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Emergency summit talks in Zimbabwe fail

A regional summit in Harare trying to resolve the impasse in Zimbabwe's
power-sharing agreement has broken up in failure.

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Last Updated: 11:18PM GMT 27 Oct 2008

"There was no progress at all," during more than 13 hours of talks, said
Tendai Biti, the secretary-general and chief negotiator of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

The issue will now be referred to a full summit of the Southern African
Development Community, expected in the next few weeks, he added.

The MDC signed a power-sharing deal with Robert Mugabe last month, but it
has still not gone into effect as the parties are deadlocked over the
allocation of ministries, with Mr Mugabe unilaterally assigning all key
posts to his Zanu-PF party.

Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president who is mediating the
process, had earlier said he was "very optimistic", claiming: "Progress on
the talks is very good."

At least 47 people were arrested and eight injured when police broke up a
pro-democracy protest outside the hotel hosting the talks, organisers said.

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Zimbabwe summit fails to break impasse on unity pact

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika Godfrey Marawanyika - 4 mins ago

HARARE (AFP) - African leaders have failed to break the deadlock in forming
a unity government in Zimbabwe, with a fight for control of the powerful
home affairs ministry threatening to sink the power-sharing deal.

President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met for 13
hours with key regional leaders, but they left with only an agreement to
seek a broader African summit in hopes of reaching a deal.

A communique said the two sides still disagreed on which party should
control the home affairs ministry, which oversees the police.

It urged all 15 leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
to hold a "summit to further review the current political situation in
Zimbabwe as a matter of urgency."

The summit urged the rivals "to genuinely commit themselves in finding a
lasting solution to the current deadlock."

"The people of Zimbabwe are faced with difficult challenges and suffering
that can only be addressed once the inclusive government is in place," it

The rivals signed a power-sharing deal six weeks ago that calls for
84-year-old Mugabe to remain as president while Tsvangirai becomes prime

But Mugabe has refused to cede control of home affairs, which Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it should hold to reassure its
supporters who suffered political violence during election campaigning this

The party accuses the police of widespread human rights abuses, a concern
highlighted as 47 people were arrested and eight injured Monday when police
violently broke up a protest by 100 activists who tried to march by the

Police fired teargas and beat the crowd of students and activists, just 300
metres (yards) from the hotel where the leaders were meeting, organisers

"One woman said she was struck with a rifle butt. Another student I spoke to
said he fell to the ground and a policeman stamped on his head," said
Blessing Vava, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Students Union.

"We are shocked by this brutality" during the summit talks, he told AFP.

Tsvangirai, who won the first round presidential race in March, pulled out
of a run-off in June and accused the ruling party of coordinating attacks
that left more than 100 of his supporters dead.

The power-sharing deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo
Mbeki, was meant to end the political turmoil and to begin piecing together
the shattered economy.

Instead the country remains paralyzed by the political battle that has
crushed the hopes of ordinary Zimbabweans yearning for an end to the

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe as well as Mozambican President
Armando Emilio Guebuza, Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini and
Angolan Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos had hoped to pressure the two
sides into an agreement Monday.

A new summit of all SADC members could take weeks to organise, and the
group's executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said it was not clear where the
emergency meeting would be held.

"The only outstanding issue is the one related to home affairs," he told
reporters. "Progress in home affairs will be done."

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's economy still tumbles in free fall with the world's
highest inflation rate, estimated at 231 million percent.

Once seen as an African success story, Zimbabwe is now one of its failures
with more than 80 percent of its population plunged into poverty.

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SADC calls for full summit on Zimbabwe


Mon 27 Oct 2008, 23:48 GMT

HARARE, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Southern African grouping SADC called on Monday
for an urgent full regional summit to make another attempt to break a
deadlock in talks on forming Zimbabwe's cabinet under a power-sharing deal.

After talks with Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF and two factions of the
opposition MDC, the bloc said the allocation of the Home Affairs Ministry
was holding up progress in the negotiations.

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Regional summit aims to break Zimbabwe deadlock

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: October 28, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Officials say a full summit of Zimbabwe's neighbors is
planned to try to resolve the southern African nation's political impasse.

Tomas Salomao, who is executive secretary of the Southern African
Development Community, told reporters early Tuesday that leaders said such a
gathering was "a matter of urgency." But he says the date and place have not
yet been set.

Zimbabwe opposition spokesman Nelson Chamisa says the summit should involve
leaders of all 13 members of the regional bloc.

A power-sharing deal signed Sept. 15 has stalled over how to share
government ministries among President Robert Mugabe's party, Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and a smaller opposition group.
Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of trying to hold on to too many of the most
powerful posts.

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Secretary-General welcomes latest effort to resolve Zimbabwean impasse

27 October 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed today's
initiative of regional leaders in Southern Africa to hold a summit in
Harare, Zimbabwe, to resolve the outstanding issues to a power-sharing deal
for a new government in the troubled and impoverished country, warning of
the humanitarian consequences if the impasse does not end soon.
The summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) security
troika "provides a critical opportunity for the leaders to finalize in good
faith the formation of the new government based on an equitable division of
power, and to move swiftly to implement the 15 September agreement on
resolving the many serious challenges facing Zimbabwe," his spokesperson
said in a statement.

"The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations' willingness to support
Zimbabwe throughout this delicate transition process and to work with
regional leaders and the international community to provide immediate relief
to the suffering of its people."

Mr. Ban said in the statement that he was alarmed that the ongoing political
crisis, which dates back to disputed elections early this year involving the
incumbent President Robert Mugabe and the opposition figure Morgan
Tsvangirai, is taking a "growing human cost." He added that signs indicate
Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation may only worsen through next year.

"He is deeply concerned that the population of Zimbabwe in both rural and
urban areas faces many challenges, including critical shortages of all food,
essential drugs, basic services, and clean water. It is urgent to resolve
the ongoing political impasse so that recovery can begin."

Earlier this month the UN World Food Programme (WFP) appealed for $140
million to provide vital rations over the next six months to Zimbabweans,
with estimates that more than five million residents are now facing severe
food shortages.

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'ZANU PF forcing farmers to donate funds'

by By Lizwe Sebatha Tuesday 28 October 2008

BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party is blackmailing
resettled black farmers in Matabeleland North province to donate money
towards the party's annual conference in December, sources in the farming
community told ZimOnline on Monday.

The new farmers, who were given thriving safari operations during the
chaotic land reform exercise, reap massive profits in foreign currency by
inviting hunters mainly from Western countries.

"It has been made very clear to us that we have to donate in foreign
currency to ZANU PF's fundraising campaign for the annual conference or risk
eviction," said one of the new farmers, speaking on condition that he is not
identified for fear of victimisation.

"Most farmers are just paying up in order to avoid victimisation and
eviction from their wildlife-rich farms," he added.

The ruling party's provincial leadership has reportedly told farmers that
they have no excuse not to contribute towards the fundraising effort as they
raked in substantial profits in foreign currency through hunting.

ZANU PF's provincial treasurer, Lewis Phiri confirmed that the party was
targeting the farmers to raise the bulk of their targeted $2 billion.

"During the years of colonialism, white commercial farmers supported the
Rhodesian Front," he said. "In the same way, indigenous farmers should
support their ruling party financially and materially."

Sources say ZANU PF is targeting the new farmers because the business sector
is struggling under the weight of the worsening economic situation in the

The once formidable party failed to pay workers in August and September as
its fortunes continued to wane following its defeat at the hands of the
Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
in elections last March.

Sources, who are senior officials in ZANU PF, last month said the party was
in the red after committing its funds to the violence-marred June
presidential run-off election won by Mugabe and that it had failed to pay
salaries to its 300-plus workers as well as other bills.

ZANU PF's annual conference is set for Bindura, Mashonaland Central province
and the party set a target of $2 billion for each of the country's 10

According to sources, the new farmers were told they had an obligation to
donate towards the conference as a sign of "gratitude" to the party that
gave them the land.

However, the farmers are complaining that their businesses experienced a
serious downturn after Mugabe's controversial re-election in June.

An opposition parliamentarian criticised ZANU PF for "arm-twisting" farmers
to fund its activities.

Abednico Bhebhe, who is the opposition MDC party's Member of Parliament for
Nkayi South in Matabeleland North, said:  "It's now becoming a tradition of
ZANU PF to arm-twist farmers to donate to its programmes.

"The new farmers have no option but to donate since they are on the farms
because of ZANU PF and not because they deserve them." - ZimOnline.

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Zimbabwe Teachers Union Blasts Authorities Over Exams Incentives


By Jonga Kandemiiri
27 October 2008

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has criticized the Education
Ministry and the Reserve Bank for proposing to pay striking teachers up to
Z$1.2 million a day to monitor grade seven, ordinary and advanced

The union said the government is turning teachers into "mercenaries"
teachers previously have invigilated examinations as part of their normal

Grade seven exams began Monday after a delay of three weeks due to a
teachers strike and what critics of the educational system called poor
preparation by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council. Teachers seek
entry-level salaries of US$1,200.

Some teachers told VOA they are not enthusiastic about the exam-monitoring
fees as they are usually paid after long delay, making them useless amid

Progressive Teachers Union National Coordinator Oswald Madziva told Jonga
Kandemiiri that striking teachers will remain resolute as to their
compensation demands.

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Zimbabwe’s farmers face barren times

Thulani Mpofu, Correspondent

  • Last Updated: October 27. 2008 8:33PM UAE / GMT

Ntombizodwa Moyo tills the seedless soil on her farm outside of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Thulani Mpofu / The National

BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE // Under normal circumstances Ntombizodwa Moyo, 61, a peasant farmer, should be ready to plant at the onset of summer rains, traditionally about the end of this month.

But as has been the case in recent years, she is still waiting for maize seed and fertiliser, key resources for a smallholding farmer such as herself. And the rains are just days away.

“I have tilled my field already, but cannot do anything without seed,” she said at her 4.5-hectare plot at Spring Farm, 40km west of Bulawayo. “It is not there in the shops, so I am waiting for government support like everyone else in the village.

“My biggest problem is lack of corn seed because in this area the soils are quite fertile, so we can do without fertiliser. I hope we will get it, otherwise we could end up begging for food again next year.”

Rains have already started falling in the north of the country, marking the beginning of the farming season, which runs October to March.

Since 2000, when Robert Mugabe launched his campaign of seizing white-owned farmland to redistribute to landless blacks, the country has struggled with falling agricultural production, partly caused by a widespread shortage in seeds and other resources.

The land seizure programme disrupted the lifeline agricultural sector, triggering a flight of investors fearful of a violation of their property rights.

This, among other factors, precipitated the current economic crisis in which inflation now stands at 231 million per cent – the world’s highest. There are widespread food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.

Now the government of the formerly prosperous southern African country is failing to import resources for its farming sector, hence the crisis facing Mrs Moyo and millions of other farmers.

Commercial farmers, whose work is more mechanised, are facing a greater struggle. Apart from having to contend with the unavailability of seed and fertiliser, they cannot secure fuel to power the tractors they use for tilling their land.

They also complain about constant electricity supply cuts, which disrupt their irrigation cycles.
A salesman at Farm and City Centre, one of the country’s largest companies stocking farm resources, said they have not received any supplies since January.
“We have nothing, no corn seed or fertiliser.

We are still waiting for deliveries. We do not know when they will arrive,” said the salesman, based in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe consumes at least 1.8 million tonnes of corn every year.

However, because of the economic crisis and frequent droughts, farmers have in recent years harvested less than half the national requirement, resulting in widespread hunger.

The United Nations estimates 3.8 million people are hungry across the country. It is concerned the figure could rise to more than 5m in the first three months of 2009.

In a bid to boost production, the government has embarked on an ambitious targeted farming scheme, under which authorities select certain farmers to plant maize on a cumulative 500,000 hectares.

Wilson Nyabonda, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union, acknowledged there was no fertiliser or seed for corn available on the market. He said farmers were about 25 per cent prepared for planting compared with about 80 per cent or 90 per cent as was usual by this time.

“The government has started moving resources from Harare to outlying areas to farmers operating under the targeted farming scheme,” Mr Nyabonda said.

“But considering the time left before the recommended planting period and the high demand for the resources, logistically we might be unable to distribute them on time. Remember, we are talking about moving resources to a few selected farmers operating under the government-supported programme. Those who were not chosen have to buy seed and fertiliser from somewhere, but go to any shop, there is nothing.”

Out of 50,000 tonnes of corn seed required every year, 30,000 tonnes have been secured, said Rugare Gumbo, the agriculture minister.

Renson Gasela, an agricultural expert and former shadow agriculture minister, recently told IRIN, a UN news service, that the delivery of more resources to more farmers must be done speedily.

“There are no inputs on the ground,” Mr Gasela said. “And what we are hearing from the press is that a lot is being done to assist targeted farmers and those targeted are said to be top farmers, but the number of top farmers is small compared to over one million small-scale farmers around the country.”

The Southern African Development Community, of which Zimbabwe is a member, has recognised the inability of the Zimbabwe government to mobilise farm resources and has announced a regional assistance plan.

Last week, South Africa also promised a lifeline of 300 million rand (Dh110.4m) to help the struggling farm sector.

However, both assistance packages are predicated on the success of power-sharing negotiations between Mr Mugabe and the opposition.

* The National

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JAG open letter forum - No. 577 - Dated 27 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. Cathy Buckle - The names are felled

Dear JAG,

Every day ends in Zimbabwe with the most magnificent golden sunset at this
time of the year. As the sun drops over the horizon we are bathed in orange,
copper and caramel and are then so spoilt to witness a magnificent vista of
stars light up our night skies. Some evenings the wattled plovers call in
alarm as someone walks near their nests, other evenings the bats swoop over
the garden catching insects but every night I think of a friend who has now
left who told me that no matter how bad things got, I should keep looking

Looking for a telephone number in my address book the other day I got
distracted by the names of people who needed to be erased as they aren't in
the country anymore. In the last eight years all of my immediate and
extended family members have gone; my lawyer, doctor, optician and
chiropractor have emigrated; the vet I took my animals to has left so has
the electrician, plumber and car mechanic. Nurses and teachers that I knew
are gone, so has a physiotherapist, radiographer and three pharmacists. The
farms where I bought meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables have all been taken
over and none of them produce anything for sale at all anymore - they have
been reduced to dusty weed lands housing a few desperately poor subsistence
farmers and their families. The two huge agricultural companies where I
bought tools, seed, fertilizer and equipment are all but empty. The stock
feed companies where I bought cattle and chicken food, flour, salt and maize
meal for many years now have nothing at all to sell, not even a bag of dog
food. The polythene factory has closed down, two transport companies have
gone, a butchery, abattoir, florist, sports shop and school outfitters have
closed down. The nursery where I used to buy tree seedlings has collapsed
and the flower nursery has gone too and then of course come the friends and
neighbours who have left. Page after page in my address book the names are
felled and each one is crossed out with a heavy heart. How far Zimbabwe has
fallen and all because a handful of people are so determined to stay in

For the last eight years those of us who have managed to stay in Zimbabwe
have been deeply traumatized witnessing the break down of communities and
the collapse of our country. Most days we don't know how, when or if, it
will ever end and if we can ever be "normal" again. At the same time, the
millions who have left the country are just as traumatized by everything
they've left behind: families, friends, pets, homes, memories and simply
that feeling deep in your soul that you are at home. I can't wait for the
day when I can write to the millions of Zimbabweans scattered all over the
world and say: come home, we are ready to rebuild. Sadly that time has not
come yet, we hope it will be soon.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.
2. Survivor

Dear JAG,

Regarding the involvement of religion in our political affairs, I suggest
that God is wisely keeping out of it all - last time he answered prayers,
for an end to the war, he gave it to the people he thought best...and look
what happened.

3. Just Faulty

Dear JAG,

"Just Andrew" just might not know just how committed "Our Just Benjamin" is
to Justice.

I have zero doubt that Ben Freeth would let any new political dispensation
get away with anything at all. Similarly, it is not that he is not without
fault - we all have faults.

I believe that Benjamin is of the same thinking as Voltaire - "If God was
not real it would be necessary to invent him."

I think that both Freeth and Voltaire understand the fact that God is "just
everywhere" even if some people just want to keep him out of politics in
their own minds.

Just Faulty.
4. Gerry Whitehead - Desperate people

Dear JAG,

When the supermarkets do get some maize meal in they only accept cash money
for it, with the Reserve Bank restrictions on withdrawal amounts most the
populace go hungry. I as a business owner in Chiredzi have been unable to
purchase food for my hungry staff for the last 2 weeks. I am now on a new
system of payment and will soon be able to purchase this maize meal for them
when it is available.

Hundreds of people in and around Chiredzi are surviving purely on stolen
sugar cane, there are wads of chewed sugar cane every where, on the bush
paths you see many people carrying large stacks of cane and eating it at the
same time, everybody is chewing sugar cane here.

There are many reports of starvation coming out of the communal areas; the
worst to suffer are firstly children and then the women.

Banks in trouble

Local businesses and I am sure that this goes for the whole of Zimbabwe, are
refusing to accept cheques as payment and are now demanding fuel or forex
instead. This is firstly because of the withdrawal limit of $10,000 and
$20,000 set by the Reserve bank on businesses and private accounts
respectively. How do companies pay their staff or buy food for them when
only allowed to withdraw such a little?

Secondly if businesses are paid by cheque, by the time that it has
registered in the account usually 3 to 5 days, they have more than lost
their profit because of the hyper inflation.

This will mean a lot less business for the banks.

If Zimbabweans had a real free and fair election now I doubt that Mugabe and
his ZANU PF party would get more than 10% of the votes, most in his party
have relatives who are in dire straights and starving in the communal areas.

Gerry Whitehead
5. Just Andrew

Dear JAG,

I wonder if you will allow me the right of reply.  I really do not want this
to develop into a boring discourse, but God bless Sally Bown and Ben Freeth!

Their response to my use of a pseudonym was about as predictable as the sun
coming up each dawn.  Some people just don't like the limelight - I am one
of them, but since they seek a little comfort in knowing my identity, to
justify the courage of my convictions, I am Andrew Field.  That exposed,
this should not detract from the message I sought to pursue, which was
hardly an 'attack', but merely a point of view.

Sally's psycho-analysis of my 'hatred' and 'anger' was a little off the
scale, ludicrous to say the least, but to be expected from a fundamentalist
defending her holy turf.  Her points were sullied by the comparison of her
'God of Life' and the 'Muslim God of Death', which is, in a round about way,
exactly my point with Ben's piece.   How can she quote the arch terrorist,
Osama Bin Laden, as being representative of the Muslim faith?  Sally makes
the 'holier than thou' mistake of assuming that Ben's critic is not too well
read in theology, or other religions, or indeed that I am an atheist.  In
fact her entire 'defence' is based on petty judgmental, personal, innuendo
of an, here-to-now, anonymous person she doesn't know.  This from someone
who's God only makes post demise judgments.

My issue is not about living by God's principles, or nations adhering to
them, or for that matter believing in the Christian God, but divine
influence in 'we and they' politics.  In short answer to Ben's 'challenge',
consider the 'officially atheist' China, one of the older, pre-Christian
civilizations and the most populous nation on earth with hardly a Christian
sole, comparatively, holding up the Ten Commandments.  In his eyes, one
could easily assume, the Chinese are just a bunch of uncivilized heathens,
but that nation, irrespective of its politics, is one of the founding
civilizations of the world and proudly surviving too.  Just remember that
only 20% of the world's population 'practice', without much fervour I might
add, the traditionally 'Western' Christian religion (Hinnells, The Routledge
Companion to the Study of Religion, p. 441.), which is deeply divided by
philosophy and denomination.   There are almost as many Chinese as there are
Christians (or their sects!)

I detract philosophically; the very point of my missive was that God doesn't
take sides.  Since He is an impartial 'party', should we really be
suggesting that a political solution, i.e. compromise with Mugabe, may be
against the will of your God, or anyone else's God for that matter?  Surely
this gives false hope that indeed; perhaps God is on one side and not the
other.  In fact, if anything, bringing the religion of mere mortals into the
political equation places a highly emotive and very personal issue on the
table, as evidenced by both letters, Bible quotes and all.  To do so is the
core of fundamentalism, a scourge similar to racism, or is religion just
another strain of politics and God really does take sides?

I merely begged to differ.  It goes without say, in my opinion, that
compromise and the formation of a government of national unity will be
deeply flawed, and shall fail to bring about much change or stop the wanton
destruction of this once beautiful and bountiful country.  It will not
return commercial farmers to the land.  Is this God's will or against His
will?  Will there be divine intervention, or maybe a Crusade, if compromise
is for or against His will?  I think not, either way.  What this nation
really needs, more than anything else, is a fresh set of externally funded,
monitored and supervised elections, huge transparency facilitated by the
entire world press, and a United Nations which has the moral fibre, courage
and determination to allow the true will of the people to be heard and
determined.  The sooner Zimbabweans wake up to these ideals, set aside
politics as a priority, and look towards economic growth and prosperity, the

May your God go with you.

Just Andrew
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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