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Mugabe in Kampala for tripartite summit

October 22, 2008

President Mugabe listens, while attending the EAC-COMSA-SADC summit in Kampala Wednesday, October 22.

By a Correspondent

KAMPALA – President Robert Mugabe and South Africa’s new President Kgalema Motlanthe are among leaders of 26 countries who arrived in the Ugandan capital to attend the first tripartite summit of three eastern and southern African blocks.

Mugabe and Motlanthe were both in the Swaziland capital on Monday when an extra-ordinary summit on the Zimbabwe crisis was aborted after Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan Tsvangirai failed to arrive.

The summit of the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) kicked off in Kampala on Wednesday. The summit aims at seeking cooperation and coordination of the three blocs in all sectors with an ultimate goal to form a single market.

The presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya all gave speeches outlining ideas for increasing economic and political alliances among three of Africa’s major trading blocs.

The summit brought delegates from 26 members of the three blocs who will discuss matters related to enhancing cooperation among the EAC, COMESA and the SADC, three of the eight regional economic communities recognized under the African Union (AU) conventions as the building blocks for the African Economic Community (AEC) and continental unity.

In an official opening speech to the summit, Tomaz Salomao, executive secretary of the SADC who also spoke on behalf of COMESA and the EAC, said holding such a tripartite summit had not been easy but with the wisdom and commitment from all the members, the summit had become a reality.

The tripartite summit was the defining moment for Eastern and Southern Africa which share the same development targets, Salomao said.

The summit will provide the members of the three blocs with the strategies and directions for their efforts toward the regional integration, he said.

“The tripartite framework agenda has indeed redefined our benchmarks for regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa, and Africa as a whole,” the SADC official also said.

The moment is also opportune for the three sub-regions to push for enhanced market access, global competitiveness and increased intra-African trade, Salomao said.

There is broad consensus on the pivotal role of infrastructure in the overall regional development agendas it unlocks opportunities for trade, economic development and free movement of people, the official noted.

The challenge for mobilization of fund for infrastructure should be accorded priority as a matter of urgency, he added.

Also topping the agenda of the summit are issues of multiple memberships in the three communities with a view to coordinating and harmonizing their regional integration programs.

The three regional economic communities in eastern and southern Africa comprise 26 countries with a combined population of 527 million people.

The 26 countries make up half of the African Union (AU) in terms of membership and just over 58 percent in term of contribution to GDP and 57 percent of the total population of AU.

The tripartite summit is considered as historic because for the first time, since the birth of the AU, key building blocs of AEC are meeting on how to integrate territories and moving towards deepening and widening integration within the overall Abuja Treaty for the establishment of AEC.

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Odinga calls for stern action against Mugabe

by Tendai Hungwe Thursday 23 October 2008

NAIROBI - Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga on Tuesday called on the
international community to take stern action against Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe over "gross violation of human rights" in denying an
opposition leader a passport.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and prime minister-designate in a unity
government with Mugabe proposed under a September 15 power-sharing agreement
has not been granted a normal passport for months. He requires emergency
travel documents every time he leaves the country.

On Monday, Tsvangirai refused to travel to a regional summit in Swaziland to
discuss Zimbabwe's political crisis insisting the government should issue
him with a passport. The meeting had to be postponed to October 27 in Harare
but Tsvangirai has indicated he will still not attend should Mugabe's
government insist on not giving him a passport.

Speaking at the 9th International Conference of Human Rights Institutions in
Nairobi, Odinga accused Harare of continued harassment and violation of
human rights, arguing that the Mugabe-led government had no moral authority
to deny Tsvangirai the opportunity to travel anywhere he wishes in the

"How do you deny a prime minister-designate a passport to travel unless you
yourself are insane as a president? Mugabe is the cause of the problem we
have in Zimbabwe and the region," said Odinga.

An outspoken critic of Mugabe's controversial rule, Odinga said the
Zimbabwean leader should not be allowed to spread his seeds of dictatorship
throughout the continent and urged Western powers and the African Union to
take drastic action against the Harare administration.

"This is the right time to act for the international community. The
international community has an obligation to release people of Zimbabwe from
ZANU PF bondage," he said, adding that Mugabe had since become a
full-fledged dictator whose wings must be clipped before he spreads seeds of
his dictatorship throughout the continent.

The Kenyan premier, who came to power through a power-sharing deal following
a violent post-election crisis that claimed not less than 1 000 lives, said
there was a strong feeling among Kenyans that the government of Zimbabwe has
completely abandoned its people.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal that has echoes of the Kenyan pact, is seen as
the first step to ending the southern African country's unprecedented
economic crisis that is highlighted by the world's highest inflation of 231
million percent, acute shortages of food, fuel, electricity, hard cash and
every basic survival commodity.

However, the failure to form a government after countless round of
negotiations has raised doubts over whether the deal can stand the strain
given deep-seated mistrust between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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Tackle governance at summit, Miria says

New Vision, Uganda

Wednesday, 22nd October, 2008
By Ganzi Muhanguzi,
Patrick Jaramogi
and Moses Mulondo

THE president of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) party, Miria Obote, has
demanded that the tripartite summit, held in Kampala, tackles good

Addressing journalists at the party's headquarters yesterday, Obote
criticised the Government over what she called 'routine abuse of fundamental
human rights.'

"The greatest set back of the East African Community, COMESA and SADC is
their failure to institutionalise good governance," she said.

The three blocs, comprising 26 countries in eastern and southern Africa,
discussed economic integration and cooperation on transport, energy and ICT.

Presidents Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa, Pual Kagame of Rwanda, Mwai
Kibaki of Kenya, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and
Burundi's vice-president attended the meeting. The Zimbabwean opposition
also sent a delegation.

Obote also contested the legitimacy of some of the leaders who attended the

"Because several of the leaders in EAC, COMESA and SADC do not enjoy popular
support, they are in office against the will of their people."
She added that the failure of the three trading blocs to develop into
effective common markets was regrettable.

"The lack of harmonisation between these blocs is a source of duplication,
and wastage of scarce resources," she said.

She urged Africans to demand good governance and called for sanctions
against errand leaders through regional and national courts.

Commenting on the political impasse in Zimbabwe, Patrick Mwondha, a UPC
official, said it was a tragedy that the ruling party and main opposition
party had failed to reach an agreement.
"Zimbabwe is virtually a failed state at the moment, and this is the tragedy
of African governance," he said.

On a different note, Obote said her party was still looking for a suitable
candidate for the Kyadondo North parliamentary seat. The seat fell vacant
after Prof. Ssebunya Kibirige passed away earlier this month.

"We are still searching for a suitable candidate, but for now, there is
none," she said.

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Corruption fears over £300m UN aid

Zimbabwe is set to receive almost $500 million (£307 million) of aid for its
health system, with the money going through President Robert Mugabe's
Reserve Bank, raising fears that his regime will benefit.

By Sebastien Berger in Johannesburg and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 11:27PM BST 22 Oct 2008

The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, administered by the
United Nations and funded by Britain, America and other critics of the
Harare regime, has agreed in principle to Zimbabwe's request for help. Jon
Liden, its communications director, confirmed that Zimbabwe had applied for
almost $300 million to fight Aids, $58 million to combat tuberculosis,
almost $60 million for malaria and $83 million for its health service in
general. This application had cleared the most important hurdle by gaining
approval from the "technical review panel".

All that remains is for the Global Fund's board to agree to release the
funds at its meeting in New Delhi next month. Mr Mugabe's regime has already
described this as a "foregone conclusion".

But Zimbabwean law states that all foreign exchange must be deposited with
the Reserve Bank. Gideon Gono, its governor and one of Mr Mugabe's closest
allies, routinely delays releasing any funds.

The Reserve Bank held on to $600,000 for one aid programme for several
months. A senior official with one donor organisation in Harare said that
some funds had actually gone missing after arriving at the Reserve Bank.

"The next round of money is desperately needed in Zimbabwe, but no one will
feel good about any going into the RBZ [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe]," he said.

Dr Greg Powell, a human rights campaigner in Harare, said that large sums of
donor money in foreign currency had been taken from the accounts of local
aid agencies during this year's bitterly contested presidential election,
which is yet to be resolved as Mr Mugabe clings to power. "During the
election period, foreign money from a number of NGOs [non-governmental
organisations] disappeared from their bank accounts," he said.

"They were told they could be paid out at the official rate of exchange in
Zimbabwe dollars - at a very low rate of exchange at that time, or that they
will get it back some time in the future."

Dr Henry Madzorera, the health spokesman for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, said he hoped the Global Fund would ensure
"accountability" if the new money is released. "We all know what goes on at
the Reserve bank. It is not surprising, and someone should be held

Western diplomats in Harare see Mr Gono as one of the main authors of
Zimbabwe's economic collapse. They blame the Reserve Bank under his
leadership for the outbreak of hyperinflation.

But the Global Fund insisted that strict safeguards were in place. "We
operate in 136 countries, many of them are infamous for their corruption, so
we are extremely concerned and conscious about the possible misuse of
†funds," said Mr Liden. "It has taken longer to put in place a safe
disbursement mechanism in Zimbabwe than any other country. The money is
highly controlled in an extremely tight and cautious way. We have not seen
any signs of money being lost to corruption in Zimbabwe, despite operating
in Zimbabwe for five years."

Zimbabwe's health system has collapsed to the point where even basic
medicines are in short supply and trained personnel are emigrating droves.
Female life expectancy stands at only 34 - the lowest in the world.

The country's so-called "war veterans", Mr Mugabe's shock troops who have
carried out much of the land invasions and violence of recent years, have
issued a new threat to the opposition leader and putative prime minister
Morgan Tsvangirai. Their leader Jabulani Sibanda told the Herald newspaper
that the MDC chief was blocking the power-sharing agreement.

He added: "He is leaving the people of Zimbabwe with one option: to take
action. If he behaves the way he is behaving, this nation will take action
to defend itself from him."

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SA package late to save Zim farming season: Analysts

by Edith Kaseke Thursday 23 October 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's wealthier neighbour, South Africa, is readying a R300
million fund to help lift the country's collapsed agricultural sector but
analysts say this may be too late to save a disastrous 2008/9 farming season
and that the money would be better used stockpiling food to prevent famine.

South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced the plan on Tuesday
as Africa's economic powerhouse tries to help revive Zimbabwe's ailing
farming industry, once the country's economic backbone before President
Robert Mugabe unilaterally seized, often violently, white-owned productive
commercial farms to resettle blacks.

Zimbabwe is lagging behind in preparations for the summer cropping season -
already underway in some districts or due to start in the rest of the
country in less than four weeks time - with inputs such as seed, fertilizer
and fuel in short supply.

Official figures show that the country has less than 30 percent of national
seed requirements and farmers were forced to reduce their maize hectarage to
500 000 from a targeted one million hectares.

"South Africa's intentions are very good but time is not on our side, we are
already looking at another disastrous agriculture season," said John
Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, who is critical of Mugabe's
government policies.

"What would make sense is to use the money to purchase food for millions of
people who are starving or buy farming inputs for next year (2009/2010
season) because the agriculture season is already upon us and we have been
caught wanting again," said Makumbe.

Makumbe said the money was unlikely to be released until there was a new
government, whose formation has stalled despite a power-sharing deal reached
last month between Mugabe, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a smaller rebel MDC

Even if South Africa was to immediately release the funds, procuring inputs,
transporting them to Zimbabwe and distributing the inputs among farmers
could take more than three months, which would be too late in the farming

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are locked in a dispute over the control of powerful
ministries, which is threatening to derail the September 15 deal that raised
hopes among a battered population that nearly a decade of economic meltdown
may be coming to an end.

However, while the politicians quarrel over positions, a majority of the
country's impatient farmers is waiting for farming inputs. The first of
summer rains have already fallen in some parts of Zimbabwe but farmer
organisations say many farmers are yet to prepare their land, let alone have

"Preparations for this agriculture season are lagging behind and any funding
should be used to acquire inputs for next year, that will be a starting
point," a spokesman for the Commercial Farmers' Union said.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga is leading a
committee, dubbed Champion Farmer, to distribute inputs to farmers but the
seed and fertilizer are in short supply. The committee this week pleaded
with farmers to help with transport to move available inputs to the country's
10 provinces.

Once a net food exporter, Zimbabwe has seen its agriculture fortunes plunge
along with an imploding economy largely blamed on Mugabe's populist
nationalist policies such as the land seizures and plans to forcibly grab
major shareholding in foreign-owned companies, especially mines.

But the ageing Mugabe, who has held power since independence in 1980 instead
blames Zimbabwe's misfortunes on bad weather and Western sanctions he says
have crimpled the importation of fertilizers, seed, and other farming

His critics say there is no need to import inputs but that the government
should radically change its economic and political policies and help local

Manuel said the R300 million was "subject to acceptance of an appropriate
role for international food relief agencies by a recognised multi-party
government", meaning that Mugabe has to form a joint Cabinet with Tsvangirai's
MDC - something no one is sure will happen anytime soon. - ZimOnline

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Amid Recriminations, Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Partners Face Failure


By Blessing Zulu
22 October 2008

Zimbabwe's tenuous political power-sharing process looked increasingly
fragile on Wednesday as the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the
Movement for Democratic Change of prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai
traded recriminations over their failure to assemble the unity government
envisioned in their Sept. 15 compact.

The political climate grew more acrimonious as Zimbabwe War Veterans
Association Chairman Jabulani Sibanda threatened to "take action" against
Tsvangirai, whom he accused of stalling implementation of the power-sharing
pact. The state-run Herald newspaper quoted Sibanda as saying Tsvangirai was
testing the people's patience and they might turn on him.

MDC and ZANU-PF insiders said the rift between the parties to the agreement
was widening despite efforts by former South African president Thabo Mbeki
and the Southern African Development Community to break a weeks-old deadlock
over the allocation of ministries in the government Zimbabweans hoped would
undertake urgent national reconstruction.

SADC political officials are due in Harare next Monday for another attempt
to end the impasse - a meeting of the SADC political troika or committee
scheduled early this week failed to take place when Tsvangirai, who lacks a
valid passport, failed to show up in Swaziland.

Now Tsvangirai's formation of the MDC is saying he must first be the
passport the government has failed to provide him before the party will
commit to joining Monday's meeting.

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told the Herald that the MDC
should stop "waffling in the press" and take its seat at the SADC
negotiating table next week.

Tsvangirai's MDC formation, backed by Botswana, said it might demand new
elections under international supervision if the power-sharing deal does not
yield a unity government.

VOA was unable to obtain comment from ZANU-PF Information Secretary Nathan
Shamuyarira, whose office said he was out of the country.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a new round of elections
is an option.

Political analyst Herman Hanekom said in an interview from Cape Town that
Mr. Mugabe's strategy of claiming the most powerful ministries leaves the
MDC little choice.

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Zimbabwe's Opposition Factions Differ On Call For By-Elections


By Carole Gombakomba
22 October 2008

The two formations of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
have adopted different positions on the proposal by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to organize by-elections to fill three vacant house seats and
three empty senate chairs.

The dominant MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, prime
minister-designate under the power-sharing arrangement subscribed to Sept.
15 by both MDC formations with the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert
Mugabe, says holding by-elections at this time would violate the political
stand-still provision of the power-sharing agreement.

Article XXI of the agreement stipulates that for one year only the party
holding a seat should field a candidate if the seat becomes vacant for
whatever reason, in the interest of avoiding conflict and giving the
traumatized Zimbabwean electorate a period of rest.

In the House of Assembly. the Gokwe-Gumunyu seat was vacated on the death of
ZANU-PF MP Ephraim Mushoriwa. The Matobo North seat became empty when
Chairman Lovemore Moyo of the Tsvangirai MDC formation was elected house
speaker. The Guruve North seat fell vacant upon the death of lawmaker Cletus
Mabharanga of ZANU-PF.

On the senate side, the Chegutu seat was vacated by ZANU-PF's Edna Madzongwe
when she was elected senate president; the Chiredzi seat fell vacant after
Titus Maluleke of ZANU-PF was appointed Provincial Governor of Masvingo; and
the Gokwe South seat was vacated by Jaison Max Kokerai Machaya of ZANU-PF,
named Midlands provincial governor.

MDC Elections Director Dennis Murira told reporter Carole Gombakomba that
his party awaits the outcome of power-sharing talks, but said the move to
hold by-elections signals in his view that ZANU-PF has reneged on the
effective one-year elections moratorium.

VOA was unable to reach ZANU-PF Political Commissar Elliot Manyika for
comment. But the party has announced that it is getting ready to contest the

Elsewhere, Elections Director Paul Themba Nyathi of the MDC formation headed
by Arthur Mutambara said that as the power-sharing deal has not been
enshrined in law, his party sees no impediment to holding by-elections to
fill empty house and senate seats.

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Harare to ask coalminers to establish power plants

by Nokuthula Sibanda Thursday 23 October 2008

HARARE - Firms applying to mine coal in Zimbabwe will now be required to
include plans to set up thermal power plants as the country battles to
improve availability of electricity, a top government official said

Government mining promotion and development director Titus Nyatsanga said in
helping provide a long-term solution to power shortages, the move would help
to spread development across the country which holds vast deposits of coal.

Zimbabwe has vast coal deposits in the Save-Limpopo basin, which includes
Matabeleland South province, Masvingo province and the southern parts of
Manicaland as well as in the Zambezi basin.

"The southern parts do not have a source of power and yet a number of
companies are intending to mine coal," said Nyatsanga, who was addressing
participants to a joint staff and command course at the army-ran Zimbabwe
Staff College.

"It is hoped that in a number of years we will have power plants in those
parts of the country to augment what the Hwange thermal power station is
producing," he said.

Zimbabwe, which is able to generate only about 65 percent of its power
requirements, is battling persistent power cuts after foreign suppliers
reduced exports to the country as they struggle to meet rising demand in
their own domestic markets.

The power shortfall has forced the government's ZESA energy utility to
implement a severe rationing regime which has seen households sometimes
going for weeks on end without any supplies as the little electricity
available is diverted to productive sectors.

Meanwhile Nyatsanga said the government was looking to amend the Mines and
Minerals Act in order to encourage holders of mining claims to exploit them
and also to pave way for new entrants into the sector.

The amendments would aim to redress historical imbalances in participation
of indigenous blacks in the lucrative mining sector that is currently
dominated by whites and foreign owned firms.

"To increase players in mining we have had to put such measures to allow
others to come in and do business," he said.

President Robert Mugabe's government earlier this year announced plans to
amend the Mines Act to force foreign owned companies to cede 51 percent of
their stake in the companies to indigenous ownership or the state.

Multilateral companies and other interested parties raised an outcry at the
news, accusing the government of wanting to nationalise their companies.

The opposition MDC party, which now controls Parliament, also criticised the
controversial indigenisation plans which it said were just a ploy by
powerful politicians of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party to grab private mines
the same way they seized farms from whites. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe House Moves Motion To Declare National Food Disaster


By Patience Rusere & Irwin Chifera
22 October 2008

The Zimbabwe House of Assembly on Wednesday moved a motion to declare severe
food shortages across the country a national disaster. A full vote on the
motion is to be taken when parliament reconvenes Nov. 11, house sources
Parliamentarian Abednico Bhebhe of the Movement for Democratic Change
formation led by Arthur Mutambara, representing Nkayi South in Matabeleland
said the motion was a response to the growing number of deaths from
malnutrition and followed intense lobbying by non-governmental

Bhebhe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
legislation is also envisioned to provide for the free entry of food into
the country to relieve hunger.

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Extent of Zimbabwe's food crisis exposed

A 15-year-old was choked to death by a nut of a wild fruit in rural Zimbabwe
where villagers now survive on tree leaves, roots and wild fruits because of
gripping food shortages.

Sifiso Dube, a student at Vungu secondary school in Lower Gweru, died on
Friday after he was choked by a nut of the wild cork fruit or hacha/umkhuna

Sifiso was buried on Monday at Sivalo area in Lower Gweru. The wild fruit is
now the staple food for starving villagers in Lower Gweru, among other
hunger hit provinces of the country.

The fruit that is normally consumed by monkeys, donkeys and baboons can be
dried up or its liquid drank after its juice is squeezed out. But the fruit
if consumed daily with no substitute or change of diet causes digestive

Headman Collin Mantiya confirmed that Dube was choked to death by a nut of a
wild fruit.

According to Mr Mantiya, food shortages in Lower Gweru, as in other hunger
stricken provinces, have reached crisis proportions with villagers now
surviving on dangerous wild fruits, tree leaves and roots.

"Villagers are eating dangerous wild fruits, tree leaves and roots because
of food shortages. The 15-year-old boy died after he was choked by a nut of
umkhuna while numerous villagers have reported sick after eating some
unknown wild fruits," said Mr Mantiya.

The food situation in the country has reached alarming proportions with
villagers now surviving on wild fruits while people in the urban areas
survive on one meal per day.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general Tendai
Biti on Saturday told over 20,000 party supporters at a rally in the
country's second biggest city, Bulawayo, that villagers are now competing
with donkeys ands other wild animals for wild fruits.

"A serious humanitarian crisis is unfolding in our eyes. The food situation
in the country has reached crisis proportions and reduced the dignity of our
people who are now competing with donkeys and other wild animals for wild
fruits in order to survive," Mr Biti said.

Food monitoring organisations and relief agencies say over three million
Zimbabweans face starvation because of gripping food shortages. The agencies
say the figure will more than double before next year's harvest in 2009.

The food situation was worsened by a ban on aid agencies in June by
president Robert Mugabe who accused the organisations of using food aid as
bait against starving Zimbabweans to vote against him.

The ban was only lifted after Mr Mugabe's controversial re-election in a one
man June 27th run-off poll following an international outcry.

Analysts say the current food shortages, in their eighth year in succession,
is the testimony of the ill effects of Mr Mugabe's chaotic land reform
programme of year 2000 that turned the nation to a basket case of Africa
from being the breadbasket of Africa.
© Adfero Ltd
23 October 2008 03:10 GMT

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Soldiers Accused of Harassing Customers at Zimbabwe Banks


By Jonga Kandemiiri
22 October 2008

Waiting in long lines to withdraw small amounts of cash from banks has
become a way of life for Zimbabweans, but residents of Gokwe, Midlands
province, say they also face harassment by soldiers who have beaten and
harassed those in line for real or imagined offenses.

Sources in Gokwe said soldiers stationed at the local Grain Marketing Board
depot under the so-called Operation Maguta ("Food Security") collective
farming program have beaten people and inflicted humiliating punishments
after accusing people of jumping the bank queue.

The sources said several teachers who sought to withdraw their salaries on
Wednesday were beaten or ejected from the line by the soldiers. They said
that on Monday a pregnant woman was forced to crawl for about 50 meters
after being accused of jumping the queue.

Though the town of Gokwe has six banks, the inability of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to satisfy consumer and business demand for bank notes has forced
people to queue for hours to withdraw the daily maximum allowance. That was
recently raised to Z$50,000, which would only purchase three loaves of bread
with hyperinflation daily eroding purchasing power.

A teacher speaking on condition he not be identified for told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the volatile political
situation allows the soldiers take the law into their own hands because they
know that even the police cannot challenge them.

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Zimbabwe Still a Difficult Place for Media Despite Improvements


By Tendai Maphosa
22 October 2008

The annual Reporters Without Borders index says Zimbabwe's media lies in
ruins and that life has become impossible for independent journalists.
Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA from Harare.

The 2008 report of the Paris-based media lobby group says there were fewer
press violations in 2007, because it says there are not many journalists
left to arrest. It adds the few privately-owned publications that still
appear, do so under tight surveillance.

The report lists cases of Zimbabwean journalists arrested for doing their
work during 2007. It mentions the disrupted prayer meeting when opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and brutally beaten up by the police.

Free-lance cameraman Edward Chikomba was found dead two weeks after the
Tsvangirai beating. He was accused of being responsible for selling footage
of a bruised and battered Tsvangirai to the international media.

The report says although amendments to the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act have liberalized the media environment in
Zimbabwe, the state continues to harass those it describes as agents of the

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president, Matthew Takaona, tells VOA the
amendments to the Act, which became law in 2002 did not stop the harassment
of journalists during the election campaigns earlier this year. He conceded
things have eased somewhat since the June 27 presidential election runoff
and the signing of the power-sharing agreement last month.

He says, for instance, journalists do not have to apply for a license to go
about their work. Prior to the amendments, a journalist who operated without
a license risked a two-year jail term. The license may not be a requirement
anymore, but Takaona says there is a catch.

"You cannot access public places like government functions if you do not
have an accreditation card, but anywhere else you can practice," he said.

Another amendment abolishes the Media and Information Commission, which
regulated the activities of the media since 2002. The government appointed
commission was responsible for issuing licenses to journalists and media
organizations. In its place will be a media commission, which is still to be
set up by parliament.

Takaona says his union does not see this as an improvement.

"The media commission can be just another Media and Information Commission
because it will be one of the arms of government that can be used to
regulate the media we have said as the necessary for the media in any
democratic society to be regulated by the state or by government but there
must be self regulation. So it might still be the same Media and Information
Commission but in a different jacket," he said.

Since the passing of the Access to Information and Privacy Act, newspapers
have been banned and there are no independent dailies in Zimbabwe. The
government also has a monopoly on the electronic media.

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Mugabe said the pen cannot fight the gun

October 22, 2008

By Masiiwa Ragies Gunda

SINCE March 29, the hope and optimism of many Zimbabweans have been raised
and dashed again and again.

They were raised initially because it was clear to Zimbabweans who had cast
their votes that the monster had finally been defeated, dashed because the
monster refused to be defeated. Remember the threat that “the pen cannot
fight the gun”!

Then along came the talks, the deal and further talks, which have now nearly
collapsed because the losers, aided by Thabo Mbeki (blessed be the ANC for
sending him packing) decide on the strength of the gun that they will cede
some power to the MDC, wrongly designated the “opposition” party by many
people. In all this, I have always asked myself, can Morgan Tsvangirai do
everything for us? I have read many differing views on what Tsvangirai
should do, and I must confess I am one of those people who think he should
do certain things; I will come to my opinion on that later in this article.

Assuming that finally, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts agree to cede control
of Home Affairs and Finance and other ministries to the MDC, what challenges
do we face as Zimbabweans to turn around our life. There is no doubt that if
this were to happen, it would be the one big step towards normalizing the
situation in Zimbabwe. But I have tended to observe that as Zimbabweans we
seem not to want to face certain truths about “mmusu”, explained as the evil
we do on ourselves.

This will undo even all the billions that may flow into Zimbabwe. This is
part of the reason why we are where we are today, we have committed so much
evil upon ourselves that it is almost impossible for anyone else to help us
unless we begin to face up to our own weaknesses and begin to address them
for the common good.

The cancer that threatens to destroy us pertains to how we have put into
practice the concept of individualism. Let’s face the truth, it started with
Mugabe and his cronies when they decided to line their pockets in the
infamous “Willowgate Scandal” in the late 1980s. Then with the inception of
ESAP, our political leadership appears to have deliberately falsified the
essence of capitalism and in the process, we all thought that capitalism
simply means you exploit the person next to you and they will have to find
their own target.

Our society has essentially been reduced to the metaphorical “dog-eat-dog”
society. We now resemble what Charles Darwin called “natural selection”
where only the survival of the fittest is guaranteed. In our case, we have
now come to the realisation that only the survival of the cunning and brutal
is guaranteed.

In this environment, can Tsvangirai perform wonders and turn things around?

What do I mean by all this? I currently live outside Zimbabwe but have the
person that I have trusted with my life living there and I believe what she
tells me. Figure this out, some business people go to South Africa or
Botswana, buy some basic commodities there. A 2-litre bottle of cooking oil
costs roughly 30 Pula in Botswana and is then resold in Zimbabwe at 75 Pula.
Almost everything is tripled or quadrupled. Is this honest business

Today, the shops that have been authorised to sell in foreign currency, I am
told, do not sell anything for less than 1USD. This page will not be enough
for me to list the number of things that I buy here in Europe for much less
than 1USD/1€. Consider also our friends working for NGOs, who are building
17-bedroom houses all over Harare. Do we really need all these rooms? Where
are we getting the money from? How much of the donor funds are being shared
by these guys and how much finally trickles down to those who really need
assistance? Why is this happening in our society?

Can Tsvangirai change these things for us? I fully appreciate the usual
argument, that we are all crooks today because we need to survive. But do we
really have to survive by killing those people we desperately need for us to
remain a society? Most of the time, we have comforted ourselves by
proclaiming that what we are doing is basically fix Robert Mugabe.

Unfortunately, we have not been fixing Mugabe in any way because when he
needs foreign currency, we hear that Gono sends multitudes of people to buy
forex from us and we sell. Our actions in reality have been hurting our
fellow victims and that is why, I think this cancer has spread so
dangerously in our society as to be fatal. Not even Morgan Tsvangirai can
change these things unless we begin to engage in some serious
self-introspection into how our little activities have contributed to the
misery that is written all over the faces of our fellow victims of Mugabe’s
“life of madness” not “moment of madness”.

Tsvangirai is right when he says the change we so desire will be painful.
Reminds me of a stomach pain when I was young and the only solution lay in
chewing “tsangamidzi”. It is bitter but necessary and this is what we should
begin preparing for. Unless we actively take part in the small ways we have
taken part in tearing our society down, no one, even if the United States
Congress was to divert all the “700 Billion dollar bailout package” to
Zimbabwe can turn things around. We certainly need money to turn things
around in Zimbabwe, but we also need to redefine the philosophical basis for
our society.

I am aware these views may not be popular with many Zimbabweans, especially
those who are also benefitting from the madness presided over by Mugabe and
Gono, but unless we begin to look deeply at ourselves, soon we will discover
that Tsvangirai is not after all, a Messiah. We trust him and we should help
him. We falsely think that western societies are extremely individualistic;
you need to study these societies again. These societies do care for their
unfortunate members. I know this is not “the all”, but I think it is crucial
that we appreciate that in our quest to fix Mugabe, we have been fixing
ourselves, we can change things just as we aided Mugabe, we can aide
Tsvangirai if he comes into government.

That leads me to a discussion of what I think Tsvangirai must do, if this
monster they are creating with Mugabe is to work for the people or if it
fails to materialise.

First, in order for the people of Zimbabwe to affect the change we so much
desire, the constitution should be urgently dealt with. My reason for the
prioritization of the constitution may not be the same with lawyers’ because
I am no lawyer myself. The constitution will help in defining the philosophy
upon which we will ground our society.

As I mentioned earlier on, the current philosophy of “dog-eat-dog” cannot be
used for a society that seeks sustainable development. That is the
philosophy that has taken us to the brink of total annihilation of the weak
and vulnerable. We need a new philosophy and the constitution must clearly
spell out what that philosophy is. That is why it is imperative that a new
constitution be worked on immediately. Without a functional philosophy that
protects all Zimbabweans, I can fully understand why it is pertinent what
ministry the MDC gets in this arrangement. The police, the Registrar
General, the army and all other institutions have been used to sustain this
“dog-eat-dog” philosophy that is why Zanu-PF feels they cannot let go of

They are afraid of their own philosophy!

What should happen if this deal fails, and the chances are currently 51-49
in favour of a failure! I am one of those people who think in the event that
the deal has failed, Tsvangirai must take the following steps. First, he
should slip out of Zimbabwe, and then he should form a government in exile.
These two steps are critical for the quick resolution of the Zimbabwe

How? We have already been told in no uncertain terms that the “pen cannot
fight the gun”. We may have to put the same statement differently to get the
advice given by Mugabe himself to the people of Zimbabwe, “only guns can
fight guns”. We have tried all democratic means of fighting this
dictatorship but each day that passes, shows clearly that dictators do not
leave office by democratic means.

Essentially, I am arguing here that Zimbabwe is now ready for a “Just
Uprising”. We all have the anger that our brothers had when they decided to
fight against Ian Smith (I lost five brothers during that war, no one can
lecture me on the pain of war). They fought and were never worried if they
were to see the free society they so desired. We are busy today worrying
about whether we can see the free society that we so desire. Tsvangirai
should now prepare to lead the people through thick and thin or someone else
will rise and take the honour!

For how long are we going to exploit each other while Mugabe continues to
mess us up? No one can dispute the fact that everything that must happen to
justify an uprising has happened and in some cases more than once in
Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans must make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of their
children and those to come after them.

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New Book: 'Jambanja' by Eric Harrison

JAMBANJA - The true life story of a Zimbabwean farmer - by Eric Harrison has
just been published.

He didn't say a word as Whitehat stepped forward. "We are the new owners of
Maioio Farm." He said menacingly, as he pointed to the other three. "You
have got 24 hours to get off ... now move it!"

Harry, a white Zimbabwean farmer, has fought to create a life out from under
the shadow of war. From meagre beginnings he carves a successful citrus farm
from the "dirt" of a newly-built settlement, only to have it ripped away in
a series of vicious and shocking attacks. His family, friends and faith are
sorely tested as he struggles to fight back "by the book."

Eric Harrison was inspired to write Jambanja after realising how un-informed
those outside Zimbabwe are about the intimidation policies implemented by
the government of Zimbabwe in the name of Land Redistribution.

A true Zimbabwean, born in the heart of the country, the author grew up
amongst many challenges. He lived and worked with the local population,
developing enduring friendships, and learning and respecting their customs
and cultures... He grew up immersed in the Rhodesian political arena in a
tumultuous era in that country's history. He had been a soldier in the
Rhodesian forces, and ended the war as a Pilot in the Police Reserve
Air-Wing. Eric Harrison has farmed in Zimbabwe for over 30 years.

Forced by "Jambanja" to leave their farm in South Eastern Zimbabwe, Eric and
his wife Joan now live in Harare. They continue to fight for the restitution
of their rights, dignity and self respect and those of the hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabweans of all races who have lost everything.

The purpose of documenting this heart-searing reality is to give them all a

In the year 2000, with the stroke of a pen, the President of Zimbabwe
changed the Constitution, declaring, "the people of Zimbabwe have been
unjustifiably dispossessed of their land." In other words, that the land had
been stolen and everything that had gone into developing the land - the
years of work, sacrifice and involvement - counted for nothing. Shortly
afterwards, he unleashed the war veterans onto commercial farms,
unconstitutionally and illegally, forcing the farmers off the land.

This is a true story and like all such stories, the storyteller is a part of
it too. It is my story, my life but I have told it from the outside. It is a
complex and difficult situation in Zimbabwe and I had to take a step back
from the intensity of it all to give you the fullest and fairest picture
that I could, so you could make up your own mind about the justice or
injustices done in the name of 'land redistribution'.

There were over 4,500 commercial farmers, their workers plus families at the
start of the land invasions.

4,500 stories - this is just one of them.

Eric "Harry" Harrison

Message from Eric . . . . .

For every book sold I am donating 15% to SOAP (Support our aged people) and
if you could pass this info on, I would be most grateful.

E-Mail: Eric Harrison <>

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