Saturday, January 31, 2009

Zim army limits arms given to soldiers

from ZimOnline:

HARARE – Zimbabwe army commanders have put severe restrictions on issuance of weapons, fearing possible mutiny by disgruntled junior soldiers who have staged riots and looted property in recent months, sources told ZimOnline.

Soldiers going on national assignments were now being vetted thoroughly before they are issued with arms and ammunition, according to our sources, who are senior officers in the army and spoke on condition they were not named.


In the past few weeks, soldiers have looted shops and cash around the country saying their salaries were too little to feed them. Soldiers have joined teachers, nurses and doctors in demanding the government pays them in hard cash....

Opposition Party gives in

from the NYTimes

JOHANNESBURG — After months of resisting intense pressure from leaders across southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, announced Friday that he would do as they have insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with his nemesis, President Robert Mugabe.

For "leaders" read South Africa....Why are the "leaders" pressuring Tsvangirai to give in to a dictator? Why don't they pressure Mugabe instead? Answer: They are all revolutionaries...and if Mugabe can be voted out, so can they...

Mr. Tsvangirai now faces the daunting job of sharing control of the nation’s police, reviving Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and rescuing an increasingly famished, sick and impoverished population with a partner, Mr. Mugabe, whose security forces have viciously beaten him and thousands of his supporters over the past two years. Even as the power-sharing talks were taking place, Mr. Mugabe’s government abducted and allegedly tortured dozens more opposition supporters in just the last few months.

Mr. Tsvangirai first agreed to form a joint government in September, but then refused after Mr. Mugabe claimed all the ministries that control the repressive state security forces, including the police. But at the insistence of the Southern African Development Community, the 15-nation regional bloc overseeing the negotiations, the current deal shares oversight of the police with Mr. Mugabe — a compromise Mr. Tsvangirai had initially rejected....

Only Botswana's president has the nerve to say "the Emperor has no clothes":

“These power-sharing agreements are not the way to go on the continent,” said Mr. Khama, whose government is the only one in the region now openly criticizing Mr. Mugabe’s party for using intimidation, violence and murder against its opponents. “You can’t have a situation where a ruling party, when it senses it may lose an election, can then manipulate the outcome so they can stay on in power.”

But the real culprit is South Africa, who pushed the deal despite Zuma's pretending he backed Tsvangirai:

Others, like Brian Raftopoulos, research director for Solidarity Peace Trust, a non-governmental organization, contend that joining the government was the opposition’s best option, in part because its long term survival as a party depends on decent relations with regional powers such as South Africa.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mugabe finds home in Asia

From the Asia Sentinal:

Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are becoming homes from home for Robert Mugabe and his family. In Hong Kong the government is ignoring its own laws to accommodate the despised African dictator....

Attention to their travels was occasioned by an assault on a Hong Kong resident press photographer working for the London Sunday Times by Grace Mugabe and a bodyguard in Hong Kong. The photographer was taking pictures of her shopping ...

Asia Sentinel has now learned that this was a modest visit compared with one last year by Mr and Mrs Mugabe and a huge retinue which occupied two floors of the same Shangri-la Hotel. The hotel bill, running to tens of thousands of US dollars, was paid in cash by a flunky. Under Hong Kong law, such large cash transactions are supposed to be reported to the police and investigated under anti-money-laundering money rules....

According to reports on Zimbabawe news sites, on this latest occasion US$92,000 in cash was drawn from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe...

Prior to Hong Kong, she (Grace) had been in Malaysia and Singapore with her husband....Singapore, according to Zimbabwean media reports, this is the favored location for Zimbabwean ministers and military chiefs to park their ill-gotten wealth....

Global court: The problem with trying to convict

From the CSMonitor:

Global court starts with a fumble. Warlord grins.

Witness recants testimony during start of Congo militialeader Thomas Lubanga's trial.

The script was set for the first trial of the world's first permanent war crimes court this week:

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo went after warlord Thomas Lubanga, charged with recruiting 30,000 child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying Mr. Lubanga's acts would "haunt a generation."

But 48 hours later, the prosecution's first witness, a child soldier, caused the entire court to gasp.

At first, the young soldier said he was snatched by Lubanga's militia on his way home from fifth-grade classes. The witness, now a teen, then threw the landmark case briefly into limbo when he recanted his testimony, denying that he'd ever been a child soldier taken to a military training camp, and that his testimony was prompted by an unnamed nongovernmental organization.

In the court, Lubanga, sitting behind the defense team in dark suit and tie, and in clear view of his alleged former child recruit, smiled....

The Lubanga case is the first for the ICC since it was formed in 2002. The idea for the court emerged after the relative success of war crimes tribunals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, with experts hoping that stronger concepts of justice would serve as a soft-power deterrent against heinous acts and genocide....

Yes, and if I remember correctly, the guy behind the Yugoslavian massacres died of old age before his trial ended.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama calls South African President

from FP magazine:

This morning's Times (London) reported that the Obama administration is planning a tougher stance against Zimbabwe's self-ordained president-for-all-time, Robert Mugabe. Then at the White House Daily Press Briefing today, we learned that Obama made a call to the president of South Africa, Kaglema Motlanthe.

Is Obama calling to talk Zimbabwe? Now would be good timing. Just today at a summit in South Africa, Mugabe and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai look to have agreed to form their long-awaited unity government....

Mbeki has muddled through moderating talks since September, favoring his fellow former-anticolonial comrade Mugabe.

Since Mbeki resigned as president and interim leader Motlanthe took over, the odds of South Africa putting on the pressure are even lower. ... As Human Rights Watch analyst Tiseke Kasambala recently told me, "there are domestic goings on in South Africa now that will likely take South Africa's eye off the ball."

None of the rumored Africa people from the new administration have returned e-mail messages about Obama-Zimbabwe policy. But my hope is that Mugabe's name came up in the phone call. I would bet more money on that than I would the Zimbabwean currency.

Tenuous agreement and cholera

from PBS Newshour:

Tenuous Zimbabwe Government Deal Approved as Cholera Crisis Worsens

In the midst of an escalating cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, a summit on a power-sharing deal decided Tuesday that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by Feb. 11.
Cholera patient in clinic in Zimbabwe; AP

Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party voiced skepticism about the agreement on Tuesday, but he told South African newspaper The Star "Everyone agrees that, subject to the clearing of all the issues that are outstanding, a coalition government can be formed."

Tsvangirai said negotiators would meet in Harare on Thursday to try to resolve those issues, including distribution of cabinet posts and the control of security agencies.

Tsvangirai's comments contradicted more negative assessments from other members of his party, feeding reports of a rift in the MDC.

"There seem to be internal struggles in the MDC which presents Tsvangirai with a challenge, though it's likely he will prevail over the hawks in his party," Eldred Masunungure, a politics professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News....

The political crisis has contributed to the breakdown of water, sanitation and health systems, allowing conditions for the bacterial illness cholera, which spreads through contaminated water. The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that the death toll for the cholera outbreak that began in August has now passed 3,000.

actually, complaints about the Harare water system goes back about three years, so you can't blame it on the political problems...if you don't fix leaking pipes, and don't stop holes in sewers, you do tend to get disease...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grace assaults UK photographer in Hong Kong last weeek

from SWRadioAfrica:

The Hong Kong based photographer said he was working on a story for the British newspaper, contrasting the different lifestyles between Mrs Mugabe and the Zimbabwe people, when the trouble started.

Jones said he tailed Robert Mugabe’s wife when she came out of her hotel and was walking towards a shopping centre. But she saw him trying to take photos. He said the First Lady and her body guard rushed towards him and tried to wrestle the camera away from him. “She was punching me in the face while he (the bodyguard) was holding me.”

Jones said he couldn’t understand what she was saying to him as she was ‘screaming’ at him in another language.

The incident is now being investigated by Hong Kong police. Jones reports the police are gathering evidence, including CCTV footage, and statements by appears that this time pressure is mounting from the international community to have this latest incident properly investigated.

Mugabe's bitter troops close private schools

from the UKTimes

...A week after the scheduled beginning of the academic year, all state schools remain closed. They are not expected to reopen until at least the end of February. As far as the state is concerned, if its own schools are shut, then the private ones have no right to be open....
“Soldiers were at the gates telling the pupils to go away. They said that other children couldn’t go to school, so St George’s children should stay away until the government decided when term should begin.” ...

Army units have grown increasingly mutinous in recent weeks, infuriated by low wages and prone to run wild in Harare, stealing from street vendors and money changers. Their harassment of private pupils appeared to reflect their anger that their own children are being denied education.

Zimbabwe’s state education system, in which all schools charge small fees, is collapsing as many of the country’s 100,000 teachers move abroad....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anthrax outbreak

From Baraza (world wildlife direct team).

I write this blog post with tears in my eyes, tears for the millions who are suffering in Zimbabwe. It was bad enough when these wonderful people had to accept a megalomaniac for president, rampant poverty, famine, hyper inflation, starvation and cholera – now there is an anthrax outbreak.

The outbreak has reported already killed three people in the Zambezi Valley though as usual this figure may be under reported, this site suggests the human mortality is already 6, and that over 200 cattle have already died in Bulawayo. The disease threatens to wipe out livestock in northern Zimbabwe....

Jan 25 a day of prayer for Zimbabwe


The All Africa Conference of Churches declared January 25 to be a day of prayer and fasting for the land of Zimbabwe and has asked Christians around the world to partner in seeking God's face on behalf of this country.

Zim slaughters elephants for Army meat

from the Sunday Nation Kenya:

Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has resorted to slaughtering elephants to feed thousands of hungry soldiers, sources told ZimOnline.

The state Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has since last week supplied elephant meat to army barracks across the country that have run out of food, our sources who are senior officers in the army, said....


Zimbabwe slaughters elephants for army

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A cholera patient drinks treated water at Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare January 22, 2009. Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is spreading to rural areas because people with the preventable disease have quit heavily-infected urban centres for the countryside, an agency official said on Wednesday. PHOTO/ REUTERS

By ZimOnlinePosted Friday, January 23 2009 at 16:50

In Summary

  • The country is facing acute food crisis after poor harvests

However, analysts rule out the possibility of a military coup against Dr Mugabe – at least for now – because all top commanders are still relatively comfortable.

Zimbabwe grinding to a halt

from IWPR:

Striking workers demand pay in dollars and rands as local currency effectively worthless.

By Jabu Shoko in Harare (ZCR No. 177, 23-Jan-09)

Private- and public-sector strikes are adding to Zimbabwe’s woes as pressure mounts for workers to be paid in foreign currency in the wake of the dollarisation of the country’s economy.

With the Zimbabwe dollar continuing to lose value every day due to hyperinflation and the general mismanagement of the economy by President Robert Mugabe and his subordinates, labour unions are putting pressure on the cash-strapped government and on weary private-sector employers to pay their workforce in US dollars or South African rands, the two currencies that have replaced the worthless local currency and are widely used, even in remote areas.

For the past three weeks, workers at government parastatal the National Railways of Zimbabwe, NRZ, have refused to work, protesting over low pay and poor working conditions, joining thousands of employees in the private sector who have not bothered to report for duty in the new year.

On January 21 the country’s postal service, ZimPost, ground to a halt as workers went on strike, demanding that they be remunerated in US dollars or rands.

Not to be outdone, employees of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, the country’s sole supplier of water, which has been blamed for the erratic supply of clean water, stopped working on January 22 and in Harare and Bulawayo local-government employees have withdrawn their labour, effectively crippling service delivery in the country’s capital and second-largest city.

Other government departments and parastatals are reportedly on go-slow strikes, while the nation’s teachers as well as doctors employed in public service have vowed not to return to their posts until government accedes to their demand to be paid in foreign currency.....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rwanda arrests Congo Rebel Leader

from the CSMonitor:

Rwandan and Democratic Republic of Congo officials announced Friday the arrest of Gen. Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese Tutsi rebel leader wanted for war crimes in Congo (formerly Zaire).

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that General Nkunda was captured in Rwanda Thursday after being chased across the Congo-Rwanda border by joint forces from both countries....

The BBC writes that Nkunda's arrest is a "startling about-turn by Rwanda, which had been accused of backing Gen Nkunda."

Gen Nkunda had been Rwanda's ally in eastern DR Congo - a Tutsi, like Rwanda's leaders, he guarded their Western flank against attacks from the Hutu forces who fled there after the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

But in mid-November Rwanda shifted its position, announcing it would work with the Congolese to destroy the Hutu rebels.

Gen Nkunda did not back the new alliance and so became an impediment to Rwandan plans in the region, causing Rwanda to turn on him, our correspondent says....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Doctors say Zim's ruined health system a man made failure

from Medical news Today
In a new report released today, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) finds that a causal chain runs from Mugabe's economic policies to Zimbabwe's economic collapse, food insecurity and malnutrition and the current outbreaks of infectious disease. The report is based on a health assessment by PHR public health and human rights experts who travelled to Zimbabwe in December 2008.

The 45-page report, Health in Ruins: A Man-Made Disaster in Zimbabwe asserts that "the Government of Zimbabwe has abrogated the most basic state functions in protecting the health of the population - including the maintenance of public hospitals and clinics and the support for the health workers required to maintain the public health system." These services have been in decline since 2006, but the deterioration of both public health and clinical care has dramatically accelerated since August 2008. PHR calls for emergency international intervention to address the water, sanitation, food and health crisis. ....
PHR asserts that the 2008 cholera epidemic continuing into 2009 is an outcome of the state's failures in governance and in protecting the basic rights of Zimbabweans.

"This disaster is man-made, was likely preventable, and has become a regional issue since the spread of cholera to neighbour states," stressed Dr. Chris Beyrer, one of the report's authors and a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The report also documents that the Mugabe regime intentionally suppressed initial reports of the cholera epidemic and has since denied or underplayed its gravity.

Dr. David Sanders, a team member and Professor of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape stated, "The ZANU-PF government has exacerbated food insecurity for Zimbabweans in 2008 by blocking international humanitarian organizations from delivering food aid and other succor to populations in the worst-affected rural areas."

At the end of the PHR team's visit to Zimbabwe, the state-controlled media falsely reported the delegation's arrest. "Not only does the government actively disregard the plight of its people, it also seeks to prevent the horrific results of its actions being publicly disclosed. Our team was under constant surveillance," noted PHR researcher Richard Sollom.

The PHR report, which includes a preface by Justice Richard Goldstone, Mary Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, accuses the Mugabe ZANU-PF regime of the systematic violation of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and work....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Summit unlikely to break deadlock

from ReutersUK

Nope, no judgementalism here, folks, just move on...

Lovemore Madhuku, a lawyer and chairman of constitution reform lobby group NCA, said it appeared increasingly unlikely that Mugabe and Tsvangirai could work together.

"There is a crisis of confidence arising from Tsvangirai's belief that Mugabe wants to trap his MDC party in order to tame it, ease pressure on his government, get some international legitimacy and then absorb or destroy the MDC," he told Reuters.

"On the other hand, Mugabe seems to truly believe that Tsvangirai is a Western puppet holding out for an economic meltdown that may lead to a mass uprising and a fall of his government."

yes, but Mugabe is a paranoid deranged tyrant; Tsvangirai bases his rejection on the past marginalization of Nkomo, not to mention that Mugabe wants to keep all the guns.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Justice served: Taylor Jr. Gets 97 years

from African news portal:

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, has been sentenced by a US court from Miami to 97 years in prison for torture. Taylor immediately announced he will appeal the decision. Taylor Junior, also known as Chuckie Taylor, was born in the United States but returned to Liberia after his father won the 1997 elections. He was then made the head of Anti-Terrorist Unit that is responsible for the loss of thousands of lives during the Sierra Leone civil which ended in 2002. Chuckie Taylor was found guilty on all accounts that include: committing of executions, imprisoning a group of individuals in a hole in the ground, burning victims and administering electric shocks. His father, Charles Taylor, is also facing the toughest accusations that can be brought to a president – crimes against humanities and war crimes – and is waiting for his trial to conclude at the Hague Court....

a warning to Mugabe and his thugs...on the other hand, note that this was a US court...the Hague hasn't gotten around to it yet...

Zim attorney general defends torture, abductions

from the VOA

Zimbabwe Attorney General Johannes Tomana stirred up a controversy this week when he was quoted in the state-controlled Herald newspaper as saying that the state can use extra-judicial measures such as abductions and torture if national security is at risk.

Human rights activists condemned his comments saying they showed that the rule of law has been seriously undermined by the long-ruling ZANU-PF party which Tomana backs.

But Tomana told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that justice is intact, saying state security agents can use extra-judicial measures in some cases. "Torture internationally is condemned, even our national laws condemn it," he said.

"But it is important to understand what that means. If somebody turns themselves into a real beast against the security of the people, I think it is very immoral to talk about very nice ways of dealing with them. When people do not deal with human beings as humans, people that threaten the security of people are not behaving as human beings and when they do that the methods of accounting for them differ," Tomana said....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

should someone force out Mugabe?

from the CSMonitor:

Washington - In the past decade, working as a US diplomat and then as a human rights advocate, I've had the perversely unique opportunity to meet on occasion with one of the longest-serving dictators in the world, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

These three- or four-hour marathon meetings were right out of central casting, with an out-of-touch octogenarian autocrat spouting vitriol against the British, democracy, and American corporate interests while sipping tea and speaking in an English accent even Queen Elizabeth would envy.

In one of the early meetings, no one in the room at that time took seriously his vague threat that he would rather watch his house burn down then give away the key to the presidential mansion. Mugabe's latest announcement that he is forming a new government without the opposition despite their power-sharing deal clarifies what he meant: that he would never leave power willingly as long as he was alive, and that he would destroy the country if he had to in order to maintain his grip on power.

He's made good on his promise: Half the country faces starvation, the government – which once boasted a literacy rate higher than America's – spends 18 cents per student per year on education, food prices double every 24 hours with the world's highest inflation rate, and a cholera epidemic rages as the once-stellar healthcare system collapses.

The situation is dire but not hopeless, if the international community – including the incoming Obama administration – is willing to move beyond the failed strategy aimed at cobbling together a coalition government with a man whose entire worldview is predicated on maintaining absolute power by any means necessary.

For a real solution in Zimbabwe, there are two credible choices: isolation or intervention. Neither is cost-free, and both are fraught with dangers. But now that the house is burning, we must take away Mugabe's key. ...

summary: he suggests that South Africa invade and get rid of Mugabe..

Friday, January 16, 2009

health care collapse due to human rights abuse

from Catholic news service (US)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Zimbabwe's health care system, once a model for southern Africa, has collapsed because of the government's egregious, systematic human rights violations, said a human rights report.

The report by the nonprofit, independent group Physicians for Human Rights said Zimbabwe's doctors do not have viable salaries and most public hospitals have closed. At the same time, Zimbabweans are suffering from a cholera epidemic, increasing maternal mortality, and cases of malnutrition, AIDS, tuberculosis and anthrax, said the report, released in mid-January by the Massachusetts-based organization....

An expert working with Zimbabwe's federal tuberculosis program told a Physicians for Human Rights investigator: "There is no politically correct way to say this -- the TB program in Zimbabwe is a joke. The national TB lab has one staff person. ... This is a brain-drain problem."

a bit overblown, I think....yes, Mugabe's Marxist approach to the economy has caused it to collapse, but that isn't a "human rights" issue, but an economic for the brain drain: what good are doctors if there is no medicine, and the doctor can't support his family....if all these "human rights" organizations would kick in salary guarantees, the docs would stay...

Biodiesel refinerty opens in Uganda

From Geostrategy

....African Power Initiative (API), a local company currently running Jotropha plantation in the district, announced last Thursday that the refinery would be commissioned in April 2009 on the old Port Bell Road at Wankonko.

Bio diesel is an alternative to the country's escalating fuel shortages and an answer to protection of crops like maize that could be used in the production of the same.....

Jotropha yields more than five times as much fuel per hectare than soy bean and several times than maize. An acre of jotropha produces close to 5,000 litres of fuel.

"It will also bring an alternative source of livelihoods not only to the Karimojong but also to other Ugandans," Marcos said.

This plant, if exploited, will not only relieve Uganda of dependency on fossil fuels from oil producing Arab countries but may also go a long way in becoming a major source of income....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abducted baby freed

SWRadioAfrica via

The youngest political detainee, two year old Nigel Mutemagawo who has spent nearly three months in prison, was finally released on Tuesday afternoon. Nigel was released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, but not with his mother Violet Mupfuranhehwe.

The two year old was abducted by state agents last October, together with his mother and father Collen Mutemagawo, who is the MDC Zvimba South youth chairperson. Both his parents remain in prison on allegations of trying to overthrow the ZANU PF regime. They are still being held despite a High Court ruling that they should be released....

Tsvangirai demands activists' release

from UK Reuters:

Tsvangirai told a news conference in neighbouring South Africa that he remained committed to the power-sharing agreement signed by Zimbabwe's rival political parties in September but said he lacked a credible partner.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said there has been several breaches of the agreement by Mugabe's government, including the abduction and detention of opposition activists.

"These must stop immediately and those abducted and illegally detained must be released unconditionally if this agreement is to be consummated," Tsvangirai said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"It's a wonder people haven't started looting..."

from the Zimbabwe Mail

"....It used to be a pleasure dealing with clients coming to withdraw their money or carry out other transactions, but that is no longer the case. The banking system has steadily been going to the dogs, and as a bank teller I feel like an undertaker at a funeral.

"Granted, the queues are not as long as they used to be following the decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe [RBZ] to force clients to withdraw only a maximum of Z$10 billion [US$50 cents] per month if they are withdrawing their salaries [a restriction that was recently lifted].

"Most of the people who come to the banks these days are those [who do not have payslips] and can only withdraw Z$5 billion a week [US$25 cents – a restriction that remains in force].

"What does a person do with that small amount of money when a single trip into town is now costing a US dollar or its equivalent in Zimbabwean dollars? Where does the RBZ think the people are getting the rest of the money?..."

Child soldier in Sierra Leone

WGBH podcast

MP3 here

When Ishmael Beah was a young teenager, his village in Sierra Leone was destroyed, and he was kidnapped by the Sierra Leone army and turned into a child soldier: a drug addicted adolescent with an AK 47, unafraid to kill. Three years later, he and other child soldiers were brought to a UNICEF rehabilitation camp, and he began the long process of regaining his humanity...

Security forces on alert country wide

from SWRadioAfrica:

The regime on Monday formally ordered the country’s armed forces to be placed on high alert ‘to prevent the MDC from staging a coup’.
Acting deputy information minister Bright Matongo said the military and police were searching for weapons and ‘suspicious’ people who may be preparing for war. He alleged the MDC were recruiting youths to use as bandits to destabilize the country and topple the regime.
But the MDC’ secretary for security and intelligence, Giles Mutsekwa, rubbished the regime’s allegations and said the move to place troops on high alert had various interpretations linked to internal wrangles within ZANU PF.

He explained the regime wanted to create an impression that the country is going to be ungovernable ‘as the MDC was training insurgents ready to destabilise the country,’ although no one buys that story anymore.

‘What we know obtaining on the ground at the moment is that there is a hell of a lot of infighting within ZANU PF, people are scrambling for power. They don’t trust each other and that is their own problem,’ Mutsekwa said.

Top soldiers paid with Foreign money

from New Zimbabwe

THE cash-strapped Zimbabwe government is paying top army officers’ salaries in foreign currency, New can reveal.

Soldiers ranked from colonel up to the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) started receiving their salaries in hard currency in December with the lowest paid taking home US$2,000 per month.

Sources said last month's rioting by junior officers in central Harare was triggered by the government move that discriminates against lower rank officers.....

Mutambara blasts both sides

from the VOA

The leader of one formation of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Monday urged members of both MDC groupings not to delay passage of a constitutional amendment needed to put a national unity government in place, warning this could lead President Robert Mugabe to dissolve parliament and call for new elections.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of the smaller MDC formation, said the opposition would be sure to lose such elections which he said would be held "under June 27 conditions," a reference to the deadly violence which ushered in the president runoff held on that date last year.

Mutambara criticized both the president and Tsvangirai for "prevaricating" on the formation of the government of national unity contemplated in the power-sharing agreement signed Sept. 15 by both MDC formation leaders and Mr. Mugabe ....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The secret of African First Ladies

from the UKIndependent

most of it is about a Nigerian first lady who has written a "tell all" book...but then the article goes on to name some more "first ladies" or "second ladies" who help spend their country's money....including Grace:

In Zimbabwe there is less to laugh about. Grace Mugabe, Robert's second wife, has become a national hate figure, notorious for her extravagance during the most dramatic collapse of an economy during peacetime ever seen. Yesterday she stoked fresh outrage by withdrawing a reported $92,000 from the central bank to fund a family holiday in Malaysia.

Sounds like they took lessons from ImeldaMarcos...who was most famous for her shoe collection.

Grace shops while Zimbabwe falls apart

from the Times (SA)

President Robert Mugabe is vacationing in Malaysia, to where he has also transferred funds.

  • Mugabe takes a long holiday

  • Zimbabwe Special Report

    The Saturday Star newspaper said Mugabe’s wife, Grace - who went with their four children to Malaysia before Christmas - had organised a transfer of 92,000 dollars from Zimbabwe’s central bank.

    Mugabe, who followed on last Monday, was using the vacation for routine health checks, while his personal doctor had also helped organise transfer of personal funds to Malaysia and also Singapore.

  • ----------------
    more on the extended holiday:

    President Robert Mugabe has taken a month’s leave....

    Mugabe, who threatened last week to form a unity government with or without the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is expected to go abroad — probably to Malaysia — later this week.

    His extended holiday is despite a raging cholera epidemic at home that has claimed more than 1500 lives, an imploding economy that has turned millions of Zimbabweans into refugees and a political power vacuum that has dragged on for several months.

    Mugabe is expected to be back in Zimbabwe early next month.

    It is not known if stalled power- sharing negotiations between the ruling Zanu-PF and the MDC over cabinet posts will continue in the interim, but it seems likely that further discussions about the formation of a unity government will have to wait for Mugabe’s return....

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    What should AFrican journalists do?

    from the African Executive:


    Whiles reason is adequately found in justifying the war on Zimbabwe by Western media, the thinking by some African journalists in this regard is very appalling. They lack understanding; they have no perspective and obviously no direction. They have joined the west in demonizing Mugabe and Zimbabwe. In fact, they even lack history. But this is just what happens when a purpose driven journalism is absent. At the inauguration of the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's maiden President, could not have struck much sense in his cautioning statement to journalists across the continent when he said:

    “We are in a revolutionary period and we must have a revolutionary morality in journalism and all other walks of life. We cannot be neutral between the oppressor and the oppressed; the corrupter and the victim of corruption; between the exploiter and the exploited; between the betrayer and the betrayed. We do not believe that there are necessarily two sides to every question; we see right and wrong; just and unjust; progressive and reactionary; positive and negative; friend and foe. We are partisan!”...

    translation: any S.O.B. who goes around shouting "revolution" can do anything but claim he is moral.

    So just ignore those fleeing Zimbabwe, starving in Zimbabwe, terrorized in Zimbabwe, or dying of cholera in Zimbabwe.

    After all, the NYTimes reporter Duranty managed to overlook 10 million starving Ukraininans because he supported Stalin's revolution, so why can't African reporters do the same?

    Tsvangirai seeks crucial Mugabe meeting

    from Reuters SAfrica:

    HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has requested a meeting with President Robert Mugabe in a last-ditch effort to salvage a power-sharing deal, an opposition spokesman said on Friday....

    Chamisa said Tsvangirai, who has been outside Zimbabwe since a regional summit in South Africa last November, would return to the country "within days".

    Last week, Mugabe's spokesman told state media the veteran leader would appoint a new cabinet in February, despite the stalled talks with the opposition. Chamisa said the MDC would not be part of that government....

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    the "dollarization" of Zimbabwe

    from the BBC:

    But increasingly it is only US dollars that are accepted in Zimbabwe's shops. Petrol stations are among those now turning away people who offer fistfuls of local currency.

    Even water bills - for what little clean water there is - have to be paid in hard US cash. And bread is now a dollar commodity in many parts of the country.


    There has been a surge in cross-border trade in recent weeks with the lifting of restrictions on US dollar transactions.

    Consumer goods, food and cars are being brought across from neighbouring South Africa.

    Supermarkets are now stuffed with food, filling shelves that just a month or so ago were empty.

    These supermarkets are for Zimbabwe's tiny dollar elite - the type that drive brand new cars into the car parks as others try to fend off starvation. They only accept US dollar bills in these swanky shops.....

    Massive food shortages, hyperinflation, cholera and continued political turmoil are a heady cocktail.

    In any other country in the world, this combination might have triggered a coup. But not here. People are simply too scared.

    Critics vanished

    Journalists, human rights activists and other critics of Robert Mugabe's presidency have recently vanished.

    More than 20 people have disappeared in just the past few weeks - people are terrified.

    Reporting the Zimbabwe story is risky for all concerned - not least those on the other side of the microphone.

    Not surprisingly many are reluctant to speak out...

    Mugabe will form new gov't next month

    from the BBC:

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare on 23 December
    Robert Mugabe usually spends his holiday in the Far East

    Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will probably form a new government next month after he returns from a month-long holiday, according to state media.

    Mr Mugabe usually spends his leave in the Far East, but he would only spend a small part of his vacation outside Zimbabwe this year, his spokesman said.

    Mr Mugabe last week sacked nine ministers and three deputy ministers who lost seats in last March's polls.

    He has agreed to share power with the opposition but this has not happened.

    Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been unable to agree on how to divide cabinet posts....

    No, because Mugabe won't give him a true share, only token cabinet posts with little power.

    Zim activists must remain in jail

    from CNN

    (CNN) -- A leading Zimbabwean human rights activist must remain in custody until the Supreme Court decides whether the charges against her are valid, a judge ruled Tuesday....penalty.

    Tuesday's ruling by magistrate Olivia Mariga means Mukoko cannot legally be treated as a suspect -- but it does not free her from prison.

    Eight other people, mostly from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, face the same charges and will also remain in custody. They include a 2-year-old child, who shouted when he appeared in court Tuesday.

    The activists' lawyers want the courts to declare the detention and subsequent charges invalid....

    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    Diplomats watch to see if Mugabe goes on holiday

    from the UKTimes

    ...Mugabe is due to take his traditional new year holiday with his wife Grace — notorious for luxury shopping — in the Far East. This has been their favourite destination since they were banned from Europe and America and most of their assets have been transferred there. ...Zimbabweans and Harare-based diplomats are watching keenly to see whether Mugabe leaves the country. They will see his decision as a sign of how secure he feels in the face of intensifying outrage against his rule....

    and the article concludes with more bad news:

    He also said a serious outbreak of malaria was likely because of the collapse in public health measures, such as the distribution of free mosquito nets and the chemical spraying of public spaces.

    ZRA says Thank you Mugabe

    via Newsnet:

    The President of Zimbabwe Religious Authority, Reverend Godwin Mwanza, says religious groups in the country extend their gratitude to the government for having offered land to many landless people.

    Names and numbers not mentioned.

    The President of Zimbabwe Religious Authority, Reverend Godwin Mwanza, says religious groups in the country extend their gratitude to the government for having offered land to many landless people.

    Names please.

    In a statement, Reverend Mwanza of Africa Blessed Church said a number of churches will gather in Epworth today to pray for the continued peace in the country, and hope that rains will encourage farmers to produce adequate food for the nation.

    If they haven't died of cholera that is.

    Reverend Mwanza also said he hopes that many Zimbabweans turn to God to avoid criminal activities as they destabilise the economy.

    Yes, please don't commit any crimes, Mr. Mugabe, while you are busy destablizing the economy...

    Zim court dismisses contempt charges

    from Reuters SA

    HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's High Court on Friday dismissed contempt charges against police for refusing to release a leading rights campaigner charged with plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe's government.

    Lawyers for Jestina Mukoko, who heads the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which documents political violence, had filed contempt of court charges after police refused to release her from detention, as ordered by a High Court Judge last month.

    Mukoko -- one of Mugabe's most influential critics -- and 15 other mainly opposition activists have been charged with recruiting or attempting to recruit people to overthrow the government, banditry and bombing police stations....

    State prosecutors, who had appealed the earlier High Court ruling ordering Mukoko be released, said they were happy with the ruling.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    Zim economy run on foreign exchange


    ..."A survey by The Herald this week revealed a significant drop in demand for the local unit as very few shops and traders were still selling products in Zim dollars," the newspaper reported.....

    Since September last year, Zimbabwe's central bank has licensed at least 1,000 shops to sell goods in foreign currency in a move aimed at helping businesses suffering from a chronic shortage of foreign currency to import spare parts and foreign goods.

    Others shops and service providers have followed suit although they have not been authorised by the government and despite warnings that those arrested for flouting foreign exchange regulations would be prosecuted.


    and then there is this: from IOL SA

    Zim illegal Forex dealers hit hard times

    Zimbabwe's illegal foreign currency market has been dealt a blow, the state-controlled Herald reported on Thursday.

    "The introduction of the Foreign Exchange Licensed Warehouses and Retail Shops facility authorising businesses to sell goods and services in foreign currency has dealt a near-death blow to the illegal foreign currency market.

    30,000 cholera patients in Zim

    from Psyorg:

    More than 30,000 people in Zimbabwe have been diagnosed with cholera, the World Health Organisation said Thursday, as the number of those contracting the deadly disease continues to mount.

    As many as 31,656 suspected cases were diagnosed to date with one third of them in the capital of Harare, the WHO said.

    The organisation last reported some 29,131 suspected cases on Monday and 1,564 deaths from the water-borne disease.

    Cholera also continues to plague neighbouring South Africa, where it has killed 13 people, mainly in the Limpopo border region where nine people have died from a total of 1,334 suspected cases, the WHO said citing South African sources.

    United Nations aid agencies fear Zimbabwe may be hit with up to 60,000 cases, with the upcoming rainy season likely to spread the disease more easily.,,,

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