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February 2008

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Death of a baby

One small tragedy in the midst of so many

On January 18 this year Primrose Marufu began experiencing labour pains, two months earlier than expected. Her husband Nathaniel rushed her to Glen View Polyclinic in Harare. But they were turned away. Glen View had been without electricity for three weeks at that time. They were refered instead to Harare Central Hospital.

Primrose was admitted at Central Hospital, and her little boy was born just a few minutes later. As is normal practice for such a premature birth, the child was placed in an incubator, where it was expected to remain for four weeks.

Three days later they came to tell Primrose that her son was dead. Stunned, stricken with grief, she and Nathaniel demanded to know why. The answer horrified them.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Seven ways to win an election

If you thought elections were all about speeches, manifestos and honest campaigning...think again

Zanu-PF have a formidable arsenal of dirty tricks, dodgy methods, threats, schemes, bribes and beatings up their sleeve, and now, as the election draws inexorably nearer, they're all coming out on show. This week I compiled my top seven, though doubtless there are many more. Here we go with the Moses Moyo count-down: How to win an election seven different ways.

1.  Pay your soldiers:  The government needs its bullyboys on its side. So this week trillions of dollars have been distributed to troops, police and civil servants. My sources say the government secured some $137 trillion from the Reserve Bank for this purpose. Thus a private in the army, that's the lowest rank, who earned $310 million in January, this month received £1.2 billion. That should prevent any mutinies.

2.  Use the stick in the sticks:  Already violence has become a feature of the campaign out in rural areas, where 75 per cent of registered voters live, but where the media cameras rarely penetrate. Examples have been made of "sellouts" in front of their fellow villagers. It's brutal, and it will get worse.

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Friday, 22 February 2008

Watch your back, Simba!

Zimbabwe's police don't think Makoni is worth protecting - and they've told him so

Simba Makoni, controversial candidate for the Presidency and the man on whom so many are pinning their hopes in Zimbabwe, has had his request for routine protection turned down by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)

Makoni applied for protection for himself, his family, and his close associates - a normal and, in the circumstances, advisable step - this week. He received an immediate reply from Deputy Commissioner Innocent Matibiri, who runs the VIP Protection Unit.

I was shown the letter, dated February 19, yesterday. In it, Matibiri is blunt, to say the least. "Please be advised accordingly Dr. Makoni that police protection is only awarded to individuals with VIP status. Regrettably you do not hold such status." This is an extraordinary statement to make to someone who's in a two-horse race for the Presidency, and Matibiri then continues with a remark that is frankly chilling.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Happy birthday, Bob!

It better be a happy birthday. He's spending three trillion of our dollars on it

Yes, he's made it through another year. Zim 1, as our gallant security lads know him, is 84 on Thursday. He's holding his birthday bash on Saturday, down in Beitbridge, in Matabeleland South province, the gateway to South Africa. Hundreds are going, but so far my invitation must have got lost in the post.

The cost of the festivities is conservatively estimated at three trillion Zim dollars, but don't worry, our government won't be spending actual government money on it. Instead everything that is needed will be "donated".

Thus the Ministry of the Environment and Tourism will donate game meat. The Ministry of Energy and Power is getting the necessary fuel from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe. The Agriculture Ministry is coming in with maize meal from the Grain Marketing Board. And yes, the National Distiller, Detla Beverages, has already trucked in three loads of beer. All donated, you understand. But wait a moment, where are the necessary thick juicy steaks coming from?

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Monday, 18 February 2008

So the battle begins

It was Nomination Day on Friday - and signs of the Zanu-PF split were there for all to see

Speculation about just who is supporting who in the forthcoming battle between Mugabe and Makoni has been erratic to say the least - and I include my own prophecies in that. But on Friday, when the Nomination Court opened, we could at last identify some of those Zanu-PD figures brave enough to defy the President and his clique.

The moment of truth arrived when it came time for parliamentary candidates to file their nomination papers. Chaos reigned, as several top Zanu-PF politicians defied instructions to stand aside in favour of the alleged "winners" of the party's primary elections.

Instead they went ahead and filed their own papers, the result of which will be that in places two Zanu-PF names will stand for the same seat. Ask Robert Mugabe what he thinks of that, and you are likely to get an uncivil reply.

Today it's my pleasure to record the names of some of those brave enough to put their heads above the parapet.

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Friday, 15 February 2008

Makoni - the dangers he faces

How Mugabe's men plan to sabotage Simba Makoni's bid for the Presidency

Zanu-PF's top operatives are wasting no time in setting out to destroy the Makoni campaign before it even gets off the ground. A high level security meeting was held on Wednesday, plans were formulated, and on Thursday a top secret Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) memo was sent out. As usual I was one of the first to see it.

It's a chilling document. It emanates from the office of the CIO director general Happyton Bonyongwe, it is coded DG/sm11, and it puts all national and provincial security operatives, spies, thugs and bullyboys on "condition red."

The memo describes Makoni as "too hot to handle", says that in challenging Zim1 (CIO code for Mugabe) he is posing a big security risk, and adds that the political atmosphere is charged up, and "citizens are restless and ready to vote out Zim 1."

This last is an extraordinary statement. Apparently the top CIO men believe Mugabe could lose. But they are also intent on making sure it doesn't happen, by all fair, and as you will see if you read on, by all foul means.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Down on the farm, yet again

Some believe that Zimbabwe's troubles began with Mugabe's first land grab - but if so, he still hasn't learned his lesson.

Two agricultural stories came my way this week, and they each illustrate how easy it is, when trying to redistribute land, to shoot yourself in the foot. And I know regular readers will be pleased to hear that the first limping victim of such an accident is our comic hero Didymus Mutasa. Yes, the same Didymus who rejoices in the title of Minister for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, and who recently distinguished himself with the discovery of a natural diesel spring in the bush.

You won't be exactly overcome with shock horror when you learn that Didymus has been on the fiddle. To be exact, he's targeted some of the few remaining white farmers, extorting large amounts of cash from them in exchange for letting them keep their land.

A foolproof fiddle? Well, not if you're as big a fool as Didymus. Once again the oaf has overplayed his hand. After receiving amounts of US$85,000 and US$74,000 from two Mashonaland West farmers in 2006, he went back recently for more. threatening action by so-called War Veterans. And the farmers were having none of it.

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Saturday, 09 February 2008

The men behind Makoni

Revealed for the first time - the men who are abandoning their loyalty to Mugabe, and giving it to the Young Pretender.

Simba Makoni, the Presidential candidate who believes he can take the place of Robert Mugabe and lead the country back to sanity, has been reluctant to reveal who exactly is backing his bid for power. But Moses Moyo, as usual, has no such hesitation. And I'm here to tell you exactly who's who, aboard the Makoni bandwagon.

Everyone knows, of course, that the Godfather of the anti-Mugabe Mafia is the imposing and indeed rather frightening figure of Ex-General Solomon Mujuru, the extremely rich businessman now seen by many as one of the most powerful men in Southern Africa.

But standing with him, and indeed answering to him, are a handful of very important men indeed, men who's future fortune will rise or fall with that of Makoni himself. This is who they are:

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Thursday, 07 February 2008

Election? What election?

Mugabe may be ready for it. Makoni may be all for it. But there are some who say it's just not on.

One of the few joys in life today - and there aren't that many in modern Zimbabwe - is the availability of good reading matter. Whenever I run out of a decent book or newspaper, I know that sooner or later someone high in public office will sneakily hand me a secret memo, from which I will derive hours of reading pleasure.

The latest missive to land in my hands emanates from the depths of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). It is marked "For Urgent Attention and Extremely Confidential", its correct destination is the Ministry for Home Affairs, and its contents carry what I can only describe as an election bombshell.

Because the ZEC is telling the government, in no uncertain terms, that there is no way in which the harmonized elections in March can take place. It is a practical impossibility, it says. And it goes into graphic details.

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Tuesday, 05 February 2008

Simba Makoni makes his move

As predicted, the charismatic Makoni is standing against Mugabe - but is he heading for a fall?

His press conference may have been hastily arranged, but Zimbabwe's former finance minister and Zanu-PF politburo member Simon Makoni sounded strong and confident this morning, Friday, when I listened to him announcing that he would challenge Mugabe for the Presidency at the elections next month.

Much of this confidence must stem from his backers. He told me privately that he expected statements of support from Solomon Mujuru, retired colonel Kudzai Mbudzi and academic Ibbo Mandaza shortly. Mujuru is of course the most influential of these three, and my sources tell me that he has swung the army behind his protege.

Predictably, attacks on Makoni has already begun. Three cabinet ministers - Didymus Mutasa, Joseph Made and Patrick Chinamasa - were on their feet on Sunday in Manicaland, alleging that Makoni is bent on destroying Zanu-PF by forming an alliance with the opposition Movement For Democratic Change. Would that he could.

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Sunday, 03 February 2008

They nearly got us this time!

How the latest government plan to silence anti-Mugabe journalists came to naught - thanks to a kindly little mozzie

I'm lucky to be writing this today, and 13 colleagues of mine are equally fortunate. We should have been rounded up in dawn raids last Monday, made brief appearances in court, and be now confined in the grim cells of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

Three days before the planned raids, all was in place.The detention orders were prepared. And yes, my name was on one of them. The hit squads were organised. All that was needed was the signature of the man in charge on the orders, a certain Chief Inspector A. H. Mataire.

But mosquitos don't care, do they? They have no taste. They'll bite anyone, even top CIO bullyboys. And sure enough, one had a chew on Chief Inspector Mataire, and he was suddenly taken very ill with malaria-like symptoms, and carted off to what we still, ironically, call a hospital. And, Zimbabwe being the crippled bureaucracy that it is, the whole operation collapsed and had to be called off.

Sounds an unlikely story? Perhaps. But I have seen one of the detention orders. And you will agree, it is evidence enough.

Continue reading "They nearly got us this time!" »

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