Zimbabwe this week – Issue No. 3

This week in Zimbabwe, the issue of violence dominated both the public and private media.

Violence came in different shades, with Zanu PF looting and invading business premises. Hired youths in seven truckloads entered into Harare this morning and assembled at the Zanu PF provincial offices in Fourth Street for final touches to a state-sponsored plan to invade and loot businesses in the city central district owned and run by foreign nationals, mainly Chinese, Indian and Nigerian entrepreneurs.

The purpose of their Fourth Street meeting was to don MDCs ceremonial outfits, shirts and other party regalia in a bid to mask their identities and smear the MDC as the aggressor and belligerent factor in this dastardly act.

The MDC strongly condemned Zanu PFs barbaric behaviour which reached a climax as the partys youths tried to invade and loot businesses in Harare. Nowhere has an economy been driven through lawlessness and a casual destruction of the little that exists as a way of mass empowerment. The MDC was surprised to learn that the police had sanctioned such a demonstration and deliberately did nothing to protect innocent business people from Zanu PFs wanton attacks and a subsequent looting spree that followed the disturbances.

To cause further grief to internally displaced people, armed riot police on Monday arrested hundreds of MDC members who had sought refuge at a church in Glen Norah. Hundreds of families of MDC activists and supporters were last week displaced from their homes in several parts of Harare, especially in Mbare after Zanu PF youths ran riot and destroyed and looted their property. Some of the MDC members were arrested after reporting the disturbances at Mbare Police Station while some were hospitalised.

Wednesdays The Herald published what senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said was a comprehensive report on recent cases of public violence in Zimbabwe and this clearly vindicated the MDCs position that the police, in alliance with Zanu PF, have the potential to pose a fresh, major threat to freedom in Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, The Herald the sister paper to the Peoples voice, a Zanu PF mouth-piece this week excelled in peddling lies and falsehoods in a bid to smear the character of the MDC and its leader, President Morgan Tsvangirai.

The newspaper claimed President Tsvangirai addressed Western diplomats at Harvest House on Monday at which he allegedly implored on them to extend the targeted restrictive measure against Zimbabwe ahead of elections later this year.

President Tsvangirai had been out of Harare on business elsewhere since the end of last week as such he could never have addressed the said meeting.

Meanwhile, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network or FEWSNET this week said that although economic conditions in Zimbabwe are better and food supplies have stabilized, around 1.7 million Zimbabweans will need food aid in the first quarter of this year.

In a new food assessment, FEWSNET said 75 percent of Zimbabweans considered to be food insecure live in rural communities in the semi-arid provinces of Matabeleland North and South and Masvingo, with the rest in urban areas facing high food costs. FEWSNET observed that most Zimbabweans are battling to make ends meet due to prevailing low incomes and high levels of unemployment.

Media reports towards the end of the week showed that Robert Mugabe is in a tight spot over the controversial lifespan of the government of national unity, which he purports ends on 11 February, as there is no sunset clause terminating the troubled coalitions duration. This comes as the unpopular Zanu PF continues to plot how to collapse the inclusive government to force early elections through the use of violence.

It has also emerged in other media that more than 75 000 ghost workers, most of them unqualified Zanu PF militias and supporters, have been unearthed in the civil service through a comprehensive payroll and skills audit done by Ernst & Young (India) on behalf of the Ministry of Public Service.

The discovery of thousands of ghost workers including 6 861 employed in one day in one ministry has alarmed government ministers and stakeholders who say it revealed the extent of Zanu PFs abuse of office to create a huge patronage network using the public service at the expense of taxpayers.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Development instituted a forensic audit into the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) after it failed to account for US$35 million fuel duty from independent importers. Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma made the revelation in the Senate on Tuesday when he responded to a question during his steering of the Energy Regulation Bill through its second reading.

For more on these and other issues, visit www.realchangetimes.com

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