of (names of soldiers supplied and address). An inquiry
will be held in terms of section 5 of the above Act (Notice of Application
Missing Persons 1978)."

      Despite its denials, international media reports say Zimbabwe lost
hundreds of soldiers in the five-year military campaign that saved the
Kabila regime.

      Apart from the loss of many lives, the DRC war also gobbled billions
of dollars. At one time, it was estimated that the war was costing the
country about $30 million a day.

      War in the DRC officially ended last year after five years of intense
fighting, which drew in six African countries including Zimbabwe.
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Zim Standard

      Standard staffer brutally assaulted by police
      By our own Staff

      HEAVILY-ARMED police on Tuesday brutally assaulted The Standard's
photographer, Shadreck Pongo, who was covering a march organised by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to protest President Robert
Mugabe's rule, high taxation and the general economic decay in the country.

      The police, who targetted Pongo among a group of protesters and
journalists, also destroyed his camera and zoom lenses worth about $4

      Pongo, who sustained serious injuries including bruises all over the
body, was treated at a local private hospital and is recovering.

      He said he was apprehended and bundled into a police Landrover
Defender vehicle, where 10 policemen took turns to assault him, accusing the
photographer of being a British agent. His other crime, they said, was
working for the "opposition" Press.

      "It was barbaric because they did not need any explanation from me.
They drove around town assaulting me before taking me to Rotten Row Bus
Terminus where they ordered me to lie down and assaulted me again using
baton sticks.

      "They also ordered me to remove my trousers and for me to bite my own
private parts. They assaulted me further when I failed to do so," said a
visibly shaken Pongo.

      After the assault, Pongo was ordered to use his mouth to pick up the
pieces of his camera, which the police had destroyed. When bus drivers and
their assistants at the terminus complained against the brutality, they were
chased away in different directions.

      On seeing that the assault had attracted too much attention, the
youthful police, who appeared intoxicated with power, ordered Pongo to board
a bus to his rural home and never to return to Harare again.

      "They said from now onwards they will be watching my movements so I
should not come back here (Harare)," said Pongo.

      The Editor of The Standard, Bornwell Chakaodza, said Zimbabwe had
acquired the characteristics of a police state.

      "The polic

      e have become the custodians of the ruling party's iron grip on this
unsettled country, applying unjust laws unjustly and overlooking blatant
crimes that suit President Mugabe's interests," said Chakaodza.

      He said in civilised democracies, demonstrators and protestors are
escorted through the streets by a police force tolerant of diverse opinions.

      "But in this country, demonstrations are broken up before they even
begin and in the breaking up, extreme force is applied, not just against the
demonstrators, but even against journalists covering the event," said

      Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) said it notes with concern
that despite the accreditation by a government appointed commission,
journalists and photographers are still being beaten and denied access to
areas where they need to cover events.

      In an interview with Misa, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena has
said journalists on assignment should be distinct so as not to be mistaken
with protesters or members of the public.

      In Pongo's case, apart from the accreditation, which he carried, the
possession of his official camera should have been distinct enough to show
that he was a photographer and not a protester.
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Zim Standard

      'Banana's status sacrificed to please Mugabe'
      By Caiphas Chimhete

      THE decision by Zanu PF's Politburo not to accord Zimbabwe's first
black president, Canaan Sodindo Banana, national hero status was too harsh,
irrational and driven by the need to please President Robert Mugabe,
analysts have said.

      Sources within the Politburo, Zanu PF's supreme policy-making body,
said it was last week heavily divided over what status Banana should be
accorded in the light of his conviction of homosexual offences.

      The sources said the decision was reached to appease Mugabe, who once
described homosexuals as "worse than pigs and dogs", without taking into
account the late Methodist minister's contributions to the country.

      But Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Nathan
Shamuyarira, denied knowledge of the divisions over Banana's status.

      "No, I know nothing about that. There was nothing of that sort. They
all agreed," he said.

      However, official Zanu PF sources said some members of the Politburo
were swept away by the "appeasement" fever that has gripped the party ahead
of its national congress next month where the issue of Mugabe's succession
is likely to be debated.

      As a result, some members voted against Banana's hero status against
their conscience for fear of being excluded from the succession race, or
sidelined in the decision making process.

      It is widely believed in Zanu PF that Mugabe will not accept a
successor who sympathises with homosexual or regards homosexuals as ordinary
human beings.

      "In the end, Mugabe's wish prevailed as usual. Some members always
want to please Mugabe even against their conscience," said a Zanu PF

      "This was worsened by the fact that Banana's family refused to
accompany his body to Zimbabwe, so it was difficult for the Politburo to
grant him hero status when his own family disowned him," the official added.

      Banana's wife and children did not accompany his body for burial, even
though they are based in London, where he died of prostate cancer.

      Shamuyarira said the Politburo could not accord Banana hero status as
a matter of principle as he had set a bad example to the youths.

      Banana was buried last week in Esigodini at his village in

      Veteran nationalist, James Dambaza Chikerema, said although he holds a
very low opinion on the concept of heroes under Mugabe's regime, Banana
would have qualified for the status had there been an independent national
institution to choose heroes.

      "It's like a Mafia. No one is perfect especially in Zanu PF but
because they protect each other politically, they are not dragged into
courts so often or get convicted," said Chikerema, who said he did not want
to be buried at the national shrine when he dies.

      Former Zanu PF secretary general, Edgar Tekere, also believes Banana
should have been accorded a hero status but after total pardon by Mugabe.

      The veteran nationalists' sentiments were also shared by former Zanu
PF spokesperson for Bulawayo province, Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni, who said Banana
deserved national recognition.

      He said there was tendency by the Zanu PF Politburo of sidelining
people from Matabeleland when considering the national hero status.

      "Banana, for brokering peace between Zanu and PF Zapu, deserved
national hero status. Had it not been for Banana more people could have been
butchered," said Ndiweni.

      Despite their contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe, said
Ndiweni, a lot of heroes from Matabeleland have not been accorded the status
or were accorded hero status without being buried at the national shrine.

      He singled out Lookout Masuku and Siwazini Ndlovu, who were declared
national heroes but were buried in their rural areas.

      "Look at what happened to Ndlovu, he was only declared a hero after
people started making noises and questioning the selection criteria. Now it
is Banana," said Ndiweni.

      His conviction aside, it is generally agreed that Banana had a sound
nationalistic record spanning decades. He brokered the Unity Agreement that
ended the antagonism between Zanu PF and Zapu in 1987.

      Previously, Banana also "saved" the situation when he agreed to become
the ceremonial president after former Vice-President, Joshua Nkomo, had
turned the post down.

      Later in the 1990s Banana was involved in attempts to end fighting in
war-torn Liberia.

      However, some analysts still feel according Banana a hero status would
have "desecrated" the Heroes Acre.

      "There could be bad people buried at the national shrine but their
crimes are less than those of Banana. In the traditional context, what he
did is socially unacceptable," said a Zanu PF member who refused to be

      *See Comment.
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Zim Standard

      Freedom train commuters stone control room
      By our own Staff

      PANDEMONIUM broke out on Wednesday night after commuters aboard an
urban 'freedom train' stoned the control room in disgust following a
three-hour stoppage at the Rugare control terminal in Harare, following
technical problems.

      The city-to-Mufakose train, on its way to the high-density suburb,
departed from town at around 6.PM and stopped at the control juncture
awaiting the green light before passing through.

      But after a three-hour delay in the packed and stifling coaches, the
restless commuters demanded an explanation from railway workers on board,
but were not convinced. They vented their anger on the control tower on
which they threw stones and pieces of gravel.

      So violent were the disturbances that employees of the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, both on board and in the tower, had to scurry for
cover and subsequently called in anti-riot police who fired teargas.

      Fearing for their lives, the multitudes of Mufakose and Budiriro
residents scrambled out of the train in different directions in the pitch
darkness, and had to resign themselves to a three- kilometre trot home.

      According to an NRZ employee, the delay was due to the fact that the
'freedom train' had to be on stand-by since the Gweru train to Harare had
still not passed through.

      The Rugare terminal is where trains from different directions converge
and switch tracks owing to the fact that there is usually only one track on
either side, and any passage without clearance may result in trains going
head to head on a single track.

      The commuter trains on a single trip carry an estimated 5 000
passengers in Harare and were introduced by the government at the beginning
of last year, in an attempt to ameliorate the crippling transport problems
facing urbanites.
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Zim Standard

      Moyo booed in Gweru
      By our own Staff

      GWERU - Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo recently met a baptism
of fire when he tried to address students at Gweru's Midlands State

      Before he could start on his official speech, Moyo was stunned when
students unveiled placards with the words: "We are hungry. Are you hungry,

      Moyo stammered with no satisfactory answers and tried to tell the
students that "he was also hungry" and that the food shortages were
affecting everyone in Zimbabwe.

      His answer was not well received by the students who booed at him. He
was only saved from further humiliation by the intervention of the
university's Acting Vice Chancellor, Peter Gwatidzo, who threatened to expel
the students for not according proper respect to Moyo.

      As expected, Moyo then took the opportunity to blast Britain and the
US for allegedly causing Zimbabwe's economic collapse. Moyo has been
visiting Gweru in a bid to open a radio station for New Ziana and also to
resuscitate the Midlands ZBC Newsnet desk, which had ceased to operate.

      ZBC Newsnet Midlands bureau chief Zvikomborero Sibanda was called to
Harare after the camera for the province broke down three months ago.

      Moyo was in Gweru with his own entourage of State media personnel who
follow him to report on his every move.
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Zim Standard

      ZIMRA employee nabbed as police probe massive fraud
      From Alois Chinaka

      BULAWAYO - In what is believed to be the tip of an iceberg, police in
Bulawayo have arrested a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) employee for
fraud involving millions of dollars.

      The alleged fraud only came to light when a customer who had paid duty
for his car lost the receipt and went back to the authority's offices to
look for a copy

      He was shocked to learn that the copy of the receipt showed that he
had paid duty of only $5 when in actual fact he had paid $5 million. This
prompted the police to investigate, and the Zimra employee was arrested.

      Sources close to the investigations said that there was rampant
corruption at Zimra, where the State is being deprived of millions of
dollars on a daily basis as workers under-receipt cash received and pocket
the difference.

      "The arrest of one person is just a tip of the iceberg, there is
rampant corruption at Zimra," said a source.

      Although preliminary investigations have so far revealed that Zimra
might have been prejudiced of $29,2 million, the sources said more than $100
million could have been lost in the widespread scam.

      The scam is understood to involve "big guns" at Zimra and might have
gone on for years. Besides changing figures on the office receipts, said the
source; the customer's account was also altered to remove any suspicion.

      "The cashier would issue the customer with a correct receipt and then
later alter the figures on the office receipts to show a much less amount,"
said the source.

      Zimra public relations manager, Priscilla Sadomba, confirmed that
there were problems within Zimra but would not give details.
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Zim Standard

      Furore over Zanu PF Mutare elections
      By Henry Makiwa in Mutare

      MAJOR cracks have appeared within the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial
structures following accusations that newly elected chairman, Mike Madiro,
was imposed by top party officials to back the candidacy of Speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa in the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, it has been

      Zanu PF's national commissar Elliot Manyika presided over the
provincial elections that were won by Madiro a fortnight ago.

      Madiro's opponents are saying he secured the post because of support
from party heavyweights who want him to back Mnangagwa during the succession
battle, which is expected to start at Zanu PF's congress in Masvingo next

      A senior Zanu PF official in Mutare, who preferred anonymity, accused
Madiro of not being "a bona fide Manyika".

      "Madiro has risen to the post simply because Manyika, who was
presiding over the provincial election, wants him in their camp and
Mnangagwa," said the Zanu PF source.

      He accused Manyika of unilaterally changing Zanu PF's constitution
without consent to suit the election of Madiro.

      Madiro defeated former provincial spokesman, Charles Pemhanayi.

      outspoken former chairman Shadreck Beta, transport mogul Isau Mupfumi,
and Mutare's losing Zanu PF mayoral candidate, Ellen Gwaradzimba were all
ruled out as ineligible.

      Beta yesterday said he was tired of the "continued abuse from

      "I am awaiting the party to investigate this matter... My silence
doesn't mean consent," Beta said in an interview with The Standard.
According to press reports here, Manyika claimed to have changed the
election rules himself.

      Neither Manyika nor Zanu PF's spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira could be
reached for comment by the time of going to press yesterday.
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Zim Standard

      Public slams Murerwa's budget
      By our own Staff

      ZIMBABWEANS have reacted angrily to the presentation of a whopping
$8,7 trillion national budget for next year, many saying only a regime
change will save the country from further ruin.

      Commenting on Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's national budget,
tabled in Parliament on Thursday, a cross section of Zimbabweans roundly
condemned government's insatiable appetite for spending at a time when the
economy is in doldrums and the people are suffering.

      Murerwa announced a Budget described by economists as short on
solutions but full of ideas geared only to sustain the government's
operations in a high inflationary environment.

      Dismissing measures contained in the minister's statement such as the
reduction in the excise duty for clear and opaque beer and further
concessions on taxable bonuses as populist, many people contacted by The
Standard said the budget was a non-event.

      They said Murerwa's announcement of such an enormous budget, was an
indication of more government spending and showed the government's
insensitivity to the plight of ordinary people.

      Tendai Matsau of Harare said the much-awaited Budget statement failed
to instil even an iota of hope of redressing the country's fast
disintegrating econony.

      "There is nothing new other than vague pronouncements on exports. We
are seeing a government that doesn't care what impact its actions will have
on the people," said Matsau.

      Only two months ago Murerwa tabled a Supplementary Budget of $672
billion which, in August, propelled total government expenditure for 2003 to
$144 trillion. This was after the State gobbled in just six months $770,3
billion budgeted for its use this year.

      ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo said Murerwa's Budget was
unjustifiable and had not addressed the concerns expressed by labour. He
said the Budget was primarily geared to continue oiling the ruling Zanu PF

      "This government has failed. The country doesn't have any direction.
They have nothing to offer. In any democracy, the only prudent thing to do
is to resign," said Matombo.

      "This budget is a sure sign that we cannot allow these guys to
continue damaging our country," said the MDC's Tendai Biti.

      "As far as we are concerned, the critical issue is regime change and a
constitution that will lead to free and fair elections that will allow
Zimbabweans to choose a government of their own choice," Biti added.
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Zim Standard

 Zim Standard

      Murerwa makes U-turn on budget predictions
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      TORMENTED Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, has been left licking his
wounds following his prognosis that inflation will now explode past the 700
percent mark early next year when he had promised the nation that he would
reduce it to double digits by December.

      In his economic outlook for 2004 presented in Parliament on Thursday,
Murerwa attributed his failure to tackle Zimbabwe's runaway inflation to
double digit figures to momentum gained throughout the year.

      Presenting last year's Budget, Murerwa said he was targetting to
reduce inflation, then pegged at 114 percent, to 96,1 percent by December

      Latest figures from the government's Central Statistical Office show
that year-on-year consumer inflation is now 525 percent and rising fast.

      On Thursday, the beleaguered Murerwa once again promised to reduce
inflation to double-digit figures - without a targetted figure - though
admitting that his policies had failed.

      Analysts last week said Murerwa's admittance that runaway inflation
would surpass 700 percent during the first months of next year, was a clear
sign of the imminent economic crash.

      "Bad policies will continue to contract the economy and inflation will
continue accelerating," said Peter Robinson, a consultant with Zimconsult.

      Murerwa also projected that the economy will this year once again
shrink, this time by 13,3 percent against a targetted 7,2 percent, in
another admission that unofficial sanctions and bad governance were
destroying Zimbabwe.

      Tendai Biti, opposition Movement for Democratic Change secretary of
economic affairs, said even the projected 700 percent inflation early next
year was an understatement.

      "The problem with Murerwa and this government is that we are being
ruled by charlatans who have no business being in government. They should
set up shop as n'anga's where they will do better," said Biti.
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Zim Standard

      NAAC seeks stake for coloureds
      newsfocus By Henry Makiwa

      THE giant poster behind Edmund Monteiro, simply says "Now we are
talking!" As if to justify the statement, the affable Monteiro preludes our
meeting with a jocular street smart greeting.

      Monteiro is the executive director of the National Association for the
Advancement of Mixed-race Coloureds (NAAC), a fledgling and little-known
civic organisation which "seeks to rectify past injustices and remove the
negative stigma attached to the coloured community".

      The NAAC, according to Monteiro, is the organisation which will break
the mixed race community out of its perennial social cocoon which it says
has deprived coloureds of partaking in "most national privileges."

      Monteiro says: "We were never considered even when the government
launched its land reforms (in 2000).

      "If anything, the government presided over the loss of commercial
farming properties of many coloured people and yet very few have benefited
from the programme ... suddenly we were cast in the same bracket as the
whites whose land was seized."

      He added: "But there are many other injustices bedevilling the
coloured community such as unemployment, inaccessibility to proper education
and health facilities and human rights abuses, especially concerning our
citizenship status."

      According to findings of a survey carried out by the organisation, a
large proportion of the coloured community do not own any land in Zimbabwe.

      The study, which attempts to capture the essence of the coloured
community's problems and is entitled: Baseline Study on the Situation of
Coloured People in Zimbabwe, says 83% of coloureds have no land because of
the 00 national ID (identification) classification.

      Zimbabwean national IDs have numerical numbers at the end which denote
the district or area where the holder was born or originated from.

      Monteiro said the study found that most coloureds in Zimbabwe also
felt they were being discriminated against by blacks in general and war
veterans in particular.

      "In the findings of our surveys, one of the core factors that emerged
as the prime cause of the discrimination against us is the 00 status on our
national identification cards. We are regarded as 00 citizens ... Alien
citizens, that's what it means," Monteiro said.

      "As a result, many coloureds lost their land during the (government's)
land acquisition programme and only a few of us, who have come up against
the brick wall and applied for it, have received any.

      "We are prepared to challenge the government to remove the 00 status
so that we become full-fledged citizens of Zimbabwe and that we are allowed
to participate at all forums of the society," Monteiro told The Standard in
a recent interview.

      "The (present) government inherited some of the segregative laws of
the colonial regime against the coloured society and has done nothing to
change them in post independence Zimbabwe. We feel that the only way to have
us benefit from affirmative action and indigenisation on a full scale, is to
peel off the 00 complex for a start."

      At the height of President Robert Mugabe's controversial fast-track
land reform programme in April 2001, Zanu PF legislator Aeneas Chigwedere
remarked that: "If they (coloureds) are still on their father's side, it
means if we give them land we would be giving it back to the white man."

      Chigwedere is the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture.

      Monteiro said changing the constitution to embrace the marginalised
people of mixed race would be the key in destroying segregation.

      He said: "In Botswana there has been successful amendments to the
constitution to adopt ethnic minorities. Here we are lobbying both
Parliament and government to embrace us as equals to all the other races.

      "We have always been side-lined in both eras. In colonial Rhodesia,
coloureds were classified as European but could not own land under the Land
Apportionment Act of 1931.

      "We were also not classified as natives, so we could not get land,
even in the then reserves. That disparity and discrimination along colour is
still there now."

      Dareen Ameer (26), the national youth chairman of the NAAC, says from
childhood he has seen discrimination staring him in the face as society
condemned them to a stereotypical mental rut.

      "The evidence of prejudice has always been glaring for as long as I
can remember. We have always been as half, between white and black. We were
never born to make it; coloureds have always been restricted to occupying
lesser professions such as motor mechanics, boiler makers or become
musicians, and their women are no good girls with unwanted pregnancies,"
said Ameer.

      "This is what inspired me to join the NAAC because it has given us a
voice ... Now we are talking."

      Luke Davies, the national chairman of the NAAC, says the fact that
there was no direct financial donation of any kind into the coloured
community for 123 years prior to March 2001 when the NAAC was formed, is
clear testimony of how the coloured community has been marginalised.

      "We had not received any donor assistance for over a century until a
team of 70 researchers began work on our baseline study," said Davies.

      "With this study we have now significantly broken the barriers of
colour and have become assertive enough to address our plight to the greater
world," said Davies.

      "This research is an important frame of reference to us, one that puts
everything out for all to see and will be used as a source of inspiration by
generations to come. Moreso we have now rectified our past without bias and
portrayed our history in black and white."
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Zim Standard

      Office workers turn to street sadza vendors
      By Valentine Maponga

      ABOUT 12 to 20 people jostle, push and shove as each tries to gain a
vantage position in a growing queue near a bus terminus for Kuwadzana-bound
commuter transport along Harare's Chinhoyi Street.

      But this is not a queue of passengers waiting to board a bus.

      As one approaches the place, it is difficult at first to see what all
the fuss is about.

      Both well-dressed men and women, obviously office workers, appear to
have momentarily forgotten office etiquette, and scramble to be the first to
be served. What you're witnessing is a "sadza queue" one of many to be seen
around the city streets and any vacant lot where scores of workers, like
hungry flies, descend every lunch hour to buy a cheap plate of the staple

      Enterprising vendors, taking advantage of skyrocketing prices of food
in formal restaurants and take-away outlets, have ventured into the food
business and sadza ne nyama, they say, is selling like hot cakes.

      In hundreds of makeshift kitchens, which are spread all over the
capital city, one can get a plate of sadza and stew for only $1 200 while
established restaurants are selling the same food for over $8 000.

      "We have no option my friend but to come here. If we go to the
supermarkets a plate of sadza is going for over $8 000 and simple
mathematics tells you that this is the right place to have your lunch in
these times we are living in. Sadza is sadza,"said one customer at "a point
of sale" along Nelson Mandela Avenue.

      The ever rising cost of living has eroded the salaries of many and
most workers are finding it difficult to survive because prices of basic
commodities are increasing on a daily basis.

      Timothy Muchasera, a security guard with a city firm, said his salary
was not enough for his transport costs, let alone food.

      "I no longer buy food at lunch time while I am at work. Only last
month a plate of sadza with stew was going for $ 1200 in some supermarkets,
now its $8 000 or more. I only need to buy the sadza for two days and it
will be equivalent to my rent for the whole month," said Muchasera.

      The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says the increase in a number of
people selling cooked food in Harare's streets was likely to have a negative
impact on the public health situation.

      "Where these people in the streets are getting their food needs to be
investigated as they could be selling stale food to desperate and vulnerable
consumers," said a health officer.

      Most of the food vendors who spoke to The Standard were not keen to
divulge where they buy or cook their food.

      "Kana muine nzara muk'washa tengai chikafu mudye. Kwete kuvhunza kuti
chabva kupi (If you are hungry just buy and eat Š Don't bother where the
food is coming from)," said one woman vendor along Mbuya Nehanda Street.

      Many city workers who buy food from the street vendors say their
salaries had now been overtaken by the day-to-day costs of living in Harare.

      They said they preferred sadza ne nyama from the makeshift restaurants
because they can bargain for more food, or even negotiate the price, unlike
at established food outlets.

      "Here I can bargain for more sadza or even meat which is not possible
in the supermarkets. Today they are offering even matemba on the menu and it
is only going for $1 000, which is very reasonable,"said one buyer at the
Chinhoyi Bus Terminus.

      Cuthbert Rwazemba, the public relations officer of the Harare City
Council, said the council had intensified efforts to curb the problem of
street food vendors.

      "We do not allow the selling of food in the open and we do it in the
interest of the public and therefore we do, once in a while, raid these
illegal food vendors," said Rwazemba.

      "People should know that the food being sold there is very dangerous.
The conditions under which the food is prepared are very unhygienic," he

      However, Rwazemba admitted that given the rate at which inflation is
rising, people were finding it very difficult to survive in the city and
some were turning to selling food.

      It is alleged that some of the water that is being used to prepare the
food is fetched from public toilets and even from streams close to the city.

      Last year, female underwear was discovered in one of the pots of one
vendor, by municipal police officers during a raid on one of the makeshift
street food outlets.

      "Some of these women traders add things like women's underwear in the
soup in the belief that they attract male customers," said a man who claimed
to be a traditional healer.
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Zim Standard

      State to curb poaching by new farmers
      By John Makura

      CASES of poaching will continue unabated if the government does not
urgently control the activities of the so-called new farmers and recruit
more game guards, The Standard has learnt.

      Presenting a paper on the impact of the land reform on wildlife at a
conference of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Safari Operators Association (ZISOA),
Vitalis Chadenga, a director with the Department of National Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority, recently said during the fast track phase of
the land reform programme, the emphasis was land first and all else later.

      "Little or no attention was paid to the security of wildlife outside
the (national) parks estate. This has the effect of foreclosing wildlife
production as a legitimate land use option particularly for those settlers
in areas where agricultural potential is limited by erratic rainfall and
poor soils," said Chadenga.

      "The problem of poaching was particularly acute during the first 18
months of the programme when even our flagship species like the rhino became
incidental victims of bush meat snaring," added Chadenga, in a speech read
on his behalf.

      The one-day conference was also told that the department of national
parks was severely understaffed with 635 game guards out of an approved
establishment of 966.

      Of the 635 guards, many were now too old to conduct patrols while
several others are manning tourist offices and entrance gates into the

      A senior official in the department, L Mungwashu said anti-poaching
efforts were being hampered by the limited distribution of parks' offices in
the country and an ageing vehicle fleet.

      He said in many cases, the department failed to respond in time to
reports of poaching due to its ageing vehicles. He also pointed out that
there was very little reward for whistle blowers hence people usually did
not report poaching cases.

      Poaching activities are on the rise since the government embarked on
the resettlement of landless blacks on former white commercial properties,
including game farms.

      Chadenga, in his statement, said the settlement of people on game
ranches had also resulted in the loss of the geographical range and natural
habitats following indiscriminate burning and cutting down of trees.

      "This has led to the erosion of confidence in the integrity of the
country's wildlife management authority as well as undermining our drive to
promote wildlife farming as a legitimate land use option," he said.

      He said the first year of the controversial resettlement programme had
witnessed about 90 percent decline in tourist arrivals at game ranches and
the extensive poaching that followed had destroyed the resource base beyond
redemption in some areas.

      "The destruction of game proof veterinary fences, absence of
rehabilitation of game and consequent increase in buffalo/cattle contact,
created conditions conducive to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The
subsequent outbreak of foot and mouth and the extent of its spread can be
traced back to increased cattle/buffalo contact," he added.

      Until 2000, wildlife farming was a major component of agriculture in

      Many white farmers were exploiting the multiple uses of wildlife
particularly hunting and eco-tourism.

      Although protected areas hold more buffalo and elephant populations,
commercial farms contributed significantly to the general wildlife estate in
Zimbabwe, said the natural resources' experts.
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Zim Standard

      Forum blasts 'foreign owned' Nepad
      By our own Staff

      THE New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), which many of
Africa's leaders have pinned their hopes on for economic recovery, has been
blasted by civil society as another form of colonialism and imperialism.

      Civil society leaders, meeting under the first ever Southern Africa
Social Forum (SASF) in Zambia last week, charged that Nepad was a foreign
owned initiative with "African elite kinship" from the powerful G8 countries
and the main institutions responsible for corporate globalisation.

      The rebuff might threaten the two-year-old project and could be a
major setback to several African presidents, including South Africa's Thabo
Mbeki and the Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, who have been championing
Nepad as a home-grown African economic initiative.

      Nepad, an initiative of several African leaders for the economic
revival and development of Africa, was launched in Abuja, Nigeria, in
October 2001.

      It aims to tap into Western money by promising that recipient
countries would subject themselves to a peer review group that would monitor
issues such as good governance, democracy, human rights and a free Press,
among others.

      Nepad has been embraced by the key Group of 8 industrialised countries
and the United Nations, which hopes that its implementation will assist
African countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

      The goals seek to halve poverty in Africa by the year 2015.
International financial institutions, among them the International Monetary
Fund and the World Bank, have hailed Nepad as a major project to reduce
poverty on the continent.

      Delegates who attended the forum in Lusaka told Standard Business that
through Nepad, African leaders were lending their weight to the agenda of
the West.

      Jonah Gokova, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Social Forum, said the
forum unanimously agreed that the globalisation process, dominated by the
giant transitional corporations from the North, is impacting negatively on
the people in the region.

      "We noted the ways in which many of our governments have supported
this agenda. We rejected Nepad as an expression of support by certain
leaders of our continent for the world's elite at the expense of the
majority in the Southern African region, and the continent as a whole," said

      The forum said it noted with serious concern the role of the South
African government and the dominant expansion of South African corporations
throughout the region at the expense of local economies.

      "We rejected this new form of colonialism and sub-imperialism," the
forum said in a statement.

      The forum also rejected the IMF-prescribed Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative and the two Bretton Woods institutions' poverty
reduction programmes as nothing other than the continuation of structural

      The meeting demanded the unconditional cancellation of the "odious
debt" owed to the two institutions and other Western creditors.

      On privatisation, which is gathering tempo in the region, the forum
said the programme has put social services out of the reach of the majority
and must be vigorously opposed.

      Among other countries, Zimbabwe is in the process of restructuring its
power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), other and
several entities.

      Some council operations and services at tertiary institutions have
also been privatised, leaving students at the receiving end.

      Tony Hawkins, a local economic analyst, was however dismissive of the
concerns of the civil society, saying the rejection of Nepad is coming from
"people who don't think".

      "These people are rejecting a word because my understanding of Nepad
is that it is a set of goals and objectives which are for the benefit of
Africa," said Hawkins, a respected Harare-based business lecturer.
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Zim Standard

      CCZ calls for review of price controls
      By Liberty Chirove

      THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has called for a review of
price controls within a wider concept of social protection as the harsh
economic climate prevailing in the country places the consumer in a very
precarious position.

      The regional manager, Theresa Mutondohori, pointed out that in respect
to the law on price controls, the current scenario in the country is not
unique to Zimbabwe alone.

      "The Ministry of Industry and International Trade which has the final
say must ensure that consumer protection mechanisms including price controls
are basically meant to ensure that at least all Zimbabwean customers can
have access to basic commodities," she said.

      Zimbabwe's economic situation continues to decay with the rate of
year-on-year inflation now pegged at 525,8%.

      Prices of basic commodities such as bread, cooking oil, meat and milk
have also risen beyond the reach of the average citizen.

      Figures from the Central Statistical Office indicate that the
year-on-year inflation rate (annual percentage) for the month of October as
measured by all items, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to 525,8%,
gaining 70,2% points on the September rate of 455,6%.

      This means that prices increased by an average of 525,8% between
October 2002 and October 2003.

      Price controls, which are currently suspended, were gazetted in the in
October 2001 by the Ministry of Industry and International Trade in
collaboration with CCZ and the business community.

      They were, at the time, the most logical response to an environment in
which generally consumers could no longer cope with price increases of basic

      "Price increases had continued unabated before the re-introduction of
price controls and we are not saying prices should stay the same. Price
stability is what we are calling for in which some prices will fall, others
will rise but the average price level should remain constant," said

      "Present consumer problems from the continuous rising cost of living
are obviously a direct product of policy suddenly freeing prices without
dealing with the monopolistic supply structure prevalent in the economy of
Zimbabwe," she added.

      "Price controls are a temporary measure and therefore should be viewed
as a re-active tool rather than an instrument of policy," she said.

      Mutondohori said these controls instead had a negative impact on the
consumer as commodities disappeared from the shelves and appeared on the
black market at higher prices than the gazetted ones.

      CCZ says the period also witnessed the introduction of re-packaged
goods in different quantities in contrast to the ones gazetted and the
re-branding of some products in order to evade price controls.

      Economic analysts said the price controls have done no good to the
economy since they were implemented and will never succeed in revamping the

      "In the case of price controls, suppliers tend to produce inferior
goods thereby causing a deterioration in product quality," said economist
Eric Bloch.

      "The government should try to stimulate competition among producers so
that high quantity and quality products are made available on the market,"
he said.

      Bloch said the availability of sufficient inputs; creation of
investment opportunities and deregulation makes prices of commodities to go
down, as they will be readily available in the market therefore creating
competition among suppliers.
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Zim Standard

      Moyo-Manheru is job hunting
      Shavings from The Woodpecker

      Heroes 'n villians WHAT makes the events surrounding the burial of
former President Canaan Banana in his home village in Esigodini, instead of
the National Heroes' Acre, very saddening is that perhaps no better person
deserved to be buried at the national shrine than Zimbabwe's first black

      Banana's sexual preferences might not have endeared him to many but he
was a well-loved and respected statesman, both at home and abroad.

      This is borne by the fact that after having helped to stop us killing
each other in Matabeleland, African nations dispatched him to Liberia on a
similar mission for that troubled country.

      Banana's problems with this establishment came in the early 1990s when
it was felt in some quarters that with Uncle Bob Mugabe's star waning, there
was no better person to occupy State House than the former Methodist

      This did not go down well with Unce Bob's supporters and suddenly
reports - at the beginning, whispers really - began to emerge questioning
the former president's relationships with a host of young Zimbabwean

      Then there was the Japhet Dube affair, which apparently was well known
within government circles but was only allowed to be heard in court when
Banana was making noises that he could succeed Uncle Bob and save the

      The rest, as they say, is history. Banana died a broken man, ridiculed
in the courts and daily reminded that his former close colleague regarded
him as "worse than pigs and dogs".

      But the issue is: how many people of questionable sexual appetites are
presently buried at the national shrine? How many others with criminal
records that were conveniently ignored are national heroes because they were
chummy chummy with the Dear Leader?

      The power of one

      TALKING of the criterion used to determine whether one is a national
hero or not, is it not time to do away with this archaic tradition where one
person wields the power that determines who and who should not be declared a
national hero?

      The issue of national hero status is one that should be tabled in
Parliament, for instance, and that august body - when it is finally squeaky
clean - can then use its strength of diversity to choose eminent Zimbabweans
who would determine who qualifies to be a national hero.

      National heroes should span the entire spectrum of the society - from
politicians to distinguished soldiers and policemen, writers and academics,
sports persons and musicians and even the ordinary person who might have
done something extraordinary.

      Zimbabweans should not be held to ransom forever by a few guys who
think that by crossing to Mozambique in the 1970s, some to escape criminal
prosecution, they are more equal than others.

      Living it up

      NOW to matters more enjoyable. By the way David Nyekorach-Matsanga,
that bogus Ugandan academic has resurfaced in Harare and is behind those
long, badly spelt out advertisements in the pink paper.

      The grapevine says Nyekorach-Matsanga, the former spokesman of
Uganda's barbaric Lord's Resistance Army who was once a close buddy of
Moyo-Manheru, is now flush with Zimkwachas from Š your guess is as good as
mine, and is flaunting it.

      A bird told Woodpecker that the former Ugandan rebel, who spent
millions of Zanu PF money ensconced at the Sheraton Hotel while pretending
to churn PR copy for the sinking party, recently threw a birthday bash at a
city nightclub where beer flowed like the waters of the Zambezi.

      One hack who almost drank himself to 'Kingdom come' said the generous
Nyekorach-Matsanga was in an ebullient mood, like a child in a candy bar,
inviting everyone - including the club's ladies of the night, to the party.

      Incidentally, Nyekorach-Matsanga seems to have fallen out with
Moyo-Manheru who must be envious that the Ugandan is perhaps the only man
alive who can beat the junior Information Minister in penning long and
boring "analytical" reports on almost anything on earth. Sorry, Tafataona.

      Nothing can stop him now?

      TALKING of Moyo-Manheru, does the junior Minister of (mis)Information
know something that we don't?

      Moyo-Manheru is like a man on a mission, visiting almost all schools
within reach and donating tens of computers in the process.

      In fact, the speed at which the motormouth minister is moving
throughout the country, should be cause for concern for one Aeneas
Chigwedere who might find himself very much unemployed soon, says the

      Not so long ago Moyo-Manheru was the cause of a panic attack at the
offices of Chigwedere, the former high school headmaster who is now in
charge of Sport, as well as Education and Culture, when he almost hijacked
the national soccer team.

      It seems that now Moyo-Manheru has brought in a team of businessmen
who are close to his cause in soccer; he has launched another onslaught on
the other aspect of Chigwedere's portfolio, the schools and the

      Besides donating computers to a host of different schools,
Moyo-Manheru has also been touring universities trying to impart his
"wisdom" to the young and gullible.

      Unfortunately for the junior Minister, it has not been smooth sailing
all the way. At Gweru's Midlands University he was left dumbfounded when
placards sprang out all over during his speech.

      Most of the placards asked Moyo-Manheru a simple question: Are you as
hungry as us?

      Needless to say, for once the motormouth was left speechless.

      Paper tigers

      A busy bird tells Woodpecker that things are actually at boiling point
at the oh, so boring Sunday Mail.

      According to the busy bird, the broadsheet is torn in a bitter power
struggle between two distinct camps, one of senior reporters and another of
"mafikizolos', popular with Moyo-Manheru, including that ace bootlicker,
Munyaradzi Huni.

      Things came to a head last week when in a meeting a senior editor
threatened "to crush" the heads of the different functions if order was not
maintained. Hear, hear.

      Unfortunately for the senior editor, he is merely a paper tiger
because all the power at the newspaper lies with the man with the egg-shaped
head at Munhumutapa building.
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Zim Standard

      No hope for Zimbabwe tourism
      Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

      LAST week I pointed out that the appointment of Dr. Gedion Gono to the
governorship of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is no panacea to Zimbabwe's
economic woes.

      I said the real issues are the exchange rate, tourism, price controls
and mending our relationship with the international community through
democratic elections, respect for human rights and good governance. Having
discussed the issue of our skewed exchange rate, I promised to discuss the
issue of tourism today.

      It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand our government's up
beat attitude regarding the tourism industry when in actual fact it is now
almost non-existent.

      If there is anything I admire about our Zanu PF government it is their
undaunted optimism.

      They always look on the bright side even when there is no bright side
to our economic situation today. Ordinary Zimbabweans are engulfed by gloom
and doom because they can no longer feed their families. But not our
erstwhile rulers. They don't quite understand why everybody is not dancing
the "hondo yeminda" kongonya dance to celebrate the land which we took away
from the white oppressors. After all "the land is our prosperity".

      Someone recently said to me about the recently introduced, Sendekera
Mwana Wevhu advert: "Why should they not dance. After all the political
leaders, their relatives and friends always have full stomachs. Vanogara

      Talking about the recently introduced land reform advert, I have no
hesitation in saying that it is lewd, indecent and not suitable for family

      One wonders why our churches are quiet about such a vulgar and
sexually suggestive advert. After all it is sponsored by public funds.
Actually the answer is obvious. Some of our unregenerate churches are
themselves now singing and dancing kongonya to attract new members. They
need to make sure that the offering plates are always full.

      It is true that agriculture is the backbone of our economy. Actually,
I should say was, because we no longer have an agricultural industry to talk
about, thanks to the fast-track land reform programme.

      Why it had to be fast-tracked after 23 years of doing nothing about
the land issue only President Robert Mugabe knows.

      The land reform programme has been the world's biggest flop since the
tower of Babel.

      No amount of play acting and make-believe will change that fact. Even
Professor Jonathan Moyo, Minister of Information and Publicity, who was
able, like a chameleon, to transform himself overnight from a rabid
government critic to a fanatical supporter, will not be able to normalise
this abnormality they call "successful land reform programme". And, no
amount of revolutionary clap-trap will change the fact that it's failure is
not the fault of imperialists but of the government of Zimbabwe.

      In the make believe world of our Zanu PF leaders, the tourism industry
is booming.

      In The Herald of October 14, 2003, Clever Mhangami gushed: "Despite
the negative publicity Zimbabwe has been getting from the international and
other local media, statistics show that the country is still a favourable
destination hence Zimbabweans should jealously guard their resources so as
to stimulate tourism growth at community levels."

      According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority the country registered a
75 percent increase in arrivals from South Africa last year and is also set
to register about 60 percent increase in international arrivals.

      In the real world of hard-nosed businessmen like Shingi Munyeza,
President of the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism, the industry is in the
intensive care ward.

      Speaking at the National Economic Consultative meeting a week ago
Munyeza, who is also Zimsun Leisure Group's Chief Executive officer painted
a gloomy picture indeed. Munyeza said in 1999, the tourism industry together
with its downstream activities generated US$700 million compared to the US70
million produced last year. In other words tourism has shrunk ten fold since

      Who should we then believe since there is such a gulf of disparity
between the assessment of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Zimbabwe
Council for Tourism?

      The ZTA is a government board led by Dr. Tichaona Jokonya, Zimbabwe's
longest-serving ambassador since independence. The ZCT is led by Shingi
Munyeza who was democratically elected to his post by fellow businessmen
whose livelihood and future depends on the success of the tourism industry.
The answer is obvious.

      Munyeza did not beat about the bush. I know him to be a God-fearing

      He spoke according to his faith by telling the truth as it is without
fear of the powers that be who call right, wrong and wrong, right. He placed
the blame for the destruction of the tourism industry squarely on the land
reform programme. He said the tourism sector has not been performing well
since the fast-track land reform programme began. He added that the sector
has been harmed by negative publicity emanating from government's handling
of the controversial issue, abuse of the judiciary as well as the
interference with Press freedom.

      Munyeza emphasised the need for a truthful assessment of the economy
to come up with a proper framework.

      "Let's start telling the truth," he said, "By not telling the truth,
we are digging our own grave. If there is no foreign currency then there is

      The tragedy of it all is that the advice from Shingi Munyeza and other
hard-working patriotic Zimbabweans will, as usual, fall on deaf ears.

      President Mugabe did not even bother to attend the much-touted
National Economic Consultative Forum meeting. He is not prepared to listen
to the truth, let alone act upon it.

      Instead of supplying the political requirements for economic recovery
and development, his government continues to play petty games of political

      Their anti-imperialism is an absolute gimmick used as a smoke screen
to hide Zimbabwe's real economic requirements behind their own interests
because they want to stay in power at any price.

      He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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Zim Standard

Comment - Banana status: Case of the pot calling the kettle black

      LAST Wednesday's burial of Zimbabwe's first President Reverend Canaan
Sodindo Banana at the Banana family homestead in Esigodini, Matabeleland
South Province instead of the national shrine has once again revived the
debate about whether the Politburo of the ruling Zanu PF party is the
appropriate body to confer national hero status on distinguished

      Zimbabweans owe a great debt of gratitude to Rev Canaan Banana. As
speakers from across the political divide and those representing the
Christian community said, Rev Banana was, despite his weaknesses, a good and
patriotic Zimbabwean. He played a very crucial role in the liberation
struggle and in the unification of the country following the early 1980s
Matabeleland troubles. He did justice, he loved mercy, he walked humbly with
his God.

      His burial in his ancestral lands, though important culturally, does
nothing to salute his national standing in pre and post independent
Zimbabwe. And this is where things went badly wrong. It is a poor end to a
man who did so much and in retrospect, testimony to and vindictiveness of a
body of men and women who feel that they are ordained to rule Zimbabwe

      It happened to Rev Ndabaningi Sithole. And it will happen to many
others in the future unless a stop is put to it. The brutal truth is that
Zanu PF is not Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is not Zanu PF. The ruling party is
entitled, of course, to choose its own party heroes but when it comes to
national heroes, it must be the responsibility of a body representative of a
wide spectrum of the Zimbabwean society.

      Members of such a body must be distinguished Zimbabweans drawn from
government, the opposition, the churches and civil society. Once selected,
neither the ruling party nor the government should have any say. This is the
only way that we can ensure the utmost impartiality, objectivity, fairness
and transparency in the conferment of national hero status.

      The present system is deeply flawed. Some so called national heroes
laid at the national shrine do not deserve to be there. There are there
simply by virtue of being members of the ruling party - nothing more.
Examples abound of such people whose only claim to fame was their
willingness to be used as tools of violence and repression by the ruling

      It is most unfortunate that Zimbabweans have come to accept that a
national hero only becomes a national hero when it suits the ruling party.

      History is history and it must not be abused or misused to suit the
government of the day or a political party that happens to be in power at a
particular point in time. Heroes are heroes. For an independent Committee of
eminent Zimbabweans, it will not be a difficult card to play. Heroes come
naturally. They do not need godfathers like President Mugabe or any member
of the Politburo.

      National heroes must be authentic and nationally and universally
acknowledged and accepted regardless of the party that is in power. And this
will prevent chopping and changing in the future.

      In any event, attempts to draw up a balance sheet on individual
Zimbabweans as currently being done can never be done by one political party
alone. No one in Zanu PF including President Mugabe can speak from a high
moral ground; from a position of moral superiority. Yes, we must maintain a
certain level of public morality and behaviour but who indeed in Zanu PF can
throw the biblical first stone? No one.

      Almost all members of Zanu PF have skeletons in their cupboards. We
can name and shame them but we prefer not to . In trying to expose the
weaknesses and shortcomings of others, let us not forget about our own.
Nobody is faultless. The world is not that perfect. The pot must not call
the kettle black. A sense of perspective is what was needed as far as both
the cases of Rev Banana and Rev Ndabaningi Sithole were concerned.

      Their blemishes and weaknesses pale into insignificance compared to
the immense contribution they made in bringing about the independence of
Zimbabwe. Rev Banana and Rev Sithole were neither saints nor paragons of
virtue. But neither is President Mugabe and indeed any Zanu PF man and woman
sitting in judgment over others. This is the bottom line.

      So it is that time has come to reflect on the whole system of
declaring national heroes. Zanu PF leaders must examine their own
consciences and look at themselves in the mirror and see if what they are
doing is the right thing.

      Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it. Abandon the situation in which
you see your party being identical to Zimbabwe. It is not and it will never
be. We ask Zanu PF: What has happened to the vast web of generosity,
magnanimity and selfless love manifested in our Zimbabwean way of life?

      To Rev Canaan Banana and Rev Ndabaningi Sithole before him, we say:
You are great Zimbabweans. You appear to have been forgotten as the Zanu PF
boots went into your groins. It is indeed a shame that the whole system of
national heroes has been sullied by the folly and weakness of one political
party. We, who are myopic did not see as clearly but history will relate.

      Our love, prayers and condolences go out to your families. Rest in
peace comrades.

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Zim Standard

      Money for nothing and nothing for free
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      A clearly confused finance minister last week unveiled a budget for a
troubled central African country, though most people said he really needn't
have bothered.

      In the budget the confused minister announced that the troubled
central African basket case would achieve a phenomenal 700 percent inflation
by next year. The news was met with yawns from the Zany seats and jeers from
the More Drink Coming Party seats.

      But when the unfortunate minister announced tax on beer was coming
down, the Zany party perked up considerably, only to have their hope dashed
with the surprise announcement that something unworkable called VAT would
replace it.

      Still, it was some time before all lawmakers realised that VAT was an
acronym for Value Added Tax.

      Certain elements, obviously well refreshed in the parliamentary bar,
thought it was short for vodka and tonic.

      Meanwhile, the dazed minister was emphatic that VAT will be introduced
in January, and that it will involve further taxation, not a surplus of
tonic - which can't be found for love nor money. (Over The Top spends
considerable time hunting for this necessary refreshment, usually without
luck. A few pointers would be much appreciated, especially with the not very
festive season looming.)

      Considerable amounts of money were also allocated to the army, much to
the consternation of the More Drink Coming Party, many of whom are nursing
wounds inflicted by the same army.

      Still, most troubled central Africans were amused to see their budget
move from millions to billions and now to trillions in three short years.

      An economist pointed out that this is largely because of the muddled
finance minister's promise last year to bring inflation into double digits.

      It is now a proven fact that when a Zany minister promises something,
the opposite happens. So when the deluded finance minister vowed to bring
inflation down, it rose.

      Most economists agree that 700 percent by January is entirely too
optimistic, given that the real figure is already double that.

      But to be fair to the finance minister, he is not alone in making
wildly inaccurate predictions. Troubled central Africans are well aware that
one word from the energy minister means petrol is about to become even
scarcer - surely an amazing feat given how hard it is to find now.

      Not long ago the Zany energy minister swore he had deregulated the
fuel industry, though he failed to explain how setting pump prices could be
described as deregulation.

      Still, back to the muddled minister of financeŠ it wasn't a bad
budget, because it wasn't really a budget. OTT can dispel rumours that the
minister went into his office in the morning, jotted down some figures for
2003 and multiplied them by 700 for 2004.

      It was undoubtedly more complicated than that and Zany Party insiders
say the exercise took all day, not just one morning.

      On a more positive note, schools are to get over two trillion bucks -
just as soon as someone finds where the money is. Any suggestion that
certain Zany Party businessmen with close ties to the central bank have
converted it into American dollars and banked it in the Channel Islands
should be dismissed. Banks in the Channel Islands prefer pounds and no
self-respecting Zany businessman would deal in enemy currency.

      That sort of thing simply doesn't happenŠ Very often. Well, it might
do occasionally, but just when a new pair of shoes or a suit is needed.
Nothing wrong with that.

      And of course troubled central Africans want to be reassured that the
pleasant young girl the minister saw onto the Unit K flight early on
Wednesday 12 November had enough in her pocket to keep her out of trouble.
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Mail and Guardian

Mugabe at Commonwealth: No decision yet

      Lagos, Nigeria

      23 November 2003 09:23

There has been no decision taken yet about the participation of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe in next month's Commonwealth summit to be staged in
Abuja, Nigerian presidential spokesperson Remi Oyo said on Saturday.

"There is nothing definitive yet about his invitation or participation.
Consultations are still going on with leaders of Commonwealth countries on
this issue," she said in a telephone interview from Abuja.

This year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is scheduled to
take place in the Nigerian capital Abuja from December 5 to 8, but Zimbabwe
has been suspended from the Commonwealth's councils for the past 20 months
because of a controversial presidential election.

Obasanjo, speaking after the two presidents met on Monday in Harare, did not
rule out the possibility of an invitation to Mugabe despite fierce
opposition from mainly white Commonwealth countries, and said he is
consulting as widely as possible on the question.

"I am consulting," he said when asked whether Zimbabwe would attend the

"I have undertaken to consult as widely as possible. One has to learn from
first hand what exactly the situation is here in Zimbabwe," said Obasanjo,
adding that he is consulting "with Commonwealth leaders as to what should be
the line of action before CHOGM, during CHOGM or after CHOGM".

Nigeria is yet to invite Mugabe to the summit, a top official of the
Nigerian Foreign Ministry who did not wish to be named said on Saturday.

"It is a sensitive issue, considering the fact that Nigeria, the host, was
also suspended from the Commonwealth in 1995 following the execution of
writer and minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa."

Saro-Wiwa, president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, was
executed along with eight of his companions after a military-led special
tribunal convicted them of the murder of four Ogoni personalities.

Saro-Wiwa always insisted he was innocent.

Meanwhile, Obasanjo on Saturday in Abuja inspected venues and facilities to
be used for the Commonwealth summit and the visit of the head of the
Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, officials said.

Among those he visited were the international conference centre, the
building where the queen will be accommodated, a public "millennium" park,
media centre, banquet and reatreat hall, as well as Nasarrawa, a Nigerian
state near Abuja that the queen will visit, they said. -- Sapa-AFP

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