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Mbeki jets into Harare to break talks deadlock

by Nokuthula Sibanda Tuesday 14 October 2008

HARARE - Former South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in the
Zimbabwean capital, Harare, on Monday night on a mission to save a historic
power-sharing deal he brokered nearly a month ago.

It was not immediately clear last night whether Mbeki, who had been expected
in Harare much earlier but only arrived around 2123hrs, was to straight away
begin consultations with President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara or he would wait till Tuesday

Some government officials told ZimOnline that the former president would
only begin seeing Zimbabwe's squabbling "political leaders today after his
late arrival".

Mbeki's visit comes as the power-sharing deal looks increasingly in danger
of failing after Mugabe at the weekend unilaterally allocated the key
ministries of defence, home and foreign affairs, information, local
government and provisionally finance to his ruling ZANU PF before conclusion
of negotiations with the opposition MDC party.

Mugabe - who has not made secret his contempt for the power-sharing deal
that he has labelled a "humiliation" - also swore in his two vice-presidents
earlier on Monday, ahead of the arrival of Mbeki in Harare.

Main MDC leader Tsvangirai threatened on Sunday to walk away from the
power-sharing deal if Mugabe stuck to his decision to allocate key Cabinet
posts to his ruling ZANU PF party. The MDC says fresh elections should be
called if the power-sharing deal flops.

The opposition party's spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said Mbeki's visit
provided "a platform and opportunity for ZANU PF to reverse its unilateral
action". He however doubted Mugabe's party that has ruled Zimbabwe since its
1980 independence from Britain was ready for compromise.

The power-sharing agreement is seen as offering the best chance for Zimbabwe
in more than a decade to begin on a new road to recovery after suffering an
unprecedented recession marked by the world's highest inflation rate of 231
million percent and acute shortages of food and every basic survival

Under the agreement Mugabe will remain president while Tsvangirai becomes
prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister. The agreement allots 15
Cabinet posts to ZANU PF, 13 to the Tsvangirai-led MDC and three to
Mutambara's faction.

However it is silent about who gets which specific posts and the rival
parties have since the signing of the agreement wrangled over who should
control the important ministries of home affairs, finance, local government,
foreign affairs.

The European Union (EU) said earlier on Monday it could impose fresh
sanctions against Mugabe's government if the Zimbabwean leader pushed ahead
to unilaterally form a new government in defiance of the power-sharing

In a joint statement, EU foreign ministers slammed Mugabe for "the
unilateral decision to form a new government which has not been agreed by
all parties," adding that the world's most powerful trading bloc was "ready
to consider additional measures" against Zimbabwe's government.

The EU, United States and other Western nations have since 2002 maintained
sanctions against Mugabe's government as punishment for his controversial
seizure of white farmland for redistribution to landless blacks, failure to
uphold the rule of law, human rights and democracy.

But the EU said last month that it was putting on hold any decision about
whether to renew sanctions or add fresh ones against Mugabe's administration
in order to first assess implementation of the power-sharing agreement.

The EU has also said it is ready to help rebuild Zimbabwe's battered economy
provided a power-sharing government implements necessary political and
economic reforms. - ZimOnline.

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Tsvangirai got it better than Odinga --ZANU-PF

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, celebrates with newly sworn-in vice presidents Joyce Mujuru, right, and Joseph Msika, center, at state house in Harare, Zimbabwe Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. European Union nations are condemning moves by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to take control over key ministries and ignoring a power-sharing deal with opposition parties.

In a revelation of the thinking within ZANU-PF, hard-line ZANU-PF officials are reportedly arguing that Morgan Tsvangirai should accept cabinet posts he was given by Robert Mugabe over the weekend since those posts were "better than what Odinga got."

"The fact is that the opposition here was in close liaison with the Kenyan prime minister and many people were trying to use the Kenyan settlement as a model for Zimbabwe," George Charamba, Mugabe's personal spokesperson, told the Herald.

"If we are to go by that, there should be no question marks about why Zanu-PF got the ministries it received, such as defence and foreign affairs and all the other ones because that is what essentially happened in Kenya. People said the Kenyan model was good and I would like to believe that here in Zimbabwe we have bettered it," Charamba, who the Herald quoted as 'an anonymous ZANU-PF official' added.

"There can never be a perfect agreement, but there certainly can be a better one and this is a good deal for all the parties involved.
Odinga has a parliamentary majority, he allowed or perhaps even encouraged his supporters to go on a rampage and in the chaos that ensued over 2 000 people were murdered. But even after all that he still has less cabinet seats than those accorded to the president’s party, the PNU."

Charamba, who reportedly helped Mugabe unilaterally appoint the cabinet in violation of the GNU tenets, urged the MDC to embrace the new cabinet. Charamba was quick to bring up the flawed March 29 election results that were manipulated the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as a justification for the Mugabe power grab.

"In Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai does not have the popular vote that Odinga had," he added. He brought up the violence ridden June 27 election results as a justification for ZANU-Pf to be given all key cabinet posts.

Charamba defended Mugabe's decision to appoint a cabinet without consulting the MDC.

"There is nothing in either document that strips him of this executive function. The agreement itself makes it clear that the President shall allocate and appoint ministers after consultation with the parties. There is nothing that says he does this in consultation with them."

So, there you have it, this is ZANU-PF's position. ZANU-PF officials have also said that Mugabe will go ahead and swear in the ministers he appointed over the weekend into office shortly.

It is difficulty to see the arrival of Mbeki making a difference on the outcome of the cabinet talks. The is question how much Tsvangirai will give in to ZANU-PF demands, not how much power Mugabe will give up as he has no plans of doing that.

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Miliband heads EU attack on Mugabe's power grab

Published Date: 14 October 2008
BRITAIN yesterday led European countries in condemning moves by Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe, to take control of key ministries in defiance of a
power- sharing deal with opposition parties.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said the EU would "play no part in
supporting a power grab by the Mugabe regime".

He added: "It is important that there is an international united response
that says that the results of the elections (earlier this year] need to be
respected and a power grab will not be respected."

Mr Miliband also said he hoped that South Africa's former president, Thabo
Mbeki, the chief mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis, could help find a
solution that would allow opposition groups to share power with Mr Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party.

Other EU ministers said they were keeping "a close watch on the
implementation of the agreement" signed on 15 September by Mr Mugabe and the
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

They said they would keep sanctions against Zimbabwe in place until they saw
proof the deal was being implemented properly.

The sanctions include visa bans and asset freezes on senior Zimbabwean
officials, including the president.

The condemnations came after Mr Mugabe swore in two vice-presidents ahead of
talks on forming a cabinet, a move which, although not flouting the law,
could further endanger power-sharing negotiations.

He had already angered the opposition by allocating important ministries to
his party at the weekend.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has said it doubts mediation
by Mr Mbeki will secure an acceptable compromise.

Mr Tsvangirai said on Sunday that his party could walk away from the
power-sharing deal if Mr Mbeki's latest mediation failed to end the deadlock
on dividing key ministries.

Mr Mugabe handed his party the ministries of defence, home affairs - which
is in charge of the police - and finance, which will be important in
eventually reviving the collapsing economy.

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Aid agencies: 5m face starvation in Zimbabwe

The Times
October 14, 2008

Silently, in rundown wards, starving children lie dying - malnutrition
diseases are overwhelming hospitals

Jan Raath in Mutare
Death is stalking Zimbabwe's children, as a potentially catastrophic famine
gathers momentum. Aid agencies say that half the population, about five
million people, face starvation, two-thirds of children are out of school
and water shortages have led to deadly cholera outbreaks.

The Times went on a 600-mile (965km)journey through the eastern province of
Manicaland and discovered a country whose reserves of food are exhausted and
where the diseases of hunger - kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra - are
appearing to a degree never seen in the country before.

Emaciated children are dying in hospitals, many more are being turned away
to die at home. At one Manicaland hospital a doctor said that they were
getting more cases of hunger-related diseases than ever before. "Half of the
admissions end up in the mortuary," the doctor said. The situation is the
same across the country, including urban areas. "In the 32 years I have
worked in Zimbabwe as a paediatrician I have never known a more serious
situation," said Greg Powell, chairman of the Zimbabwe Child Protection
Society. "We can predict an exponential increase in cases of kwashiorkor and
malnutrition over the next six months."

Six weeks ago President Mugabe relaxed partially a three-month-old ban on
food distribution by aid agencies but restrictive regulations still handicap
the delivery of relief severely.

Related Links
  a.. Tsvangirai threatens to exit deal
  a.. Mugabe unravels power accord
  a.. Mugabe assigns key ministries to Zanu-PF party
"Malnutrition is a silent emergency that affects young children and they die
quietly," said Geoff Foster, a paediatrician in the provincial hospital in
Mutare. "There is a famine situation prevailing and it is desperate."

In forlorn, rundown hospitals all over Manicaland children's malnutrition
wards are full. The small patients lay deathly still, their hair sparse
reddish clumps on oversized heads, their bodies swollen with oedema, all
characteristic signs of kwashiorkor.

"I had an eight-year-old boy in the ward with kwashiorkor," said Dr Foster.
"That is highly unusual, it's mostly confined to two and three-year-olds.
That's an indication of how serious the hunger is."

A doctor in a mission hospital in Nyanga district was examining a child with
severe kwashiorkor. The doctor explained that the hospitals lack lifesaving
protein supplements, "so we use diluted milk. They are supposed to get six
feeds a day. But we get milk one day and for the next five there is nothing.

Many starving children are sent away. "In hospital we cannot feed them,"
said the doctor hopelessly. "At least at home they can scrounge for things.
We only keep those that we can see won't make it at home. We have lost the
battle before we have fought it."

At one district hospital well over a hundred HIV-positive patients came in
for antiretrovirals last week. Every one of them was suffering from

Another doctor told of a mother who died in childbirth leaving an
HIV-positive infant. "The grandmother was here but she would not take the
child. She said she could not feed it, there was no food at home. So we are
stuck with the child. It's starvation all over, starving, starving,

Pellagra, an adult form of malnutrition that ends in madness and death, is
becoming commonplace, and not just among impoverished rural folk. Three
private doctors said that they had seen patients with severe symptoms in the
past fortnight. None had seen it before. "People who come to private doctors
have money. So it means the middle classes are starving," said one.

In a few weeks the rainy season will begin and planting ought to be in full
swing, yet the sight of a ploughed field anywhere in Zimbabwe is rare.
Government promises of fertiliser and maize seeds are, for another year,
proving empty. "What harvest?" a doctor joked.

At Changadzi village in the south of the province, Celestina Sithole was
surrounded by hard, barren earth. Her daughter had the red hair of
kwashiorkor. The stores of maize had run out and that morning she had made
porridge for her children from the pods of baobab trees. She did not know
what she was going to make for lunch.

Doctors tell of people drawing up rosters, with one person given "sadza", a
stiff maizemeal porridge that is the national staple, while the rest eat
only boiled cabbage.

The Government is doing its best to cover up the situation. Most doctors are
told not to talk about the situation publicly - which is why for their own
safety many of those The Times spoke to are not identified. "We are not
allowed to appeal to the donor organisations," added one, "it's terrible
because so often help is so close, but we can do nothing about it."

When Zimbabwe's Government does spend money on the health sector it does not
help the people. Three months ago the Central Bank allocated $5 million (£3
million,) which was used to buy imported cars for the state's 100 or so
specialist doctors. President Mugabe's expulsion of white farmers from their
farms since 2000 precipitated the crisis.

"The situation can be salvaged if aid agencies are allowed to distribute
food," said one senior doctor sounding a note of hope. "But the trouble is
Mugabe and Zanu (PF) [who] think, 'So what if people starve?'. If they hold
on, it will be another Ethiopia."

President Mugabe appointed two members of his own party to be Zimbabwe's
vice-presidents yesterday as he continued with moves to take full control of
the "power-sharing" Government (Jan Raath writes). The decision to appoint
Joseph Msika and Joyce Mujuru without consultation drew criticism from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change. EU foreign ministers meeting in
Luxembourg yesterday said that they would consider "additional measures" if
the power-sharing deal was blocked.

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Central Bank gropes around in the dark

October 13, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Zimbabwe 's financial systems are imploding under the unprecedented
weight of hyperinflation, leaving the central bank groping around in the
dark and implementing half-baked initiatives with little potential to
alleviate the plight of millions of Zimbabweans.

Thousands of Zimbabweans continue to besiege the country's banks to withdraw
money before it loses its value this week, with dense queues of desperate
depositors jostling to withdraw their hard-earned cash.

The central bank today introduced into circulation a new Z$50 000 bill only
a week  after it introduced Z$10 000 and Z$20 000 bank notes to keep pace
with rampaging hyperinflation.

The State-run Central Statistical Office announced last week that official
year-on-year inflation had surged to 231 million per cent in July, an almost
20-fold increase from the 11.2 million percent in June.

The central bank has also raised the minimum cash withdrawal to Z$50 000 for
individuals on Monday. Still, queues continued to clog the banking halls in
Harare .
With inflation skyrocketing, depositors want to take advantage of the higher
limit on withdrawals introduced by the central bank. Previously the maximum
withdrawal limit was Z$20 000 - barely enough to buy a newspaper.

The new limit of Z$50 000 dollars was still, however, too low for rights
campaigners who want the limitsscrapped altogether. A defiant central bank
governor, Gideon Gono declared over the weekend that queues would clear by

"We were never under a misconception; neither did we expect that the backlog
in the demand for cash would be cleared in one day, as there is naturally a
physical and logistical limit to what can be achieved in one day by the
cash-dispensing banks," Gono said.

"With the best will in the world, it is just impossible for the banks to
satisfy all their clients in one day. What is certain though is that we
expect the banks to have cleared all queues by mid to end of next week."

This is just one symptom of a crisis Gono is battling to contain. In a
crackdown on a flourishing black market trade in scarce supplies of basic
commodities, the central bank two weeks back licensed 600 shops to sell
goods in foreign currency.

And as the Zimbabwe dollar crashed to record lows, the central bank
responded by stopping electronic transfers of cash.
It was the latest in a series of central bank policies meant to ease the
effects of a devastating economic crisis. Gono declared two Fridays ago that
the electronic cash transfer system, known as the Real Time Gross Settlement
System (RTGS), had been suspended because it was being used for illicit
foreign exchange deals by businesses to overprice their goods and services.
"We have no option but to take this drastic measure in order to maintain
sanity in the financial system," Gono said.

But banking sources said the measure was taken because the RTGS software
systems had become overloaded and unable to cope. Banks were last week
saying they could not effect internal transfers within the same bank, and
even internet banking was banned.

"We are being taken back to the stone age," said one banking official.

The central bank has repeatedly enacted currency reforms aimed at revaluing
the rapidly weakening Zimbabwe dollar in a bid to keep pace with
hyperinflation. On August 1, the central bank lopped off 10 zeros from the
country's battered currency in an attempt to ease the burden of carrying
huge amounts of worthless currency. Economists say seven zeroes are already

And Gono has also lifted caps on the amount of foreign currency individuals
holding Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) can withdraw in a day. FCA holders
were previously allowed to withdraw US$1 000 after producing proof of need
for cash. Now they can withdraw any amount.

Gono said people would have to use cheques and debit cards to pay for goods,
although debit cards are usable in only a few dozen supermarkets nationwide.

The prices charged in transactions where debit cards and cheques can be used
are up six times the cash price.

Zimbabwe's economic implosion has now reached unprecedented levels with a
new independent hyperinflation index putting annual inflation at 531 billion
percent - the highest by very far in the world. The political impasse over
the sharing of cabinet posts has also send the Zimbabwe dollar tumbling,
while there is an increase in the minting of cash by the central bank to
bankroll government spending.

On Saturday, a cup of coffee at the capital's Holiday Inn hotel cost Z$1.5
million. A teacher is paid Z$15 000 Zimbabwe dollars a month.

Economists say the economic crisis cannot be resolved without a political

Lance Mambondiani, an investment executive with Coronation Financial Plc,
said the problem with the Zimbabwean economy was that it had deviated so far
from established economic norms that its redress is almost inconceivable
under the current atmosphere.

"Although the central bank is said to be a major contributor to this crisis,
even their well intended stabilisation efforts have failed due to political
polarity," Mambondiani said.

"While it remains an old adage that politics is inextricably linked to
economics, the stabilisation of exchange rates, a return to positive
interest rates, the containment of inflation or taming the brain-drain and
the black market is unfortunately dependent on the resolution of the country's
political crisis."

But the main protagonists in the power-sharing deal signed in Harare
September 15 have made no progress on deciding who would hold which posts in
their cabinet.

An official government list published Saturday gave all the main ministries,
including Defence, Home Affairs,, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Mining,
Information and Land to Mugabe's party. The MDC has rejected this outright.

The deadlock has meant the politicians have yet to turn their attention to
their nation's deepening economic and humanitarian crisis - which is
fuelling anger against Mugabe's government

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UN bemoans Zim deadlock

by Own Correspondent Monday 13 October 2008

JOHANNESBURG - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the weekend bemoaned a
deadlock between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition over formation
of a power-sharing government to tackle Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.

"The secretary general is concerned about this impasse," UN deputy
spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.

"He urges the parties to focus hard on reaching a workable agreement as soon
as possible."

Crisis-weary Zimbabweans had hoped a power-sharing government would
immediately begin work to reverse an economic crisis that plumbed new lows
last week when the government Central Statistical Office released fresh
figures showing annual inflation at 231 million percent, the highest such
rate in the world.

Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara who heads a breakaway faction of the
opposition have continued to be deadlocked over the parcelling out of key
ministries under the power-sharing arrangement.

"It is critically important to get a government in place and to take steps
to restore the economy and get Zimbabwe on a path to recovery and a better
life for its people," Okabe said, stressing the world body would its utmost
to work with a new Harare government to help solve the problems facing the
bitterly divided southern African country.

Okabe also expressed alarm over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in
the country, with more than five million Zimbabweans facing severe food

In addition to hyperinflation, Zimbabweans also have to also grapple with
acute shortages of every basic survival commodity and eight in 10 people are
out of employment. Shortages of water and electricity are common, burst
sewers flow unchecked while roads are littered with potholes.

Critics blame Mugabe for inheriting a jewel economy at independence from
Britain in 1980 and running it down through controversial policies such as
an often violent seizure of commercial farms from whites that has plunged
commercial agriculture and lately the threat to seize foreign-owned
companies, including mines.

Mugabe denies ruining the economy and instead blames sanctions imposed by
Western countries on his government. - ZimOnline

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Transport Costs Ground Workers, Employers

By Ephraim Nsingo

HARARE, Oct 13 (IPS) - Every evening, Barbara Taruvona, the owner of New
Styles Hair salon in Harare has to face a queue of her employees at the
entrance to her office for their daily cash allowance for transport.

"At times I struggle to get enough cash for all of them to go home and be
able to come back the following day. We used to give them weekly transport
allowances, but now that the fares are changing daily, we are now giving
them allowances every day," she told IPS.

Employers in Zimbabwe are grappling with the rising costs of public
transport for their workers. A single trip on a commuter omnibus costs the
local equivalent of 60 US cents at the parallel market exchange rate. Fares
are reviewed daily in response to changes in the exchange rate. On Oct. 10,
it cost Z$7,000 to get to most high-density suburbs in Harare.

"It is not that we are not sensitive to our customers, but our fares are
directly linked to the cost of fuel. Rising costs of transport shouldn't be
viewed in isolation, they are just but a symptom of the crisis we are in as
a country. Unless the real problem is solved, commuters will continue to
suffer most," said Taona Zinumwe, who runs a fleet of commuter omnibuses in

With Zimbabwe's inflation officially pegged at 231 million percent, public
transport costs have been rising on a daily basis, and this presents a great
challenge on ordinary workers who commute daily to and from work. Harare
operators are snubbing further destinations like Tafara, Mabvuku and
Chitungwiza, forcing some workers to "sleep in" at their workplaces, going
home on weekends only.

"This may get me in trouble with the authorities, but we have no option,"
Taruvona said.

But there is a related challenge that has almost grounded Taruvona's
business: she cannot withdraw her money from the bank. Businesses are
allowed a daily maximum withdrawal of only Z$10,000. This was equivalent to
one US dollar on Oct. 10.

"The money I am allowed to withdraw at the bank is not enough for the
transport requirements of one employee. As you can see, I have a team of 13
female hairdressers, eight male barbers, and an administration complement of
three members. To make things worse, most of my clients pay using cheques,
and these take many days to clear. I have to make do with what I get from
the few customers who pay in cash. If it continues like this, I may have to
close shop."

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) recently banned the use of electronic
transactions, and all transactions are now in cash or bank certified cheque.
This has impacted negatively on business, forcing some companies -- 
including the country's second-largest conglomberate, fast foot and retail
giant Innscor Africa -- to suspend operations.

In addition to the frustration this causes, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo said rising transport costs are
disrupting productivity in the work place.

"Because of exorbitant transport costs and the cash crisis at banks, most
workers are failing to report for duty five days a week. They can only work
for eight hours for the whole week, suggesting that 80 percent of production
is lost per week," said Matombo.

"Some workers spend much more money on transport than they earn at the end
of the month. In as much as workers are be willing to continue at their job,
the current circumstances are now making it impossible for workers to report
for duty."

Because of the struggles they face in going to work, noted Matombo, the very
survival of some key economic establishments is now under threat.

"Workers are carrying the burden of irresponsible political decisions, and
that is not good for us as a country," he added.

Gertrude Munetsi, a commuter from Chitungwiza -- a satellite town about 30
km south of Harare -- said unlike in the past when transport was a small
fraction of her total spending, it is now her major expense. She is an
attendant at a leading outfitter in Harare.

She said: "When I started working here nine years ago, I managed to put my
children to boarding school and bought a house in Chitungwiza, and would go
shopping at the end of each month. Right now, I can no longer do all those
things as all the money goes to transport. I am struggling to take my
nine-year old son to a conventional primary school in Zengeza (a suburb in

Civil servants have also been left helpless by the exorbitant costs of

"Teachers can no longer afford to go to work. In fact, the government is now
sponsoring an industrial action by teachers by not giving them enough money.
Teachers' salaries are just not enough even to take them to the nearest
payment point to withdraw money, so they just sit home and do nothing," said
Takavafira Zhou, president of the militant Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

Clever Munatsi, a rank marshal at the Market Square Bus Terminus -- the
biggest taxi rank in Harare -- said over the last three months there has
been a significant decline in the number of people who board minibuses at
the rank.

"There has been a big decline. Most people have resorted to walking, while
others now prefer open trucks, which are cheaper. Those who still board here
always complain our fares are too high," said Munatsi.

According to an official from the Ministry of Local Government, which
regulates commuter omnibus routes and fares, it is currently difficult for
the government to control the operations of public transporters.

"At the moment, we are all waiting for the constitution of the inclusive
government. Most plans are based on the operations of the new government,
and it's really difficult for us to control them," said the official,
requesting anonymity.

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[MDC Media Release] 40 000 turn up for MDC Sunday rally

About 40 000 people on Sunday turned up for a report back rally at Zimbabwe
Grounds in Highfield, Harare where President Tsvangirai emphasised  that the
party was not desperate to enter into a government with token ministries
that will not allow meaningful change in the lives of the people of
The President said the party was alive to the starvation facing the people,
the collapse of the education system, the health sector and the economy but
would not be stampeded into accepting Zanu PF's unilateral allocation of key
ministries to itself.
"We want to meaningfully change the lives of people. We hope that the
arrival of the mediator, former PresidentThabo Mbeki, will unlock the
political logjam otherwise we will not partake to this deal," the President
said to thunderous applause.
"We are aware that there is a deliberate ploy to make us walk away from this
dialogue process through these acts of unbridled arrogance. We are committed
to dialogue as a party but we will not settle for crumbs."
He said the MDC had entered into the dialogue process with sincerity in
order to solve the national crisis. After all, he said, the MDC had resolved
at its second Congress that dialogue was the only way forward.
"We are prepared to suffer more, to remain in the trenches if this agreement
cannot change the lives of the people. We are committed to see the political
settlement coming to fruition because it contains important clauses which
guarantee the people's freedoms and allow Zimbabwe to move forward," the
President said.
"We are not desperate for titles. I am not desperate to be called Prime
Minister, after all I am the President of the MDC. Our only wish is to make
sure that we have a genuine agreement that respects all parties and can
allow for national rebirth and economic recovery."
President Tsvangirai said Zanu PF was being insincere in the allocation of
ministries that is why there was a deadlock. He said Zanu PF had no right to
be part of the arrangement if it was about power grabbing and not power
sharing as agreed.
"We won the elections on 29 March. Mugabe, the loser in that election,
cannot pretend to be magnanimous to the MDC by 'allocating' us ministries
when it is us who have been benevolent enough to given him the Presidency as
a way of national healing and rebirth," said President Tsvangirai.
"The state-controlled Herald can scream and continue to publish Zanu PF's
wish list till the cows come home, but as a party we will not partake to
anything that will not improve the lives of the ordinary people. We say no
to responsibility without authority."
He said the MDC was committed to peaceful democratic change and will never
use violence to effect change. He said there were fears in Zanu PF circles
that the MDC should not get certain key ministries such as Home Affairs.
"We want to assure them that we do seek to pursue a retributive agenda. We
want national healing. We are prepared to forgive and forget as long as our
efforts are being reciprocated. The guilty are afraid but the MDC means
well," said President Tsvangirai.
President Tsvangirai will address similar rallies in Bulawayo at White City
Stadium on Saturday 18 October 2008 and the following day he will address a
rally in Masvingo and Zvishavane.
Vice President Hon Thokozani Khupe, women's assembly chairperson Hon Theresa
Makone and the chairperson of the Youth Assembly, Hon Thamsanqa Mahlangu
also addressed the crowd in Harare.

For more information please call MDC (Zimbabwe) Hon. Mr. Nelson Chamisa
0912940489 National Spokesperson or Luke Tamborinyoka 0912850556 or (South
Africa) Nqobizitha Mlilo 0835274650 or George Sibotshiwe 0766330314

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Makoni says Zim power-sharing deal faces collapse

by Nokuthula Sibanda Monday 13 October 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's former finance minister Simba Makoni on Monday said the
country's power-sharing deal was now at risk of collapse as President Robert
Mugabe and the opposition continue to haggle over sharing of Cabinet posts
in a proposed unity government.

"The events of the past week are placing the agreement at serious risk,"
said Makoni, who also queried why Mugabe, MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara bothered signing the deal before resolving all major issues
at stake such as who would control which posts in the power-sharing

"Since the deal was signed, the suffering of the people has actually become
worse," Makoni told journalists in Harare.

He added: "The people are suffering immensely, they are angry and frustrated
and they feel hostage to leaders who seem uncaring and insensitive to their
plight. We share the people's anger and frustration.

"We wonder what compelled the leaders to sign an incomplete agreement, if
there are major issues unresolved. They raised the people's hopes and
expectations, whetted the national appetite for progress, only to dash the
hopes and expectations."

Makoni, a respected businessman and former diplomat, was expelled from ZANU
PF for daring to challenge Mugabe in the March 29 presidential election in
which he came a distant third.

Makoni, who stood as an independent, garnered 207 470 votes or 8.3 percent
of total ballots cast against 1 195 562 votes or 47.9 percent of total valid
votes cast for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 1 079 730 ballots or 43.2
percent of total votes cast for Mugabe.

Mugabe went on to win a June 27 second round run-off vote uncontested after
Tsvangirai withdrew from the poll because of political violence against his

Makoni was excluded from the September 15 power-sharing deal brokered by
ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki because his Mavambo/Dawn/Kusile (MKD)
movement did not win parliamentary seats in a March 29 general election.

Under the power-sharing agreement Mugabe will remain president while
Tsvangirai becomes prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister. The
agreement allots 15 Cabinet posts to ZANU PF, 13 to the Tsvangirai-led MDC
and three to Mutambara's faction.

However the bare-bones agreement does not say who gets which specific posts
and the rival parties have since the signing of the agreement wrangled over
who should control the important ministries of home affairs, finance, local
government, foreign affairs.

Meanwhile Makoni said his MKD was closer to transforming itself into a
full-fledged political party, adding the movement offers crisis-weary
Zimbabweans "hope for the future."

He said: "We of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement, are in the process of
converting ourselves from a movement of volunteers, into a full fledged
political party.

"A draft constitution is now in place and consultations with MKD activists
and other citizens are underway. This process will culminate in the official
adoption of the constitution and launch of the party." - ZimOnline

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Power to the MDC

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 14/10/2008

      Robert Mugabe does not want power sharing, but rather "power
grabbing", Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader, told a rally
over the weekend. Well, surprise, surprise. Mr Tsvangirai, who by democratic
rights should be head of state, made the mistake of seeking a working
relationship with a party whose use of violence had forced him to pull out
of the second round of the presidential poll in June. Not only had he won
the first round, but his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had also taken
the majority of seats in parliamentary elections in March.

      Mr Mugabe has interpreted the power-sharing agreement mediated by
Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, as allocation of the key
portfolios - defence, home affairs and finance - to his Zanu-PF, with minor
roles for the MDC and a group that has splintered from it. In addition, he
has sworn in two risible vice-presidents without consulting the opposition.
Mr Mbeki was in Harare yesterday on a rescue mission, but his authority has
been sapped by his resignation as head of state last month, and, at any
rate, a deal that ascribes any legitimacy to Mr Mugabe is not worth the

      Mr Tsvangirai should heed the advice of supporters at the MDC rally on
Sunday and pull out of the talks with Zanu-PF forthwith. Otherwise, he risks
being a prime minister who will be blamed for continuing economic
catastrophe while lacking the power to do anything about it. Time is on his
side. Mr Mugabe lost a powerful ally with the resignation of Mr Mbeki. He
faces ever greater diplomatic isolation and an even more stratospheric
inflation rate. Mr Tsvangirai has said he expected Zanu-PF to be "reasonable
and equitable" in power sharing. Years of persecution should have taught him
otherwise. He should leave Mr Mugabe and his party to stew in their own

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Power games as the people suffer!

12 October 2008

By Collen Chibango

Exactly 25 days after the much publicised and welcomed signing ceremony of
the power sharing deal among Zimbabwe's major political parties, nothing has
changed on the socio-economic and political landscape of our country.

Instead, the general masses are still suffering, if anything they are
suffering more. An illegitimate government continues to use the same
ignorant, populist and failed piecemeal tactics they have fashioned into

One would have hoped that at this stage the different parties would already
be working together in solving the problems the nation faces. Instead ZANU
PF continues to rule by decree and the MDC continues to act as an

None of the parties to the GNU deal have started acting like a government.
Meanwhile , inflation sores, teachers strike, universities continue closed
indefinitely, businesses close, corruption runs riot and one governor
continues to run the country like a backyard tuck-shop.

Shocking that Mbeki is expected to come back and reign in some
that he has been removed as South African President, maybe our political
parties hope that he will come and run the country while they still
negotiate who takes which ministry.

I jokingly suggested to one colleague of mine recently, that we can do
without some ministries, but with a functioning government. Weird, I know.
Maybe, the cabinet or the council of ministers can take charge of these so
called important ministries as they discuss.

Surely, international humanitarian assistance has to begin as a matter of
yesterday and that's not a contentious ministry...Or is it? ZANU PF is said
to be arguing that the Ministry of Home Affairs belongs to ZAPU under the
unity accord agreement of 1987.

Again, out of frustration and finding funny some of these arguments, I
suggested to the same colleague of mine that, Dumiso Dabengwa is a member of
ZAPU, he is "neutral" why not re-engage him in the ministry, then no one can
claim him, unless if he springs up another Houdini surprise defection!

Indeed, not making much sense, I guess that's the whole point. The whole GNU
deal doesn't make sense. Firstly people signed a deal without deciding such
fundamental issues. Secondly, how could the MDC take Mugabe's word over
ministries? Thirdly, how desperate do they think the MDC is as to rush and
grab small ministries?

In fact, do they hope to gain international credibility just by the presence
of an MDC face saver without real control? Again the biggest prayer is that
Mbeki manages to persuade his ZANU PF friends that power is sweet while it
last, at some point in time one just needs to give it up or at least some of

Both parties, playing to the gallery, that the people cannot wait, the
people are suffering, yet still failing to forge a way forward that serves
the people. What hypocrisy!

Interesting how the newly elected MPs requested that the RBZ exempt them
from daily cash withdrawal limits...where are the people in this whole

Collen Chibango is a former student and youth leader in Zimbabwe, now
studying in the Netherlands. He writes for the Zimbabwe Watch column.

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Budget? What Budget?

Financial Gazette (Harare)

11 October 2008
Posted to the web 13 October 2008

Shame Makoshori

INORDINATE delays in appointing an all-inclusive Cabinet have put the 2009
national budget consultations off track as it also emerged this week that
trillions of dollars were recently doled out to struggling ministries and
government departments that had long exhausted their allocation.

In November last year, the Finance Ministry tabled a $7,8 quadrillion budget
that constituted nearly half the country's implied Gross Domestic Product of
$16 quadrillion. But much of the national budget was eroded by

The March 29 elections, which extended into a run-off after Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, failed to garner enough
votes to avoid a run-off, also gobbled a significant portion of the budget.

President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF was to emerge winner of the disputed June
27 poll, boycotted by Tsvangirai following alleged state-sponsored violence
against MDC supporters.

It had been hoped that government, caught in a vicious cycle of inflation,
would introduce a supplementary budget to sustain its depressed ministries.
But with Parliament still to resume sitting after the synchronised March
elections, the entire government machinery has had to survive on the
quasi-fiscal operations of the central bank in view of the serious decline
in tax revenues.

Treasury sources told The Financial Gazette this week that President Mugabe
recently invoked his presidential powers to direct Finance Minister, Samuel
Mumbengegwi, to release additional funds after line ministries had raised
the red flag. While the quantum of the resources pumped into government
could not be ascertained at the time of going to print, sources hinted that
the bailout package runs into several trillions of dollars.

Mumbengegwi had no kind words for this reporter when contacted for comment
on Monday.

"It has nothing to do with you, zveunderstanding dzako dzenhema izvo. Kana
unemakuhwa ako, ndeako, haaneyi neni. (You've not been told the truth. If
you've heard rumours; that is your problem, it has nothing to do with me).
So what if you know about that? Ha! ha! ha!," he said, chuckling.

The Finance Minister, whose chances of bouncing back into government are
razor-thin, was also non-committal on when the 2009 national budget
consultations would begin.

He said: "If the consultations begin, they will be made public. You do not
have to ask."

It is however, delays in appointing an all-inclusive government that many
people now find difficult to comprehend after ZANU-PF and the two MDC
formations signed a power-sharing agreement on September 15.

The three parties are deadlocked on who should be allocated which
ministries, with ZANU-PF insisting on controlling all the key ministries
namely Finance, Home Affairs, Information, Foreign Affairs, Defence and
Local Government.

The country has suffered a decade of continuous recession that has paralysed
all the sectors of the economy. The crisis, characterised by 11-digit
inflation of more than 11,2 million percent, has rendered budgeting an
impossible exercise.

A top government official said all the ministries had exhausted their budget
allocations and needed fresh funding to see the 2008 calendar through.

"We were supposed to table a supplementary budget," the official said. "But
everyone had been busy with the elections so it was stopped. Two months ago
Mumbe-ngegwi was directed to roll out unbudgeted funds because ministries
were in a precarious state. The money has already been exhausted and the
situation is bad," he said.

The official, said consultations for the 2009 national budget, which
traditionally kicked off in September have since been delayed because of the
standoff over the allocation of ministries.

It is now unlikely that the 2009 budget would be announced next month, which
means the country may for the first time wait until early next year to see
the important numbers.

With the number of ministries having been stretched to 31, in line with the
power-sharing agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo
Mbeki, the incoming finance minister has his/her task cut out.

The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) said the new
Cabinet should consider effective debt management to be a priority in
tackling the national economic recovery agenda now and beyond.

Currently the external debt of Zimbabwe is proportional to the size of its

According to the Joint External Debt Database of the international financial
institutions (the International Monetary Fund and World Bank) the external
debt was US$4,9 billion at the end of last year.

Almost half of that debt can be traced from the Rhodesian government during
the 1970s, while part of it is due to apartheid de-stabilisation acts in the
1980s as well as the effects of the Economic Structural Adjustment

"In this view, we call for an official audit of the external debt to
establish the nature and legitimacy of debts owed by Zimbabwe. After the
power sharing agreement is implemented, it is likely that the political
leadership will look forward to a massive injection of external resources
into the country to reboot the economy, given the prevailing humanitarian
and economic crisis," said ZIMCODD.

The 2009 national budget comes against the backdrop of a worsening economic
crisis that has ignited a mass exodus of human capital into the region and

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Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe a Lesson in Economics

      Written by Warren Mass
      Monday, 13 October 2008 04:19
      "Life in Zimbabwe: Wait for Useless Money," a report in the New York
Times for October 2,
      is a firsthand look at the effects on any society whose government has
recklessly inflated  its currency, thereby destroying its value. Even the
next-to-worthless Zimbabwean currency is in short supply, since the nation's
central bank governor, instead of supplying banks, has been sending agents
with suitcases filled with Zimbabwean currency into the streets to buy U.S.
dollars and South African rand on the back market.

      With the banks starved for currency, it is rationed by government
mandate. Residents must arise in the middle of the night to obtain a number
from bank security guards, giving the holders the privilege of standing in
line for hours the next day to withdraw a paltry amount of money, perhaps
the equivalent of one or two U.S. dollars.

      The Zimbabwean economy is in a state of complete meltdown - the
natural consequence of 28 years of rule by the tyrannical Robert Mugabe -
producing inflation rates not seen since Germany in the 1920s, Greece and
Hungary in the 1940s, and Yugoslavia in 1993. The nation's annual inflation
rate has risen from 1,000 percent in 2006, to 12,000 percent in 2007, to an
immeasurable figure this year. In August, the government devalued the
currency by chopping off 10 zeros. Had they not done so, the conversion rate
would now be 10 trillion Zimbabwean dollars to one U.S. dollar.

      Those who have studied historic examples of hyperinflation can recite
extreme stories, such as factory workers being paid daily in 1920s Germany,
so their wives could meet them at the factory gates and bring their cash
directly to stores before it lost most of its value. The situation in
present-day Zimbabwe exceeds even those dark days. Essential services have
begun to stop because the workers at schools, hospitals, and public
sanitation facilities  cannot afford to go to work - the cost of bus fare
exceeds their daily wages. The few who show up for work must supplement that
pay through their  own enterprise, such as teachers selling snacks to their
students. In some areas, the barter system has replaced currency.

      Stanford Mafumera, a security guard who was interviewed while waiting
in line to obtain currency from a Zimbabwean bank, told the Times reporter
that his government's land-reform program was responsible for Zimbabwe's
economic destruction. As the report summarized Mafumera's explanation:
Mugabe's regime had "chased away the white commercial farmers who had made
the country a breadbasket . as well as donors from Britain and other
European countries and the United States who sustained Zimbabwe's starving
millions for years."

      "A lot of people got farms, but they can't produce anything and this
is what is causing the poverty and hunger," said Mafumera. "There's no

      During a news conference in Washington in October 1985, former
Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith (the last leader of Rhodesia, the nation
that had preceded Zimbabwe) said that he had come as the leader of the
Zimbabwe Conservative Alliance Party to ask Western nations to help arrest
his country's slide into a "Marxist-Leninist-Communist" state. "I believe it
is right for me to urge the leaders of the free world to use their influence
to try and ensure that we don't drift into chaos, into bankruptcy and into a
situation where there is no freedom," Smith told reporters at the time, in
words that seem prophetic today.

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JAG open letter forum - No. 573 - Dated 13 October 2008


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.

To subscribe/unsubscribe to the JAG mailing list, please email:
with subject line "subscribe" or "unsubscribe".
1. Belinda Whitaker

Dear JAG,

Subject: Fw: armed robbery at Steppes Road, Chisipite

I'm writing this email to you all, although some of you already know what
happened, I'd like you to forward to as many friends as possible to warn
them - forewarned is forearmed.  I've also repeated this story endlessly to
family and friends over the past 2 days, leaving out bits, but here is the
unedited version of what happened:

Wayne and I were victims of an armed robbery at our house on Friday night.
 We had come back from a dinner at Millar's with friends at about 10pm, my
mom had been baby-sitting, our first outing since Juliet was born 3 months
ago.  We had closed up the house, turned off the lights and I was about to
get into bed - I mentioned to Wayne that the dog next door was barking
loudly and persistently and I wondered why, as he was usually pretty quiet.
 Wayne was sitting on the floor sorting out his papers as he was about to go
on a business trip early in the morning.  As I walked round to my side of
the bed I saw the curtain of the window flapping and my first thought was
our cat was about to jump through and I waited for him to make his entry so
I could chuck him out again - but to my absolute shock and horror a dark
figure swung through the curtains, landed on his knees and stood up.  Wayne
and I froze in shock and stared at the intruder as he aimed his pistol at my
head - seconds later 2 other figures jumped through the window, also armed.
 They were very quiet and calm - ordered me to sit next to Wayne - and the
ordeal started as they demanded forex.  Wayne's money was lying next to his
suitcase and the ringleader scooped it up and then rifled through Wayne's
cases for more.  They also ransacked my handbag taking the little I had in
there - pulled open drawers etc.  They then demanded to be taken to the safe
for where the 'real money' was.  We explained that there wasn't any more -
we don't keep forex in the house and the US$3,000 that Wayne has was all
there was.  Needless to say they didn't believe us - we showed them our safe
which was empty - which seem to infuriate them and the ringleader started
threatening to rape me.  He dragged me into the bathroom and kept asking
where the money was - when I told him there was none - he threatened again
to rape me.  I told him it was not going help them - there just was no more
money - and he left me alone for a little while.  They became increasingly
more violent and demanding - occasionally beating Wayne on his head with the
butts of the guns to try instil fear.  One of the intruders went through the
house - going into the girl's rooms, turning on the lights - I prayed they
wouldn't wake up - and my prayers were answered.  He came back and
threatened to take one of the children in order to make us talk.  At this
stage, one of the intruders had come close to Wayne and Wayne lunged out at
him, got him in a vice grip around the waist, wrestled his gun out of his
hand and fired it into the intruders stomach - only to find it wasn't
loaded!!  Something we had both suspected as he waved his gun around
carelessly.  We then both hung onto the intruder and used him as a human
shield as his friends screamed at us to let him go, bit like a Quentin
Tarantino movie - we had a super-human struggle which lasted a couple of
minutes and eventually the one intruder fired his gun into the ceiling - the
noise and action shocked us into letting him go.  They were very shaken as
didn't think we would fight back - they then decided to tie Wayne up as they
probably thought he was a danger to them.  Unfortunately, they then cowardly
beat him brutally with the butts of their guns and kicked him in the head
and back repeatedly.  One blow was so fierce his blood spurted across the
room over me, my face and t-shirt.  I felt very vulnerable with Wayne tied
up and the gang continually harassed and threatened me for more money -
pulling me round by my hair, ordering me to lie on the bed - it went on for
some time.  I thought at this stage, we were doomed, and could not see a
safe ending to this ordeal - I prayed fervently for help - and within a
short while my prayers were answered.  They appeared to calm down and
started rifling through my jewellery, stuffing it into their pockets.
 Things we had offered them earlier on they were now considering taking -
watches etc.  They repeatedly said they did not want our tv's, computers or
household goods - they only wanted our forex.  They did take all our cell
phones, opened Wayne's gun cabinet and took his gun, my jewellery (which
wasn't that valuable) - and left our laptops and everything else.  Then
suddenly one intruder disappeared back through the window, followed quickly
by another one.  The ringleader said 'see - I didn't hurt you' - like it was
alright!!  He said I could untie my husband and disappeared through the
window - it was literally seconds later we heard their getaway car roar off.

After they left I helped Wayne out of his ropes and we mopped up his head as
best we could.  Without our phones we couldn't remember numbers of people
who could come help us (a lesson to be learnt) so Wayne got dressed and
drove to the police station to collect an officer and make a report.  I
checked on the children who were miraculously still sleeping - my cousin's
14 year old son was staying with us and sleeping in the spare room - I
checked on him too.  He was unharmed and they decided to leave him alone
although went into his bedroom and turned on the light.  The police came and
went and Wayne took himself to the Trauma Centre to get his head stitched
while Tyler and I a sat in the lounge drinking tea.  Juliet had woken and I
gave her her bottle - after which I lay on the couch with her clutched to me
- it was such a comfort holding her warm little body to my chest while she
slept, blissfully unaware of what happened.  Wayne eventually came back at
about 4am and we both climbed under the blood-stained duvet, the room in a
turmoil - too exhausted and traumatized to care.

This gang of 3 are fairly organized - they case out a house in advance - if
you are sleeping with your windows open in this heat - please, please make
sure you have super-strong burglar bars.  We thought ours were pretty good
but they bent them back fairly easily.  They are after forex and know that
we all have a little stashed here and there.  They are not interested in
your household appliances at all and will tell you.  They are ruthless and
determined - it would not be worth trying to hide your money from them -
they will get it out of you eventually.  We suspect two of the three guns
were not loaded - but unless you know firearms well - best not to take a
chance.  If your pets/dogs are behaving strangely or barking more than usual
- investigate and be aware.  We have gone over a lot of 'what ifs' - and
unfortunately there isn't much you can do if your house is targeted - except
to remain calm, try not show too much fear and I did try reasoning with the
ringleader, I like to think he did listen to me in the end.

Thank you, thank you to all my amazing family and friends who phoned us over
the weekend once they had heard - it was so good to hear your voices.  A
special thank you to my sister, Bev, who I sent a skype message to at 1am as
I just had to tell someone, and she is the one person I thought of first.
 She alerted the rest of my family round the world.  We are so relieved our
children were not harmed and we escaped relatively unharmed - although the
fear will live within us for the rest of our lives, hopefully it will fade
in time.

Please take care of yourselves, my friends in Zimbabwe, such a terrifying
drama over a few material possessions and a bit of money - it so wasn't
worth it.

Belinda Whitaker
2. Cathy Buckle - We need seed.

Dear JAG,

The October clouds are gathering over Zimbabwe and darkening skies tease us
with promises of rain every afternoon. It's a brutally hard time of year.
Searing heat, scorched ground and a desperate shortage of water makes it
almost impossible to keep anything going. And yet, as the clouds get darker,
heavier and lower the time of renewal is almost upon us and the signs of the
new season are all around us.

Bright yellow weaver birds with deep black face masks are busy weaving
strips of grass into intricate nests which they hang upside down from and
try and attract mates. A strand out of place, one disdainful glance or
dismissive peck at the nest from a female and the male pulls the whole thing
apart and starts all over again. The Paradise flycatchers are back too,
flitting around showing off their magnificent, foot long, burnt orange tails
and building shallow little cups for nests with grass, roots and bits of
spider web.

It seems absurd to be writing about the weather and birds when we've got no
food, fuel or government and inflation's hit 231 MILLION percent, but its
these routines of nature that help take our minds off the insanity of life
in Zimbabwe. It's the time of year when there should be a frenzy of activity
in preparation for the rains and food growing. Seed and fertilizer should be
stacked up in sheds waiting to go out to the lands. Tractors should be
ploughing and the lands readied but without the inputs it's not happening.
In my home town a large, shiny, 4 wheel drive, red tractor, still with
plastic on its fenders, roars around on the main tar roads carrying
passengers on errands

I had three questions in mind when I phoned around the main agricultural
suppliers in my farming home town this week: Have you got seed maize; how
much is it; can I pay in Zimbabwe dollars?  I knew I was being optimistic
because just a week ago it was reported that there was only enough seed in
the country to plant 360 thousand hectares of land.  Zimbabwe apparently has
to plant at least one million hectares in order to feed itself.

My phone calls were a waste of time. There is no seed maize to buy, not in
Zim Dollars or American dollars and we are just a couple of weeks away from
the main planting season. I asked one main farming supplier when they were
expecting a delivery of seed maize and he laughed and said he didn't think
any of their seed orders were going to come at all.

This is such a critical time in Zimbabwe when almost half the population
needs food aid and yet, even in their hunger, people are still desperate to
try and help themselves. "We need seed!" is the cry everywhere you go.

Our old and our new leaders are still too busy arguing about power to hear
our calls. Another month has been wasted when these Big Men could, should
have stood together; seed and fertilizer could have been bought, fields
ploughed and every able bodied man and woman readied to bring life and food
security back to Zimbabwe. Many people are saying that neither Zanu PF nor
the MDC deserve to be in power if they cannot even help us to help ourselves
at this most desperate time. Until next time, thanks for reading,

love cathy.© Copyright cathy buckle 11th October 2008. .

3.  Eddie Cross - Sliding into the Abyss

Dear JAG,

Yesterday the World Food Programme issued an alarming statement on the food
crisis in Zimbabwe. They appealed for an additional US$140 million to cover
the shortfall in basic food aid for the next six months. What they did not
say was that this still leaves a shortfall in overall cereal and oilseed
supplies of 800 000 tonnes for the next 6 months.

It also failed to highlight that we are now weeks away from the start of the
rains and there is very little land preparation, virtually no seed and
fertilizer. It is too late to import supplies in any quantity and even if we
did we would have to distribute by air, as local transport capacity is
almost non-existent. They also did not tell the world that the funds they
had paid to the NGO's doing food distribution had been taken by the Reserve
Bank and the organisations could not pay their transporters for transport
services or buy fuel.

The gold producers have sold gold to the Reserve Bank over the past 9 months
and have not been paid - they are now unable to operate and are closing
their mines down allowing them to flood and in some cases they will not be
able to reopen them. It is not only the NGO's who have had their FCA's
looted - virtually every business that I know has had their FCA cleaned out
and they have been unable to access them to pay suppliers.

These funds - legally property of the account holders, have been taken by
the Bank and then sold to Zanu PF leaders at the "official" exchange rate -
this is technically legal but is clearly theft. The official rate is a small
fraction of one cent per US dollar. In fact it is 0,000000003 local dollars
per US dollar. This means that US$10 000 would cost a Zanu PF heavy Z$0,003
- not even one cent in the new local currency.

The physical evidence of this theft of resources is everywhere. Reports of
people arriving at homes for sale and paying cash in foreign exchange -
without trying to negotiate the price. New cars without number plates (we
have run out of number plate materials) are all over Harare. The reports of
the Governor handing out expensive vehicles as if they were his own - one
report that the Pastor who buried the governor's younger brother being given
a new twin cab as a thank you for a few hours work and kind words.

I would hazard a guess that in the past few months no less than US$500
million has been pilfered from the State and private coffers in this way.

That is enough money to feed the entire population for 7 months. No wonder
they do not want to wrap up this agreement and swear in a new government.

They must be terrified of anyone getting into the vaults and records at the
Reserve Bank.

While they fiddle and prevaricate, the country burns. Lawlessness is
rampant; gangs of thugs are seizing private property on farms with no fear
of intervention by the Police. This seems to be being even encouraged by
rouge elements in Zanu PF who want the negotiated deal to fail and at the
same time are lashing out at the defenseless in an orgy of thuggery and

Since our priority is to feed people the needs of our animals are being put
on the back burner. I get reports of dairy cows dying of starvation. The
largest pig producer in the country is about to slaughter their entire
commercial breeding stock - 33 000 pigs. Poultry producers have cut back
their activities to the minimum. Once this is carried out reestablishing
this productive capacity will be a long process.

Yesterday the President of the MDC and now the new Prime Minister, held a
press conference in Harare. In that meeting he stated that no progress had
been made in the past 24 days since the SADC agreement was signed in
September. He went on to say that he was suspending any further contact with
Zanu PF until the regional mediation team was present to arbitrate those

In addition to this he made the extraordinary disclosure that the agreement
signed and subsequently published, did not include the full details that had
been negotiated and signed during the process. He requested that the
mediators remedy this by publishing a new version of the agreement in full.

He also said that Zanu PF - in complete violation of the agreement, was
refusing to review the appointment of 10 Governors to the Provinces and to
then reallocate these posts on the basis of the majority representation in
each Province. The Governors play an important role in local politics and
the administration and Zanu is insisting that the 10 people appointed - in
clear violation of the SADC process, should remain. If the reallocation of
Governors based on the Party majorities in each Province were carried out
MDC (T) would get 5, Zanu PF 4 and MDC (M) 1.

Clearly the SADC process can only proceed if this impasse in the allocation
of powerful political posts is resolved. Zanu PF is reluctant to let go
because of the consequences to themselves and the loss of privilege and
protection. But that is of little concern to the region and should not be a
factor. They never sought or obtained an amnesty for what they have done in
the past and must face the consequences of their actions.

The delay in the consummation of this deal is now having very critical
consequences. Every day lost is a serious matter. Inflation at 1,4 trillion
percent in September is destroying all forms of economic activity. The
collapse in the economy and in all social services is driving tens of
thousands of Zimbabweans, skilled and unskilled out of the country. We are
now into new territory in this saga - one from where it will be very tough
to claw ourselves back.

The new President of South Africa said yesterday that he would back Mr.
Mbeki's mediation with the resources and the influence that was needed. If
the SADC mediation team does not engage very shortly, they will put the
country and the region into jeopardy.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 10th October 2008
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for

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