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Report: Mugabe plans changes to appease opposition

Associated Press

Oct 16, 1:40 PM EDT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- President Robert Mugabe may allow Zimbabwe's
opposition to control key Cabinet positions in an effort to save faltering
talks aimed at striking a power-sharing deal, a state-run newspaper reported

The Herald newspaper quoted an unidentified official from Mugabe's ruling
party as saying compromises could be made in the Cabinet lineup Mugabe
unilaterally announced last week.

A negotiator for a small opposition faction said during a break in the talks
that negotiators had reached a compromise on the finance and police
ministries. He offered no details but said the deal could be completed
Thursday. The talks continued into the evening without new announcements.

More than 40 women protesters gathered outside the hotel where the leaders
were meeting and vowed not to let them leave until they reach agreement.

"No deal. No exit," read one placard. Another read: "Zimbabwe is hungry. We
want a Cabinet today."

Mugabe had claimed the most powerful Cabinet posts for his own party,
including the ministry in charge of police, seen as the enforcers of his
rule in a country in the middle of an economic meltdown.

The opposition denounced the move and threatened to abandon talks on forming
a unity government after disputed elections.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating the
discussions with Mugabe, main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and
Arthur Mutumbara, leader of the smaller opposition faction whose negotiator,
Welshman Ncube, said a compromise was in the works.

Without a political agreement, Zimbabwe has been rudderless as its economy
deteriorates. Inflation is 231 million percent. Food, medicine and most
other basic goods are scarce. The U.N. estimates 45 percent of Zimbabwe's
population, or 5.1 million people, will need food help by early 2009.

Organizers of a demonstration Thursday by a women's group urging politicians
to resolve their differences and focus on Zimbabwe's suffering people said
that police had arrested two of its leaders and dispersed the other
protesters by beating them with sticks.

The national police spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the
incident in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo.

The demonstrators were carrying a statement from the civil rights group
Women of Zimbabwe Arise, accusing politicians of offering empty promises in
their Sept. 15 agreement.

"How many more Zimbabweans must die before you act?" the statement said.
"This is a national disaster and we demand food for all Zimbabweans now."

The group said that as about 200 of its members sat outside local government
offices waiting for officials to come and hear their demands, riot police
arrived and arrested leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu and
dispersed the other protesters by beating them. The women's group said at
least one protester required medical attention.

Police regularly crack down on protests by groups critical of the
government. Williams and Mahlangu were jailed for five weeks this year after
being arrested during a peaceful protest in the capital.

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Robert Mugabe thinking again on key posts

October 17, 2008

HARARE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was last night reportedly
considering a backdown on his decision to award key ministries in a
power-sharing government to members of his own party, which would have given
him a firm grip on the military, the police and other security agencies.

Mr Mugabe and his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, entered a third day of
talks to break an impasse on disputed cabinet posts, with signs they were
inching toward a deal.

South African media cited unnamed sources as saying Mr Tsvangirai had been
awarded finance, a critical portfolio in a country grappling with the
world's highest inflation rate, at 231 million per cent.

This left in limbo the home affairs ministry, which oversees the country's
police forces, who are accused by the opposition of being used by the ruling
party to carry out human rights abuses.

Mr Tsvangirai had threatened to pull out of the power-sharing agreement over
Mr Mugabe's announcement last weekend that he would award key ministries to
his own party members.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported yesterday that there could be
alterations to Mr Mugabe's cabinet as announced at the weekend in the state

"There could be some changes to the list gazetted last week as the parties
... make compromises for the sake of progress," the newspaper quoted an
official from Mr Mugabe's ZANU-PF as saying.

Another ruling party official said a number of options were on the table for
the finance ministry that "might also have a bearing on the ministry of home
affairs" and a "few" other portfolios.

Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki is presiding over discussions aimed
at pressing Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai to settle their differences.

Mr Mugabe, who earlier had confidently said the talks would wrap up
yesterday, declined to say when they would end.

Mr Tsvangirai's lead negotiator, Tendai Biti, who proclaimed late on
Wednesday that "history is being made", also sounded more cautious.

"Where is that optimism coming from?" Mr Biti said. Mr Mbeki brokered the
deal signed a month ago, when the rivals agreed to a unity government with
84-year-old Mr Mugabe as president and Mr Tsvangirai in the new post of
prime minister.

Once one of Africa's most prosperous nations, Zimbabwe's stunning economic
collapse has caused critical food shortages, with nearly half the population
needing UN aid and about 80per cent of unemployed.

Before the talks began, Mr Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic
Change insisted on dividing control of the defence and home affairs
ministries. The MDC has argued that it needs oversight of at least some
security agencies to reassure the party's supporters, who were the targets
of brutal violence during election campaigning earlier this year.

Mr Tsvangirai won a first round presidential vote in March, but pulled out
of a June runoff, saying the violence had left more than 100 of his
supporters dead.

Mr Mugabe's victory in the uncontested runoff drew international
condemnation, and Western nations have heaped pressure on his regime to make
good on the power-sharing deal.

The European Union has threatened to impose new sanctions on the regime if
the deal falls apart, while the US accused has Mr Mugabe of violating the


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Mugabe under pressure from politburo

October 16, 2008

By Mxolisi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - The current haggling over the sharing of cabinet posts in
Zimbabwe might drag on for even longer, as President Mugabe is under
increasing pressure to convince his Zanu-PF hardliners that the party will
retain its stranglehold on the country even if it hands over some key
ministries to the Movement for Democratic Change.

While the parties to the negotiations are somewhat upbeat about the prospect
of a positive outcome, sources told The Zimbabwe Times that this will only
depend on whether the MDC climbs down on some of its demands, or the Zanu-PF
Politburo changes its current hard-line stance.

Meanwhile, University of Zimbabwe political scientist and political analyst,
John Makumbe, has warned that if Mugabe retains total control of government,
there will be no end to Zimbabwe's problems, both politically and

It has been revealed to The Zimbabwe Times that senior members of Zanu-PF
which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain, in 1980, have once
again put pressure on their 84-year-old leader not to hand over any of the
remaining 14 key ministries allocated to Zanu-PF by Mugabe last week to the
MDC, during on-going talks.

On Wednesday, Mugabe is said to have agreed to hand over the Ministry of
Finance to the mainstream MDC, which is led by Prime Minister-designate,
Tsvangirai, but sources within Zanu-PF have revealed that it is the powerful
Zanu-PF Politburo, which met early that day that had given Mugabe the green
light to hand over the ministry.

Sources revealed that before going to the negotiating table on Wednesday
morning, Mugabe first held a stormy meeting with his politburo which debated
at the party's headquarters how the power-sharing negotiations should go.

"The President tried to convince the delegates, who included the country's
security chiefs, that the power-sharing deal was the only way that the
country's problems could be solved. However, the senior party members
resolved that if the Ministry of Finance was to go to the MDC, it should be
the only one out of the 15 already allocated to Zanu-PF which should be
handed over. They argued that handing over any other key ministry would
render Zanu-PF weak and unable to retain its stranglehold on power," said a
senior party source.

Politburo members are also said to have repeated earlier threats to resign
if Mugabe disregarded them and went on to hand over the key ministries that
"Tsvangirai wants to use to dislodge Zanu-PF" from power.

In a powerful expression of dissent led by Vice President Joice Mujuru,
Emmerson Mnangagwa and Didymus Mutasa, the party's senior members are said
to have even suggested that if the MDC refused to accept the new
arrangement, the deal would rather be called off than that Zanu-PF should
climb down from its current position.

Mugabe, who, according to sources, now looks very weary, as he faces
possible isolation from his loyalists if he bows down to the opposition
demands, was forced to delay his arrival at the negotiating table by two
hours, held back by the heated politburo meeting.

On the other hand, the MDC is anxious to seize control of the ministries of
Home Affairs and of Information in order to strengthen its hand in the
day-to-day running of the unity government.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is in charge of the police and the
Registrar-general's office.

Zanu-PF is said to be fearful that if the opposition gains control of that
ministry, it will change the disputed voters' role, which has always been at
the centre of dispute during elections. It is alleged that the list contains
the names of more than 100 000 dead or otherwise non-existent voters,
allegedly included at the instigation of Zanu-PF as part of election rigging

A properly administered voters' roll will weaken Zanu-PF at the next

Mugabe has also been accused of turning the once professional national
police into human rights abusers that selectively applies the law in favour
of Zanu-PF

Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, who spent the last few years
of the war of liberation as a prisoner of Mugabe and ZANU in northern
Mozambique, vowed before the March elections that he would never salute
Tsvangirai if he won Presidential elections, accusing the MDC leader of
being a "British puppet".

Zanu-PF also fears that the MDC, especially Tsvangirai, could use the police
to purge and arrest his political opponents, especially those that the MDC
has identified as being the perpetrators of ruthless political violence on
behalf of Mugabe.

"From what was discussed at the Politburo meeting, I do not see any
breakthrough soon because Zanu-PF will most likely not climb down from its
current stance. The MDC will have to soften its stance if this thing has to
be finalised," said a Zanu-PF source.

However, Makumbe, says that any more compromise by the MDC would render it
useless and irrelevant in the running of government and the parties would
fail to achieve the main goals behind the formation of the unity government.

"The MDC has compromised a lot in this and now it is time for it to
consolidate its relevance in the unity government, or risk being compromised
forever," he said. "If Mugabe remains in total control, there will be no end
to the country's problems, both politically and economically.

"Violence is likely to continue and investors will not come, as things will
still be run as they have always been in the past."

Makumbe is a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

In the presence of former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, who is the
SADC-appointed mediator, Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara,
leaders of the splintered MDC, are still negotiating the sharing of cabinet
posts, as part of ongoing efforts to complete the formation of a national
unity government.

Such a government has been prescribed as the only way to end the current
political and economic crisis, which has bedevilled Zimbabwe for the past
eight years and left it on the brink of collapse as a state.

The MDC has previously said that it will not accept a deal that relegates it
to the status of a junior partner in the day-to-day running of government.

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SADC agrees Mugabe illegitimate but refuses to bar him from meetings

By Alex Bell
16 October 2008

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has for the first time
acknowledged that Robert Mugabe should not be recognised as a legitimate
head of state - in response to a legal application filed against the
regional body by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum two months ago.

The forum's Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer who was severely tortured
by Mugabe's regime in 2003, led the urgent application to the SADC Tribunal
in August, seeking to block Mugabe from attending a SADC summit in South
Africa that month as head of state. SADC however failed to respond and
Mugabe was welcomed as Zimbabwe's leader. The Exiles Forum also demanded
that Mugabe and his government should not be invited or allowed to attend
future SADC meetings as Zimbabwe's representatives.

SADC has now acknowledged in a legal document that it felt concerns that
Mugabe should not be recognised as Zimbabwe's head of state are "legitimate".
But the regional body has at the same time rejected the demand that it
should refuse to allow Mugabe and his government to participate in future
SADC activities.

In its response, delivered to the SADC Tribunal only this week, the SADC
Secretariat said the Exiles Forum's concern that Mugabe be barred from the
summit "because he had not been elected into office through a credible
process" was "legitimate". But SADC also responded that the Forum's
application be rejected because former South African President Thabo Mbeki,
the SADC appointed mediator, was able to facilitate a power sharing deal to
end Zimbabwe's political crisis.

The Forum's Gabriel Shumba told Newsreel on Thursday that the response in no
way "detracts from our argument that Mugabe should not be in any way
recognised as Zimbabwe's leader." He argued that the facilitation process
under Mbeki has not changed the simple fact that the will of the people has
been thwarted, and agreed that SADC was clearly "waiting and hoping that by
now there would be a deal to legitimise Mugabe".

"We are praying now that the Tribunal, when it hears our arguments, will
order the Secretariat in future not to allow Mugabe to be invited as head of
state," Shumba said. "We are also hoping the Mugabe will be shunned by other
SADC organs, so SADC proves it holds true to its founding principles."

The SADC Tribunal had not yet set a date for hearing the Exiles Forum's

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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While politicians talk, WOZA women beaten and arrested

By Violet Gonda
16 October 2008

Power sharing talks between rival political parties are underway in Zimbabwe
but there is no respite for human rights activists and journalists. Students
were arrested and assaulted by police during demonstrations when parliament
opened on Tuesday. Also this week state agents used repressive laws to
unceremoniously throw out two journalists, Peta Thornycroft and Brian
Hungwe, from the hotel where the political parties are meeting, saying they
are not accredited under the draconian Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

On Thursday Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the leaders of the
pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), were arrested during a
demonstration protesting the deteriorating situation and hardships being
suffered, while the political impasse continues. Some people were allegedly
beaten when the riot police used force to disperse the peaceful protesters.

Group spokesperson Annie Sibanda said several women went to the police
station in Bulawayo to hand themselves in, in solidarity with their leaders,
but were turned away.

She said seven people were arrested before the demonstration started. The
seven had been waiting for the others, near a group of foreign exchange
traders but were arrested and taken to the police station where they were
beaten, together with the forex traders.

As the day progressed the seven were released one by one, but Williams and
Mahlangu remain in custody at Bulawayo Central police station. Sibanda said:
"We don't have any details as to what charges they are facing as their
lawyer has not been allowed access to them as yet."

Riot police had descended on the protesters as they were holding a peaceful
sit-in at the Mhlahlandlela government complex in Bulawayo. The group were
demanding to be addressed by the Heads of service delivery, about what is
being done to address the humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of

The latest incident exposes the fact that there is no fundamental change in
the attitude of the Mugabe regime, even during the interparty talks being
mediated by ex-South African President Thabo Mbeki. Ironically one of the
main cabinet posts that the politicians are haggling over is the Home
Affairs ministry that controls the police force.

The WOZA spokesperson said the deal is meaningless as there is no sign of
its implementation on the ground. "The very reason that we were
demonstrating today was because in the agreement they make reference to the
humanitarian crisis, to the food crisis, to the welfare of Zimbabweans and
yet absolutely nothing is being done to help people through this horrendous
situation they find themselves in," Sibanda said.

She added: "People are dying, children are dying, electricity and water cuts
are getting worse. People are getting beaten in food queues and some are not
actually surprised that the police continue to arrest and beat people
because we can see everyday that the deal is meaningless in the lives of
ordinary Zimbabweans."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Tsvangirai likely to be sworn in tomorrow


October 16, 2008, 16:15

SABC News has reliably learnt that Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, could be inaugurated as prime minister tomorrow. This comes as
parties are reportedly winding up discussions over the sharing of cabinet

Sources say Zimbabwe's leaders are keen to have former South African
President Thabo Mbeki stay on in the country for another day to attend the
inauguration ceremony.

President Robert Mugabe is reported to have made major concessions to the
Movement for Democratic Change in cabinet sharing negotiations. Mbeki has
been facilitating discussions between the parties to try to save from
collapse a power-sharing deal he brokered last month over the cabinet
sharing standoff.

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Journalists forced out of talks venue

By Lance Guma
16 October 2008

Two journalists covering the ongoing cabinet talks were forced to leave the
Rainbow Towers hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite a power sharing
accord signed in September guaranteeing media freedom, VOA correspondent
Peta Thornycroft and freelance journalist Brian Hungwe were ejected from the
hotel lobby by men claiming to be from the Ministry of Information.
Thornycroft told Newsreel she was waiting for Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert
Mugabe to leave the hotel, just like the other journalists, when a ministry
official asked her if she had accreditation.

'I told them I didn't need to under the amendment to AIPPA of January the
11th. I explained who I was and showed them my ID,' she said. Twenty minutes
later another man came over ordering her to leave the venue. She refused
telling him the hotel was not state property and was a private residence
belonging to the Rainbow Towers. Later on hotel security was summoned and
instructed to ensure Thornycroft's eviction. 'The poor security man from
Rainbow Towers had no idea why he was ordering me out,' she said.

The same happened to Hungwe who was told, 'You are not allowed here,' by a
ministry of information official. On Thursday Thornycroft was back at the
hotel defiantly telling Newsreel, 'I will stand my ground.'

Media watchdog MISA-Zimbabwe condemned what it called the blatant abuse of
office by the government officials and said this was a serious violation of
media freedom and freedom of movement, association and assembly. MISA said
this was particularly worrying given a similar scenario where, 'journalists
were barred from covering a press conference convened by MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at his residence in Harare - because they were not accredited
under AIPPA.' The MDC later apologized for the incident saying there was a
misunderstanding in the security department.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Eyewitness: Police brutality in central Harare

Thursday, 16 October 2008 17:04

On the afternoon of October 15 I was reminded of how brutal the Zimbabwean
police deals with public demonstrations when I witnessed the violent
crushing of a demonstration held by the Zimbabwe National Students Union
(Zinasu), a body that represents students from the country's various
tertiary institutions.

The students had decided to take their demo to the parliament buildings in
Harare's city centre, where parliament had an afternoon sitting before they
where stopped in their tracks by a large contingent of riot police that was
armed to the teeth.

The riot police had disembarked from three police Lorries, armed with button
sticks and teargas canisters.

The riot poilce charged into the crowd of students, beating them, stomping
them, rather, showing no mercy for the unarmed students.

Dispite POSA, the constituion of Zimbabwe guarantees the freedom of
expression, something riot police don't know or just ignore.

The singing students scattered in all directions, running pell mell hoping
to escape the brutal police. Some of the students blended into the crowd
that has assembelled to witness the police madness. Members from the public
stared in disbelief and utter shock as some of the students, who had been
identified by the police, were pulled from amongst them and assaulted before
being ushered into waiting police trucks and taken into custody.

The assult of the students, reminded me of the old days, you know, the
Brakwacha Police beating people and what not during the 60's. I would in
present day Zimbabwe, the police have vast powers that surpass those of the

It was the assault of a certain young woman from the student body that
particularly caught the attention and sympathy of the helpless onlookers.

As the police truck departed after the assaults and arrests, the riot police
broke into song, whose lyrics implied that "if you play around we will beat
you up". I couldn't help but conclude that there were rogue police officers
going beyond protecting Mugabe.

The song irked the public and was clear testimony of the disregard of the
police and their paymasters to human rights, rights that have been violated
since the government took over in 1980 to date.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena later told the Herald that the students
got what they deserved.  In my view, the ZRP should be disbanded, and
replaced with a new police that respects the rights of Zimbabwean citizens.

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Police deny detained students access to lawyers

Thursday, 16 October 2008 09:11

15 October 2008

Police deny detained students access to lawyers

ZIMBABWEAN police have denied the detained Zimbabwe National Students
Union (ZINASU) leaders access to their lawyers.

The police at the Law and Order section at the Harare Central Police
Station where the three student leaders including ZINASU President Clever
Bere and Courage Ngwarai, the students union's legal secretary were detained
have told lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) that
they don't have the students leaders in their cells and yet the human rights
defenders are detained at the notorious police station.

In the meantime ZLHR is drafting an urgent court application citing
the Officer in Charge of Law and Order and the Commissioner-General of the
police to release the students.

The three student leaders were arrested on Tuesday 14 October when
police violently suppressed a demonstration organized by the students body
to protest the collapsing education standards in the country and to pressure
Members of Parliament to prioritise the education crisis in the country in
their deliberations, which began on 14 October 2008.

But heavily armed police descended on the defenceless human rights
defenders' march and arrested ZINASU President Clever Bere and Courage
Ngwarai, the students union's legal secretary. The police who are supposed
to be law enforcement agents injured and arrested several ZINASU members.

ZLHR is enraged by the police's unpardonable actions as they infringe
on the exercise of citizens' constitutionally guaranteed and recognized
fundamental rights and freedoms, namely of expression and assembly.

The crackdown and the arrests of the ZINASU members undermines the
right to peaceful association and assembly in Zimbabwe as provided for in
the constitution.

ZLHR outrightly condemns the flagrant disregard of fundamental rights,
and the police brutality

We are extremely concerned at the actions of the police and the
unlawful obstruction by officers at the Law and Order section to legal

ZLHR condemns this conduct by the police and reminds them that their
role is the protection not the oppression of the people of Zimbabwe. Police
should uphold the following internationally acceptable standards of
treatment of untried prisoners as prescribed in the Standard Minimum Rules
for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted Aug. 30, 1955 by the First United
Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders:

(a) For the purposes of his defence, an untried prisoner shall be
Allowed to receive visits from his legal adviser with a view to
his defence and to prepare and hand to him confidential

(b) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the
hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and
strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.

(c) An untried prisoner shall be allowed to be visited and treated by
his own doctor or dentist if there is reasonable ground for his
application and he is able to pay any expenses incurred.

For more enquiries and comments please contact

Kumbirai Mafunda
Communications Officer
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
6th Floor Beverley Court
100 Nelson Mandela Av

Tel: 04 251468
Mobile: 011 582 793

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ZLHR Honoured For Promoting Democracy

HARARE, October 16 2008 - Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
have won the prestigious Rights and Democracy's 2008 John Humphrey Freedom
Award for their courageous efforts and commitment to the strengthening and
promotion of human rights and democratic development in Zimbabwe.

ZLHR, which was nominated for the award by the Canadian Embassy in
Harare, was selected from an impressive field of 97 nominees.

The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development,
commonly known as Rights & Democracy, heaped praise on ZLHR for playing a
leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights across Zimbabwe
since its founding twelve years ago.

"Guided by a professional commitment to the rule of law and Zimbabwe's
international human rights obligations, ZLHR provides essential services
ranging from legal support for victims of state-endorsed persecution to
public education and human rights training for activists and civil society
organizations working at the community level," Rights and Democracy said in
a statement.

"Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights provides a vital democratic
lifeline for those who would otherwise have no recourse against
state-sponsored abuse and persecution. Its determined, non-violent struggle
against impunity and repression reminds us that, in the end, tyranny is no
match for human dignity and the rule of law," said Janice Stein, the
Chairperson of Rights & Democracy's Board of Directors.

ZLHR executive director Irene Petras paid tribute to the heroic
tenacity of the project's lawyers and underscored that charges brought
against most human rights defenders have been dropped in most cases.

rights defenders have been dropped in most cases.

"Prosecution is used as a tool of persecution," said Petras.

For over ten years ZLHR has worked tirelessly and fearlessly to
advance democratic principles, and has taken on the dangerous task of
providing legal representation to persecuted human rights and democracy

The annual award established in 1992 by Rights & Democracy to honour
an organization or individual for exceptional commitment to the promotion of
international human rights and democratic development, is named in honour of
John Peters Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who prepared the
first draft of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It includes a $30
000 grant and a speaking tour of Canadian cities to help increase awareness
of the recipient's human rights work.

Although specific dates and venues are yet to be confirmed, the tour
usually takes place during the last weeks of November and the first week of
December. The awards ceremony is held every year on December 10th, to
coincide with the anniversary date of the adoption of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.

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People in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland going hungry, says charity

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008, 15:59 (BST)

Ninety-eight per cent of households in Zimbabwe's drought prone Matabeleland
South province will spend World Food Day hungry, according to international
relief and development agency World Vision.

The agency, which is providing food and nutritional support to more than
720,000 people during the peak of the hungry season between now and January,
said Zimbabwe is facing a countrywide food crisis that is affecting both
rural and urban households.

World Vision is also working with children under five who are severely
malnourished providing nutritional care which enables them to stay in their
homes and receive nutritional supplements within their own community. The
agency is training community members to identify early signs of malnutrition
and training local health workers in nutritional care.

World Vision Zimbabwe's Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director, Daniel
Muchena said: "We have scaled up relief efforts to curb hunger due to
increased vulnerability in households in food insecure districts.
Communities have exhausted their coping mechanisms and have resorted to
barter trading their livestock for grain. In some areas, the most vulnerable
households are relying on wild fruits for survival."

Forty-five-year-old Tsidi Mokoena, a mother of seven, is awaiting
registration with a feeding programme in Gwanda District, Matabeleland.

"Due to the chronic food shortages we are experiencing because of very poor
harvests, we have resorted to eating one meal a day," she said.

"This is not good for the children, but I have no choice as a mother but to
ration the little I have to ensure that there is something for the younger
children to eat.

"To survive until now, I have been exchanging one goat for a 20kg bucket of
maize grain from traders from Gwanda town. In July I had seven goats, but
now I am left with only three. I am afraid of what my children will eat when
I trade off the last goat.

"Despite the fact my livelihood depends on a vegetable garden, I can neither
grow enough food for my family or raise the exorbitant R300 (£17) that 50kg
maize meal is sold for by local wealthy shop owners who import it from South

Tsidi's 11-year-old daughter Tapelo, who is in Grade Six at a local school
in Gungwe village, said: "I only get to eat to my fill at school where there
is a schools-based feeding programme. This makes me eager to go to school
every day and I dread the weekends because it is a time when I feel faint
because of hunger. Hunger feels like a big hole in my stomach that only gets
filled when I get to eat food at school."

Around 2.1 million Zimbabweans are currently in need of food . This figure
will rise to 5.1 million in early January. World Vision, through the
USAID-funded consortium for Southern Africa Food Emergency (C-SAFE), the
World Food Program (WFP) and the European Union, is implementing a diverse
food relief programme targeting vulnerable groups through Schools Based
Feeding, Food Support for the Chronically ill, Institutional Feeding, Safety
Net Feeding and Food For Assets interventions.

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EU pledges massive food aid for Zimbabwe

The European Union has promised to award emergency food aid worth €15
million (£11.7 million) to feed hungry and starving Zimbabweans facing one
of the worst humanitarian crises of the last decade.

In a statement to mark World Food Day, the European Commission said it "had
adopted a new emergency funding decision for food assistance in Africa aimed
at saving lives and relieving suffering in one the worst vulnerable

Zimbabwe is set to receive €15 million (£11.7 million), making it one of the
five largest recipients of Commission food assistance which include Sudan
(€86 million), the Palestinian Territories (€40.36 million), Ethiopia (€32.5
million) and Somalia (€27 million).

"World Food Day is a chance to remember that the current food crisis has
even more dramatic consequences, putting the very lives of millions at
risk," Louis Michel, European commissioner for development and humanitarian
Aid said.

"In some parts of the world, a major catastrophe is brewing because growing
numbers of people don't have enough food to survive.

"The commission has responded to these urgent needs by dramatically
increasing its food assistance to the most vulnerable."

Zimbabwe is in its eighth year of gripping food shortages, with
international food monitoring agencies saying over three million people face
starvation because of food shortages in the country.

Food shortages in Zimbabwe set in 2000 following the chaotic land reform
programme that saw landless black citizens take over prime farming land from
white commercial farmers, resulting in agricultural plummeting to low levels
since they had no farming expertise.

Since then, the nation has survived on food imports and food handouts from
food aid agencies that president Robert Mugabe blames for using food as bait
against starving Zimbabweans to rebel against him.

Mr Mugabe has defended the land reform programme saying it was necessary to
right the wrongs of the colonial past. He blames food shortages on droughts
while experts cite poor planning on the part of government ahead of each and
every farming season.
© Adfero Ltd
16 October 2008 17:55 GMT

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A need to knock heads together

Oct 16th 2008
From The Economist print edition

South Africa's new leaders must step into the ring

MORE than a month after Robert Mugabe agreed to share power with Morgan
Tsvangirai, the pair have yet to start governing together to rescue Zimbabwe
from its rapidly deepening misery. As The Economist went to press, there
were hopes once more of a breakthrough in the negotiations. But Thabo Mbeki,
who oversaw the original agreement, is no longer South Africa's president
and has lost the heft he needs to persuade Mr Mugabe to implement it. In any
event Mr Mbeki should step down as mediator and give way to Jacob Zuma,
South Africa's probable next president. And if Mr Zuma is unable or
unwilling to take on the job, the UN's former secretary-general, Kofi Annan,
a proven negotiator, should be asked in to break the stalemate.

Mr Mugabe has been stalling, perhaps in the hope of wriggling out of the
deal altogether. Within days of signing it, he flew off with a vast
entourage to rant against "imperialists" at the UN in New York, without the
slightest indication that anything had changed back home. Since then, he has
breached a plain understanding that the two men (and a small third party)
would share out the main ministries in an equitable manner. Most recently,
he has unilaterally handed his own party virtually all the portfolios with
real clout, including those that run the army, the police, the courts,
foreign affairs, the mines, the state-owned media, local government and land
resettlement. His spokesman has hinted, presumably as a prelude to offering
a concession, that the finance ministry-a poisoned chalice if ever there was
one, since inflation is running officially at 231m% and unofficially in the
billions-may be open to discussion. The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change is rightly refusing to be tricked into playing second fiddle.

You thought it couldn't get worse
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is dying. It is hard to imagine the misery worsening,
yet it is. The currency is worthless. Swathes of public-sector workers are
no longer getting paid enough even to buy a few loaves of bread a month;
many are not getting paid at all. More than 80% of the people are thought to
have no job, beyond subsistence and barter. Some 3m in a population of
around 12m have fled abroad. Harrowing reports are filtering out that people
are starting to die of starvation. More than 1.4m are suffering from
HIV/AIDS. The UN's World Food Programme is trying to keep 2m people alive
with food handouts but says that another 3m may need feeding by early next
year if mass starvation is to be averted. Mr Mugabe's thugs are still
beating and sometimes killing supposed backers of Mr Tsvangirai. The handful
of white farmers left on the land is still being harassed. Some of Mr
Tsvangirai's closest colleagues still face bogus charges, including treason;
the state media peddle packs of lies; foreign reporters cannot visit freely;
many foreign charities are unable to operate.

One of the manifold defects of the power-sharing agreement orchestrated by
Mr Mbeki last month is that it lacks both a strong arbitrating mechanism and
a strong mediator to implement the deal and knock the parties' heads
together when things get stuck. The Southern African Development Community
(SADC), the 14-country club that has tried to break Zimbabwe's impasse,
reappointed Mr Mbeki as chief "facilitator" after the deal was struck,
though his stature has shrivelled since he lost the presidency of his own
country last month.

Find a new head-banger
That is why it is time for Mr Zuma, head of South Africa's ruling African
National Congress (ANC), to displace Mr Mbeki as mediator. Apart from being
the coming man in South Africa, he is by nature a more forceful figure. He
did a fine job making peace between the ANC and his fellow Zulus after
apartheid ended. He would be a lot readier than Mr Mbeki ever was to twist
Mr Mugabe's arm. True, the SADC recently renewed Mr Mbeki's mandate, but
there is no fixed-term contract; it should quietly press him to step down
with good grace.

Mr Zuma may plead that he is too busy trying to heal divisions in the ANC
after its own recent internecine battles. In that case the SADC, backed by
the African Union, should call on Mr Annan, the experienced Ghanaian who,
after running the UN for ten years, managed to cajole Kenya's warring
parties into a power-sharing compromise early this year. He has several of
the qualities that Mr Mbeki so manifestly lacks, in particular an
unwillingness to be pushed around by a clever 84-year-old who refuses to
accept that his time is up.

Mr Mugabe, of course, may well seek to reject the good offices of either Mr
Zuma or Mr Annan. But as his country descends even deeper into chaos, his
ability to pick and choose his mediators is shrinking fast. And Zimbabweans
now desperately need a stronger one than Mr Mbeki.

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Economic Package Being Crafted For New Government

By Stanley Kwenda

HARARE, Oct 16 (IPS) - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is
mobilising economic aid for its troubled member state Zimbabwe. The economic
aid package is part of efforts by the region to help bolster the faltering
political deal, widely regarded as the initial phase towards the recovery of
Zimbabwe's wretched economy.

Southern African leaders, who came to Harare last month to witness the
signing of the power sharing agreement, have tasked the SADC Secretariat
with the crafting of an economic package for Zimbabwe.

SADC Executive Secretary General, Tomáz Augusto Salomão, who was also in
Harare for the signing ceremony and has been involved in efforts to
resuscitate the country's economy, told IPS that his office has been working
on an economic blue print for Zimbabwe since 2005.

''We are working on a package to help finance the recovery of the Zimbabwean
economy. The signing of the political settlement augurs well for this
programme. We hope the political conditions in the country will improve and
help the quick implementation of this programme,'' Salomão expounded.

His office has conducted studies of the Zimbabwean economy and will now be
adding new elements of the political agreement into the final blueprint.
''There is no doubt that the signing of the deal will provide that
much-needed momentum for us to kick-start the economy of Zimbabwe.

''We have put in place a fund to help finance the recovery of the Zimbabwean
economy. We have looked at its policies, the central bank, agricultural
sector, monetary policy and exchange rate determinants,'' said Salomão.

Asked about the amount of money and the conditions that might come with the
package, he said, ''that's an issue for the SADC leaders to determine''.

He did not give any timeline for the implementation of the financial
package, only saying that it will depend on the political deal.

Article three of the Zimbabwe power sharing agreement addresses economic
issues. It talks about issues to do with the restoration of economic
stability and growth. Since 2000, when the Zimbabwean government embarked on
farm invasions, the country's economy started plummeting, the currency lost
value and the country became one of the worst countries to do business in.

The negotiating parties agreed to give priority to the restoration of
economic stability and growth in Zimbabwe; to work on an agricultural
recovery plan; to establish a national economic council which will be made
up of representatives of all sectors of the country; and to endorse the SADC
resolution on the country's economy which flows from the SADC Secretariat's

Several SADC leaders have spoken of the urgent need to put together
resources for Zimbabwe. South Africa has been leading the efforts, with its
former president Thabo Mbeki having already put into motion an agricultural
plan for the 2008 to 2009 farming season.

That country's treasury, agriculture and foreign affairs departments have
been working on acquiring farming inputs and implements for Zimbabwe before
the start of the agricultural season.

Although Zimbabwean farmers have already started receiving seed maize and
fertilizer as a result of this intervention it is not yet clear if the new
South African administration under president Kgalema Motlanthe, which has
been critical of President Robert Mugabe, will take over from where Mbeki's
administration left.

Meanwhile other international funding institutions such as the Bretton Woods
institutions have expressed interest in engaging the new government of
Zimbabwe as long as it shows commitment to economic reforms.

The European Union, a key funder of many humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe,
has announced that it will provide 10 million euros in humanitarian aid to
the country.

Brussels said the funds, following the signing of the power-sharing deal
between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, will be used mainly
to assist in the provision of clean water, health and sanitation
requirements for the most vulnerable population groups.

European commissioner for development and humanitarian aid Louis Michel
said: ''The EU's humanitarian assistance is neutral and impartial and not an
instrument of politics. I expect all restrictions on humanitarian operations
to be totally lifted as a result of the recent political settlement.''

The aid is on top of 15 million Euros in food aid already made available to
the country this year.

The EU has welcomed Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal but has said it wants to
see how Mugabe and Tsvangirai implement the deal on the ground before it can
commit itself to providing more significant aid for the rebuilding of the
southern African country's collapsed economy.

Brussels said targeted visa and financial sanctions imposed on Mugabe and
his government officials six years ago will remain in place for now until
they show genuine commitment to building a stable and democratic country.

Although some of the financial aid seems to be coming with strings attached,
it seems to be trickling down. The Zimbabwean government has already
announced that it has secured 80 million dollars for maize and fuel imports
from African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Afreximbank is a multilateral financial institution whose main objective is
to facilitate, promote and expand intra and extra African trade.

Some analysts however believe that it will take more than just donations for
the economy to start ticking again.

''Optimists believe that when the politics normalise, Zimbabwe will revert
seamlessly to the mostly unsuccessful growth path of the 1990s. That is
wrong,'' Harare-based economist Tony Hawkins, a professor at the Graduate
School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe, said at a meeting in
Pretoria, South Africa last month.

He also stressed that international donors would not support a new
government in which Mugabe or the ruling ZANU PF still had a big say in
policy. Mugabe's government is accused of having destroyed Zimbabwe
economically in its bid to hold onto power.

According to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe figures, the country's external debt
was estimated to be at 4.8 billion dollars in 2007, while domestic debt has
also been rising. (END/2008)

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War Veterans Block Donation

Thursday, 16 October 2008 12:19

War Veterans Block Donation

HARARE, October 16 2008 - War Veterans and police last week prevented
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from distributing food
to starving orphans in Nyanga in Manicaland province, saying the assistance
was not sanctioned by government.

MDC Manicaland provincial social welfare officer, Llyod Mahute, said
the MDC was distributing food to vulnerable households at Ruwangwe Business
Centre in Nyanga when armed police officers and war veterans, wearing Zanu
PF T-shirts, ordered the hungry villagers to disperse or risk being

"They came in a truck and were very vicious. They said we had not been
given permission to distribute aid to the starving villagers. The villagers
tried to resist but the officers were adamant and they had to disperse on
empty stomachs," said Mahute.

He said the party had sourced the food from charitable organizations
for distribution to about 500 vulnerable households in Nyanga, mostly child
headed families. The party had sourced over 10 tonnes of assorted food which
included maize meal, cooking oil, salt, sugar beans and kapenta fish.

Mahute said the MDC had started assisting vulnerable families in the
province after noticing that most of them, particularly child headed
families were going for days without proper meals.

"To be honest, people here are surviving on wild fruits. They are
surviving on matamba, matonhwe, hacha and masekesa. Zanu PF is playing with
lives of people," said Mahute.

Efforts by the opposition party to assist starving Zimbabweans come
soon after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai toured the countryside assessing
food requirements in the country.

It was widely hoped that the signing of the power sharing deal on
15 by Zanu PF and MDC would improve the operations of NGOs.

However, most NGOs have not started operating, as the government has
tightened its grip on their operations despite lifting a ban on aid agencies
in the country.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) recently urged donors to make
available USd 140 million in emergency food aid for Zimbabwe where nearly
half of the country's 12 million people face hunger in the coming months.

According to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation/WFP crop
and food supply assessment mission, more than two million people were
already in need of assistance and this number would rise to 5.1 million by
early next year.

Humanitarian organisations have implored the government to declare the
current situation in the country - particularly in the two Matabeleland
regions - a national disaster to speed up the allocation of food to needy
communities.  War Veterans Block Donation
HARARE, October 16 2008 - War Veterans and police last week prevented
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from distributing food
to starving orphans in Nyanga in Manicaland province, saying the assistance
was not sanctioned by government.

MDC Manicaland provincial social welfare officer, Llyod Mahute, said
the MDC was distributing food to vulnerable households at Ruwangwe Business
Centre in Nyanga when armed police officers and war veterans, wearing Zanu
PF T-shirts, ordered the hungry villagers to disperse or risk being

"They came in a truck and were very vicious. They said we had not been
given permission to distribute aid to the starving villagers. The villagers
tried to resist but the officers were adamant and they had to disperse on
empty stomachs," said Mahute.

He said the party had sourced the food from charitable organizations
for distribution to about 500 vulnerable households in Nyanga, mostly child
headed families. The party had sourced over 10 tonnes of assorted food which
included maize meal, cooking oil, salt, sugar beans and kapenta fish.

Mahute said the MDC had started assisting vulnerable families in the
province after noticing that most of them, particularly child headed
families were going for days without proper meals.

"To be honest, people here are surviving on wild fruits. They are
surviving on matamba, matonhwe, hacha and masekesa. Zanu PF is playing with
lives of people," said Mahute.

Efforts by the opposition party to assist starving Zimbabweans come
soon after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai toured the countryside assessing
food requirements in the country.

It was widely hoped that the signing of the power sharing deal on
15 by Zanu PF and MDC would improve the operations of NGOs.

However, most NGOs have not started operating, as the government has
tightened its grip on their operations despite lifting a ban on aid agencies
in the country.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) recently urged donors to make
available USd 140 million in emergency food aid for Zimbabwe where nearly
half of the country's 12 million people face hunger in the coming months.

According to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation/WFP crop
and food supply assessment mission, more than two million people were
already in need of assistance and this number would rise to 5.1 million by
early next year.

Humanitarian organisations have implored the government to declare the
current situation in the country - particularly in the two Matabeleland
regions - a national disaster to speed up the allocation of food to needy

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All aboard for a 2,500km shopping trip

Photo: Antony Kaminju/IRIN
Empty shelves
HARARE, 16 October 2008 (IRIN) - The bus route between South Africa, the continent's largest economy, and Zimbabwe, the world's fastest shrinking economy outside of a war zone, is a crucial lifeline for people faced with increasing food insecurity.

The UN estimates that in the first quarter of 2009 more than five million people, or nearly half Zimbabwe's population, will require food assistance, and shortages of basic foods are forcing people to buy in neighbouring countries.

Thousands of buses and private vehicles depart daily from various centres in Zimbabwe on shopping trips to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi to buy basic commodities for consumption or resale.

An IRIN correspondent travelled from the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, to South Africa's economic hub, Johannesburg, and boarded a battered bus in time to hear the conductor asking a passenger to offer prayers for a safe journey and an end to Zimbabwe's political crisis.

"We pray that our political leaders do not become selfish during the ongoing power-sharing talks, and that they should put the welfare of ordinary people first," said the passenger leading the prayers.

On 15 September rival Zimbabwean political parties signed a power-sharing deal, but the talks soon deadlocked over the allocation of cabinet posts.

The point of departure in Harare, known as Roadport, is frequented by illegal currency dealers and criminals waiting for passengers returning from their cross-border shopping trips.

The outward-bound passengers on the nearly 2,500km round trip to Johannesburg carry an array of empty bags that will be bulging with goods unavailable in Zimbabwe on the return journey.

The shortages are reflected in the passengers' food for the trip; a few people nibble on snacks and at a stop in Masvingo, 300km south of Harare, no one buys refreshments, even though the bus crew are given a free lunch if they bring in customers.

Cold reception

At Beitbridge, the border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the passengers are goaded and taunted by South African immigration officials.

"Go back to your [President Robert] Mugabe and tell him to retire from power. He has been in power for too long and is a disgrace to Southern Africa. Now you are coming to South Africa to loot all our food because you cannot deal with your dictator," one immigration official said.

''Go back to your [President Robert] Mugabe and tell him to retire from power. He has been in power too long and is a disgrace to Southern Africa. Now you are coming to South Africa to loot all our food''
After a few hours spent clearing immigration, the bus stops at the South African border town of Musina and the passengers stampede to the nearest supermarkets.

Thick wads of South African rands are brandished, the proceeds from informal trade or remittances to family and friends from the more than three million Zimbabweans thought to have left the country - where the unemployment rate has topped 80 percent in recent years - in search of work.

Meat pies, bread, sweets, biscuits and juices fly off the shelves as the parched and hungry travellers rush to buy rare items unavailable at home.

Shopping begins in earnest at Johannesburg's Park Station, and the once-empty bags are bulging when the passengers return to the terminus. When the bus trailer is full, bags, boxes and assorted other containers are squeezed into every available space on the bus and along the corridor.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, cross-border shoppers and traders are spending nearly US1 billion annually on groceries and household necessities in neighbouring countries.

The returning bus looks like a mobile supermarket carrying everything from medicines, eggs, vegetables, meat, butter, sweets, rice and maize-meal - the staple food - to blankets, fridges, stoves, motor spare parts and stationery.

Panic buying

At the final stop before re-entering Zimbabwe there is one last buying spree, as the passengers realise they are returning to a country that is now characterised by empty shop shelves and a sense of panic sets in.

''I am single parent and economic hardships have forced me to engage in this kind of work''
One of the passengers, Immaculate Gushu, told IRIN she had spent more than a month in the Lesotho capital of Maseru, where she sold an assortment of Zimbabwean goods, such as crotchet ware and wood carvings, and had used the profits to buy groceries for her family. "I am a single parent and economic hardships have forced me to engage in this kind of work," she said.

Memory Shumba, a 70-year-old grandmother, said she was forced to engage in cross-border trade because all her children had died from AIDS-related illnesses. "I sell commodities in South Africa, and sometimes I have problems getting my money from some of the clients who refuse to pay. I look after 14 orphans, as my children and their spouses have died of 'today's disease' [HIV/AIDS]. If I don't work hard, they will all starve to death."

Those who have been trading in South Africa for longer periods are curious to know about developments in their home country. "Is it true that there is yet another currency [denomination] in circulation? Have the political parties agreed on a way forward? Have shops started selling seed and fertiliser?"

On arrival at the Harare bus depot, the passengers are met with unconcealed joy by friends and relatives eager to know if their favourite foods have been bought. 


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Zimbabwe's education in much deeper crisis

afrol News, 16 October - Once thriving and continetal best, Zimbabwean
education is said to be drowing faster than country's economy.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has today called for urgent action
to address Zimbabwe's education system, which is said to be suffering due to
a combination of low salaries, poor attendance by both teachers and
students, and transport and food problems.

UNICEF reports that routine monitoring visits in recent weeks found that
with national exams looming, some 40 per cent of country's teachers were
attending lessons, a third of pupils were reporting for classes and that
district education officers were ill equipped to run national exams.

"The current education crisis has crippled schools across the country
leaving most school operating way below capacity and the sector in an
apparent state of emergency," agency said in a news release.

UNICEF Representative Roeland Monasch noted that between a two-month
teachers strike, limited learning materials, political violence and
displacement, Zimbabwe's children have lost a whole year of schooling.

"The depletion of teachers in schools, transport and food problems faced by
the remaining teachers and lack of resources have left the sector tottering
on the brink of collapse," he stated.

UNICEF observed that southern African nation's education system had once
been the best on continent, but a decrease in public funding, coupled with
soaring school fees, lack of teachers and low morale owing to inadequate
salaries have created tremendous challenges.

"Education remains the engine to drive Zimbabwe's long-term prospects. It is
critical that the sector is not left to collapse, enduring solutions on
salaries, food and working conditions should be reached soon, the monitoring
visits should be beefed up, the situation in schools require urgent action,"
said Mr Monasch.

"Zimbabwe's children are already suffering on multiple fronts, denying them
an education to better their prospects is unacceptable," he added.

UNICEF, which already provides support to Zimbabwe's ministry of education,
sport and culture, has commited it's readyness to assisting government in
improving current situation, but owing to stabilisation in country's
politics as well as putting back in place sound policies.

Over last two years, agency has invested an estimated $12 million in the
education sector, including through construction and furnishing of
classrooms, provision of text books to primary schools, teacher training and
setting up of sanitation facilities in rural schools. It also pays school
fees for 150,000 orphaned and vulnerable children.

By staff writer

© afrol News

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Police seek former minister over fraud

October 16, 2008

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Former ZANU-PF Gutu South legislator Shuvai Mahofa is wanted by
the police in connection with fraud and corruption after she allegedly used
her influence to obtain several tonnes of maize from the Grain Marketing
Board GMB.

She allegedly sold the maize on the black market, thus denying thousands of
starving villagers access to their staple food.

Mahofa who lost the election in March to Eliphas Mukonoweshuro of the
Movement for Democratic Change has allegedly been evading the police since
last week, leaving the law enforcement agents with no option but to place
her name on the police wanted list.

Police in Masvingo yesterday confirmed that they were on the hunt for the
former deputy minister, following a report which was made by villagers from
Gutu South.

The officer commanding Masvingo Assistant Commissioner Mekia Tanyanyiwa said
they wanted Mahofa for questioning in connection with fraud and corruption
which she allegedly committed at Gutu-Mpandawana GMB depot.

"We want to question the former MP on allegations of fraud and corruption
involving several tonnes of maize which she fraudulently obtained from the
GMB on the pretext that it was meant for starving villagers", said

"Our investigations have revealed that she instead converted the whole
consignment to her own use, selling it on the black market".

Other sources in the police told The Zimbabwe Times Thursday that Mahofa
allegedly horded about 100 tonnes of the scarce commodity from the GMB which
she later sold on the black market.

Mahofa first rose to prominence back in the 1980's when The Chronicle
serialised fascinating details of her controversy-ridden love-life at
Gutu-Mupandawana. In total defiance of such adverse publicity, Mahofa rose
to become Deputy Minister for Youth Development, Gender and Employment.

Amid the current severe shortage of food in the country some senior
government officials have used their influence to obtain the scarce
commodity which they sell on the black market, disadvantaging thousands of
starving villagers in the countryside.

In Masvingo Province alone about 10 people, including a GMB depot manager in
Chivi and a captain in the army attached to the government's food task force
have so far been arrested in connection with the maize scandal.

This is not the first time that the scandal-prone former Gutu South
legislator has gone the laws of the country.

In 2003 Mahofa appeared in court charged with corruption involving maize
which she again allegedly fraudulently obtained from the GMB.

The charges were dropped following the death of key witnesses.

In the same year Mahofa's name was linked to the murder of a war veteran
from Lothian farm following a land dispute.

The body of the late war veteran was dumped at Mahofa's house at Mpandawana
growth point as relatives of deceased refused to bury the body unless
compensation was paid.

Mahofa's son, Ben, and three Zanu PF supporters were convicted and sentenced
to prison terms for the murder of Amos Maseva in a dispute over a farm-house
at the height of the land invasions.

The dispute had pitted the late Maseva against Shuvai Mahofa's daughter,
Peritta Masendeke.

The case made headlines when relatives of the deceased refused to bury him
and dumped demanding compensation of $2 million and 40 head of cattle from
Shuvai Mahofa.

They only buried Maseva after heeding calls from the late Vice President
Simon Muzenda, who promised to negotiate the compensation claim. Mahofa,
however, never paid the compensation. Muzenda was the political patron of

The former deputy minister was never charged with murder after it emerged
that she was not present when the offence was committed although it was
established that she had, indeed, hired people to assault the deceased.

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Water Wars Hit Rural Zimbabwe

By Ignatius Banda

PLUMTREE, Oct 16 (IPS) - When water experts warned at the turn of the
millennium that soon wars will be fought not over oil anymore but over
water, little did Zimbabweans know that they would be some of the first
people affected by this dire prediction.

There is increasing competition for water due to a combination of numerous
environmental and political factors, including climate change, poor local
planning and lack of adequate financial and material resources to bring
running water to poor communities.

In rural Zimbabwe, lack of clean water has become a reality for many
communities, in addition to other hardships, such as food shortages,
insufficient health services and lack of sanitation.

Poor rains and government's failure to provide adequate resources to reduce
water scarcity -- including skilled water experts, fuel for field
technicians to reach remote areas, drilling machines to make boreholes and
water purification chemicals -- have worsened water woes.

After president Robert Mugabe embarked on a violent land reform programme,
expropriating white-owned commercial farms in 2000, new farm owners have
done little to maintain the infrastructure and facilities they inherited
when taking over farms, including water systems and irrigation dams.

According to Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a unit set up by the Commercial
Farmers of Zimbabwe (CFZ), an organisation that represents the legal
interests of dispossessed farmers, wells have dried up throughout the
country and no efforts have been made to drill more boreholes to provide
water to both humans and livestock.

This is particularly significant since such infrastructure used to provide
water for the surrounding communities as well as the farms.


For one rural community, buried deep in the tropical forests between two
southern African countries, Zimbabwe and Botswana, the water plight has been
particularly harsh when their main water source, a river running between the
two countries, almost dried up.

In Plumtree, a poor, drought-prone rural community located about 160
kilometres southwest of Zimbabwe,s second largest city, Bulawayo, a hostile
fight has broken out between neighbouring communities around access to the
few remaining water sources.

The Ramakgoebana River has become a major source of conflict for villagers
from both sides of the border, Thabiso Mkwena, a 36-year-old man who lives
in Tshitshi, near Plumtree, told IPS. "This is a dry area and we have to
walk for many kilometres to the fast-drying river. This has led to disputes
with villagers from the other side of the river who are accusing us of
finishing the water," said Mkwena.

He said residents from the Botswana side of the river have claimed parts of
the river as their own, threatening those from the Zimbabwean side with
assault if they come to fetch water.

What has heightened tensions even further, Mkwena explained, is that out of
desperation, villagers have started to bring their livestock to drink from
the river too, as there is no alternative water source for animals.

"The Batswana say we must not bring our livestock here, but we cannot let
our cattle die in this heat," Mkwena said.

Letting livestock drink from the same water source as humans has exposed
locals to a number of water-borne diseases. Earlier this year, medical staff
at the public hospital in Plumtree reported an outbreak of diarrhoea caused
by contaminated drinking water.

In Plumtree, not only the river has dried up. Water provision inside the
village is scarce as well. As a result, residents are increasingly reluctant
to share the little water they have.

"Even here within the village, where people rely on small springs for their
water (supply), some have claimed these as their territories, forcing others
to walk long distances in search for water," said Themba Gampu, a
33-year-old villager.

Missing water MDG

Zimbabwe committed itself to meeting the United Nations Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), one of which seeks to provide safe drinking water
and sanitation to at least two thirds of its population by 2015, but it is
unlikely that government will reach this target.

Although worst in rural areas, water shortages affect the entire country.
According to residents associations Combined Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) and Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA), urban
residents have to live with irregular supply of clean drinking water.

In Bulawayo, for example, residents say they go for up to two days without
running water, and when the taps are turned back on, the water is not safe
to drink because it has not been purified.

To improve this situation, government officials signed an agreement with the
United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO), the
Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Institute of Water and Sanitation
Development in May to mobilise funds to supply clean water and sanitation in
a country faced by drastic economic recession.

Judith Kateera, permanent secretary for Economic Development in the national
Ministry of Environment and Tourism, said the agreement is part of
government efforts to "resuscitate water and sanitation institutions
countrywide". But five months later, the agreement is yet to be implemented.

James Fuyane, chief water technician at the Plumtree Rural District Council,
told IPS that poor water management was mainly caused by lack of financial
resources and management.

"We are a council in transition after the elections (of March 2008), and it
has become difficult to know who is in charge of what," he says. "We have
stopped the maintenance of the few boreholes and water treatment plants in
remote areas as we await budget approval."

With government officials like Fuyane unable to help, villagers do not know
who to turn to for assistance and have resigned themselves to placing their
hopes on the weather.

"We have learnt to live like this," Mkwena said. "We look forward to the
coming of the rain and pray that animals also have enough water to drink."

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Activists Say Cholera Due to Failed Leadership

By Ephraim Nsingo

HARARE, Oct 16 (IPS) - "In my nine years as a nurse, I have never been so
devastated. You know how discouraging it is to see people dying before your
eyes. And you know very well there is nothing you can do to help them."

These were the words of Caroline Chabuda*, a nurse at Seke North Clinic in
Chitungwiza, a satellite town about 30 km south of Harare. The clinic was
recently set aside to attend only to cholera cases following a local
outbreak of the disease a few months ago. But because of a shortage of key
medication, many patients admitted at the clinic have died.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health indicate that 16 people died of
cholera countrywide in September. Chitungwiza residents, medical experts and
human rights activists believe the figure is much higher than that. They
also accuse the Ministry of Health and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA) of ignoring the plight of residents.

"The government and ZINWA are responsible for all this," said Tapiwa Muronzi
of St Mary's suburb in Chitungwiza, whose younger brother Carlos died of
cholera three weeks ago. Muronzi believes the government has done too
little, too late.

"They are only acting now when people are already dying," said a sobbing
Muronzi. "We all know that cholera, although it is a very dangerous disease,
can be prevented. The authorities neglected us when we needed them most. Why
wait until there are buried corpses? These people (government) do not care
about our plight. We have been without water for four months now, but ZINWA
continue to charge us exorbitant rates."

Muronzi's mother, Ambuya Clara Muronzi, 58, had no kind words for staff at
the clinic. "He could have survived, if they had given him care. They
neglected him but now they are demanding lots of money for doing nothing,"
she said.

But Chabuda believes there is nothing they could have done to avert the

"We have a great challenge of a shortage of experienced staff, people who
really know how to handle such cases. Cholera is not like any other
disease," said Chabuda.

"Cholera is a very sensitive and contagious disease. It needs to be handled
by highly-qualified medical personnel. Most of the nurses we have at the
clinic are still young and inexperienced. The youngsters are so ignorant. We
cannot risk patients' lives by letting them attend to (cholera victims)."
said Chabuda.

While Chabuda was talking to this reporter, patients, mostly children, could
be seen writhing in agony on the floors. The few nurses who were present
appeared to be struggling to attend to them. Among other things, the nurses
gave them dehydration salts and aqua tablets, for use in drinking water.

"We do not have some key medicines, this is what we can do under the
circumstances," said another nurse, who identified herself only as Caroline.

Cholera linked to wider problems

With Chitungwiza hosting this year's national commemorations of the Stand Up
and Speak Out Against Poverty Campaign, the wider failures that have led to
the outbreak will be brought to the fore.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), which also covers
Chitungwiza, says some areas of the city have been without a reliable water
supply for years.

In a statement, CHRA said: "The water and sewer management problems have
seen some residential areas going for years, months and weeks without water
and unattended sewer bursts respectively. The shortage of water dictates
that residents fetch water from unprotected sources thus diseases like
cholera breed easily. CHRA has so far received countless cases of cholera
and diarrhea."

The organisation says the authorities should "stop burying their heads in
the sand and attend to the governance stalemate as a matter of urgency".

Human rights activists have lambasted the government for neglecting
residents, which they said is "criminal".

"The government should treat the health sector like they are doing
agriculture," said Itai Rusike, the director of the Community Working Group
on Health (CWGH) - a Harare based non-governmental organization that
pressures government on health issues. The government has for the past two
years been providing agricultural inputs free of charge under the farm
mechanisation programme.

He added that the government's official figures for cholera deaths were
"very under-represented".

Acknowledging that ZINWA has not maintained regular supplies of potable
water to Chitungwiza, spokesperson Tsungirirai Shoriwa, said the company was
not responsible for the outbreak of cholera in Chitungwiza, saying the
state-owned utility was doing the best it can despite a shortage of
necessary materials.

"We do not give people untreated water, it would be a crime for us to do so.
If we do not have the chemicals to treat water, we do not supply the water.
ZINWA has never advised people to boil wate,r because according to us it is
clean," said Shoriwa.

He insisted ZINWA was not supplying dirty water that had contributed to the
outbreak of cholera.

"It would be unfair for people to blame ZINWA for the people who are dying
of cholera in Chitungwiza. As far as we are concerned, our water is clean.
You should be aware there are many factors that have contributed to the
spread of cholera such as the eating dirty food."

ZINWA took over water management in the urban centres from most local
authorities last year. This resulted in a chorus of complaints from human
rights activists and some politicians, who believe the government-run
company does not have the capacity to manage urban water.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Zimbabwe Doctors for
Human Rights have described the cholera outbreak as an indication of "an
unacceptable failure of leadership".

"These wanton deaths (from cholera) are intolerable and shameful, and the
state's failure is merely a replication of other high level failures, where
the citizenry has now been disenfranchised of almost all their basic human
rights. If more than a dozen people have died from cholera in just less than
a month, we can only imagine how many more are currently affected by, or at
risk of contracting, this avoidable disease," ZLHR said.

Thousands of residents, and many others from surrounding areas will converge
on the town for the Stand Up and Take Action Against Poverty on Oct. 18.
Issues of sanitation and water supply in Chitungwiza and other urban areas
are set to take centre stage.

*Not her real name

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Zapu Die Hards Labelled Tribalists

BULAWAYO, October 16 2008 - A senior Zanu PF official has dismissed
Zapu die hards as tribalists who have no place in the current Zimbabwe.

"The late nationalist Joshua Nkomo was accepted throughout the country
because he was a nationalist. He did not care whether one was Shona or
Ndebele and you guys are now saying Zapu is for Ndebeles," said Ambrose

"That is not true because I was one of the commanders of Zapu and I am
not Ndebele, but Nkomo brought us together with the likes of the late JZ
Moyo and Lookout Masuku. Dabengwa was also there, but he knows that Zapu was
never a tribal party," he said.

Mutinhiri, who has served in the Zanu PF government after the unity
accord signed by the PF Zapu and Zanu PF in 1987, criticised Zapu supremo
Dumiso Dabengwa in Harare recently in a meeting which was called by people
who said they wanted to revive Zapu.

Mutinhiri told the gathering that the new Zapu should be called
Ndebele Zapu, because it did not have the blessings of all former Zapu
members, most of whom were in the present Zanu leadership like vice
president Joseph Msika, John Nkomo, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Joe Biggy Matiza,
Cephas Msipha and July Moyo, among


There have been efforts to revive the party by mostly Zanu PF members
in the Matabeleland region, who are unhappy with the power sharing deal
between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations.

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Esther Mhike, Red Cross volunteer in Masvingo

International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Date: 16 Oct 2008


Matthew Cochrane, Communications manager

This is the fifth in a series of six profiles, looking at the people
affected by Zimbabwe's food crisis.

For the past eight years, 60-year-old Red Cross volunteer Esther Mhike has
arrived at the Red Cross office in Masvingo every morning at eight o'clock.

Over the next four hours, Esther and her colleagues will head out into the
surrounding area to visit Red Cross clients - people living with HIV and
AIDS. She will sit with her clients - friends really - and listen to them
talk about their problems and frustrations. Gently, she will remind them of
the importance of continuing their anti-retroviral treatment (ART).

Lately, though, Esther's quiet advocacy for continued adherence is proving
more and more challenging. You see, there's no food in Masvingo at the

"When my clients are taking ART, they need to have food," Esther explains.
"They need to eat sadza (the thick, porridge-like Zimbabwean staple)
otherwise the drugs make them feel very sick."

"If we don't take the food, how can we take the pills?" her clients ask her.
Esther can't answer, except to explain that they will deteriorate quickly if
they stop their treatment. There simply isn't much food anymore.

According to the UN, there are currently millions of people without access
to food in Zimbabwe. Masvingo Province - which lies about 300 km south of
the capital Harare - is one of the worst hit areas. A violent combination of
drought, floods, a lack of agricultural inputs and hyper-inflation has left
Zimbabwe's fields barren and its store-shelves bare. And the situation will
only get worse.

We asked Esther what she would say to someone thinking about donating to the
Red Cross appeal. She smiled.

"I would try to explain the severity of the situation, and how their support
could go a long way to alleviating the suffering of my clients."

The IFRC Zimbabwe food security appeal aims to provide assistance to about
260,100 people over the coming nine months. The programme will focus on
supporting people like Esther's clients - a group particularly and acutely
vulnerable to food shortages

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JAG open letter forum - No. 575 - Dated 14 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. Rob Gass - The Real Situation
Dear JAG,

I would urge all readers to study the article by Tendai Dumbutshena in The
Zimbabwe Situation October 15 2008.

Mr Dumbutshena makes it frighteningly clear why the ' Political Agreement'
between Zanu & MDC is inevitably doomed to fail. Granted, the central theme
has been argued many times before - the fact that Mugabe and his cohort do
not negotiate in good faith and that their word is worthless.

What I found striking about the article was the detailed description and
analysis of Mugabe's past record and past history and his actions. In other
words from his record, Mugabe's response to a particular situation is
entirely predictable. Mugabe can never be trusted, and Mugabe will always
renege on important commitments where these commitments might in any way
lead to the diminishing of his power base.

Mr Dumbutshena sets before us a stark reality. No amount of wishful thinking
can alter these unpalatable facts. Mr Dumbutshena is in no doubt that anyone
who tries to persuade themselves that Mugabe might be interested in genuine
power sharing and reform is seriously deluded and incredibly naive.

His conclusion re what the MDC should do will not be welcome news to
suffering Zimbabweans but we had better take note of this warning!

I would say this to all of your readers, study Mr Dumbutshena's article, do
it today, think about its implications.

Rob Gass
2. Just Andrew

Dear JAG,

I wonder if you would publish the following text under the pseudonym 'Just
Andrew' in response to Ben Freeth's letter.

"This trust in God is all very well, in fact commendable, but what I fail to
understand is how this 'turning to and trusting in' is likely to impact on
the current situation in Zimbabwe, as Ben Freeth assures us it might, if we
drop to our knees and seek forgiveness, so to speak.  One can make the
comparison with Ben Freeth's letter, if you like, to the encouragement given
by, say, a fundamentalist Muslim recruiter of suicide bombers to would be
heroes of the Jihad.  Just 'sacrifice yourself for and trust in Allah's rich
rewards', is their slightly different message, in their war against the
infidel.  Paradise will bring how many maidens of vestal modesty?  Does this
unquestionable sacrifice and trust mean that the terrorist is right,
perpetrating his cowardly and heinous crimes in the name of God?  Definitely
not, but that does not make every Muslim a terrorist either.

I just feel saddened that Ben Freeth, of all people, is bringing God into
national politics, much as a fundamentalist would use God to wage ugly war.

Religion should not be a factor of politics, but rather a theological
platform for the entire nation to enjoy and worship God, across petty
political boundaries.  Indeed, on just whose side is God on here, since
Mugabe certainly seems to have the upper hand?  Hopefully, not for long.

Mugabe is said to be a God fearing man of Catholic persuasion, who had
turned to God and presumably still trusts in him, so they say, although you
would not think so! What makes him a lesser candidate for God's blessing
than, say, Tsvangirai, who hasn't yet, shown the nation his God fearing
mettle, or for that matter that of his party?  Or vice versa!

Yes, I would encourage you to turn to Him and trust Him, but I am sorry, do
not expect Him to provide any magical solutions to an impasse which shall
get a lot worse before it gets better.  One wonders, in fact, if this mortal
world has ever been influenced by God's hand (never mind which God, since
there are so many of them these days).  The history of conflict has been
touched more by God's earthly messengers squabbling across the globe than
even the filthy politicians can be debited with.  I really take issue with
Ben Freeth's message that his God has actually taken sides and joined the
MDC.  If you believe in this myth, then think ahead five or ten years, when
that crowd starts pillaging too, and ask yourself where God's alignment
might then swing.

May your God go with you.

Just Andrew"

3. Liam Forde

Dear JAG,

I am absolutely amazed at how the people of Zimbabwe, which I prefer; at the
moment to call, 'Mugabestan', have been conned by RGM et al., 'the kings of
brinkmanship'; have been allowed to legitimise their illegal positions, by
way of bogus talks: producing spin, division and all the attendant misery
associated with the modern Zimbabwean condition. I call on the Opposition
leaders to pierce the veil that is ZANU-PF. Do not talk, do not listen. Take
your mandate, given by the people, in the most extreme of conditions, back
from these scoundrels, who use patriotism as their last refuge. Shake them
out into the light. Zimbabwe is heading for civil war, if the true
and elected leaders, do not stand up.

Democracy is best out in the open. There is no currency to be had on
the inside with people, who after 28 years; have gone past penury and doubt
and taken the people and trees to hell. They are not needed nor wanted, save
as persons of interest, if law and order is ever again present.
yours etc.,

Liam A Forde.

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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Free Lunch Not So Free

BULAWAYO, October 16 2008 - There was confusion at a Bulawayo hotel as
to who would pay the lunch bill for hordes of Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation staff that helped themselves to food, claiming the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA) would settle the bill.

A hotel manager revealed that 42 people who said they belonged to the
state owned broadcaster, based in Harare and Bulawayo respectively, had
lunch on Wednesday indicating that they were guests of the ZTA who are
running the Sanganai/Hlanganai World Travel and Tourism Fair that is
underway in the city.

All hell broke loose when ZTA officials were notified of the bill,
running into billions of dollars and they vehemently refused to pay. Even
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, told the hotel management that
ZTA was not ZBC.

"This is lot of money and we dont know who will settle the bill now.
When these people came in, they said they were guests of ZTA and actually
some of them are staying here in rooms booked by ZTA so we believed them
when they said their lunch will be paid by organisers of the Fair. But these
people are refusing and are not sure whether ZBC is in a position to pay
this money," said a manager who prefered not to be named for professional

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From a correspondent

To whom it may concern

I would like to appeal to your organization to investigate and cover the
University of Zimbabwe operations and admnistration. The University has for
the past 2 years not been opening and closing semesters traditionally and
have always supplemented to extend the semesters and exam time tables at the
expense of students.

Mr Nyagura, the vice chancellor of the university has totally failed to
manage the institution to its adequate capacity. His lack of proffessional
conduct and political aspiration and dogma has drastically destroyed the
reputation of the once highest institution of learning in southern africa.
Funding has been one of the critical matters at the centre of problems the
university is facing, nevertheless it has been close crutiby of those
concerned to discover that the vice chancellor and his deputies and other
admin are procuring vihecles using funds whose primary source they cannot

The Halls of residence have been allocated since the last administration
before black management (Nyagura) as NC1, NC4, Manfred, Bhagdad (common uba
and usa terms of reference) but the admin of nyagura had to change that so
he cannot take residential  halls for boys and give them to girls so as to
accomodate his prostitutes.

The ministry of education under the GoZ has also neglected their
responsibility to pay teaching staff and provide adequate budgets for the
smooth running of the institution. As at this point, the university has not
oppened since august and we are now in october, results have not been
published, there is not staff because the salaries have not been payed, no
water, no power, no food for res. students. Quite surprizingly the
university has a farm which i want to believe should be used to produce food
for its students, this goes back to the issue of mis management, gross mis-

I would greatly appreciate a constant cover on the status and on-goings of
issues sorrounding the late opening of the university and its general

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