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Zimbabwe parties to resume cabinet talks: media

 HARARE, Oct 6 (AFP)

Zimbabwe's main political rivals will meet on Monday to discuss the
allocation of contentious cabinet posts after their leaders failed to agree
at the weekend, the state-owned Herald newspaper said.

"We are most likely to meet Monday," Nicholas Goche, one of the negotiators
from President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party said.

The meeting was to resolve a stalemate over the allocation of the key
cabinet portfolios of finance and home affairs, the newspaper said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) denies that disagreement
is over the allocation of those two portfolios in particular and accuses
ZANU-PF of insisting on taking all the influential ministries.

The failure to reach an accord on the cabinet has delayed the formation of a
unity government since a historic power-sharing deal was signed in Harare on
September 15.

The deal, brokered by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, was hailed
as a breakthrough in ending months of political deadlock and long-term
economic melt-down in the former regional breadbasket.

In the power-sharing government, Tsvangirai assumes the new post of prime
minister while Mugabe, 84, retains the presidency.

The parties agreed that ZANU-PF takes 15 cabinet posts, Tsvangirai's MDC 13
and a splinter MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara gets three.

The three parties have held a series of meeting but failed to agree on which
party takes control of key cabinet posts including home affairs, defence,
finance and foreign affairs.

The latest meeting between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara on Saturday
ended in a stalemate prompting them to refer the matter to their

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time to Tsvangirai's
MDC in March elections, while Mugabe failed to win presidential elections

However the veteran president kept his job in June after Tsvangirai pulled
out of a run-off poll, saying his supporters were in danger from violent
attacks blamed on ZANU-PF.

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MDC says deadlock remains on several ministries

by Own correspondent Monday 06 October 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party maintained on Sunday that deadlock
remained on several key Cabinet posts and not two only as claimed by
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa accused Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba of
trying to "mislead the public" when he said that a Saturday meeting of the
veteran President and MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara had
failed to reach agreement only on the two posts of finance and home affairs.

The three leaders had resolved "there should be further consultation at the
level of their negotiating teams exclusively over the ministries of finance
and home affairs," Charamba told reporters in Harare on Saturday.

But Chamisa said the proposed new power-sharing government was being
negotiated as "one whole package" and not as single departments, adding that
besides finance and home affairs there were at least three other key
ministries were agreement had not been reached.

"It is one package we are talking about and nothing has been concluded on
all ministries," Chamisa told ZimOnline by phone. "Mr Charamba is trying to
mislead the public when he says that there is no agreement on only two
Cabinet posts," he said.

Charamba was not immediately available on Sunday for comment on the matter.

Chamisa did not disclose which other Cabinet positions were yet to be
decided but sources close to the negotiations said in addition to home
affairs and finance, there was also no agreement on who will control the
ministries of local government, foreign affairs and information.

The failure by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to reach agreement on the
sharing of key posts has delayed the implementation of a unity government to
be established under a power-sharing deal the three leaders signed on
September 15.

Asked when negotiators would meet to iron out outstanding issues as directed
by their principals, Chamisa said "no specific time had been given or set"
when the meeting of negotiators should take place.

However the MDC spokesman was quick to add that given the urgency of
Zimbabwe's deepening crisis the meeting would have to be held as soon as

A power-sharing government is seen as best equipped to end an acute
recession that is seen in the world's highest inflation of 11 million
percent, deepening poverty amid shortages of food and every basic survival

The international community, in particular Western donor nations whose
financial support is vital to any effort to resuscitate Zimbabwe's comatose
economy, has to help rebuild the country but only after assessing the
implementation of the power-sharing deal. - ZimOnline

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Robert Mugabe's marauders seize their last chance to grab white farms

The Times
October 6, 2008

Jan Raath in Beatrice
It was days after Zimbabwe's leaders signed the power-sharing deal intended
to restore the rule of law when Kevin Cooke was called to the gate of the
electrified security fence around his farmstead.

Waiting for him were a menacing group of government officials and a
policeman. Holding up an eviction notice - which referred to the wrong
owner, the wrong farm and carried no official stamp - they told him that he
was illegally occupying his 765 hectare (1,890 acre) tobacco farm 38 miles
(60km) south of Harare and that it now belonged to a Mr Kundeya.

The man claiming to be Mr Kundeya said that he was a clerk in the British
Embassy in Harare. Mr Cooke forced him to admit eventually that he was the
local district administrator. Mr Cooke then told them to go away.

The group was back two days later, with another document with the errors
corrected. Mr Cooke spotted that the signatory was a middleranking official
in the Agriculture Ministry with no authority to sign such letters. They
ignored him and told that him that he was being charged with "illegally
occupying" his farm.

Mr Cooke's Goeie Hoop (good hope in Afrikaans) farm is just one of those
caught up in a new wave of land grabs by President Mugabe's henchmen. The
confiscations have been caused by fears that the creation of a power-sharing
Government could mark an end to an eight-year campaign of seizures against
the country's white-owned farms.
Some white farmers, whose property was occupied by squatters in earlier land
invasions, now find themselves the victims of fresh invasions by new bands
of squatters belonging to Mr Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party.

Since 2000 the number of white families has shrunk from about 4,500 to about
400 as Mr Mugabe's militias have murdered, maimed, looted and laid waste to
farms in the name of a "revolutionary land reform programme" that was
launched to rescue the octogenarian leader from losing an election.

Now the few farms left are being targeted anew. Up to 60 farmers have been
subjected to often violent attempts to drive them from their farms since Mr
Mugabe signed the power-sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara, leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change, last month.

The agreement commits the incoming Government to carry out a "comprehensive,
transparent and non-partisan land audit ... for the purpose of establishing

"There has been a mad rush for free pickings; we are getting reports on a
daily basis," said David Drury, a lawyer who has fought several cases for
dispossessed white farmers. "The agreement may well mean that there will be
a moratorium on the process of land seizures. If the process is followed
through, they are going to lose out. So now they want to get a toe-hold on
the farms and assert their possessory rights."

Land grabbers - army officers, magistrates, agricultural officials, local
government officials - are walking into homesteads and settling in,
commandeering farmers' vehicles, furniture and the food in their fridges.

Didymus Mutasa, the Lands Minister, has signed blank "offer letters"
supposedly conferring right of occupancy, which are then filled in by the
would-be occupiers and waved in the faces of farmers.

A farmer in Banket, 100km north of Harare, whose farm is one of the handful
that have never been listed for resettlement, found himself fighting a man
brandishing an AK47 to persuade him to leave.

A Danish farmer, whose property is covered by an investment protection
agreement between the Danish and Zimbabwe governments, has become a victim
since an army brigadier moved his cattle on to the property.

When Mr Cooke, 38, and his wife, Anne, took over Goeie Hoop in 2000, there
were 70 tobacco growers in the district. Now there are seven. There is
almost no farming on any of the properties seized, except when Mr Cooke
ploughs their land and provides seed and fertiliser.

Despite the threat of imminent eviction, Mr Cooke continues to plant his
tobacco crop. "We are very anxious," he said. "I watch every twin cab
(pick-up truck) - a favourite of Mr Mugabe's thugs that passes the farm and
I think, 'this is it'.

"But we have to put on a brave face. When I told the labour, they were very
angry. They said they would never let them on the farm. They were
brandishing pick handles. They said, 'We have watched the farms here get
taken, and on every one people are living on wild fruits'. I told them no
one and nothing is leaving this farm. If my labour stay on my side, we can
fight anything that comes our way."

Lie of the land

1979 Lancaster House Agreement aimed to redistribute land more equitably
between blacks and white farming class by providing restrictions on land
purchases by white farmers

1992 Land Acquisition Act gave Government additional land resettlement
tools, enabling it to buy land compulsorily

1992-1997 About 2.47 million acres were acquired with fewer than 20,000
families settling on the land. Mr Mugabe accused of giving much of the land
to cronies

1997 Under pressure from landless blacks living in a dwindling economy, Mr
Mugabe announced that he would seize 1,500 white-owned farms. He said that
Britain should pay compensation as Rhodesian settlers stole the land from
black farmers

1999 4,500 commercial farmers held 27.18 million acres of the most fertile
land. Between June 2000 and February 2001 the Government listed 2,706 farms,
covering more than 14.83 million acres, for compulsory acquisition

October 2003 Government had seized about 21.3 million hectares of land
(about 4,300 farms) and 1,323 white farmers remained. About 127,000 blacks

Source: PBS News

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Looking back 5 years

The Times
August 7, 2003
Zimbabwe farmers reflect on economic ruin
From Jan Raath in Enterprise, Zimbabwe
THE 120 white farmers, remnants of Zimbabwe's once-powerful Commercial
Farmers' Union, gathered yesterday to take stock of a fourth year of
President Mugabe's "revolutionary land reform".
In previous years the union's annual congress was held in a five-star hotel
in central Harare. Yesterday it met in a farmers' hall on the eastern
outskirts of the capital.

The lavish buffet lunch was cut to buns and slices of roast beef donated by
an agricultural company. The speakers included a "motivational speaker" to
lift spirits.

Of Zimbabwe's 72 farmers' associations, only about 50 were represented, most
now comprising just three or four members.

A year ago, Joseph Msika, the Vice-President, attended the CFU congress and
promised that "no one will be left without a farm". Within days, Mr Mugabe's
supporters began a final push to force white farmers and a million of their
workers off the land. The CFU had 4,500 members in 2000. Today there are
barely 600 full-time farmers left.

A few hundred others manage their farms while living in nearby towns for
safety, or they have had their holdings drastically reduced. Production has
fallen by more than half in the past year alone.

"As if destroyed by a major natural disaster, commercial agriculture in
Zimbabwe lies in ruins, broken in three short years and with nothing to
replace it," Colin Cloete, the CFU president, said.

Agriculture used to be the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy. It supplied
food for famine relief operations in other parts of Africa. Now
international donors were having to feed five million starving Zimbabweans.

Mr Cloete said: "This is inexcusable when you consider we had all the
skills, the equipment, the infrastructure, dams, chemicals, seed and
abundant labour, crying out for work."

Output of maize has fallen to 180,000 tonnes from 810,000 tonnes in 2000.
Tobacco production has fallen to 85,000 tonnes from 236,000 tonnes in 2000.
Wheat, dairy, beef and cotton production has fallen by about two thirds.

Douglas Taylor-Freeme, the CFU vice-president, said that "disruption of
commercial farming operations continues unabated and farm invasions, farmer
evictions, human rights abuses and theft of property still occur".

"Zimbabwe continues on its downward path to economic ruin with no relief in

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Economic crisis leaves classrooms deserted

Thulani Mpofu, Correspondent

Last Updated: October 05. 2008 9:35PM UAE / October 5. 2008 5:35PM GMT

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe // Nelsen Mashandu, 48, worked as a primary school
teacher for 25 years, six as a headmaster.

He was stationed at a school in a remote area in eastern Manicaland
province, until he resigned last December to join the trek to South Africa.

His wife, Miriam, 43, also resigned her teaching post at the same time. She
now is staying with her parents in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city,
waiting for good news from her husband.

"The school was on a farm, one of those farms acquired by the government
under its land reform scheme in 2000," she said.

"He worked hard to build the school from scratch. As a headmaster, he worked
around the clock since 2001 under unbearable conditions. And what do we have
to show for all that? An abysmal salary and a miserable life."

That is why, she said, they both left what she dismisses as a thankless
"But since he went in January, he has not got a teaching job, so he is doing
odd jobs. He sends us money every month, to get by, and it is far higher
than a teacher's monthly salary."

The Mashandus are some of the estimated 20,000 teachers who, say unions,
have left the profession in recent years, forced out by ridiculously low
salaries and tough working conditions, spawned by the economic crisis that
has resulted in an inflation rate of more than 11 million per cent,
spiralling prices and a shortage of food.

Tens of thousands of teachers who have not joined the drift to South Africa,
Namibia, Botswana or Britain, among other favoured destinations, are simply
not reporting for work.

As a result, scores of schools across the country have been closed for lack
of teachers, while others are running on minimum teaching staff.

Teachers earn less than US$100 (Dh367) a year.

"We estimate," said Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), "that 90 per cent of the remaining
teachers are not teaching. They are not at their schools but just loafing at
home or doing some petty trade. It is worrisome because it is our local
education system - our children - who suffer most.

Zimbabwe has a high adult literacy rate, put by Unesco in November last year
at 90 per cent, second in Africa only to Tunisia, but the crisis threatens
to undo that.

Zimbabwean teachers are in great demand in most English-speaking countries
in southern Africa and as far afield as Britain, America and Australia.

Science and mathematics teachers are most needed, as are those who are
proficient in technical subjects. In October last year, for example, South
Africa announced a plan to recruit 4,000 maths and science teachers from
southern Africa between then and April this year, and it is believed that
Zimbabwe accounted for most of those recruited.

"It is a tragedy," Mr Majongwe said.

"Reports from the ground show that there are no teachers at most schools in
Matabeleland region, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Bulawayo and Harare. In short, the
situation is a national tragedy. In Bulawayo, schools such as Sobukazi,
Mzilikazi, Mpopoma, Milton, St Columbus and Waterford are some of the worst

At Waterford Primary School, in Bulawayo, one teacher is teaching grades
three and four under the same roof.

Authorities at another school, Gokomere, a Roman Catholic-run institution in
southern Masvingo province, which used to achieve the nation's highest pass
rate in the 1990s, have sent home junior pupils to enable teachers to
concentrate on children who are doing their final examinations this month.

At day schools such as St Columbus and Milton, students spend their time at
home like their teachers or wandering about in school grounds.

Stephen Chifunyise, a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of
Education, Sport and Culture, said the economic crisis had hit the education
and health sectors the hardest.

He suggested the formation of an emergency education plan to restore the
sector to the pre-economic crisis levels.

"Short of that, we may not bring back to acceptable levels the standards we
have set for ourselves. We are in a state of an education crisis, which can
only be salvaged by a speedy implementation of an emergency plan," he said.

"That plan must be a product of wide consultations, and needs to address
teachers' salaries, teaching and learning materials and provision of food
for boarding schools.

The plan must also seek the support of the foreign donor community, which
helped us a lot in our early successes in education in the 1980s."

As the crisis persists, Zimbabwe will most likely miss an African target of
attaining Education for All by 2015, the Zimbabwe Teachers' Union (ZIMTA)

In a letter to teachers, dated Sept 20 2008, ZIMTA president, Tendai
Chikowore, warned that unless their grievances were addressed, more
educators would leave their jobs.

"The general decline in the Zimbabwean economy, upwards movement of prices,
low salaries that fail to keep pace with the changes in the economic market,
coupled with lack of swift responses by authorities, have put our quality
education under severe stress, threatening total breakdown of the system,"
she said.

"This development, put into correct perspective, spells doom."

* The National

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Agreement has too many holes - McGhee

October 5, 2008

(SW Radio Africa Hot Seat Programme transcript: Broadcast: 03 October 2008)

Journalist Violet Gonda speaks with the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee.

Violet Gonda: We welcome James McGee, the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe on the programme Hot Seat. How are you Ambassador?

Ambassador McGee: Very good Violet and thanks for the opportunity to talk with you today.

Gonda: It’s a long time since you have been on this programme. What is your opinion regarding events in Zimbabwe?

McGee: Violet we were very pleased to see the original agreement but two entire weeks have passed and we have had no forward movement on this. As you know we have now reached an impasse on this agreement. Both sides are demanding key ministries and it looks now that we are going to have someone come in and start to negotiate all over again on the final outcome of this episode.

Gonda: What do you think of the agreement itself and is it a positive development, even towards addressing the political impasse?

McGee: The agreement itself was positive. The issue with the agreement was that it did leave too many things that needed to be finalised. There were major holes in this agreement and we are seeing now that these holes have not been filled in. So until the two political parties can come to agreement on the agreement, so to speak, we are still going to have issues here in Zimbabwe.

Gonda: What are some of these major holes that you have observed or that you have seen?

McGee: The key major hole is who is going to actually have power. This agreement says President Mugabe would still control executive power. It also says that Morgan Tsvangirai, the new Prime Minister, would have executive power. I find it hard to understand how a government can operate with two people having executive power.

And then you have the issue of the division of the cabinet and as we know from what’s happening right now, that is not working. So those are the key issues right now that are just not happening and something has to be filled in before we get to something that is workable for the people of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: And Mugabe said recently at the UN summit in New York that things have changed and that the United States and other western countries should remove the sanctions. Your thoughts on the removal of sanctions.

McGee: Our thoughts on the removal of sanctions are very, very simple and nothing has changed Violet as far as that is concerned. What we have said and what we continue to say is that we will re-engage with this government and that includes the removal of sanctions based upon performance. Until this government can show us that they are performing to no.1: Meet the will of the Zimbabwean people. No.2: To uphold the principles that were established in the Hague - the five principles. Then we are not going to remove the sanctions.

Gonda: You know others would ask that shouldn’t you remove these financial sanctions given the fact that the world is currently affected by a global credit crunch?

McGee: No. The financial sanctions that have been brought against Zimbabwe are there for a good reason and the good reason is the fact that Zimbabwe has refused to payback the loans outstanding to this country. They have refused to service their debt and that is why there are financial sanctions against Zimbabwe. You are not going to find any international lending institution willing to lend money to Zimbabwe. Because Zimbabwe has a long track record of not paying this money back.

Gonda: So what would happen with a new government - already the political parties have agreed to share power? What would happen with the MDC in power? Will the US congress agree to remove ZIDERA, for example, and even allow institutions like the IMF or the World Bank to start lending money to Zimbabwe even with the MDC in place?

McGee: We have been very consistent on what we say on that particular issue. As long as a new government or even the existing government shows forward movement towards meeting the principles; a respect for human rights, return to rule of law, free market place economy. As long as those issues are being met then we are willing to re-engage fully, fully with that government.

Gonda: What about the suffering masses right now? Doesn’t the blockade right now only make things worse in the country?

McGee: Violet I cannot accept that. There is no suffering in Zimbabwe based upon any sanctions that the United States government has placed on this country. As a matter of fact the United States is providing more assistance to the people of Zimbabwe than the government of Zimbabwe. This year alone Violet we are providing over US$200 million in food assistance to the people of Zimbabwe. That is a number that the government of Zimbabwe itself comes nowhere close to matching. So no, no that is a false premise there that the United States is the cause through sanctions causing the suffering in Zimbabwe. The United States is relieving the suffering due to the failed policies of the government of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: So what about the issue of the IMF and the World Bank, wouldn’t that be seen as sanctions that are against the government because it is the government that cannot get these loans to do its business? How would you respond to that?

McGee: Violet again I think that is a false premise because the United States can take 100 percent of the financial sanctions off Zimbabwe - and these are targeted sanctions against individuals mainly. But even if those with ZIDERA were taken away the government of Zimbabwe - the current government - will not be able to access loans. Anyone we have spoken to - the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions all know that Zimbabwe cannot access loans because they refuse to pay their debts.

Gonda: Now the MDC says that Zanu-PF is refusing to relinquish some of the key ministries. Now will the United States be willing to support a new government that would have Zanu-PF in charge of social ministries like the Home Affairs ministry, or even the Finance ministry?

McGee: We say that we can work with any government as long as that government is willing to take care of the people of Zimbabwe. We are not here to dictate which ministries should go to which party, but what we are going to do is take a very careful look at the actions of any government here in Zimbabwe. And it really doesn’t matter which political party sits at the head of which ministry. What we want to see is positive action to take care of the people of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: So what do you make of comment made by Jendayi Fraser - the Secretary of State for Africa - recently, when she said the United States will only accept an agreement with Morgan Tsvangirai as leader?

McGee: Jendayi, Mrs Fraser, my supervisor, was talking about the will of the people of Zimbabwe. And if you go back to the March 29th election the people of Zimbabwe clearly did express their will. You know Morgan Tsvangirai may only have received 47 percent of the votes but when you look at the total opposition votes that was cast in this country it was a clear repudiation of the policies and practices of the Mugabe government. So in that regard she is absolutely right. Morgan Tsvangirai should be the new leader of this nation to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: And there are some, especially within Zanu-PF who say not counting the sham Presidential run off, the difference between the two parties vote-wise was not significantly great. Does that count where the US is concerned?

McGee: It doesn’t matter if it counts with the US Violet, it only matters if it counts with the people of Zimbabwe. And the people of Zimbabwe have repudiated policies and practices of this current government and that is why we find ourselves now looking at a power sharing agreement. And for the people of Zimbabwe to have their will expressed the government needs to move forward. We need to get on, we need to form a cabinet, we need to form a government that can start doing things for the people of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: What about the relationship between the Mugabe regime and the US government. How is it like? For example there is an allegation that you recently played golf with Mr Tsvangirai and that Mr Mugabe was very unhappy about this. What is your comment to this?

McGee: I played golf with Morgan Tsvangirai? That is not an allegation, that is an absolute fact. I did play golf with Morgan Tsvangirai and I have played golf with Morgan Tsvangirai before and I will continue to play golf with Morgan Tsvangirai. Morgan and I don’t talk about matters of State on the golf course, we talk about our poor golf swings (both laugh). And secondly Morgan Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister designate of the government of Zimbabwe. I thought the idea behind diplomatic involvement in any country, any country was to be involved with the government and the people who occupy seats in government in that particular country. So I have no idea what President Mugabe was talking about when he says he was angry that I played golf with Morgan Tsvangirai. That is foolishness.

Gonda: Is it true that he accused you of interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs because you were playing golf with Mr Tsvangirai?

McGee: President Mugabe doesn’t speak to me so I have no idea. I get that second hand that he did make that statement. I will take it at face value that it’s true.

Gonda: On the other hand don’t you think that given the delicate nature of the current discussions that perhaps it was not wise to be playing golf at this particular time -with Mr Tsvangirai?

McGee: Again despite the fact that people think we work 24 hours a day, we don’t. We do need to unwind and have some social relaxation. I enjoy playing golf with Morgan Tsvangirai. He is a good golfer, he is new to the game. I have been playing the game of golf for almost 50 years and Morgan and I find this an opportunity to walk and talk for four hours. Again we are not talking matters of State, we are talking about our poor golf swing.

Gonda: Do you offer the same invitation to some of the political leaders, I know you don’t talk to Mr Mugabe but what about the other political leaders?

McGee: You know I have had the chance to play golf with some of the leading figures here in Zimbabwe and I am not going to mention names because maybe they don’t want it known that I play golf with them. But let’s let it suffice to say that I have played golf with some of the leading Zanu-PF political figures in this country.

Gonda: Ok. Now you used to go around the volatile areas in Zimbabwe during and after the elections. Do you see any significant difference on the ground since the political parties signed the power sharing agreement?

McGee: Well even before then Violet we were starting to see a down swing in the violence around the country but that’s not to say that it’s totally stopped. We still get reports, we still have anecdotal evidence that violence although at a decreased level continues here in Zimbabwe. We know for a fact that the quasi-military camps that were manned by the war veterans and the youth brigades in the countryside - many of those camps are still open. We don’t know how active those camps are but the fact that they are still open creates concern for us, and if people had entered into these negotiations in good faith that is the first thing that should have stopped - these torture camps where people are tortured for nothing more than their political beliefs.

Gonda: And from your observations has the hate speech by Zanu-PF officials and even by the state media stopped? And is the MDC, for example, getting decent media coverage now?

McGee: The answer to your question is no, it has not stopped. There is still too much divisive speech by the media here. The media coverage of the MDC is very, very lopsided, very negative. It’s maybe slowly, slowly changing but at the end of the day I don’t see much changing in this country as long as we have this type of major division.

Gonda: And food has been a priority of yours, and the distribution of food. Are things easier? Is food now being distributed in a fair manner and do you have access now?

McGee: No. Again the answer to your question is no. It’s better than it was before. The ban on NGOs has been lifted but that ban created so many problems Violet. It threw us so far behind in our scheduled programmes to deliver food to the people of Zimbabwe. If you remember I just told you that we are putting over US$200 million into food assistance for Zimbabwe. Now you can imagine that is a lot of food assistance to a country the size of Zimbabwe. So we have a problem of no.1: Identifying the people who require food assistance and then no.2: getting this food assistance to the people.

This artificial ban on NGOs that was in place for weeks has thrown us woefully behind on our schedule and we are now entering the most critical part of the year where we should be distributing food and we are still out there trying to identify people to send the food along to. So this ban has continuously created problems for us and our food distribution problem.

Gonda: And how coordinated is the donor response to the situation in Zimbabwe? Because there is this danger that some donors may respond differently, and so will this inertia affect the US’s position if ever it does occur?

McGee: I think the donor response is excellent here in Zimbabwe. I have an excellent US AID unit headed by Karen Freeman here in Zimbabwe. And Karen coordinates closely with her colleagues from the European Union, from the Japanese, the Canadians and all other countries who are involved in food distribution here in Zimbabwe. We want to make certain that there is no overlapping. We are not all trying to go to the same area - you know feed 500 people while another 1000 are starving somewhere else. So there is a huge amount of donor coordination and we expect that type of coordination to continue into the future.

Gonda: It is feared that the rise of the cost of food in the world market will mean that donors will pledge less and less. Do you agree with this?

McGee: We will have to wait and see how that plays out. I have heard the World Food Programme talking about asking for more pledges for food around the world and unfortunately there are more and more hot spots around the world either due to natural or man-made disasters where people are starving.

So the situation in Zimbabwe is a man-made situation. It’s the poor policies of this government that have led to starvation in Zimbabwe. And what we need is a change in policy, a change in direction that will allow the great farmers - and there are hundreds and thousands of great small farmers here in Zimbabwe - to get out there and do what they do, which is grow food.

Gonda: And while we wait to see what the political parties or the politicians do about the problems in Zimbabwe, will the global financial crisis affect what the United States is willing to give Zimbabwe?

McGee: I can’t answer, that is a political question Violet and that is going to have to be answered by someone in the political realm. Right now what we see is this: We have budgets. Our budgets are adequate to provide assistance to Zimbabwe this year. I have no idea what our budget will look like next year. We will have to wait until then to find out, but I can guarantee you this: We, my embassy will continue to go and fight for funding to assist in humanitarian needs for the people of Zimbabwe.

Gonda: I don’t know if you can answer this - perhaps it’s a political question too - but what leverage does the pending US elections have on the US’s push for democracy in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole?

McGee: I think no matter which candidate wins the elections in the United States the emphasis on Africa will remain strong. The United States has redoubled under President Bush its commitment to move forward and provide assistance to Africa. You know we are much more pragmatic with this right now. The United States is saying Africans do need to come up with solutions for their own countries, but at the same time where they need assistance we are willing to step in and provide that assistance as long as we know that assistance is being used correctly and wisely. That the assistance is being used to help advance the people of any particular country and the same thing can happen in Zimbabwe

Gonda: Right, and you have said before that you are taking a ‘wait and see approach.’ But does it have a time line?

McGee: It has a time line and I think the first time line is one that needs to be established by the people of Zimbabwe. You know this impasse and establishing a government, naming key ministries, naming ministers period. The people of Zimbabwe need to step forward and say this needs to be resolved and this needs to be resolved right now. Once that has happened we would like to see the plans of this new government; say a one month, three month, six month plan established by the government with benchmarks that we can come in and take a look at - the international community - and say ‘you have made progress in ending corruption, you have made progress in restoring a free market economy to this country. You have made progress in returning the rule of law to Zimbabwe.’

And if we can look at those markers and say that progress has been made in one month, three months, six months then we will be ready to start making movements for the removal of sanctions and other issues.

Gonda: And do you have a final word?

McGee: My final word is let’s respect the people of Zimbabwe. They voted, they come out in large numbers and voted in March and here we are all the way into the first week of October and this impasse is still with us. The country needs to move forward and the only way the country is going to move forward is if both political parties continue in good faith to look out for the people of Zimbabwe. That is our bottom line.

Gonda: Ambassador McGee thank you very much for speaking on the programme, Hot Seat.

McGee: Thanks Violet my pleasure as usual.

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Mugabe taking us for a very big ride

October 5, 2008

By Geoffrey Nyarota

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe arrived in New York on the occasion of the 63rd
Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25 with a
delegation whose magnitude was variously reported at between 40 and

Residents of Harare accustomed to witnessing cars and pedestrians scattering
in all directions as the presidential motorcade tears past will not be
unduly perturbed by the magnitude of this particular direction.

When Mugabe travels his delegation is usually split into two for purposes of
logistics. One group comprises the officers from the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. These take care of themselves in terms of accommodation and
allowances having been paid an advance for the purpose. The second group
consists of security details and staff from the state residences, as well as
the George Charambas, the medical staff and others. On this trip to New York
this group included at least six security details, three cooks and two

The New York Palace Hotel is known among the wealthy for "its luxurious
accommodations, spectacular views, spacious rooms, and unparalleled service".
The creature comforts offered by this icon of Manhattan splendour come at a
price though - $1 300 a night for the presidential suite and $650 for the
rest of the delegation; both excluding tax.

On arrival in Manhattan, where the UN headquarters is located, this second
group checked into the New York Palace, along with the President and his
family. Each member had been paid in advanced a total of $12 000 in
allowances for the 10-day duration of the trip, including the Egyptian
segment. Members of this section of the delegation did not pay their own
bills for hotel accommodation. The Zimbabwe mission in New York picks up the
bill for hotel accommodation for this group. So that princely sum, earned in
a mere 10 days and generous, even by New York six-figure salary standards,
was exclusively for personal shopping.

On arrival back in Harare the presidential delegation does not pay duty on
any of the goods imported. Such attractive incentives may explain why the
delegation is so large and why Mugabe and his delegation travels so
frequently. The presidential trips are among Zimbabwe's worst forms of
official corruption.

The Foreign Affairs section of the presidential delegation makes an even
bigger killing. They take care of all their own expenses and are paid an
advance for the purpose. Their advance for accommodation, for instance, is
based on the rate applying at the hotel where the President is booked. On
the recent visit the Foreign Affairs men would have received an
accommodation allowance based on the $650 rate of the New York Palace.

But, to maximise on the killing they checked themselves into the Queens
Motor Inn, which describes itself as the closest motel in Queens to midtown
Manhattan and "offers hospitality and services at a reasonable rate". The
reasonable rate at this establishment is a mere $112 per night, tax
included. After listening to the President's 15-minute speech at UN
headquarters the cunning boffins from Foreign Affairs crammed themselves
four to a room at the inn. The savings must have been simply stupendous,
that is not to mention the $12 000 in daily allowances, which is uniform
across the delegation, except for the President.

Meanwhile their relatives and friends back in Harare and Chitungwiza were
dying of cholera caused by an unhealthy water supply situation. Pictures
shot by our photographer, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, at Lake Chiwero on Sunday,
September 5, tell a grim story about Harare's water supply situation.

If the expedition to New York had been a genuine business visit the Foreign
Affairs officials would naturally have stayed at the New York Palace with
the President, while the cooks and waiters were packed like sardines, if
they so wished, in rooms at the Queens Motor Inn. They would have conducted
their shopping excursions to the shockingly provident shopping arcades of
New York from there. Imagine a huge carton containing a Plasma TV
negotiating its way to the 47th or any other of the 55 floors of the New
York Palace.

Delegation members had no problem with airline baggage weight limitations.
They hitch-hiked from Cairo and back on President Hosni Mubarak's
presidential plane and will be picked up in the Egyptian capital by an Air
Zimbabwe Boeing 767.

This should provide an idea of why Mugabe will not tolerate and why Charamba
actually goes beserk when journalists ask questions that have potential to
derail this particular gravy train. This also provides an explanation of why
Zanu-PF is most reluctant to let go of the Ministries of Finance and Foreign
Affairs, in the ongoing negotiations over cabinet posts. Any changes in
those two ministries would signal instant impoverishment.

A close friend who took one of the presidential culinary staff for a drink
in Manhattan was told by him that, on the basis of what Mugabe told staff
openly, any speculation or expectation that he would retire any time soon or
cede power to MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was pure wishful thinking.

"The President is not going anywhere for the next five years," he said, "and
he is in very good health."

The State House worker, who cannot be named for his security, urged my
informant to support family and relatives in Zimbabwe by sending increased
remittances because the situation had deteriorated and people were suffering
throughout the country.

When Mugabe touched down at Harare International Airport on his return from
New York he told the Zanu-PF party faithful, most of whom had been
shepherded to the airport to welcome him, that the long awaited new cabinet
would be in place by last Friday.

This pronouncement coming from a man who had not sat down with those he left
behind to work out the irksome final details of power-sharing deal took by
complete surprise those too astute politically to be heralded to the airport
so early in the morning.

Not surprisingly, there was no cabinet in place by Friday - at least there
was no public announcement to that effect. Those who are firm believers in
democratic processes, including accountability and transparency, would have
expected the President to make an announcement on Friday either to confirm
his prediction or to explain why the prediction had not been fulfilled.

But then President Mugabe believes he is no longer accountable to the people
of Zimbabwe; he has long ceased to believe that he is accountable to the
electorate that originally put him in power. Otherwise he would not be
President of Zimbabwe today after the tumultuous electoral events of March,
2008 and the follow up events of June 27, as well as the events of the
intervening period. Neither does he believe in transparency of governance.
That is why he brazenly leads a large group of daylight looters to New York,
while masquerading as a delegation to deliver a meaningless 15 minutes of
diatribe at the United Nations.

It is because Zimbabweans have for many years permitted President Mugabe to
indulge with total impunity in a form of government that is totally devoid
of accountability and transparency that they now wallow in abject misery
after the Mugabe regime ruined their once prosperous nation, while lining up
their own pockets as they did in New York at the end of September.

Mugabe sincerely believes that he is completely beyond reproach and will
willfully continue to take us for a big ride.

Meanwhile the MDC continues to hope against hope that it is dealing with
rival politicians who have the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe at heart,
when all evidence points to the contrary. Mugabe meant every word when he
publicly declared before the March election that Tsvangirai would "never,
ever, ever" become President of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is merely buying time and the MDC may do well to listen to the advice
of one of Mugabe's own State House staff: "The President is not going
anywhere for the next five years."

"It (Zanu-PF) will not dismantle its mandate, make no mistake about it,'
Charamba said for good measure, whatever his understanding of Zanu-PF
mandate is.

President Mugabe is, indeed, taking the people of Zimbabwe for a big ride.

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Air Marshal Perence Shiri invades Chiadzwa


Published: Monday 06 October 2008

ZIMBABWE - Air Marshal Perence Shiri has joined the stampede for diamonds
amid stunning disclosures that the army man has sent his undercover troops
to plunder the precious stones under the guise of restoring order and
stability at Chiadzwa, a security detail who had the misfortune of testing
the fifth-brigade like antics of the gang has disclosed.

In an interview under strict confidentiality for the fear of reprisals from
Shiri who is infamous for killer instincts, the source said Chiadzwa Diamond
Mine is a total mess as countless shoals of panners including renowned
figures in society wear diamond weary hungry faces and are determined to
stampede the security system to just gain entry into the rich veins of

"Perence never lost touch of Fifth-Brigade tricks. When we were on duty, we
captured a gang of shabbily dressed nocturnal species and we severely
thumped them as their mission was mysterious.

After thorough beatings they confessed that they were Shiri's men who had
come to investigate "report" of shady dealings at Chiadzwa but we would not
take any of their silly defences," the security detail told ZimDaily.

The source said that the gang among other panners that comprise retired
night ladies mostly from Harare have the tendency of scheming their entry
gimmicks from a nearby vantage point from the Harare-Mutare highway after
evading a series of roadblocks manned by police and army details.

The gory episodes of confrontation , according to the source that will be
off duty in five days from today, revealed physical battles with panners and
most of them hungry and thirsty to gain access to a rich vein that is
reportedly owned by the Vice President Joice Mujuru.

According to revelations, Mujuru was reported to have commissioned her
portion that is persistently guarded by a vigil of security details. The
security details take time off after a two-week service.

According to reports, numerous unannounced deaths take place as perceived
panners that resist arrest are shot on site and buried in shallow graves
without the knowledge of their next of kin.

"Flea Markets of quality clothing, takeaways and other social amenities are
now mushrooming to provide for panners that anchor in Chiadzwa for days.
Panners anchor in a guerrilla warfare style as they are determined to gain
access to Ngoda.

One has to move around with foreign currency in various denominations for
the purposes of bribing the snipers to avoid the danger of bullets simmering
into their bodies as well as to gain access to the rich vein of Diamonds,"
said a panner who has taken a break from Chiadzwa but has vowed to go back.

According to investigations, the ZANU-PF induced election campaign violence
that characterised the March 29 and June 27 elections cannot compare with
the horror episodes of deaths that are taking place at Chiadzwa.

There are reports of an unidentified dread-locked 'panner' who was shot at
close range by a security detail for killing a police dog.

Some concerned industrialists once proposed the recapitalization of the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to fully venture into diamond
mining in Marange a proposal that the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono
equated to funding organised panning.

ZMDC once rejected government's plans to rope in foreign investors at the
67-hectarage diamond fields in Marange. ZMDC had systematically registered
dwindling diamond output of 42.29 carats that tumbled down to 34.91 in June
2008, 33.72 carats in July, 35.52 in August and an alarming 32.89 in
September 2008 a situation synonymous with how the management of the ailing
parastatal once sank its lethal teeth into its gold mines of Sabi, Jena and
Elvington between 2000 and 2003 amid reports of looting of the precious

Dominic Mubayiwa, the current General Manager rose through the ranks of ZMDC
from a mere graduate trainee accountant to the new top figure in the rank of
the organisation.

A long serving worker at the Msasa's No 90 Murate Road complex of ZMDC said
around 2000 the company started nose-diving closing the most once-viable
mines and should any meaningful recapitalisation becomes necessary, the axe
must fall on all the remaining senior management that presided over such
shoddy performance. "Handing over Chiadzwa to ZMDC under the current
management is like perpetuating white collar panning as obviously nothing
meaningful will come out the company," he said.

According to another employee that spoke on grounds of anonymity, Mubayiwa
himself is a women weary hungry vulture and is seeing another man's wife
identified as Jessie Rashama who according to sources have a child together
(Dominic) even though she is still with her husband living in Kambuzuma*

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We're being targeted, say Zim farmers



          October 06 2008 at 07:51AM

      By Alex Duval Smith

      Harare - Commercial farmers who launched a legal challenge against the
Zimbabwe government's land acquisition programme were being targeted for
attack by ruling party militants just weeks before an international tribunal
is to rule in their favour.

      At least one farm, in Cheguru, 100km from the capital Harare, is being
occupied this weekend.

      Farmers Retief and Carrie Benade, who have fled to Harare leaving
farmworkers to defend their property, said 15 men - seven of them armed -
had occupied their farm.

      The couple are among 77 farm owners who last year brought an historic
challenge to the Zimbabwean land acquisition programme at the Southern
African Development Community Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia.

      The tribunal, which exists to police the adherence of member states to
the 1992 Southern African Development Community Treaty, ruled in December
last year that it would offer the farmers protection.

      When attacks continued, the farmers' group Justice in Agriculture
returned to court in July and won its backing for their argument that the
Zimbabwean authorities, by tolerating continued attacks, was in contempt of
the earlier ruling.

      Later this month, the tribunal will rule on the 77 farmers' original
case; that the Zimbabwe government was in breach of human rights and
anti-discrimination clauses in the Southern African Development Community

      The farmers argued that the attacks - begun in 2000 - were racially
motivated and that their human rights had been breached by a 2005 amendment
to the Zimbabwe constitution stating that farmers had no right of appeal
against eviction orders.

      Since land occupations began in Zimbabwe in 2000, the number of
commercial farmers in the country is estimated to have fallen from 4 500 to
about 800.

      Farmers said at least 35 commercial operations had been targeted for
occupation since the September 15 signing of a agreement between Movement
for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe.

      This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on
October 06, 2008

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Zimbabwe talks back on track

06 October 2008
Angus Shaw

Harare - Zimbabwe's political factions were back in talks, both sides said
yesterday, but so far can't agree on how far they've progressed, a measure
of the difficulty of turning pledges of cooperation into action.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his main rivals signed a
power-sharing agreement last month brokered by former president Thabo Mbeki.

Since then, though, they have made no progress on deciding who will hold
which posts in their cabinet.

Though Mbeki has agreed to resume mediating the two sides met without him on

Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, said Saturday's talks between Mugabe,
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and Arthur
Mutambara, leader of a smaller opposition group, stalled because of the
failure to allocate control of just two ministries.

But Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Tsvangirai, said disputes remained over
all 31 state ministries.

"To say that two ministries are holding things up is absolutely incorrect,"
he said.

Talks on the sharing of ministries have stalled twice over which party
receives control of key ministries such as defence. - Sapa-AP.

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New Africa must go beyond limits of colonial definitions

by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 06 October 2008

OPINION: Africa - with 53 countries - is an unwieldy geographic,
demographic, cultural and political entity to make the writing of a common
identity impossible.

There is no single great tradition to unite the continent's inhabitants as
the nation states that constitute Africa share no common political and
cultural heritage.

South Africa, my chosen new African home, is the youngest African child and
its founding narratives have still to receive the scholarly attention they
deserve but it is instructive that the social reality that has led to the
downfall of former President Thabo Mbeki is far from promising to make the
country's story even more interesting from a historical perspective.

Of all the African countries, South Africa can boast of framing a freedom
charter during the heyday of apartheid that remains an important part of the
nation's heritage in so far as it is an integral part of a democratic

It locates its ideas within the context of a negotiated identity that was
designed to provide a feeling of security and cultural comfort in a
post-apartheid dispensation.

The rise of nationalism and its role in post-colonial Africa's state
building should be understood as a hegemonic conversation that was aimed at
producing the factuality of nations and it was meant to condition the modes
of domination and resistance.

It must be accepted that the national framing of post-colonial Africa's
state building experience and of democratisation has become invisible,
making the state and nation two separate objects that should interest
African elites.

The nation is generally understood to be a people who share common origins
and history as indicated by their shared culture, language, and identity.

The nationalist forms of inclusion and exclusion still bind African
societies based on a generally accepted notion that nation/state/identity is
the natural and political form of post-colonial Africa in which the face of
an African is racially defined.

The post-colonial African state building processes have fundamentally shaped
the ways the state has been perceived, received and linked to political
institutions that underpin the constitutional democratic order.

The perceptions have in turn influenced, though not necessarily determined,
the post-colonial democratic experience.

The post-colonial state is generally understood to be a sovereign system of
government within a particular territory.

The concept of a state as understood universally but least understood in
post-colonial Africa should be a neutral playing ground for different
interest groups (that may very well be plural in nature in terms of race,
ethnicity, class and other variables).

Using this approach, one has to exclude from the picture the fact that
post-colonial Africa itself entered into a symbiotic relationship with the
nationalist political project.

There has been an attempt in post-colonial Africa to integrate democracy and

The historic and systematic logic tying both together has become
marginalised by the unique post-colonial experience in the majority of
African countries that has resulted in an inability of citizens to remove
governments they no longer have confidence in.

Nationalism was a force foreign to colonial state building that was founded
on non-national, civil, republican, and liberal experience.

During the colonial era, segregation and dislocation were closely related
and the colonial experience transformed African tribesmen with no investment
in democratic traditions into nationalists and by default democrats.

Nationalists project their loyalty upon the nation, which in itself is an
abstract but absolute political and historical subject not necessarily
toward the state, which was supposed to be an agent of the people (as
universally defined) deriving its authority from the ultimate sacredness of
the nation.

The form of political struggles in post-colonial Africa has been shaped and
determined by nationalist cognition of the world in which each agent tries
to gain the right to represent the collective interest of the nation.

As Africans, we must admit that we have failed to provide an appropriate
theoretical framework to interpret nationalism in African states.

The majority of African nationalism theories and practices consciously or
unconsciously depend upon the top-down approach deeply founded on a
Eurocentric worldview.

Hence no adequate explanation is provided on why African societies in many
cases resist the very state power that the nationalism is supposed to have
brought into existence.

The national identity in post-colonial Africa is largely an outcome of a
long and complicated process of the negotiation between modern and
traditional identities.

A strong post-colonial African identity does not necessarily mean a vibrant
and strong state project of nationalisation in which the state assumes the
rights and obligations of citizens in the name of nation and nationalism.

While it can be legitimately argued that colonial state building was faulty,
it must be accepted that a constructive and dynamic osmosis between
discourses of nationalism as a response to the colonial state and the
traditional dynastic identities was necessary even without the state project
of nationalisation.

The post-colonial construction of an African identity should be treated as a
social, political and historical fact through which public discourses should
be formed and shaped.

The African nation as an imagined community requires an assumed collectivity
and mutuality beyond an individual's circumstances and political communities
are only real when they are collectively imagined.

Therefore, the new African identity must go beyond the prism and limitations
of colonial definitions.

The post-colonial state ought to provide a playing ground for all who live
in the relevant nation irrespective of the diversity that challenges Africa.

Political pluralism is healthy if it does not become antagonistic.

Regrettably, nationalism has been used as a potent weapon to crowd out
political competition to the extent that rotation of power has not been part
of the post-colonial state building project.

Whimsical democracy has taken root in Africa in which the whims of the head
of state and government becomes the order of the day.

State institutions have become subordinated to the interests of the ruling
elites with state bureaucrats owing their allegiance to the person of the
Presidency and not the office of the Presidency.

Even South Africa has not escaped the African disease of personalising the
state and misconstruing nationalism to mean a license to deconstruct
national identities. - ZimOnline

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