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Chronic shortages to end this month, says Zimbabwe central bank

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: October 1, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The state central bank announced measures Monday that it
said would help to restock empty store shelves by the end of the month.

Among the planned programs were cheap loans to manufacturers to restore
productivity, and hard currency payments to farmers to keep them in

"I leave you with a promise most basic goods should and will return to the
shelves in the next three weeks," Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said on
state television.

Gono said the bank also planned to change the nation's currency, striking
more zeros off bank notes for the second time since August of last year.

In June, the government issued an edict to slash prices on all goods and
services by about half. This included a crackdown on overcharging in which
more than 7,000 corporate executives, business managers, traders and bus
drivers were arrested, jailed and fined for price violations.

The price cuts were meant to tame the world's highest official inflation of
nearly 7,000 percent. Instead, the effect was to worsen already acute
shortages of food and basic goods in the crumbling economy.
Under a new central bank loan program, producers and rural stores hard hit
by supply shortages would be able to borrow funds to restore their
businesses at the country's lowest interest rate of 25 percent over nine

To boost production of staple foods, the bank would help the government pay
the world parity price of around US$200 (?145) a ton for corn and wheat,
half in local currency and half in hard currency that could be used by
farmers to buy their own gasoline, fertilizer and imported materials, Gono

He said the price crackdown had caused fear and mistrust between the
government and businesses and called for what he called for "a spirit of
reconciliation and healing" in the economy.

He said many of the nation's economic difficulties were self-inflicted,
including the price cuts and a program to seize control of white and
foreign-owned businesses.

In August last year, the central bank slashed three zeros from the currency
and issued new denominations of notes after basic transactions became
unmanageable and calculators and accounting systems could no longer cope
with amounts traded.

Independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25,000 percent and the
International Monetary Fund has forecast it reaching 100,000 percent by the
end of the year. Bundles of bank notes are again common in basic purchases.

Gono said the zeros had now returned, again making transactions unwieldy. He
said a new currency would be issued possibly in the next two weeks but gave
no further details.

"It's a process that could turn into a hurricane for those who keep cash
outside the banking system," Gono said. In the rampant black market, "cash
barons and dealers are in the habit of creating mini central banks in their

Gono said the printing of extra money, now a routine practice, contributed
to inflation and was against "basic textbook economics."

"We are living in extraordinary times and extraordinary measures are needed.
Once we are out of the corner, we will have no problem formulating policy
playing by the book. But for now, the game is one of survival," he said.

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Zimbabwe announces plans to pay farmers in foreign exchange

The Raw Story

Oct 1, 2007, 18:00 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - In a bid to boost food production, Zimbabwe's central
bank chief Monday announced a new scheme to pay farmers partly in foreign
currency for crops like maize and wheat.

Zimbabwe's agricultural production has plummeted over the past seven years
following a controversial programme to seize white-owned land for
redistribution to blacks.

Up to a third of the population in Zimbabwe, once known as the breadbasket
of southern Africa, will require food aid by March.

Bread is in desperately short supply, with the projected wheat harvest this
year less than a third of the amount required.

Announcing the new payment scheme, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said it
would make more sense to pay scarce foreign currency to local farmers.

Zimbabwe's collapsing local dollar makes foreign currency vastly more
attractive to local earners.

'Why should it make sense to pay for the Zambian farmer, for the Malawian
farmer, for the South African farmer?' said Gono in reference to Zimbabwe's
neighbours who have been supplying the country with maize and wheat.

Now local cereal growers will be paid out in US dollars for half of their
crops and in Zimbabwe dollars for the remainder, Gono said.

Wheat and barley will fetch 250 US dollars a ton, while maize will fetch 200
US dollars. Other food crops like soya and sugar beans and sunflower are
also included in the scheme.

Gono said the central bank had put aside 180 million US dollars to pay local
maize farmers for their crops next year up to a limit of 1.8 million tons
the country's total annual consumption.

The foreign currency earned by the maize grower can then be used for holiday
purposes, for paying of school fees, for payment of their own imports, said

'We are now moving towards a stage where we must let the farmer look after
his or her own interests as opposed to depending on the state,' he said.

The exchange rate for the Zimbabwean dollar is officially set at 30,000:1
US, but on the flourishing black market for foreign currency the US dollar
this week fetches around 450,000 Zimbabwe dollars.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Reserve Bank to Launch New Currency

SW Radio Africa (London)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

According to Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono the country's central bank
will soon launch a new currency in a bid to curtail a widely-used black
market for foreign exchange and fight the world's highest rate of inflation.

Speaking on Monday Gono also announced that the central bank would raise its
main lending rate from 650 percent to 800 percent to tame the 'angry and
formidable' inflation. The opposition MDC described the plan to introduce a
new currency as 'madness' and a dream by the government.

The acting treasurer-general of the Tsvangirai camp, Elton Mangoma said a
new currency at this stage of the economy won't help as it would also
rapidly depreciate on a daily basis.

'I really think these guys have no other plans for this economy. If they
believe their new policies will work then god help them,' Mangoma said.

Presenting his delayed mid-term Monetary Policy review statement, the
Reserve Bank Governor warned it would be a 'hurricane' for those who keep
huge cash outside the formal banking system.

'I can confirm that (a new currency) is coming and coming very soon,' Gono
said. He added that dealers should not hold cash outside the banking system.

The Reserve Bank governor also adviced the cash and money barons who he said
are in the habit of creating mini central banks to compete with the central
bank, to take heed of this advice, 'which is free.'

On inflation, Gono said, 'the threat of continued inflationary pressures
remains high. In order to repel speculative tendencies, the overnight
accommodation rate has been increased, with immediate effect,' he said.

In his televised speech, Gono said inflation should decelerate in the medium
term but could come under more pressure from spending ahead of the country's
joint parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008.

'I never dreamt that we would get to these levels of inflation but I am not
deterred, the outlook in the short term is that our number one enemy remains
very angry and formidable. In the medium term however, we will see a steep
deceleration of the pace at which the enemy will be charging towards us on
the back of improved production and supplies,' he said.

Gono also urged lawmakers to consult widely before moving ahead with a
controversial bill that would transfer majority control of foreign banks and
mining companies to Zimbabweans.

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Zimbabwe lifts main lending rate to 800%

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

01 October 2007 06:13

      Zimbabwe's central bank on Monday raised its main lending rate
to 800% from 650% to tame "angry and formidable" inflation, Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono said.

      The central bank also will launch a new currency soon to try to
curtail a thriving foreign-exchange black market, he announced in a
bi-annual monetary policy speech that came amid deepening economic crisis.

      "The threat of continued inflationary pressures remains high ...
In order to repel speculative tendencies, the overnight accommodation rate
has been increased, with immediate effect," he said in the televised speech.

      The central bank raised the main lending rate to 650% from 500 %
in April this year as part of a series of measures to curb the world's
highest inflation rate.

      Official annualised inflation measured about 6 600% in August,
highlighting an economic meltdown also characterised by a shrinking economy
and chronic shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

      Gono said inflation should decelerate in the medium term but
could come under more pressure from spending ahead of the country's joint
parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008.

      "I never dreamt that we would get to these levels of inflation
but I am not deterred ... the outlook in the short term is that our number
one enemy remains very angry and formidable," he said.

      "In the medium term, however, we will see a steep deceleration
of the pace at which the enemy will be charging towards us on the back of
improved production and supplies."

      Gono also urged lawmakers to consult widely before moving ahead
with a controversial Bill that would transfer majority control of foreign
banks and mining companies to Zimbabweans.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has proposed the new law in
a bid to give Zimbabweans more control over the economy, despite fears it
could further drive investors from the country. -- Reuters

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Zimbabwe's Gono says secured revolving credit facility


Mon 1 Oct 2007, 14:27 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank Governor Gideon Gono said on
Monday the southern African nation had secured a $200 million credit
facility to boost fuel imports.

Zimbabwe is in a severe economic crisis, marked by annual inflation of about
6,600 percent, unemployment of more than 80 percent and chronic shortages of
foreign currency and fuel.

"We are pleased to announce that $200 million in favourable lines of credit
under a revolving facility has been secured for fuel importation," Gono said
in a televised monetary policy speech.

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WOZA Take to The streets of Bulawayo Today - 200 Arrested

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Bulawayo)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

At 12pm today, hundreds of members of WOZA and MOZA marched through the city
of Bulawayo. Representatives from Harare, Mutare, Masvingo and rural Insiza
joined local members to demand 'peace - not piecemeal amendments.'

The group of singing protestors marched from near St Mary's Cathedral,
pausing outside to send messages of solidarity to Bishop Pius Ncube, whose
courageous outspokenness against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe have often
made him a target of the State. The group then progressed several blocks to
Southampton House, the location of the Police Licensing Inspectorate, the
office that receives and processes applications for peaceful gatherings.

Several hundred members proceeded to sit down peacefully on the pavement
outside Southampton House to await arrest, which was not long coming. Three
armed police officers escorted a group of approximately 200 into the
building where they still remain.

Human rights lawyers are in attendance. Two mothers with babies that had
also been arrested have been released.

One young member that is known to police was separated from the others and
taken by uniformed police officers to Drill Hall where she was questioned on
why she had been talking to Magodonga Mahlangu, one of the WOZA leaders.
After being made to do several push-ups, she was released.

The protest comes two days after an all-stakeholders meeting with civic
society and citizens was held in Bulawayo to deliberate on the implications
of Constitutional Amendment Number 18 and the SADC-led mediation between the
ruling ZANU PF and opposition MDC parties. The outcome of that conference
was a complete rejection of piecemeal amendments to the current constitution
and a renewed demand for a new, democratic and people-driven
constitution-making process as the foundation for resolving the crisis in

WOZA, as frontline women human rights defenders that have often been on the
receiving end of police brutality for having the audacity to claim their
constitutional rights of freedom of expression and assembly, are also
demanding an end to violence as a prerequisite to any meaningful change. See
'10 Steps to a New Zimbabwe'; WOZA's position on the mediation efforts,
available at   More information will be made available
as it emerges.

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158 Arrested in Bulawayo Today All Released

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Bulawayo)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

The 158 members arrested today in Bulawayo were all released late this
afternoon. The 127 women and 31 men were held in Southampton House all

Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI) officers questioned two
leaders, Williams and Mahlangu whilst the others had their names recorded.
Attempts were made to keep Williams and Mahlangu in custody but the rest of
the members refused to be released without them and vocalised this.

Two Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officials, Maseko and Ndebele,
also attended and recorded the life history of Williams, advising her that
they would now be frequently visiting her home and monitoring her movements.
None of the activists arrested were charged in the end.

The message delivered by WOZA was delivered loud and clear and whilst we
recognise that police restrained themselves from brutality today, WOZA will
continue to protest for an end to violence against all Zimbabweans and for a
constitution-making process that has people at heart.

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Zimbabwe turning into a nation of drunkards: bank chief

Monsters and Critics

Oct 1, 2007, 16:59 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank governor Monday called for
controls on the selling price of beer to be lifted, saying cheap lager was
turning the country into a nation of drunkards.

The price of beer and many other commodities was slashed by the government
in late June to try to stave off inflation now estimated at more than 6,500
percent. A pint of lager is now only available in hotels and is officially
cheaper than a bottle of mineral water.

But in a monetary policy statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon
Gono said reduced beer prices were having an adverse effect on the fabric of
society, as well as starving Zimbabwe of much-needed tax revenue.

'We are creating a nation of drunkards because beer is so cheap,' Gono said
amid laughter from the audience, which included army service chiefs and
government ministers.

'By doing what we did to beer, we are causing disharmony in families because
husbands are coming home drunk every day,' he said.

In some instances, decision makers at various levels (who are under the
influence of the cheap beer) are making tragic decisions, he said.

Breweries have cut back on production citing an unviable selling price,
which the governor said had put unnecessary pressure on the manufacturing
capacities of breweries.

Gono claimed even vagrants were going to drink at Meikles, Harare's most
exclusive hotel, and beating up tourists when they are drunk.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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'No Hope' for Opposition in Next Year's Poll

Business Day (Johannesburg)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

John Kaninda

THE odds are stacked against the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in next year's presidential election, say analysts.

At an MDC rally in Masvingo at the weekend, Morgan Tsvangirai, the president
of one of two MDC factions, told supporters that the signing of an agreement
with ruling Zanu (PF) on a constitutional amendment did not mean that the
party had "sold out".

Tsvangirai said the deal would help create a conducive environment for
elections next year.

"The objective of talking to Zanu (PF) is to create a free and fair election
environment in this country," Tsvangirai told thousands of supporters at his
party's eighth anniversary celebrations.

He said the MDC would "walk to victory and democracy" in joint presidential,
legislative and municipal elections next year.

But he said he would not take part in national elections if Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe continued political repression .

"There is no point in participating in repressive elections if the
environment is not conducive," the MDC leader said.

Tsvangirai insisted the elections would be meaningless without the votes of
millions of exiled Zimbabweans in countries such as SA, Botswana and the UK.

In a surprise show of unity with Zanu (PF), MDC politicians last week
approved constitutional reforms which provide for joint parliamentary and
presidential polls next year and the redrawing of constituency boundaries.

Later reports said the MDC took the position at the behest of President
Thabo Mbeki as a goodwill measure in talks with the ruling Zanu (PF).

Tsvangirai was addressing Saturday's rally in the southern city of Masvingo
to celebrate the MDC's eight anniversary of what it calls "unarmed combat
against the dictatorship". Tsvangirai said it was encouraging that Zanu (PF)
had agreed to hold talks with the opposition and that regional leaders now
recognised that the country was suffering from a crisis of governance.

Analysts said any opposition would be worthless without real change both
before and after the elections .

"You are looking at a very vicious regime, with a determination to stay in
power," said John Makumbe, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe

"But it is also desperate, because it has committed so many sins in the

"It will move heaven and earth in order to stay in power."

Because of this, some have given up on any chance of any faction of the MDC
winning an election in 2008.

Joseph Kurebwa, a local political analyst , said: "They don't stand a ghost
of a chance.

"Even if they were to go to the polls united, they would still face huge
hurdles. Now that they are split, that will significantly reduce their
electoral chances."

For many analysts, the opposition has lost its direction and strength since
it split and following the brutal government crackdown in March.

They say the MDC needs a change of strategy.

The Sunday Independent reported that Zimbabwe had told foreign-owned
companies unhappy with a controversial company seizure law approved this
week "to pack their bags and go".

The new Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill approved by parliament last week
compels all foreign-owned companies to sell at least 51% of their equity to
black Zimbabweans or risk losing their trading licences.

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Mission to assess humanitarian response to Zimbabweans

Refugees International (RI)

Date: 01 Oct 2007

Refugees International is traveling to Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa
for four weeks in October to conduct an assessment mission of the
humanitarian situation of Zimbabweans fleeing political and economic turmoil
in their home country. The Refugees International (RI) team will evaluate
the overall effectiveness of the response to the needs of Zimbabweans and of
efforts to provide assistance and protection to groups that are particularly

It is now estimated that over three million Zimbabweans have left the
country, with thousands more leaving on a daily basis. As humanitarian
conditions deteriorate inside Zimbabwe, including widespread food shortages
projected for later this year, RI will monitor how planning for an adequate
response region-wide is developing. South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia are
increasingly deporting Zimbabweans, and RI will evaluate the conditions of
return. With elections also approaching in Zimbabwe, the potential for
political violence and the need for political asylum in neighboring
countries will also be examined.

The primary purpose of this mission is to evaluate how international and
national aid agencies and the governments of Zambia, Botswana, and South
Africa are assisting Zimbabweans in light of the growing outflows. RI will
assess UN and humanitarian agencies efforts to meet protection and
assistance needs and identify any constraints. We will focus on the degree
to which responses to assistance needs have included protection components
for those fleeing political persecution. We will also examine how the
international response is being coordinated as well as efforts to establish
longer-term planning in the case of greater upheaval inside Zimbabwe. RI
will also assess the degree to which the stateless population of Zimbabwe is
affected by the current crisis.

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Swedish development cooperation organization demands: Send food observers to Zimbabwe

Kooperation Utan Gränser

2007-10-01 13:00

Now, the international development cooperation organization Kooperation Utan
Gränser / Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) demands the creation of a food
observer force. In the same way as the international community supervises
elections in other parts of the world, an independent international control
of the food aid is demanded to assume that it reaches those who most need

The Swedish Cooperative Centre presents today the report "Be loyal - or
The report is, among other things, based on the organization's own
interviews among some forty families from rural areas in Zimbabwe. All
interviewed persons affirm that they lack enough food to survive until the
next crop.

- Farmers whom we have interviewed confirm that the distribution of food is
controlled politically, says Anna Tibblin, director of the SCC in Southern

The Swedish Cooperative Centre/SCC exhorts the Swedish government to promote
that the European Union and the World Food Programme (WFP) create a food
observer force. The UN:s World Food Programme is today responsible for great
part of the food aid to Zimbabwe. The Swedish Cooperative Centre/SCC
considers that the surrounding world should urge the regime to accept an
increased international control of the aid.

Read the report "Var lojal - eller svält!" (in swedish) on

For further information contact Camilla Lundberg Ney: +46 703 098 884

The Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) is an international development
cooperation organization that helps people to fight poverty for themselves.
The SCC supports development projects in more than 20 countries and has
supported long term development projects for several decades in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe's central bank chief warns of new indigenisation law

The Raw Story

dpa German Press Agency
      Published: Monday October 1, 2007

Johannesburg/Harare- Central bank governor Gideon Gono
Monday slammed well-connected Zimbabweans who he claimed were
positioning themselves to muscle into profitable banks and factories
in the wake of last week's approval of indigenisation laws.
In rare criticism of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, Gono
warned against those who would want to amass wealth in a greedy and
irresponsible manner while the indigent majority remain empty-handed
as in the past.

He appeared to be referring to Zimbabwe's land reform programme,
launched more than seven years ago. The controversial reforms saw top
politicians and military staff cherry-picking prime, white-owned

The Reserve Bank governor, who some consider a possible successor
to longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, said a fine balance should be struck
between opening up the country to blacks and attracting scarce
foreign investment to Zimbabwe.

"We must avoid as a nation schemes that create perceptions of
instant gratification," Gono said during a two-hour long monetary
policy statement broadcast live on state radio.

Ruling party legislators pushed the Indigenisation and Empowerment
Bill through the lower house of parliament last week. It is almost
certain to be approved by the ZANU-PF dominated Senate before
awaiting Mugabe's signature to become law.

The new legislation will allow locals to take over 51 per cent
shares in foreign-owned companies. It has been viewed with alarm by
banks and mining companies still operating in crisis-ridden Zimbabwe.

The tough-talking governor, who is the former head of a commercial
bank, warned politically-connected Zimbabweans about interfering in
the banking sector.

There were a number of senior and well-connected personalities who
are already positioning themselves to muscle into certain mining,
manufacturing banking and other entities that are currently
performing well and contributing to the foreign currency inflows of
this country, he warned.

"Of concern to us as monetary authorities would be any attempt to
forcibly push the envelope of indigenisation into the delicate area
of banking and finance," he added.

He said anyone who wanted to become a bank shareholder would be
subjected to severe scrutiny by the central bank involving checks on
their backgrounds, the source of their money as opposed to "bringing
in crooks and those with ulterior motives into the realm of ownership
of banks."

A number of foreign-owned banks, including the South African-owned
Stanbic Bank and the British-owned Barclays Banks operate in

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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Zimbabwe runs out of bread

Harare admits land reform has failed as the deadline passes for the last
white farmers to leave their land

Chris McGreal, Africa correspondent
Monday October 1, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

A Zimbabwean shopper walks past empty shelves at a supermarket in Harare.
Photograph: Bishop Asare/EPA

Zimbabwe's bakeries have shut and supermarkets have warned there will be no
bread for the foreseeable future as the government admitted that wheat
production had collapsed following the seizure of white-owned farms.
The agricultural ministry announcement that the wheat harvest is only about
a third of what is required, and that imports are held up by lack of hard
currency, came as a deadline passed today for the last white farmers to
leave their land or face prosecution for trespass.

The maize harvest is expected to be equally dire and price controls to
contain hyperinflation have emptied the stores of most other foodstuffs. The
World Food Programme says at least 3 million people - one in four of the
population - will need food aid in the coming months. It describes hunger in
some parts of the country, which used to be a food exporter, as "acutely
Last week, the government said it plans to import 100,000 tonnes of wheat
but acknowledged that a shipment of 35,000 tonnes was held up in Mozambique
because of a shortage of hard currency to pay for it.

The agriculture minister, Rugare Gumbo, has blamed the food shortages on
black farmers who have taken over formerly white-owned land.

"I am painfully aware of the widespread theft of stock, farm produce,
irrigation equipment and the general vandalism of infrastructure by our new
farmers," he said.

"I am disappointed that our new farmers have proved to be failures since the
start of the land reform programme in 2000. In spite of all the support
government has been pouring into the agricultural sector, productivity and
under-utilisation of land remain issues of concern."

The ministry of agriculture has also blamed electricity shortages for the
wheat shortfall, saying that power cuts have affected irrigation and halved
crop yields per acre.

The power shortages are likely to continue. Mozambique has reduced
electricity supplies to Zimbabwe because of a $35m (£17.1m) unpaid bill.
Shortages of coal and spares for power stations and mining equipment have
also hit electricity production and power cuts are now a regular feature of
daily life.

Zimbabwe, once the world's second largest exporter of tobacco, has also seen
production of its main cash crop nosedive, further undermining its ability
to buy food from abroad. This year's crop is not likely to be much better
than recent harvests, with many farmers saying that their seedlings have
died for lack of irrigation.

Cigarettes are only available on the black market at many times the official
price, and now cost more than marijuana - a cash crop that does not appear
to have been severely affected by the crisis.

The government's admission that the land redistribution has failed to
deliver the promised boost to food production coincides with a deadline for
the last white farmers to vacate their land. The farms were nationalised
last year and the handover to the state was set for today.

Any farmer remaining on their former land faces prosecution for trespassing
on state property. About 50 farmers have already been summonsed by the

White farmers say that senior ruling party, military and intelligence
officials have been touring their former properties to lay a claim and that
they have little confidence the land will be distributed among the poor as
the government claims.

Zimbabwe's economic problems are likely to be compounded by a law passed
last week that compels many publicly owned companies, including foreign
firms, to sell a majority of their equity to black Zimbabweans.

Critics say the legislation amounts to expropriation because it effectively
forces the companies to hand over half of their value by taxing them to
raise the money to "buy" the 51% stake for black investors approved by the

The government has ignored the protests of some foreign investors, including
South African banks and mining houses. With the collapse of tobacco
production, mining is now the country's largest source of foreign currency.

Zimbabwe's minister of indigenisation, Paul Mangwana, said those companies
that do not like it can "pack their bags and go".

"If they feel that we went into the bush [to fight against white rule] for
them to enjoy our wealth then they can leave. We are talking about the total
liberation of this country. I have no apologies for that," he said.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund said that it would not renew
assistance to Zimbabwe until it adopts economic policies rooted in
"reality". The IMF suspended dealings with Harare late last year.

President Robert Mugabe continues to blame his country's financial problems
on what he calls British-led economic sanctions. The UK says that the
sanctions, imposed by the EU and the US, target leading Zimbabwe officials
and have no impact on the economy.

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Lecturers At State Universities Go On Strike

SW Radio Africa (London)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

Henry Makiwa

Lecturers and staff at state universities in Zimbabwe on Monday downed tools
in protest at poor salaries, scuttling the examination preparations of

The lecturers joined teachers at primary and high schools whose strike is in
its fourth week now as pressure piles on government to address the pay
plight of civil servants.

The lectures are demanding a 2100 percent salary increment that will put
them above the country poverty datum line pegged at Z$16 million. Currently
some lectures and university staff are earning less than Z$1 million.

According to the state-controlled The Chronicle newspaper, the strike will
hit students hardest, particularly those preparing for their final

The President of the Zimbabwe State Universities Union of Academics, who is
also the chairman of the National Universities Science and Technology
Educators Association, Mr Benard Njekeya, confirmed to the paper that
lecturers and other university staff were not reporting for duty.

Njekeya said: "We are however not on strike per se, but we are finding
ourselves in a situation where we cannot afford to go to work because of the
poor remuneration which we are getting."

He added: "At the moment, the lowest paid worker gets a basic salary of $900
000 and that person has to fork out about $4 million to go to work, so in
reality they are subsiding the universities to come to work. What we want
translates to a 2 100 percent increment but we are not looking so much at
percentage but at figures."

It is understood that representatives of state universities held meetings
with officials from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and
Ministry of Finance in Harare last week.

Following disagreements, the lectures decided to go on strike until their
demands are met.

Journalist, Stanley Kwenda said some state university workers were earning
"less that three-meals worth of pay."

Kwenda said: "The strike was well planned to come immediately after pay last
week, and a few weeks before the final examinations so that students and
parents alike will feel the pinch and draw government into action."]

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Second Zimbabwe Teachers Union Puts Weight Behind National Strike


      By Jonga Kandemiiri
      01 October 2007

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association joined the rival Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe on Monday in a nationwide strike that began in

ZIMTA, considered by many to be aligned with the government, had issued a
circular to its members last week telling them to stop teaching effective
Monday until Harare met the organization's demand of a monthly base salary
of Z$16 million (US$35).

The Progressive Teachers Union wants a base salary of $18 million dollars.

On Monday afternoon the government called an urgent meeting of the APEX
Council, which negotiates on behalf of civil servants. Sources said late
Monday that no progress had been achieved in the APEX negotiations.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Secretary General Raymond Majongwe
told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his union
welcomed ZIMTA's decision to join the strike, saying he hoped it was truly

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Bulawayo's water crisis cripples AIDS efforts

Plus News

BULAWAYO, 1 October 2007 (PlusNews) - Zimbabwe's economic woes have taken
their toll on Thembelihle House, (meaning 'Good Hope' in Ndebele) an HIV and
AIDS nursing home in Mpopoma, a high-density suburb in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
second largest city, but the severe water shortage has been even more

"This is the ninth straight day that we have gone without [running] water,"
Priscilla MacIsaac, Thembelihle's sister-in-charge, told IRIN/PlusNews. "It
makes us feel so helpless."

The region's consistently low rainfall in the last few years has led to
dwindling water levels in the city's dams. Three of the five main dams have
had to be decommissioned, while another, Inyankuni, may suffer the same fate
in the next month, leaving only one dam, Insiza, to provide most of
Bulawayo's 700,000 people with water.

Under normal circumstances, the city consumes 150,000 cubic metres of water
daily, but has been receiving just under 70,000 cubic metres since
water-shedding - controlled water cuts - was introduced a few months ago. If
Inyankuni were to be decommissioned, the city would be running on about
45,000 cubic metres, less than a third of its average requirement. Some
areas, such as Old Lobengula, have gone without tap water for months at a

According to water-shedding regulations, all residential suburbs should
receive tap water on at least two days a week. "The only problem is that
when we reconnect water supplies to certain areas, particularly those on
higher ground, the water reservoirs will not have sufficient pressure to
push water up to them," said Pathisa Nyathi, public relations officer for
Bulawayo City Council.

Nurses at Thembelihle have resorted to pumping water from a borehole at a
neighbouring school and carrying it to the home in 20-litre plastic
containers to wash the patients and do laundry.

Although the home has a borehole, sunk with donor assistance in 2006, the
pump stopped working as a result of the city's erratic power supply. "Our
water problems were not so bad until our pump packed up," said the home's
manager, Almah Mangena.

The home's garden, which once flourished with crops of cabbage, spinach,
tomatoes, lettuce, peas, sweet potatoes, butternuts and various medicinal
herbs, used to provide affordable and balanced meals for patients. Now, with
only a few stalks of wilting leaf vegetables surviving in the parched soil,
vegetables have to be sourced from elsewhere, another challenge for staff.

"The idea behind Thembelihle is to be a nursing home, whereby patients with
HIV and AIDS are discharged from hospitals and admitted here, in transit to
home-based care," said Mangena.

Thembelihle opened in July 2003 and since then has taken referrals from
hospitals, surgeries, home-based care programmes and other AIDS service
organisations. It has received funding from World Vision and Action Aid,
both international donor agencies, as well as the Bulawayo South Rotary
Club, the National AIDS Council and various private-sector organisations and

But a five-year grant from a United Kingdom-based trust recently expired,
and an organisation that used to supply money to buy food has also stopped
doing so. "Ever since supplies of basic commodities began to dwindle, we
have not received money from them," said Mangena. Thembelihle opened a
children's ward in 2005, but had to close it just three months later because
it lacked the funding to recruit sufficient staff.

The home cares for up to 24 in-patients at a time. Although it does not
provide antiretroviral treatment (ART), its nurses help administer the
medication to patients already on the drugs.

Donations from the local community pay for pain medication and antibiotics
for treating opportunistic infections. "This place was not really meant for
bed-ridden patients, but rather for patients whom we would treat and release
back to their homes," said Mangena. "But it's never like that." Most people
who were currently being referred to the home were gravely ill and often
near death, she said.

The City Council has been delivering water to strategic points in different
suburbs and Thembelihle's staff store the precious liquid in pots, bottles
and containers. "This might last us two days," estimated sister-in-charge
MacIsaac nervously. The Council's deliveries are erratic and the home may
soon run dry again.

So far, there have been no outbreaks of waterborne diseases, such as
cholera, at the home, but the City Council's Nyathi has noted the public
health threat posed by water scarcity.

Cases of dysentery are on the increase because some people have resorted to
digging their own wells to reach water, which is sometimes contaminated with
harmful germs and bacteria from seeping sewage. Others with their own
boreholes or access to water have been taking advantage of the water
shortage by selling water for up to Z$50,000 (US$1.50) for a 20-litre

A steady drizzle begins to pelt the Thembelihle office's asbestos roof, and
heavy grey rain clouds seem to confirm national meteorological predictions
that Zimbabwe will experience normal to above-normal rainfall this year.
"God has provided a drizzle," said Mangena wistfully. "Let's hope we can get
even more."

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News from nowhere

The Guardian

With Zimbabwe fast approaching catastrophe, Robert Mugabe faces
international isolation and a possible putsch.

Simon Tisdall

October 1, 2007 3:10 PM
Talk of a "palace coup" against Robert Mugabe is growing as Zimbabweans seek
a way out of the crisis threatening to crush their country.

But increasing numbers cannot afford to wait. Up to one third of the 12.5
million population is already in exile, and an additional 100,000 people
flee each month. On these trends, President Mugabe could end up as King of

Speculation about a putsch within the ruling Zanu-PF party centres on
Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief, and his wife, Joyce Mujuru, Zimbabwe's

General Mujuru's meeting with the British and US ambassadors earlier this
year aroused Mr Mugabe's ire. He may even have held talks with Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the main faction of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Emmerson Mnangagwa, another Zanu-PF veteran and longtime Mugabe crony, is
also mentioned as a possible successor if Mr Mugabe is forced out. He is
best remembered, and feared, for his role in the bloody suppression of
Joshua Nkomo's rival Zapu party in the 1980s, after independence from
Britain. Some say a Mnangagwa presidency would make Mr Mugabe look benign.

"A palace coup is what everyone in Zimbabwe is talking about," a senior
British diplomatic source said. "They don't see Mugabe resigning.

"There won't be an uprising. Politically and culturally, that's not
practical. He's unlikely to be outflanked politically within the party. So
what's left? Gen Mujuru has a palace coup option."

The source said Britain and its allies were not expecting or encouraging
such action, which would be very risky for those involved. "He'd only have
one shot at it. It's been tried before, and the people concerned were
banished. That's not what would happen this time. The situation is much more

But he noted that, while the odds favoured Mr Mugabe, he would still need
the endorsement of an extraordinary party congress in December if he were to
stand again, as planned, in presidential elections due next March.

The British source said few believed the divided MDC could beat Zanu-PF in
the polls. But informal talks were continuing with more open-minded members
of the ruling party.

"We are in contact with factions in Zanu-PF," he said. "Talking to us is bad
for their health. They are not instinctive democrats. But we say we are not
enemies, we are not seeking to recolonise the country, we're looking for a
rational approach, and that Mugabe's departure is a necessary but not
sufficient condition for [national] recovery."

Ruling party interlocutors had been told that, even after Mr Mugabe left
office, a compromise would be needed between the government, the
international community and the Zimbabwean diaspora. This would have to
include a return to the rule of law, the repeal of repressive legislation,
an end to human rights abuses and censorship, and free and fair elections
under international supervision.

In return, the source said, Britain, the EU, the US and international
institutions would normalise relations, lift sanctions and fund the
country's aid reconstruction requirements - a pledge reiterated by Gordon
Brown in Bournemouth last week.

With Zimbabwe's government fresh out of cash, steeped in debt and facing
renewed famine affecting 4 million people this winter, with the abject
failure of its attempt to impose price controls now apparent to all
(unofficially, inflation is said to be touching 25,000%), and with the human
exodus now affecting all neighbouring states, even Mr Mugabe's traditional
regional supporters are getting nervous.

The source said there had been an "enormous row" behind closed doors at the
recent summit of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC)
in Lusaka after Zambia, backed by Namibia and Tanzania, proposed a
discussion of Zimbabwe's problems. Mr Mugabe reportedly blew his top and
stormed out.

While the organisation continued to maintain a united front in public, the
incident showed that Zimbabwe's leader "no longer has the SADC in his
pocket", the source said.

According to a recent report by the influential International Crisis Group:
"Zimbabwe is closer than ever to complete collapse ... [It] increasingly
threatens to destabilise the region." And only the neighbouring states could
head off disaster.

The practical solution favoured by South Africa and the SADC, the ICG said,
was a government of national unity led by a reformed Zanu-PF and including
the MDC. But a financial rescue package requested by Mr Mugabe should be
granted by the SADC only if Zimbabwe's government fully cooperated with the
current South African mediation process, dropped plans to gerrymander rural
constituencies, and committed to genuinely fair electons early next year.

But if Zimbabwe refused to cooperate, the ICG said, financial assistance
should be withheld and all regional countries "should refuse to endorse any
[subsequent] election and be prepared to isolate Mugabe and his regime".

In other words, an African solution to an African problem.

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Recession Hits Renal Patients

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007


Thousands of lives have been put at risk since the only two functioning
dialysis machines in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, broke down three
weeks ago.

The dialysis machines were at Mpilo Central hospital, Bulawayo's main
referral hospital for more than a million people, including those living in
far-flung rural areas in the three southern provinces of Matabeleland North,
South and Masvingo.

In the capital, Harare, 10 of the 18 dialysis machines at Parirenyatwa
Hospital, the country's largest referral centre, broke down a month ago.
Desperate patients now queue for treatment around the clock.

Machines often break down in Zimbabwe, where economic recession and
hyperinflation has severely crippled public health services. Zimbabwe is
saddled with foreign exchange shortages and the world's highest inflation
rate, running at about 6,500 percent.

Jonathan Nyathi, a Bulawayo resident, has been unemployed for the past eight
months because of his deteriorating health and will now have to seek
treatment in a private hospital, which could cost him up to US$20 for every
four-hour treatment. Nyathi's wife, Sibonokuhle, earns only US$10 a month as
a teacher. Two of Nyathi's brothers, who work overseas, help him pay for his
medical costs.

"My husband needs at least one session a week, and his condition has been
deteriorating since he did not get treatment in the last two weeks, as we
had no money," said Sibonokuhle, wiping the sweat off his face with a towel.
His face, ankles and legs are swollen.

A dialysis machine is used to filter the patient's blood when the kidneys
lose their ability to fully perform their main function of filtering excess
fluid and waste products from the blood; lowered kidney function can also
hamper the body's ability to fight harmful bacteria and viruses.

Government assurances

Zimbabwe's Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, assured IRIN that the
dialysis machines would be repaired soon. "We are working hard as a ministry
to ensure that the two machines at Mpilo hospital [in Bulawayo] are
repaired - everything is being done to ensure that they are ready for the

My husband needs at least one session a week, and his condition has been
deteriorating since he did not get treatment in the last two weeks, as we
had no money

Lindiwe Mlilo, chief executive officer of Mpilo hospital, told IRIN that the
two machines at the hospital have yet to be repaired because they did not
have the equipment to identify the problem.

But while renal patients continue to suffer, 54 dialysis machines donated by
the Swedish government about three years ago are gathering dust in storage
rooms after the government failed to reach an agreement with the donors over
servicing the machines.

However, Parirenyatwa said an agreement had been reached and the machines
would be installed soon. "The 54 dialysis machines donated by the Swedes
will installed, and we expect them to be operational as soon as the Ministry
of Finance has given us the guarantee that they will avail funds for their
repair in case of breakdowns."

In the meantime, many patients have resorted to consulting traditional
healers. "Last month we had no money and I took my husband to a traditional
healer, who prescribed some herbs that helped reduce his high blood
pressure," said Sibonokuhle.

"But the traditional healer's medicine is not reliable for his kidney
condition, but since the hospitals have no machinery and drugs, we have no
options left."

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

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Student Leader Charged With Treason

SW Radio Africa (London)

1 October 2007
Posted to the web 1 October 2007

Henry Makiwa

Outspoken Zimbabwean student leader, Mehluli Dube has been charged with
treason for allegedly calling for the violent removal of Robert Mugabe.

Dube, who is the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) national council
member, was arrested Saturday while attending a civil society conference in

Allegations have been levelled against Dube that he uttered statements
considered to be a threat to state security during a recent public meeting
in Gwanda. Dube is alleged to have told a meeting called by the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition civic group in Gwanda last week that "if President Mugabe
does not want to go, we will remove him by the ballot or the bullet".

According to one student leader, "a team of about eight Gwanda police
officers drove all the way from Gwanda to Bulawayo to arrest the one student
leader" while he was attending a meeting called by civil society to discuss
the just-passed Constitutional Amendment Number #18. Dube was then taken to
Bulawayo Central police station and questioned before the police preferred
the treason charges against him.

An official with the Youth Initiative for Democracy, Sidney Chisi said Dube
was "facing a night in custody" were it not for the intervention of

lawyers Dzikamai Machingura and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director
Arnold Tsunga.

Chisi said: "The police had the intentions of taking Dube back to far-flung
and isolated Gwanda and God knows what they were going to do to him. It was
fortunate that he was in the company of the lawyers participating in the
meeting and they hastily arranged a defence team to ensure he was not taken

He added "The charges being levelled against Dube are serious charges but
the police released him in the custody of his lawyer and said they will
proceed in the matter by way of summons in the coming three weeks."

Treason in Zimbabwe carries a death sentence or a life in prison sentence.

Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly spokesperson, Maddock
Chivasa who was arrested in Masvingo on Thursday is still detained in police
cells at Masvingo Central Police station.

Chivasa was arrested while addressing a youth meeting in the country's
oldest city, for allegedly "demeaning police authority" when he presented a
paper that attacked police brutality and abuse of power.

No charges have been leveled against him yet although there are complaints
that the police are denying him access to food and lawyers.

He was in Masvingo on a rural outreach programme under the Zimbabwe Youth
Forum banner whose board Chivasa chairs. The organization is on a national
offensive, engaging in civic and voter education of the youth across the

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Senegal's Wade says plans Zimbabwe mediation trip


Mon 1 Oct 2007, 15:13 GMT

By Pascal Fletcher

DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said on Monday he
would travel to Zimbabwe this month to recommend multilateral mediation by
African heads of state to try to solve the crisis in the southern African

Wade said he wanted to discuss with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe how
African leaders, including himself and South African President Thabo Mbeki,
could mediate between Mugabe and his opponents, both domestic and

"I'm going to go there in two weeks' time ... to talk with him (Mugabe) to
see what Africa can do," the Senegalese president told a news conference in

Wade said the situation in Zimbabwe was deteriorating, with inflation
running at well over 6,000 percent, the highest rate in the world, and basic
goods running short.

Mugabe, 83, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980,
rejects accusations that he has abused human rights and wrecked Zimbabwe's
once-prosperous economy.

He accuses Western countries of sabotaging the economy as punishment for his
seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.

Wade, who like Mugabe is in his 80s, complained that there was no official
African Union (AU) position on Zimbabwe and repeated his view that mediation
should not be left to South Africa's Mbeki alone.

A grouping of southern African nations has mandated Mbeki to secure a deal
on constitutional reform between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change ahead of March 2008 presidential and parliamentary polls.

But Wade, who from his small West African country has often sparred with
Mbeki over leadership on African issues, said Zimbabwe should be dealt with
on a wider basis.

"Mbeki is a man of goodwill ... (but) we should tackle the problem at the
level of several heads of state, including Thabo Mbeki," he said.

Wade said any mediation for Zimbabwe should also bring in former colonial
power Britain, which had been party to a 1979 accord on reforms to end land
ownership imbalances between blacks and whites in former Rhodesia.

Wade said the British government had stopped compensating white farmers
under the land redistribution reform accord, while Mugabe had stepped up
seizures of land without redress.

"I think that this method is not acceptable ... the whites should have
compensation," Senegal's president said.

Diplomats said the compensation from Britain had been halted because London
felt Mugabe's government was no longer respecting its side of the 1979
Lancaster House accord which paved the way for independence.

Wade said the need for mediation in Zimbabwe was urgent.

"There are elections next year. Who will mediate between the government and
opposition?" he added, speaking in English.

Wade said disagreements over how to deal with Zimbabwe were threatening an
upcoming European Union/African Union summit planned for December in Lisbon,
after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would not go if Mugabe

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New plot to quash Ncube

The First Post
October 1, 2007

Moses Moyo in Harare

EXCLUSIVE: secret plan to persuade the public that former archbishop passed
on HIV virus

An extraordinary top-secret document, leaked to me by an operative in
Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), reveals that President
Mugabe is not satisfied with just the resignation of the Archbishop of
Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, after he became a victim of a notorious
government-inspired 'honey trap'.

Ncube, a strenuous critic of the Mugabe regime and recently revealed in The
First Post to be a possible opposition candidate for President, is to have
his reputation ground into the dust by means of a string of carefully
orchestrated scandals.

The document, from CIO Director General Happyton Bonyongwe to all senior
commanders, has a reference as follows: DG/mm2/ei Cleric. My source told me
that the DG stands for Director General, and ei for executive instruction.

It reads in part: "Pius Ncube has always and still remains a security
threat. Please be advised that Zim 1 has pressed upon me to ensure that
Ncube keeps his silence and begs for forgiveness from Zim 1." ('Zim 1' is
the CIO codename for Mugabe.)

The document continues: "Collapse phase two and three into one phase as per
attached guidelines and commence with immediate effect. Esigodini payment
has been effected."

My source explained that 'phase two' of this KGB-style masterplan was to
persuade Onesimus Sibanda, husband of the woman allegedly having the
original adulterous affair with Ncube, to file a second lawsuit against the
ex-Archbishop. This would allege that his wife, Rosemary, had acquired the
HIV virus from Ncube, and that she had now also infected her husband.

Sibanda, my source told me, has already been paid Z$12bn, (US$34,000) for
his part in the management of the honey trap.

Phase three of the plan, now apparently to take place at the same time as
phase two, is the orchestrated emergence in the media of a story that Ncube
has fathered two children with a married woman from Esigodini, in
Matabeleland South province.

The sentence in the document that reads "Esigodini payment has been
effected" means that the CIO has overcome a previous sticking-point in this
phase. The husband of the Esigodini woman, Likwa Manjengwa, has now agreed
to say that the couple's children are not his, but were fathered by Ncube.
According to my source, the Manjengwa couple have been paid Z$3bn (US$8,500)
and are to receive the same amount every six months for the next two years.

There is yet another phase, the fourth, in this programme to destroy Ncube.
In 2005, a 17-year-old Bulawayo girl, Tamai Chirenje, died of complications
from a failed abortion. The CIO intend to link her pregnancy with Ncube.
There is no indication of when this is supposed to happen.

Ncube supporters may hope that these plans will be abandoned as the details
are published. But my source believes that the CIO will go ahead, whatever
appears in the media.

He added that when Ncube first resigned, Mugabe sent a spokesman, George
Charamba, to tell him it would be futile and dangerous to continue with his
opposition. Ncube was tipped off in advance, and refused to meet with

This master plan, complete with its code names, its massive payouts, and its
extraordinary allegations, is the result.


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Civil society groups backtrack on dumping MDC

By Lance Guma
01 October 2007

Civil society groups met in Bulawayo at the weekend to map out a response to
constitutional amendment #18, which both Zanu PF and the MDC supported in
parliament. It had been predicted the groups would break away from the
opposition but that position found no takers on Saturday. Instead all that
came out was a watered down statement demanding a new, democratic and
people-driven constitution as the foundation for resolving the crises in the
country. The all-stakeholders conference rejected piecemeal amendments to
the current constitution and reiterated the argument that it was a breach of
principle for the political parties to have made the concessions in the
first place.

The organisations feel the SADC mediation by South African president Thabo
Mbeki has not taken into consideration the input of ordinary people as
represented by civil society organisations. Adding to their concern is not
only the process but also the secrecy that shrouds the talks between Zanu PF
and the MDC. Representatives from WOZA, Radio Dialogue, Bulawayo Agenda,
ZINASU, Christian Alliance, NCA, NANGO, Save Zimbabwe Campaign, ZESN, CHRA,
PTUZ, ISO and others pledged to remain united and open to dialogue on issues
affecting the country. Despite the show of unity evidence seems to suggest
sections of the coalition who are itching for a breakaway only compromised
after failing to get the required support.

Sources point to clause 5, inserted into the press statement by the
coalition, as a statement of intent by those unhappy with the MDC. The
clause talks about convening a people's convention to consider the MDC's
response and then, 'map a practical way forward,' and we are told that those
wishing to form a so-called 'third force' political party inserted the
clause. Pedzisai Ruhanya a Programmes Manager with the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition meanwhile told Newsreel he personally felt the resolution to carry
out outreach programmes and 'spread the virtues articulated at this
conference' was a wrong decision to take. He said civil society groups
should not impose their views on people, but that ordinary people should be
allowed to express their opinions on the process.

The weekend meeting also saw some participants talking about leadership
renewal in the MDC. This drew criticism from some quarters that felt it was
hypocritical for civil society leaders to preach about a concept they never
applied in their own organisations. It was also put forward that the MDC
does not report to civil society and as a political party had a right to
seek political power. Civil society on the other hand had to serve as a
watchdog for those in power to ensure citizen's rights are respected.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Are they cutting Mugabe down to size?

1st Oct 2007 17:19 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

IN SPITE of his public posturing, President Robert Mugabe must be as acutely
aware as most of us are that he is being cut down to size, politically.

If this reality had not hit him after the Zanu PF people's conference in
Goromonzi, then it must have smashed into him within the ferocity of a
runaway express train after the agreement between his party and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over the Constitutional
Amendment No. 18.

In Goromonzi last year, Mugabe, typically, tried to "tough it out" by
publicly pretending that the party had reached agreement on the
harmonisation of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008.

In fact, there had been no unanimity at all, as subsequent events were to
prove. A number of key provinces, strongholds of politicians challenging his
leadership, were loudly silent on the issue.

Moreover, the party itself seemed unusually ambivalent on whether Mugabe
himself would help its cause if he stood for president in 2008.

There were a number of potential candidates waiting in the wings: John
Nkomo, the party chairman, had thrown his hat into the ring, publicly. There
was always the likelihood of Emmerson Mnangagwa muddying the waters with
another bid for the presidency.

But the surprising amity between the party and the MDC on No. 18 was the
clearest indication so far that Mugabe is now either in the throes of being
cut down to size or had, in fact, conceded that his autocratic reign over
the party has now effectively ended.

There was always the likelihood that some of his closest allies would not
allow him a blank cheque, even if they too found this to be in the best
interests of party unity.

Mugabe has always emphasised that for the sake of party unity, Zanu PF
cannot afford to display publicly any signs of division. His closest ally on
this stance was the late Simon Muzenda, who constantly warned that if Mugabe
stepped down as leader, the succession battle that would ensue would be

All options are off for now, it would appear. By accepting the MDC
amendments to No. 18, Zanu PF has opened itself up to the real likelihood of
losing a free and fair election.

Although the electoral reforms proposed by the MDC could still be sabotaged
by the ever ruthless and uncompromising merchants of subterfuge who have
rigged elections since 1985, the party and Mugabe  are clearly taking a huge

It's not that the would-be saboteurs would suddenly be conscience-stricken
to the extent of letting nature take its course.
The problem is there may be among them, pro-MDC supporters who may put into
effect their own agenda of a change of government.

This year has disillusioned so many previously loyal Zanu PF supporters,
particularly on the economic front, many have switched their loyalty to the
MDC - anything, they believe, has to be better than Zanu PF's disastrous,
self-serving  economic flip-flops.

Mugabe's stubborn refusal to compromise with his Western enemies has
recently brought home to some of his supporters the harsh reality of their
punitive measures.

Not many of them expected the Australian government of John Howard to
implement the expulsion of their children from institutions of higher
learning Down Under, as one potent device of persuading them to ditch

Many of the Mugabe supporters have children studying at universities in the
United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, The Netherlands, France, the
Nordic countries, not to mention a number of the former Soviet bloc
countries who have joined the European Union.

How soon before they too follow Australia 's example? The reaction to the
expulsion of their children from Australia of some of the Mugabe supporters
was marked by anger, incredulity but very little defiance.

Most of them must blame it all on Mugabe's policy of brinkmanship: he could
make some concessions to the West, but is determined to rub salt into their
wounds through such unnecessary "nationalist" devices as the entirely racist
indigenization legislation which has raised hackles even with industrialists
in neighbouring South Africa.

Moreover, the international reaction to the recent price blitz and the
disappearance of basic commodities in supermarket shelves has not been
entirely sympathetic to Mugabe. A majority now believe that the president is
determined to use his "regime change" bogey to score political points, even
if this entails starving his own people of basic food.

Then there is Thabo Mbeki's role in the equation: is it possible there was a
trade-off between amending the electoral regulations and persuading those
European Union countries opposed to Mugabe's presence at their Lisbon
meeting in December to welcome him there?

The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has been forthright on this
issues. He would not attend if Mugabe was allowed there. The threat of a
boycott by a number of Zimbabwe's allies - Zambia and Mozambique - if Mugabe
was barred from Lisbon may not cut much ice with many other African
countries, even members of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc).

They have their own economic problems, some of them so dependent on EU help,
they dare not alienate the Europeans by joining in a boycott of  the talks
whose real significance could only be their own reckless support of an
African leader so obsessed with his own place in history he is quite willing
to sacrifice the lives of his own people in the process.

Other indications that Mugabe has been or is being definitely cut down to
size have emerged from two powerful provinces - Bulawayo and Masvingo.

There are obvious divisions among party leaders in the two provinces about
endorsing Mugabe as their presidential candidate in 2008. Both provinces
have good reason to hesitate: the MDC has establaished itself as a powerful
force in the two provinces.

The city councils in the two cities are controlled by the MDC and there is
little likelihood that Zanu PF could triumph in any local council elections
in the near future.

Mugabe's hold on power may or may not have been affected by reports of a
recent attempted army coup. If all the speculation about that event is even
half the truth, then Zimbabwe is facing a crisis of leadership that the
people may not have been aware of for a long time.

Apart from a brief acknowledgement that there had been an attempt to take
over the government by a group of army officers, there has been very little
disclosures from the government. If all the speculation about that event is
even half the truth, then Zimbabwe is facing a crisis of leadership that the
people may not have been aware of for a long time.

Apart from a brief acknowledgement that there had been an attempt to take
over the government by a group of army officers, there have been very few
disclosures from the government itself.

An army investigation into the circumstances leading to the death in an
accident at a rail crossing of one of the alleged leaders of the attempted
coup decided it was a real accident, not the carefully executed
assassination of the army officer by a government hit squad - which many
believe it was.

The government must know that, in the view of  many Zimbabweans, the attempt
to take over the government by the army officers was anchored on their
conviction that the country was headed for political and economic disaster
under Zanu PF and Mugabe.

Inflation has hit world records, unemployment is more than 80 percent and
millions of the people can only be fed by international donors, millions
have fled the country and are scrounging for food in neighbouring countries.

A government accused of corruption and an attitude of concentrating on its
retention of power at all costs has shown such ruthlessness in adversity, it
was probably the senior officers' attitude that only they, in their
eminently advantageous position in relation to the seat of power, could make
a difference.

Like-minded officers may not be inhibited by the failure of their

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