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Inflation soars to 231 million percent

The Herald

Thursday, October 09, 2008

By Martin Kadzere

ZIMBABWE'S annual inflation rate rose to 231 million percent in July,
driven faster by food prices, according to official Government
statistics. The annual rate of price growth was 11,2 million in June.

It therefore gained 219,8 million percentage points, said the Central
Statistical Office in a statement released yesterday.
What it means is on average goods in July this year were about 231
million times as expensive as they were 12 months earlier.
The month-on-month rate rose 1 760,9-percentage points on the June
rate of 839,3 percent to 2 600,2 percent.
Bread and cereals were the main drivers.
Depending on availability, a loaf of bread now costs between $7 000
and $10 000.
Bread prices have been pushed up by wheat shortages as bakers are
relying on imports.
The latest inflation figures show that Zimbabwe is suffering the
highest inflation rate in the world.
While several measures have been put in place to calm inflation, most
were ill-fated.
The Government blames this on illegal sanctions imposed by Britain
and its allies.
Zimbabwe is suffering from foreign currency, fuel and food shortages.
Prices of goods and services are rising on daily basis.
The economy has contracted almost 50 percent over the past 10 years
on pathetic performance by all sectors.
This was coupled by corruption in both the public and private sectors.
Farm and factory output sharply fell.
Tourism also suffered a major setback as holidaymakers shunned the
country on perceived country risk.
Economists are hoping the economy could recover on the formation of
an inclusive Government.
The main political parties - two MDC formations and Zanu-PF - last
month signed a power-sharing deal to form an inclusive Government.
Various international bodies are behind the deal and are interested
in helping Zimbabwe, once an economic powerhouse in southern Africa.
A UN sponsored report on Zimbabwe's economic revival says the country
needs 12 years to get back where it was in the early 90's.
About US$5 billion will be needed.

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Negotiators resume talks in Zimbabwe

 09 October 2008

Foreign Staff


HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party and the opposition were holding a
new round of talks yester day after several attempts to break a deadlock
over cabinet posts in a power-sharing deal failed, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) said.

"There has been a new development. Our negotiating team has just been
advised that there is a consultative meeting. Our negotiating team and the
Zanu (PF) negotiating team are meeting," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa

Earlier in the day, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused the main
opposition MDC of endangering power-sharing talks which have stalled over
cabinet posts, but said negotiations would continue.

Two MDC factions and President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) have been haggling
since September 15, when an outline deal was reached to end a crisis that
worsened after Mugabe's re-election in a June election boycotted by the MDC.

On Tuesday the main MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said no progress
had been made in talks, which remained deadlocked on allocating all the key
ministries, and called for urgent African intervention in the impasse.

"The MDC is prejudicing talks by trying to negotiate in public. That will
not assist the process. That's a sure way of collapsing the negotiations,"
Chinamasa said yesterday .

"I don't agree that the negotiations have stalled. They will continue. I don't
see the need of a facilitator. We must keep talking. The facilitator is not
going to run this country," said Chinamasa, the ruling party's chief

The original deal between Zimbabwe's political parties was brokered by Thabo
Mbeki, who remains mediator on behalf of the Southern African Development
Community even though he has been ousted as president.

Under the outline agreement, Mugabe would retain the presidency and chair
the cabinet, while Tsvangirai as prime minister would head a council of
ministers supervising the cabinet.

Zimbabweans fear that failure to find a breakthrough will worsen an economic
crisis most visible in inflation of about 11-million percent - the highest
in the world - and chronic shortages of food, electricity, water, and
lately, bank notes.

Didymus Mutasa, chairman of the cabinet committee on food procurement, said
yesterday that the country had obtained 200000 tons of maize from SA.

Zimbabwe needs 40000 tons of maize a week to feed the population, the
Harare-based Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said on its Newsnet website.
With Bloomberg

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Major Food Appeal as WFP Distributions Begin

United Nations World Food Programme (Rome)

9 October 2008
Posted to the web 9 October 2008

With more than five million Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages, the
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for US$140 million
to provide vital relief rations over the next six months. Without additional
contributions, WFP warned it will run out of stocks in January - at the very
peak of the crisis.

"Millions of Zimbabweans have already run out of food or are surviving on
just one meal a day - and the crisis is going to get much worse in the
coming months," said Mustapha Darboe, WFP Regional Director for East,
Central and Southern Africa. "WFP can prevent this crisis from becoming a
disaster but we need more donations - and we need them now."

According to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, more than
2 million people are already in need of assistance. This figure will rise to
5.1 million - or 45 percent of the population - in early 2009. WFP is
planning to assist over 4 million of those affected.

The situation is already critical in many rural areas, particularly in the
worst affected southern districts but also in some districts in the east,
centre and northwest of the country. A large number of farmers harvested
little - if anything - this year and have now exhausted their meagre stocks.
Many hungry families are reportedly living on one meal a day, exchanging
precious livestock for buckets of maize or eating wild foods such as baobab
and amarula.

Delayed by the government's three-month suspension of most NGO field
activities, WFP and its NGO partners began distributing monthly emergency
rations under the large-scale vulnerable group feeding programme at the
start of October, targeting rural communities worst affected by this year's
very poor harvest.

Tens of thousands of beneficiaries have already received life-saving food
assistance under this programme over the past week and WFP hopes to reach
1.8 million by the end of the month. Operations will be scaled up to around
3.3 million in the first three months of 2009 before the main cereal harvest
begins in April.

In addition, WFP is targeting around 800,000 people each month under its
separate safety-net programmes - taking its overall caseload to around 2.5
million in October and more than 4 million in the first three months of

Given the nationwide nature of the food shortages, WFP will expand its
relief programme to 37 districts - five more than in previous years. WFP
will also enhance the nutritional quality of its food basket by adding
corn-soya blend to its basic mix of cereals, pulses and vegetable oil to
help prevent malnutrition rates from rising. In Zimbabwe, 28 percent of
children under five are already chronically malnourished.

To boost its already-substantial logistics operation, WFP has opened a new
transhipment point in the central town of Gweru and a new warehouse in the
South African border town of Musina, which has the capacity to bag 50,000
tons of food over the next six months.

But these plans are all subject to sufficient donations arriving in time.
WFP currently faces a shortfall of over 145,000 metric tons of food,
including 110,000 tons of cereals. Without extra donations, WFP will run out
of supplies in January - just as needs are peaking.

"Our donors have been extraordinarily generous over the past six years, but
the food crisis is far from over. We are urging them to dig deep once
again," said Darboe, adding that cash donations will allow WFP to purchase
crucial commodities regionally.

In addition to WFP's beneficiaries, a group of US-sponsored NGOs known as
C-SAFE plans to provide food to over 1 million Zimbabweans in districts not
covered by WFP. With these two humanitarian pipelines, food assistance
should reach around 5 million people at the peak of the crisis.

While WFP has received almost US$175 million so far in 2008, another US$140
million is urgently needed to fund WFP's huge emergency operation until
April 2009.

Donors to WFP's operations in Zimbabwe in 2008 include: United States
(US$105 million); United Kingdom (US$18 million); Australia (US$14 million);
Netherlands (US$11 million); EC (US$10 million); Canada (US$6 million);
Japan (US$3 million); Norway (US$2 million); Switzerland (US$1.8 million);
Ireland (US$1.5 million); Sweden (US$ 1.2 million); Italy (US$780,000);
Spain (US$470,000); and, Greece (US$72,000).

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Ex-ZIPRA fighters desert veterans' association

October 9, 2008

By Our Correspondent

BULAWAYO - War veterans who fought in the liberation war under the Zimbabwe
People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), the armed wing of Dr Joshua Nkomo's
ZAPU, have broken away from the controversy-ridden Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA).

The ex-ZIPRA fighters, who say their lives have not changed for the better
since independence, have already put in place an interim executive to steer
the body away from the mainstream ZNLWVA, a backbone of Zanu-PF over recent

Ironically, the ZNLWVA is led by Jabulani SIbanda, who claims to have also
fought on the side of ZIPRA during the war of Zimbabwe's liberation. He has
failed to effectively quash assertions that he is too young to have
participated in the war of liberation in any capacity

The rebel war veterans have named their movement the Organisation of ZIPRA
Veterans and have applied for registration with the Ministry of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare as a voluntary welfare organisation.

Retired Colonel Ray Ncube, who was elected interim chairman, said ZIPRA war
veterans were some of the poorest people in Zimbabwe, yet their counterparts
who fought under the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the
armed wing of President Robert Mugabe's then ZANU party, were leading more
decent lives.

Ncube attacked the ZNLWVA for not doing anything to correct the apparent
discrepancies between cadres from the two liberation armies.

"We have been members of the ZNLWVA for close to 20 years now," said Ncube.
"Apart from that, we are a reserve force under the Ministry of Defence, but
this has not resulted in positive change in our lives as ex-ZIPRA cadres.

"We feel that a leaner organisation, representing only former ZIPRA comrades
will help us a lot in terms of enhancing our lives."

Effectively, this means the ZNLWVA will become an association of former
ZANLA fighters with a former ZiPRA leader, Sibanda, Another organisation of
war veterans, the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform was formed after 2000 out of
disenchantment with the role played by the war veterans during the land
invasions.The ZLP was spearheaded by war veteran WIlfred Mhanda, also known
as Dzinashe Machingura, one of the senior ZANLA fighters who were jailed by
Mugabe in deplorable conditions , only to be freed after the signing of the
Lancaster House Agreement. The current Commissioner-General of Police,
Augustine Chihuri, and outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, were
among ZANU's prisoners at Cabo del Gado in northern Mozambique.

The formation of yet another  association os war veterans is set to unsettle
Zanu-PF, especially as the new group as vowed to reclaim more than 50
multi-billion dollar properties that were seized by the government at the
height of the Gukurahundi disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands.

The split of the ZNLWVA is likely to further weaken Zanu-PF which has relied
heavily since 2000 on the so-called war veterans to spearhead its election
campaigns. The ex-combatants are accused of unleashing violence against
opposition supporters in the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections as well as most
recently in the run-up to the June 27 presidential election run-off.  The
deputy chairman of ZNWVA, Joseph Chinotimba, stands accused a reign of
terror in the Buhera District, where many were butchered in the run-up to
the June 27 presidential election.

"It must surprise you to find out that ZIPRA cadres are very poor yet we
liberated this country," Ncube said.

Other members of the interim executive are Besta Magwizi, the vice-chairman
and John Gazi, the secretary.

On the properties allegedly seized by the government, Ncube said his new
organisation would seek to establish the status of the properties and work
to have them returned to ex-ZIPRA combatants.

Soon after independence, the ex-servicemen pooled their resources together
and acquired 25 farms and 31 companies, operating under Nitram.

He said since the seizure, only four farms had been given back to the former
ZIPRA soldiers. He said the major problem was that the farms were being used
by certain figures that he refused to name.

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Depositors Stage Sit-in Protest

MASVINGO, October 8 2008 - Hundreds of depositors with the Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) staged a sit-in protest on Tuesday after failing to
access their cash by end of day, resulting in the police being called in to
force march them out of the banking hall at around eight PM.

The clients, mostly comprising teachers from the rural areas, refused
to disperse at closing time and heckled the bank's manager, Albert Shoko,
when he tried to address them.

The bank officials claimed they were off-line the whole day, yet other
banks were issuing cash, fuelling suspicion that the bank had run out of

The civil servants argued they could not leave, as they had no bus
fares to return home and had no option but to sleep in the bank.

Irked by the CBZ officials failure to come up with a solution, the
depositors also reportedly tried to hold an employee and security guards

Shoko had to be escorted out by the police as tempers flared.

"This is all a result of poor management, it was business as usual at
other banks. Shoko should go back to Beverley Building Society, where he
came from," shouted one visibly incensed client.

The depositors, however did not give up as they proceeded to queue
outside the bank's Automated Teller Machine (ATM) while hurling insults,
until bank officials loaded money into the machine at around half past nine
that evening.

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A Pressure Group around the Deal

Thursday, 09 October 2008 06:34
The Wave: What we stand for

This serves to inform the public of the birth of a dynamic pressure
group that enters the fray offering a purely different package. Our
inauguration comes just after the signing of an agreement for a government
of national unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe. The Wave will therefore make the
agreement its first point of focus.

Our Values

The Wave is a pressure group whose core values are to protect the will
of The Zimbabwean people. Without fear or favour, we oppose politicians from
any party who subvert the will of the people whether it be through lies,
violence, corruption, laziness or other forms of selfishness. We will use a
holistic approach to combat such evils - our methods are peaceful and
disciplined, yet powerful. We will utilize techniques never before seen in
the context of the Zimbabwean struggle. Ultimately, our goal is to bring
about peace, tolerance, humility and accountability.

Our Mission

We have noted with grave concern how GNUs mostly suit the warring
factions at the expense of the people. The Wave seeks to bring massive
pressure to bear on the GNU to abide by the will of the people. A vacuum has
potentially been created by the narrowing of the political divide. As the
parties draw closer history has it that the people will be forgotten. It is
our duty to make sure that the will of the people is safegauded until a true
democratic space has been realised.

The Wave will be a non-partisan voice for Zimbabweans of all tribes
and races. We will use standard methods -demonstations, public annoncements,
media campaigns, and the like - but, as alluded to above, The Wave will not
hestitate to use dynamic and unorthodox, yet peaceful, techniques to make
the people's will heard and felt. Democratic space can only be created if
massive pressure is mounted on the politicians. They shall be slaves not

The constitution is a vital tool for attaining and defending our
democratic space.To us, the constitution is sacrosanct. We will work with
zeal to see it rec-created and become the guardian of the people. It is our
intention to work with relevant organisations like NCA to see the document
put in place within 18 months.

It is our belief that the people will only begin to be empowered when
elections are conducted in a democratic space tutored by a people's
constitution. Therefore, in addition to a new constitution, we will be
pushing for early elections - 2013 is too long - 5 years is too much time
for politicians to keep their own space and become fat on the toil of the
people. March 29 was but the first word - the people have much more to say.
The Wave says: let their voice be heard. Those who resist declare that they
are afraid to submit to the people. They can run, but we will not let them

These are but a few of the things that The Wave will pursue with zeal.
We call on all who love Zimbabwe to put their shoulders to the wheel. The
struggle is far from over!

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Mugabe is sinking the Zimbabwe deal

9 October 2008, 07:06 GMT + 2
It should not come as a surprise. Mugabe has followed the same strategy
throughout his presidency: Take it to the brink, pull back, take it to the
brink, pull back . and through it all, hold on to power.
It is no different now. He took it to the brink with his rigged election,
then pulled back with mediation. Now he's taking it to the brink again.
Thabo Mbeki was useful during the mediation. He is not useful now that the
mediation is being undermined, so, in one of the most incredible political
flip-flops of all time, Mugabe doesn't want him to mediate in the impasse
over who is going to get shich Cabinet post in a power-sharing government.
He will push it as far over the edge as he can before he does that. Then,
like suckers, we will all hail the return of mediation . and so the game
will go on.
The world needs to short-circut this right now. Mugabe must be condemned,
isolated and given the pariah status he deserves.

1 Comment so far
  1.. Albert Albert on October 9th, 2008

  You've hit the nail on the head. The man is not reliable.He plays the game
of stretching you, buying time for himself, until you give in; like what the
MDCT has done. The MDCT acknowledges that they have had to compromise on
some demands; really? What are those worthles demands you could do without?
I would advise the MDCT not to tire or compromise for genuine democracy.
Match the man to his antics and unmask them.Soon he is the one to give
in.You have to be patient.

  The AU & SADC should show character. Its not too late for them to unmask
the charade that Mugabe' government is. African leaders must just insist on
the right thing to happen.
  1.Reject the shame June 2008 one man election
  2.Accept Tsvangirayi's March 2008 election victory and allow him to form
the government.
  The AU & SADC will have to be the authority to ensure that this happens. I'm
sure they can handle a small country like zimbabwe.Assistance can be secured
from the UN if the task is beyond their depth.

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Time for Robert Mugabe to stop his nonsense!

Sentletse Diakanyo

Almost a month after Zanu-PF and the MDC signed a power-sharing deal, they
have not been able to form a government to free ordinary Zimbabweans from
their economic misery. The impasse is over allocation of key ministries.
Robert Mugabe and his thugs remain stubborn and adamant that key ministries
should be controlled by Zanu-PF. As a result the country remains held to
ransom by a senile 84-year-old has-been liberation hero and his band of
thugs and is unable to progress forward.

All sectors of the economy have collapsed. Government is dysfunctional and
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has transformed itself into a mafia
headquarters and a printing factory of worthless local currency. The Reserve
Bank continues to rob banks of any foreign exchange in order to sustain the
livelihood of Mugabe's cronies. This foreign currency is then replaced at
absurd exchange rates with local currency whose usefulness is for rolling
joints and lighting fires.

Businesses find it impossible to operate at prevailing pathetic conditions.
The entire financial system was disabled by the Reserve Bank when they
suspended electronic money transfers, thus crippling businesses already
brought to the brink of collapse by rapidly deteriorating hyperinflation,
which at end of September was at a staggering 531 000 000 000% (i.e. 531
billion percent for those dizzied by the zeros). Settlement of transactions
is an impossible task and suppliers and customers are left in limbo.

Eighty percent (80%) of the population is unemployed and almost seventy
percent (70%) live below the poverty line. How ordinary Zimbabweans manage
to survive when food prices escalate at a rate of more than ten thousand
percent (10 000%) a month is only miraculous. Goods and services are
unaffordable in spite of price controls.

Punishment imposed on businesses found charging prices beyond the regulated
level may be imprisonment or revocation of trading licence. No business can
survive on selling stock below cost and continuously restocking at ever
increasing prices. It is of no surprise that retail stores are empty and
many are closed.

It is time for Mugabe to stop his nonsense and relinquish control of the key
ministries to the MDC in order to allow aid to start flowing into the
country and help restart a collapsed economy. A broad framework for
government has been agreed on and it is now incumbent upon both Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai to sort the Zimbabwean mess and not depend on being
baby-sat by a representative of the SADC. If these leaders are unable to
find a solution to their problems, they must allow those who can to step in
and help poor Zimbabweans out of their tragedy.

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Zimbabwe: The Hunt for Witches

Ceremonies of fear and retribution continue to victimize the poor and
vunerable, especially women

Stephen Tsoroti

Published 2008-10-09 14:41 (KST)

Muzarabani, Zimbabwe -- Driving down from the steep escarpment, my car
ambles cautiously into the vast expanse of the fertile land lying quietly by
the mighty Zambezi River. Normally arid and baked hard by the hot African
sun all year round, the plain comes to sparkle during the rainy season when
the meandering Zambezi River (the second longest river in Africa) bursts its
banks and floods the plains.

Kapatankombe village of Muzarabani ("Valley of the Floods") was nearly
invisible from the distance. Walking towards it, an eerie rusty landscape of
rocks and thickets of thorns on mountainsides, baked grass and Baobab trees
exudes a welcoming countenance. Gradually the outlines of Kapatankombe
shimmer into view; thatched houses lie side by side with new brick houses
just constructed with the proceeds of the cotton crop.

Round granaries with cone shaped roofs tower over the village. Nestled in
the hot lowlands of the Zambezi Valley, here, as elsewhere along Muzarabani,
the soil is rich and does not need artificial fertilizers. The presence of
big game wildlife -- elephants, lions, hyenas, wild pigs -- testifies to the
soil's fertility.

Although few people (most predominantly of the Korekore tribe who have
produced some of Zimbabwe's revered stone sculptures) have been exposed to
Christianity and other foreign religions, most still cling to their animists
and traditional beliefs in which Mhondoros ("Lion Spirits") foretell the
future and evoke spirits that stalk the countryside. Spiritual diviners,
best known as Tsikamutandas, prowl the villages exorcising them of evil
spirits and witches that they say cause untold suffering.

The atmosphere is obviously rooted in spiritual beliefs. Certain names are
given to sacred trees, mountains and rivers, explaining how their culture is
an inherent part of their lives. But as I was to witness on my visit to the
area, an act of moral vengeance seemed to have disturbed the air. Spiritual
diviners have invaded the area and exorcisms were being conducted in village
after village. Entire households are required to attend.

An advance guard of local boys scampered along the road. They saw my
confusion and offered to tell me where everybody was. I must have seemed an
odd presence. Hesitant to leave my camera bag I firmly gripped it on my
shoulder and followed the boys who were talking animatedly about a woman who
they said was a witch with a pack of hyenas. At the village court, we saw
some men sitting on a couple of stones. Others had come with small wooden
stools. Elders gathered to listen; younger men, girls and boys came to watch
the spectacle. For those on the roll call, anxiety was evident on their

In the compound a man clad in traditional Ostrich feather headgear and
wrapped in black and white clothes was seated a few meters in front of the
crowd. Before him was a log on which a couple was seated cross-legged. He
was saying something and the couple were nodding their heads. But then,
amused voices emanated from those who able to hear the verdict being passed
out. The diviner had found their weakness.

Although accusing people of witchcraft is outlawed in Zimbabwe, cases
involving people pointing fingers at each other continues unabated and the
advent of roving witch-hunters has caused a lot of havoc for the rural women
folk. The typical course of events can be illustrated by the story of Vaida
Billiart who was accused in the Mt. Darwin part of Zimbabwe. She lived with
her late son's children in the Rusambo area of Rushinga district where she
moved when she married in the 1960s. Her husband had died many years
previously but had ensured that his wife would be provided for in old age by
leaving much of the property to his wife's care.

She was devoted to her grandchildren much of the time. But when the two
children got mysteriously sick, a diviner was hired and passed judgment
against her. She was sent out of the village. Horrified by the accusation,
the relatives of her former husband led a group of thugs to burn her hut
where she had sought refuge. She burnt to death and no trace of her remains
was ever recovered.

Changing centuries-old customs and practices is not easy, contends the
village head Denford Dengu of Gwararenzou area of Muzarabani ("Elephant's

He says the belief in witchcraft is as old as society itself. It has always
kept in by the council of elders who where the collective wisdom of the
people. But nowadays, more and more older women are being accused of being
witches and such accusations often have grim consequences.

Dengu says it is difficult to ignore the chiefs when they call for an
exorcism because chiefs are the custodians of the people's traditions. Witch
hunting ceremonies often have the full backing of the chiefs.

A communal farmer and mother of three children, Senia Makenzi, a widow, has
spent the last two years battling to clear her name after she was told that
she was a witch responsible for the death of her husband. She says after
being pronounced a witch she was ordered to pay two head of cattle and to
perform some rituals that include undressing rites in front of her in-laws
so as to drive off the spirit of witchcraft.

"I became an outcast in the village. I could not take crops from my field
unless allowed by the diviner. I was forced to have sex with the diviner. I
was fortunate not to fall pregnant."

Abuses of women's rights are not unique to Africa, says Betty Makoni of the
NGO "The Girl Child Network." Nevertheless, when viewed as violations of the
rights of women, practices such as witch hunting are simply unacceptable.

Dr Gordon Chavaunduka, a sociologist and also the president of the Zimbabwe
National Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) notes that witch hunting
is just one kind of abuse women in the country are facing. In other places,
he says, the victim is condemned to death or expulsion from the community or
physical assault by family members.

Arguing that witchcraft does exist, he says that the government should amend
the Witchcraft Suppression Act, which he says was a colonial law that did
not recognize the existence of witchcraft.

Zimbabwean sociologist Obert Jiya says cases of witchcraft were mainly
linked to the country's economic environment and education and the
demystification of certain myths that surrounds the subject are paramount.

"We need to look at the wider picture. It seems the upsurge in the country
of cleansing ceremonies is also a reaction to sudden changes in Zimbabwe's
social upheaval, the problems related to HIV-AIDS, freak weather conditions
which have devastated agriculture, and huge increases in living costs."

People may cast around and find scapegoats in the form of defenseless women,
says Jiya.

Nowadays, many more widows live alone than in previous times and if they are
not seen much around the village, an air of mystery may grow up around them.
They have no support systems to help them counter accusations of witchcraft.
They are vulnerable and usually poor.

They may have the physical signs which influence those inclined to believe
they are witches; for example, blood shot eyes from cooking over smoky fire
all their lives, and the inescapable characteristics of old age like
wrinkles, bags under the eyes, grey hair, twisted limbs and gnarled hands.

Jiya also argues that there will be those who are greedy and impatient to
inherit the resources of the elderly. Trumped up accusations of witchcraft
may be one of the easiest ways of getting their hands on coveted property.
Or diviners find it more profitable than working the dusty soil of crop

Supernatural powers of witches are believed in Zimbabwe to be at the heart
of almost everything that brings sorrow, pain or shame, death, illness,
insanity, impotence, barrenness, crop failure, accidents, the breakdown of
marriages, unemployment, failure in exams, among other things. The recent
violent political violence has created animosities within communities and as
such led to many families trading accusations that they have been bewitched.

In recent years there has been some effort by the parliament of Zimbabwe to
enact a law to protect victims, but the process was stalled after clashes
emerged between faith-based organisations and traditional leaders over the
issues of granting the traditional healers sweeping powers that would see
them having the sole rights of identifying witches and in some instances
prescribing medication.

Many faith-based organisations believe traditional healers work with the
same people who are at the forefront of witch hunting. As these differences
continue, so do the ceremonies of fear and retribution.

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The Food Situation In Zimbabwe 2007

Thursday, 09 October 2008 07:45
I normally give a crop forecast every year sometime in February. This
year, I decided that since there was now a new minister of Agriculture, Hon
Rugare Gumbo, I would give him time to settle down and see if he will
perpetuate the  annual deliberate misinformation that became the modus
operandi of Hon  Made since 2000. Dr Made misled this country annually, with
the approval of the President. I say the president approved because his
inefficiency is legendary. Many newspapers called for his dismissal over the
years but no action taken.

Minister Gumbo at least has told the nation some truth but not the
whole truth. He has admitted and declared this year a disaster. This is the
first time since 2000 that government has admitted that there will be no
food and he did so early enough in the season. I praise him for that.

Maybe I should deal with the current season first before I look into
the meat of the problems; not challenges. For those who have not read my
previous articles on maize in particular, I would like to mention that the
first source of food shortage is the supply of seed. Seed farmers, who the
government had said should be spared under the now infamous land reform, had
their farms nevertheless taken. New farmers were recruited to produce seed.
Because of inexperience, their yields were just around two tonnes per hacter
instead of the average five tonnes.  A lot of the new farmers have stopped
seed production for various reasons including viability, labour etc. I know
several farmers who have abandoned seed production.
Shortage of seed will be with us for a long time.

It will be remembered that in June last year, some obscure South
African company was given US$45million to supply compound D fertilizer. That
amount of money, given to the local manufacturers, would provide sufficient
fertilizers for this country for a year. So we have the perennial shortage.
Then of course there are fuel and draught power shortages. These essentials
were so expensive that many farmers only put to the ground enough for their
own consumption.

The sum total of all this is that even without drought, there was
still going to be a shortage of food. I estimate that the maize produced
this year will be around 700 000t. This is because the only provinces where
there is some meaningful maize are parts of Mashonalnd West and Central.

What happened to the 1 800 000t of maize proudly announced in May last
year by Dr. Made and repeated even after harvest by GMB? GMB continue to
mislead this nation by saying that because their year ends in March, maize
continues to be delivered up to end of March each year when they know that
for all intents and purposes, deliveries are over by end of October. This is
where Minister Gumbo has failed. Zimbabweans deserve to be told the truth at
least for once. We know that the silos are empty. It is not your fault
Honourable Minister, you inherited empty silos; why not say so and you start
with a clean balance sheet, albeit with zero stocks?
The government has disclosed that they are currently importing 400
000t of maize. Last season, the GMB bought 500 000t. We know that the silos
are empty. The national requirement is 2 000 000t of maize. The production
will be 700 000t. This gives a shortfall of 1 300 000t.  There is no foreign
currency to import maize of this magnitude. Mr. Gumbo has the audacity to
tell the nation that they will not seek assistance from any body as they
have the ability to feed the nation.

Where is this ability?  The country is completely grounded because
there is no fuel. There is no foreign currency to import power.  Hwange is
unable to operate. Bulawayo has run out of water. Harare residents are
drinking untreated water because amongst other problems, there is no foreign
currency to import chemicals. I could go on  and on.

But what does Mr. Gumbo say? People in many parts of the country are
starving right now. Children are going to school without food, yet the
government does not want assistance. What is more shameful, people dying of
hunger or asking for assistance?

Oh! By the way, there will be combined elections next year,
presidential and parliamentary. This obviously requires that the people are
properly conditioned starting now. By March next year, the food shortage and
starvation will be at its worst. That is when  these sham elections will be
held. How appropriate.

While the Bible says that we must pray for those who rule over us,  it
was never the intention to pray for an evil government. Proverbs 29 vs. 2
says "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;  but when the
wicked beareth rule, the people mourn".

I appeal to the Donors who have saved the people from death over the
past 7 years to come forward and save the lives of many innocent people from
certain death at the hands of this uncaring government.

Renson Gasela
Secretary for Lands and Agriculture
26th March, 2007

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Get rich fast in Zimbabwe

Vancouver Sun

Turning $100 US into $65,000 US is easy enough, if you know how to go about
Tendai C. Mutseyekwa, Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, October 09, 2008
HARARE -- The unprecedented economic chaos in Zimbabwe has come as a
blessing in disguise for those able to exploit loopholes in the government's
command-economy policies.

The country's highly regulated foreign currency market, which prohibits
formal trading of the Zimbabwe dollar, suffers an acute cash shortage.
Annual inflation is estimated at 30 million per cent, and the central bank
is in the habit of flooding the black market with worthless Zimbabwe dollars
in order to buy up U.S. dollars. As a result, any Zimbabwean money sitting
in a bank is practically useless. Depositors can legally withdraw a mere
$20,000 Zm a day in cash, if there is cash on hand to be had. At the end of
last week that was the price of two loaves of bread, $7 US at the official

Things get more expensive by the minute. The longer money in this debased
economy sits in an account, the less valuable it becomes.

Because of the withdrawal limits, there are in effect three rates of
exchange. The official rate ($1 US to $175 Zm) is more or less academic.
There is the black market, where one American dollar was recently worth
$1,000 Zm.

And then there is the bank transfer rate, which places a value on
inaccessible money locked up in a bank account. You have to write a cheque
for 650,000 Zm to equal the spending power of a single U.S. dollar -- if you
can find someone willing to take it. But there is a catch.

Suppose a depositor hands the bank some foreign currency -- say $100 US.
This sum will buy $100,000 Zm on the street, but the bank is willing to pay
much more to obtain the hard currency --$65 million Zm in fact.

The downside is that apart from the tiny daily withdrawal limit, the
Zimbabwean money stays sequestered in the depositor's account, locked in an
inflationary death spiral as prices rise by 15,000 per cent a week.

But the country's central bank allows citizens to apply for special
dispensation letting them withdraw above the maximum for certain things. A
medical prescription will do the trick, or proof that one is purchasing
building supplies.

Government officials, unlike average citizens, are reputed to encounter
remarkable success in obtaining dispensation. For those who can obtain the
paperwork for a large withdrawal, the next step is to take out all the money
in local currency and sell it on the black market at the rate of $1,000 Zm
per greenback.

In the example above, the $100 US original deposit becomes $65 million Zm in
real cash that is then converted on the street to $65,000 US. The profit: a
cool $64,900 US.

The scale of this profiteering sound incredible, but that is the reality on
the ground in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. The longer it takes for the three
main political parties to agree on the allocation of ministries in the
long-overdue coalition government, the more chaotic the situation will

Another sign of the currency crisis is how reputable businesses that deal in
cash purchases have found a lifeline from simply trading in currency.
Suddenly, they are making a killing.

People are offering incredible discounts just to lay their hands on cash.
Recently, one desperate store offered me a 99-per-cent discount on a small
purchase I was making if I paid in cold hard cash.

In a bid for stability, the economy is shifting to foreign-currency
transactions. The central bank recently licensed more than 1,000 shops to
sell goods in foreign currency, abandoning the local dollar altogether. The
wheels have come off and it is now survival of the smartest -- whoever has
cash is indeed king.

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Comments from Correspondents


Everyday I read the news in the vain hope that something positive has
happened in our country, Zimbabwe.  Everyday there is nothing but
accusations, whining and complaining and now South Africa seems to have
dumped us.

A lot of people can’t understand why we are so placid when it comes to
standing up to this outrageously invalid regime.  Here’s why, thousands died
to put Mugabe in power and look where that got us.  The police and army will
admit that they are being used as tools from above and they too fear for
their lives and those of their loved ones.  Morgan has done his best to
exclude violence from his party politics, something very foreign to Mugabe.

If we are unable to stand up against the devil for fear of sure death or
severe beatings, then how’s this for an answer.  Our border countries have
to close their airspace to Zimbabwe, they have to close their borders
completely and refuse to accept Mugabe as the leader of this country.  After
all, he did lose the March 29th elections, only after it took six weeks of
fiddling with the results to make sure that there would be a run off.

Don’t doubt that Mugabe is an extremely clever man.  He is the pass master
at misinforming and misleading his own people and the world.  His first line
of attack is to accuse his opponents of the exact thing he is himself doing.
His loyalty is gained by treating his people like children, promising them
“sweets” for his support.  For example handing out tractors to his
followers, but they have no equipment to pull with the tractors and many
only have been allocated small portions of land that don’t require a

These so called smart sanctions have little to no affect.  I could buy a
fake set of documents with great ease in this country, those on the
sanctions list could get them for free.  The west kids themselves if they
think there are any morals of ethics within this government.

Our “worried” neighbours may say that by closing borders and airspace they
would make the suffering unbearable.  The longer they wait to do this and
force change, the longer we are going to suffer unbearably.  Let us suffer
for a few more weeks rather than leaving us with no light at the end of the
tunnel until the joyous day that God removes Mugabe from power.

I am writing to warn the MDC leadership that ZANU PF is deliberately
delaying the allocation of Ministries. They really know that if they submit
the ministry of finance their party will be broke within a day. Right now
Gono is printing money to buy forex from the black market for 'ruling'
party. When Tsvangirai signed that agreement he legitimised Mugabe's rule
thats why he was invited to attend a UN general assembly meeting. In
November there will be a COMESA summit in Zimbabwe with the understanding
that negotiations are going on well. MDC is being used by ZANU PF because
they want to legitimise their misrule. I therefore urge the MDC authorities
to pull out of the talks and ZANU PF will be isolated by the international
community. Right now they are looting the country's resources whilst they
are dragging the talks. Tsangirai and MDC please don't be used by ZANU PF.

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