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Zimbabwe PM-Designate Tsvangirai to Attend Monday Negotiations


By Peta Thornycroft
24 October 2008

Zimbabwe's prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai says he will attend a
meeting of regional leaders in Harare Monday after he boycotted the last
session a week ago because he had no passport to travel to Swaziland. Peta
Thornycroft reports that Mr. Tsvangirai will attend a last ditch regional
meeting which will try and remove a deadlock on filling top cabinet
positions in any new government of national unity.

Morgan Tsvangirai still has no passport but will not need one for the next
regional meeting because it will take place in Harare.

A Movement for Democratic Change spokesman said he is attending even though
many conditions agreed to in the power sharing agreement signed on September
15 have been broken by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said pro-democracy activists continue to be
arrested and harassed, in particular leading figures from the Women of
Zimbabwe Arise organization. Three of them were arrested earlier this week
at a peaceful protest outside government offices.

One, Jenni Williams, remains in detention in Bulawayo.

Chamisa also pointed to the state-controlled mass media, which runs the only
two daily newspapers and the one television and four radio stations. The
state media carries daily reports hostile to the MDC.

Having been denied a passport since June, Mr. Tsvangirai last weekend
refused to attend a meeting called by the Southern African Development
Community, SADC, which is mediating a settlement of Zimbabwe's ever
deepening political, economic and humanitarian crisis.

Now he has said he will attend another SADC session in Harare, at which
leaders from Mozambique, Angola. Swaziland and the Democratic Republic of
Congo are expected to attend.

The SADC mediation, which began last year, and ended in failure eight months
later, restarted after Zimbabwe's elections in March in which the MDC
narrowly beat ZANU-PF in the parliamentary elections and Mr. Tsvangirai won
the first round of the presidential poll from Mr. Mugabe.

Heading the team is former South African president Thabo Mbeki who has
continued to facilitate despite fears that the power-sharing agreement is
unlikely to succeed.

The present deadlock is about allocation of cabinet positions. ZANU-PF wants
all the security posts, such as defense, the police and security ministries
with Mr Tsvangirai, so far, being allocated the social service positions.
Mr. Tsvangirai wants the home affairs ministry which controls the police.

Some of his lieutenants, such as MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti want 10
ministries re negotiated including local government, information and foreign

Most of Zimbabwe's population is hungry and at least two million have been
identified by the United Nations as in need of immediate food aid. Non
governmental organizations say they are struggling to get around official
red tape and begin emergency feeding programs.

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MPs sent home as Zimbabwe House is broke

By KITSEPILE NYATHI SATURDAY NATION CorrespondentPosted Friday, October 24
2008 at 21:21
Zimbabwe's parliament has been forced to adjourn until November 11, after
running out of money to sustain its operations as delays in setting up an
inclusive government continues to paralyse national institutions.

The assembly only started sitting early this month, six months after the
March elections due to the political impasse blamed on President Robert
Mugabe's controversial re-election.

The suspension of parliament was announced by the acting leader of the
House, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling Zanu PF, after the feuding
parties came together to support a motion to declare the gripping food
shortages in the country a national disaster.

"Because of the constraints relating to the non-existence of the inclusive
government, the House will not be sitting for a while," he said.

"In the event measures are put in place, we may be able to call for the
sitting of the House at a much earlier date."

Parliamentarians were told that the government had run out of money to pay
for their accommodation and allowances during their sessions.

Critical phase

Talks to conclude the setting up of the power sharing agreement between the
ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
reach a critical phase on Monday when regional leaders visit Harare.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika on security will
try to persuade Mr Mugabe and his rivals Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof
Arthur Mutambara to finalise the allocation of Cabinet posts.

The setting up of the inclusive government has been in the works since
September 15, when the three leaders signed an historic power sharing pact
to end Zimbabwe's decade old political and economic crisis.

Parliament is expected to approve a constitution amendment giving force to
the power sharing arrangement and disruption of its settings might further
delay the process.

Compared to other law makers in the region, Zimbabwean legislators are
poorly paid, with their monthly salaries averaging less than $5 (Sh400).

They also complain that they had been informed that the government currently
had no money to buy vehicles for the 210 House of Assembly members and 96

Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis and the threat of a major food crisis
has injected urgency to the process of establishing a new government.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will attend a summit next week meant to
rescue a stalled power-sharing deal and use it to lay out his grievances
against President Robert Mugabe, the MDC said on Friday.

Mr Tsvangirai had threatened to boycott the talks, saying an election may be
needed to break a deadlock in negotiations with Mugabe over control of
cabinet seats in a new government.

He snubbed a similar meeting in Swaziland on Monday citing Harare's refusal
to give him a new passport.

But the MDC said today he would attend the October 27 summit in Harare.

"Monday's platform presents us with a perfect opportunity to articulate our
compelling case for equitable and sustainable power-sharing in a unity
government. So we will be there...," Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

The MDC says Mugabe is trying to seize important ministries and sideline the
opposition and Chamisa cited a "litany" of Zanu-PF actions he said went
against the spirit of a power-sharing deal signed more than a month ago.

"You have the issue of the passport, the hate language used by state media,
threats by war veterans, all those things will be presented to SADC and in
the process (we will) try to make Zanu-PF see the profit of working
together," he said.

Zimbabwe's militant war veterans threatened this week to "take action"
against Tsvangirai. The MDC has accused war veterans loyal to Mugabe of
attacking its supporters.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe signed the power-sharing deal brokered by South Africa's
former president Thabo Mbeki on Sept 15 but it has since stalled over who
should run which ministries.

Fruitless talks

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe earlier urged Tsvangirai not to
boycott the summit and said only more dialogue would break an impasse over
cabinet posts.

"When you seek a solution to a problem, you talk to those that you disagree
with," Mothlanthe said on South Africa's public broadcaster SABC. "You can't
make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies, your

Fed up with weeks of fruitless talks, the MDC leader did not attend an
emergency Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Swaziland
this week that was to address the Zimbabwe deadlock.

It was rescheduled.

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Tsvangirai tells diplomats Mugabe is negotiating in bad faith

By Lance Guma
24 October 2008

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday told African diplomats that
Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF are negotiating in bad faith over the allocation
of cabinet ministries. On Wednesday Tsvangirai also met European diplomats
at the Spanish ambassador's residence where he briefed them on the state of
the talks. He slammed what he called Mugabe's disrespect for African leaders
and institutions and said Mugabe's regime was trying to saddle the MDC with
responsibilities, while denying them any real authority.
The Prime Minister designate appeared to be lobbying the African and
international community to take tougher action on Mugabe's intransigence
after the signing of the power sharing accord in September. On Monday
Tsvangirai failed to travel to Swaziland for the SADC troika summit on
Zimbabwe after the government refused to renew his expired passport. The MDC
leader pointed to this incident as a sign of insincerity on the part of the
regime. If the talks deadlock persists Tsvangirai said the MDC would appeal
for arbitration from elder statesmen in Africa and the international
community in general.
Adding to MDC frustrations is the fact that mediator Thabo Mbeki has shown
his clear bias towards Mugabe. Instead of condemning Mugabe's unilateral
grabbing of ministries, Mbeki made attempts to justify the allocation in a
report he tabled to the SADC troika of Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola -
the grouping meant to deliberate on the deadlock at the rescheduled meeting
on Monday. With Mozambique and Angola traditional allies of Mugabe, there
are worries the meeting will attempt to force Tsvangirai to cave-in to
Mugabe's unreasonable demands.
Despite all their frustrations the MDC had on Wednesday told Newsreel they
would not be boycotting Monday's meeting of the SADC troika. Party spokesman
Nelson Chamisa told us the MDC respected African institutions that were
trying to help and would 'definitely' attend the summit. 'We are going to
present our case for an equal share of power and are comfortable with all
the organs of SADC and the African Union.'
Despite this, numerous news sites have run stories expressing concern over
an MDC boycott. South Africa's new President, Kgalema Motlanthe, on Friday
urged Tsvangirai not to boycott the Harare summit. 'When you seek a solution
to a problem, you talk to those that you disagree with. You can't make peace
with your friends. You make peace with your enemies or adversaries,' he told
South African radio. The MDC however confirmed there was never a decision to
boycott in the first place.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai will this weekend address rallies in Marondera's
Chinotimba Stadium, Gandanzara in Rusape, Sakubva Stadium in Mutare, and
Chibuwe in Chipinge. The party said the rallies were part of their attempts
at giving feedback to their supporters on the state of the power sharing

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Power-Deal Tampered With - MDC

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

24 October 2008
Posted to the web 24 October 2008


OPPOSITION party leaders and diplomats have described the power-sharing
agreement signed on September 15 as a "forgery" after it was discovered the
document was an altered version of the original one agreed to on September

The issue has brought into question circumstances surrounding the deal which
has caused anger and infighting in Zanu PF and the MDC. The parties are
divided over the deal and have of late been battling to seal widening

The September 15 document that was signed at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in
Harare by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister-designate Morgan
Tsvangirai, and deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara with
facilitator former South African President Thabo Mbeki, contains crucial

Sources said the main MDC faction's chief negotiator Tendai Biti has written
to Mbeki about the changes -- which he described as a "forgery" -- and was
assured that the issue would be rectified. It is not known who made the
alterations, but the agreement was tampered with after it was given to Zanu
PF to allow government to do official binding and inserting in folders.

In the September 11 document signed by all leaders, Section 20.1.7 which
deals with senior government appointments states that "the parties agree
that with respect to occupants of senior government positions such as
permanent secretaries and ambassadors, the leadership of government,
comprising the president, deputy presidents, prime minister and the deputy
prime ministers will consult and agree on such prior to their appointment".

The paragraph is missing in the September 15 agreement.

In place of that paragraph in the final agreement, Section 20.1.7 now has
"Senate". Even then the senate issue was changed.

In the September 11 agreement, the paragraph on the senate, Section 20.1.9
read: "The president shall, in his discretion, appoint five persons to the
existing positions of presidential senatorial appointments.

"There shall be created an additional six (6) appointed senatorial posts,
which shall be filled by persons appointed by the president, four (4) of
whom will be nominated by MDC-T and two (2) by MDC-M."

This was changed in the final agreement.

The final agreement now reads: "The president shall, in his discretion,
appoint five persons to the existing positions of presidential senatorial

"There shall be created an additional nine (9) appointed senatorial posts,
which shall be filled by persons appointed by the president of whom three
(3) will be nominated by Zanu PF, 3 by MDC-T and 3 by MDC-M".

MDC leaders and diplomats said although the changes do not fundamentally
alter the balance of power as enshrined in the agreement, they do raise
questions of "chicanery" during the talks.

"In criminal law this is called forgery," a senior MDC official said. "We
have raised this with Mbeki and we were assured that the issue would be

One diplomat said: "Although these issues appear minor, the question is not
the alterations per se, but the motive behind it. Who did it and why?"

Tsvangirai recently referred to this as "omissions" at a press briefing and
indicated the issue was part of outstanding matters in the talks.

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MDC Protests Against Mbeki's SADC Report

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

24 October 2008
Posted to the web 24 October 2008

Loughty Dube

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has written a letter to former South African
president Thabo Mbeki raising concerns over what it believes is his latest
example of backing for President Robert Mugabe.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent
yesterday that the party had written to Mbeki complaining about a document
he authored and presented to the Sadc troika in Swaziland on Monday
defending Mugabe's unilateral allocation of ministries a fortnight ago under
the unity government deal.

Chamisa, however, declined to reveal the contents of his party's letter to

"It is true the letter was written to Mbeki expressing our utter disgust at
the report attributed to him and we were expressing our position in response
to the document," Chamisa said. "I will not give you details of what was
contained in the letter as this will be against the spirit of the
negotiations which we are still committed to."

Sources within the party said the MDC asked Mbeki to step down as the
facilitator of the negotiations between Mugabe's Zanu PF and the two
formations of the MDC because of perceived bias.

The sources said the MDC accused Mbeki of ignoring the concerns raised by
the party on the allocation of "key" ministries and simply endorsed what
Mugabe gazetted.

Mugabe allocated to Zanu PF important ministries like defence, foreign
affairs, local government and home affairs, but the MDC said the
distribution was tantamount to "power grabbing", not sharing.

It said it should be in charge of the ministries of finance and home

The Sadc troika meeting called to break the impasse on Monday failed to take
place after Tsvangirai did not travel to Mbabane arguing that the government
should issue him with a new passport. The government had on Sunday
reportedly issued him with an emergency travel document valid for three days
and not valid for transit through South Africa.

The troika meeting is now expected to take place in Harare on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chamisa said failure by the government to issue Tsvangirai with a
new passport was a demonstration of insincerity on the part of Zanu PF in
concluding the power-sharing deal.

"Several political events on the ground serve to illustrate Zanu PF's lack
of genuineness and commitment to the political settlement," Chamisa said.
"These include the unilateral appointment of provincial governors, the
convening of parliament without consent of the MDC, the unilateral
allocation of key ministries to Zanu PF, the swearing-in of the two
vice-presidents, and the continued use of hate speech and hate language by
the public media."

Chamisa said it also included the politicisation of food aid and the
deployment of soldiers in preparation for by-elections even though the
political settlement has frozen all polls for 12 months.

"The history of President Tsvangirai's application for a new passport just
goes to show the condescending and petty-minded attitude of Zanu PF towards
the MDC, with which it is meant to be forging a new political reality, and
to the individual who is now the prime minister-designate," he added.

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Timing For By-Elections Inappropriate - ZESN


Harare - 24 October 2008 - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
notes with serious concern the announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission that it will proceed with preparations for the holding of
by-elections despite a clause in the agreement between ZANU-PF and the two
MDC formations not to contest each other should vacancies arise in the House
of Assembly and Senate.

While elections are the tenets to any democracy, the timing for holding the
by-elections is not appropriate. Cognisant of the gross politically -
motivated violence and human rights violations that took place in the run up
and post June 27 run-off election, ZESN strongly believes that people are
still traumatised. Furthermore the ordeals of violence have left societies
dehumanised and have engendered feelings of hatred and polarisation within
the country. The murder, assault, abduction and displacement of scores of
people after the 29 March harmonised elections cannot be condoned. People's
homes, livestock, properties were torched to ashes, while some were left
disabled. ZESN had one of its observers killed in Hurungwe North
constituencies for observing the harmonised elections on 29 March 2008 and
many other observers were harassed and victimised. Several ZEC officials
were arrested and it is alleged that at least one ZEC official was abducted
and murdered. The criminals who in most cases have been named and identified
have neither been arrested nor prosecuted. On the contrary many of the
victims are still facing false allegations of political violence and as such
will not able to freely participate in any election process. The conditions
are simply not conducive for the conduct of a free and fair by-election in
any part of the country.

It is against this backdrop that ZESN is gravely concerned about the timing
of these by-elections as the economic and socio-political environment as
well as the legal framework governing elections is not conducive for the
holding of any election in the immediate future. This therefore calls for
the need for national healing, cohesion and depolarisation of the society
which is also recognised in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in which
parties involved had agreed that for a period of 12 months there will be no
by-elections owing to the fact that the country was not ready for another
election. Article XXI, clause 21.1 states that ..should any electoral
vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for
whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy
occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the
seat.... .

Recognising that the holding of the by-elections is in accordance with the
laws governing elections in Zimbabwe, and that the people have a fundamental
right to elect representatives of their choice, it is ZESN's considered view
that the MOU rightfully acknowledged the need to give the people a 12 month
period for some breathing space and national healing.

ZESN further notes the urgency for the following measures before any
election in any constituency is held:-

· Fundamental reforms to restore the bill of rights and restore basic
freedoms both in the statute book and in actual practice;

· Practical measures to end lawlessness, repression, persecution of
government critics, human rights activists and human rights defenders;

· Fundamental electoral reforms to redress existing flaws and ensure a level
playing field;

· The establishment of an independent, accountable and transparent electoral
management body;

· A credible electoral process;

· Transparency in postal voting and tabulation of results;

· Restoration of the independence and professionalism of all institutions of
government namely the Police, the Army, Civil Service, Attorney General's
Office and the Judiciary.

In as much as ZESN supports the holding of elections, the Network adamantly
encourages a democratic and transparent process where fundamental human
rights such as freedom of association, movement, expression and campaigning
are recognised. The electorate should also be provided with comprehensive
voter education and information. Political parties are strongly discouraged
from harassing and intimidating voters, engaging in vote buying, misusing of
state resources among other malpractices.

ZESN therefore re-emphasises on the need to inculcate a culture of political
tolerance, respect and fair political contest. A transparent, independent
and accountable electoral management that fosters credible elections.

Values and practices of political tolerance, respect, non-violence and
dialogue are the only means of resolving political differences before any
election takes place. End//


There are three vacant seats in the House of Assembly, Gokwe-Gumunyu
resulting from the death of ZANU PF's Mr. Ephraim Mushoriwa, Matobo North
seat vacated by MDC's Mr. Lovemore Moyo (elected Speaker of Parliament) and
Guruve North resulting from the death of ZANU PF's Mr. Cletus Mabharanga.
There are also three vacant constituency seats in the Senate, Chegutu seat
vacated by Mrs.Edna Madzongwe (elected President of Senate), Chiredzi seat
vacated by Mr. Titus Maluleke (ZANU PF) on appointment as Provincial
Governor of Masvingo and Gokwe South vacated by Mr. Jaison Max Kokerai
Machaya (ZANU PF) on appointment as Provincial Governor, Midlands.

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Banks Loop Off Six Zeroes

HARARE, October 24, 2008 - ZIMBABWEAN banks have started looping off
six zeroes from the currency to accommodate the growing number of digits
amid revelations the central banking is working of new reforms in the
banking sector.

Banking industry sources said on Friday Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ), Gideon Gono, would next week make an official announcement on new
reforms in the sector, among them an increase in the current daily cash
withdrawals and cheque limits.

Stanbic Bank, one of the 14 commercial banks operating in the country,
on Friday put our a circular informing its customers that with effect from
Monday next week, it would remove six zeroes from all accounts.

"With effect from 27 October, 2008 account balances with the bank will
be re-dominated with figures rounded off to the nearest 1, 000, 000 as a
work around solution," read part of Stanbic Bank circular given to customers
as they queued to withdraw Zd 50 000, the daily cash limit.

Speculation in the banking swelled that Gono would most probably hike
the daily cash limit from Z$50 000 to $500 000 for individuals. The current
limit of $50 000 is not enough to buy a single loaf of bread. The central
bank has loop-off zeroes from the country's currency two times since August

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WOZA activists remain in jail as magistrate attends workshop

By Alex Bell
24 October 2008

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the leaders of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), will spend yet another weekend in prison after the magistrate
who was due to rule on the pair's bail application on Friday delayed her
judgement to attend a workshop.

The two activists were arrested in Bulawayo during a WOZA demonstration,
protesting the extreme hardships, including the critical food shortages,
being suffered by Zimbabweans. More than 200 activists converged at a
government complex demanding to be heard by the heads of service delivery,
about what is being done to address the humanitarian crisis affecting
millions of Zimbabweans. However riot police used force to disperse the
peaceful protesters and some women were arrested before the demonstration
even began. They were later released. But Williams and Mahlangu, who are
being charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for
allegedly disturbing the peace, still remain in custody after they were
denied bail last Friday.

Magistrate Charity Maphosa was due to rule on the pair's bail application
this Friday after reserving judgement on the matter on Tuesday. But on
arriving at court their defence lawyer, Kossam Ncube, was informed that
Magistrate Maphosa was not available because she was 'forced' to attend a
workshop, and that another magistrate would deliver her verdict. Instead
Magistrate Sophie Matimba delayed the ruling until Monday at 11.15am.

Williams and Mahlangu remain in Mlondolozi Female Prison where conditions
are terrible. WOZA spokesperson Annie Sibanda told Newsreel on Friday "the
cells are extremely overcrowded and full of lice, and food is also extremely
limited." She explained that prisoners receive only a small amount of sadza
with green vegetable cooked in water - no salt or any other form of
nutrition. She added that prison guards also routinely insult inmates.

"We are not surprised by the state's delay in releasing the women," Sibanda
explained. "But we are anxious to get them out as soon as possible because
of the terrible conditions that are being forced to cope with."

Human Rights Lawyer Gabriel Shumba, from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, told
Newsreel on Friday the continued detention of the WOZA pair "exemplifies the
intolerance still evident in Zimbabwe." The forum and other human rights
lobby groups, including Amnesty International, have widely condemned the
arrests and called for Williams and Mahlangu to be immediately released.

"The situation, including the desperate humanitarian crisis is indicative of
the fact that ZANU PF is not willing to let go," Shumba said. "As long as
this is the case, Zimbabweans will never be accorded the freedoms that are
theirs by right."

Monday's ruling will come as the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and
Security meet in Harare to discuss the Zimbabwe talks deadlock. Shumba said
the MDC will have a golden opportunity to raise the WOZA case with SADC
leaders and put pressure on ZANU PF. But Shumba added that SADC itself has
repeatedly indicated "they are unwilling to intervene in the crisis and more
than willing to accommodate ZANU PF."

WOZA's spokesperson agreed that this issue needs to be raised with SADC to
show the obvious lack of change on the ground in Zimbabwe. Sibanda expressed
anger that there has been no response from the regional bloc.

"These arrests are telling of the extreme's ZANU PF will take to remain in
power," Sibanda said. "SADC should be saying something and needs to say

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MDC demands immediate end to harassment, arrests of civic leaders

Friday, 24 October 2008 09:37

The MDC notes with concern the continued arrests and beatings of civic
society leaders and activists, further pointing to the intransigence of Zanu
PF in letting democracy thrive in the country in line with the new political

The MDC notes with concern the arrest and detention of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), Jennie Williams in Bulawayo for staging a peaceful sit-in at
government offices demanding the immediate formation of an inclusive
government and the access of food by the starving millions in the country.

Williams, Nokuthula Mahlangu and a group of other concerned women were
demanding food aid for millions of starving Zimbabweans and the immediate
formation of an inclusive government.

As women they were showing real concern about the continued abuse of food
aid by the Zanu PF regime as a political tool while millions of Zimbabweans
who are in dire need of food assistance are going hungry.

It is also the women who are bearing the brunt by the stalemate in the
negotiations to form a transitional government as they and their children
are mostly affected by the ever-rising price increases and the decline in
social services such as water, transport, housing, health and education.

Children are failing to go to school because the teachers are on strike
while most hospitals are operating below capacity, as they have no drugs,
doctors and nurses. There is an outbreak of diseases such as cholera in the
country which clear evidence of deteriorating standards in the country.

Yet the Zanu PF regime is fiddling and arresting civic society leaders while
the country burns.

While it is clear that Zimbabwe is burning, Zanu PF has shown a glaring
deficit of sincerity in the implementation of the political settlement.

The MDC demands an immediate end to the harassment and arrest of civil
society leaders and activists. We demand that Zanu PF complies with the
people's will, which is the expedient formation of an inclusive government
that will result in unfettered democracy where the people of Zimbabwe will
be free to express themselves. After all the right of citizens to freedoms
such as assembly, association and speech is guaranteed in the political
settlement signed by the three leaders of the three major political parties
on 15 September 2008.

It is now clear that Zanu PF is an antithesis to democracy and freedom in

In a new Zimbabwe citizens shall have the right and freedom to protest and
express themselves in a peaceful and democratic manner.

MDC Information and Publicity

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Teachers' Strike to Hit Exams

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

24 October 2008
Posted to the web 24 October 2008

Lucia Makamure and Wongai Zhangazha

CHAOS is expected to reign supreme during Zimbabwe Schools Examinations
Council (Zimsec)'s Grade 7, 'O' and 'A' Level examinations which commence on
Monday due to the strike action by teachers over poor remuneration and
working conditions.

Teachers have been on strike since September 2. Teachers have been on
intermittent strikes since the beginning of the year with most often
conducting lessons only once or twice a week.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ) yesterday said the Zimsec examinations would be written
under unusual circumstances.

Grade 7 examinations start on Monday, while the 'O' and 'A' levels begin on
November 3.

Zimta spokesman Sifiso Ndlovu said: "The examinations will be written under
unusual circumstances as the education system is operating below 40% and
there might be no teachers to invigilate the examinations."

He added that Zimta had received a report from Mashonaland East where
teachers at a school in the province failed to turn up to invigilate an Art
practical test and the headmaster had to carry out the duty alone.

Ndlovu said postponement of the examinations until next year would have been
better to preserve the quality of the country's education.

Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ president, said this year's examinations were not
necessary as the academic calendar was disturbed by the economic and
political events prevailing in the country.

He said: "We have communicated to the permanent secretary of education that
examinations for 2008 are not necessary. The government wants to have the
exams written for political reasons."

Majongwe said although teachers sympathised with schoolchildren and parents,
they would not be able to invigilate considering the paltry salaries they
received this month.

Teachers were this month paid between $60 000 to $100 000.

Representatives from Zimta are today expected to meet with Ministry of
Education permanent secretary Stephen Mahere to address the crisis.

A reliable source at Zimsec said even though the examination dates and
timetables were announced, the conditions the students were going to write
under would affect the credibility of the tests.

"We were told that the dates came from the Ministry of Education and it was
a direct order that the examinations be written on those dates. The ministry
said it was Zimsec's homework to make it possible," the source said. "One
really wonders how the students are expected to write when some entry forms
are still to be processed. The normal trend is that students make
corrections on the forms which Zimsec will amend until everything is correct
and then the statement of entries will be issued. They haven't received that
and they are expected to write on Monday. There is total chaos."

The source said June results were yet to be released.

"The June results are still to be marked and very few people are interested
in marking them because of the pathetic salaries," the source said. "Under
normal circumstances those who sat for the June examinations should have
known their results around September or October before they sit for the
November tests so that they don't waste their time repeating a subject they
would have passed."

The source said there was a critical shortage of staff at Zimsec especially
in the examinations administration department.

"This month they gave workers a net salary of $12 000. Who would want to
come and work and get such peanuts? They tried to recruit eight contract
workers who they said would pay $829 000, but out of the eight, only two

Efforts to get a comment from Mahere were in vain at the time of going to
press yesterday.

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Zimbabwe gold mine forced closure as Reserve Bank delays payment for output

One of Zimbabwe's medium size gold mines has been forced to close as it
cannot pay its power bills due to slow payment for its gold from the
country's Central Bank

Posted:  Friday , 24 Oct 2008

HARARE (Reuters) -

A Zimbabwean gold mine was this week forced to shut down after failing to
settle an electricity bill with the country's state power company,
threatening the jobs of 600 workers, an industry official said on Friday.

Gold accounts for a third of export earnings in Zimbabwe's battered economy,
but the industry has been hampered by frequent power cuts, shortages of
foreign currency and workers and delays in payment by the central bank.

Golden Valley, a medium-sized mine located in Kadoma, 150 km (88 miles) west
of the capital Harare, closed this week after failing to settle its debt
with state-owned electricity firm ZESA Holdings, an official with the
Chamber of Mines said.

The mining company blamed the central bank subsidiary Fidelity for delaying
payment for the gold sold to it by the firm, the official said on condition
of anonymity. Fidelity is the sole purchaser and refiner of the precious
metal in Zimbabawe.

"We have serious issues affecting miners and the Golden Valley issue is only
but one of several problems the industry is facing," the official said.

Golden Valley officials were not available for comment.

Zimbabwe's gold output tumbled 44 percent to 2,624 kg in the first seven
months of this year.

Miners in the southern African nation, which is struggling with an economic
crisis marked by inflation of 231 million percent and chronic food and fuel
shortages, receive 40 percent of their earnings in foreign currency.

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Forex shops worsen worker's plight

Synodia Bhasera, Staff Reporter

THE introduction of shops selling groceries and other commodities in foreign
currency might have come as a welcome relief to companies that were battling
to restock, but it has actually worsened the plight of the Zimbabwean
worker, still being paid salaries in the fast-depreciating local currency.

Trade union leaders interviewed by The Financial Gazette, said this week the
scheme has done little to alleviate the suffering among workers who now need
hard currency, which they are not earning, to buy basic commodities.
Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, last month
legalised foreign currency transactions involving groceries and fuel. The
facility is however, limited to companies licenced by the RBZ.
This was meant to enable manufacturers of various goods to generate foreign
cash needed to import raw materials, increase capacity utilisation and
improve the availability of goods on market, leading to a marked reduction
in prices as competition intensifies.
But most basic commodities have vanished from the supermarkets shelves only
to appear in shops licensed to retail in foreign currency.
"The situation is making it difficult for us to survive. How are we supposed
to transact using foreign currency yet we are paid in local currency? Even
those prices in Zimbabwe dollars are also very high. Our members are quite
unhappy with that arrangement," said Joseph Chinotimba, president of the
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
Chinotimba, who doubles up as the vice chairman of the combative Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans Association, said it was contradictory that
shops licensed to sell goods in foreign currency were not paying their
workers in that currency.
"It is painful that they are not paying their workers using the same
currency. Where do they expect them to get it?" he asked.
A survey conducted by The Financial Gazette showed that most licenced
outlets have demarcated their supermarkets into two sections - an almost
empty section selling in local currency and a well-stocked one that sells in
hard currency.
Cynics are poking fun at the scheme, saying all it has helped achieve is to
worsen the informal currency exchange markets. Consumers are now being
forced to buy foreign currency using their salaries at "the cheque rate" or
to moonlight in order to raise the hard currency needed to make ends meet.
It also emerged during the survey that even locally produced commodities
were being sold in foreign currency.
A pint of sterilised milk was selling at US$5, which could easily translate
into R40 yet the same product fetches about R9 in South Africa.
Lovemore Matombo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, said the situation had become unbearable for the workers.
He said the union could have mobilised workers to protest, but shelved the
idea in order to give a chance to the inter-party dialogue between ZANU-PF
and the Movement for Democratic Change to succeed.
"We could have engaged ourselves in protest but because there is this
discussion between the political parties, we didn't want to be seen as
sabotaging the power-sharing agreement," Matombo said.
"The whole process does not benefit workers but the business people. This is
purely an economic failure, which requires political solution."
Economist John Robertson said more workers were going hungry because the
shops that had stocks were trading in foreign currency.
"It's regrettable that the shops that have reasonable stocks are asking for
foreign currency and it causes further shrinkage in consumption and
increases hardships," he said.

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AG's Office Accused of 'Selective Application of Law'

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

24 October 2008
Posted to the web 24 October 2008

Lucia Makamure

LAWYERS representing MDC leader Arthur Mutambara and his two co-accused, who
are facing contempt of court and publication of falsehoods charges, have
accused the Attorney-General (AG)'s office of abusing its authority by
selectively applying the law to "prosecute dissent".

Mutambara and the Standard newspaper, represented by chief executive officer
Rapheal Khumalo and editor Davison Maruziva, are accused of violating
sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The three allegedly published or communicated a statement prejudicial to the
state after the weekly published an opinion piece on April 20 authored by
Mutambara headlined "A shameful betrayal of national Independence".

They also face a contempt of court charge arising from the same article,
which questioned a High Court ruling by Justice Tendai Uchena dismissing an
application by the leader of the other formation of the MDC, Morgan
Tsvangirai, to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the
results of the March 29 presidential election.

On Wednesday, lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, representing Mutambara, told regional
magistrate Morgen Nemadire that the AG's office was using the law
selectively, especially on contempt of court charges.

Mtetwa submitted to the court an article published in the Herald on March 17
2005 in which President Robert Mugabe slammed a ruling by the Electoral
Court nullifying the results of a nomination court for Chimanimani

Uchena was the judge in the case.

Mugabe described the ruling as "madness" and went further to say: "I don't
understand the court's decision."

Mtetwa asked why the AG's office did not push for the prosecution of Mugabe
and the Herald if it was impartial.

She said the charge of contempt of court against Mutambara, Khumalo and
Maruziva could not stick because the state had failed to obtain a written
complaint from Uchena.

However, in response prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare told the court that the AG's
office issued a statement on behalf of the judiciary and as a result was the

"The judiciary itself may not be aware that they have been derided or that
the statement said may be contemptuous to them," Zvekare argued. "The state
took it upon itself to remedy this case and that is why we don't have a
statement from Justice Uchena or the High Court itself."

Earlier this year, Master of the High Court Charles Nyatanga submitted a
letter to the court saying that he issued a statement on behalf of the
judiciary in response to Mutambara's article after a request by the police.

Nyatanga later described the article as "contemptuous of the judiciary".

Nemadire remanded out of custody Mutambara, Maruziva and Khumalo to November
12 when he will make a ruling on whether the case should be referred to the
Supreme Court as requested by the three's lawyers.

Linda Cook and Advocate Deepak Mehta represented Maruziva and Khumalo.

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Govt Domestic Debt Up 1,3 Million %In Three Weeks

Friday, 24 October 2008 10:49
ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt rose 1,3 million % inside three weeks to $1
trillion on August 8 from $79,6 million recorded on July 15, official
figures revealed this week.

The rise in government domestic debt levels, which is now being kept
secret by the Reserve Bank, was sparked by huge interest payments which
account for $822 billion of the total debt.
The debt has been ballooning because of the Reserve Bank's advances to
government, largely for the March 29 and June 27 presidential elections,
agricultural mechanisation programme and food imports.
"The stock of government domestic debt by mid July stood at $1,064
trillion, reflecting an increase of 1,3 million from $79,6 million,
according to official figures obtained from the Reserve Bank on Wednesday.
With government's continued reliance on borrowing from the local
market, domestic debt is estimated to be nearing $100 trillion.
The mismatch between fiscal revenues and expenditures also opened a
significant funding gap resulting in government utilising the overdraft
window at the Reserve Bank, while at the same time borrowing from the
domestic debt.
According to the Reserve Bank, as of July 31 cumulatively, since the
beginning of the year government raised 365-day treasury bills amounting to
$$21,1 of which 995 or $21 million was raised between April and July.
The RBZ advances to government have over the past five years accounted
for about 80% of total debt, a situation bank economists say is evidence
that government was broke and had no other source of revenue other than the
domestic market.
Figures from the RBZ show that the solvency of government was already
seriously compromised with the current interest rates, and technically
government finances will not be better off with even a 1% rise in interest
The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-strapped economy, battling with high inflation
currently at 231 million %.
The surge in domestic debt was the result of high interests on the
market which were in line with the inflation rate.
Government has also been forced to rely on domestic borrowings because
their tax revenue base has dwindled because of company closures which have
led to retrenchments. This means that in real terms, the government is
collecting less revenue through corporate and income tax.
During the last monetary policy in July, Gono said the Reserve Bank
had remained the major holder of government domestic debt at 95% of the
total amount.
Analysts say the debt stock was likely to rise further on increased
borrowing by government to finance the import of wheat and maize,
electricity, civil servants' salaries and sustain the Basic Commodities
Supply Side Intervention (Baccosi).
"Commercial banks accounted for about 99% of the monetary banking
sector's holding of domestic debt. This is attributed mainly to banks'
active participation in Open Market Operations," said the Reserve Bank.
The major effects of rising government debt would be an escalation of
the inflationary rate because of increased recourse to the domestic market
for funding.
With inflation at 231 million % government's huge appetite for cash is
also likely to spur increased money printing, pushing money supply growth
The fact that Zimbabwe has no access to international capital has only
aggravated the situation.
"The figure has a huge bearing on the returns that investors will be
getting from the money market. The money market is bound to continue issuing
investors with negative returns in the short-term to minimise the harmful
effects of the huge interest cost component on the debt figure," an
economist with the central bank told businessdigest.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank has kept the lid on the money supply (M3)
figures. The official figure to date is 420 867,4% for April. Economic
analysts this week said the figure could be nearing 150 million % after Gono
introduced 21 new denomination notes this year alone.
Annual broad money supply growth has maintained an upward trend since
November 2003 reflecting the inevitable Reserve Bank's intervention to
stimulate the supply side of the economy in the absence of external support.
Official figures from the Reserve Bank show that on an annual basis
domestic credit grew by 482 460,9% for April, largely driven by growth in
credit to the private sector - 412 919,7%, credit to government - 734
013,7%, and claims on public enterprises - 216 066,7%. The Reserve
Bank has published the latest figures.
Credit to government has largely been from domestic banks because of
the drying up of external lines. Lenders in the domestic market no longer
have the capacity to meet the needs of government.

By Paul Nyakazeya

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A thousand policies, economic slide unstoppable

Nelson Chenga, Staff Reporter

THE list of the country's failed or abandoned economic recovery blueprints
reads like a table of contents of a monstrous doctoral thesis: "How not to
run an economy".

As far back as the year 2000, the central bank, which controls the financial
levers of the economy, had seen the economic recession gaining momentum like
a loose typhoon in the making.
It pressed the alarm button, but no one bothered about the shrill calls for
the country to either change course or brace for the worst.
The twister struck and it did so hard. The results of its destructive blow
are evidently clear today for the whole world to see.
And after eight years of economic devastation, the country's economy is now
literary down on its knees.
Agriculture, once the backbone of the economy, is now a pale shadow of its
former self.
A robust industry of the 1970s up to the year 2000 is long gone, decimated
by a crushing economic crisis.
Inflation, which was manageable in the late 1990s, has mutated into a
Titanic of unimaginable proportions.
Analysts trace the country's economic collapse to, primarily, the unbudgeted
payouts of gratuities to more than 52,000 independence war participants in
1997. This was compounded by Zimbabwe's military adventure in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, which at its peak, gobbled an estimated US$1 million a
Then came the unplanned land seizures in 2000, which destroyed the key
agricultural sector.
What followed thereafter was a raft of recovery blueprints to roll back the
tide of inflation, but these could not pull the economy out of the woods.
As of July, year-on-year inflation was quoted at 230 million percent, an
indication that the country's economy is on the boil.
It was mainly the scary inflation outlook that jolted the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) to press the panic button, giving birth to the Millennium
Economic Recovery Programme (MERP) in 2000.
At the time, inflation had accelerated between 1997 and 1999 from an average
18 percent to 70.4 percent by October 1999. This was hard on the heels of a
phenomenal decline in Gross Domestic Product from 10.6 percent in 1996 to
almost zero in 1999.
In August 2001 the then RBZ governor, Leonard Tsumba, in his assessment of
MERP, said: "High inflation levels have progressively wilted the country's
competitiveness. The loss of international competitiveness invariably
implies diminishing exports and foreign earnings."
He cited the deteriorating terms of trade, declining international commodity
prices; redu-ced balance of payments, a decline in both investments and
loans capital flows; the accumulation of arrears on national debt and the
pervasive parallel market activities as some of the key factors that were to
weaken the country's recovery eff-orts.
"The weakening performance of the economy was reflected in contraction in
manufacturing and mining. Manufact-uring and mining sectors were depressed,
against the background of week domestic and export demand, foreign excha-nge
shortages, cash flow difficulties, rising production costs and energy
shortages," said Tsumba.
Unfortunately efforts to avert an economic Tsunami have not been entirely
successful beca-use they were either half-hearted or that there was change
of course mid-stream.
The country's exch-ange rate has moved from $50 per United States dollar in
August 1999 to about $1 billion on the illegal parallel market as of
Low interest rates in an environment of high liquidity have effectively
increased the pressure on the exchange rate.
In March 2005 the then Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions economist, Godfrey
Kanyeze, hinted at some of the root causes of the country's continued
failure to resuscitate its ailing economy.
He said: "As things stand, without clearly spelt out national and sectoral
targets, the pursuit of national development is akin to a ship without a
rudder on a night without a star."
And when Gideon Gono took charge of the RBZ in November 2003, it became
apparent that an economic turn-around required more than just monetary
policy alone.
Gono has worked tirelessly to resuscitate the country's economy, but he has
failed to gain support from the politicians, whose endless infighting, has
derailed recovery efforts.
"The problem we are facing in our country is of corruption across the
country. Corruption, corruption, corruption has destroyed this country,"
said Gono addressing ZANU-PF delegates at an extraordinary congress in
December last year.
His statement came after many such comments that clearly indicated why all
the past recovery programmes bore little fruit.
"We cannot let an economy die because of individuals. We are all responsible
for the success or failure of this economy.I think we have allowed ourselves
to go down so much so that we now see indiscipline everywhere in our
country. Lawlessness has become the order of the day yet we need - all of
us - to play our role to make things work," said Gono in February last year.
Beneficiaries of, for example, seed, fuel and foreign currency sourced for
purposes of importing critical inputs have diverted the largesse for
personal use and because no action has been taken against them, the trend
has continued.
An all-inclusive government is probably an answer, but those that will be
part of that political arrangement need to have a collective will to
implement radical changes to resuscitate the economy. But events since the
power sharing agreement was signed on September 15 seem to point to more
problems for the economy.
Deep seated mistrust between ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change
has been the main driving force behind the delays in resolving the economic
Perhaps the authorities should have heeded top-shelf advice from former
justice and legal affairs minister, Eddison Zvobgo who told his colleagues
in Parliament while debating the ballooning budget deficit: "We have been
spending money without production as if the world owes us a living.
"We have lacked the political will to put things right."

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Statement on Continued Cholera Outbreaks


Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights

24 October 2008

ZADHR remains deeply concerned with the continued outbreak of cholera in
Zimbabwe. Areas affected between September and October this year include
Chinhoyi, Kariba and Makonde in Mashonaland West and Chitungwiza, Chikurubi,
Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana Extension, Mabvuku, Highfield, Zengeza in Harare.
120 cholera-related deaths have been cumulatively recorded this year
including cases from earlier outbreaks between February and August in
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Masvingo. A case
fatality rate of 11.5% was recorded in Chitungwiza with 16 deaths from a
total of 149 reported cases and of 12.7% in Chinhoyi from a total of 47
cases as at 14 October 2008.

The Government of Zimbabwe has grossly underestimated the impact that
infrastructure breakdown is having on public health in Zimbabwe. Water
supply is irregular or completely absent in most urban areas, burst sewage
pipes continue to be left unattended and there is a lack of refuse
collection. These factors create ideal conditions for the outbreak and
spread of diseases such as diarrhoea, including its deadly forms of cholera
and dysentery. ZADHR reiterates that access to proper sanitation, the supply
of clean running water and preventing the outbreak of epidemic diseases must
be treated as urgent priorities by the Government.

Cholera is a disease that can be easily prevented and cured. When cholera
does occur it has a short incubation period which means that it does not
take a long time for an infected individual to show symptoms and signs of
the disease once exposed. The symptoms are so aggressive that a patient is
likely to present to a health facility for attention within a short period
of time. Prevention of an outbreak of the disease is then dependent on the
response by health authorities to isolate initial cases and trace their

Continued outbreak of a disease of this nature in an urban setting is
failure at the prevention stage, the intervention stage and the curative
stage. It is also a manifestation of the absence of environmental health
officers and of the absence of effective governance at the local authority
level. Interventions to manage cases and control the spread of the disease
have mostly been undertaken by WHO, UN agencies and non-governmental
organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and Save the Children UK.

The failure by the government throughout this year to effectively manage
outbreaks of cholera, which has lead to a minimum of 120 preventable deaths
so far this year, indicates the absence of capacity and ability within
government to manage public health.

ZADHR calls for an urgent, coordinated and comprehensive response from the
Government to this crisis in water and sanitation. Failure to do so, and
with the onset of the rainy season, could result in cholera becoming
endemic. It is paramount that the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare works
in conjunction with other ministries concerned, such as that responsible for
water resources, and ZINWA, to ensure that disease is prevented and that
Zimbabwean’s right to the highest attainable state of physical and mental
wellbeing is respected.

Raw sewage flowing in Chitungwiza

“Our vision is enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health by all
Zimbabweans through a health service and health service providers that
promote the right to health”

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Why was Zimbabwe invited to Kampala?

October 24, 2008

By Sibangani Sibanda

AS THE world reels under the burden of one of the world's worst financial
crises, discerning investors should look to Zimbabwe as a possible
destination for their funds.

The returns are, literally, unbelievable!

On September 26, 2008, I invested in unit trusts, to the tune of 3 million
Zimbabwe dollars. By October 13, this had grown to thirty-seven million!
This was a better investment than I had ever dreamed, so, on October 14, I
added another thirty million to my investment, which effectively put my
total investment on that date at sixty seven million. As I write this on
October 24th, some ten days later, my investment has ballooned to over one
hundred and thirty two billion (yes, Billion) Zimbabwe dollars. Where in the
world do you get returns like that?

Now, before you rush to withdraw your moneys from the crumbling stock
markets around the world and move them to Zimbabwe, where one American
dollar will buy you a couple of billion Zimbabwe dollars - if you sell by
cheque as opposed to about fifty thousand dollars if you sell for cash (and
if you are confused do not worry, we all are) - consider this investment
truism; the higher the returns, the greater the risk.

Next week, I can start to withdraw funds from my investment. I will not be
able to draw the money in cash. The financial house will give me a cheque,
which I can only deposit into my bank account. Suppose I decide to withdraw
ten billion dollars from my investment on Monday, I will deposit it into my
account and wait four days for the cheque to clear, which means I will only
be able to make my first withdrawal on Thursday! And then I can only
withdraw fifty thousand dollars (which today is the price of a loaf of
bread, but may not be enough to buy half a loaf next Thursday!). At that
rate, it would take me two hundred thousand days or five hundred and
forty-eight years to get all my money out!

Of course Doctor Gono, our Reserve Bank Governor (whose honorary doctorate
he is rumored to have conferred on himself as chairman of the University of
Zimbabwe Council), will argue that I can make some payments by cheque. There
are just a couple of problems with that. Firstly, most businesses in
Zimbabwe today do not accept payment by cheque - because they would rather
not have their money in the bank! Secondly, anything worth buying in
Zimbabwe today can only be purchased in American dollars or South African

It is beginning to sound like the only option I have is to leave the money
invested in the unit trusts, which means that by Christmas, I will probably
be a quadrillionare - a term that I have only ever heard used in Zimbabwe!
This will expose me to two further risks.

The Zimbabwe stock market could follow the rest of the world and come
tumbling down - an unlikely scenario, given that we do not read from the
same economics text books as the rest of the world, or Doctor Gono could
decide to take away thirty-five zeroes from the Zimbabwean currency
(thirty-five is as good a number as any, as there seems to be no logical
basis for the number of zeroes removed at a time). We are, in Zimbabwe,
extremely "wealthy" paupers!

Meanwhile, President Mugabe spent a couple of days in Uganda attending a
meeting of the leaders of three African Economic blocks - the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for East and
Southern Africa (COMESA), and the East African Community (EAC) (although the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation seemed to think that the last acronym
stood for East African Country). The idea of the meeting was to try and
merge, as far as possible, the functions and memberships of these three
groupings to avoid duplication. As the ZBC put it, "(such and such a
country) is a member of COMESA and is also an East African Country, and
(another country) is a member of SADC, but is also an East African Country",
which left me with the impression that these countries had to give up one or
the other of their memberships. Although I do not see how they can give up
being East African Countries!

Anyway, my question is, why do these so called Economic blocks feel that it
is necessary to invite an economic joke like Zimbabwe to their meetings?
What possible value could Zimbabwe add, particularly as only those who are
responsible for our current economic mess attended the meetings? Other
Zimbabwean political interests, who appear to have a better grasp of reality
were not there, which was probably just as well because they had the
temerity to keep some of Southern Africa's finest sons waiting in vain in
Swaziland - another Southern African state with a "credibility gap".

Still, the jokers have the highest percentage of billionaires in the world
today. That must count for something. I think.

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30 years to grow, 30 minutes to burn

Ray Matikinye, News Editor
Thriving firewood trade inflicts irreparable damage to the environment
THE dim-lit streets fill up with kids who bolt out of their houses and
cavort to celebrate the moment electricity is switched back. Often, the
impromptu frolic is accompanied by cat-whistling adults.

They also alert their neighbours: "Magetsi adzoka" (Electricity is back!)
As if the country's power utility has done them a favour by heeding God's
command for there to be light, some housewives, eyes made bleary by choking
smoke, never miss the opportunity to acknowledge the Almighty's grace.
Zimbabwean townsfolk are grudgingly getting used to frequent power cuts as
the country experiences severe power shortages.
Over the years the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings,
the state-run power utility, has had problems expunging its debts due to
severe foreign currency shortages. This has resulted in major suppliers such
as Hydroelectric de Cahora Bassa in Mozambique, Eskom of South Africa and
Societe National d'Electricity of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
withholding supplies.
The South African power utility has been going through a bad patch itself
with public criticism mounting over its failure to adequately cater for the
domestic market prompting it to load-shed consumers as well.
Early studies had shown, about a decade ago, that the whole of the southern
African sub-region would experience power deficits this year, which would
constrict their ability to export.
Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its national power needs from Mozambique,
South Africa and the DRC.
The country is also facing power shortages due to declining generation
capacity even though the authorities have mooted contingent plans to revive
decommissioned power plants to bolster existing capacity at Kariba on the
border with Zambia and the coal-fired generators at Hwange Colliery.
But the unscheduled power blackouts have opened up opportunities for poor
farming communities living along major highways.
"Selling fire wood used to be a winter season pastime.
"Now it is an all-year round occupation," bragged Ambrose Zhuwao (44) a
former farmhand who has remained on a derelict property along the
Harare-Chirundu highway.
Zhuwao says the constant power cuts have given him an opportunity to cut and
sell firewood to motorists along the main highway.
Along major highways, groups of men and young adults scramble towards the
road verges cluttered with small piles of fuel wood whenever cars stop by.
"This pile consists of hardwood," one of the youths retails his pile.
"For only Z$15 000 you can warm and prepare meals for your family for
several days."
And the thriving trade in firewood has inflicted irreparable damage to the
erstwhile lush woodlands in commercial farming areas.
Travel along any major highway and witness how small piles of firewood
compete with distance markers on the road verges.
"You do not need start up capital. All you invest in is a sharp axe and
stamina to make yourself some money for basic commodities," adds 38-year old
Arimando Banda who sells firewood a few kilometres outside Kwekwe, mid-way
between Harare and Bulawayo.
And the roaring firewood trade has raised authorities' hackles, infuriating
environmentalists and conservationists alike.
"The settlers have exploited an opportunity presented by power shortages and
desperate city dwellers that drive along the highway in search of cheaper
firewood than that sold by urban wood vendors," Phillip Manyanza, an
environmentalist with the Environmental Management Authority said.
He said the firewood sales could trigger desertification in areas where good
vegetation used to thrive.
Trees that take years to mature are felled in no time at all to feed the
insatiable demand for fuel wood as an alternative to counter frequent power
cuts, Manyanza said. "Such deforestation to meet an immediate need causes
the destruction of the aesthetic value of the landscape," he added.
To reduce the power deficit, ZESA concluded a US$50 million inter-utility
deal with NamPower last year under which the Namibian parastatal would pay
for the refurbishment of its power stations in exchange for electricity
exports. So far two units have been completed and the other two would be
done before year end.
Ben Rafemoyo, ZESA"s chief executive officer, said the refurbishment would
add an additional 400 megawatts to its generating capacity.
But a power generation expert this week said the country entered into an
unfair and costly deal with NamPower.
"We will pay US$5 million monthly for a US$50 million loan for the next five
years and have to supply Namibia with electricity while consumers here go
without power for hours each day," a consultant with ZESA who refused to be
named said.
According to the agreement, Zimbabwe has to import from neighbours when it
falls short in order to fulfill the agreed quota.
"By the time we finish paying off the loan in five years, the power station
will be due for refurbishment. So we have not added any value or found a
solution to our electricity deficit," he added.
The energy consultant said Zimbabwe could make a lot of savings, were it to
use the amount it spends on power importation to import energy saving
fluorescent bulbs instead.
"The conventional bulb gives 10 percent light and 98 percent heat unlike the
fluorescent one which gives more light and significantly less heat. Assuming
we have six million bulbs in all households, we could save enough energy to
export the agreed quota to Namibia and reduce the frequency of load-shedding
for the benefit of the consumer," the expert said.

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Fishing industry capsizing

Shame Makoshori, Senior Business Reporter
.as output plunges 10,000%
THE escalating economic crisis in Zimbabwe has dealt a body blow to the
fishing industry, amid reports that output has declined by over 10,000
percent, The Financial Gazette can reveal.

Players in the fishing industry said the fuel crisis, global warming and the
general economic meltdown are now the biggest threats to the continued
survival of the industry, which used to contribute significantly to the
country's foreign currency earnings.
For instance, in 2005 the industry generated about US$2 million, enough to
buy essential drugs to last the country's major referral hospitals a month.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that output has nosedived from an estimated
2,000 kg per fishing rig per night to as little as 15 kg.
Scores of jobs have been lost as producers trim their operations with others
relocating to other lucrative markets.
Stanford Mafa, president of the Zimbabwe Kapenta Producers' Association
confirmed the industry faced viability concerns, with production costs
soaring through the roof.
"Most companies need an average of about 80 litres of diesel per day...there
is a great risk, however that after purchasing the fuel the fishermen can
come back empty handed because the business has become so unpredictable.
"We had to close down for more than 10 days instead of the usual four days
during the full moon's break last week. We would rather keep the little
diesel we have than take the risks, the costs of production are too high,"
said Mafa.
He said apart from the fuel shortages, the industry has no foreign currency
required to bring into the country imported spares.
Fishing, once a lucrative business in Kariba and the eastern highlands, is
quite popular in Zimbabwe where fish is consumed across all strata of
A slump in production might put pressure on fish prices as the law of demand
and supply sets in.
A manager with one of the leading fishing companies in the country said
while the economic crisis had hit the industry, the global warming
phenomenon was fast catching up with producers.
As a result, making accurate predictions and planning fishing seasons has
turned out to be a major nightmare for fish farmers.
"Remember there is the global warming factor, which has made fishing
patterns highly unpredictable," he said. "The winds are blowing stronger on
the lake than before and the peak seasons have been shifting. The peak
seasons used to be around November and December. We had better catches in
winter this year, it is highly unpredictable and it makes operations
difficult," he said.
Some companies have scaled down their operations in Zimbabwe and relocated
to Mozambique's Lake Cahora Bassa as a result of the continued slide in

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Agricultural shortcomings laid bare

Vote Muza, Matters Legal

THIS past weekend, as has been my practice over the past few years, I
visited my communal home with the intention to see my small plot to ensure
that preparations for the imminent rain season were on course.

I'm proud to inform readers of my column that besides being in the business
of hassling in courts and giving legal advice to the public, yours truly is
also into communal farming since tilling the soil and harvesting is at the
centre of my heart.
Had I been one of the lucky ones to have an allocation of State land as a
resettled farmer, I'm fully convinced that I would have, through my passion
for farming, done wonders on my plot of land.
Since it is now given that I may never have a chance to be resettled because
my previous efforts were rejected by government officials, my wish to be a
farmer on a large scale may never be fulfilled.
Several things struck me as I strutted up and about my village, meeting
relatives and childhood friends and discussing nostalgically with most of
them asking questions about the outcome of the political talks between
ZANU-PF and the MDC.
Since I was someone coming from the city, and also being aware that I'm an
enlightened son of the village, they expected to get a spot on analysis and
update of this significant political event.
Most were concerned of course with wanting to know whether there has been
any positive news, and if not, for how long they had to wait. I had a torrid
time trying to explain to them the impasse and my understanding of the
reasons for the political deadlock but it appeared that most of them were
now extremely impatient with the belligerent two political groups.
To their belief, their current misery is unlikely to come to an end for as
long as there is no political compromise.
Another factor that struck me with extreme alarm and concern was the abject
hunger and starvation that has besieged my home village and as a matter of
fact, my entire district. Since, readers may be keen to know my origins, I'm
proud to announce that I'm from the Mangwende clan of Murewa and my village
is located just 60km out of Harare.
Since I was born and grew up witnessing events around me, I have never come
to see the sheer extent of suffering caused by hunger similar to what I saw
this past weekend. Save for a few who managed to harvest last season, many
homesteads are at the point of starvation due to lack of the staple
For the two days that I was at my communal home, I received no less than
half a dozen people a day coming to beg for food, and poor as I am, I found
myself unable to assist.
Murewa is in geographical Region Two and usually receives normal rainfall
permitting for fair harvest hence my affirmation that it is only now that I'm
witnessing hunger and starvation in this area.
I now shudder to imagine how other places or regions that are dryer than
Murewa are being affected by this critical food shortage if my own district
with its reputation for good harvests is in the predicament that it is in
presently. Such thoughts are indeed shocking.
However, when I look at the current debacle, I see it as nothing but a
man-made crisis.
Zimbabwe has a duty at international law, being a member of the United
Nations and as such bound by its statutes to take all necessary steps to
ensure that some basic economic and social rights for its citizens are
respected, protected and fulfilled.
More particularly Zimbabwe is bound by the International Covenant on
Eco-nomic, Social and Cultural rights.
Clearly therefore, the State has an obligation to ensure that everyone
affords at least what is termed "standard" living, which guarantees adequate
food and other basic necessities of life.
Every citizen has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and an
im-portant obligation again is imposed by the United Nations on its member
states to individually and through international co-operation, take measures
and introduce specific programmes to im-prove methods of production,
conservation and distribution of food.
It is more than apparent that the current agricultural catastrophe is a
direct result of our government's poor policies.
While to some extent factors like the HIV/AIDS pandemic and economic decline
all contribute to the food insecurity being experienced in Zimbabwe, food
experts including the World Food Programme and the Food Agricultural
Organi-sation have stated that "government policies and practices have also
been a factor in the food crisis".
It is on record that whenever challenged about our agricultural
shortcomings, government has not lost an opportunity to argue that there is
no food crisis and has told the United Nations and international donors that
Zimbabwe does not need food aid.
And despite being warn-ed that our harvest for last year was insufficient to
meet the country's needs, government officials remained stiff and
unyielding, still insisting that all was well.
The crisis was exacerbated during the June election fiasco where government
flatly rejected any intervention by the United Nations and food aid donors
to avert the present widespread starvation.
There is more than enough evidence that our government is guilty of a
serious omission in so far as its policies and strategic timing to limit or
avoid people suffering due to the absence of food is concerned.
Evidence also therefore abounds that Zimbabwe, as a state party to the UN's
key instruments outlawing hunger and starvation, is overwhelmingly guilty of
directly or indirectly reneging on its obligations towards its citizens.
The extent of the suffering in cities and rural areas caused by food
shortages and also the absence of basic commodities is a clear manifestation
of State orche-strated injustices.
For when we talk of justice, we are not only talking of what is done in the
courts since justice is about providing for the basic economic social and
cultural needs of the people.
In Zimbabwe today, justice can have no other meaning than providing every
man and woman in society with food, water and other necessities. To me, any
other meaning given to the words "justice" or "human rights" is only empty
talk and devoid of any real words or content.
Those in government need to swallow their pride and avoid a looming epic
humanitarian disaster since it is almost now certain that without any
serious action to sound an SOS to the international community, many lives
are going to be lost.
And, to have Zimba-bweans dying of hunger with all our sophistication and
the recent land revolution will be extremely emba-rrassing.

C/o Muza & Nyapadi Legal Practitioners.

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Imaginative Ways To Withdraw More Cash

Friday, 24 October 2008 10:45
NETSAI Makombe yesterday joined hundreds of people who waited
patiently to be served at a commercial bank along First Street in the
central business district of Harare.

She was wielding a soiled khaki envelope filled with various
documents. As Netsai drew closer to the enquiries desk, she pulled out two
copies - a burial order and an affidavit.
Her demeanour suddenly became grumpy when she greeted the customer
care officer. She sighed heavily, before explaining her ordeal to the bank
official who seemed to be listening attentively.
She has lost one of her aunts who apparently has a different surname
to hers but one thing for sure is that she needs cash, supposedly for the
"Tete (my aunt) wanted to be buried in Chivhu," she murmured to the
client services officer. "I want to withdraw $2 million from my account in
order to meet part of the funeral expenses," she explains whilst other
customers queuing behind her keenly follow the proceedings.
After explaining, she was handed over a bank form which she took no
time to complete.
Upon completion of the requisite form, the bank official told her to
make a follow up to the application after two days.
Although she knows that her reason to withdraw money - true or
fabricated - seemed compelling, ultimately she knew that her chances of
receiving such an amount rested on the bank's discretion.
This has become the order of the day at most financial institutions in
Harare as Zimbabweans seek ways to siphon the fast depreciating local
currency from their bank accounts.
For some, this has become a  shrewd way of breaching an insufficient
daily cash withdrawal limit of $50 000, increased by the Reserve Bank last
The central bank concurrently introduced a new $50 000 denomination
with a new withdrawal limit amid massive price hikes of basic goods and
With a record annual inflation of over 231 million%, Zimbabweans are
no longer making real savings in the financial sector, save for some foreign
currency dealers eking a living from transactions on the buoyant parallel
market foreign currency exchange rate, widely known as the "cash rate"
Banks on the other hand have effected relatively high minimum account
balances of up to $400 000 for savings accounts in order to promote savings
among low-income earners.
The result of this insufficient withdrawal limit and foreign currency
dealings has overwhelmed banks and other financial institutions with long
queues becoming a common feature at most banking halls.
This thriving unofficial exchange rate market became popular after the
suspension of electronic transfers by the Reserve Bank earlier this month.
So high are the parallel market exchange rates that US$3 converted at the
"cash rate" could secure a return ticket to Bulawayo, which costs between $4
to $5 million.
A wide discrepancy between the official interbank exchange and the
parallel market rates has relegated the former to redundancy, trading
yesterday at less than $400 to the greenback.
The alternative parallel market cash rate was yesterday trading at $45
000 to the United States dollar, about 110 times the official rate which
also operates on cash transactions.
Apart from the biting effects of the comatose economy, the country is
also grappling with a high mortality rate because of the HIV and Aids
pandemic, which are claiming hundreds of human lives each week. This means
that the volume of traffic to banking halls will continue to be high unless
widely accepted monetary reforms are introduced.
Failure by the central bank to disclose information on the money in
circulation since the beginning of the year has made it virtually impossible
to ascertain the financial crisis, while most bankers seldom speak on record
on matters relating to the central bank.
A bank executive who spoke to businessdigest yesterday said the cash
crunch was now beyond the central bank's redemption adding that the
formation of a new government between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara could restore the financial
"Gono is now tinkering with the payment system hoping that a political
settlement would resolved these challenges," said the banker who requested
anonymity. "No banker would want to see these long queues at banking halls.
The central bank has lost control of money supply growth and this practice
of applying
for bulk cash withdrawals is a sign of patronage by the central bank."
Former University of Zimbabwe economics professor Rob Davies said the
emerging trend of withdrawing large sums of money from banks was a
reflection of deep-rooted problems in the financial sector.
"Focusing on this chaos caused by monetary authorities is trivial,"
Davies said. "What should be asked is why the Reserve Bank has remained
quiet on money supply growth figures since March and why central bank
accounts have not been audited for four years. Hyperinflation is being
caused by the central bank although it is easy to blame business for the
price hikes."
Questions sent to Bankers Association of Zimbabwe president John
Mangudya on Monday were not responded to at the time of going to press as he
was reportedly
engaged in a series of board meetings.
However, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono recently vowed to continue
printing money to meet the cash demands.
"I will not stop printing money until sanctions are removed. It is for
infrastructural development," Gono said.

 By Bernard Mpofu

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Of cash limits and bank requirements

Lovemore Kadenge, Economic Viewpoint
Events on the ground point to a dangerous situation
THE economic situation is not getting any better, and the reasons are there
for all to see.

As of now, history is not important as it has more potential to devour our
core existence as a nation.
Events on the ground point to a dangerous situation especially if the
political protagonists take further their negotiations as the people are
finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Economists will say if inflation is feeding on itself then there will be
more need for the government and stakeholders to resort to desperate
measures to find a solution if the economy is to remain functional.
In fact, the desperate measure seems to be political instead of being aimed
at enhancing production and incentive to work.
If the July annual inflation rate was above 231 million percent, I wonder
how authorities are interpreting this information which is causing alarm and
despondency in all economic sectors albeit being three months behind
On a daily basis, the inflation rate translates to more than 500 000 percent
on average, which is very unfortunate given that our national leaders
continue to adopt the wait-and-see attitude.
The situation impacts negatively on our nationhood's reputation such that if
it takes little time to recover from this situation, then heroes would be
created over very small efforts, which the current status quo is refusing to
honour and consider hearing.
While we appreciate the central bank's explanation that Germans have refused
to supply it with paper on which to print money, now that we have a
home-grown solution, is it still necessary to maintain these cash withdrawal
limits especially at $50 000.
From a layman's point of view, with the above rate of inflation, its really
ideal without being asked or told for the central bank to review withdrawal
limits twice a week if they are to remain meaningful to citizens, otherwise
the monetary authority will be accused of denying citizens their hard earned
Honestly, how are the bank queues going to end when individuals are made to
withdraw what is not even enough for them to buy lunch, or meet transport
requirements, let alone buy something to take home after work?
With a lot of things being sold in foreign currency, it follows therefore
that if the central bank is really interested in people's survival, cash has
to be made available urgently to enable families to have decent meals and
avoid situations of bad publicity when images of hunger stalked people are
flighted around the world by international news agencies despite the fact
that some of them are millionaires if not billionaires.
It's not that we are trying to oppose everything that the central bank does
but at times this should happen.
When the RTGS and internal bank transfers where banned I believe it was in
the belief that people would stop "burning" money (kupisa mari) without
considering the cause of this syndrome.
It is also my belief that in the process we forgot that people still have to
settle their transactions, thereby putting necessary pressure on cash and
cheques payment modes.
Now with restrictions on cheque transactions as it is believed to be the
remaining avenue being used for "burning" money, should we expect better
economic fortunes?
In some circles it is being argued that kupisa mari is a poor policy
While subscribing to the above, the truth is that due to high inflation
being fuelled by under production, the need to purchase in foreign currency
and the central bank's massive quasi fiscal operations, to mention a few,
any economic activity may technically be illegal, implying that Zimbabwe has
become a scholarly "do as you like" country with no one in control, thus
putting much strain on the rule of law.
"Burning" money is not that technical but something that comes upon a
realisation of a better exchange rate when compared to the one obtaining
Given that the cash exchange is very low when compared to the RTGS,
inter-bank and now the cheques rate, it follows that we will soon have no
cheques or these would be left for the government related transactions.
Why have these three been criticised so much despite being minimally used
when compared to cash?
I don't believe the central bank would ban the use of cash since it has been
the chief culprit in these illegal foreign currency transactions
Those in the banking sector argue that if it were not for the foreign
currency related minimum capital requirements, the inter-bank rate would be
indeed a true reflection of our exchange rate as evidenced by the RTGS,
inter-bank or cheque rates, where individuals and companies are paying the
highest prices for them to find this scarce resource (forex).
This then implies that foreign currency will remain in abundance on the
parallel market while the formal sector remains starved due to penalties it
is imposing financially on legal citizens.
But the question arises, is this what we want? If not, then what are the
real measures being put in place to ensure that those with the foreign
currency are rewarded fairly to make them continue availing it to the formal
As a nation we look forward to our leadership to consider national
sentiments and views as the country belongs to all of us.

 Lovemore Kadenge is the president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES).
He can be contacted on cell (0912732873) or e-mail:
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and
not necessarily of ZES.

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Near-Zero Business Confidence

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

23 October 2008
Posted to the web 24 October 2008

Eric Bloch

THE only thing in Zimbabwe that is declining at a greater pace than the
economy is the level of business confidence.

Almost without exception, the business community is naught but doom and
gloom, depression and despondency, pronounced pessimism and filled with a
near-absolute conviction that economy is beyond recovery.

The overwhelming majority of Zimbabwe's "captains" of commerce and industry
have totally convinced themselves that the entirety of the economy will very
imminently cease to exist, that their businesses will be wholly destroyed,
that they will be joining the vast ranks of impoverished, and that the
economy, their businesses, and their anticipated loss of any and all wealth,
is wholly beyond redemption.

Admittedly, there are a few (but only a very few!) of a different frame of
mind. They are not oblivious to the appalling circumstances prevailing in
Zimbabwe. They are wholly aware of the dismal lack of genuine democracy, of
the endless, contemptuous disregard for the fundamentals of the rule of just
law, of the abysmal disregard for human and property rights, of the
extensive abuses of power and the gargantuan prevalence of corruption, of
the worst ever sustained hyperinflation ever experienced, and of the ongoing
contraction of the economy.

And they are aware that these are but some of the immensely great negatives
that characterise Zimbabwe today. But they do not allow it to blind
themselves that, in time, there will be transformation. They do not
myopically fail to recognise that a metamorphosis will occur, although
inevitably it will be long and slow. They recognise that there are very
intense problems, but perceive problems to be challenges which must be
addressed, and potentially transformed into opportunities.

It is not that they are hallucinatory optimists, but are determined to be
realists who neither succumb to unfounded wishful thinking, or to misplaced
or exaggerated pessimism formed from narrowed vision which conceals the
evidence of history that ultimate change, and therefore recovery, is
undoubted. (They do, however, recognise that further grievous deterioration
may well precede the assured ultimate upturn and that it is vitally
necessary to strategise for survival through the period of further decline).

However, so extensively widespread is the pessimism that the distressed
perspectives of the despondent majority can well turn their prophecies into
realties, thereby greatly exacerbating the diabolically bad prevailing

That pessimism is blinding all too many of the business community from
seeing opportunities of overcoming, or at least of minimising, the
innumerable afflictions bearing down upon the operations of their
enterprises. In very many instances, that pessimism is also stimulating
business decisions which are only knee-jerk, reflex reactions, without
considered evaluation of the consequences of those decisions. There are very
numerous examples of such ill-considered, grossly counterproductive

One such example is that a large number of businesses in general, and
industry operations in particular, recurrently decide to discontinue sales,
notwithstanding their holdings of stock, on grounds that anticipated
replacement costs exceed attainable sale prices for those existing

In striving to avoid losses upon stock replacement, the enterprises
disregard the magnitude of continuing cost, inclusive of salaries and wages,
rents, finance charges, costs of utilities, and very diverse administrative
costs. In the absence of sales, there are no revenues to cover those costs,
and therefore seeking to avoid an envisaged future loss, immediate losses
are incurred.

Instead, those businessmen should recognise the adage of decades past, that
"no one makes a loss by taking a profit" and, therefore, as long as the
existing stocks are sold at prices above cost, a profit is realised which
can service the fixed costs. Thereafter, upon more costly replacement of
stock, the replacement stocks must be priced above their cost, thereby
enabling profit to cover ongoing fixed costs.

In like manner, all too many businesses seek to pre-empt future inflation by
pricing their products on a foundation of estimated replacement costs,
instead of the actual costs sustained.

As the cost inflation is futuristic, such inflation does not at all at that
time prevail within the economy, resulting in the prices of the products
being considered by customers to be excessively high, with many such
customers therefore not purchasing the goods, leaving the enterprise
possessed of unsold stocks, without the revenue flows required to fund
operations, let alone to yield profits.

Moreover, to such extent that sales are attained, albeit of lesser
quantities than intended, the seller is fuelling inflation, and that
inflation adversely impacts on the seller's operating costs.

Yet a further example is that of the fortunate few (many miners and other
exporters) who directly or indirectly trade foreign exchange, other than
within the interbank market. Normally, rates of exchange are driven by the
relationship of availability to demand, as is the case with any commodities
in a normal economic environment, and for an extended period of time that
was certainly so in Zimbabwe's foreign currency alternative markets (usually
known as the parallel market).

But most of those trading their foreign exchange now determine their selling
rates by aligning them to their projections of forthcoming inflation, or
using indices such as the Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR), which is a
notional rate determined by correlating the price of Old Mutual shares on
the London Stock Exchange with that on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. But
those share prices are driven primarily by perceptions of political
developments, both positive and negative, and by the performance of Old
Mutual's operations in diverse countries, resulting in immense fluctuations
unrelated to inflation.

The results of the sellers of foreign exchange resorting to inflation or
OMIR rates to determine selling prices of their foreign exchange have, in
recent weeks, been a sharp decline in demand for that foreign exchange. This
is due to intending purchasers not having the working capital resources to
fund purchases, or to their recognition that the magnitude of the foreign
exchange costs would, when incorporated into the selling prices of their
goods, be such as would make much of those goods unsaleable.

Concurrently, in the few instances that trades are effected, they are yet
further fuellants of the horrendous hyperinflation which is destroying the
Zimbabwean economy. The foreign exchange sellers are victims, together with
all others in Zimbabwe, of that hyperinflation, so effectively they are
allowing avarice to shoot themselves in the foot.

These are but a few of many examples of how many businessmen are destroying
themselves and the economy, and thereby unintentionally according substance
to their excessive pessimism, which has reduced business confidence to near
zero levels, also therefore negatively impacting upon much-needed
investment, which is a fundamental for a substantive economic turnaround.

The imbalance between the many, many pessimists, and the few optimists, and
the even lesser number of realists, is reminiscent of the writings, more 150
years ago, by Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, when he wrote: "It
was the best of times, it was the worst of times, was the
season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing
before us...........". Most of Zimbabwe's business community align their
perspectives with the second part of each stanza, and thereby preclude the
first part from materialising.

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Hot Seat transcript: Interview Dr Alex Magaisa

SW Radio Africa Hot Seat Transcript

Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Zimbabwean commentator Dr Alex Magaisa.

Broadcast 17 October 2008

Violet Gonda: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Dr Alex Magaisa a writer
on Zimbabwean issues. Welcome on the programme Alex.

Alex  Magaisa: Thanks for having me Violet.

Gonda: It's seven months now and Zimbabwe still has no proper government in
place. There is a serious humanitarian crisis across the country that has
already taken the lives of countless children, and the political impasse
continues. Can you first of all comment on the current situation?

Magaisa: Well of course the current situation in Zimbabwe is to put it in a
nutshell, a humanitarian crisis in the sense that there are masses of people
who are obviously struggling to get by every day. The economy itself
continues to deteriorate and at the end of it all we have the political
parties who are supposed to be leading the way forward still haggling over
the formation of a new government. So we are where we are in terms of the
politics perhaps a year ago in the sense that nothing really has changed
which may be of substantive assistance to the people of Zimbabwe . And that
really is the state of Zimbabwe .

Gonda: It appears ZANU PF attitudes are not changing either even though the
political parties are talking to share power. Only this week we saw students
and WOZA activists getting beaten and arrested and the State continues to
use repressive laws to block journalists from doing their work, like we saw
how Peta Thornycroft and Brian Hungwe were thrown out of the talks' venue.
It is also reported that the police and war veterans are blocking MDC
officials from distributing food to hungry orphans in the Nyanga area. These
are just a few examples of rights abuses taking place in the country in the
background of the talks. Is it being too negative to point these issues out
at this particular time and can you share power with a government that
abuses its own people like this?

Magaisa: Well, you know Violet there is a saying in the African community
that no matter how long you keep a log in the water it is not going to be a
crocodile. In other words some things never change and that seems to be the
case in the situation we have in Zimbabwe as far as ZANU PF is concerned. I
think all progressive people in Zimbabwe would have hoped that ZANU PF would
at least act in good faith and try and improve the lives of a lot of people
in Zimbabwe but it appears they are in it simply for their own selfish
ends - in other words the ends of the politicians. It's their lives on the
line and they are looking after their own bacon and that is unfortunate.

So when you ask the question 'is it possible to share power with people who
are behaving in such a way?' Then of course the pessimistic view will be
that it is practically impossible. The optimists will probably say that once
the MDC or any other opposition movement gets into bed with such a regime
they might be able to change things from within. Perhaps that is being too
optimistic but sometime in life you have to try things.

Gonda: People are so desperate for change is it being too negative to
continue to point out these issues?

Magaisa:   No I don't think that is being too negative. I think the role of
the media and indeed the role of the watch dogs - the parliament and the
judiciary is to bring politicians to account, is to point out things that
are not right. There is no reason why people should put a gloss on a
situation that is terrible. If the events that were taking place two or
three months ago are still continuing then surely they have to be reported
because it gives people a realistic picture of where they are going.

Gonda: And let's say the MDC maintains their position and insists on sharing
the key ministries properly and they get everything they want. Can a
dictatorship share power even if it gives away key ministries?

Magaisa: Well, I think that is the million dollar question isn't it? These
are things you can only see on the basis of experience. At this point we can
only speculate. What we are seeing with ZANU PF even after the signing of
the September 15 agreement is that ZANU PF has refused to budge. They have
tended to try and use unilateralism in the way they, for example, published
the allocation of cabinet seats and in the way they continue to hold on to
their positions. You see Violet, make no mistake about it, these guys are
fighting over cabinet positions; there is going to be a time when they have
to deal with matters of substantive policies and you ask yourself 'are they
going to agree?' I actually think there are more battles ahead as we go

Gonda: We have seen how Mugabe abuses his presidential powers which he can
use to overturn anything he wants. Now if there is a new power sharing
government how do you curtail presidential powers because this is what has
created so many problems in the country in the last 28 years?

Magaisa: The hope was - and this is what some of us have been saying for
quite a long time since the agreement - the hope was that the agreement
would usher in a new era in the sense that people would act in good faith
and build trust and confidence with each other but I don't think that the
past month or so has shown anything like that. So there is a real risk that
the arsenal that ZANU PF has always used in the past is still available,
because the presidential powers act is still there and there is nothing to
stop Mugabe from using those powers. And so I think it's going to be very,
very difficult for the MDC because they will be trying to be genuine. They
will be trying to do things in good faith perhaps but they don't realise
that they are dealing with a very, very crafty organisation.

Gonda; Some people say perhaps the MDC should pull out. What are your
thoughts on this? Is pulling out of the power sharing agreement an option
for the MDC ?

Magaisa: You know Violet, pulling out - I will take it back to the time
before the signing of the September 15 th agreement. Some people were saying
'tongai tione' in other words 'let ZANU PF rule' and my position then was
that unless there is an alternative to that I don't think that is a route
that Zimbabwe can actually afford to take at this stage. So I am still of
the view that even if we say the MDC must pull out at this stage they have
to have a Plan B. There has to be an alternative - what now if you pull out?
Unless somebody tells me that there is an alternative then I do think that
the MDC have to fight it out and try and get the best they can and try and
work from within. Because it's only by getting incrementally that little
power within the structures of government one day they will get enough space
and leverage to be able to win any election in Zimbabwe - I mean in order to
be actually declared a winner.

Gonda: I was actually going to ask you that in your view, who stands to
benefit more in the event that a power sharing government is formed?

Magaisa: Well as far as we are concerned at the moment ZANU PF was due to be
on its way out. ZANU PF has got a rescue package from this agreement. In
other words if they hadn't been able to cook up the results and delay the
process of the election, use violence and beat up people and so forth, they
would be out of government but they managed to claw back some of the lost
powers, some of the lost ground and so they have benefited to the extent
that they are still able to have a say in the structures of government. But
at the same time the MDC also will in some ways be able to gain that little
foothold in government and if they can use it strategically - the point that
we have always been making about the MDC is not to be reactive but to be
proactive. To try and have clear strategies of what they want to achieve
within the next three years for example if they are to get into government.
Not what they are going to have tomorrow. I think it's always important to
have that clear vision and sometimes I tend to see that the opposition in
Zimbabwe - the MDC and so forth tend to be more reactive to events.

Gonda: Speaking about the opposition - from your observation to what extent
are the two MDC formations working together because some critics say a unity
government will never work with the way they hate each other. Do you think
it's true that the Mutambara MDC , for example, finds it easier to work with
Mugabe rather than Tsvangirai?

Magaisa: Well it is difficult without sufficient information on my part to
say who is working with whom, but as far as I am concerned and I have said
this from the beginning of the split in 2005 that the MDCs whatever their
differences have to appreciate that they can work together for the common
good because they have a common purpose. There are minor differences -
perhaps some of them are based on personalities. You know these people will
come and go as long as the ideas of the parties are the same and they are
pursuing the same goal then they should be able to work together but
unfortunately I think personalities get in the way and that is one of the
big problems, I think, between the two MDCs.

So ZANU PF, you see, because it is a crafty and cunning party what they will
do is they will always try to find a way of dividing and ruling. To create
impressions of who is who and you see this also plays into the hands of ZANU
PF because ZANU PF can then use that to try and create these divisions - not
only among the leaders but also among the population, among the people who
begin to fight each other because you are Mutambara's supporter or you are a
Tsvangirai supporter. And sometimes we don't realise this, unwittingly we
fall to the tricks.

Gonda:   Dr Simba Makoni reportedly said recently there was no shared or
common vision among the political players in the ongoing talks over the
sharing of Cabinet positions. What do you make of that statement?

Magaisa: Well, I think he is largely right. What we have been talking about
in the recent past is that the fight - I can understand the fight for the
cabinet positions because it's about power because first and foremost
politicians are fighting for power. But what I cannot understand is why they
are not trying to get round this question of power by actually focusing on
the vision, on the policy. I would want Tsvangirai, Mugabe and Mutambara and
their subordinates to sit down and say 'what is going to be our foreign
policy?' Now if they disagree on that they are going nowhere. 'What is going
to be our economic policy?' If they disagree on that they are going nowhere.

It doesn't matter who holds what ministry because at the end of the day
Violet each minister will act in terms of the cabinet instructions and the
cabinet has something that is called 'collective responsibility.' It doesn't
matter whether you are an MDC minister or a ZANU PF minister. I don't think
that concept is understood properly and I think we are wasting time in some
ways, in dillydallying over these issues of who holds what positions when in
fact at the end of the day they will have to work together both legally and

Gonda: And former MDC legislator for St Mary's Job Sikhala said there is a
failure of leadership and in an interview with one of my colleagues here at
the station he said and I quote: 'They are all greedy, they talk about
power, power and more power and not the people who are living under
difficult and extremely poor conditions. Every single day now is an
engagement to negotiate to stay afloat.' What do you make of that statement
and if we were to look at someone like Morgan Tsvangirai - because he says
ALL three leaders are all greedy and they are talking about power - does
Morgan Tsvangirai have the potential of being a dictator like Robert Mugabe?

Magaisa: Well, Violet my answer to that will be very blunt. Every human
being has the potential of becoming a dictator and the only question is the
extent to which that person is prevented from descending into that position
by virtue of the rules and also with the way in which he is made
accountable. So I cannot stand and say Morgan Tsvangirai is not going to be
a dictator because many people said that of Mugabe in 1980 and there have
been very unpleasantly surprised.

But let me go back to Sikhala's position. He is right when he talks about
leaders being interested in power but I think what perhaps should be
emphasised is that, that's what politicians are for - they are for power.
Sometimes we forget that this is what they are looking for. When politicians
talk about the people, and sometimes we forget, the people - this is the
route to get into power if you can persuade enough people to say you can be
their leader. If you can persuade enough people to say that you are
sympathetic to their interests it doesn't matter what you will do
afterwards, so I wouldn't be surprised.

The key thing is for civil society, for example, to remain what it was.
There were times when we were worried that the civil society was getting
into bed with political parties and I think that was cause for worry simply
because you need checks and balances - you need to check Tsvangirai, you
need to check Mutambara and you need to check Mugabe. No individual can be
trusted with power because they are prone to abusing that power.

Gonda: And on the other hand, you know MDC structures have been decimated
and the MDC is fractured because of what has been happening to it in the
last few years and has lost a lot of intellectuals and supporters who have
been forced to flee the country. So to what extent is the MDC ready to take
on the role of government given what it has had to go through over the last
few years?

Magaisa: Well, you know Violet the question of readiness to govern
encompasses a lot of things and I think the most important is you are ready
to govern because people want you to govern, because people have chosen you
to govern. They may be wrong but that is a matter decided by their
experiences. The MDC itself definitely needs to refocus in terms of their
agenda, what really they are after. You know the global financial crisis has
caused a lot of changes in the world. Some of the ideas that the MDC might
have held in high esteem I think those ideas may have been discredited at
this stage. So it obviously needs to work on those things.

It depends on the extent to which they are prepared to be more inclusive to
open up to those Zimbabweans whether they are in the Diaspora or Zimbabweans
within. But people who are really keen and devoted to making a contribution
to that country. I think Zimbabwe can develop. The MDC can govern if it is
given the opportunity, as long as they can have good faith, as long as they
can have the commitment to use maximum resources where they are needed.

Gonda: So what kind of balancing act though, do you think will have to be
performed in a country with a bloated government - they are talking about 31
ministries - and a broken economy?

Magaisa: I think civil society is going to play a very pivotal role going
forward. There is a view among a lot of people that civil society is only
there to oppose ZANU PF and Mugabe and I think that is incorrect. Civil
society organisations are there to keep a watchful eye on those who govern
or who have political power. But there is also the judiciary. Those are
institutions that have to be improved in the way that they are managed, in
the way that they are projected because at this stage the judiciary seems to
be compromised - at least that is the view that is held by common people and
that is rather unfortunate. But again parliament itself will have to
reassert itself to be able to play that balancing position as far as the
cabinet is concerned. But you know it's a whole host of factors that have to
be taken into account going forward

Gonda: And as we said earlier the Tsvangirai MDC has been up against sheer
physical terror, but to what extent are the victims' memories influential in
the MDC, because martyrs of any cause lend huge moral authority to whatever
cause they lost their lives for?

Magaisa: In any struggle things are going to happen that are terrible and
Zimbabwe has had its fair share of terrible events in its young history and
what happened in the last few months and indeed in the last few months last
year or so for MDC supporters is quite terrible. But also whenever we talk
about governance and memory I always urge people not to think of Zimbabwe as
if things began in 1999/2000 with the formation of the MDC . I always urge
people to think more holistically to think historically about what happened
in Matabeleland , about what happened even in the war of independence

Gonda: That's right.

Magaisa: National healing doesn't start simply because we start talking
about what happened from 2000 to 2008. National healing has to embrace a
whole host of communities, a whole host of people. That memory which is of
much longer duration has to be taken into account and that is the only way
that Zimbabwe can develop.

Gonda: But realistically do you think the Mugabe regime will agree or accept
that especially after what it did during Gukurahundi in the 80s and what it's
done now. What can you say about that?

Magaisa: I don't think they can accept it outright because you see this is
perhaps one of the reasons why they are holding out. They are people who are
afraid of retribution. They are people who are alive who are afraid they
will be held to account and they would want to avoid that possibility. So to
expect ZANU PF to try itself I think is expecting a little bit too much. But
you see it's a process that has to be accepted as something that is going to
be long and painful. Eventually people will be held to account. The only
thing that you can hope for Violet is that the pro-democratic forces or
people who are genuinely for the development of that country can be able to
get into those structures and try and change the culture of the country.
Eventually you will find that even within ZANU PF itself, even within the
army, the police force, the prisons or whatever, there are some good people
in there who are stifled by the system. Those people will work for the
interest of the country and who knows what might happen. Things do change
very quickly.

Gonda: And what if things don't change and what if this stalemate continues?
Will bodies like the African Union or United Nations have the power to force
Mugabe to reform?

Magaisa: So far when you look at the history of the current struggle in
Zimbabwe and you look at the reaction of the African Union, the SADC and
other organisations you can see that there has been a change in the way they
view Zimbabwe . It has been slow, painful and perhaps frustrating for a lot
of Zimbabweans in the sense that they tended to support the ZANU PF regime
and Mugabe at the beginning. They thought that what he was doing was
incredible but what has happened over the past few years - Murambatsvina,
the violence in the elections, the poverty in Zimbabwe and so forth I think
has begun to show these other leaders that there is something wrong about
the regime.

But you see they have this brotherhood that they have amongst themselves so
they don't do things in public. But it would appear to me that the longer
ZANU PF holds out the more there are changes in other African countries like
South Africa and so forth. There would be pressure I think for the Africa
Union, for SADC to take a stronger view on Zimbabwe .

Gonda: But what sort of pressure would we expect from these countries?

Magaisa: Well I think part of it could be economic pressure in the sense
that Zimbabwe obviously is functioning rather badly at the moment but it is
functioning nonetheless because it still gets support from its neighbours.
But this policy of appeasement or accommodation can end. I think people will
begin to tell Mr Mugabe more in the face that this is wrong. I think his
biggest cushion so far has been Mr Thabo Mbeki who has been rather
sympathetic with him. But I think there will be a change in the coming few
months. ZANU PF cannot afford to continue on this path because Zimbabwe is
literally breaking down so I cannot see them going forward without the
support of the MDC and the other organisations.

Gonda: Dr Alex Magaisa thanks you very much.

Magaisa: Thanks so much Violet I appreciate that.

Feedback can be sent to

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A letter from the diaspora

24th October 2008
Dear Friends.
Another week gone by and still no settlement in Zimbabwe while the agony of
the people continues with even greater ferocity. Despite the heart breaking
reality of starving children and villagers surviving on wild fruits and
roots, the rising death toll from of cholera and water-borne diseases and
supermarket shelves empty but for 'Cabbages and Condoms' as Cathy Buckle
describes the situation in her hometown, Robert Mugabe still had the crass
insensitivity to make a joke at the nation's expense. Speaking after the
failure to reach agreement last weekend, Mugabe commented, "It went very
well - in the wrong direction." This supposed off-the-cuff witticism by the
Dear Leader was greeted with sycophantic mirth by his hangers on.
That was just the start of a week of humorous 'jests' by various Zanu PF
functionaries. When Morgan Tsvangirai was denied a passport to allow him to
travel to Swaziland to attend the meeting of SADC leaders, the explanation
given was that there was no paper to print passports. The reason of course
was Sanctions; that was why the country was running out of bond paper!
Tsvangirai applied for a passport five months ago and during those
intervening months the Reserve Bank Governor has issued thousands of new
bank notes - printed on bond paper! Instead of telling Mugabe to behave
himself and issue the new Prime Minister with a valid passport, the cowardly
SADC leaders decided to postpone the talks for a week and then resume in
Harare. The king of Swaziland offered to send his personal jet to collect
Morgan Tsvangirai. Another joke perhaps but Morgan wasn't falling for that
one and remained in Harare while Mugabe flew off to a summit in Kampala
where the situation in Zimbabwe was high on the agenda. So now we see why
Morgan was denied a passport, another sick joke on the regime's part.

Then it was the turn of a group called Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice. No joke
intended! They are a group of pro-government lawyers, heaven knows what
justice they stand for. They issued a statement accusing the MDC 'of sowing
seeds of chaos and mayhem' and called on Mugabe to go ahead and install a
new government, urging him to declare a State of Emergency. Someone should
tell this self-serving bunch of lawyers that the outstanding emergency in
the country is impending starvation. 'Nzara', hunger, is the word on
everyone's lips while Mugabe and his cronies play games with the country's
future and condemn five million people to starvation.

Nothing changes in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. Back in 1992 I was teaching
teachers on a remote mission station. Now that really was a drought year and
I remember that commercial farmers were carrying grain out to starving
villagers in the rural areas. The then Minister of Agriculture announced
that in order to pay for drought relief the price of food would go up and
people 'Should adjust their lives accordingly'. The sick humour of that
remark incensed me into writing the following poem. I make no apology for
copying it here, the message is as relevant now as it was then.

He who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune

To pay for drought relief The price of foodstuff will go up, the Honourable
Minister said, adjust your lives accordingly. Hear the Honourable Minister's
words all you good Zimbabweans.

Tighten your belts another notch. Rest assured drought relief is on its way-
only accept that someone always has to pay. Harden your hearts to hungry
children, explain to them in simple terms, times are hard. They will surely
understand- and adjust their appetites accordingly. Mothers hush your crying
infants, their cries disturb the peace. Stretch the food a little further,
make it last another day! Remember drought relief is on its way. only accept
that someone always has to pay. In town your husband's lost his job, your
kids at school faint clean away. The old ones in the village totter slowly
to the grave. Tell them to be patient, explain to them in simple terms,
times are hard.
They will surely understand - and adjust their deaths accordingly.

Yours in the (continuing) struggle. PH

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Possibility of Global Fund money lifts mood

Photo: Allan Gichigi/IRIN
Zimbabwe applied for at least US$500 million
HARARE, 24 October 2008 (PlusNews) - Excitement is mounting in Zimbabwe with the news that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has found the country's Round 8 application for funding "technically sound", and has recommended that the grant be approved.

The Technical Review Panel (TRP) of the Global Fund is an independent body of health experts and academics that reviews the technical merits of every application the Global Fund receives.

When the Global Fund's board of directors meets in November in New Delhi, it will either accept or reject the TRP's decision on Zimbabwe and other countries. The Global Fund board has never rejected a decision by its TRP but Zimbabwe has a history of troubled relations with the organisation.

Zimbabwe applied for at least US$500 million for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis programmes earlier this year.

The country's relationship with the Global Fund has not been a rosy one. In seven rounds of funding disbursements, Zimbabwe's applications have been successful in only two.

AIDS activists and health officials had expressed disappointment over the Global Fund's previous decisions to exclude Zimbabwe, citing the already limited resources available to tackle its health burden.

Zimbabwe's health minister, David Parirenyatwa, has frequently accused the Geneva-based agency of political bias, which the Global Fund has strongly denied. When the Global Fund declined the country's round seven grant proposal in 2007, government officials attacked the Fund for making politically motivated decisions.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, with an estimated prevalence rate of 15.3 percent. The public health system has collapsed over the years due to poor budget allocations, shortages of foreign currency and a massive brain drain.

In Round 8, Zimbabwe's Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) - responsible for drawing up the country's funding proposals - requested about US$300 million for HIV/AIDS, and US$58 million for its TB programme. The CCM also requested about US$80 million to revive the country's ailing health sector.

Counting chickens before they hatch?

Jon Liden, Head of communications at the Global Fund, told IRIN/PlusNews that although the TRP had recommended that Zimbabwe be awarded the money, it was "considerably premature" to announce that these applications would be approved.

Liden said the panel had placed Zimbabwe's proposal in "Category 2". According to Global Fund procedures, this meant the request for funding had been recommended for approval, provided clarifications or adjustments were met within a specified timeframe.

"Yes, the information about Round 8 has leaked out from Zimbabwe due to a decision this time to inform countries in advance of the board decision about whether their applications have been recommended or not," said Liden.

"This was done so that those whose applications were not recommended could quickly turn around a new or improved application for Round 9, which has already opened."

Read more
 Activists shout from the sidelines
 New government gives HIV-positive people hope
 AIDS organisations still grounded
 No documents? No treatment
David Parirenyatwa, who is also Chairman of the CCM, has welcomed the TRP's decision. "We are delighted by this piece of news. We know, yes, the board still has to endorse the decision by the panel [TRP], but we know that's just a formality," he told IRIN/PlusNews.

"Once the panel says a proposal is technically sound, it is unlikely the board will fail to take the recommendation. Our financial coffers had run dry and this is a welcome relief."

Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, Chairman of Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights, agreed with Liden that it might be too early to consider Zimbabwe's application as granted.

"Should the board approve this application, based on information we have about previous grant disbursements, we will only receive this money in April. We must look at this with an open mind. There is an urgent need of HIV/AIDS funding, so while we wait for the Global Fund we must look elsewhere or otherwise our people will continue to die."

Gwatidzo said the decision to request a grant to strengthen the health system was "very wise" because the performance of all other grants for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria depended on a fully functional health delivery system.

Of the 1.7 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, only 100,000 are accessing treatment free government treatment, but 320,000 people are still in need of antiretroviral drugs.


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

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FEWS Southern Africa Food Security Update Sep 2008


- In most of Southern Africa, food security conditions have been stable since the 2008 harvests (April–June) and are expected to remain so until the peak of the hunger season (November–February). Overall, crop growing conditions were favorable last season. Regional maize production was above the past 5–year average and above last year's levels, largely due to South Africa's bumper crop. While most countries produced above average harvests, prospects for excellent harvests were compromised by excessive rains and flooding in December and January, followed by a dry spell in February and March. Elsewhere, such as Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, and other localized areas where conditions were unfavorable and production was below average, households are already moderately food insecure.

- In July, the region's national vulnerability assessment committees (NVACs) indicated that a significant proportion of the region's population would be at risk of food insecurity during the April 2008–March 2009 consumption period, and would require some kind of assistance. These numbers were projected to peak at 8 million over the November to March hunger season. Food insecurity in Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, southern and parts of central Mozambique, southern and western Zambia, and parts of Malawi, has resulted from several factors, but especially poor harvests as a result of excessive rains and floods that led to loss of crops and disruption of livelihoods, followed by an end of season dry spell in February and March that also further reduced crop yields.

- Currently and during the upcoming hunger period, Zimbabwe faces (and will face) the most severe and prevalent levels of food insecurity in the region due to poor harvests resulting from adverse crop growing conditions in 2007/08 and the country's continuing economic and political crisis. A joint FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission in May estimated that the food insecure population would peak at about 5.1 million from January to March 2009. Recent assessments and further monitoring by the Zimbabwe NVAC have confirmed these results.

- Humanitarian assistance from governments, the UN, and other humanitarian agencies is critical between now and the start of the next early harvests in March 2009 to help stave off hunger and save livelihoods. Currently, these efforts have mitigated food insecurity through targeted food distribution and food for work or food for assets programs. Progress has been limited in Zimbabwe, where the government had suspended NGO activities through the end of August, delaying program implementation and assistance to an estimated 2 million beneficiaries. Humanitarian agencies have resumed operations and are expected to scale up assistance to meet the food needs of an increasing number of households between now and April 2009. In all countries, it will be critical for additional donor support to be secured to offset the current commodity shortfalls and expected pipeline breaks that WFP currently faces.

Full_Report (pdf* format - 425 Kbytes)

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Editorial Comment By The Zimbabwean

Mugabe Chooses - Kirsty, Yes. Morgan, no

It is absurd that the Prime Minister designate of a country should be
forced to grovel to get a passport.  It is equally absurd for the
state-controlled media to continue to parrot the "sanctions" mantra of its
government controller, chief Zanu (PF) propagandist George Charamba, when
Zimbabweans know that anybody with enough US dollars can get a passport in
48 hours. We find it disturbing that the SADC troika leaders decided to
postpone the summit and move it to Harare, rather than force the Mugabe
regime to issue a passport to Morgan Tsvangirai.
In any normal country, citizens have a right to a passport. It is not
aprivilege to be dished out only to government-approved applicants.
This is a perfect illustration of what is fundamentally wrong with
Zimbabwe.We are trying to bring about a democracy here. And the people of a
democracy are free to travel anywhere they like, without interference from
the state.
The utter insanity of so much that goes on in our country these days
isfurther illustrated by the fact that Mugabe recently gave Olympic swimmer
Kirsty Coventry, who lives in the USA but was born in Zimbabwe, a diplomatic
passport, while the country's prime minister has, for more than a year, been
forced to travel on an Emergency Travel Document.

A thought-provoking article by an award-winning Zimbabwean author,
bemoans the fact that we Zimbabweans laugh too much.
But reading Tuesday's Herald reduced us to hysterical laughter.The
Charamba-controlled daily was outraged - Morgan has been happy
enoughtravelling on an ETD all this time, why is he now making a fuss about
to Swaziland with it?

They chose to ignore the fact that the document was only issued on
Sunday,and there are no direct flights to Swaziland, necessitating a trip
toJohannesburg where a visa is mandatory and takes a good few days to be

There is no doubt that the paper is not the issue here. This is just
another example of Mugabe being vindictive, mean and nasty. But more than
that, it is an indication of his determination to cling to power.  He wants
everyone to know that he is still in charge. The power is in his hands,
never mind what other silly pieces of paper he might have been forced to

We applaud Ian Khama for his strong stance on the matter and eagerly
await the response of other SADC leaders to his lead.

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JAG open letter forum - No. 576 ' Dated 21 October 2008


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

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

1. Sally Bown - In answer to Just Andrew's .attack on Ben Freeth.

Dear JAG,

Just Andrew obviously lacks the courage of his convictions or he would not
be afraid of writing under his own name.  Everyone is entitled to their own
convictions.  I sense that Just Andrew harbours deep pain and anger and
blames God for it somehow.

In answer to Just Andrew's points:-

1/ Anyone who has a cursory knowledge of Islam and Christianity, is aware
that Allah is the exact opposite of the Judeu/Christian God.  As Asama Ben
Laden was heard to say on public television, Islam loves death.  This
statement is borne out by the extremist actions seen worldwide. Ordinary
Muslims get swept along with the tide unless they have the strength and will
to choose to reject it.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob brings Life, and 'Life abundantly.'
It's a mind, spirit and heart condition, which results in a way of
approaching life.

2/ Don't feel 'saddened' that Ben Freeth is openly expressing affiliation to
a God that brings Life. God isn't 'brought into' any situation.  He already
knows, and is in every situation where someone seeks Him.

3/  Of course God is a factor of politics.  People whose deepest held
beliefs and principles are formed and founded in the Judeu/Christian ethic,
will behave and think along those same beliefs and principles.  People whose
deepest beliefs and principles are formed by fear and revenge will behave
and think along that understanding, whether it is Islam, Witchcraft,
Ancestry Worship or whatever.
God isn't on any one 'side'.  He is on the side of each individual who truly
seeks Him. Only He knows who is truly seeking Him, but it can become fairly
obvious sometimes.

Of course understanding this means having to actually do some research and
read a Bible and a Koran to compare the basic beliefs and principles.
Something that many self-proclaimed atheists tend not to do.
'I don't believe in God, therefore He does not exist' but, 'God does not
believe in atheists, therefore atheists do not exist'.

God is there even for atheists if they want to find Him.  It is a personal
journey. No one can do it for you.  We have all been given free will, and
now I understand that scientific research into the brain confirms that there
is a 'free will centre' in the brain.  We can all choose whom we will serve
and how we will behave; and there are consequences attached to each
decision.  These consequences can have far-reaching effects for good or ill.
The responsibility of choice is ours individually

4/ Regarding whether Mugabe is a God fearing man;  Jesus taught 'by their
fruits you shall know them', but God waits until we are dead before He
finally judges us.  There is always room for change.

5/ No, God is not a magician and the Bible does not teach that He is.  He
will not provide any magical solutions.  He works in and through peoples'
lives, but more things are wrought through faith and  prayer than the world
can conceive of, as many believers will testify to.

The choice set before every Zimbabwean is between Life and Death.  Choose

Sally Bown


2. Ben Freeth

Dear JAG,

I am disappointed that "just Andrew" does not wish to identify himself. Is
he afraid to be identified? To repeat again:  "Fear of man will prove to
be a snare." [proverbs 29]..

In Zimbabwe, I am quite convinced that "fear of man" has been a major part
of our downfall.. It is as a result of intense fear that the country is in
such a mess.. Dictators get away with killing and stealing and destroying
because so few are prepared to actively resist that evil.. They are afraid..
Maybe "just Andrew" should identify himself if he wants to be part of the
solution to the mess that Zimbabwe is in..

Just Andrew is "saddened that Ben Freeth is bringing God into national
politics" and somehow believes that I am saying that God has joined MDC!

If God made us and knows the best path for us and gave us the law 3500 years
ago on Mount Sinai to give a nation its best chance of thriving, why lament
bringing God into it? Is He relevant to the individual and not the nation
as well?

I challenge "just Andrew" to come up with a single civilisation that has
ignored Gods principles as endorsed in the ten commandments, and thrived
over time...

As for Mugabe being "God fearing" what a lot of bunkum... Jesus said that
their fruit you will recognise them" [Mathew 7:16]. If his fruit is death
and destruction it is quite plain for all to see that Mugabe does not fear
God.. He is rooted to the very antithesis of God and what is good.. The
fruit of the suicide bombers [that I am rather perversely likened to] is
death and destruction too.

God has not joined MDC either. God loves us all. He merely wishes us to
follow Him and do things His way. If there is no-one doing things Gods way
and lifting a moral voice in the nation and in our own lives we will
continue to see hatred and lies and death and destruction continue to swamp
us whoever is in power.

If we do not bring God into the equation in a mighty way, self interest will
remain on the throne and everyone will continue to suffer. We have not
taken Mugabe to court [and suffered severely as a result], to see God left
on the sidelines. If that makes "Just Andrew" sad, I am sad too.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Freeth....


3. Cameron & Jacqueline Henwood

Dear JAG,

I have read up on your website & hoping you can bring some luck our way. We
have a position available for a Zimbabwean family wishing to work & live on
a mixed farming property nearby Goondiwindi, Queensland, Australia.

We have actually sponsored a Zimbabwean family on this farm before & we
would love to do so again. This position being available for a male that is
familiar with most aspects of farming there is a large family home to go
with the position and the school being nearby/Bungunya & the school bus is
provided. The salary will be negotiable. I would really appreciate
circulation of this email or maybe email me back if you know of the correct
website I should be looking on. Looking forward to hearing your reply.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely Cameron & Jacqueline Henwood "STRATHMORE FARMING COMPANY",
TOOBEAH, 4498 QLD, AUSTRALIA.  PHONE NO'S: 0746775207, 0427757208 or
0427775207, fax no 0746775285, email address:
attention: Jacqui Henwood.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for

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