Saturday, June 13, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Obama's pledge inadequate, look East

Obama's pledge inadequate, look East
Sat, 13 Jun 2009 11:21:00 +0000

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S US$73 million recovery assistance package is a mockery to Zimbabwe, especially because it is also not given direct to the inclusive Government.

The USA put in place the Zimbabwe Democracy Recovery Act (Zidera) with the help of some Zimbabweans, to make the Zimbabwean economy 'scream' and thereby forcibly remove Zanu PF from power.

They understand pretty well how Zidera devastated the Zimbabwean economy, but can only support Zimbabwean people with US$73 million.

What is this pittance compared to the US$10 billion promised to the prime minister during the election campaign? Or was it just a campaign gimmick on the PM's part?

Maybe the excuse would be that money was promised on condition that President Mugabe would be out of office.

I think it's high time we should seriously work with our Eastern friends like China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc.

In fact, by giving the West priority, we are showing our collective stupidity. China, for example, stood for us through thick and thin, but we continue to believe less in its ability to help us.

I am sure dealing with the East will yield more positive results than the West.

The conditions that would be imposed by the East would be more genuine and palatable, in my view, than those of the West which are shrouded in hidden agendas.

I say to the inclusive Government as a matter of urgency, should send a high-powered delegation to the East, headed by the prime minister and including senior members from all parties, to engage the East in order to help us recover our economy.

--Toitasei Toitasei

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Obama commits $73mln to Zimbabwe

Obama commits $73mln to Zimbabwe
Samantha Chidzero
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 21:34:00 +0000

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (L) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, June 12, 2009. REUTERS

UNITED STATES President Barack Obama announced that he has committed $73 million in assistance to the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe. He made the announcement after a private meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the Oval Office on Friday.

"I have committed 73 million dollars in assistance to Zimbabwe," said Obama.

The aid "will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe," he added.

Obama also praised the prime minister for trying to "lead Zimbabweans to more hopeful times".

He said that he has "extraordinary admiration" for the prime minister.

Obama said the U.S. wants to help "encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic health and education services in Zimbabwe".

President Robert Mugabe invited prime minister Tsvangirai into an inclusive Government in February.

Tsvangirai arrived in Washington this week as part of a three-week tour of Western countries, trying to persuade governments to offer some aid.

The U.S. administration has not responded positively to the prime minister's call.

After a meeting between PM Tsvangirai and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the administration would consider development aid if certain reform benchmarks are met.

PM Tsvangirai says that Zimbabwe urgently needs aid now. He warned in a speech Wednesday that overhauling the political and economic system in Zimbabwe could falter without aid.

"We are moving into a new phase, and that's what needs to be rewarded rather than punished," he said in refernce to the inclusive Government.

On Thursday, a cartoon in a U.S. newspaper depicted PM Tsvangirai leaving the White House empty-handed, asking Obama what had happened to his slogan "Yes, we can."

See photos of PM Tsvangirai and President Obama

This report was compiled using some information from Reuters and AFP.

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Stop the strike, go back to work

Stop the strike, go back to work
Written by Editor

It is clear that our striking civil servants, nurses and doctors are dealing with very insensitive people in government, merciless people. It’s clear that they will not listen to the striking workers, neither will they listen to anyone but their own inner demons. Their inflexibility and blindness ill become leaders, for leaders must tamper justice with mercy. We all know that the mark of great leaders is the ability to understand the context in which they are operating and act accordingly.

We also know that leaders who rely on authority to solve problems are bound to come to grief. The important thing is to give happiness to people. And there is nothing which makes people more appreciative of a government than that it should be able to deliver services.

We know that by and large, strike actions are recognised and accepted by the people as an effective and powerful weapon for workers to better their conditions. And it would be immoral to keep quiet while an insensitive clique of politicians is seeking to reduce an entire people into a status worse than that of beasts of the forest.

It’s clear that these strikes threaten not only the gains we have made but also our collective future. We also know that if we don’t treat the question of stability in our country as a common challenge, we are headed for a disaster. And as long as those in leadership don’t want to listen to the legitimate grievances of the people, there will always be tension and conflict in our country. Those who govern should know that it is their responsibility to manage the affairs of our country in a way that respects and enhances the lives of others. For as long as legitimate bodies of opinion feel things are not going well in their country and those who feel in that way are stifled, vile minds will take advantage of justifiable grievances to destroy, to kill.

And looking at the way things are going, or have gone so far, we feel it is not necessary to continue with these strike actions. And we therefore ask our health workers and other civil servants to return to work. We say this because the ways in which they will achieve their goals are bound by context, changing with circumstances even while remaining steadfast in their commitment to their vision. Strikes work only when people in government or in authority seem to be concerned and are keen to listen and work for stability. With the people we have in government, these strike actions will not bring the desired results. Other methods must be sought and used to deal with these problems. We say this because these problems are such that for anybody with a conscience who can use whatever influence he may have to try to bring about a resolution of these strikes, it’s difficult to say no.

It is clear that Rupiah Banda and his government have failed to live up to the ideals of humanism which places others before self and at the centre of all activity. The suffering of fellow citizens should affect all of us no matter where we find ourselves. With the way people are dying in our hospitals and clinics, it will soon be very difficult to talk about peace and stability to them, to people who are mourning every day. For this reason, we go down on our knees to beg the striking health workers and others to go back to work and ignore the provocation of Rupiah and his friends who want to drag our country into instability and chaos. We are with the workers. We understand the reasons of their strike. We support their cause. But we feel this strike action will not address the evils of this system, of this political order we are all forced to live under. And there is need to understand that social problems don’t just change because you have a strike, or you have ignored a strike – it takes a great deal of time. A society that has leaders who don’t listen to the grievances of their people endangers itself.

Leaders lead, but in the end, the people govern. We are not calling for an end to this strike because we are opposed to the reasons for it. Not at all. Or are we calling for an end to this strike because we support what Rupiah and his friends are doing. Again, not at all. We are calling an end to this strike because it’s targeted against insensitive people, people who are not moved in any way by the suffering or plight of others. All they care about is their own pockets, their own stomachs, their own plight or wellbeing. If everything is well with them, then there is nothing to worry about. Our calling for an end to these strikes is based on a belief in society; working together; solidarity; co-operation; partnership. It is rooted in a straightforward belief or view of society, in the understanding that the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles, standards, common aims and values.

Every strike action is a political action. And there is no need to be apologetic about it because that’s what a strike action is – politics. And stopping this strike will not be a defeat – politically or otherwise.

It’s clear that Rupiah and his government are increasingly being linked to harshness, to not caring about the welfare of the people; they are increasingly being considered to be indifferent to the sufferings of their fellow citizens. They are increasingly being thought to be arrogant and out of touch. And much of this may be no more than personal mannerisms that grate on the public. Some of it is insensitivity – using insensitive language when the people’s welfare and self-esteem is at stake. And corruption is disgracing them in the eyes of the public. They shouldn’t cheat themselves that they are liked by the people. They are actually hated by the people. They can win elections through the use of money and manipulation, but they shouldn’t cheat themselves that the people like them. And such distasteful perceptions may endure and do them damage for a long time. Concern for others and magnanimity are important qualities in politics. Rupiah and his friends certainly need to do a lot about themselves.

And we understand and appreciate the hatred that is building up against these people in the country. But we urge all our people, especially the striking workers, not to look to deal with Rupiah and his friends on the back of national failure. There will be sufficient grounds without that to argue for their removal at the next elections. Rupiah and his friends don’t seem to know where they are headed and that is dangerous. Rupiah’s great achievement over the last six months is directionless leadership: he doesn’t appear to be in control and no one knows where he is heading. We have all made mistakes in our jobs, in our careers. But few people have been consistently wrong on all the great issues that face our nation as Rupiah is. It is difficult to define the purpose of Rupiah’s government. The only thing that seems to guide Rupiah’s government is the wish to destroy his political opponents, to destroy us and his determination to be re-elected for another term of office in 2011. That is not a recipe for governing well. You cannot run a government forever on that principle.

Rupiah’s government is too bossy, too contemptuous of citizens, too self-satisfied for its own good and for ours.

What our workers need is patience. Their time will come again. Things cannot continue on this path forever. We advise patience; we advise tolerance.

Again, we beg all the striking workers to go back to work and continue their struggles by other means from there.

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Soldiers take over at UTH

Soldiers take over at UTH
Written by George Chellah, Masuzyo Chakwe and George Zulu
Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:12:40 PM

CHIEF government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha yesterday said the government has deployed military medical personnel at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) to cushion the impact of the strike action by health workers. And Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the medical situation has not reached a crisis stage.

Meanwhile, Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) president Dr Crispin Moyo maintained that the strike by doctors would continue as long as the government does not respond to their demands. In an interview, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the Ministry of Health was engaging military medical personnel where it felt the need.

"They have engaged a number of military personnel from Maina Soko Military Hospital to assist and others may come in from the Zambia National Service (ZNS) and the Zambia Air Force (ZAF)," he said.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the government had also opened up the police hospital for patients from outside.

"This has been done to decongest UTH. They are working according to manpower available," Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

He said the medical personnel must go back to work unless there was a political agenda.

"The medical situation in the country requires that we save lives. That's why Florence Nightingale started the nursing profession," he said.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the government was doing everything possible to ensure that the medical staff return to work.

"This is the only government in the world which gives an increment during a recession. I haven't heard of any in the world. Even the US, despite all the money, it has not done this," he said.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha advised The Post to bring out the issues the government was raising so that people go back to work.

"People must go back and help other Zambians so that they don't die. The medical personnel must be patriotic enough," Lt Gen Shikapwasha said. "That includes you The Post, whether you want the government to fall, our people must continue to be treated."

Lt Gen Shikapwasha said the medical situation in the country had not reached a crisis stage.

"It is a situation that is of great concern," he said.

He said the situation in Kasama was improving.

But Dr Moyo said by yesterday, there had been no feedback from the government on the strike and maintained that the strike would continue as long as the government did not respond to their demands.

"So far, there has been no response from the Ministry of Health and we are even attending our annual general meeting now. So the strike will continue," said Dr Moyo.

And Zambia Union of financial Institutions and Allied Workers (ZUFIAW) president Joyce Nonde-Simukoko attributed the continued strike by health workers and civil servants throughout the country to leadership failure by both the government and union leaders.

The strike by health workers, doctors and teachers has continued paralysing institutions throughout the country.

Nonde-Simukoko called on the government to immediately call for a tripartite meeting to discuss the way forward as innocent people were suffering.

She said the union appreciated what the workers were going through as they had been sacrificing since the 1990s.

She appealed to all striking workers to rescind their decision and go back to work because it was ordinary people that were suffering.

"I was at UTH over the weekend and it was agony there. Life should not be lost. We are appealing to the government to immediately call for a tripartite meeting and discuss the way forward. What is happening is leadership failure both from the union and the leadership. Keeping quiet is not helping at all. People are dying and we should not be getting pleasure in that," she said.

Meanwhile, some teachers in Monze have vowed not to go back for work despite national union leaders and government signing a collective bargaining agreement citing betrayal and alleged corruption involved in the manner the process was being handled.

Some teachers said yesterday that they were disappointed with the outcome of the bargaining process and would not report back for work until a better deal was given as demanded for.

"We will hold a meeting on Monday next week where all these issues you are asking would be addressed. It is the members who decided and resolved to go on strike and it was not us union leaders so please can you wait for Monday and you will see what the workers will resolve," said SESTUZ Southern Province chairman Collins Malambo in interview when asked to comment on the out come of the negotiations.

And a check at various schools in Monze revealed that teachers were not working while pupils were busy playing football and wandering about the school premises.

At Monze Secondary School, only heads of departments were teaching while at Tagore, Monze town, Monze Basic and Manungu Basic schools, pupils had no one to attend to them.

Teachers talked to on condition of anonymity expressed disappointment at what they described as unfaithful conduct exhibited by their national union leaders during the negotiation process.

"We shall show them that we are ready to face whoever want to take us to our graves early by giving us peanuts and demonising wages. Let them employ their children and subject them to harsh conditions of service. We have been tolerant for a long time and we cannot continue to sacrifice when others are not doing so. It is really sad that our union leaders have continued to betray us. But we have to warn them that they have just started the fire which will be difficult to put out," the annoyed teachers said.

And Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) information management and networking officer Nshindano Kryticous said the current high incidence of strikes and other forms of work stoppages in Zambia were a reflection on the performance and competence of the government who bear the responsibility of managing the affairs and resources of the country.

He said the fact that the government appeared to delay to firmly resolving the nationwide strike was an issue of concern for CSPR.

Kryticous said such practices did not foster the trust needed between the government, the social partners and civil society.

Kryticous urged the government to quickly examine the budgetary impact of the health workers' demands and come up with long lasting solutions to ensure the workers' rights are being met. He said part of the solution would lie in putting stringent mechanisms that would avoid misappropriation and misapplication of funds as recently witnessed with the purchase of 100 hearses and embezzlement of funds by workers at the Ministry of Health.

He said the government and individuals entrusted with national resources should be transparent and accountable to the Zambian people and be able to manage resources in a prudent manner that would ensure efficient allocation of resources for economic and social development towards the attainment of the MDGs and Vision 2030.

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Miti’s plea is a corrupt act - TIZ

Miti’s plea is a corrupt act - TIZ
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:09:26 PM

TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka has described former Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Simon Miti’s plea to President Rupiah Banda as a corrupt act. And Lifuka has strongly advised President Banda to be quite careful in such matters as his name may easily be brought into disrepute if he starts meddling in such investigations.

Reacting to Dr Miti's letter to President Banda over the K10 billion scam at the Ministry of Health, Lifuka said TIZ has noted with great dismay, the levels of patronage exhibited by Dr Miti in his letter to the President pleading for leniency.

"The tone of the letter fails to inspire confidence that the intentions of Dr Miti are noble. It would seem that the letter is intended to solicit for forgiveness from the Republican President," Lifuka said.

"While the concept of forgiveness cannot be frowned upon, we clearly see this as a corrupt act itself intended to induce President Banda to act in a particular manner."

Lifuka said his organisation's position was that Dr Miti's letter to President Banda was misdirected.

"It is misdirected in the sense that the President is not an investigator. What Dr Miti should do is to wait for an appropriate time to give the investigating agencies all the required answers on his side of the story, which we are sure, will be accorded to him if this has not yet been done. We respect his views whether right or wrong but they should be directed to an appropriate authority at a right time," Lifuka said.

"The mention of family linkages smacks of crass patronage and in a way shows the low levels that senior government officers have reached to simply maintain their jobs or win favours from the appointing authority. It is this type of patronage, which has made professionals and technocrats serving as permanent secretaries or senior government officials from exercising independent judgment in the discharge of their duties."

Lifuka said the leadership itself had partly created the environment of patronage.

"TIZ would like to urge President Banda not to be swayed by the letter from Dr Miti. President Banda committed himself to allow the investigations into scandals at the Ministry of Health to proceed without interference and he should dismiss the act of patronage from Dr Miti with the contempt it deserves. We find it unfortunate that Dr Miti wants to utilise his family circumstances to dig himself out of a hole," Lifuka said.

"Dr Miti should take responsibility of his actions and he should not rush to seek a solution outside the ongoing investigation process. He should allow the due process to be followed and if necessary he will have his day in court to clear his name."

Lifuka said the-behind-the-scenes manoeuvres were inappropriate and should be roundly condemned.

"This kind of approach may somehow jeopardise investigations especially now that there are reports that this matter was even accorded an opportunity by high offices to be considered. This is normally a negative effect on requests for sympathy," Lifuka said.

"We strongly advise the Republican President Mr Rupiah Banda to be quite careful in such matters as his name may easily be brought into disrepute if he starts meddling in such investigations. As we know that law enforcement agencies have in the recent past found it difficult to investigate cases where the President has publicly supported officials that are accused of abuse of office."

He said TIZ considers the happenings today where numerous cases of corruption, fraud and gross abuse of authority are being reported to be 'a sign of the times.'

"We want to be clear that some of the corruption occurred in the Mwanawasa era but unfortunately President Rupiah Banda's government are the ones in office today and need to resolve these issues. They cannot simply abdicate their role," said Lifuka.

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Tell the truth about Rupiah’s health, Sata challenges Shikapwasha

Tell the truth about Rupiah’s health, Sata challenges Shikapwasha
Written by Jane Mwakasungula
Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:07:27 PM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday challenged chief government spokesperson Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha to tell Zambians the truth about President Rupiah Banda's health. And Sata has criticised President Banda for prioritising the World Economic Forum (WEF) instead of addressing the strikes in the ministries of health and education.

Commenting on a statement released on Wednesday by special assistant for press and public relations Dickson Jere that President Banda successfully underwent a minor orthopeadic surgery for a knee problem in Cape Town, Sata said Lt Gen Shikapwasha should have told the nation prior to the operation just like he hoodwinked the electorate during the 2008 presidential campaigns that he (Sata) was critically ill and evacuated to South Africa.

Sata wondered why the nation was kept in the dark about the President's knee complication.

“Why didn't Shikapwasha tell us about the illness? When did he (President Banda) become sick and for how long has he been sick? When I was sick, Shikapwasha mocked me. It was them (Shikapwasha) and RB (President Banda) who in their campaign were saying Michael Sata is sick,” Sata said.

“They lied that I had been evacuated when I was in Katete. They used it effectively especially in Western Province where Mabenga (MMD national chairman) and Mulyata (North Western Province minister) succeeded in using the propaganda gimmick…Chitika (Elizabeth) told people in Kawambwa that I was going to die before elections. Why did Dickson and Shikapwasha find it easy to lie? And now he (President Banda) is using Jere to tell us that he had a successful meeting in South Africa when he has never visited striking nurses or teachers. He has said nothing and is now using Jere to make up stories.”

Sata said Jere and Shikapwasha found it difficult to hide President Banda's operation because they feared the South African government could blow the truth.

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Harassments of journalists are upsetting, says Wurst

Harassments of journalists are upsetting, says Wurst
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday, June 13, 2009 4:05:47 PM

HARASSMENTS of journalists are troublesome and upsetting, outgoing United States embassy public affairs officer Christopher Wurst has charged. And Wurst has urged the Zambian government and parliamentarians to quickly enact the Freedom of Information (FoI) law because it was very important in any democratic and transparent society.

In an interview in Lusaka on Thursday, Wurst said there was no place for verbal or physical harassment and beating up of journalists.

"Well, anywhere in the world there is no place for it. There is absolutely no place for it and I don't care if it's in Zambia or in the United States or anywhere else," Wurst said.

"Journalists should be allowed to be free to tell stories. In places where there is over-censorship, in places where we know that journalists are not able to tell the story, we get very upset. There is no place for it. It is very troublesome."

Recently, MMD cadres have frequently harassed journalists working for The Post and other private media over their critical coverage of President Rupiah Banda's administration and exposure of corruption and irregularities.

And Wurst said it was important to pass FoI law that could be successfully implemented.

"I think it will be dangerous to pass legislation that could not be implemented. So I hope that when Parliament gets around to passing this legislation and I hope that it's soon, that they will have a good plan at implementing this," he said.

"I think that when you talk about media legislation, it's important not only to talk about freedom of information but also to bring in some of the regulatory Acts; the IBA [Independent Broadcasting Authority], the ZNBC Act."

He said the key thing with FoI Act was to realise that citizens were the beneficiaries.

"Freedom of information allows people to know the truth about [for example] how money is being spent, how laws are being implemented, what is going on. So it's vitally important in any democratic and transparent society to have access to this information," Wurst said.

"When Freedom of Information is passed, I really hope that it's the citizens of Zambia that stand to be beneficiaries of this law."

Wurst observed that there was a fundamental misunderstanding in Zambia about what Freedom of Information Act was.

"First of all, I can tell you from my experiences in the United States that journalists generally are not the greatest beneficiaries of Freedom of Information Act. Often times are businesses, citizens or lawyers that are using Freedom of Information laws," Wurst said.

He dismissed fears that FoI law would risk the security of Zambia.

"Any Freedom of Information Act in any country is going to have certain safeguards; you are not going to give state secrets," Wurst said. "I do think that with freedom comes responsibility and there is no denying that."

He said the media had to be accurate and responsible.

"I think there are great journalists working here and there are lazy journalists working here. I would like to see people being punished by their editors and hopefully the professional standards will be high enough that a good newspaper, a good television station, a good radio station requires," said Wurst.

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Zambia comes to a standstill

COMMENT - There is direct link between the coming to power of a neoliberal free trade party, and the massive increase in corruption. If Zambia wants a good government, then it will have to elect into power nationalists. People who can stand up to the IMF and World Bank, and any kind of other neoliberal pressure.

Zambia comes to a standstill
Written by Mwansa Kapeya, MP Mpika Central
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:53:00 PM

Zambia needs leaders who are good at
1 Formulation of sound developmental ideas acceptable by all citizens in order to push the country forward;

2 Where these ideas are being questioned, there must be something wrong with the leaders

3 Zambians at Independence and those of today are different.

4 Whatever plans or ideas from politicians or leaders, people today will scrutinise and make conclusions on such ideas whether viable or not;

5 Why is it that Zambia has stopped moving forward'? We cite some examples.

- Misappropriation of public funds in government ministries, departments

- Pilferage has become the in- thing in every sector of the society;

- Everywhere you go people are criticising the running of government;

- Government leaders instead of unifying the nation, are busy issuing threats to its citizens, for instance, MMD cadres on Post Newspapers;

- People disobeying the law and doing things the way they feel like, for example. building houses in the middle of reserved roads and on top of sewer pipes;

- Poor drainage in all major towns

- Everyone in the public sector is busy minding about self livelihood and not of the general public;

- Pilferage is everywhere- ask shop owners, landlords, farmers, industries,manufacturers, transporters and many more. The story is the same.

6 The question, is what has caused all these negative attitudes in the country?

7 Zambia has had two types of governments since independence. At independence we had a multiparty system under the philosophy of ‘One Zambia One Nation’. The UNIP government did very well in relation to national development.

- Though leaders were not highly-educated, they were very disciplined and capable of pushing the country forward. They had the people of Zambia at heart and were focussed at developing the country

- They controlled national assets on behalf of the people

- Their prime concern was to unite the tribes of Zambia under the philosophy of ‘One Zambia One Nation’. They built schools, hospitals, colleges and university. Indeed, development was at its best.

8 One party state was a total dictatorship where everyone obeyed whatever the king wanted things to be. No opposing views, then you were declared an enemy of the State. Elections where there for the sake of maintaining the so-called One Party Participatory Democracy. This was the time when a parliamentary candidates would be made to stand in any part of Zambia, it was indeed, One Zambia One Nation at its best.

But the country suffered heavy shortages of all types of essential commodities.

9 In 1991 the country witnessed the rebirth of multipartism, with MMD I taking over the leadership of the country.

- Most of the leaders in government positions were highly-educated

- The shortage of essential commodities came to an end

- Zambia became a trading centre for most South African goods and a good number of South African trading companies came into the country.

- The sale of parastatal companies, council government houses and mines was encouraged and most equipment in such companies were removed by those who bought them.

- Corrupt practices were both in government and private sector

- Looting of national assets was the order of the day by those in top leadership of the country despite being educated.

- Revelation of secrets to the public, for instance, the tunnels

- No firm control on government leaders, hence the free-for-all syndrome.

10 In 2002 the MMD 2 came on stage and started revealing to the Zambian people how MMD I had looted the wealth of the country.

- The philosophy of One Zambia One Nation started fading away and regionalism was slowly gripping in

- Fight for corruption was mounted

- Former leaders in MMD I were being prosecuted for theft of public funds and obtaining wealth by corrupt practices

- Misappropriation of public funds was on the increase in both government ministries, departments and missions abroad

- Reveal of Zamtroop account and

- Removal of immunity for MMD I president

- Collapse of Railway systems of Zambia

11 2008 MMD 3

- Failure to live up to campaign promises of reducing mealie-meal prices and fertiliser

- Failure to improve the agriculture sector

- Failure to stabilise the Kwacha against the foreign currency

- Importation of GMO maize, against the philosophy of continuity

- Closure and job losses in the mines

- Defending wrongdoers in government

- Starvation in the country

- Increase in the loss of human life in road traffic accidents due to poor maintenance of roads.

- Transport, building, construction of roads contracts being given to foreign companies.

- Rampant strikes by teachers are on the increase due to non-payments of housing and hardship allowances.

- Removal of windfall tax on mining of minerals

- Non-creation of jobs, resulting in high levels of unemployment in the country

- Increase in college and university fees

- Professional health workers continue migrating to other countries due to poor conditions of service in Zambia

- No national airline

- Rural Zambia continues to be neglected

- Economy of the country being run by multi-national companies.

- Accusing MMD 3 government for wrong arrangements in acquiring mobile hospital equipment

- Threats by MMD 3 to continue harassing and beating members of the media house who do not support their cause

- Revelation of misappropriation of public funds continuing at a large scale in almost all government ministries

- The element of tribalism being perpetuated by the ruling party and opposition parties and

- Donors losing confidence in the manner their funds are being misused. In vice of the above tabulations. Zambian people have completely lost trust in the political leadership, hence the rejection of every development idea floated by the government. The result being that the country is not moving forward, it has come to a standstill.

The way foward

The country is therefore in dire need of a strong, trusted leadership with a sharp vision in order to push the country forward. Who is therefore supposed to provide the said leadership for the country? The answer lies in the hands of the Zambians themselves.

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UPND NMC resolves to support merger with PF

UPND NMC resolves to support merger with PF
Written by Mwala Kalaluka and Patson Chilemba
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:50:23 PM

THE UPND National Management Committee (NMC) has resolved to support the party’s decision to enter into a pact with the PF, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma disclosed yesterday. And the UPND has resolved to hold an extraordinary general assembly at the end of this month.

Kakoma, who is the UPND’s chairman for information and publicity, stated in a press release that all the UPND provincial chairpersons from the country’s nine provinces had supported the idea of the pact and encouraged the top leadership to work hard to ensure its success.

Northern Province UPND chairman John Matandiko in a solidarity message over the pact said it had been unreservedly welcomed by the membership in the area.

“Our prayer is that there should be no going back on this move. This is the right move, which has come at the right time,” Matandiko stated.

“This move is not only necessary but also vital as both UPND and PF are fighting the oppressive and kleptomaniac regime of MMD, which has been threatening those with divergent views and plundering the resources of this beautiful country.”

And Kakoma, who is also Zambezi West member of parliament, also announced that the UPND NMC met at the party headquarters on Wednesday June 10 where it resolved to hold an extraordinary general assembly on Saturday June 27, 2009.

“The extraordinary general assembly will consider amendments to the party constitution. The extraordinary general assembly will be attended by all National Management Committee chairpersons, provincial management committee members, two delegates from each district, UPND members of parliament, 30 delegates drawn from higher institutions of learning and three members from each chapter from outside Zambia,” stated Kakoma.

Meanwhile, the UPND has distanced itself from Namwala member of parliament Major Robbie Chizhyuka’s statement that Hakainde Hichilema should lead the newly formed pact.

Kakoma said what Maj Chizhyuka said did not represent the party’s position.

“He [Maj Chizhyuka] was not privy to what we had agreed. He was issuing that out of context. The national management committee met this week and resolved to support the pact and also agreed that the issue of the presidency will be resolved later,” said Kakoma. “So for the honourable member of parliament to issue such a contradictory statement is out of order.”

Recently, Maj Chizhyuka said that the newly formed pact should adopt Hichilema as its presidential candidate for the 2011 general elections.

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Rich families are perpetrating child labour, charges BETUZ

Rich families are perpetrating child labour, charges BETUZ
Written by Mutale Kapekele
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:49:01 PM

THE Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) has charged that rich families are perpetrating child labour among girls. And the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned that the global financial crisis is threatening to erode progress made in fighting child labour.

In his message to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour which fell yesterday, BETUZ general secretary Cosmas Mukuka observed that many “well-to-do” families were using girls from rural areas as cheap labour.

“BETUZ is cognisant to the fact that many girl children from rural areas and poor homes are employed as maids at the expense of their education,” Mukuka observed. “It has become a common trend that people perpetrating this vice are well to do and educated families that have been employing girl children below the age of 15 as maids.”

He appealed to the Ministry of Labour to introduce punitive measures through legislation to combat the “continued exploitation of girls.”

Mukuka said child labour infringed on children’s right to economic and social development.

And according to a new report issued by ILO, the global financial crisis could push an increasing number of children into child labour.

The ILO report titled ‘Give Girls a Chance: Tackling child labour, a key to the future’, noted that while recent global estimates indicated that the number of children involved in child labour had been falling, the financial crisis threatened to erode that progress.

“We have seen some real progress in reducing child labour. The policies chosen in the present crisis will be a test of national and global commitment to take this fight forward,” ILO director-general Juan Somavia is quoted in the report.

The report stated that the danger of girls being forced into child labour was linked to evidence that in many countries, families gave preference to boys when making decisions on education of children.

It also observed that the increase in poverty, as a result of the crisis, forced poor families with a number of children to make choices as to which children stayed in school.

“In cultures in which a higher value is placed on education of male children, girls risk being taken out of school, and are then likely to enter the workforce at an early age,” the report observed. “Other factors which could push up the numbers in child labour include cuts in national education budgets, and a decline in remittances of migrant workers, as these remittances often help to keep children in school.”

This year’s World Day against Child Labour also coincides with the tenth anniversary of ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

“With 169 ratifications, we are now just 14 short of universal ratification by our member States” stated Somavia. “It is a remarkable expression of commitment. This Convention calls for special attention to the situation of girls and we want to highlight the particular risks that girls face during this crisis. Protecting girls – and all children – from child labour calls for integrated responses that include jobs for parents, and social protection measures that help them to keep both girls and boys in school. Access to basic education and training for girls and boys must also be part of the solutions for the future.”

The ILO report states that the most recent global estimate indicated that more than 100 million girls were involved in child labour and many were exposed to some of its worst forms.

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Morales lauds Cuba, Venezuela relations

Morales lauds Cuba, Venezuela relations
Written by Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:26:21 PM

BOLIVIAN President Evo Morales has said he is not ashamed of having close relations
with Cuba and Venezuel President Morales said it was equally absurd that he was accused of being responsible for problems of the indigenous people in Peru who are currently staging protests.

In his address at the University of Havana's Aula Magna on Thursday, President Morales further said the radical transformation process that is taking place in Bolivia and much of Latin America to restore the peoples' dignity, independence and retaking natural resources was irreversible.

He said he remains a big admirer of the Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro from whom he was anxious to learn more.

Morales said as early as 1994, at the height of his trade union movement leadership, the masses had asked him seek political office so as to bring dignity to Bolivia.

He said the labour movement in Bolivia had then just turned itself into a political movement.

"I rejected the early demands of getting involved into party leadership including seeking mayoral, parliamentary or presidential office," President Morales said. "I considered politicians as criminals."

He said on assuming the presidency of Bolivia, the right wing opposition claimed his reign would not last a few months.

President Morales said soon there was a recall vote which his administration won convincingly, thereby consolidating its power base.

He said then followed a coup attempt, civil strikes and separatist moves in some regions of Bolivia, all aimed at getting him out of office.

"The real terrorists is the oligarchy," President Morales said.

He said his administration believed in equality and peace.

President Morales said based on people's consciousness humanity could be saved.

He said the struggle against imperialism and its instruments of plunder and exploitation would continue.

President Morales said that was why his first meeting as President of Bolivia was with the Cuban government, then led by Fidel Castro, to coordinate cooperation, and then with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

He said had it not been for Cuba and Venezuela, his government would have had a lot of problems.

"I share with Hugo Chavez that we are in the second stage of liberation of our peoples," President Morales said.

He said in Bolivia the nationalising of the hydrocarbons alone had improved the national economy.

"I am not ashamed in any way about my relationship with Cuba and Venezuela," President Morales said. "It is needed as we take firm decisions against the empire. I think these initial processes we are undertaking are irreversible and now we feel international relations should also change."

He said today the nationalist movement was well rooted even in the army.

"A conscious for independence and freeing our natural resources has been created," President Morales said.

He scoffed at claims that he was fanning the indigenous (Peruvian Indians) protests in Peru.

Morales, the first indigenous Bolivian elected president in over 500 years, wondered why there was intimidation and threats from Peru.

He said his best school was the labour movement and that now he was trying to lead the country as President.

"I am not specialised in economics or finance but I have learnt that if we do not defeat capitalist practices, basic problems afflicting our people cannot be solved," President Morales said.

He expressed appreciation of the unconditional solidarity from Cuba.

President Morales said it was impossible for Bolivia to repay the Cuban debt.

"Following several years of colonialism and imperialist plunder it is impossible today for Bolivia to carryout solidarity actions to other peoples of the world but this is our dream," said President Morales.

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JCTR challenges MPs to postpone mid-term gratuity

JCTR challenges MPs to postpone mid-term gratuity
Written by George Zulu in Monze
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:24:43 PM

JESUIT Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has challenged members of parliament to show leadership by postponing their mid-term gratuity to a later date.
And JCTR has charged that there is a lot of fraud in the manner the government contracts loans.

In an interview after the launch of the Basic Needs Basket for Monze on Thursday, JCTR coordinator for the outreach programme Innocent Ndashe said MPs should show leadership by postponing their mid-term gratuity especially at a time when Zambia was going through difficult times to address issues of strikes among public service workers.

Ndashe said it would be irresponsible for members of parliament to get mid-term gratuity and deny workers decent and meaningful wages, adding that the current strike by government workers should be a priority.

“Government should prove to the people that they really don’t have the money to pay what the workers are demanding for and that will be if only they address the issues of corruption and abuse of public funds and they also explain to the satisfaction of the workers why they want to go ahead with the payments of mid-term gratuity to MPs. No wonder we are saying MPs should show leadership by postponing their gratuity to a later date. Government as you are aware has indicated that MPs will receive their mid-term gratuity and that does not make sense to say they don’t have money and if that is the way government will operate, they will find a lot of opposition on the matter,” Ndashe said.

And launching the Basic Needs Basket for Monze, social conditions programme coordinator Raphael Phiri said the BNB, if taken seriously could help influence the government to consider paying its workers decent wages as it brought out the prevailing conditions in society.

Phiri also said union leaders should effectively use the BNB tool during the bargaining process.

And Jubilee Zambia Monze Branch chairperson Alphas Chibbamu said the launch of the BNB would give direction of how much wages both the government and private sectors should be able to pay their workers.

And the JCTR has charged that there was a lot of fraud in the manner government contracted foreign debt.

“There is fraud in the manner this government is handling and contracting loans from our cooperating partners and as JCTR we strongly advocate for a legal framework to be implemented and enacted into law so that members of parliament can give an oversight to such loans. It is saddening that this government has continued contracting unsustainable loans,” said Ndashe.

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ZCC authorises Illovo Sugar to buy Nanga Farms shares

ZCC authorises Illovo Sugar to buy Nanga Farms shares
Written by Nchima Nchito Jr
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:22:05 PM

ZAMBIA Competition Commission (ZCC) board of commissioners has granted a conditional final authorisation for the proposed acquisition of 85.7 per cent shares in Nanga Farms Plc by Illovo Sugar.

ZCC executive director Thula Kaira stated in a press release that the board at a special meeting held on June 10, 2009 determined that the authorisation was the right course to take in the absence of alternative buyers for Nanga Farms.

“While the advantages for Zambia Sugar Plc to control Nanga Farms were self-evident, the board were of the view that the proposed acquisition of 85.73 per cent shares in Nanga Farms Plc to Illovo Sugar (Zambia) Limited/Zambia Sugar Plc was likely to adversely affect competition in the relevant markets for sugar cane and sugar, in which markets Zambia Sugar held dominant positions of market power,” he stated

“The transaction was thus to further enhance Zambia Sugar’s market power through the absolute control of the raw material supply source at Nanga Farms. The Board also noted the absence of import competition for sugar cane and the fact that the withdrawal of Zambeef Plc from Nanga Farms robbed the market of a possible future independent sugar mill competitor to Zambia Sugar Plc, which sugar mill was expected to take advantage of the Nanga Farms sugar cane source.”

Kaira, however, noted that while the commission was alive to the fact that while granting an authorisation would entrench Zambia Sugar Plc’s monopoly control of the sugar industry in Zambia, there had on the other hand not been any alternative offer to the purchase of the shares and the Commission could not unduly stop an exiting shareholder from divesting their interest.

Kaira added that in light of the foregoing, the commission resolved to grant authorisation subject to several conditions.

“Zambia Sugar Plc or any of its affiliate companies shall not enter into any agreements with any domestic or foreign business or government, which agreement prevents, restricts or distorts competition in the sugar or related sectors in Zambia,” he stated “Zambia Sugar Plc or its affiliate companies shall not prevent, restrict or distort other would be investors in the sugar industry from engaging in sugar cane supply contracts with any independent sugar cane growers in Zambia.”

He stated that in addition, Zambia Sugar Plc or its affiliate companies was not expected to engage in abuse of dominant position of market power including, but not limited to, excessive pricing of sugar in the local market.

Kaira stated that Zambia Sugar Plc or its affiliate companies was expected to sign a compliance agreement with ZCC to finalise the authorisation process and show how the company intended to ensure compliance with the conditions of the authorisation.

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RDA calls for revised curriculum in training institutions

RDA calls for revised curriculum in training institutions
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:20:59 PM

THE Road Development Agency (RDA) has urged government to revise the curriculum in training institutions to address new challenges in the construction sector.
And Ministry of Works and Supply permanent secretary Lieutenant Colonel Biziwayo Nkunika has said the government has suspended the intended construction of the Mwami weighbridge in Eastern Province due to insufficient funds.

Making submissions to the Parliamentary Committee on Communications, Transport, Works and Supply on the awarding of contracts, the RDA stated that there were several measures that needed to be in place to improve performance of government contractors.

“Firstly, contractors must be helped to acquire equipment through tax incentives and loans and large international contractors must be obliged to sub-contract smaller works to local contractors,” it stated. “Second, contractors must be properly trained to attain internationally recognised standards hence the curriculum in training institutions must be revised to address new challenges in the industry especially that the training of artisans appears sub-standard.”

The further RDA stated that there was no contract abandoned or loss of government money on contracts awarded in 2008 under its jurisdiction.

And Lt Col Nkunika said the government through the RDA intended to relocate the present site of the weighbridge at Mwami to another location on the Great East Road within Chipata district.

He said that axle load surveys carried out on most major roads including the Great East Road revealed that it would be preferable to have a weighbridge at Katete-Chanida junction instead.

“The RDA has already identified the land and the valuation department has surveyed and valued the piece of land,” Lt Col Nkunika said. “However, the final decision on where to put up the weighbridge will be determined by the consultant who is undertaking the feasibility and design study for the Great East Road from Luangwa to Mwami border.”



International market records increase in copper prices

International market records increase in copper prices
Written by Florence Bupe
Saturday, June 13, 2009 3:20:01 PM

COPPER prices on the international market on Wednesday hit an eight-month high to reach US $5,170 per tonne amid expectations of increased demand by investors.
According to the Standard Chartered Bank daily newsletter, a break in the US dollar’s rally on Tuesday pushed up commodity prices as investors bet on higher demand for the metal amid an improving global economy.

Copper for three months delivery closed at US $5,170 from the previous US $4,980 per tonne during the previous trading session.

The metal had earlier hit an intra day high of US $ 5,199, the highest since October 15, 2008.

Oil was quoted at US $69.99 per barrel, a slight reduction from the previous US $70.04.

Demand for oil is expected to decline by about three percent from last year.

On the local scene, the kwacha tumbled two per cent against the greenback to trade at K5,050 and K5,070.

It was the first time the market breached the K5,000 level after steadily holding around K4,950 for the last one week.

The K5,000 plus rally was triggered by corporate demand, mainly from the telecommunications and agriculture sectors.

The local currency is expected to continue trading within similar levels in the short to medium term.



(HERALD) The rise of a predatory State

The rise of a predatory State

BY any measure, the inclusive Government is fast losing its virginity and is just as quickly becoming the idiomatic woman with one leg in the house and one outside.

The fascination, nay — state of euphoria, that had gripped some people following the February 13 ceremony is being replaced by a deadening sense of the realities of the ugly politics that govern the world we live in.

Civil servants are agitating for real salaries months after someone promised them a meaningful pay as a given.

The citizenry is crying pitifully about the bills they are getting from parastatals and industries are still operating way below capacity.

Agriculture, which is the focus of this piece, has not been spared this jolting crash back to reality either.

Eat the constitution

And in all this the inclusive Government is telling the people to eat constitution-making while our leaders hold retreats and tour Western capitals on our behalf.

One cannot help but wonder where the real priorities for the people we elected lie.

The bedrock of what Zimbabwe is has always been agriculture.

It is the issue of agriculture that precipitated the standoff with the West.

It is matters to do with agriculture that led to the imposition of the illegal sanctions on the country.

It is agriculture that saw Zimbabwe becoming so polarised that even elections could not ultimately determine which party should lead the country.

But for some reason that the inclusive Government will not tell the people of this country, agriculture has become less important than penning a new constitution, kow-towing to the West’s demands for more "reforms", Johannes Tomana, and even Jestina Mukoko.

The inclusive Government would have us believe that if Tomana is fired and Mukoko is freed then we will have food on our tables and money in our pockets.

This is the same thing that the West that we are courting so ardently is telling us: until there are "meaningful reforms" (read the reversal of land reforms, and end of Gono and company), sanctions will remain and the people of Zimbabwe will continue to suffer.

This past week The Herald carried a story that portended massive shortages of wheat this year.

This year, Zimbabwe will be importing far more than it is producing and yet we are all supposed to be celebrating the inclusive Government — it can do no wrong and anyone criticising it must be angling for its collapse.

Where is the State while farmers scrounge around for resources so that they can feed the nation?

Is the Government telling the citizenry that it would rather go begging for money to import food than to capacitate its own farmers?

Surely it would be cheaper to grow our own food than to import it off money "donated" to us by the very same countries that imposed sanctions on us and ensured that our food self-sufficiency would be heavily compromised all in the name of regime change.

We shall eat what we gather

How exactly did we get into this mess?

Traditionally, the State has been very active in the development of the agricultural sector.

In fact, it would be safe to say that there is no country in the world that has ever developed its agriculture without an active State that is directly concerned with issues of inputs and production.

An aloof State has never been the bedrock of agricultural development and that is why Rhodesia never hesitated to support its farmers.

From Rhodesia up to now, ours has been an agro-based economy, it will remain so, and there is no way that we can talk of economic development when farmers are thrown into the shark-infested deep-end by a regime that is starting to bear the disconcerting hallmarks of morphing into a predatory State.

The inclusive Government appears more concerned with perpetuating itself by doing whatever it is the West desires without any regard for what the people of Zimbabwe require.

By any definition, that is what constitutes a predatory State.

Over the past years, Zimbabwe’s Government has played the role of the benevolent, welfare State that has a genuine interest in the food security of the populace.

Millions of dollars have been poured into agriculture by the State over the past 10 years and this is rightly so because Government is the one that said, "Let there be a land reform programme!"

It only made sense that the new farmer would have the institutional and financial support of the Government at a time commercial banks had made it clear that they were not interested in financing the crop of Mr Mandebvu who had just kicked Mr Jones off "his" land.

But now the inclusive Government has made it its core business to let the agricultural sector fend for itself.

In fact, we have been succinctly told that we shall "eat what we gather" and as things stand, we are literally going to be a nation of hunter-gatherers very soon because there will be nothing on the farms.

This started with immense pressure being applied on the Reserve Bank to stop what the ‘‘experts’’ tell us is quasi-fiscal expenditure.

Now with the inclusive Government firmly in place, the State does not care about guaranteeing food security through production.

Instead, we would rather send our Prime Minister on multi-nation tours and expect him to conjure some miracle that will see food growing on our farms.

Farmers need State support, period!

Dining with the devil

Early this year the Zimbabwe dollar was banished for a whole year and that means farmers have to source their inputs using American dollars and South African rands.

And we all know that they simply cannot afford to buy fertilizers and fuel for commercial production because like the rest of us they don’t have the money.

Incidentally, I have gleaned information pointing to the probability that the shelving of the Zimbabwe dollar was not a Cabinet decision.

This raises many issues — all of them frightening.

Because it could indicate a deliberate attempt somewhere to sabotage the ability of farmers to feed the nation and we all know that a hungry people is a people ripe for revolt.

But that is stuff for another installment.

The fact is, the issue of the Zimbabwe dollar aside, the inclusive Government appears to want to foment hunger in the nation.

We all know that the people in the inclusive Government and their friends and families will not feel the hunger pangs that the rest of us will when agricultural production completely collapses.

The surprising thing is that the neo-liberal economic model that does not allow "quasi-fiscal expenditure" is something that is being fed to us by Western nations that themselves spend billions of dollars every year propping up their own agriculture.

America and the European Union invest heavily in ensuring their agricultural sectors are in healthy condition for the sake of their people.

They understand that it is better to rely on your own production rather than depend on importing food.

But we go ahead and listen to them when they tell us that the State should not directly fund agriculture because this would amount to the unpardonable sin of "quasi-fiscal expenditure".

The wisdom of centuries of human existence has taught us that when we dine with the devil we must use a long spoon.

It is a piece of wisdom as old as it is self-explanatory.

But perhaps man has a penchant to push the limits. That is why we bungee jump, why we sky dive, why even we have risky sex.

There is something in us that drives us to dine with the devil with a spoon as short as possible and hope that no ill will come out of it.

And maybe this explains the reason why we are still rushing to the West for "economic assistance" after 10 years of watching these very same people destroy our economy.

Maybe this explains why we would like to court a Western world that wants us to adopt policies that can only result in national hunger.

They will tell us that the State should let the Grain Marketing Board stand on its own two tottering feet.

But the fact is GMB has no money and will not get any from anywhere anytime soon unless the State moves in to fund some of its core operations.

This is not just about the belly, it is about national security.

When we fail to produce enough to feed ourselves, and when we fail to import the food because we do not have hard currency in sufficient quantities to do so, then we shall be ripe for the kind of regime change that the West wants.

In as much as an army marches on its belly, so does a revolution.

And the revolution that is the land reform programme faces a very still birth if the inclusive Government insists on abandoning agriculture, which is exactly what the West wants.

We are virtually wasting our time imploring these people to give us money and to lift the sanctions they have on us.

Instead we should be entering into win-win partnerships with our friends in the international community so that we can get agriculture — and by extension industry — working like they should.

Virgin to streetwalker

The reality that we are facing is that the Prime Minister’s trip to the West is an exercise in futility because it will not result in the kind of tangibles that will boost wheat and maize production.

It is for this reason that for months Biti has found himself looking at blank faces whenever he asks "donors" to loosen their purse strings.

The asking price for the "aid" that the inclusive Government seeks is the pauperisation of the people of Zimbabwe — and that is a price too steep to entertain.

The people of Zimbabwe are supposed to be the real owners of the inclusive Government.

If the people want agricultural production then that should be so.

Do not try and convince them that their bellies will be full when we have a new constitution and fresh elections that the West will be happy about.

The people are father to the inclusive Government and this is not a chicken-and-egg thing.

And any attempts to make the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe subservient to those of the so-called donors, then surely the inclusive Government would have gone from virgin to whore in one breath.

mabasa.sasa ***

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(TALKZIMBABWE) PM's visit: Sanctions should top the agenda

COMMENT - Small correction: " In fact President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both voted in favor of ZIDERA in 2002. " Barack Obama only entered the US senate in 2005. But Hillary Clinton did more than vote for it - she is a co-sponsor, and Barack Obama did put her in his cabinet.

PM's visit: Sanctions should top the agenda
Sam Garande
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 02:16:00 +0000

AT A time when the inclusive Government is starting to take shape, the Prime Minister has left the country on a diplomatic offensive which, according to the government of Zimbabwe, is meant to address the sanctions issue, among other important issues.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is visiting the US and EU where he will meet international leaders and various organisations.

The Prime Minister plans to address a number of national, regional and global issues, which he has never really been privy to. These include a wide range of under-discussed—or previously completely ignored—topics associated with London and Washington’s professed “commitment” to the country, which, in fact, have never been honoured.

The Prime Minister says he is not going with a begging bowl. He is seeking re-engagement. Re-engagement will only be possible of historical debates are re-opened and a forensic assessment of previous points of contention is carried out. The PM should be able to highlight to the EU what really went wrong in the Zimbabwean situation. Debates around the Lancaster House obligations and the land reform exercise in Zimbabwe are crucial and they need strong leadership and high-level diplomacy.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti expressed excitement that the Prime Minister is visiting Europe and the United States. He considers that visit as progress made possible by the MDC-T. In fact he is boastful of that EU-US state visit as an achievement of the MDC-T party. "I do not remember in my lifetime when a Zimbabwean president ever visited the EU or US to discuss critical issues with other world leaders," said Biti in an interview.

One wonders why Prime Minister Tsvangirai simply seeks re-engagement at this juncture. These are critical times we live in and Zimbabwe urgently needs the help: especially the removal of sanctions that have crippled our economy. From Cape to Cairo, every nation has called for the removal of these disastrous and illegal Western sanctions.

Why is PM Tsvangirai taking this trip? And why now?

One would have assumed that the Prime Minister is taking the trip at this juncture to seek urgent assistance.

The timing couldn't have been worse. Almost every Western government bar a few "friends" of Zimbabwe in Scandinavia, in particular, and Europe in general(Portugal, etc) have not shown keeness to support the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe. The US Senate hastily voted against the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe - a few hours before the meeting of PM Tsvangirai and President Obama.

There is little President Obama can do without the approval of the Senate, unless he uses special powers. He is unlikely to do so.

Besides, Zimbabwe comes a distant rung on the foreign policy priorities of the US.

The decision of the Senate was meant to circumvent any favourable decision by President Obama regarding Zimbabwe. In fact President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both voted in favor of ZIDERA in 2002. President Obama extended the measures by a year and is unlikely to reverse that extension anytime soon.

The visit, if not to "beg" for the removal of restrictive measures and renderance of immediate assistance to Zimbabwe, is a futile exercise. There is still work to do at home and African diplomacy has not yet been exhausted.

There may be just too much of "bad blood" to engage in intense lobbying to re-engage with the West at this juncture. The West is alson in economic turmoil and is in no way able to afford assisting African countries. The US has smoking issues of its own, so does the UK, France, Germany, Italy and other countries that the PM intends to visit. Diplomatic niceties like rolling the red carpet for PM Tsvangirai by Germany are hopelessly symbolic gestures that serve no purpose to improve the welfare of the Zimbabwean people at home.

This trip is a reflection of a frantic attempt to project an image that something is being done. In fact it it much ado about nothing, if it is only meant to seek re-engagement, as the PM said. That can be done through embassies and low-level diplomatic visits.

PM Tsvangirai's DNA is that of a globetrotter. As an opposition leader he spent a lot of man-hours on planes, than on the ground at home. We hope he will reverse that trend; seeing that those previous endeavors have either misfired or have been so disastrous as to provoke the growth of widespread negative criticism at home.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai might be hard-pressed to deliver on his promises before his window of opportunity for fast track policy expires in 18 months, when the life of the inclusive Government comes to an end. But he should remember that real work should be carried out at home.

The punishingly bad publicity resulting from the gaffs and unseemly behavior by the prime minister's spokespersons has also served to discredit the PM's agenda. James Maridadi has mishandled the prime minister's office's real agenda in visiting the EU and US. In fact, he does not seem to have a clue about the expected deliverables.

Secretary Clinton's words succintly summed up the attitude of the U.S. towards the visit. "I’m anxious to hear about the plans and the work that your government is undertaking and to look for ways that we appropriately can be supportive," she said during a briefing in the State Department's treaty room.

That anxiety sums up the general feeling of the US towards re-engaging with Zimbabwe and its lack of willingness to help the country on a major scale. Secretary Clinton only a few weeks ago did not mince her words: the US wants President Mugabe to go before any re-engagement is considered.

So any mobilisation for a so-called re-engagement campaign in EU, US is an exercise in futility if the real agenda of these countries is regime change.

PM Tsvangirai's efforts to play catch-up with the the West will drain his energy that could be used more productively at home and in the region. Though this effort appears more promising than what we now have, it could prove to be a prime example of too much too early.

Sam Garande writes from Cambridge, UK
samgarande *****

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Land reform irreversible: President Mugabe

Land reform irreversible: President Mugabe
Ralph Mutema
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 03:47:00 +0000

PRESIDENT Mugabe has assured Zimbabwean farmers that the land reform programme is irreversible and the inclusive Government is in agreement that the issue should not be revisited.

He made this assurance during a tour of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre and the Tobacco Sales Floors Limited in the capital Harare.

The President, however, challenged the new farmers to fully use the land for the benefit of the country.

"When we fought for this country, the contentious issue was land. We were demanding our land from the imperialists," said President Mugabe.

He added: "We will not reverse the land policy. The inclusive Government has made that undertaking not to reverse the land reform process. This is our livelihood."

The President said he was happy there were many tobacco farmers in the country and thanked them for working hard despite a number of challenges they were facing.

He advised farmers to use the money they earned from selling their tobacco wisely and invest some of the earnings.

The president also urged farmers to take farming as a business and to diversify through growing other crops like maize to ensure food security.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) US urged to seize opportunity offered by Tsvangirai

US urged to seize opportunity offered by Tsvangirai
Samantha Chidzero
Fri, 12 Jun 2009 02:30:00 +0000

AFRICA ACTION has released a statement urging the US Government to seize the opportunity offered by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to initiate fundamental reforms in U.S. policy towards Zimbabwe.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai is on his first official state visit to Washington, DC where he is set to meet with President Barack Obama today (Friday). On Thursday the PM met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Africa Action expressed "great concern" over a statement this week attributed to Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of State for African Affairs.

In an interview published Monday on Reuters, Carson made an announcement that the U.S. has no plans to shift policy on Zimbabwe.

“It will be a grave mistake if the U.S. fails to come up with a new policy consistent with the changing developments on the ground in Zimbabwe,” responded Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action.

Africa Action has long called for a policy that is not for or against any individuals but a policy based on advancing the human rights, and democratic and economic interests of the people of Zimbabwe.

“The U.S. must adopt a new approach in Zimbabwe that advances the transition towards democratic governance, economic security, truth, justice and reconciliation,” said LeMelle.

The U.S. policy towards Zimbabwe today is limited to sanctions while assisting with humanitarian assistance.

Michael Stulman, Associate Director of Policy and Communications said; “Continuation of U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe at this point will not help strengthen democracy. In fact, this is economic coercion that is more harmful than it is helpful.”

Africa Action is the oldest organization in the US working on African affairs. It seeks "to change U.S. foreign policy and the policies of international institutions in order to support African struggles for peace and development."

By changing the policies of our own government, we have proven that we can make a real difference, says the organisation.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) US seeks ways to 'appropriately' back Zimbabwe

US seeks ways to 'appropriately' back Zimbabwe
Mutsawashe Makuvise
Thu, 11 Jun 2009 18:16:00 +0000

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) welcomes Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai. Pic: Reuters.

US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday she was eager to hear about Zimbabwe's reform plans from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, days after a top aide voiced frustration at their slow pace.

Clinton spoke as she met PM Tsvangirai, who will see U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday to ask support for the inclusive Government he shares with President Robert Mugabe.

Clinton welcomed PM Tsvangirai as a "longtime advocate for his country and the people of Zimbabwe on "behalf of human rights and economic opportunity".

"He is now in a unified government that is attempting to move Zimbabwe forward into a better future," the chief U.S. diplomat said as she stood before the cameras with the prime minister.

"I am anxious to hear about the plans and the work that your government is undertaking and to look for ways that we appropriately can be supportive," Clinton told reporters at the State Department as she posed for pictures with PM Tsvangirai.

Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, on Monday said more political, social and economic reforms were needed before substantial US aid could kick in or targeted sanctions against President Mugabe were lifted.

While "deeply concerned" about the lack of reforms, he said Washington would keep providing humanitarian aid, notably to improve health care and promote democracy and good governance.

In a May interview with South African state television, secretary Clinton recognized President Mugabe's "historic contribution" to ending colonialism and oppression by helping the former Rhodesia gain independence from Britain in 1980.

Clinton's talks with PM Tsvangirai precede those at the White House on Friday with President Barack Obama.

The prime minister is on a three-week international tour designed to drum up political and financial support for Zimbabwe.

Reuters and AFP reports were used in this story.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Obama: No direct aid to Zim gvt

Obama: No direct aid to Zim gvt
12/06/2009 00:00:00

UNITED States President Barack Obama has praised Zimbabwe's Prime Minister for trying to the lead the country from political and economic strife toward more hopeful times.

Obama said Friday that he has "extraordinary admiration" for Morgan Tsvangirai as the two leaders spoke to reporters after a private meeting in the Oval Office.

Obama said the U. S. wants to help encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic health and education services in Zimbabwe as he pledged U$73 million dollars in aid.

"I have committed 73 million dollars in assistance to Zimbabwe," said Obama after the White House meeting.

The aid, he cautioned however, "will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights and rule of law, but it will be going directly to the people in Zimbabwe. "

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week US support for Zimbabwe had to be appropriate as Washington seeks to bolster reform rather than corruption in a tense unity government shared by Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, who is internationally-reviled.

Obama, standing alongside Tsvangirai, expressed his "extraordinary admiration for the courage, the tenacity that the Prime Minister has shown in navigating through some very difficult political times" in the southern African nation.

The country, which Obama noted used to be the "breadbasket of Africa," has gone through a "very dark and difficult period politically. "

The power sharing coalition in place since February, Obama added, shows promise and the United States wants to do everything it can "to encourage the kinds of improvement, not only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy that is so necessary, but also on the economic front. "

After years of opposition that involved suffering death threats, arrests and beatings, Tsvangirai is now trying to change Zimbabwe's government from the inside after he and Arthur Mutambara joined Mugabe in a coalition in February.

Under the fledgling government's watch, more than US$800 million in credit lines have been secured to rebuild the shattered economy, and the International Monetary Fund has said it will resume technical aid to Harare.

But that is still a fraction of the US$8 billion dollars the government says it needs, and private firms say they want more guarantees that the rule of law will be respected before they invest.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations upon his arrival in Washington earlier this week, Tsvangirai called on potential donors to judge his fragile coalition government by what it has done and not by his country's abusive past.

Tsvangirai is on an international tour seeking help for his cash-strapped government. He goes to Europe this weekend, stopping first in Germany where he is set to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

Friday’s meeting underscored the quandary Obama faces -- how to support Tsvangirai's efforts to rebuild Zimbabwe's shattered economy without bolstering Mugabe.

Obama extended sanctions against Zimbabwe in March, but he has so far declined to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration and call for Mugabe to step down. Clinton said, however, last month that “it would be in everyone’s interests if he stepped down”.

Tsvangirai’s warm welcome abroad contrasts with the international chill towards Mugabe.

Both the European Union and the United States maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on the long serving Zimbabwean leader, his wife and inner circle in protest at controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government.

Tsvangirai was anxious on the visit to press Obama to ease economic sanctions on Zimbabwe which prevent the country from accessing lines of credit from major international financial institutions. Zimbabwe also wants banks and other parastatals removed from the sanctions list.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Interview: PM Morgan Tsvangirai

COMMENT - " MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Zimbabwe's a different place, because, for a very long time, we have been characterized as a country in crisis " - not 'we have been', you did that. Lots of meaningless platitudes follow.

Interview: PM Morgan Tsvangirai
12/06/2009 00:00:00

The following is a transcript of an interview with Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai conducted by the American Public Broadcasting Service's Margaret Warner and broadcast on June 11, 2009:

MARGARET WARNER: What case are you going to make to President Obama and members of Congress about why the U. S. government should engage with your government, and even extend aid, when President Mugabe is still in power?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Zimbabwe's a different place, because, for a very long time, we have been characterized as a country in crisis, as a country of political polarisation between the two main political parties, a country with a collapsed economy, and a country with no hope. And I think that the new political dispensation represents a new Zimbabwe, which is looking forward to reconstruction, to reconciliation, and economic recovery.

MARGARET WARNER: So, the economy is in better shape?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: We have only been in government for four months. It is not in great -- we have not come out of the woods yet.
But I think we have laid down the foundation for a better economic prospect, in terms of various reforms, the first one being the reserve bank reforms. We have also arrested the hyperinflation conditions from 500 billion percent to about 3 percent within three months. I'm saying here that it is time Zimbabwe was engaged; it's time Zimbabwe was helped, because the help is to the Zimbabwean people. And it's not necessarily to government.

MARGARET WARNER: But, now, the seizures of white-owned farms are still continuing. Civil society, opposition activists are still being jailed. The press is still muzzled. Now, Secretary of State Clinton said in May that she didn't think it was time yet to reengage and -- and send aid. And the assistant secretary for African affairs said just yesterday that, in the absence of democratic reforms, aid would not be forthcoming.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I can understand the fact that these issues are being raised. And they are being raised genuinely. It is up to us to earn the confidence of the international community. It is up to us to ensure that the democratic values we have set ourselves, in terms of the global political agreement, are achieved. We haven't achieved 100 percent yet, but I think that we are dealing with those issues that are of concern to our friends, and that, when friends raise these issues, one must listen.

MARGARET WARNER: You sound pretty -- pretty relaxed about it. I mean, what will be the consequences if you go home empty-handed?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: First of all, Margaret, I don't think that my visit has anything to do with a begging ball. I. . .

MARGARET WARNER: A begging ball?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I'm not going around with a begging ball. I'm saying here that it is time Zimbabwe was engaged; it's time Zimbabwe was helped, because the help is to the Zimbabwean people. And it's not necessarily to government. It's to the Zimbabwean people. And I'm sure the United States and Americans in general would understand that whatever support they give to Zimbabwe is not to help the government. It is to help the people of Zimbabwe. We engaged in these protracted negotiations in order to form this government. It is not a monopoly government. Mugabe cannot decide on things unilaterally.

MARGARET WARNER: How confident are you that Mugabe isn't just using you as a front man to come out here to the West to get aid, and then, at home, to do nothing, really, that would loosen his hold on power or loosen the repression that's been going on there?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Yes, I -- I do believe that the concern around Mugabe's hold of power is a concern that is shared internationally because of our history.

But let me say this. We -- we engaged in these protracted negotiations in order to form this government. It is not a monopoly government. Mugabe cannot decide on things unilaterally. There are three pillars of executive authority: the president, the prime minister, and cabinet. So, whatever we do within this transition -- and remember that we have not abandoned our struggle to achieve full democracy. We're just in a transition. We have just shifted the arena of struggle in government.

But, certainly, we have not abandoned our overall objective of ensuring that there's a free -- freely elected government in Zimbabwe.

MARGARET WARNER: What is the level, if any, of trust between you and President Mugabe?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: The level of trust between me and Mugabe is like in any coalition. We have set objectives, which is the democratic agenda and the stabilization agenda with this government. We all agree that there has to be a new constitution, there has to be reforms across the board, economic and social reforms. And-- as far as the personal relation is concerned, well, it's like in any coalition. You are -- you are mostly related to the agenda, rather than your personal relationship.

MARGARET WARNER: The minister for reconciliation, who is a member of your party, was quoted this week as saying that many of you -- many members of your party, are receiving death threats over the phone, that you feel really quite unsafe. Is that the case?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I'm afraid that's a -- a bit -- a bit exaggerated, in terms of those kind of threats. I can tell you that, if you were to come to Zimbabwe, Margaret -- and which I hope you will -- you would notice that there is a sense of freedom that is pervading that whole society. There is a sense that we have moved away from a sense of siege and fear, to a sense of being hopeful about the future. And, so, when incidents of those nature come, it's probably one or two incidents. But, generally, the thrust of our -- of our focus is to ensure that we open up the freedoms for the people.

MARGARET WARNER: Finally, on a -- on a more personal note, you lost your wife in March in an accident, in which you -- the car in which you both were riding was sideswiped by a truck. I want to extend our condolences, and also ask you why, when your supporters were very suspicious that this was foul play, you were quite quick to call it an accident.

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Margaret, the loss is a personal loss. And it's an irrepressible loss. But, to be truthful, I was part of that accident. I saw what happened. It would have been dishonest for me to inform the nation, which was suspicious, and inflame the nation over a matter which I know, factually, that it was an accident.

So, I had to tell the truth. And the truth was that we were involved in an accident. The subsequent investigations, they have also confirmed that. So, much as I would have taken advantage, through that grief, to blame my opponents, I think it would have been very irresponsible not to tell the truth.

MARGARET WARNER: And how hard is it to carry on?

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Well, Margaret, losing somebody you have been with for the last 31 years, who has gone through all trials and tribulations, and sometimes triumphs, it's an irreplaceable -- irreplaceable gap. She was the pillar of -- of my life. We had gone through very bad moments, and she has stood by me, right up to the end.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

(NEWZIMBABWE BLOGS) Distorting Tsvangirai’s goodwill mission

Distorting Tsvangirai’s goodwill mission
Posted By Joram Nyathi
12 Jun, 2009 at 2:51 am

PRIME minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s trip to Europe and the US has elicited a variety of reactions from Zimbabweans.

There are conflicting perspectives between Zanu PF and MDC-T sympathisers on the merits of the trip. Both are overwhelmed by a third, internet-savvy and well-networked lobby for whom anything short of an anti-land reform “revolution” in Zimbabwe won’t do.

Premised on the fact that Tsvangirai’s tour is to call for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the same nations on Zimbabwe, diehards in Zanu PF say the MDC called for the sanctions as part of its regime change agenda and should, therefore, call them off.

MDC supporters on the other hand deny that their party called for the sanctions, whose existence the party leadership has vehemently denied until very recently. Instead they argue that President Mugabe and his party invited the sanctions through human rights violations and that Tsvangirai is being used to do the dirty work for Mugabe and the coalition government.

Then comes the powerful locally-based civic lobby. For this camp, every day brings forth fresh calamities: political arrests, Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana still in office, farm invasions, no new provincial governors or neutral permanent secretaries and the MDC still part of government!

For this group, the coalition government has utterly failed, Tsvangirai has been bought, human rights violations have worsened, sanctions must stay and there should be no aid to Zimbabwe. There has been no “change” and Tsvangirai should be told as such on his doomed tour.

Unfortunately none of the three positions makes Tsvangirai’s case on his European and American tour any easier. It is as if the whole nation were on a masochistic campaign to perpetuate its misery in exchange for international pity and charity.

It is not easy to grasp the specific purpose of Tsvangirai’s trip from the tendentious reporting in the state media that he has literally been ordered to go and call for the lifting of sanctions and then beg for financial assistance.

Nothing could be more presumptuous. From what platform would Mugabe make such an order? How would Tsvangirai be expected to execute it as if he had power over those from whom he needs help?

Tsvangirai appears to be aware of the hurdles in his way. He is aware of the conditions for assistance. He knows government has done very little to meet these conditions, even where there is no need for donor support like media reform.

He was therefore modest about his mission: to engage “with our partners”. He said Zimbabwe had been in isolation for the past 10 years and needed to reengage.

I doubt that he expects to be given any money immediately. The IMF is still demanding its pound of flesh of US$133 million. The best he could expect were face-to-face conversations with the leaders of the nations he is visiting and putting across his case no matter however weak.

They have deigned to listen to him, making it a goodwill mission, an icebreaker. They could very well have refused to meet him. He has a chance of responding directly to their reservations.

So far the discourse between Zimbabwe and the “international community” has been heavily mediated.

But then to read the state media, you would think Tsvangirai accepted the “brief” from Mugabe to go to Europe so that he could prove whether he had the open sesame to unlock foreign aid.

That explains headings like “Dutch government turns down Tsvangirai” as if he were on a personal mission.

Similarly, to listen to howls of protest from MDC supporters about Tsvangirai being used by Mugabe, you would think they expect him to bring the “billions and billions” of dollars Finance minister Tendai Biti claimed were being blocked by the US’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act to hand them over to Mugabe.

However, to me Tsvangirai’s achilles’ heel on his tour is the sudden volte-face of the MDC on the existence of sanctions, and the party’s denial that it called for their imposition at the height of its vicious fight with Zanu PF.

This is an invidious position for Tsvangirai because he must tell his hosts either that he was put under pressure by Zanu PF to admit there were more than “targeted” sanctions on Zimbabwe, or that all along the MDC was politicking. Both don’t do his image and that of his party much good.

Second, for the MDC to deny calling for the sanctions is at once to undermine its case and also to lose the moral authority in calling for their lifting. If the party didn’t call for the imposition of sanctions it can’t determine if the conditions for their removal have been satisfied.

That puts the issue beyond its power.

This is politics. It means the coalition can never do enough if doing so removes the pretext for the non-delivery of promised aid. It’s now a question of how well Tsvangirai knows his “partners” and in turn to what extent they believe he is still of strategic value to their interests.

The lesson is simple enough: Zimbabweans must have the honour to carry out political and legal reforms because they are necessary for its national well-being.

This should not be done to purchase foreign aid. The fight over donor money is a symptom of a nation which has lost its soul. No foreign taxpayer anywhere in the world owes us money.

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