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African mediators called in over stalled power-sharing talks

Article published on the 2008-10-18 Latest update 2008-10-18 14:58 TU

Zimlbabwe's rival parties, Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), have both called for African mediation after the failure of four days
of power-sharing talks. South African President Thabo Mbeki says on Monday
he will travel with party leaders to Swaziland, where three members of a
Southern African Development Coommunity (SADC) security body will try to
break the deadlock.

Zanu-PF's chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa told the state-run Herald
newspaper that the deadlock is over who will head the Home Affairs Ministry,
which controls the police force.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvingarai on Saturday called the talks "a monologue",
accusing Mugabe of refusing to compromise.

After the talks broke up on Friday, Tsvangirai claimed that there was "an
attempt to reduce the MDC to a meaningless position in the coalition

He has insisted that his movement needs to oversee at least some of the
security agencies so as to reassure his supporters, who faced violence
during the hotly-contested election campaign this year.

Chinamasa said that the MDC had been offered the finance ministry, which
must tackle the world's highest inflation rate, at 231 per cent.

The political wrangling is preventing the country's leaders from addressing
the crisis, says Harare-based economist John Robertson.

"There are a great many urgent issues that need attention and these will get
no attention until we have a political settlement," he told RFI.

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Tsvangirai says Mugabe intransigent as rivals seek help

Yahoo News

Sat Oct 18

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
said on Saturday President Robert Mugabe had been totally intransigent on
power-sharing proposals, after the two rivals asked neighbouring nations to
help break their deadlock.

"The past four days have been a dialogue of the deaf," Tsvangirai told
thousands of supporters in the second city of Bulawayo, referring to
marathon meetings with Mugabe this week mediated by former South African
president Thabo Mbeki.

"It was one-man monologue. Mugabe does not negotiate. He just says 'No.' He
was saying 'No' since Monday. We had to tell Mbeki it was no use continuing
with negotiations with someone who does not want to negotiate."

Both sides Friday asked the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of
regional countries, which appointed Mbeki to mediate, to intervene in the

"The reason we are going to SADC is we want the deal to work. We are hopeful
that something positive will come from the SADC meeting on Monday,"
Tsvangirai said Saturday.

Mbeki said he would travel with the Zimbabwean leaders to Swaziland on
Monday, where a three-member SADC security body will try to find a solution.

Mbeki brokered the original pact signed a month ago, which calls for
84-year-old Mugabe to remain as president while Tsvangirai takes the new
post of prime minister, with cabinet posts being shared out.

Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the deal after Mugabe last week
unilaterally awarded the most important ministries to his party, leaving him
firmly in charge of the military and police.

Patrick Chinamasa, lead negotiator for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, said in state
media Saturday that the talks hinge on control of the home affairs ministry.
This oversees the police force, which stands accused of widespread human
rights abuses.

He told the Herald newspaper that ZANU-PF had agreed to give Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) control of the finance ministry, a
critical portfolio in a country grappling with the world's highest rate of
inflation, at 231 million percent.

"One can say that the discussions, however, largely centred on the issue of
Home Affairs. ZANU-PF was arguing that it should get the ministry while
(Tsvangirai) was also arguing that they should get the ministry," Chinamasa

Tsvangirai has insisted that his party needs oversight of at least some
security agencies to reassure his supporters, who were the target of deadly
political violence during election campaigning earlier in the year.

"We are concerned there is an attempt to reduce the MDC to a meaningless
position in the coalition government," he said after the talks ended late

He added Saturday: "The biggest problem we had was the issue of trust,"
saying that Mugabe had denied having the ministerial appointments announced
in the official gazette.

"We don't want to raise the expectations of Zimbabweans. We will not betray
you. We were trying to negotiate the implementation of the deal but it
failed with Mugabe refusing to shift," he told his supporters.

Experts said the two sides would come round.

"Eventually they will come to an agreement. Both parties are desperate to
remain in the deal," Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National
Constitutional Commission, told AFP.

"It's likely that SADC will push Mugabe to give home affairs to the MDC," he

Independent analyst Collin Mashava echoed him, saying: "Despite the
disagreement I still think there is no way out for both parties. There will
be an agreement eventually."

Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a first round presidential vote in March, when
the MDC also forced the ZANU-PF into the minority in parliament for the
first time.

But the former union leader failed to win enough votes to declare outright
victory and then pulled out of the run-off in June, accusing the regime of
coordinating a brutal campaign of violence that left more than 100 of his
supporters dead.

The political stalemate has dimmed hope for rescuing Zimbabwe from its
stunning collapse from a model economy to a ruin of hunger and poverty.

Once one of Africa's most prosperous nations, Zimbabwe now suffers critical
food shortages, with nearly half its people needing UN aid and 80 percent of
the population living in poverty.

The United States and the European Union have threatened to toughen their
sanctions on the regime if the unity accord falls apart.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Blames Lack of Trust for Breakdown of Power-Sharing Deal


      By VOA News
      18 October 2008

Zimbabwe main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says a lack of trust
between him and President Robert Mugabe has led to the deadlock in
power-sharing talks between the two sides.

Tsvangirai told a crowd of supporters Saturday in Bulawayo that the there
was nothing wrong with the deal signed last month between Zimbabwe's
opposition and ruling ZANU-PF parties.

He said they only ran into problems when it came to implementation of the

After the fourth day of talks failed once again Friday, Tsvangirai called on
the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to help end
the deadlock on forming a unity government.

President Mugabe said Friday the discussions went in the wrong direction.

Mediator of the talks, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, has said
negotiations will continue Monday in Swaziland.

Last week, Mr. Mugabe unilaterally gave his ZANU-PF party several key
Cabinet positions that oversee the military, police and foreign affairs.
This prompted the opposition to threaten to pull out of the power-sharing

The original deal, reached in September, was meant to end the crisis
stemming from Zimbabwe's disputed presidential elections.

It calls for ZANU-PF to control 15 ministries, with the two factions of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change getting 16. Mr. Mugabe would
remain as president, with Tsvangirai becoming prime minister.

The sides are under pressure to reach a final deal so Zimbabwe can start to
recover from its deep economic crisis. The country has 80 percent
unemployment and an inflation rate officially estimated at 231 million

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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MDC slams Mbeki for supporting Mugabe

October 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The MDC has expressed misgivings at the handling of the controversy
over key cabinet posts by mediator and former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, accusing him of bias towards President Robert Mugabe.

The negotiating parties failed to reach an agreement after five days leading
to the call for intervention of SADC and the African Union (AU) who are the
guarantors of the power-sharing agreement signed between Zanu-PF and the MDC
factions on September 15.

Leaders from the SADC troika will now meet in Mbabane, Swaziland on Monday
to discuss the power-sharing deadlock in an emergency meeting with the
SADC-appointed mediator, Mbeki.

The MDC sounded dissatisfied with Mbeki's handling of the dispute in the
latest round of talks.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Times in an exclusive
interview Saturday that the former South African president had shown clear
bias towards Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

"Mr Mbeki looks at the problem through Zanu-PF spectacles," Chamisa. "He
came and used that gazetted list as a starting point. We told him that 'Mr
Mbeki, you are reading from the wrong chapters and verses."

Chamisa was referring to Mugabe's allocation to Zanu-PF of all key cabinet
posts and control of the security forces through a government gazette issued
last week Friday.

Mugabe made a typically defiant gesture by gazetting the 14 key ministries -
including home affairs, local government, information and foreign affairs -
as having been allocated to Zanu-PF.  He suggested that the ministry of
finance was the only portfolio still in dispute.

Chamisa said Mbeki was frantically trying to get the MDC to sign the deal
without consideration of the skewed nature of the portfolio balance.
"We can't be stampeded into committing a political hari-kari," Chamisa said.
"We are not cut for selling out."

Chamisa told The Zimbabwe Times that Mbeki had drafted a document which he
had shown to the principals which he was due to present to the troika
meeting on Monday.

The document reportedly insinuates that the MDC was making unreasonable
demands and that the deal on the table was equitable and fair.

"Mr Mbeki is using Zanu-PF notes to compile his own scripts," Chamisa said.

He said the MDC was hopeful that there was enough wisdom in the SADC and the
African Union to resolve the deadlock.

"SADC are the guarantors to the AU," Chamisa said. "In the event that this
partnership fails, SADC and AU įre the insurance mechanism. They insulate us
against risk and danger. I am sure there is sufficient wisdom to deal with
challenges on the continent."

Chamisa added: "It's power to the people not politicians. We are more
interested in people power not in driving Mercedes Benz cars. We will not go
into government where we will not be able to make significant changes. That
will be an act of betrayal."

Leaders from Tanzania, Angola and Swaziland are expected to attend the
meeting as international pressure mounts on Mugabe to share power equally
with the MDC.

The former South African president has been negotiating between Mugabe and
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of
the breakaway faction of the opposition since last year.

Even before the latest round of talks, Mbeki had been widely criticised for
being pro-Mugabe. Chamisa said the MDC had, however, publicly expressed
faith in him as the mediator out of respect.

But it now appears the MDC has become frustrated to the point of discarding
the erstwhile diplomatic approach.

The Zimbabwe Times heard that Monday's meeting, set to be attended by Jakaya
Kikwete of Tanzania, Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and King Mswati III of
Swaziland, would discuss how the SADC as guarantors of the power-sharing
deal and its troika organ on politics, defence and security could help
Zimbabwe to get out of its current stalemate.

Chamisa said that there were ten key cabinet ministries that were in
dispute - Defence, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Local Government;
Media, Information and Communication; Justice, Agriculture, Youth and Women;
and Mines.

Chamisa said Zanu-PF wanted control of all these ministries. But the MDC had
proposed that it assumes control of at least four of these ministries - a
position staunchly rejected by Mugabe - leading to yesterday's collapse of
the talks.

The MDC spokesman said the MDC had declared that Home Affairs and Finance
should be non-negotiable. Zanu-PF had only agreed to surrender finance,
Chamisa said. The MDC was prepared to make compromises on two other
ministries, Local Government and Media, Information and Communication.

Chamisa said: "Mugabe could not understand that logic. So we asked him
'which part of power-sharing don't you understand?' We can't have
responsibility without authority."

He added: "The biggest losers would be the people. We don't want to mortgage
the people to Zanu-PF."

Chamisa said that Mugabe had also rejected outright suggestions to share
equally ten gubernatorial posts. All ten provincial governors are members of
Zanu-PF, appointed in late August by Mugabe in a move that breached Clause 9
of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Harare on July 21.

"Mugabe refused to even put that (division of governors' posts) on the
agenda. He said it's a non-starter," Chamisa said.

He said the MDC had a covenant with the people and could not betray the
masses by agreeing to a flawed power-sharing structure.

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"Mugabe has killed Zim's next generation": Professor Makumbe

Saturday, 18 October 2008 09:58

MUGABE has "killed" the next generation of Zimbabweans, veteran political
scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, Professor John Makumbe has said.

In an exclusive interview, Prof. Makumbe, said the consequences of the
collapse of Zimbabwe's formerly acclaimed education sector would return to
haunt the country in years to come.
This is the view of not only socio-political commentator Prof Makumba, but
also many other analysts.
The Makumbe blamed the current regime saying it had "killed" a generation,
youngsters dropping out of schools in droves, teachers fleeing the country
and scores of schools closing in recent years.
Makumbe said the current generation that had been denied proper education
could find themselves unemployable in future when the country pulled itself
out of its current political and economic quagmire, and perhaps engage in
criminal activity.
"Zimbabwe will have a high price to pay for the school dropouts. The denial
of schooling to these youngsters is a destruction of an entire generation,"
he said citing the example of South Africa when schools were closed down
from 1976 at the height of apartheid.
South Africa's current crime woes have a root in the 1976 uprising by
students. Most of the then-youngsters did not return to school and now find
themselves unemployable
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a collapse of major sectors among them
education, which has been eroded by a combination of factors.
Youngsters have dropped out of schools in numbers, some fleeing to
neighbouring countries Most of these youngsters have resurfaced in South
Africa raising concern among analysts."It is quite unfortunate," said
analyst Collin Ncube.
On the other hand teachers, whose meagre salaries are ever eroded by
inflation, have also fled in numbers to neighbouring countries.
Makumbe summed up the drawback. "Imagine, I am a professor at the University
of Zimbabwe but I earn no more than R100. At that salary, I am among the
highest paid professionals in the higher education sector."
In face of all these developments, many schools have been forced to shut
down as they cannot attract sufficient teachers and students. The fact that
unemployment was ever on the increase had compounded the situation, Ncube
Zimbabwe has one of the highest unemployment figures in the world, at more
than 80 percent, a development that has been fuelled by the collapse of the
formerly vibrant economy.
"Going to school has virtually become useless. The graduates that schools
and universities churn out every year join the ranks of the unemployed.
Sending a child to school now appears to be a waste of hard-to-find money,"
Ncube said.
The collapse of Zimbabwe's education sector has been nothing short of
At independence, the country's education sector was among the most acclaimed
in the Third World, churning out highly-skilled graduates who weregreatly
sought after. Most of these have fled their country and developing foreign
As the political and economic woes worsen by the day, education has been
greatly affected, with uncertainty surrounding the writing of O' Level and
A'Level examinations.
--CAJ News.


Mugabe to be charged of murder
written by Fainos Moyo, October 18, 2008

Most people do not seem to realize that thousands of children illegally
crossing the Limpopo River into South Africa, whilst abandoning schools will
be a big problem to the nation.
Myself I am currently in Pretoria where crime rate is high in SA because
majority of the children did not go to school. As a result, they are not
finding any employment, instead, they are robbing other African nationals. I
therefore propose that Mugabe be charged of murder or crime against humanity
before it is too late

"Mugabe has killed Zim's next generation"
written by Jack Stamps, October 18, 2008

Its a shame the so called liberators have thrown people of Zimbabwe back
into the dark ages.
To Hell with Mugabe!

You will only take this to be real if you ACT
written by mugabe uchamama chete .., October 18, 2008

To people think Robert Mugabe gives any worry on you you are the jokers of
the last 30 years to him if he never worried about Zapu or even the people
he killed at that time how can he worry about you if we as Zimbabweans don't
ACT now i tell you you are all history let us arise as the children of the
soil of Zimbabwe and start fighting back we have lost our brothers sisters
uncles aunties and mothers and fathers we have to as well start finding a
way of getting rid of the families out here in the USA UK and EU countries
and let them feel the way we are they have done this in they own and willing
way to hurt and kill at the expense of the loving people of Zimbabwe we
fought for Zimbabwe and not them they have taken it to be their own and now
we as Tongogara and Lookout Mafela Masuku in cold and if you Morgan T thinks
you can just hitch a ride on a GNU you joking you will have too do more
damage to zanu pf to be a ruler or even take over you have to be more brutal

And where are all the ZANU kids?
written by Nhando, October 18, 2008

I'll tell you where they are. They are enjoying the fruits of a great
Western education paid for by the loot stolen from our country. I have even
met some of these well-spoken kids returning home on flights from the UK,
and it is incredible how they find nothing wrong with the situation.
Imagine..... You accuse the West of being responsible for everything that is
wrong with the country, yet you are the first to send your kids to their
schools and universities. At the same time they ensure that n*body at home
is able to get a decent education. Mugabe and his gang do not want educated
people kumusha because they will be able to understand the evil that is
being perpetrated against our people. They know that if you keep the people
ignorant, then they will believe any old crap that you write in the
newspaper. Some people in Zimbabwe actually do believe that the West is the
cause of all the trouble, THAT is how stupid people have become. If my
father was one of those ministers or chefs in the government, I would be
ashamed of him. I only hope that the education that these ZANU kids are
getting will also give them a conscience.

written by jim, October 18, 2008

these mongers ZPF are a shame to our real war vets.The one who left his home
to bring about change for the zimbabweans,died and not even buried with
dignity.Shame on you bob.I am in the mental health sector and found out that
all those kids who were sons of b***hes are f**ked up.I dont blame mugabe
but BONA is the benifactor,it's in his DNA

mai vaMugabe...
written by Dare Devil, October 18, 2008

..raingovawo hure raingozvifambira muChishawasha. Bvunzai ini.

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Body of whistle-blowing ZEC official found

October 18, 2008

NORTON - The body of a Zimbabwe Election Commission official who disappeared
on June 17 after he attempted to stop postal ballot rigging ahead of the
June 27 run off vote turned up at a hospital mortuary here on Friday.

The body of Ignatius Mushangwe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's director
of training and development, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen two weeks
before the tense June run off election, was found murdered with his
partially-burnt body dumped in the bush.

Police found the semi-decomposed body of Mushangwe Thursday in Norton and
took it to the morgue. Mushangwe is said to most likely been kidnapped by
State security agents. The police in Norton say they are pursuing several
leads. They referred further questions to national police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena, who was not immediately available for comment.

But a preliminary autopsy report revealed that Mushangwe had been strangled
before his body was set on fire, a family member told The Zimbabwe Times.

Mushangwe's devastated family members arrived at the mortuary at 3.30pm
yesterday to identify the body. The five people left about 30 minutes later.

Norton here was reeling from shock after the discovery of the
partially-charred body which was dumped at a public place. Residents reacted
in horror at the extent of injuries on Mushangwe.

The Zimbabwe Times heard that Mushangwe disappeared after he was taken to
task by police spokesman Supt Oliver Mandipaka during a meeting of the
political parties liaison committee on elections on the issue of postal
ballot papers for the security forces. Efforts to obtain comment from
Mandipaka were futile.

ZEC has also staunchly refused to comment on the brutal murder of Mushangwe.
Officials privy to the murder of Mushangwe said he was known to have angered
people in high places by refusing to manipulate the postal ballot system.

"He had stood his ground in saying that ballot papers should only be issued
to police details on duty and not to all and sundry," Morgan Komichi, who
represented the MDC at the liaison committee meeting said. "That was the
last time we saw and heard of the man."

Mushangwe's murder was linked to accusations that he blew the whistle that
the government had printed surplus ballot papers. He is also alleged to have
leaked documents showing nine million papers had been ordered for the
country's 5.9 million voters.

The head of the electoral commission, Judge George Chiweshe rejected back
then the suggestions that the extra papers might be misused. It is also
alleged that Mushangwe lifted the lid on information that ZEC ordered 600
000 postal ballots for a few thousand police and soldiers.

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Villagers kill soldier over diamond

October 18, 2008

By Our Correspondent

MUTARE - A soldier with the rank of sergeant was murdered by villagers at
Nenhowe near Nyanyadzi south of Mutare, following a dispute over diamonds,
police have confirmed.

Michael Jimu, who was based at Three Brigade in Chikanga, Mutare, died as a
result of assault by close to 100 villagers and illegal diamond miners.

Inspector Brian Makomeke, the police spokesman in Mutare, told the media the
soldier was attacked with stones after a dispute over diamonds had gone out
of hand.

The police said the soldier was part of a team assigned to recover a diamond
from one Joseph Hamusa of Nenhowe Village.

He was accompanied by Lovemore Musapingura and Denis Mangudya.

The police said Jimu and his team searched Hamusa's home and took $80
million resulting in a fight breaking out.

"A fight erupted between the two parties resulting in Mangudya stabbing
Hamusa's mother on the arm," the police spokesman said. "Other villagers
joined in the fight resulting in the assault on Jimu."

The police spokesman said the soldier was taken to Birchenough Bridge
Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

His colleagues were arrested and are being charged with robbery and assault.

The deceased soldier has since been buried in Mutare. The funeral parade was
held at the Three Brigade.

Since the discovery of diamonds at Chiadzwa in Marange several people have
been murdered following disputes over the precious stones.

Powerful cartels, which appear immune to arrest and prosecution, have also
emerged amid concerns this may fuel high-profile crime.

The police have launched countless operations to stop the illegal mining and
dealing in diamonds but the exercise appears to be failing to yield any

So far only small time miners and dealers have been arrested and prosecuted.
Big time dealers continue to make forays into the fields to buy the diamonds
with impunity.

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Robert Mugabe forces Zimbabwe aid agencies into cash crisis

Aid agencies have accused Robert Mugabe of cutting their lifeline to
millions of starving Zimbabweans after he imposed sweeping new bank
restrictions which have made it impossible for them to finance their

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 6:40PM BST 18 Oct 2008

In a bid to stop speculators profiteering on the wide gulf between the
official and black market exchange rates, the Zimbabwean reserve bank has
cancelled the inter-bank money transfer system used by businesses and aid
agencies to move cash around.

With daily cash withdrawals limited to Z$50,000 a day - worth just £1.20
given Zimbabwe's current soaring inflation rate - it has become impossible
for relief workers to make the large payments necessary to buy and
distribute food or pay staff wages.

The banking restriction came despite a warning last week by the United
Nations that nearly one third of Zimbabwean under-fives were now
malnourished, and that nearly half the population would depend on emergency
food aid by next year.

"We cannot get money from the banks to pay people to distribute the food, it
is as simple as that," said the operations manager of one of the top three
distributing agencies, which has been working in Zimbabwe for the last 16

"We can't pay our staff hotel bills, or buy food for our field workers, or
even advertise for people we need to hire to distribute food," he said.

"We have enough food in the warehouse to ensure no one starves, and we have
enough money in the bank to finance our operations, but the Reserve Bank (of
Zimbabwe) will not give us access to it."

The aid agencies spoke out as power sharing talks between Mr Mugabe's ruling
Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by
Morgan Tsvangirai, appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

Mr Tsvangirai is refusing to give way to Mr Mugabe's insistence that Zanu-PF
should remain in control of the home affairs ministry, which controls the
security forces widely blamed for intimidating and killing MDC supporters
following elections earlier this year.

"The (powersharing) agreement is rubbish," one Western diplomat told The
Sunday Telegraph. "It is a pathetic agreement and it was only a question of
time before it collapsed, as Zanu PF has no intention of abiding by any of
its conditions."

Both sides have now asked the Southern African Development Community to
intervene in the talks mediated by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, and will meet in Swaziland tomorrow.

Mr Mugabe banned all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from working in
rural areas after he lost the first round of the presidential elections to
Mr Tsvangirai.

He claimed NGOs had been handing out food to supporters of Mr Tsvangerai,
and only allowed them to resume their work in August.

The Zimbabwean central bank cancelled inter bank transactions - known as the
Real Time Gross Settlement system - on the orders of its governor, Gideon
Gono, who is viewed as the president's personal banker and widely regarded
as the most powerful man in the country after Mr Mugabe.

Critics accuse him of diverting public money to support Mr Mugabe's ruling
Zanu PF party and of fuelling the current inflation crisis by printing

When he cancelled inter bank transfers, he made no exception for
humanitarian agencies. Now, like the rest of the population, they are
struggling to operate in a country where cash devalues so fast that every
supplier demands instant cash payment.

"We have workers stuck in hotels which have no food because they have no
cash to buy food," said a worker with one agency. "Every bit of foreign
money we bring in to the country has to go through the Reserve Bank.

"You would think the government or the welfare ministry would ease our way,
be happy we were feeding the people, but instead they make it impossible for
us to work."

The chaos caused by the government's latest inept efforts to rein in
hyperinflation can be seen outside any bank or building society, where
queues to withdraw money last from dawn to dusk, and where grown men often
weep if they are turned away as darkness falls.

A senior civil servant, who queues nearly every day to withdraw his
government salary in amounts equivalent to £2.20 each time, said: "We come
here at six in the morning. We eat nothing before we leave, we eat nothing
during the day, we have no water to drink - and then sometimes we go home
without money because the bank has run out of cash."

Last week the United Nations in Zimbabwe took the issue up with the Reserve
Bank, but to no effect so far.

"We don't want to believe that this is deliberate," said the chief executive
of one of the largest donor organisations in Zimbabwe.

Eric Matinenga, an MDC MP for a rural constituency 150 miles south of
Harare, said: "My constituency is in a desperate state and people are in a
very bad way. I was not aware of this. We have to go to parliament about

David Coltart, an MDC MP from the country's second city, Bulawayo, said he
has had a harrowing week in his urban constituency. "The food shortage is
catastrophic," he said.

"There are HIV Aids patients on anti-retrovirals who have not had adequate
food supplies for two months and some of them are at death's door. There are
probably 25,000 others in my constituency alone also at death's door.

"One tall woman who weighed 75kg in January is now down to 43kg. I see this
every day. About two million people need food now, and it will be five
million by January. The situation is absolutely critical."

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Hunger and Bureaucracy - a Fatal Combination


Zimbabwe is in the headlines now for some time, sadly in most cases for the
wrong reasons. Over the past weeks we read one statement after another about
the millions who are facing starvation here in the country. We read how the
UN/WFP more or less know the numbers of people who are hungry and in many
cases on the verge of starvation, we are informed about the amount of money
that has so far been collected, the food available and how much more is
needed until the next harvest. Great that all this information is available.

Sadly for some of us in the communities all of this information is only a
cause of frustration. One of our mission hospitals - a large hospital with
one of the largest HIV and AIDS outreach programme in the country applied to
WFP and were told that food is only being supplied to "vulnerable people" at
his time and not to institutions. At this particular hospital the staff
threatened to go on strike because all of them and their families are all
hungry, and they are supposed to look after hungry people. The large orphan
population of over 4000 that the hospital is caring for is also hungry, some
malnourished, some admitted to hospital with kwashiorkor and yet these are
not "vulnerable people" - where are the institutions supposed to get the
food if not through such organizations as WFP and Christian Care?

Personally I have a problem with the selection by WFP and their partners
Christian Care here in Zimbabwe, in how the criteria of "vulnerable people"
are decided on. Yes, there must be accountability, there must be
transparency, under no circumstances must any particular group - either
political or religious be favored in the distribution of food.

Here in Harare at the moment we have many people who are on ARVs
(anti-retroviral therapy) to treat their HIV infection.  Over one thousand
of these are getting medication from a large reputable clinic which has a
detailed record of the history of each person attending the clinic. Over the
past months they have observed a very clear deterioration in the health of
many of the people, almost all complaining of hunger. In order to identify
whether these people fall into the "vulnerable category" or not they have to
be interviewed (by a NON medical, non nursing person) who classifies the
person on the "Wealth Ranking Criteria" form and then on the "Vulnerability
Scoring Guide" another form. Individuals are meant to declare how many are
in their households, how may are disabled, how many are chronically ill
etc - If I am on the point of starvation I will give you the answers that I
think might  give me access to food and this will not necessarily be the
truth.  This is only the registration procedure, when will the food come
even I am lucky enough to be considered "vulnerable". Why this expensive,
time wasting exercise when thousand of starving people are already on the
records of clinics and various church groups.

Yesterday we were told of scores of teenagers from three of the local high
density areas who have discontinued taking their ARVs because it makes them
hungry and they have no food to eat- what is the future of these young
people?  Treatment interruptions will inevitably lead to a resistant HIV
virus for which we have almost no treatment options and when available this
medication is 10 times the price of the first line treatments.

How does the head of a child-headed household in a high density area get
into contact with the people who have the questionnaires? - in most cases
they have no chance. This past week we have visited on a daily basis the
high density areas where most of the unemployed people live. We have had
people in their hundreds coming to our doors pleading for food. These are
not beggars they are very hungry people on the point of starvation.  If they
had a choice they would not be begging but would be providing food for
themselves and their families. Please whoever is responsible for all the
bureaucracy we plead with you to start getting the food out of the
warehouses to the people who are hungry, please do not wait until we have
mass starvation - a situation that is rapidly developing. We have to find
US$80 to pay for a hardboard coffin (the cheapest on the market) when people
die - let us stop buying the coffins and distribute the food. Let's stop
cutting down the trees for the paper for the questionnaires and the
coffins - let's use the firewood to cook the food and stop the deaths.

For the past 35 years I have worked as a nurse here in Zimbabwe, many of
those years spent in rural areas where we experienced severe droughts but
until now I have not experienced the degree of hunger/starvation that I am
seeing today. Please get the food out from behind the locked doors now.
Every day spent asking questions as to whether I am hungry or not is a day
when we will loose hundreds of vulnerable people because of hunger.

Patricia Walsh

Dominican Missionary Sisters



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AirZim's MA60 Cant Withstand Heat

      HARARE, October 18 2008 - AirZimbabwe passengers travelling from
Harare to Victoria Falls were delayed by more than seven hours Thursday,
after it emerged that the airline's Modern Ark 60 (MA60s) planes can not
safely land under immense heat.

      The Boeing 737 that they were initially booked on developed some
technical problems, forcing AirZimbabwe to use the much discredited MA60

      The more than 50 passengers, who were supposed to have left Harare at
9am, had to be taken to the Rainbow Towers for lunch.

      One of the disappointed passengers, David Zvavanhu, said he had missed
his 11am appointment in Victoria Falls and had been greatly inconvienced.

      "Initially they told us that we would to leave at 11am but later they
told us that we would only leave Harare around 4am because their planes can
not land in immense heat. If i had travelled by road I think I would have
covered a lot of distance by now," said Zvavanhu.

      Another passenger who declined to be named, said he was very unlucky
with AirZimbabwe as it was not the first time he had had problems.

      "I always run into problems whenever i use this airline. The last time
when I was travelling to London, i was delayed for two nights in Harare
because the plane we were supposed to use developed some problems while
coming from China," said the passenger.

      AirZimbabwe Public Relations manager, Pride Khumbula, on Thursday
confirmed the delay, but said everything was now under control as the
affected passengers were about to leave.

      Zimbabwe bought two Chinese MA60s in 2005 and received a third one in
2006 as a gift from the Chinese government.

      AirZimbabwe defends its MA60, which was first tested in 1993 and
received its airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation
Administration of China in 1998.

      The aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, the
instrumentation is by Rockwell Collins, which is a brand very well
associated with the Boeing and Airbus and many other aircraft manufacturers.

      The MA60 produces a lot of noise and vibrations.

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Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF playing Russian Roulette

Michael Trapido

Any negotiator worth his salt will tell you that when you have a man in a
corner always make sure that you leave him with a back door from which he
can escape. If you fail to provide that you leave him only one option ie to
come straight for you with all guns blazing.

In terms of the Zimbabwean negotiations Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC as well as
the splinter group afforded Robert Mugabe and the Zanu-PF a back door and a
get out of jail free card all rolled into one. Yet somehow they seem
reluctant to grab it, make their escape and regroup for another day. Instead
we are seeing the same old posturing and intransigence that had a home in
days gone by, when Zanu-PF still had a few trumps left in their hand, but
which now will result in their total demise.

Just to recap their position:

Despite using every trick in the book they still lost the election. In other
words a free and fair election would result in the splinter party getting
more seats in parliament than them.

In terms of the presidential election the prognosis was so bad for Mugabe
that wholesale murder became the only tool left in the box capable of
derailing a run off.

The ballot being out of the question how does the bullet look?

The SADC and South Africa in particular are no longer going to allow this
impasse to continue indefinitely. The stakes are too high financially for
the SADC and the humanitarian crisis too pronounced for even the AU or UN to
keep ignoring it.

In addition the cost of fighting a full scale civil war with the
international community assisting the "rebels" is something that the Zanu-PF
is incapable of sustaining for any length of period.

The economic position is untenable and is something that not even the
Zanu-PF and all the intimidation in the world can conceal or circumvent.

So if they can't go to the ballot and they certainly can't sustain a
shooting match what next?

What if they stand still?

This is already imploding their entire infrastructure from education to
banking. Their police and army unpaid will leave them open to owning the
bullets they bought to use on the population. The final irony?

In essence the Zanu-PF is playing Russian Roulette on their own where five
of the six chambers have bullets.

Sooner or later their only asset ie the peaceful transition being afforded
by the deal, will be considered too high a price to pay for Zimbabwe. If
that happens we'll be looking at Nurumberg revisited and the demise of the
Zanu-PF. Unfortunately the birth of the MDC monocracy as well.

The power sharing deal was structured to afford the MDC day to day control
of the economy. The international community needs that to be implemented.
This means Home Affairs and Finance go to the MDC. It really is that simple.

Zanu-PF must step back from the abyss before it is too late.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 18th, 2008 at 11:26 am

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From Underground, Leading a March for Democracy
Published: October 17, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe

Joao Silva for The New York Times

Jenni Williams.

JENNI WILLIAMS, Zimbabwe’s hell-raising practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience, was hauled from a Bulawayo jail cell during one of the first of her 33 arrests for leading street protests for social justice during the past five years of President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

In a tiny office, she accused the baton-wielding police of assaulting her. When officers tauntingly told her she was a liar, she turned around, dropped her pants and showed them the bruises on her backside, recalled her lawyer, Perpetua Dube, who was watching.

“You can’t bare your bottom to me!” one of the officers shouted, threatening to charge her with indecent exposure.

Mrs. Williams, a spitfire rebel with an appreciation of the absurd, subsequently described herself in an e-mail message to friends as sitting on the softest cushions she could find and “giggling in between wincing in pain.”

As of Thursday, she was back in a Bulawayo jail cell — this time for leading a sit-in on the grounds of government offices to demand food for the starving and the immediate formation of a power-sharing government with the opposition.

During years when millions of her compatriots fled abroad to escape hardship and repression — among them her mother, husband and three children, now in their 20s — Mrs. Williams, 46, a stocky high school dropout with a gift for grassroots organizing, has lived underground in Zimbabwe, moving from safe house to safe house as she and her colleagues have built a formidable protest movement among the church women of Harare and Bulawayo, the two largest cities.

“Zimbabwe is my home, so why should I go?” she asked. “We have made a pact as a family. I am supposed to prepare Zimbabwe so everyone can come home.”

Dozens of times, she has led seamstresses and maids, vegetable sellers and hairdressers onto the streets in Zimbabwe’s struggle for democracy. They sing gospel songs, carry brooms to figuratively sweep the government clean and bang on pots empty of food.

On May 28, Mrs. Williams and 13 other marchers were arrested in the capital, Harare, as they demanded an end to political violence. Mr. Mugabe’s enforcers were then engaged in systematically beating thousands of the opposition’s supporters before a June presidential runoff that pitted him against the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The police said Mrs. Williams and her fellow protesters promoted violence by handing out fliers that accused Mr. Mugabe of “unleashing violence on voters.”

AND Mrs. Williams, listed as accused No. 1, faces an additional charge of causing disaffection among security forces, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. In a newsletter, the organization she leads — Women of Zimbabwe Arise!, known as Woza — said it told soldiers and police officers to refrain from beating people, a statement the police charged was “likely to induce the members to withhold their services or to commit breaches” of discipline.

“Hear us loud and clear — your leaders may get generous retirement packages, but you will be left to face the justice of the law and the anger of the people,” the newsletter warned.

Mrs. Williams and her fellow leader, Magodonga Mahlangu, 35, were held at the Chikurubi prison in Harare for 37 days and released only after the now-discredited runoff was over. In court papers, the police singled out Mrs. Williams as a leader of great influence.

“She has got many sympathizers all over the country,” the police said in arguing against bail. “If accused is released, she is likely to go into hiding.”

And that, of course, is exactly what she did.

“If we force Mugabe out, it will be the women who are his undoing,” said John Worswick, a ruddy-faced farmer driven from his land in the country’s chaotic land reform program who now leads Justice for Agriculture, an alliance of displaced commercial farmers and farm workers. They are the ones with the mettle for this, he said. “Jenni’s rattled Mugabe more than anyone else.”

Mrs. Williams’s troublemaking lineage stretches back to her grandfather, an Irish Republican Army man. He left County Armagh and wound up a gold prospector in the British colony of southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He took as his common-law wife an Ndebele woman, Bahlezi Moyo, who became the family matriarch and bore him three children, among them Margaret, Jenni’s mother.

Margaret Daunt’s husband, a mechanic, was an absent father, so she raised her own family of seven on what she earned working in hospitals and hotels. Now 74 and living in London, she recalls that when she was at work, Jenni was “a little mother cat” to her siblings and quit convent school to help pay their school fees.

“A cheeky little devil, she was,” Mrs. Daunt said. “When she was younger, if anyone crossed her path, like her sisters or brothers, she had a ferocious Irish temper. I don’t know how the police have arrested her without her lashing back. She’s vowed this nonviolence thing.”

Mrs. Williams, a small-time businesswoman married to an electrician, fell into politics with the onset of Zimbabwe’s political crisis in 2000. After a referendum to give Mr. Mugabe greater executive powers was defeated with financial support from white farmers, he encouraged veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war to invade large white-owned farms, setting off a collapse of the country’s agricultural economy. Mr. Mugabe has been in office since 1980.

Mrs. Williams, doing public relations for the Commercial Farmers Union, began speaking out about the human rights abuses, as well as the fact that many of the choice farms were being given to Mr. Mugabe’s cronies.

In 2002, a year in which Mr. Mugabe defeated Mr. Tsvangirai in an election many independent observers believe was stolen, Mrs. Williams helped found Woza. The movement was nurtured in the sanctuary of churches — Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Apostolic.

“The men had failed us,” said Ms. Mahlangu. “The solutions discussed weren’t bread-and-butter issues, just power.”

In the years since, Woza’s leaders have followed a cardinal rule: they put their own bodies on the line, a risk Mrs. Williams says the leaders of Zimbabwe’s political opposition have too often failed to take.

“We will not tell someone to do what we are not willing to do ourselves,” she said.

Raymond Majongwe, a teachers union leader, recalled being in a Harare jail for five days as Mrs. Williams and other Woza women sang rowdily in their cells.

“It was electric, it was exciting to have Jenni in the cells,” he said. “If you are arrested with Jenni Williams, you will have a very good time. She will not back down.”

EACH time she marches, Mrs. Williams said, she subdues her fear, and the jackhammer pounding of her heart, with deep breathing.

So far, about 2,500 of Woza’s 60,000 members have braved the country’s fetid, overcrowded jails, but Mrs. Williams said many more must join them. “Removing a dictator from power is a numbers game,” she said. The brutal political season that just passed has chilled many.

At a recent underground meeting of 200 Woza members in a Harare church, women, many nursing babies, confessed to their raw fear. One by one, they rose to narrate the May protest that landed Mrs. Williams, whom they call Ma Moyo, in jail.

“We saw the riot police in their cars.”

“I heard the policeman saying, ‘Beat them,’ and I fled.”

“When I saw Ma Moyo getting in the police car, I thought about when I was beaten before and I turned and ran.”

Some leaders who spent weeks in the Chikurubi prison rose to scold the women who had escaped rather than face arrest.

Mrs. Williams, dressed in a bright red T-shirt and floppy hat, spoke last and jauntily, trying to build their courage.

“We came out of Chikurubi and we still had our arms and we still had our. ...” and she slapped her own broad rump to gales of laughter.

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Mimicking Mugabe: Zimbabwe's false democratic project

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
Posted to the web: 18/10/2008 13:11:08
AS THE curtain slowly comes down on one of the vilest regimes of our time,
it seems easy to cast President Robert Mugabe as a failed politician who
blew a sure thing - veering off from being a gentleman of international
standing into a petty tyrant.

Opposite this fallacy is the uncomfortable home truth: Mugabe is a
successful and consistent politician who sought, got and kept power by any
means necessary.

The magic behind this was a calculated combination of hate, bloodletting and
deception which make it possible that in the post-Mugabe era, he will remain
'the climate' for many years to come.

So neat and tight has been this interplay that even his erstwhile masters in
Whitehall and White House have had the embarrassment of scooping the egg off
their faces.

One of the most dangerous legacies that Mugabe seems sure to leave behind
and will continue for many generations to come is his ubiquitous quarrelsome
brand of politics underlined largely by violence, hate, propaganda, obtuse
scholarship and bootlicking.

If what has been happening in Zimbabwe in the last eight years is anything
to go by, it seems clear that even when the veteran dictator finally goes or
dies and the walls of Jericho finally come crumbling down, there won't be
any change at all and the Zimbabwe we seek will remain a dream.

Instead, the new masters will just replace the current ones and march into
the palace with their bootlickers, praise-singers, shock-troops and the
other hangers-on in attendance.

Among them will be perfect matches for people like Tambaoga, George
Charamba, Happyson Muchechetere, Webster Shamu, Vimbai Chivaura, Claude
Mararike, Tafataona Mahoso, Munyaradzi Huni, Caesar Zvayi and other
bigots -- only that they will be singing for a different master.

A cursory look into the Zimbabwean body-politic will reveal that there are
indeed traces of Mugabe's way of doing business. This is not surprising
since as recent as the late 1990's most of the opposition activists still
had the guts to purchase wholesale into Mugabe's politics despite all the
evidence of fascism.

Many people are so angry with Mugabe that they will go to awkward lengths to
sound like democrats because they used to sing praises to a malevolent

One of the most illustrative developments of our time has been the split in
the MDC and the treatment given to both camps by journalists, analysts,
activists and scholars (the lines between these are so thin that you need
extra-powerful goggles to see them).

The varying treatment accorded to both Arthur Mutambara and Morgan
Tsvangirai camps has underlined how Mugabe has succeeded in planting and
germinating his brand of politics across the political architecture that
exists in Zimbabwe.

Once the schism occurred in the MDC in 2005, the masters of spin came forth
to cast the Mutambara crew as Mugabe's stooges and Tsvangirai as a democrat.

Personal political miscalculation on the part of Welshman Ncube ceased to be
what it was and was diligently commuted to treason. Mutambara is no longer a
politician who failed to outmanoeuvre Tsvangirai but is a Mugabe stooge who
committed a sin so unforgivable and unimaginable that he must deserve
everything bad and cruel.

Human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and scholars from Geneva to
Washington are all tumbling over one another in a scramble to be heard first
denouncing these upstarts who wanted to derail the freedom train.

Like their opposites in Zanu PF, these scholars have chipped in to sift
through all these insults and turned them into points of reference to mean
that Mutambara, Davie Coltart, Ncube and Paul Themba Nyathi sold out like
Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi Sithole.

One way to affirm one's commitment to the revolution is no longer to attack
Sithole but Mutambara and Ncube.

No evidence is required to substantiate the claim that Coltart -- a well-up
lawyer who spent many years exposing human rights violations, invariably
inviting Mugabe's ire -- has now joined the tyrant to derail the march of

At work here is the kind of scholarship which turned Zanu PF propaganda from
Maputo into academic effort, while at the same time concocting eulogies for
certain politicians under the pretext of analysis.

Through Mugabe's rule, we have come to learn that the most dangerous laws in
Zimbabwe are unwritten and one of them is that war betides he who tries to
oppose the hero of the time for he will soon be gone. A tonne of bricks will
be hurled in his direction and those who think alike. They shall all be
pulverised and there will be no trace of their remains.

In this way of doing business, democracy means that the gates to heaven will
only be open to those who praise the hero of the times always and denounce
the villain of the times always; anything else is treasonous and you will be
called all sorts of names ranging from CIO through tribalist to nonentity.

As is well known, under Mugabe there can never be debate. The sum total of
all this is that Mugabe emerges as having succeeded in fostering among us a
culture of bootlicking, labelling, denouncing and blackmail.

A combination of failure to read through Mugabe's designs and total
dishonesty on the part of the electorate and the international community has
ensured Mugabe's success from the attainment of power to the securing his

It seems almost certain that Mugabe will not go to Hague for the 1980's
atrocities in Matabeleland. A huge chunk of Africa stands squarely behind
him (never mind Khama and Odinga). He has survived everything that has been
thrown at him -- BBC, CNN, ITV and the entire Fleet Street edifice as a
whole -- not because of anything but by playing the victim and exploiting
the inconsistencies in international politics.

The more the Western media (who shielded him during his 1980's killings)
excoriated him, the more he beat the drums of victimhood to a crescendo and
earned himself the ears of many from the developing world.

A man who should have occupied his place in the annals of history as a
malevolent tyrant is getting away with a claim to heroism. Yet his intention
was never to serve to Zimbabwe but instead Zimbabwe had to serve him in his
totalitarian project, and he succeeded.

All those who tried to outflank him are either dead or are in the political
wilderness or will soon pay a heavy price.

Here is a man who shouldn't have been anywhere nearer power but should have
been a professor of mass communication teaching specifically English,
propaganda and public speaking now a few steps from becoming one of the top
Africans! (Remember the New African survey?).

Add to that, his ways are commonplace within the Zimbabwean society where
the more his victims say they hate him, the more they mimic him!

There won't be any climate change in Zimbabwe after Mugabe - a political
survivor who simply couldn't lead but could divide and proceed. Witness the
sure and undisputed candidate for Hague whistling past the gates of justice
to safety.

This, by any standards, is success.

Mthulisi Mathuthu is The New Zimbabwe news editor and can be contacted on

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