Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ITN - Wednesday, April 30 05:44 pm

Election Run-off Coming to Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe presidential elections are set for a run-off between Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, according to senior government sources.

The move comes after Mr Tsvangirai won 47 percent of the vote and Robert Mugabe captured 43 percent.

According to sources a run-off would be needed because Mr Tsvangirai did not win enough votes for an outright victory.

The wait for the March 29 election result has led to a tense stand-off and drawn accusations from Mr Tsvangirai and his opposition Movement for Democratic Change party that Mr Mugabe, 84, is trying to rig the outcome following three decades in power.

Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party has already lost control of parliament and Western powers are likely to pour in aid and investment to the country which is suffering from economic turmoil if victory goes to Mr Tsvangirai.

Severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages are worsening and there are no signs an inflation rate of 165,000 per cent - the world's highest - will ease.

With recounts in five remaining constituencies completed, candidates, their proxies and observers will compare official Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) figures with those compiled themselves from polling stations.
Zimbabwe gloats over UN stalemate

Susan Njanji
Harare, Zimbabwe
30 April 2008 01:04

The Zimbabwe government savoured a rare diplomatic victory on Wednesday after the United Nations Security Council failed to agree on how to respond to the country's post-election crisis.

Western countries such as former colonial power Britain, urged on by the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had been trying to steer the council to adopt a common strategy on the situation in Zimbabwe, where the results of a March 29 presidential election have still to be announced.

However, a meeting of the council at UN headquarters in New York broke up on Tuesday without agreement after a clear split among the 15 member nations.

"It was a British machination to try to bully African nations, a racist ploy ... to say Africans are not capable of making decisions and that African issues can only be seen through the eyes of little England," Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said.

"It was a non-event, there was no need for that."

Matonga said the division among the international community on how to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis should be a lesson to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, accusing him of bias towards the opposition.

Ban said on Tuesday that the Zimbabwean authorities should immediately release the presidential poll results, saying: "We know who is the winner."

"It's a lesson for the secretary general of the UN that he should not take sides as he had done in the previous meeting to try to mention Zimbabwe at a breakfast meeting with Gordon Brown," said Matonga.

South Africa, Russia and China were among the countries that blocked moves towards any UN intervention, despite pleas by the MDC for a special UN envoy to be sent to the troubled Southern African nation.

The outcome is a rare diplomatic victory for the Mugabe regime, which has been under increasing pressure over the hold-up to the election results.

The state-run Herald newspaper, whose headline proclaimed "UN snubs MDC", accused Britain of trying to lobby Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania to form a group to pressurise regional countries to lean on Mugabe.

'The council is divided'

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti flew to New York in an unsuccessful attempt to brief the council on the post-poll crisis.

He called for a "strong and decisive" resolution from the Security Council against the Mugabe regime, as well as for the dispatch of a UN envoy or fact-finding mission to his country.

Proponents of the attempt to put Zimbabwe on the agenda included the United kingdom, United States, Belgium and France.

US deputy ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff deplored the fact that the council could not find common ground on how to respond.

"The council is divided," he said.

"There are a number of governments who were quite outspoken about the importance of the council remaining engaged ... but there were others who have different views and think that the situation deserves more time and that ultimately it is up for the Zimbabwean people to resolve it themselves," he said.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai (56) claims he defeated the 84-year-old Robert Mugabe in the March 29 presidential poll, based on his party's calculations.

But Mugabe supporters say no candidate won outright and there should be a run-off. No official result has so far been released.

The post-election impasse has led to a rise in violence, with the MDC claiming that 15 of its followers have been killed by Mugabe loyalists.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a respected New York-based watchdog, said the African Union and UN needed to take immediate action to prevent further violence in Zimbabwe, accusing the country's army of running a campaign of terror.

"The army and its allies -- war veterans and supporters of the ruling party Zanu-PF -- are intensifying their brutal grip on wide swathes of rural Zimbabwe to ensure that a possible second round of presidential elections goes their way," Georgette Gagnon, HRW's Africa director, said in a statement.

"Military forces are providing arms and trucks to the so-called war veterans, who have been implicated in numerous acts of torture and other violence against opposition MDC members and supporters."

Controversial land-grabs

Meanwhile, Barclays Bank has been accused of providing
"personal banking services" for up to four members of Mugabe's regime, London's Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

The four members of the Mugabe government are said to have benefited from the controversial land-grabs from white farmers in Zimbabwe, the newspaper said.

According to the Liberal Democrats, the alleged support was against the spirit of European Union sanctions, which specifically target leading members of the Zimbabwe government.

Under European Union sanctions imposed in 2002, bank accounts and funds of 131 members of Mugabe's regime were frozen.

Barclays allegedly provided the facilities through a locally registered company, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, listed on the Harare Stock Exchange, the Daily Telegraph said.

Barclays could lawfully avoid the sanctions regime because it owned a 64% stake through a locally incorporated holding company -- and local companies are exempt from the sanctions.

A Barclays spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph: "We are studying the comments ... Barclays is compliant with EU sanctions regarding Zimbabwe. Barclays always seeks to conduct its business in an ethical and responsible manner.

"Barclays has been in Zimbabwe since 1912 and is deeply committed to supporting its 150 000 customers in the country in what is clearly a difficult operating environment."
-- AFP, Sapa

Gono ‘frees’ forex trade

By Victoria Ruzvidzo

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has liberalised the foreign currency market by introducing an interbank trading system that will result in exchange rates being determined by the forces of supply and demand to encourage inflows into the formal market.

Individuals, embassies and other institutions will now sell their foreign currency to banks and other authorised dealers on a willing-buyer/willing-seller basis.

Presenting the 2008 First Quarter Monetary Policy Statement in Harare yesterday, RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono announced key measures to guide foreign currency trading, set to subdue activity on the parallel market.

The measures were also in response to requests by the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe to liberalise the exchange rate system.

"Freeing the exchange rate system by introducing an interbank foreign exchange market in order to formalise the trading of foreign exchange away from the informal market to the formal market, this measure will go a long way in addressing many apparent distortions in the pricing system in the economy while at the same time addressing the shortages of goods and services in the economy," said a memo to Dr Gono signed by BAZ president Dr John Mangudya.

The willing-buyer/willing-seller concept, said BAZ, would also reduce "unnecessary" demand for foreign currency in the market while creating an efficient pricing system.

Banks and other authorised dealers will now display their average buying and selling price each business day and will on-sell their foreign exchange to the Reserve Bank at the going interbank rate, leaving them with a float of not more than US$100 000.

This strategy is meant to rebuild the country’s strategic reserves position.

Exporters will now dispose of their surrender requirements to the central bank at the interbank rate while surrender levels, previously at 35 percent, will be determined by the rate at which exporters grow their exports.

For instance, a 10 percent growth will reduce the surrender level to 25 percent while a 30 percent rise in exports will see exporters retaining 95 percent of their earnings.

Retention levels will now be held in corporate Foreign Currency Accounts for a maximum of 21 days.

Under the twinning willing-buyer/willing-seller arrangement, authorised dealers will match sellers with buyers, guided by a priority list that will see food production, spare parts, fertilizers and other related imports being allocated 35 percent of available foreign currency while other critical imports will receive varying amounts based on the list.

"In order to significantly move the economy towards stability, increased capacity utilisation, availability of basic commodities and, hence, reduced and declining inflationary pressures, it has become necessary that the pricing and allocative frameworks in the foreign exchange market be reformed in a manner that guarantees viability for all generators of foreign exchange, whilst at the same time ensuring availability and affordability of this resource to users of foreign currency, particularly the non-exporting producers of basic goods and services," said Dr Gono.

This will also help strengthen the Zimbabwe dollar as overall export levels and other foreign currency levels improve.

The central bank chief also spoke passionately about the global food crisis and its effects back home, saying strategies would be employed to boost production.

"Most importantly, the strongest lesson for Zimbabwe is that now is the time to swiftly act against the ravaging global menace of hunger so as to lay a credible foundation for lasting macro-economic stability and internal cohesion of our nation," said Dr Gono.

In this regard, the lifespan of the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility will be extended to the 2008 summer cropping season while the modified Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention Facility will also be extended to December.

The latter now incorporates Upfront Social Front Pacts between the central bank and beneficiaries to ensure effective deployment of funds.

This comes in the wake of reports that some firms had previously channelled the funds to speculative deals, thus defeating the facility’s purpose.

Furthermore, Dr Gono introduced a $300 trillion Strategic Products Price Controls Mitigation Fund to cushion firms against the effects of price controls.

Producers of such selected products as bread, sugar, cooking oil, stockfeeds and cement, among others, will get financial assistance to make up for the "genuine" adverse effects of price controls and delays in the approval of justified price reviews.

The fourth phase of the agricultural sector mechanisation programme will be launched in July to equip more communal, A1 and A2 farmers to increase production on the farms.

On inflation, Dr Gono reiterated that it remains the economy’s greatest challenge.

However, strategies to boost agricultural production, enhance general industrial output and foreign currency generation will help suppress inflationary pressures.

The annual rate of inflation stood at 165 000 percent as of February.

Tight monetary conditions such as increases in secured and unsecured accommodation to 4 500 percent and 5 000 percent, respectively, would also help reduce inflation.

Dr Gono bemoaned the absence of political cohesion and unity of common national purpose between the main political parties and challenged them to desist from selfish practices that were harmful to the nation, but to instead put Zimbabwe first.

"While we have been heartened to notice that a growing number of political players across the political divide are beginning to use the language of nation-building and economic revival, we, nevertheless, eagerly await the day when that language will be transformed into operational beliefs through concerted action.

"And we pray that this will happen not tomorrow, but today. Words are meaningful only when they are acted upon, not only when they are declared," he said.

Sanctions continued to wreak havoc in the economy, prompting Dr Gono to implore the business community to speak strongly against them. "The business community should condemn the sanctions . . . only then can we say we are moving in the same direction."

MDC-T under the grip of Western mind controllers

By David Samuriwo

BRITISH mind controllers have come out of their closets in a clumsy and ham-fisted operation that has seen MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, leave Zimbabwe for self-imposed exile in neighbouring Botswana.

That is a strategic miscalculation. It validates the much talked about lack of a national character within MDC-T which is overwhelmed by foreign influence.

Expectedly and at their own peril, both the mind controllers and those being managed do not view this as political nightmare to the opposition. Instead, both view the ‘‘refugee’’ status as bold resistance to Zanu-PF.

This same mindset is also stuck in the thinking of the purported remaining strongman in the formation, Tendai Biti.

His comments in Kenya after talks with the newly installed prime minister, Raila Odinga that Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from Kenya’s post election violence confirmed his tag as a political upstart.

MDC-T supporters should view Biti’s trip to Kenya and his utterances in the context of a mind controller’s thinking. To British mind controllers the difference between Kenya and Zimbabwe is the same.

They are all African countries suffering from the same disease that needs the same medicine. Zimbabwe definitely has nothing to learn from Kenya’s chaos and mayhem.

According to Tsvangirai, he has decided to fight the on-going presidential and parliamentary race from Botswana because he ‘‘fears’’ being attacked or jailed if he returns to Zimbabwe.

"It’s no use going back to Zimbabwe and become captive. Then you are not effective", said Tsvangirai in an interview with the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail in Johannesburg, South Africa widely quoted by the Press this week.

For 30 days during the month of March, Tsvangirai crisscrossed the length and breath of Zimbabwe campaigning for his bid for the presidency.

Supporters of both his party and those belonging to Zanu-PF freely campaigned for their preferred candidates. Not many incidents of politically motivated violence were witnessed.

Even the Zimbabwe Republic Police and election observers commended the political maturity of the voters.

All of a sudden, the man makes a U-turn telling his Western backers that his continued stay in Zimbabwe was perilous and as such, he needs protection from the US and its Western allies.

The spin line being thrown by the British mind controllers to the gullible Western readers to psyche them for offensive options against Zanu-PF is that if Tsvangirai returns to Zimbabwe he will face charges of treason.

The charges of treason stem from an off-the-cuff statement being attributed to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa suggesting that a letter written by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Tsvangirai supporting regime change in Zimbabwe was treasonous.

Why has Tsvangirai become the judge and the jury of his own purported treason case if ever it exists?

There is need to repeat the recent court judgments that have been made in favor of the due course of the electoral process.

Vote re-counting, with the blessing of Zimbabwean courts of law was underway in 23 constituencies where the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission felt there were irregularities that impacted on the final result. Polling officers who were paid money to manipulate the voting process are being prosecuted.

Others have already been found guilty and dully sentenced.

The envisaged protests to forcibly remove a sitting government in power unconstitutionally has turned out to be an embarrassing illusion especially to the British mind controllers in charge of the regime change agenda.

The line of thinking being pursued by the mind controllers is obviously not in the best interests of the MDC-T. How will Tsvangirai campaign for a possible run-off, as unconfirmed figures seem to indicate? The motive behind Tsvangirai’s temporary stay in Botswana as he unashamedly disclosed to the media is to maintain the global spotlight on Zimbabwe.

As pointed out earlier the modus operandi of these mind controllers are clumsy and ham-fisted. Recently, they gave Gordon Brown the task of tabling the so-called Zimbabwean "election crises" to the UN Security Council where it was unanimously thrown out, as his elephant-like rumblings on Zimbabwe were not on the agenda of the proceedings.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is a respected African statesman. He has made his position very clear "Please let the due electoral process in Zimbabwe proceed within the confines of its electoral laws".

The mind controllers would have none of that.

‘‘He has to be exposed for the charlatan he is,’’ so they say.

As if on cue Tsvangirai once again graced the public gallery to air innuendoes against the South African president in Johannesburg.

"President Mbeki needs to be relieved of his duty" calling for what he termed fresh initiatives by Sadc to untangle the so-called Zimbabwe’s election stalemate.

Throwing away all diplomatic etiquette and insulting Mbeki in his own homeland? South Africans are not fools.

Their day of reckoning is not very far away. Vavi and company are not the type to rely on. Even if they ascend to the highest echelons power, they will not last longer than a single term in office.

Sadc leaders took a stand against Tsvangirai’s warped advice from his mind controllers. "We have renewed our confidence in him (Mbeki) by asking him to continue the work of mediation and find a solution to the situation in Zimbabwe," Mauritian Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolan said over the weekend.

Predictably South Africa’s government spokesperson, obviously airing the views of his president put the record straight and to the point. "The Zimbabweans need to be informed about the reasons for holding the results. But the most important thing is that the results need to be verified and released as soon as possible". That is the on-going process.

ZEC has discovered huge anomalies in tallying of both the parliamentary and the presidential vote with some polling officers already in the dock and others already convicted and there is every reason to clear the air before prematurely announcing the results as being demanded by the British mind controllers.

Of interest to note is the catapulting into the Zimbabwean electoral process of non-entities in the likes of Louis Michel, EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid.

He had the audacity to order Sadc to exert pressure on the Government to accept the "initial results" of elections, which according to him the opposition won.

According to him, the dramatic effects of the "Zimbabwe crises" will mainly hit the population of Zimbabwe but they will also hit the whole region — bookish interpretation.

Zimbabwe is undergoing a revolution, like it or not, that revolution has its own dire consequences.

As said earlier, the mind controllers rope in every Jack and Jill to accommodate their view in a phony evaluation and analysis of their strategy.

To camouflage their hegemonic interests the British mind controllers also roped in Jess Stoltenburg, Prime Minister of Norway to act as an auxiliary force in ratcheting pressure on Sadc heads of state and government.

In a short and precise statement delivered at the Sadc meeting in Mauritius last week and billed as a "Development and Poverty" summit, Stoltenberg demanded; "The situation should not be allowed to continue".

The meeting was in fact one of those numerous summits currently being ratcheted up to exchange notes on how to apply brakes on the seemingly unstoppable Zimbabwean march to self determination among the community of world nations.

Those privileged to access the Digital Satellite Television can testify the comradeship explicitly exposed on various channels between our modern day Moise Tshombe and the Norwegian Prime Minister.

The British mind controllers have availed so much in terms of financial resources to the extent that poor Morgan has completely lost his marbles.

UN publicly fingers MDC-T for violence

By Caesar Zvayi

THE MDC-T campaign to demonise the Government for alleged violence and human rights abuses came unstuck on Tuesday when the United Nations Secretariat also publicly fingered the opposition for violence against Zanu-PF supporters.

This came minutes before the world body snubbed attempts by the MDC-T’s Western handlers to have Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Security Council as a prelude to intervention, saying it was only ‘‘the UK and the US who have been the most vocal on the issue’’ while Africa was for quiet diplomacy.

In his briefing to the Security Council meeting on Wednesday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Mr B. Lynn Pascoe said though the MDC-T claimed Zanu-PF had launched a campaign of violence against its supporters, reports indicated that MDC-T supporters were also resorting to violence and intimidation.

‘‘There are reports that Zanu-PF has incited a campaign of abuses against MDC officials and supporters . . . Reports also suggested ‘an emerging pattern of political violence inflicted mainly, but not exclusively, on rural supporters of the opposition MDC party’, some reports also indicated some MDC supporters were resorting to violence and intimidation.’’

He noted that though the MDC-T leadership claimed that 10 of its supporters had died as a result of politically-motivated violence, the police and Zanu-PF had denied the assertions.

‘‘The MDC says at least 10 of its supporters have been killed. However, the police and Zanu-PF deny any deaths due to political violence,’’ Mr Pascoe said.

Mr Pascoe’s observations are vindicated by a document prepared by the MDC-T leadership chronicling alleged cases of politically-motivated violence from March 29 that does not report any deaths contrary to the claims made by the party leadership in the South African and Western media.

Police say they have handled over 75 cases of politically-motivated violence perpetrated by MDC-T supporters while the opposition alleges that Zanu-PF supporters were involved in 27 instances of violence against their supporters.

Official records from the CID Law and Order Section show that the department has dealt with 33 cases of violence, most of which stemmed from the abortive stayaway called by the MDC-T.

So far, 10 opposition supporters have appeared in court with two of the cases already finalised, 11 others have paid admission of guilt fines while 13 are still under investigation. A further 53 accused persons have paid fines for various offences of politically-motivated violence.

A letter from MDC-T MP-elect for the St Mary’s constituency that we reproduce in full on the letters page also situates violence within opposition circles.

Sources at the UN Secretariat said the world body had counselled caution over claims by the MDC-T leadership, saying many of the claims made since the elections had been found to be false or were not substantiated by facts.

They cited the statement made by MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti on April 2, claiming his party had won 80 percent of the House of Assembly seats which would have translated into 168 of the 210 seats when it had managed only 99 seats; and the claim that Morgan Tsvangirai had garnered 50,3 percent of the vote yet the figures the party quoted gave him 49,1 percent of the votes.

Last week, two suspected MDC-T supporters appeared in court, facing charges of arson after the opposition allegedly unleashed an organised campaign of violence at Mayo Resettlement Area in Headlands where they torched more than eight homesteads belonging to Zanu-PF supporters.

Sadc’s Barrica meets ZEC chairperson Chiweshe

Herald Reporter

HEAD of the Sadc election observer mission Mr Marcos Barrica met Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice George Chiweshe in Harare yesterday to get an update on the electoral process.

Mr Barrica, who is also Angolan Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, was briefed about the just-ended vote recount and the pending verification of presidential poll results.

Director of defence, politics and security at the Sadc secretariat Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Thanki Mothae confirmed the meeting.

"The minister had a meeting with ZEC and it was related to the current electoral issues," said Rtd Lt-Col Mothae.

The meeting by the Sadc mission is part of a series of meetings the team has had with stakeholders.

Rtd Lt-Col Mothae said the mission would compile a report after the whole electoral process was complete.

"We have not yet released our report. We are still holding meetings with observers whom we had deployed," said Rtd Lt-Col Mothae.

"Once all the electoral process is complete, we will compile and release our report."

The Sadc election observer team returned two weeks ago after ZEC announced that it would conduct a recount in 23 constituencies.

This was after both Zanu-PF and MDC-T had requested the recounts, saying that there were some miscounts that could have affected the results.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

US Deficit At Record High: Same Bankrupt Solutions Offered by 'Think-Tank Theorists'

Same Bankrupt solutions to the Deepening Economic Crisis

PANW Editor's Note: The following article from today's Christian Science Monitor is quite interesting since it does identify the growing federal deficit as a major problem and even mentions the combination of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with the economic downturn as if there is some relationship between imperialist militarism and fiscal health.

Yet the solutions offered are from the same think-tank theorists found at the Brookings Institutions and the Heritage Foundation, whose recipes for disaster have brought untold suffering upon working people in the United States as well as the further impoverishment of the masses in their own country and those throughout the world.

The permanant character of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are accepted as natural and normal. There is no mention of ending the unjust wars against Muslim and developing countries, the militaristic and counterintelligence operations against nations including Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and the increasing cold war tactics used against the People's Republic China.

Consequently, these ruling class thinkers will only propose the continuation of what already exist in the form of waging wars that cannot be won, giving further sums of taxpayer money and labor power to the multi-national corporations and the financial institutions. At the same time they will step-up the intensification of the repressive apparatus which utilizes the mass media, educational institutions and the criminal justice system to ensure maintenance of the status-quo.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor

U.S. deficit at record high and rising

The federal deficit hit $311 billion for the first half of fiscal year 2008, up from $162 billion the year before

By Peter Grier
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
From the April 23, 2008 edition

Reporter Peter Grier discusses the lack of attention on the federal deficit in Washington

WASHINGTON - Deficit? What deficit? Three big intersecting events – war in Iraq, the economic downturn, and the presidential race – this year have combined to knock fiscal discipline far down the list of Washington's policy priorities.

In fact, the federal deficit hit an all-time high of $311 billion for the first half of this budget year, reports the Treasury Department. And Congress is discussing further moves to help distressed homeowners and stimulate the economy. Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least another $170 billion in supplemental funds through the end of next year.

Given the need, the current rush of spending might be understandable, say some deficit hawks. But they worry that Washington will use recession and war as excuses to stop caring about red ink altogether. They also warn that current deficits leave Washington ill-prepared to face an imminent explosion of spending on Social Security and Medicare caused by retiring baby boomers.

"I've spent a professional lifetime worrying about the federal budget and fiscal responsibility. And I've never been more worried than now," said Alice Rivlin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, at a recent Brookings Institution symposium in Washington.

This February, in the president's annual budget submission to Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) predicted the federal deficit for fiscal year 2008 would come in at $410 billion.

That figure would represent a big jump from the fiscal 2007 deficit of $162 billion, admitted the White House. But, measured as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product, $410 billion in red ink is well within recent historical norms, according to administration budget documents. Moreover, the "primary" reasons for the rise would be short term: the cost of the stimulus bill and a slowdown in tax receipts caused by the softening economy.

Fast-forward to April. Treasury figures now show that the deficit is likely to be larger than OMB had anticipated, since it was $311 billion through the first half of the fiscal year alone.

Why the extra red ink? The economy has been even worse than the White House predicted – and Congress increased the size of the stimulus package beyond what the administration wanted.

A 300 percent increase

Tax receipts generally pick up in the summer, so the deficit is unlikely to surpass $600 billion. But $450 billion, or even $500 billion is possible.

"There is no fiscal discipline this year, and they have an excuse to not have any: the economy," says Stan Collender, managing director of Qorvis Communications and a veteran federal budget expert. "The deficit is going to increase close to 300 percent, and nobody is saying anything."

Next year, the gap between Uncle Sam's income and outgo might increase even further. Costs for Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to mount, even if large numbers of troops begin to come home. Congress may rein in the disliked Alternative Minimum Tax, costing the government further revenue. A new president is likely to have new – possibly expensive – priorities. "It's not hard to come up with a $600 billion [fiscal 2009] deficit," says Mr. Collender.

The degree to which parsimony is out of fashion in national politics perhaps can be seen in presumptive GOP nominee John McCain's April 15 speech on his economic proposals. Senator McCain emphasized tax reductions – he proposed eliminating the federal gas tax for the summer, for instance – and did not repeat his previous assurances that he'd balance the budget in his first term in office.

At an April 2 round table hosted by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin suggested that reducing the federal budget "is not an end in itself," according to a summary of the event published by CRFB. Rather than focusing on red ink, a president should talk about all the important issues related to the budget, including the need to protect US security and help American families, he said.

10,000 new retirees a day

Meanwhile, the baby boomers will become eligible for Social Security this year. That means the long-awaited tsunami of retirees washing into federal entitlement programs is almost upon the US. Over the next two decades, more than 80 million boomers will become eligible for Social Security and Medicare. That's about 10,000 people per day. By definition, spending for these programs is on auto-pilot. More beneficiaries means higher federal spending – much higher.

Due to entitlements, "without fundamental changes in our tax policy and our spending policy, deficits are going to grow from the rather benign levels that we've experienced in the last couple of years to levels that this nation has not experienced in peacetime," said Robert Reischauer, also a former CBO chief and president of the Urban Institute, at the Brookings symposium.

A bipartisan group of experts organized by Brookings and the Heritage Foundation recommends that Congress enact explicit long-term budgets for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and set limits on the automatic entitlement spending growth. Such action would force Congress to make trade-offs between entitlements and other fiscal priorities.

"What our proposal does is put those programs on the same playing field, if you like, as other programs," said Stuart Butler, vice president of domestic and economic studies at the Heritage Foundation. "There should be an orderly discussion about the commitment we make and how money is allocated and so on."

US War Bulletin: Military Admits 44 Deaths in April; Clashes Intensify in Baghdad; Afghan Resistance Spreads Throughout Country

Dozens dead after Baghdad clashes

Residents of Sadr City have faced a series of clashes between Shia fighters and US and Iraqi forces

At least 24 people have been killed and four US soldiers wounded in clashes between US soldiers and fighters in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, according to the US military.

Fighting broke out at about 9.30am (0630 GMT) on Tuesday when a US patrol came under fire, Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover said.

A US military vehicle, which was evacuating an injured US soldier, was also hit by two roadside bombs, small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, he said.

Stover said three other US soldiers were subsequently injured, and that US soldiers "killed 24 enemy forces in a protracted gun battle".

'Severe damage'

A resident of Sadr City said "the fighting was intense" and that "four houses [were] heavily damaged".

The Sadr city district of the capital is controlled by the al-Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia religious leader.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said that nine people were killed and another 25 were wounded in violence in Sadr City.

It was not immediately clear whether the two firefights were the same.

Iraqi and US forces have been fighting against Shia armed group since March 25 in Sadr City, as well as the southern city of Basra.

Hundreds of Shia fighters and civilians have been killed in the fighting.

At least 18 US soldiers have also been killed in Baghdad since the government led crackdown against Shia fighters was launched.

Source: Agencies

Attacks in Iraq kill 4 American soldiers

April 29, 2008

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Bombardments by suspected militants killed four U.S. soldiers Monday as troops tried to push Shi'ite fighters farther from the U.S.-protected Green Zone and out of range of their rockets and mortars.

At least 44 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since September.

The U.S. military said three soldiers were killed in eastern Baghdad by indirect fire, a reference to mortars or rockets. The statement did not give an exact location for the attack, but the Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City has been the scene of intense fighting recently.

A fourth U.S. soldier was killed by a shell in western Baghdad, the military said.

A showdown between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army-led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- increasingly has drawn U.S. forces into the battles. U.S. commanders are particularly focused on trying to curb a rise in mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.

At least three more salvos hit the Green Zone in central Baghdad, but there were no reports of injuries. In Sadr City -- the stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia -- U.S. soldiers battled deeper into the district a day after fierce clashes that killed at least 38 suspected militants, the military said.

Attacked: Militants tried to assassinate President Hamid Karzai in Kabul Sunday

Afghanistan's insurgency spreading north

Militant attacks are increasing outside the Taliban's southern stronghold, such as Sunday's on President Hamid Karzai.

By Anand Gopal
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
From the April 29, 2008 edition

Correspondent Anand Gopal talks about one member of the Taliban attending Kabul University

Kabul, Afghanistan - The attempted assassination of President Hamid Karzai Sunday came as the latest sign of a trend worrying Western officials: that the insurgency is spreading from the Taliban stronghold of the south to the central and northern regions of the country.

The militant attack, the biggest in Kabul since mid-March, came during a public ceremony. Despite a massive security presence, militants managed to fire bullets and rockets at the president, killing two nearby lawmakers and a boy.

The insurgency in Afghanistan has not been "contained," Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell testified before a Senate subcommittee in February. "It's been sustained in the south, it's grown a bit in the east, and what we've seen are elements of it spread to the west and the north."

A recent study by Sami Kovanen, an analyst with the security firm Vigilant Strategic Services of Afghanistan, echoed this assessment. He reported 465 insurgent attacks in areas outside the restive southern regions during the first three months of 2008, a 35 percent increase compared with the same period last year. In the central region around Kabul there have been 80 insurgent attacks from January through March of this year, a 70 percent jump compared to the first three months of last year.

The numbers are part of a nationwide trend of rising violence. In the southern and southeastern provinces, including the insurgent hotbeds of Kandahar and Helmand, guerrilla attacks spiked by 40 percent, according to Mr. Kovanen's research.

Kabul itself has been largely free from the violence, but as Sunday's attack shows, there are signs that the Taliban's presence is growing here, too. On the sprawling, serene campus of Kabul University, where the nation sends many of its best and brightest, the Taliban has reached an unprecedented level of influence, students say.

Young men gather in campus dorm rooms and watch slickly produced DVDs of the latest insurgent attacks. One video shows Taliban fighters firing rocket launchers and shrieking, "God is the greatest!" as orange fireballs reach their targets, presumably Coalition forces, in the distance. The attacks are set to religious music, backed by a staccato drumbeat meant to impassion and inspire viewers.

"Many of us have contact with Taliban leadership," says one student and Taliban member, who asked to be called Naqibullah. "I talk to commanders based in the south maybe once a week on the phone." Naqibullah and others like him disseminate Taliban propaganda throughout the university, hoping especially to reach students from various parts of the country.

Naqibullah suggests that places like Kabul University might be a fertile recruiting ground for operations in the capital and in northern areas of the country. "There are many students waiting to launch suicide attacks," he says. "One student launched a suicide attack in Bagram," an American base north of the capital.

"I, too, would like to become a suicide bomber," Naqibullah continues. "But educated Taliban like me are needed to teach the uneducated ones." Instead, the young man is training to become a doctor so he can eventually treat the war wounds of Taliban fighters.

Many Afghans die in suicide blast

A suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan has killed 15 Afghans and wounded 25 more, the Nato-led military force has said.

The Taliban said it carried out Tuesday's attack near the district centre of Khogyani in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Afghan and foreign troops also called in airstrikes as they battled armed groups in a series of clashes that left at least 23 fighters dead and 20 others wounded, officials said on Tuesday.

The clashes happened in eastern and southern Afghanistan, where Taliban and other groups are waging an insurgency against government and foreign forces.

The joint forces clashed with fighters in the Qarabagh district of Ghazni province on Monday, leaving six Taliban dead and eight others wounded, Zia Wali, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

There were no casualties among the Afghan and foreign forces, Wali said.

In southwestern Nimroz province, US-led coalition and Afghan troops killed several fighters on Monday during a clash in Khash Rod district, a coalition statement said on Tuesday.

The troops were targeting a fighter involved in the movement of weapons and fighters in the area, it said. They detained 14 other suspected fighters during the raid.

In another incident, US and Afghan troops fought off coordinated insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan and called in airstrikes that left a dozen fighters dead and a dozen more wounded, the US military said.

New operation

Meanwhile, US marines have pushed into Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand in a major new operation to flush out Taliban fighters.

The Nato-led force described the operation on Tuesday as the most significant in months in the troubled area, which is littered with poppy fields and classified as Taliban territory.

Several hundred marines, many of them veterans of the conflict in Iraq, pushed into the town of Garmser in predawn light.

US commanders say Taliban fighters have been expecting an assault and have been setting up improvised explosive devices in response.

The operation has been called Azada Wosa, which means Be Free in the Pashtu language of southern and eastern Afghanistan.

The marines involved in the new push are based in the neighbouring province of Kandahar.

Iraq veterans

The assault is the first major task undertaken by the 2,300 soldiers in the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which arrived last month from Camp Lejuene, North Carolina, for a seven-month deployment.

Many of the men in the unit served in 2006 and 2007 in Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province in western Iraq. The vast region was once the stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The marines' mission is the first carried out by US forces this far south in Helmand in years. British troops, who are responsible for Helmand, have faced fierce battles on the north edge of the province.

The largely desert province of Helmand shares a long and porous border with Pakistan, across which Taliban reinforcements are said to cross.

Source: Agencies

Cynthia McKinney Statement on the Acquittal of NYC Police in the Murder of Sean Bell

Cynthia McKinney Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict

April 26, 2008

"[T]he legislation and histories of the time, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. . . . [A]ltogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

And with that, the United States Supreme Court ensured that the 20th Century would be defined, as W.E.B. DuBois wrote, by the color line. So, while we might be outraged at the Sean Bell decision itself, it comes directly from the flawed jurisprudence that gave us the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Bakke in 1978, Croson in 1989, Adarand in 1995, Gratz in 2003, and all of the Ward Connerly-inspired attacks on the very same affirmative action hard won by students facing water hoses and dogs; men and women facing jail, lynch mobs, and death.

Interestingly, according to Attorney Roger Wareham of the December 12th Movement's International Secretariat, the criminal justice system in this country "always finds a rationale for letting off cops who kill black and brown people." Indeed, police officers seem to know that they can kill certain people with impunity.

Just in New York City alone, Wareham rattles off the murders that have defined police-"communities of color" relations over two generations:

Clifford Glover, 1972
Louis Baez, 1978 shot (22 times)
Randolph Evans, 1979
Eleanor Bumpers, 1985 (a grandmother)
Amadou Diallo, 1999
Patrick Dorismond, 2003
Sean Bell, 2006

Sadly, New York City isn't the only city, with this plague. In 2001, the Dayton Daily News reported that Cincinnati topped the list of police killings of Blacks, having had 22 people shot, 13 fatally. All black men. Three unarmed. Plus two additional deaths due to police use of chemical irritants.

The 2001 "Cincinnati Intifada" lasted for three nights after a white police officer murdered an unarmed black teenager. Timothy Thomas was the fifteenth black male killed by Cincinnati police over a six-year period. I traveled with Ron Daniels and others to Cincinnati to support the call by black residents, including Reverend Damon Lynch III and 36 other ministers, for a boycott of that city.

Still reeling from the effects of the boycott, Cincinnati made headlines again in 2003 when the world watched as one black and five white police officers repeatedly beat Nathaniel Jones with batons and then left him in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, only to be pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The "Benton Harbor, Michigan Intifada of 2003" lasted two nights after the murder of an unarmed black motorcyclist by white police officers. Adding insult to injury, the residents of majority-black Benton Harbor are reeling under an attempted takeover of the last "undeveloped" beachfront property on Lake Michigan. The residents are under attack by the Whirlpool Corporation, that wants to develop "Benton Shores" and move all of the residents completely out of the town.

The purported goal of the development is to turn Benton Harbor into one of the "hottest vacation destinations in the country," to include a members-only indoor water park, and a Jack Nicklaus golf course. According to Reverend Edward Pinkney, the valiant leader who is trying to save Benton Harbor for the people, Harbor Shores will result in a complete takeover of Benton Harbor, a city that is 96% Black.

Reverend Pinkney has been in jail since December 14, 2007 on trumped- up charges including violation of probation, for writing an article calling the chief judge racist. Mrs. Pinkney called the Office of Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee to ask for justice for the residents of Benton Harbor and for her husband.

Shockingly, Chairman Conyers refused Mrs. Pinkney's plea to get involved in this heroic struggle of a 96% Black community in his own state. When I visited Benton Harbor, it was clear to me that Reverend Pinkney has the full support of the area's residents, black and white, as they struggle to maintain the character of their community. Reverend Pinkney is recognized by the people as true hero and occupies a jail cell because of it.

Finally, however, someone broke the silence and admitted it. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper wrote in his book, "Breaking Rank," that white police officers are afraid of Black men. He develops this theory in a chapter of the book entitled, "Why White Cops Kill Black Men." Finally: a hint of truth coming from the other side. In a June 16, 2005 interview with the Looking Glass News, Stamper says that he personally believes "that white cops are scared of black men. The bigger or darker the man, the more frightened the white cop. I can't shake that; it's a belief I will take to the grave."

So while the corporate press would have us believe that reporting on what a former Vice Presidential nominee says about a Presidential candidate is a discussion of race, the prospects are that black and brown men and women will continue to be murdered by police officers who, fundamentally, seem scared of black people. That fear apparently extends to the larger community because juries construct ways to let murderous police officers escape just punishment.

Roger Wareham, and the December 12th Movement International Secretariat raise, inside the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, the details of the type of police abuse in which a 92-year old grandmother, Kathryn Johnston, is murdered by police in Atlanta, Georgia and her family still has not seen justice or been made whole. Or where a young black male, also in Atlanta, can be sitting in his mother's car and is murdered because the police presume that the car is stolen.

The December 12th Movement has asked for United Nations Rapporteurs to come to the U.S. on fact-finding missions so that the U.S. can finally be listed as a major human rights abuser and a Rapporteur assigned to this country. Already, the Special Rapporteur on Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is coming to the U.S. from May 18 - June 6 and will be in New York City on May 21st and 22nd. The December 12th Movement is scheduled to have a hearing for him at the Schomberg Center where the issue of police killings will be raised. The Rapporteur is also scheduled to visit DC, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, and San Juan.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Summary and Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Phillip Alston, is conducting a Mission to the U.S. in June. The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is also interested in reports of police abuse. If a consistent and systemic pattern of abuse exists (which it clearly does in the United States), the United Nations General Assembly can pass a resolution which helps creates international public opinion and perhaps the political will to stop it.

Certainly, doing the same thing--a cycle of protest without punishment--will net the same results. Something different must be done. That's why I authored legislation to deny federal funds and the use of federal equipment to any law enforcement unit found to have violated the civil rights of the people it is organized to protect and serve. Imagine if we had the laws on the books and the apparatus of enforcement. Imagine if juries wouldn't grant impunity to killer cops.

Some of you have written to me suggesting that we do something different: perhaps a full-scale boycott. Perhaps a full-scale, all-out political response--something many in this generation have never done before.

Bobby Kennedy always said, "Some men dream of things that are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not."

It is not impossible for us to have justice. We don't have to lose any more people to police abuse, brutality, or murder. But, in order to change things, we're going to have to do some things we've never done before in order to have some things we've never had before.

Are you willing to entertain that idea? Today? Right now? If we demand more of our elected representatives, I'm convinced we will get it. And it should be clear exactly what is needed if we don't get what we demand.

To read more of my writings, please visit

"And advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool."
PNAC, Rebuilding America's Defenses, p. 60

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can "throw the rascals out" at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.

-- Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in our Time
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US Installed Afghanistan Regime Probes Parade Attack

Afghanistan probes parade attack

Karzai was whisked away and appeared on TV shortly after to say that "everything is calm"

Afghanistan is investigating how elements from the Taliban movement could get within 500 metres of president Hamid Karzai and other top leaders to carry out a brazen attack.

At least six people, including a member of parliament and three attackers, were killed and nine others wounded in the assault near the presidential palace on Sunday.

The assault was an embarrassment for Afghan authorities as the event was supposed to showcase the army's growing strength.

The Taliban movement said it had launched the attack to show it had the power to strike even the nation's biggest annual military parade.

Karzai immediately announced an investigation to find out how the armed group breached security to hammer bullets into the back of the stage where he was seated with a host of Afghan and foreign dignitaries as well as launch rockets.

"First, it will investigate the plot and identify those behind the attack ... and second it will find out where the problem in providing security lay," General Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afhgan defence minister, told reporters.

The inquiry would comprise the ministries of defence and interior, the intelligence agency and the presidential security guard, the general said.

The incident

Gunfire and explosions erupted after Karzai had taken the stage after an inspection of troops in what was meant to have been the largest annual parade of Afghanistan's military.

Hundreds of people, including government ministers and foreign dignitaries, fled the celebration.

Al Jazeera's James Bays said the event was one of the key events in Afghanistan's calendar every year.

"Its called the Mujahidin Day. It marks the victory of the Mujahidin over the Soviet Union, some 16 years ago," he said.

Karzai sped off in a motorcade in the immediate wake of the attack, which continued for a further 15 minutes.

He appeared on television for a live address shortly after the incident, assuring the public that the incident was over and that some of the attackers had been caught.

"Fortunately Afghan security forces quickly surrounded them ... Some of them were captured," Karzai said.

"Everything is calm, rest assured," he said.

Taliban warning

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said that the Taliban had warned that they would carry out some sort of operation to disrupt the ceremony.

"To them, this ceremony should not be taking place because they are against the government and the foreign forces," she said.

"They said the target was to give them a message that they are not safe. We have to point out that there was a very tight security around the venue of the military parade and [still] they managed to infiltrate."

The security breach comes only two months after an attack on the Serena hotel in the diplomatic area of Kabul, she said.

"There have been reports that the government has not been able to control even 30 per cent of the Afghan territory and now with this attack it is not clear how the Taliban managed to infiltrate the security guards of the president."

Expected attack

Prince Ali Seraj, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the attack should have been expected by the authorities in Afghanistan.

"When you have all the dignitaries and the president of the country and all the ministers and ambassadors gathered together at one place, such an attack should have been expected and I believe that the entire perimeter should have been fortified with police and security forces," he said.

"From what I heard from my people, attackers were in military uniform. It is difficult to distinguish one soldier from the other, if you are not acquainted with each other.

"A group of people dressed in military uniform can infiltrate any one of the operations and be able to do what they did. But I think tighter security and identification cards should have been in place on a day like this."

Seraj said that the attack on the event was designed to gain publicity, given that ambassadors, diplomats from the United Nations and Afghan ministers were in attendance.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Monday, April 28, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: Vote Recount Almost Done, Says ZEC; Drive to Put Nation on UN Agenda Continues; AG Tackles SADC Tribunal

Vote recount almost done, says ZEC

Zimbabwe Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it is concluding the recounting of election results in 23 constituencies and will thereafter invite presidential candidates or their agents to witness verification and collation of the presidential poll results.

The statement comes amid reports that MDC-T has retained two House of Assembly seats in Masvingo Central and Masvingo West constituencies while the Masvingo Senate seat remained in Zanu-PF’s hands after the recounting of votes.

ZEC deputy chief elections officer responsible for operations Mr Utloile Silaigwana yesterday said the commission was scheduled to invite presidential candidates or their agents to witness the verification exercise.

"Today we are concluding the recount in the 23 constituencies. Thereafter the commission will invite presidential candidates or their election agents for the verification and collation of the results," he said.

The commission, Mr Silaigwana said, was still compiling results from the 23 constituencies and these would be made public upon completion.

However, ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe told journalists at the weekend that the commission was scheduled to invite the four presidential candidates who participated in last month’s poll to the verification and collation exercise.

Justice Chiweshe would, however, not reveal exactly when the announcement would be made.

"The process of feeding the recounted statistics into our systems has already begun. We trust that by Monday April 28, this process will have been concluded," he said.

"Immediately thereafter, the returning officer (chief elections officer) will invite the four presidential candidates or their agents to a verification and collation exercise, leading to the announcement of the results of the presidential election."

Justice Chiweshe said the chief elections officer and the candidates had agreed that each party would collate its own figures.

The statistics would then be compared at the end of the verification process.

He said several factors had hampered the announcement of the result and cited transport and communication challenges coupled with the recounting in the 23 constituencies.

In Masvingo Central, Mr Jeffreyson Chitando of MDC-T won the recount after he polled 4 908 votes against Cde Edmond Mhere of Zanu-PF, who managed 4 791 votes, according to final results displayed at the Masvingo Civic Centre, the venue of the recounting.

In Masvingo West constituency, Mr Tichiona Mharadza of MDC-T retained his seat after he polled 4 513 votes against Cde Jabulani Mbetu of Zanu-PF who polled 4 122 votes, while independent candidate Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi came third with 917 votes.

Among other results that were displayed were the Senate vote recount in Masvingo Central where Cde Maina Mandava of Zanu-PF retained her seat with 4 552 votes while MDC-T’s Mr Alois Chaimiti came second with 4 178 votes.

Masvingo provincial elections officer, Mr Zex Pudurai, said the vote recounting process had been completed in all the nine constituencies in Masvingo and ended without incident.

He attributed the delay in completing the vote recounting to minor arguments among representatives of political parties and dismissed reports that some of the ballot boxes were found open or to have been tampered with.

"We have completed the recounting exercise in all the constituencies in Masvingo, but we have not yet managed to get final results from other constituencies and the delay in the recounting process was purely over small arguments, but the process went on quite well," said Mr Pudurai.

‘Drive to put Zim on UN agenda open’

Herald Reporter

Efforts continue by Britain and the US to get Zimbabwe onto the UN Security Council agenda, especially during April when South Africa chairs the top UN body.

On Thursday last week, Britain and the US requested the council to ask the UN secretariat to give the council a briefing on Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the UN, Mr Boniface Chidyausiku, said last night that this was, under council procedure, this was a normal request not open to objection and was made during the agenda item "any other business."

But he described as "mischievous" the continued attempts to bring Zimbabwe onto the agenda while South Africa chaired the council since Britain would take over the chairmanship in May.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Africa group on the council have repeatedly argued that the situation in Zimbabwe is not a threat to international peace and security and thus should not be on the security council’s agenda.

Mr Chidyausiku was also critical of reports in some papers that an MDC-T team was in New York and would address the council. He noted that only Governments could speak to the council, not individuals or parties, since the UN was made up of States. Any MDC-T team in New York could lobby its friends, but that was the limit of its role. It could not, and would not, address the UN Security Council.

Police set free 29 MDC-T political violence suspects

Herald Reporters

POLICE in Harare have released 29 of the 215 people arrested at MDC-T’s Harvest House headquarters last Friday while those remaining in custody will be tried if they are positively identified by victims of political violence as the perpetrators.

By late last night, three of the suspects had been positively identified for malicious injury to property and assault committed in Mashonaland East.

Yesterday, the Government said some excited MDC-T supporters attacked soldiers and the general public in Manicaland Province.

Police raided Harvest House last Friday on suspicion that the opposition was harbouring perpetrators of political violence there.

"We released 29 people on Friday, mainly women and babies and the elderly. We have invited victims of political violence where those we rounded up come from to identify anyone who could have committed crimes against them. This is the process we are currently carrying out," chief police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday.

"We have profiled everyone we rounded up so that if need arises, we will always make a follow-up."

Asst Comm Bvudzijena dismissed claims that those netted were mainly elderly people.

Statistics given by the police show that 75 of those arrested were aged between 16 and 30 years while only one was in the 61-70 age group.

However, MDC-T lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama yesterday evening said the High Court had issued an order for the release of the opposition supporters.

He said he had gone round police stations where they were detained serving the order, but Asst Comm Bvudzijena said he could not comment on the order because he had not seen it.

In a related matter, the Ministry of Information and Publicity said the MDC-T supporters attacked soldiers who were training in Rusape.

"The latest incident in which MDC-T supporters sought to attack soldiers on training skirmishes around Chiwetu Rest Camp in Rusape leading to the death of one person and injury of two others is a case in point," the ministry said in a statement.

It warned that attacks on opponents in rural areas would not be tolerated.

"Seeking refuge at party national and provincial headquarters, including safe houses, after committing barbarous acts of politically motivated crimes will not save anyone from the might of the law.

"They will be pursued wherever and whenever until they are accounted for and brought before the courts of law," the ministry said.

The ministry said police had been briefed not to tolerate any acts of criminality anywhere in the country.

"Any victims of crime should immediately report such cases to officers on patrol or at their nearest police station so that any incident is quickly responded to. Crying the innocent victim to the international community is not a substitute for using recourse provided at law," the ministry said.

It said police and members of the defence and security forces would use necessary and appropriate force to ensure that life is respected and property protected.

"Uniformed forces will, therefore, remain alert on the ground to ensure peace and security for everyone in any part of this country."

The ministry appealed to everyone to observe peace and discouraged acts that could lead to anarchy.

It condemned a flurry of distortions and irresponsible statements from within and outside the country by people and organisations "who wish this country harm following the harmonised elections, which were held in an environment of peace and tranquillity".

AG to tackle Sadc Tribunal in land case

Herald Reporter

THE case in which white former commercial farmers are seeking to halt compulsory land acquisition in Zimbabwe is set to resume in Namibia next month with the Attorney-General’s Office expected to raise concerns about the manner in which the Sadc Tribunal has handled the matter so far.

The farmers applied to the Sadc Tribunal using Article 28 of the Protocol of the Tribunal as read with provisions of the Sadc Treaty to stop the State from compulsorily acquiring their farms in terms of the country’s relevant land laws.

On March 28, the tribunal granted the farmers interim relief against eviction, but an official in the AG’s Office has said the regional court erred in its judgment.

Efforts to get a comment from Deputy AG Mr Prince Machaya (Civil Division) were fruitless, but The Herald is reliably informed that Zimbabwe — as the first respondent — would seek to prove that the farmers unprocedurally filed their application for relief.

It is understood that the AG’s Office, in conjunction with the Ministry of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, has set up special teams to look at different aspects of the case and prepare the Republic of Zimbabwe for the May court proceedings.

"There are two issues that we will ask the Tribunal to reconsider. The first is to do with the manner in which the white farmers consolidated their application; and the second is to do with the involvement of Mike Campbell.

"As you know, Mr Campbell was the first white farmer to approach the tribunal and the court granted him interim relief against eviction.

"However, his fellow white farmers have listed him as a respondent in their application. How can a person be an applicant and a respondent at the same time? It does not make sense at all.

"In fact, Mr Campbell is listed as a second respondent, as Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd, in another application and Mr William Michael Campbell as a third respondent in yet another application.

"Secondly, for them to consolidate their application they should have first filed their papers with the Tribunal individually. They did not do this. They lumped their action and argued that a precedent had been set in the Campbell case and sought similar relief and yet they still list the same Campbell as a respondent.

"Furthermore, they did not prove how their case was urgent. Land reforms have been going on for a long time and now suddenly the matter is urgent after eight years of peaceful co-existence with the State because an election is due," an official in the AG’s Office said.

The official also said they were not satisfied with the tribunal’s contention that the farmers’ cases were similar and hence could be treated as a consolidated application.

"Some of these are individual farmers, some are farming as companies, and others have Bilateral Partnership Agreements and so on. So obviously all these peculiarities preclude any suggestion of homogeneity in the matter at hand. They are all different," the official said.

Deputy AG (Criminal Division) Mr Johannes Tomana said the tribunal’s judgment would not affect ongoing court proceedings in Zimbabwe against white farmers who were resisting land reform.

"We will continue to prosecute them under Section 3 of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act. The judgment in Windhoek does not affect our domestic criminal proceedings against them," Mr Tomana said.

However, Government insiders suspect there was "political gerrymandering" in the court proceedings and found it odd that the judgment was delivered on the eve of Zimbabwe’s elections.

"If you look at the MDC-T’s flip-flops on the land issue just before the elections, you tend to think that they knew what the tribunal’s judgment would be.

Our reading of the matter is that (Morgan) Tsvangirai was going to use the judgment as an excuse to reverse land reforms had he won the presidential elections.

"The judgment would have given an MDC government the leeway to claim that Sadc was opposed to Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme and hence the mandate to reverse the process. This ties in with the way white ex-farmers went around the country threatening resettled black farmers soon after the polls," a Government official said yesterday.

He added that the Law Society of Zimbabwe had also got in on the act and "encouraged" local law firms to pursue similar court proceedings with the Sadc Tribunal in a bid to reverse land reforms.

On 21 April, LSZ executive secretary Mr Steven Murambasvina wrote a letter to the managing partners of all law firms in Zimbabwe (reference number SM/jp/Sadc Tribunal) in which he expressed joy at the judgment and suggested that it be used as a basis to challenge the Land Reform Programme.

"I have the pleasure of attaching herewith a judgment which was handed down by the Sadc Tribunal on a case between Zimbabwean farmers and the Zimbabwean Government. I hope it would serve as a precedent in cases were (sic) remedies do not fully guarantee our clients’ rights," he wrote.

Zimbabwe embarked on its fast-track Land Reform Programme in 2000 after the State found the willing-buyer/willing-seller system was not empowering the black majority at a reasonable pace.

As a result, land previously in the hands of some 4 000 white farmers has been distributed to over 300 000 black families across the country in the commercial and subsistence farming sectors.

Sadc must avoid being used by Westerners

EDITOR — Sadc should not allow itself to be abused by the Anglo-Saxon.

Zimbabwe is under siege from an unrelenting and shameless imperial bully.

The regional body should ensure that it serves the best interests of member-states and provide a shoulder to lean on in challenging times.

We have come together a long way and the darkest hour is before dawn.

Zimbabwe — in line with its democratic tradition — held its elections, the results of which on the Presidential vote are believed from unofficial reports not to produced an outright winner.

A situation which, as prescribed by the law, may lead to a run-off election.

Can anyone in their right state of mind, call this electoral position we are in a "crisis"?

Is it a national crisis when an opposition leader fails to garner enough votes to be declared winner?

It is an electoral crisis within MDC-T alone and those who represent them in Sadc, it seems. We have got other serious challenges socially and economically which anyone can describe the way they want, "dire", crisis, disaster or whatever brought about by illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West which Tsvangirai and his allies lobbied for with unparalleled vigour.

Zimbabwe is today described in the Western propaganda media as a country under wanton destruction by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, and in terms that are alarming.

Opening or signing off statements in their Press are unfounded statistics of people alleged to be displaced, killed, commodity shortages and an impending genocide.

This impending genocide gospel has been preached to the world for many years with time frames given for their occurrences passing with no such incidents.

That gospel has found new converts.

Converts who are too close for comfort.

We wonder why some who should be better informed to trash this propaganda and onslaught on a sister nation tend to be believing and justifying it.

Is it because the lies have been repeated too often such that they now take them for the truth?

Some religious leaders, people we expect to be morally upright, have been making statements that amount to inciting anarchy. Utterances that are so reckless and irresponsible, calculated at sowing tension, confuse and foment hostilities.

Our regional body, Sadc, seems to have been invaded by a cancer, which is engulfing even those we expected to be vaccinated and resistant.

Contaminated cells need to be quarantined. Sadc had been the most politically stable and peaceful region in the whole of Africa, any one who seeks to destabilise it for personal glory and egocentric motives should be damned by all progressive heads of Sadc. Someone is playing with fire here.

We have got a fantasist whose missions are Hollywood-inspired.

The onslaught on Zimbabwe is uncalled for. Westerners are building towers and towers of lies, and all that for regime change and imposing Tsvangirai on the people. Why foist this man on the people?

We will choke.

It is undisputed that a large number who voted for Tsvangirai and MDC-T were driven by a desire to have economic sanctions lifted, and not out of a genuine belief in his leadership capabilities nor as an endorsement of his policies.

How will Tsvangirai govern with no implementable policies, especially on land?

Trying to reverse land reforms will be tantamount to declaring war on the people, obviously reversal will be resisted.

The extent, form and shape of the resistance can only be imagined.

Tsvangirai will obviously be under immense pressure from his principals to deliver to their kith and kin the "Promised Land".

He has promised to deliver undeliverables. Without sanctions, even Langton Towungana will beat Tsvangirai hands down. Zimbabwe is better off without him, and will be more than happy to give him away for adoption.

For example, in the Mhangura House of Assembly constituency Zanu-PF got 11 042 votes against MDC-T’s 1 647.

It is a constituency comprising mainly of resettled farmers, will they comfortably and obligingly pack and return to a dilapidating compound of a defunct mine at the orders of Tsvangirai, foisted on them by sanctions and residents of Kuwadzana and Budiriro.

Tsvangirai can never rule without rendering the country ungovernable.

President Levy Mwana-wepi (where from) (Mwanawasa) what have you fallen for, to demonstrate such zeal over a Chinese ship with Zimbabwe’s arms, to ignore Sadc protocol and traditional procedures in convening such a summit on Zimbabwe’s elections.

Cad Mash

Zimbabwe Confronts Greatest Destabilization Effort Since Independence

Zimbabwe Confronts Greatest Destabilization Effort Since Independence

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Once again the imperialist nations and their allied press agencies along with other surrogate organizations have set out to destabilize the government of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zimabwe African National Union, Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) Party. Utilizing the circumstances surrounding the delay in the announcement of the results in the March 29, 2008 poll for the parliament and presidential elections, the chorus of calls for regime change have dominated the airwaves and print media.

US envoy Jendayi Frazer, who serves as Assistant Secretary State for African Affairs, was dispatched in late April to several countries on the continent to trumpet the idea of regime change in Zimbabwe. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has openly announced in the British parliament that Mugabe must resign and hand over power to the pro-western opposition party known as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The British went as far as to promise the MDC leadership the sum of one billion pounds annually in order to purportedly rebuild the economy of Zimbabwe which has been wrecked by the machinations of the former colonial power in London in cooperation with the United States and the European Union (EU). What moral right does these imperialist nations have to interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and consequently Africa as a whole?

With specific reference to the United States, the whole idea of criticizing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for its job inside the country represents the height of hypocrisy. Was it not the current Bush regime that came into office in 2000 as a result of the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters, many of whom were African-Americans, during the debacle in Florida that led to the ascendancy of the present administration?

Even in 2004 it was documented by the Congressional Black Caucus and other civil rights organizations that the decisive vote count in the state of Ohio gave the necessary margin to declare George W. Bush victor for a disastrous second term in Washington. Nonetheless, when democratic elections do not suit the interests of imperialism, such as what happened in Palestine when Hamas won the majority of seats in the Authority, the results were rejected not only by the State of Israel but also the United States.

Background to the Present Situation in Zimbabwe

When Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980 it was considered a major accomplishment that would eventually lead to the triumph of the national liberation struggles in southern Africa. Since the late 19th century when Cecil Rhodes, the imperialist agent of British colonialism, pressed for the seizure of the land of the Ndebele and Shona peoples which was rich in natural resources and agricultural potential, the country became a major source of cheap labor and profits for the white settler class and its international partners.

With the beginning of the Second Chimurenga (anti-colonial struggle) during the 1960s, the first taking place in 1896-1897, the masses took up arms to fight for the end of British rule and the return of their land and mineral wealth to the African peasants and workers. In order to avoid an outright military defeat by the armed forces of the Patriotic Front composed of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZANU), the British and the United States forced the white-settler regime of Ian Smith, which had ostensibly broken away from the UK in 1965, to negotiate a political settlement with the liberation movements.

Under the Lancaster House accords of 1979-1980, the British settlers would maintain control of most of the land in Zimbabwe for a period of ten years. The whites would be guaranteed a 20 percent bloc within the House of Parliament for a decade and the independent government would not nationalize the mines and other business interests inside the country.

However, it was agreed that the UK and the United States would supply funding for a land reform program within ten years to subsidize the gradual removal of the British from the prime land in Zimbabwe and the re-emergence of self-sufficient African farmers and agricultural workers.

After the conclusion of the 1980s, the debate within Zimbabwe intensified over the delayed land reform process. By the end of the 1990s, the ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe, after patiently waiting for two decades for the unfulfilled promises of the former colonial power of Britain and their imperialist partners in the United States, the passage of constitutional amendments granted the right to seize the farms of approximately 50 percent of the white settlers for the re-settlement of the African people.

With the assistance of the revolutionary war veterans from the national liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, these farms were occupied and the settlers, who held both Zimbabwean and British citizenship, were forced to leave and concede ownership to the government which developed plans for land redistribution.

Destabilization and the Neo-Liberal Agenda

Since 1998, when it became clear that the ZANU-PF government would eventually embark upon a radical land reform program, the western imperialist countries set out to bring down the administration of President Robert Mugabe. In a referendum to give a electoral mandate to the constitutional reforms designed to escalate the land redistribution program, the formation of an alliance of internal opposition forces that were backed by the settler-colonialists and their external allies in the UK and the US, were able to defeat the initiative.

Further evidence of the inroads made by the pro-western political interests in Zimbabwe was demonstrated by the growth of the recently formed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In the parliamentary elections held during June of 2000, the ruling ZANU-PF party won a majority by small margin after months of a concerted and well-financed propaganda campaign targeting the land reform program.

This was accompanied by the persistent efforts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other western financial institutions to weaken the economy of Zimbabwe. The country, which is geographically landlocked, depends heavily on the transport of goods through the neighboring Republic of South and Mozambique. By 2002, when presidential elections were held, the ruling ZANU-PF party had consolidated the land reform program and were able to defeat the opposition MDC at the polls.

Yet the efforts of the imperialists and their collaborators inside the country among the white settlers, the oppostion MDC leadership as well as the local capitalist class, continued their efforts to destabilize the Zimbabwe government under the leadership of ZANU-PF. When attempts to stage violent regime-change demonstrations failed, the economy came under siege.

The refusal of financial institutions to grant credit to the government, the hording of consumer goods to drive up prices coupled with sanctions and the eventual suspension of the country from the British Commonwealth had a dramatic impact on the ability of the ZANU-PF government to provide basic services to the people.

Eventually Zimbabwe would withdraw completely from the old colonially-imposed Commonwealth and develop a "Look East" policy which would emphasize greater cooperation and trade within Africa itself and between the country and Asian nations, particularly China. This policy helped provide breathing space for the ZANU-PF government, since China also offered diplomatic support to the Mugabe administration by preventing efforts to bring the country before the United Nations Security Council to discuss supposed human rights violations.

The role of the People's Republic of China in Africa has been a cause for tremendous consternation in western ruling circles. China has extended its economic cooperation within many countries on the African continent. In Sudan, they have provided an outlet for the distribution of petroleum resources from their growing oil industry which the United States has been prevented from participating in for over a decade.

During the month of April 2008, the United States and Britain attempted to impose an illegal arms embargo against Zimbabwe after it was discovered that a substantial shipment of weapons and military equipment was being sent to the country. First a white-dominated dock workers union in South Africa went to court to prevent the arms shipment sent by China from being unloaded and transported to landlocked Zimbabwe. It was recently announced that the Republic of Angola would allow the arms to be unloaded through their ports.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer was dispatched to the continent to pressure various governments to both support western efforts to set an embargo outside the UN Security Council and to also advance the notion of a so-called "government of national unity" where the pro-western MDC opposition party would be in the forefront.

The problems associated with the delay in elections results in Zimbabwe were utilized as an excuse to make a major push toward regime change in this southern African nation. According to the MDC, the ruling party lost the elections held on March 29. Yet the actual figures from the first tabulation and the recount only place the MDC slightly ahead of ZANU-PF in the lower house of parliament. Neither the opposition or the ruling party achieved an outright majority.

ZANU-PF has speculated that the results of the presidential elections would not give a majority to either the ruling party or the opposition MDC. The ZANU-PF politburo in a recent meeting stated that they were prepared for a run-off election, while the MDC has rejected the idea of a second round in the elections which is mandated by the constitution if no party wins more than 50 percent in the race for head-of-state.

All of the major western corporate and governmentally-controlled press agencies have come out in support of the opposition MDC. The leaders of this party are given prime coverage through interviews and the publicizing of their unsubatantiated accusations related to vote rigging, alleged violence committed by the ZANU-PF government and its neo-colonial schemes purportedly designed to restructure the economy of Zimbabwe.

Amid massive criticism from western press agencies and governments, President Thabo Mbeki has refused to aid in the western destabilization efforts aimed at toppling the Zimbabwe state and the placing of the pro-western MDC in power. Mbeki has rejected the notion that there is a crisis in the country requiring international intervention.

In addition, the newly-elected president of the ruling African National Congress of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who recently visited the UK and met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, also refused to condemn the Zimbabwe government. Despite the convening of a special summit of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) in early April to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe, the grouping of 14 states in the sub-continent have not taken any action that would interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and its ruling ZANU-PF Party.

The Right to Self-Determination and Sovereignty

Spokespersons for the Zimbabwe government have rejected the statements and actions of the UK and the US as attempts to overturn their government and impose a neo-colonial solution. The only real program of the opposition MDC is to carry out the political and economic designs of the western imperialist nations and their class collaboraters inside of Zimbabwe. The MDC has every intention of returning the farms seized by the ZANU-PF government after 2000 to the white-settlers.

Also the "Look East" policy has been a specific target of the anti-Mugabe forces because a change in this foreign policy orientation would damage relations between Zimbabwe and China. China has been a staunch supporter of Zimbabwe extending back to the era of the armed struggle for national independence during the 1970s.

Moreover, the United States and Britain have supplied arms and economic support to those regimes in Africa and other so-called Third World countries which carry out their policies. In Africa, the United States supports the regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt which receives the second largest grant of American aid, only followed by the Israeli state in occupied Palestine.

In Latin America, the US supplies massive amounts of military and economic assistance to Colombia, which is the third largest recepient of American aid behind Israel and Egypt. This US assistance is provided to supposedly fight narco-terrorism, yet the major purveyors of violence in Colombia are those counterrevolutionary elements that have firm links to the drug trade and who serve as a surrogate military force to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) from coming to power inside the country.

The internal political and economic problems of the nation of Zimbabwe can best be resolved by the people themselves. It is obvious from the long history of American and UK involvement in Africa that these imperialist nations have always been the perpetuators or supporters of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.

During the many years of brutal oppression and exploitation under colonialism, the United States never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa. Since independence the US policies have only hampered these nations from gaining genuine liberation from the economic tentacles of international finance capital.

What has occured in Zimbabwe over the last several years is the direct by-product of imperialist intervention and manipulation of the political economy of this southern African country. The government of President Robert Mugabe, like any other sovereign state, has the right to protect its own interests and to safeguard its people and institutions from outside forces seeking undemocratic forms of regime change.