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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mugabe under pressure Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since the June elections The Zimbabwean opposition is pressing for the impeachment of President Robert
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 26, 2000
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      Mugabe under pressure

      Zimbabwe has been in turmoil since the June elections
      The Zimbabwean opposition is pressing for the
      impeachment of President Robert Mugabe, who
      has threatened genocide trials for whites.

      The former white minority leader, Ian Smith,
      has reacted with scorn to President Mugabe's
      threat to put him and other whites on trial for
      alleged atrocities during Zimbabwe's war of
      liberation in the 1970s.

      Mr Smith said such a
      trial would give him a
      chance to tell the world
      that Mr Mugabe was a
      "gangster" who had
      plunged the country
      into anarchy.

      Meanwhile, an
      opposition motion calling for the president's
      impeachment is being considered by the
      speaker of parliament.

      The BBC's correspondent in Harare, Grant
      Ferrett, says the impeachment attempt is
      unlikely to succeed, but focuses attention
      again on President Mugabe's role in the
      collapse of the rule of law and the economy in
      the country.

      As opinion polls in
      Zimbabwe show
      President Mugabe's
      increasing unpopularity,
      South African President
      Thabo Mbeki has
      strongly condemned
      him for disregarding the
      rule of law.

      "This conflict is wrong.
      This approach, this
      occupation of farms,
      the seizure of farms,
      the disregard for the law, these things are
      wrong, these things must be addressed," Mr
      Mbeki said.

      He said it was up to the people of Zimbabwe
      to decide "whether the elected president of
      Zimbabwe continues to be the elected
      president of Zimbabwe".

      It was Mr Mbeki's strongest attack yet on
      President Mugabe's policy of seizing
      white-owned farms for redistribution to black

      Smith's challenge

      In an angry outburst before cheering
      supporters of his ruling Zanu-PF party on
      Wednesday, President Mugabe said the
      country's national reconciliation policy was
      being revoked to pave the way for the trials.

      "The whites, including
      Smith, will now stand
      trial for the genocide in
      this country. The
      Americans are still
      chasing after the Nazis
      and we will also start
      looking for the whites
      who fought with Smith.
      They must be
      arrested," Mr Mugabe

      But speaking in London
      on Thursday Mr Smith, 81, welcomed the
      threat of a trial in Zimbabwe.

      "I welcome it. I would love that. Let him try it.
      If he wants to make a fool of himself, that is
      his business", said Mr Smith.

      "It would give me the chance to tell the world
      the truth about this gangster. Our country is in
      total anarchy," he said.

      Mr Smith led white
      Rhodesians in a
      unilateral declaration of
      independence from
      Britain in 1965.

      After a seven-year civil
      war against guerrillas
      led by Mr Mugabe and
      other black leaders, Mr
      Smith was forced into
      a ceasefire and political
      settlement in 1979.

      White opposition

      Mr Mugabe has accused white Zimbabweans of
      trying to destabilise the country by backing
      the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change (MDC).

      Mr Mugabe has also singled out the white MDC
      parliamentarians David Coltart and Mike Auret
      for arrest and said they would not be "spared."

      But Mr Coltart said amnesties signed in 1980
      covered him and others including Mr Smith, and
      that Mr Mugabe's planned genocide trial would
      be against the law.


      Strange Disease Attacks Malawi's
      Chiradzulu District

      Panafrican News Agency
      October 25, 2000

      Blantyre, Malawi

      Doctors at Chiradzulu Hospital in the southern Malawi district
      of Chiradzulu are battling a strange disease which has so far
      attacked at least four girls.

      According to the district medical officer, Charles Kachale,
      the first case was brought to the hospital on Sunday.

      He said the girls brought to the hospital had paralysis in both
      legs and had lost speech.

      Kachale said that initially medical officials thought the girls
      had cerebral malaria or high blood pressure but tests for the
      two conditions proved negative.

      Kachale said two of the girls were admitted at the hospital
      while one was referred to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital
      for further tests.

      Parents of the last patient opted to take her home for
      traditional medicine.

      Kachale said doctors are puzzled because normally in a
      paralysis situation only one side of the body is affected. He
      also said all the girls so far affected were checked to see
      whether their vocal cords were affected but found that they
      were all right.

      He said that samples of blood extracted from the girls have
      been sent to ministry of health headquarters in Lilongwe, for
      further tests.

      Meanwhile, both girls admitted at Chiradzulu District Hospital
      have been discharged, although they are still paralysed and
      still cannot talk.

      Deputy health minister Phillip Bwanali told PANA
      Wednesday night that experts were still investigating the
      cause of the unusual disease.


      Malawi Breaks Rank With SADC Over
      Mosquito Pesticide

      Panafrican News Agency
      October 25, 2000

      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi has refused to endorse the use of the chemical DDT
      as away of controlling mosquitoes that spread malaria.

      Deputy Health Minister Phillip Bwanali said Malawi will only
      begin to use the pesticide after health and environmental
      experts would have thoroughly weighed the benefits against
      its side effects.

      "It is an open secret that DDT is environmentally hostile and
      can result in polluting our water bodies besides inflicting
      health problems on our people," he said.

      Bwanali said although Malawi is a member of the Southern
      Africa Development Community (SADC), the regional bloc
      which approved the use of DDT ironically at a recent health
      and agriculture ministers meeting in Malawi, the country has
      its own unique interests to protect.

      He said, for instance, Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest
      lake, is endowed with many unique species of fish and other
      aquatic animals that could be harmed by the chemical.

      Research, according to the deputy minister, shows that
      before the use of DDT was banned as pesticide, most of it
      ended up being washed into the Lake and adversely affected
      the aquatic balance.

      "We don't want a similar situation to happen again...the use
      of DDT would surely pollute our Lake and that will affect us
      because we depend on fish resources from the same Lake,"
      he said.

      Bwanali said while other southern African states will be
      promoting the use of DDT, Malawi will be promoting other
      ways of controlling the spread of malaria.

      Malawian environmentalists have joined the Health Minister
      in condemning the re-introduction of the use of DDT, a
      pesticide they describe as hazardous to all forms of life.

      They criticised the SADC Health Ministers for endorsing the
      use of DDT as way of reducing the prevalence of malaria.

      The ministers said many people in the SADC region are
      dying of malaria which has become resistant to many drugs.

      Among the drugs which the tropical disease has developed
      resistance is Sulphatoxine pyrimethamine (SP) locally known
      as Fansidar and Chloroquine.

      This led to the endorsement of DDT as a means of checking
      the spread of malaria.

      Leading the anti-pesticide campaign is the Executive
      Director of Wildlife Society of Malawi, Daulos Mauambeta,
      who said the use of the chemical has a negative impact on
      the country's ecosystem.

      "It is unfortunate the chemical that was banned years ago
      should be used again. This will have some effects on the
      people since in an ecosystem feeding levels depend on
      each other," he said.

      Mauambeta said there are certain animals that depend on
      flies and mosquitoes for their survival and if these feed on
      them the whole system will be affected.

      He said he believes that prevention is better than cure,
      adding that he would prefer the use of mosquito nets as a
      way of dealing with the problem of malaria.

      "The best thing is simply to ensure that there are no breeding
      places for mosquitoes around people's homes. Otherwise I
      would prefer the adoption of traditional plants whose smoke
      when burnt chases away mosquitoes," he said.

      He further explained that the smoke does no harm to human
      health and it has been used in villages for a long time.

      Robert Kafakoma, Executive Director of the Co-ordination
      Unit for Rehabilitation of Environment (CURE) in Malawi,
      said the use of DDT has very adverse impact on the
      environment and human beings.

      "DDT was used to kill certain pests in the field of agriculture
      but these pests are much stronger than mosquitoes, so its
      chemical composition should also be reduced," he added.


      Cholera Outbreak Devastates Malawi's 'Lost

      Panafrican News Agency
      October 25, 2000

      Raphael Tenthani, PANA
      Blantyre, Malawi

      There is a silent outbreak of cholera on the small islands of
      Chisi and Thongwe on Lake Chilwa, Malawi's second largest
      lake located in Zomba district.

      The cholera is threatening to decimate the islands' 2,000
      people because these people are completely cut off from the

      A group of journalists visiting the area recently discovered
      that poverty is rife on the islands. There are no clinics and not
      enough toilets to go around the small population.

      In fact, many inhabitants of the islands practically stay in the
      waters, using the lake to relieve themselves when nature
      calls, thereby resulting in the spread of cholera.

      They live in houses made of reed and other vegetation which
      they erect right in the middle of the lake on spikes.

      Magulaye Salima is over 70 and has lived like this on the
      water since the 1950s. Ironically, he said, he has no
      problems and takes the chronic cholera outbreaks as a
      natural phenomenon.

      "We live happily here, catching our fish," he said.

      Salima showed the journalists inside his simple hut
      suspended above the water. He told of how fish - and only
      fish - is the island people's only source of life.

      The huts are made of reed and other vegetation. Mounds of
      dirt are smeared on one corner to be used for roasting fish.

      Many islanders are satisfied with the status quo mainly
      because they know no other life styles. Many here have never
      been out of the waters, many have not even seen a car or

      But the more enlightened ones feel left out on the national

      Ronald Chigwere, another resident of the 'lost island', said
      government could have done better on the islands. A
      member of the controversial Jehova's Witness sect,
      Chigwere - retired police officer - complains that nobody
      seems to care about the island people.

      "There is nothing here, no agriculture, nothing. Most people
      here live in dire poverty," he said.

      Chigwere said since Malawi became independent in 1964,
      the first and late President Hastings Kamuzu Banda never
      visited the island until he was voted out of office in 1994.

      Current President Bakili Muluzi did visit the area soon after
      his election to the high office in 1994 and promised a lot of
      things. But, there has been no follow-up.

      Chigwere said since Muluzi's visit a health post has been
      built but no health workers have been sent.

      District Environmental Officer Jacinta Chipenda told
      journalists on a 15-hour cruise on the lake that cholera is
      indeed a perennial problem on the islands and tens of
      people die every year.

      "The islands are ravaged by cholera all year round because
      Lake Chilwa has no outlet," she said. Most residents of the
      islands excrete in the water and use the same water for
      domestic purposes.

      She said government is planning to bring health workers on
      the islands not only to treat the disease but also to advise the
      islanders on good hygiene.

      Lake Chilwa is a tropical salt-water lake with no outlet. Its
      deepest point is seven metres but it is rich in fish.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.


        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.


        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.


        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.


        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.


        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu


        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.



        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.


        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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