Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria Wednesday
March 31, 2004 The Guardian
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
was accused yesterday of using violence to win a parliamentary byelection in
which one opposition supporter was shot dead and 50 more taken to
hospital. Mr Mugabe's party lost the Zengeza seat in Harare in the June
2000 parliamentary elections. It had been considered a stronghold of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mr Mugabe's party
bussed in violent youth militia who set up camps in the constituency and
threatened voters during the campaign and the voting.
candidate, Christopher Chigumba, won 8,447 votes, compared with 6,706 for
James Makore of the MDC, according to results announced by the state-run
Reporter 31/03/04 A ROMAN Catholic Church priest on Monday stood before a
Zimbabwean court on behalf of the Hwange diocese in Matabeleland and admitted
illegal dealing in foreign currency.
The church was convicted on its
own plea of guilt and is awaiting sentencing. The church admitted to dealing
in foreign currency with a Bulawayo firm - the Treger Group of Companies - in
contravention of the Exchange Control Act when the country was facing
crippling foreign currency shortages.
Prosecutors said between
February 2002 and March 2003, the church gave Treger Group over US$105 000,
and received $93,75 million in exchange despite the fact that both
organizations were unauthorized to deal in foreign currency.
John Rufaro Mudereri pleaded guilty before Bulawayo magistrate Clifford
He was remanded out of custody to 2 April for sentence to give
the magistrate time to fix the fine and also allow the church to raise
money that it deprived the State through the transaction.
Church-run hospital was also facing similar charges late Tuesday afternoon.
Mater Dei Hospital, arguably the best health institution in southern Zimbabwe
was arraigned for dealing in forex on the black market.
institutions have been dragged before the courts for trading on the black
market during a crippling shortage of foreign currency before the central
bank adopted corrective measures.
Observers say the decision to drag the
church before the courts could be part of a cynical government plot to
silence the church which has condemned human rights abuses in
Arch Bishop Pius Ncube, leader of the church in Matabeleland
has been a fierce critic of President Robert Mugabe's government and was
heavily involved in compiling names of victims of the Matabeleland genocide
which claimed over 20 000 lives between 1982 and 1987.
information minister Jonathan Moyo has dismissed him as a "mad bishop who
doesn't deserve our condemnation but our prayers".
Lawyers of 'mercenaries' lodge complaint of
March 31, 2004, 18:03
Lawyers have laid a
complaint with Zimbabwe's prison authorities after eight South African
detainees said they were assaulted in their cells at the maximum security
Chikurubi prison on Monday.
The men are part of a group of 70 South
Africans arrested at Harare International earlier this month and accused of
being mercenaries on their way to overthrow the government of Equatorial
Peta Thornycroft, the SABC Zimbabwe correspondent, says the
lawyers of the South African detainees says their clients were escorted back
to their cells after their appearance and forced to stripped and all their
possession were thoroughly searched. The lawyers say their clients were then
assaulted and poured with water over their naked bodies.
According to the lawyers, prison conditions in Zimbabwe are not conducive to
healthy standards and most of cells are over crowded. The alleged mercenaries
have apparently made arrangements for food parcels to be sent to them from
South Africa. The Zimbabwean authorities are investigating the assault
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, is considering a
boycott of all future elections after losing what it considered a safe seat
in a weekend by-election in Harare.
The MDC's national executive
committee - the supreme decision-making body - meets this weekend to review
its defeat in the Zengeza parliamentary by-election in the Harare township of
The ruling Zanu-PF party's candidate, Christopher Chigumba,
won with 8 447 votes, compared to 6 706 for the MDC's James Makore, a
majority of 1 741. The results showed a massive turnaround from the general
election in June 2000 when the MDC won with 14 814 votes to Zanu PF's 5 330 -
a majority of 9 484. It also won all the other constituencies in
Although the MDC had already been toying with the idea of
boycotting the next parliamentary elections in March next year, it said the
open rigging of the Zengeza by-election had added impetus to the need to make
a final decision.
'The Zimbabwe government must act now to
regularise the political environment' "We will make a decision on whether
to participate in any elections from now onwards unless the electoral regime
is totally overhauled," said MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi.
by-election became necessary when the MDC's Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who won the
seat in 2000, fled to the United Kingdom after facing several
The American state department condemned violence,
intimidation and irregularities in the by-election, saying in a statement
that the vote could not be considered free or fair.
It said conduct of
the election raised doubts about prospects for upcoming national
"It became another symbol of the ruling party's pursuit of
electoral victories at the expense of the peaceful expression of democratic
rights," it said.
"For future elections to be free and fair, the
Zimbabwe government must act now to regularise the political environment," it
United States Embassy officials were among independent observers
who monitored the poll.
The independent Zimbabwe Election Support
Network reported that heavily armed troops and police had been deployed in
the district while Zanu-PF militants had established bases in Zengeza and
camped outside polling stations to intimidate potential opposition
An MDC supporter was shot dead and dozens were injured on polling
day on Sunday, which was conducted by an electoral super-visory
commission handpicked by President Robert Mugabe.
the shot that killed Francis Chinozvima, 22, was fired by minister without
portfolio and Zanu-PF commissariat secretary Elliot Manyika.
have confirmed the death but made no arrests. - Independent
.. This article was originally published on
page 10 of The Star on March 31, 2004
Two Zimbabwean street children who stole Z$1000-million
(about R800 000) used the money to buy food and clothes for other street kids
before booking into a hotel, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
two allegedly conspired with the accountant of a retail outlet who agreed to
leave the day's takings on her desk and her office window open, the state-run
Herald reported. One of the children used the money to buy food and clothes
for himself and his friends before booking into a hotel.
Both street kids
and the accountant have been arrested. - Sapa-AFP
article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Argus on March 31,
David Morgan, the chairman of the
England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and David Stewart, their chairman of
finance, have arrived in Barbados ahead of Thursday's third Test. Although
the pair are ostensibly on holiday, the cricket won't be the only thing on
their minds. During the match, they will be holding informal discussions with
their West Indian board counterparts over England's scheduled tour of
Zimbabwe next winter.
The decision on whether the tour will go ahead was
due last week but, as expected, was delayed again. The latest rumours are
that it might be early May before anything is decided. The longer it is put
off, the greater the flak the ECB attracts from those who accuse it of having
double standards. But Morgan admits that cancellation - still the odds-on
favourite - could cost English cricket something in the region of £5 million
in fines and consequential losses.
The underlying fear is that the
punishment could go further than a monetary hit - the ICC might also consider
suspending England from international cricket. There is a growing feeling of
resentment within the ICC - fuelled by one or two senior figures - and the
longer this affair drags on, the more the position of those individuals
England's cancellation of the tour would probably lead to
retaliation from the Indian board - led by Jagmohan Dalmiya, an outspoken
critic of the ECB's self-proclaimed moral stance - which could call off
India's three-match one-day series, that is due to take place in England
shortly before the ICC Champions Trophy. Two of those matches are already
sold out, and Stewart warned that the consequences would be
The only thing that would get the ECB off the hook would be for
the government to step in and issue a directive that England shouldn't
tour. There are no signs that it has any intention of doing that, although
further talks are planned with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the
Sports, Media & Culture department in the coming
Meanwhile, Morgan and Stewart will be keen to sound out the
view of the West Indies Cricket Board during their stay in Barbados. Things
might be going well for England on the field, but off it the storm-clouds are
gathering by the day.
HARARE - Next year's
general elections in Zimbabwe are likely to be characterised by chaos, said
the country's main opposition which lost weekend by-elections to President
Robert Mugabe's party.
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won a weekend parliamentary by-election that was
marred by violence in Zengeza, on the outskirts of the
"Zengeza gave the people of Zimbabwe a foretaste of the chaos
that awaits the nation in 2005," said Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
One opposition supporter was
killed and others were injured during violent clashes between opposition
members and the ruling party during polling.
"An analysis of the Zengeza
by-election shows that political competition here remains a bloody affair 24
years after independence," said Tsvangirai in a statement.
due to hold its regular five-yearly legislative elections in March next
"ZANU-PF is prepared to kill and satisfy its hunger for power
and oppression," alleged Tsvangirai.
The US government has also
condemned the elections saying they were not free and fair.
statement, the US State Department said what should have been a "routine and
peaceful expression of the local constituency's political will ... became
another symbol of the ruling party's pursuit of electoral victories at the
expense of democratic rights".
"We condemn the violence, intimidation and
irregularities that occurred prior to and during the ... by-election," said
the US government.
The MDC has threatened to boycott next year's polls
unless certain conditions are met to level the playing field.
demands include the repeal of parts of the media law and aspects of
the security law that "curtail the freedom of political parties to
It also wants the establishment of "a genuinely independent
electoral commission" responsible for the entire electoral
The government plans to tighten electoral laws to give the
state-appointed electoral supervisory commission the monopoly to conduct
riverbeds around Gwanda in southwest Zimbabwe are disfigured by mounds of
earth dug up by people panning for gold. On the hillsides, areas
are pockmarked with the evidence of illicit mining: deep trenches
newly excavated; abandoned pits reopened.
Hundreds of people often
women and children work a patch, day and night; using picks, shovels and
paraffin lamps made from bottles. They clamber down disused shafts on
improvised ladders of barbed wire.
You would not call this a bonanza;
rather a search driven by desperation. The gold-seekers, a phenomenon usually
associated with African states poorer than Zimbabwe, represent the underside
of the country's economic wreckage in the latest phase of Robert Mugabe's
While the country's established gold industry
struggles to keep going, up to 1-million Zimbabweans, according to mining
industry experts, are now engaged in panning.
Despite a recent
crackdown on contraband gold exports and a government offer of premium prices
for small producers, industry experts believe a large proportion is smuggled
out of the country. There is unproved speculation about involvement by
This is happening at a time when Zimbabwe depends
more than ever on the mining industry principally platinum, gold and chromium
to earn foreign exchange. Chaotic land reform has devastated the country's
agricultural export economy. Production of tobacco, long the top export
earner, has plummeted.
Official gold output has also fallen, reduced
by more than 50% since 1999 to slightly more than 12 tons last year. Ian
Saunders, president of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, says it has been
overtaken by illegal output, maybe another 18 tons, worth about 230m on the
Gold companies have been battling against soaring
inflation, now running at an annual rate of more than 600%, and crippling
government conditions. Saunders says the government "seems to be
But some big mining houses have already been moving out of
Zimbabwe. Lonmin, formerly Lonrho, sold its five gold mines in 2002 to Mzi
Khumalo, a South African entrepreneur, for what was considered a knockdown
price of $15,5m. Rio Tinto has reduced its gold operations to one
And now Zimbabwe's former top producer, Falcon Gold, based in
Bulawayo, is threatening to close its entire operations, warning that it
"will not survive the year under the current gold revenue
Andrew "AB" Beattie, its MD, says it has stopped all development
at its mines and is living "from hand to mouth" after seeing all cash
resources eaten by inflation. It has put a fifth of its workforce on
Falcon Gold's troubles were further accentuated
recently when the company and Beattie were arraigned on charges of illegal
exchange dealings. All gold in Zimbabwe is supposed to go through the central
bank. Its banknote-printing arm, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, acts as sole
buyer for gold and processes it for export.
Big producers are entitled
to receive half the value of their gold in foreign currency to pay for
immediate supplies including fuel and electricity. Another quarter is
converted into Zimbabwe dollars at the official rate of Z824 to the dollar.
The remainder is paid at a more realistic variable rate, currently about
Mining companies complain that by using the official rate the
government is simply taking part of their revenue, in addition to a new 3%
royalty being levied since January. Without that drain on their income,
prospects might still look good.
The dilemma for owners is whether to
continue spending money on developing and exploring for new ore reserves or
take the easier alternative of "killing" their mines, removing the already
accessible deposits and then shutting them.
Unusually for African
mining, Zimbabwe's gold industry involves dozens of middle-sized companies.
Up to now these have proved sufficiently cost-effective to make lowgrade
deposits viable. This industrial fabric is now under threat.
have spiralled out of control. Duties payable on dollar-denominated imports
have risen more than 7000% since December because of changes in foreign
To curb contraband, the authorities now buy gold from
small claimholders at Z60000/g, more than the world market price and three
times the local currency price available to larger companies. The money is
paid in bearer cheques temporary highdenomination tender that Zimbabwe began
issuing last year when bank notes began to be in short supply.
lot of gold has stayed outside official channels. A panner digging illegally
for ore in shallow veins of quartz can count on obtaining a gram in a day or
two and selling it to a middleman for Z40000, enough to survive minimally for
maybe three weeks.
As Zimbabwe's crisis rumbles on, damage done to this
and other sectors of the economy, once one of Africa's strongest and most
broadly based, seems more likely to be permanent.
political conciliation in preparation for a post-Mugabe government which
could clear the way for a large foreign aid programme and a new economic
strategy to go with it are proving more difficult than
"The longer we go down the road we're going, the longer
it's going to take to come right," says one mine manager. "Really, we're in
free fall now," says another, "and it's hard to know how to stop it".
Interfaith Gathering Sets Its Sights on Conflict Resolution
NAIROBI, Mar 31 (IPS) - The past few days have seen religious
leaders around Africa take the lead in addressing violence on the
In Zimbabwe, clerics from various Christian denominations
gathered in Harare and Bulawayo to pray for peace in their country, which is
in the throes of political and economic hardship. Colleagues from
neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Zambia travelled to Zimbabwe to join
Further north, in Kenya, something similar was taking
Over 40 religious leaders from East and central Africa met in
Nairobi over the weekend for a summit that focussed on the work the various
faiths were doing in conflict situations in these regions.
interfaith meeting, which concluded Monday (Mar. 29) was the third of its
type in Africa. Clerics from West Africa came together for a
similar conference last October in Liberia, while their Southern
African counterparts gathered in 2002. An interfaith peace summit for North
Africa is scheduled to take place in July this year.
In a communiqué
released after the meeting, the Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders pledged
to make joint visits to conflict areas, and lobby governments to end violence
in their regions.
"We (had) abdicated the responsibility to
politicians...to be accountable in peace matters. We have therefore resolved
that from now onwards, we as the interfaith community will play a leading
role in engaging our governments in the search for peace," Ishmael Noko,
General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, told IPS.
Prabhu Pattni of the Hindu Council of Africa, "It is religious
leaders, regardless of their faith, who reach the grass-root populations. It
is the same leaders who minister to these communities in their day to day
life, and so they are rightly placed to educate communities to embrace a
culture of peace."
Of particular concern was the situation in Sudan,
where substantial progress in peace talks between government and the rebel
Sudan People's Liberation Army has not stemmed violence in the western Darfur
In a briefing released Tuesday, the United Nations Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said civilians in Darfur
were being attacked daily as government forces, their supporters and rebel
groups battled for control of the region.
OCHA warned that the
humanitarian situation in Darfur was worsening, with thousands of internally
displaced Sudanese experiencing water shortages and disease. About 750,000
people are believed to have fled their homes.
Somalia, which has been
gripped by faction fighting since the fall of President Siad Barre's
government in 1991, was also a source concern at the Nairobi meeting - as
were the ongoing clashes between government troops and rebels from the Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are still
trying to bring a definitive end to their border conflict, which erupted in
1998, while the fragility of a December 2002 peace deal in Congo-Kinshasa was
highlighted this weekend during an alleged coup attempt.
government of Uganda wanted to end the war, it would have done so a long time
ago because it has the capacity. But there is no political will to contain
the war," said Macleord Baker Ochola, the retired Anglican Bishop of Kitgum
Diocese in northern Uganda, who has lost a wife and daughter to
Ochola now serves as Vice-Chair of the Acholi Religious
Leaders Initiative, which seeks to promote peace in the region.
LRA rebellion, which began 17 years ago, has displaced almost two million
people in Uganda. Last month, the group allegedly murdered more than 200
people in a northern refugee camp - an incident described as the worst attack
in LRA history.
The interfaith meeting gained particular significance
from the fact that religious differences have taken a toll on the region
where it was held.
In Sudan, the Muslim north has long been at odds with
the Christian and animist south. Proposals to entrench Islamic courts in
Kenya's new constitution have also raised temperatures in that country,
with Christians - who make up more than 80 percent of the population -
demanding that this clause be scrapped.
The Vice Chairman of the
Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, Alhaji Yusuf Murigu, said at the meeting
that "People of different religions must learn to live peacefully with one
another, accepting their religious diversity. They must embrace the gift of
His words were echoed by Mvume Dandala, General Secretary of
the All African Conference of Churches, who said an example of interfaith
harmony in Africa would "translate into (the continent's) contribution to
global peace in a world that is tearing apart from religiously motivated
The EU has agreed a ?250
million fund to help Africa run its own peacekeeping initiatives.
before EU representatives meet their counterparts from the newly-born African
Union at the end of the week, Europe's governments have given the green light
to fund the Peace Facility.
This facility will be totally independent of
EU operations and wholly under the control of the African Union - a
continent-wide union of African states along the EU model.
African Union in the driving seat, Africa has demonstrated a strong resolve
and its security agenda is fast becoming a reality," said development
commissioner Poul Nielson.
"I see the EU's speedy approval of the Peace
Facility as recognition of the credibility and authority with which the
African Union is taking responsibility in the area of peace and
The agreement will help set a positive tone for the EU-AU
summit on Thursday and Friday.
After an earlier summit scheduled for
Lisbon was scrapped with Europe unwilling to let ostracized Zimbabwe leader
Robert Mugabe set foot on European soil, the two sides are now back around
the same table.
One EU official called the summit an exercise in
"confidence building after the cancellation of the Lisbon summit".
addition to the Peace Facility, EU and AU representatives will also talk over
the first ever pan-African report on debt.
Although it is yet to be
endorsed politically, it is a step forward to cooperation between the two
Other discussions will focus on the multilateral trading,
integration between the African regions and ensuring that countries are run
"There is a limit to what can be expected. The AU is still
finding its feet," said a source.
The EU-AU summit is also being
touted as a clear political forum beyond the scope of existing financial
mechanisms already carved out in previous agreements.
commissioner Poul Nielson and foreign affairs chief Javier Solana will
accompany representatives from the current and future EU presidencies,
Ireland and the Netherlands.
A man has appeared
at Cardiff Crown Court accused of attempting to kidnap a toddler from a busy
shopping centre. Zimbabwe-born Mthokozisi Zondo, 28, is charged with
trying to snatch the two-year-old girl from an Argos store.
girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had become separated from her
mother in the city centre when she was allegedly approached.
Roderick Denyer, QC, remanded Zondo in custody.
The incident was
captured on CCTV footage in the Queen's Arcade shopping centre in
Prosecutor Sue Ferrier said: "There are a number of videos
in this case which need to be viewed."
Zondo, who lives in the
Canton area of the city, spoke only to confirm his name during a five-minute
The court heard that the defendant is an asylum seeker,
whose application for residency in Britain has been turned down.
The judge said: "Bearing in mind his status as an asylum seeker
any application for bail would have to be considered very carefully."
Zimbabwe Ministers were
challenged to "stop walking by on the other side" over Zimbabwe. Mr Ancram
called for the government to freeze the assets of wealthy businessmen who
fund President Mugabe, extend EU sanctions and ask the UN to monitor food
distribution. Junior Foreign Office minister Chris Mullin said the government
took the Zimbabwe issue "very seriously indeed and we have been extremely