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Zimbabwe opposition says it is unfazed by Mugabe's threats

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party says it will go ahead with planned street protests this winter
despite threats by President Robert Mugabe to crush the demonstrations.

Mugabe told thousands of people during the country's independence day
celebrations on Tuesday that his government was ready to ruthlessly crush
the opposition protests warning MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he "was
playing with fire" for organizing the protests.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman, told ZimOnline on Wednesday that
they will go ahead with the protests despite Mugabe's threats.

"Mugabe's threats will not derail our plans. He is showing signs of
dangerous levels of desperation. Instead of providing solutions to the many
problems Zimbabweans are facing, Mugabe chooses to threaten, insult and
terrorise the people to cow them into submission.

"Zimbabweans are sick and tired of a leadership that that pre-occupies
itself with shadow boxing instead of finding remedies to the current
crisis," said Chamisa.

Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) civic group that is fighting for a new, democratic constitution for
Zimbabwe dismissed Mugabe's threats saying no one should take them
seriously.

"His threats won't change anything, we will continue with our
programmes until he (Mugabe) embraces democratic principles and a
people-driven democratic constitution.

"No one will take note of such comments because this has been the
style of his government. The comments are calculated to intimidate the
people in order to suppress demand for democratic rule," said Madhuku.

The NCA chairman said Mugabe's threats against the opposition-led
protests were a clear sign of paranoia within government circles. The NCA,
churches, students and other civic groups have already endorsed plans by the
MDC to stage the street demonstrations. - ZimOnline


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Mugabe rant against opposition-led protests betrays panic

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is threatening the opposition with
"fire and death" if it dared call street protests against his government but
analysts say the veteran leader is showing signs of panicking at a time his
main challenger Morgan Tsvangirai seemed to have ridden through a split in
the opposition ranks.

Mugabe, addressing an independence celebration audience this week,
took time to warn his opponents against mounting Ukrainian-style street
protests to overthrow his government, which critics blame for plunging
Zimbabwe into a deep recession since 1999.

In an apparent reference to opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Tsvangirai, who has in the last week held rallies to drum up
support for his party's mass protest plans, Mugabe said the opposition was
"playing with fire" and that the country's security forces were ready to
deal mercilessly with street demonstrations.

"I think there is an indication that the government is quite scared
because they know people are suffering," John Makumbe, political commentator
and Mugabe critic told ZimOnline.

"Mugabe is trying to intimidate people so they cannot go onto the
streets but people are very angry with the state of the country and the
government is afraid they might agree with the MDC's position," added
Makumbe.

Officials in Mugabe's government say they are worried about any
planned protests, which they say will destabilise a country battling its
worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 and working to thwart any
attempt "to breach the country's peace and security".

A senior government official who declined to be named said yesterday:
"This is an issue that we continue to review often but there is no doubt
that the feeling here is one of anxiety and as such the government will
naturally respond accordingly to any threat to the country's peace and
security."

Senior army and police officers have told ZimOnline that the country's
security forces have been put on high alert and had since the Easter
holidays intensified anti-public riot drills to keep them in shape to quell
any MDC-led protests.

The police have in the last week also used Israeli-sourced anti-riot
water cannon trucks in the drills according to a senior inspector at the
police's Morris Depot in Harare where some of the drills have taken place.

Analysts said despite Mugabe's saber rattling, Tsvangirai's protest
calls resonated with the majority, who are battling to eke out a living as
Zimbabwe's economy sinks deeper despite official optimism.

The analysts said the economic crisis, marked by the highest inflation
rate in the world at 913.6 percent and still edging higher, unemployment
above 80 percent and shortages of foreign currency and fuel, was feeding
into mass anger against the government and would play into the opposition
protest plans.

Many Zimbabweans are angry with Mugabe, who at independence was
welcomed as a hero but is now reviled as he prevails over a country also
grappling breaking sewerage systems, power and water cuts, uncollected
garbage and deteriorating roads.

"For many people the pain is now intense, the pain has reached the
bone," Makumbe said.

"Many people will now be persuaded that demonstrations are the only
way to get themselves out of this quagmire," Eldred Masunungure, chairman of
the University of Zimbabwe's political science department added.

Mugabe seemed to have dramatically raised the stakes against
Tsvangirai by daring him to engage in the mass protests and analysts say,
with strong leadership and proper planning the demonstrations could be
successful.

Said Masunungure: "The capacity to mobilise people is there and I
think people are beginning to say 'we are our own liberators' and we have
suffered enough."

Tsvangirai has refused to back down from the mass protest threats,
vowing to mobilise Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demand Mugabe paves
way for a transitional government that will be tasked with spearheading the
writing of a new and democratic constitution that would lead to free and
fair elections under international supervision.

Mugabe will again be looking to his loyal security chiefs to marshall
the country's security forces into crushing any dissent although analysts
say this could fail if a mass swell of public anger spills into the streets.

Zimbabwe's security forces have also been hit hard by the economic
crisis putting their loyalty to Mugabe into question. Zimbabwe Defence
Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga has advised Mugabe to review security
forces' salaries ahead of the MDC protests.

Tsvangirai is yet to name a date for protests, which could start
small, and analysts say Mugabe's strategy could be to stifle any campaign
before it takes off in the coming months. - ZimOnline


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Harare unveils fresh blue-print for economic recovery

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

HARARE- Crisis-hit Zimbabwe on Wednesday unveiled a fresh blue-print
for the recovery of the southern African country's comatose economy.

The blueprint, National Economic Development Priority Programme
(NEDPP) was formulated through the Zimbabwe National Security Council
(ZNSC), an all encompassing taskforce with members from both the government
and the private sector.

Unveiling the blueprint in Harare, Economic Development Minister
Rugare Gumbo said the key objectives of the NEDPP were reducing inflation,
stabilisation of the currency, ensuring food security, increasing output and
productivity and generation of foreign exchange.

The government would under the NEDPP remove price distortions, ensure
effective policy co-ordination and implementation, according to Gumbo.

"In order to achieve these objectives it is important that we restore
confidence, rehabilitate and develop key infrastructure, reduce both
domestic and external debt to sustainable levels and restore the positive
image of the country," the Minister said.

Gumbo said that various taskforces had been put in place to spearhead
the implementation of the programmes and strategies.

The taskforces would focus on agriculture co-ordination, input supply
and food security; domestic and international resources mobilisation; human
skills identification, deployment and retention; look-east promotion and
implementation of programmes.

The ZNSC is chaired by President Robert Mugabe and is supported by the
National Economic Recovery Council chaired by Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Four Cabinet Ministers - Kembo Mohadi, Herbert Murerwa, Gumbo and Didymus
Mutasa attended yesterday's meeting to unveil the new economic plan.

Reserve Bank off Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and representatives
from business were also in attendance.

Zimbabwe is going through an economic recession over the last six
years which critics blame on repression and incorrect policies by Mugabe's
government in power for the last 26 years.

The veteran President denies the charge and his government has over
the past decade produced several economic blueprints all which have failed
to improve the country's fortunes. - ZimOnline


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British premier brands Mugabe government a disgrace

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

LONDON - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday launched a
blistering attack on President Robert Mugabe branding his government a
"disgrace" for ruining a potentially rich country.

Speaking in parliament during a question and answer session, Blair
said his government will continue to exert pressure on Harare to change.

"What the regime is doing in Zimbabwe is a disgrace. There are people
suffering there in a country that is potentially wealthy," Blair said.

"We have had ourselves as a nation to actually give humanitarian
assistance to people and food aid assistance in circumstances where if the
country were properly run the people could be looked after there and looked
after properly," he said.

Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession blamed on
Mugabe's policies particularly his violent seizure of commercial farmland
from white farmers for redistribution to landless blacks.

The country has virtually survived on food handouts from international
donors after the disruption of the key agriculture sector. Inflation stands
at over 900 percent with food, essential medicines all in critical short
supply.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and
major Western governments blame Mugabe for the economic crisis. But Mugabe
denies the charge accusing the British premier of seeking regime change in
Zimbabwe by backing the MDC.

Blair said there was a limit to what his government could do to
enforce change in Zimbabwe.

"The only issue is what we can do about it and what we are doing from
this country is our very best to try and get the right diplomatic pressure
on the Zimbabwean regime to change but there is, I am afraid, a limit to
what we can do," he added. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe opposition legislator quits Mutambara faction

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition legislator, Gift Chimanikire, has
resigned as chairman of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party led by former student leader Arthur Mutambara.

It could not be immediately established last night whether Chimanikire
has rejoined Morgan Tsvangirai who has remained leading the main rump of the
opposition party after his vice-president Gibson Sibanda, secretary general
Welshman Ncube and other senior leaders deserted him last year.

Chimanikire was unreachable last night.

Announcing Chimanikire's resignation, Mutambara said his former
chairman had taken that step after a call by his faction on all "those in
leadership positions who have developed cold feet or doubts about the
efficacy of our values on non-violence, democracy, equality and respect for
the dignity of every Zimbabwean .. to resign."

But the departure of Chimanikire appears to deal a serious body-blow
to the Mutambara faction of the MDC which has been struggling to attract
huge crowds to its rallies around the country and has also seen three senior
members including its elections director Blessing Chebundo quitting its
ranks in the last three weeks.

The MDC, which had presented the greatest challenge to Mugabe's
26-year old grip on power, is embroiled in a bitter factional war after it
split into two factions last year over the senate election.

The factions have since held two separate congresses during which one
faction retained Tsvangirai as leader while the other elected Mutambara as
president. - ZimOnline


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SA Communist Party youths stage demo at Zimbabwe consulate

Zim Online

Thu 20 April 2006

JOHANNESBURG - More than 400 members of South Africa's Young Communist
League (YCL) and Zimbabwean refugees on Tuesday demonstrated at the
Zimbabwean consulate in Johannesburg against human rights abuses by
President Robert Mugabe's government.

The YCL is the youth wing of South Africa's Communist Party (SACP)
which has been highly critical of Mugabe's style of governance. The
demonstration was timed to coincide with Zimbabwe's Independence Day
celebrations which was marked on Tuesday.

YCL national secretary, Buti Manamela told ZimOnline that the youth
league was angered by the continued human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

"We cannot ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe. We feel it is a South
African problem as well. Students and other youths are arrested on a daily
basis, just for expressing their disapproval of the government.

"We believe that the issues in Zimbabwe are only addressed in South
Africa just before, during and after elections. But human rights atrocities
are taking place on a daily basis, not just around elections," said
Manamela.

Human rights groups and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) have accused Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party of
orchestrating serious human rights violations against political opponents.
Mugabe denies the charge.

Victor Kasaga, a Zimbabwean who helped organise the demonstration,
commended the YCL for helping highlight the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe.

"I can't see the logic for us Zimbabweans to celebrate this holiday
(Independence Day). We hope the move taken by the South Africa youths will
help highlight the ongoing crisis in our country," he said.

At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's 12
million population, are living outside the country the majority of them in
South Africa after fleeing political persecution and hunger in Zimbabwe. -
ZimOnline


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Shady economic body adds to fears in Zimbabwe

Business Day

Dumisani Muleya

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE shadowy Cuban-style Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC) was
recently set up to run the country's economy on a crisis-management basis -
26 years after the start of self-rule.

The move indicates a virtual state of emergency in Zimbabwe's economy,
confirms the government's policy paralysis and reflects panic in the
corridors of power.

But it also shows government's implicit awareness of the potentially
devastating political consequences of the current economic meltdown. The
ZNSC, chaired by President Robert Mugabe, runs the economy on an emergency
basis - as in Cuba, where "anguish committees" manage the economy. Mugabe
referred to the initiative yesterday during his keynote address at the
country's 26th anniversary of independence from Britain. At the same event,
he made a stunning claim that the economy, which has shrunk by a cumulative
35% in the past six years, will grow between 1% and 2% this year. No one
believes this, and it would be shocking if Mugabe does.

The Cuban economy is run by a Council of State, backed by committees,
although the government has devolved some authority to ministries and
enterprises in recent years. Under the slogan "Socialism or Death", the
Cuban regime continues to proclaim Cuba a socialist state with an economy
organised under Marxist-Leninist principles. Most means of production are
owned and run by the government. About 75% of the labour force is employed
directly by the state.

Mugabe tried to do this and failed and now wants to try it again, although
this time it is crisis management rather than socialist principles that are
driving the process. In October 1990, Cuban leader Fidel Castro said his
country had entered a "special period in time of peace" and that the economy
would function as if in a time of war until the crisis had been resolved.

This appears to be the mentality within the Zimbabwean government. The ZNSC
will run the economy like Cuba's Council of State until the current crisis
disappears, something unlikely if no fundamental political and economic
reforms are undertaken. Cuba learnt this the hard way.

In Zimbabwe, the state security establishment now effectively runs the
economy as it cross-cuts the emergency subcommittees which have been set up
to perform a rescue operation. This confirms the view that the Central
Intelligence Organisation and the Joint Operations Command - comprising the
intelligence service, army, police and prisons - now virtually run the
country and are involved in a whole gamut of nonsecurity issues.

The state security establishment has no credible economic knowledge,
capacity or the means to pull Zimbabwe out of the morass. The situation
requires a political solution and economic measures supported by the
international community. The ZNSC initiative only validates the view of a
police state in Zimbabwe run by the state security apparatus. Government
bureaucracy is already heavily militarised. Serving or retired army officers
can be found in government departments, parastatals, electoral institutions
and quasigovernment organisations performing the roles of civilians.

Military rule takes various forms, which include army control where the
generals direct events from barracks, arbitration in which the army comes in
as conflict manager between political parties or the government and
opposition parties, and army veto where the military vetoes some civilian
decisions. There are also crypto-military democracies in which it is
difficult to tell where army interventions end and civilian rule begins.

Anecdotal evidence shows the military might be pulling the strings in
civilian government issues, but there is still no decisive proof that army
authority has taken root and is now the basis of governance in Zimbabwe.

There are clear signs of the executive's erosion of confidence in public
officials, and the encroachment of armed forces - apparently by invitation -
in civilian matters. While this might serve Mugabe's self-preservation needs
at the moment, it creates problems for future governments which may have to
struggle to uproot an entrenched military culture in civilian government.

The ZNSC will not be able to reverse the economic decline in the present
circumstances - not in a "thousand years" as central bank governor Gideon
Gono recently observed, in an eerie echo of former Rhodesian leader Ian
Smith's comment on the prospects of majority rule in Zimbabwe in 1965.

Muleya is Harare correspondent and Zimbabwe Independent news editor.


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The wrath of Robert Mugabe

Mail and Guardian

Michael Hartnack | Harare, Zimbabwe

19 April 2006 07:36

President Robert Mugabe has threatened to bring down "the full
wrath of the law" against anyone who disturbs Zimbabwean peace and
stability.

The threat, made in a speech on Tuesday, came after calls by the
country's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for street protests to
topple Mugabe's 26-year rule.

"Anyone who dares go against the law, ... dares lead any group
of persons to embark on a campaign of violence or terrorist activity, will
be inviting the full wrath of the law to descend mercilessly on him and, or
on those who follow him," Mugabe (82) said in a rambling and repetitive
speech broadcast on state television to mark the 26th anniversary of
independence.

This year's festivities come at a time of deepening economic
crisis and a rapidly widening gap between Zimbabwe's rich elite and poor
majority. Unemployment exceeds 70%, inflation is over 900%, and the country
faces acute shortages of food, fuel and other imports.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, a leading
Mugabe critic, says at least 10 000 people have died of hunger and
malnutrition-related diseases. He accuses officials from the ruling Zanu-PF
(Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) of denying aid to
opposition supporters.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's economic woes on the seizure of
thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black
Zimbabweans since 2 000.

But Mugabe, in his speech at the National Sports Stadium on
Tuesday, pointed the finger at a "spate of devastating droughts and an evil
programme of unjustified sanctions" by Western nations. The United States
and European Union have imposed travel bans and other targeted sanctions
against Mugabe and members of his regime.

Mugabe, who has led the country since independence from Britain
in 1980, said on Tuesday: "We are happy that no one anywhere in the
drought-stricken areas was allowed to die of hunger."

Security forces on high alert
Senior army and police officers who spoke to ZimOnline on
Tuesday on condition they were not named said the security forces had been
put on high alert.

The officers said security forces had also intensified anti-riot
drills to keep them in shape to quell MDC-led protests.

The police have in the last week also used the Israeli-made
anti-riot water cannon trucks in the drills, according to a senior inspector
at the police's Morris Depot in Harare.

The water cannons, four of which were on display at the stadium
where Mugabe addressed the independence gathering, were acquired from
Tel-Aviv about four years ago but had remained unused because there have
been no significant clashes between the government and the opposition on the
streets.

"We have been using them [water cannons] for the past days to
train some police officers in anticipation of the protests," said the police
inspector.

Soldiers and police officers, including those on leave, have
been put on standby in case they may be required for urgent duty, while
members of the police's anti-riot squad said had been ordered to be always
in "full anti-riot gear".

A junior officer in the anti-riot squad said: "We have been told
to be always alert as Tsvangirai is threatening violence. We were told that
everyone should parade in full riot gear at Morris Depot and Chikurubi
police camp where everyone is supposed to go through some anti-riot drills.

"We were also told not to put money [by backing Tsvangirai]
ahead of our country as there is no monetary value that can be attached to
Zimbabwe as most people died for it."

It was not possible to get comment on the matter from the
Zimbabwe National Army's public and press relations office but police
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the security forces' state of
preparedness was because they believed there was a threat to peace and
stability in the country.

"Whenever there is a security threat in the country, we will
always put our men on standby. We have the mandate to protect innocent
civilians against politicians who want to fan violence in the country . [we]
obviously do not want to be caught unawares," Bvudzjiena said.

In addition to stepping up anti-riot drills, the police have
also increased their visibility on the streets of Harare, erecting
roadblocks on nearly every major road leading into the capital city's
centre.

At the roadblocks the police, some armed and some not, search
cars for weapons that could be used to commit public violence.

Tuesday's deployment of the water cannons at the sports stadium
was also the first time they have been hauled before the public in the
presence of Mugabe, in what could have been an attempt to forewarn the
public about the futility of rising up against the government.

'Non-renewable resources are ours in the first place'
Mugabe also vowed to press ahead with plans to place other
economic sectors still under foreign ownership in the hands of the state or
black Zimbabweans, including forcing major platinum producers with
multibillion-dollar development projects under way to sell at least 51% of
their shares.

"Non-renewable resources are ours in the first place," Mugabe
said. "You, the investor, will get a reward, yes, but that reward will be
balanced by what we keep for ourselves."

Thousands of ruling party supporters were bussed in from across
the country for a lavish ceremony at the stadium, but the 80 000-capacity
facility was only half full.

Mugabe arrived half an hour later than announced and was greeted
with a flypast of Chinese fighter jets. Much of Zimbabwe's once formidable
British-trained air force has been grounded by Western embargoes that make
getting spare parts difficult. - Sapa-AP


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SA urged to tread warily on land reform

Mail and Guardian

Johannesburg, South Africa

19 April 2006 12:03

South Africa was urged on Wednesday to tread carefully on land
reform in a report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD).

"Land reform is a massive, complicated process and not
everything can be done simultaneously," said the 185-page report by the
Paris-based club of market economies.

"The identification of realistic objectives and careful
sequencing of activities are conditions for success," it added.

Black ownership of land has increased from 13% at the end of
apartheid in 1994 to 16%, but falls well short of targets set by President
Thabo Mbeki's government.

The government has set a goal of handing over nearly a third of
white-owned land to new black farmers by 2014 as part of its programme to
redress the injustices of apartheid.

The OECD report released in South Africa singled out land reform
as one of the most pressing issues in Africa's largest economy.

It warned that "clarity is needed about the role and functions
of institutions involved and better co-ordination between them."

South Africa has vowed that it will not follow the path of
Zimbabwe where thousands of white-owned farms have been seized by President
Robert Mugabe's government since 2000 and given to black Zimbabweans.

"Land reform has a long way to go and is facing implementation
challenges. There is broad consensus in South Africa that the land issue
needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency, although there is much
controversy about the ways it should be done," the OECD said.

Some of the challenges to land reform include funding and
training up new black farmers, it said.

"Budgets have been a constraint on the land reform programme.
Provincial budget allocations have been overcommitted with the result that
in some provinces, new projects cannot be approved and existing projects are
jeopardised."

It added that "some beneficiaries of land reform suffered
defaults, as they were inadequately prepared for running commerial farming
in a high-risk environment or were unable to raise sufficient capital for
commercial production."

The report was part of a broader study on the situation of
agriculture in four countries outside the OECD: South Africa, Brazil, China
and India. - AFP


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 15th April 2006



Mugabe Must Go Now was the Independence Day message from the UK. The Vigil
hosted a highly-charged demonstration by the MDC-UK attended by branches
from Leicester, Manchester, Grays, Coventry, Oxford, Reading and elsewhere,
including Southend represented by the MDC-UK Chair, Washington Ali. The
demonstrators' demands were summed up by Crispen Kulinji, whose torture by
the Mugabe regime was part of our recent submission to the United Nations
Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Crispen received a letter from Geneva
this week acknowledging the evidence we had sent in support of our petition
about torture in Zimbabwe (see Vigil diary, 25th February). The UN tells us
that our evidence has been sent to the authorities in Zimbabwe for their
response. We await it with bated breath! Today Crispen, had his own message
for Mugabe: "How can you celebrate Independence when you have one of the
worst dictatorships in the world. Can you please leave. Even the army
doesn't want you. Remember we are all children of God and please can you
deliver freedom this Easter."

There was a wonderful spirit of camaraderie at the Vigil - a feeling that we
were all moving forward together despite the dismal English Spring (with
rain on us and no-one else!). As well as marking Independence Day, the
demonstration was in solidarity with other MDC demonstrations around the
world, particularly Canada, and with the MDC mass rallies in Zimbabwe.

During the week Vigil delegates had a useful meeting with Foreign and
Commonwealth Office officials. The meeting stemmed from our submission of a
petition to the British government asking for tougher measures against the
Mugabe regime (see Vigil diary, 28th January). We pointed out, among other
things, that the diaspora represents people who cannot express themselves
freely at home and that the diaspora must not be overlooked in
considerations about the future of Zimbabwe. We also outlined our plans for
an Advocacy Group to spread the Vigil mission to organisations around the
world.

People were disappointed at the outcome of the Court of Appeal ruling on
Zimbabwean asylum seekers this week. The case has been referred back to the
Tribunal for reconsideration so the position of Zimbabwean asylum seekers
remains the same for the time being. The Zimbabwe Association is seeking
information on 1) voluntary returns to Zimbabwe (from 2002 - 2006) and 2)
forced returns between November 2004 and July 2005. This information is
needed to continue the fight and will be treated in strictest confidence
(contact details: zimbabweassociation@yahoo.co.uk, Tel: 020 7549 0355, Fax:
020 7549 0356).

FOR THE RECORD: 79 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Zimbabwe Forum, Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28
John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go
down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
Monday, 17th April - no forum. Monday, 24th April, 7.30 pm - Rev Martine
Stemerick will give a video presentation about what is happening to the poor
in Zimbabwe including interviews with Pius Ncube.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


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Airzim, Indonesian Firm Eye Partnership



The Herald (Harare)

April 19, 2006
Posted to the web April 18, 2006

Wisdom Mdzungairi
Jakarta, Indonesia

AIR Zimbabwe and Garuda Indonesia might soon establish a code-sharing
agreement with a view to launching direct air services between Harare and
Jakarta.

Air Zimbabwe flights that connect to Beijing, Singapore and Indonesia would
accommodate Garuda Indonesia passengers and vice-versa. This came out of a
meeting between Zimbabwean and Indonesian tourism and airline officials. The
Indonesian airline was represented by its vice president for network
management Risinandi, general manager for airline co-operation Iriansyah
Antemas, and airline co-operation assistant general manager Nana Haryana.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke and Civil
Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe marketing and business development manager Mr
Ben Ncube represented Zimbabwe. Mr Kaseke said the meeting was arranged by
Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Indonesia Ms Alice Mageza and Environment and
Tourism Minister Cde Francis Nhema.

Mr Kaseke, however, said there was a need for Government to conclude a
bilateral air services agreement with Indonesia to pave way for the
code-sharing agreement soon. He said the move would ensure visitors from bot
h Zimbabwe and Indonesia have no difficulties travelling to the two
countries. The Zimbabwean delegation has been meeting various
representatives of the tourism and business sectors to boost tourist
arrivals in Zimbabwe and vice-versa.


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Zimbabweans hunger for new leadership

Columbia Daily Tribune

By OBERT GADZI
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Add widespread hunger to the list of calamities facing Zimbabwe today. The
country already has the distinction of having what the United Nations
describes as the fastest shrinking economy and the highest rate of inflation
in the world.

"The food situation is grave," said Barbara Shenstone, CARE International's
country director in Zimbabwe. "There just isn't food in the rural areas.
People are clamoring for food everywhere. Schools are asking for help for
hungry children. Many are eating less than one meal a day."

According to the latest report from the USAID's Food Security Early Warning
System, the country will need to import at least 1.4 million tons of maize
to feed its people this year, at a cost of $350 million.

Given that the government of President Robert Mugabe struggled earlier this
year to come up with $9 million to avoid defaulting on a loan from the
International Monetary Fund, it's unlikely Zimbabwe will be able to come up
with the foreign reserves needed to feed its people.

Up until six years ago, Zimbabwe was the leading food producer in Africa,
regularly earning foreign currency by exporting its surpluses to other
African nations and the European Union.

Mugabe has been able to blame the drought that has plagued southern Africa
for the nose dive that the country's agricultural production has suffered
since then. But this year's abundant rainfall has robbed him of even that
excuse.

Instead, the government now faults members of the governing elite who
expropriated the previously white-owned farms for using their vast reserves
as "weekend picnic venues" rather than productive farms.

In a rare admission of government failure, Deputy Agriculture Minister
Sylvester Nguni said most of these new farmers lacked the skills to produce
on what he called a "commercial or even subsistence level."

Meanwhile, the country's dire financial condition means there isn't enough
money available to import badly needed seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and
chemicals to operate commercial farms. There also are fuel shortages and
frequent electricity power cuts that reduce farm production

The country's once flourishing commercial farms are now dismal sights,
overgrown with weeds and brush. Where planting has taken place - now on only
about 10 percent of the country's available farmland - the crops are
miserably stunted.

What food is produced rarely gets to the people who need it the most.
Chronic fuel shortages prevent the distribution of food into many rural
areas. And when fuel is available, Mugabe's ZANU-PF government has used food
distribution as a political tool, providing it to areas where its supporters
are in the majority while denying it to their opponents.

ZANU-PF "would rather kill people for the sake of power," said Archbishop
Pius Ncube, the outspoken Roman Catholic prelate and human-rights advocate
in Bulawayo. "You can see what kind of people we are dealing with here -
murderers. President Mugabe is a very, very evil man. The sooner the Good
Lord takes him from us the better."

Officially, the government denies there is any food shortage in the country.
Mugabe constantly asserts the country has adequate food reserves and has
rejected foreign assistance.

"We are not hungry," Mugabe said recently. "Why foist this food on us? We
don't want to be choked. We have enough."

"My children are now eating out of a garbage dump," said Zvikomborero, 33,
who was driven from his house in the Harare suburb of Mbare by Mugabe's
controversial urban renewal scheme. "We are washing potato skins and eating
them. We are starving. You can say we are dead."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Obert Gadzi is a journalist in Zimbabwe who writes for The Institute for War
& Peace Reporting, a not-for-profit organization that trains journalists in
areas of conflict.
----------------------------------------------------


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'Come home, let's rebuild Zimbabwe'

zimbabwejournalists.com

Mugabe

By a Correspondent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday criticised people in the Diaspora
for leaving the country instead of taking part in turning around the
economy, saying that responsibility was not for him alone, but for every
Zimbabwean.

He was speaking at the 26th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence at
the National Sports Stadium in the capital.
"You might go to England, but you will be discriminated against there.
You will be given menial jobs like looking after old people in their homes.
"If you flee then who will make the country better? Is it Mugabe
alone? Did I fight for the county alone? The answer is no. It was a
collective exercise," said Mugabe.
He urged Zimbabweans to be united.
"We should remain united, love each other and help each other and know
that we are all Zimbabweans especially in the face of the current
challenges.
"Zimbabwe is one country and is the only country we have. If it's the
only country we have, let's make it great because people fought for it," he
said.
Thousands of Zimbabwean professionals have left the country to look
for greener pastures abroad with South Africa, United Kingdom and the USA
being their main destinations.
The brain drain has seriously affected virtually all sectors, with
health being reported to be the hardest hit.
On a lighter note, Mugabe reminded the crowd that thronged the stadium
of Hosiah Chipanga's song, Gushungo, in which the musician criticised people
that have abused government facilities meant to revamp the fortunes of the
economy and putting the blame on him.
In the song Chipanga points out that Mugabe is not responsible for the
country's economic decline, but people who abuse fuel facilities,
agricultural inputs and corruption in the financial services sector.
On corruption, he said government had set up the Anti-Corruption
Commission to fight graft in all sectors of the economy and warned fugitive
bankers and executive wanted for vice that the law would take its course.
"You might flee and go to South Africa or the UK, but we will meet;
nyaya haiperi (the crimes won't be forgiven)," he said.
Some top bankers, including former Barbican Bank boss, Mthuli Ncube,
NMB Bank directors, Julius Makoni, Otto Chekeche and James Mushore fled the
country during the height of the turmoil that hit the financial sector two
years ago.
They were being accused of corrupt activities in the financial sector.
Turning to the mining sector, the President said there was no going
back on the proposals for government to acquire controlling stakes in
international mining concerns operating in the country.
"You come with your money and machines to mine, but you should know
that the country is ours and the wealth is ours. We will give you something
that is 50-50 or 51-49 (percentage shareholding) in favour of the state.
Once you mine gold, it's gone, it doesn't grow, so we should be getting more
gains from it," said Mugabe.
The cabinet last month approved proposals to amend the Mines and
Minerals Act as part of efforts to increase the involvement of indigenous
people in the lucrative mining sector.
"It should be clearly stated, however, that foreign investment should
take cognisance of our indigenisation and empowerment policy and programmes
under which the equity balances between foreigners and Zimbabweans are
regulated," he said.
Mugabe said the indigenisation policy would be reviewed to effect
these balances, adding the country had lost out due to inequities that
currently exist in favour of foreigners. He also warned the MDC and its
supporters that the law would descend on them if they dared to remove his
government violently during their planned winter campaigns.
"I want to warn those that say they do not want to follow the
democratic way of the country. Those who say we don't want to be voted into
power, but remove the government through strikes, burning businesses and
destroying wealth.
"I want to warn them that they are playing with fire. Anyone who leads
people to embark on a campaign of violence will be inviting the full wrath
of the law to descend heavily on them," he said.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has threatened to engage his party in
street protests to unseat the Zanu PF government.
During last month's burial of late national hero, Winston Changara,
Mugabe also warned Tsvangirai that he was "dicing with death" by threatening
to remove him violently.

The Daily Mirror


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Zimbabweans in the diaspora unhappy with Mugabe's mockery

zimbabwejournalists.com

Mugabe at the independence celebrations yesterday.

By a Correspondent

ZIMBABWEANS living in the diaspora have reacted angrily to statements
by President Robert Mugabe yesterday that they are deserting the country and
going to England to do "dirty jobs" at the expense of the country.
Addressing thousands of supporters and diplomats gathered at
celebrations held at the National Sports Stadium to mark 26 years of
independence, Mugabe, speaking in Shona, berated thousands of Zimbabweans
who continue to flock out of the country in search of better opportunities
outside the country.
"They are letting the country down by going to England where they are
looked down on and given dirty menial jobs, they scratch the backs of old
people in homes in England," he told party supporters at the birthday
celebrations.
Forums shared by many Zimbabweans living in the diaspora were
immediately filled with Mugabe's statement equating them to deserters
leaving their country to rot while working for the betterment of another
country.
"I am so angry not because Mugabe says we are doing dirty jobs here
but mainly because up to now he cannot realise that he has destroyed our
country so much both politically and economically," said Mufaro Goche who
lives in London. "How can he not to know the reason why educated people are
running away to do dirty jobs in other countries? Does he think that we
enjoy being here?"
Zimbabwe's economy is in tatters and for the first time since
independence in 1980, the county marked its birthday with an inflation
hovering above 900 percent, with serious power, fuel and food shortages,
among many other ills. Gains made at independence have been eroded due to
bad governance and corruption, which Mugabe himself confessed yesterday. He
said corruption was endemic in both the private and public sector.
Surprisingly, he has failed to put behind bars relatives and senior
government officials caught with their hands in the till or trying to
smuggle scarce commodities into neighbouring countries to make absurd
profits.
For example, prosecutors early this year lifted smuggling charges
against his nephew, Leo Mugabe, who was arrested for illegally exporting
flour from the food-deficient country to Mozambique.
The state-run Herald reported at the time: "Charges against the Member
of Parliament and businessman Comrade Leo Mugabe were yesterday withdrawn
before plea by the state owing to lack of evidence."
Prosecutor Gerald Butaumocho said: "We have had occasion to peruse the
police docket and from evidence at this juncture, there is no tangible
evidence to establish a case against the accused persons." There have since
been many more cases of such high profile people being let off the hook yet
Mugabe's continues to talk about corruption in the county without doing
anything to gain the confidence of the ordinary people.
Said Kudzai Muchakati of Manchester on Mugabe's statement: "I
challenge Mugabe to take a roll call in his Cabinet and his ministries to
find out who in his government has relatives, children and friends in the
UK. All his ministers have children here and we meet them in the old people's
homes trying to make a living. It is bad to single out names but we have
even met people like . on shift here. He wants to monopolise everything.
They would have been happier if it was their children and relatives only
coming to England to improve themselves while we continued to suffer and
envy them, their cars and lifestyles."
She gave names of ministers' children working near her and said one
woman who now sits in the Senate had actually worked with her on a shift at
a hospital in Manchester.
Another Zimbabwean living in Derby said it was surprising that Mugabe
continues play the blame game for woes afflicting the country. "If he knows
everything then how come the country is on the verge of collapsing?" asked
Joanita Phiri. "Zimbabweans were so hopeful things were not going to fall
apart in their country they were the last ones to leave Africa. Everywhere
you find established African communities because they ran away a long time
ago but we had hope in him and he has let us down now he blames us when we
are the ones sustaining the majority of the people there - we send
groceries, sanitary pads can you imagine, money for funerals, general
upkeep, school fees, everything really but he is not grateful."
Anna Jamu of Southend-on-Sea said Mugabe had simply run out of ideas
and has to find someone to blame.
"I have supported him as a person for a long time and I do not even
support the MDC because I feel they are being used by the whites," said
Jamu. "I supported the land reform programme but not how it was done and I
thought he was a learned and principled man. It hurts to see that he is so
blinkered he cannot see he has killed the country through his policies. I
think it is old age - the time has come for him to hand over the baton stick
rather than to attack people everytime he takes to the podium."
Londoner Christian Tapa said: "Naturally today is a day when we must
all have been celebrating but what is there to celebrate with an
unemployment rate of over 70 percent, inflation over 900 percent, traffic
lights not working, blackouts everyday, no fuel, no basics and the rich
getter richer while the poor get poorer. Tell me why should I listen to
Mugabe when he says come back home so we can all rebuild Zimbabwe, do not
scratch the back of a white person - the industry is called Care and many,
including those in his government, wives of senior army and police officers,
people who work in government ministries and departments, Air Zimbabwe etc,
we all meet in the old people's homes working to send money back to
Zimbabwe. He should know that." He adds: "If an African father takes care of
his children, sends them to school and feeds them hoping that one day they
will look after him, he should be able to do some soul searching when he
grows older only to realise none of the children want to care for him after
they all desert him."


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'Focus on Zimbabwe, not Mideast'

Sunday Times, SA

Wednesday April 19, 2006 07:48 - (SA)

It is incomprehensible that government is prepared to put such effort into
solving the Palestinian crisis while underplaying the Zimbabwean issue, the
Freedom Front Plus said.

"Zimbabwe is today celebrating its 26th year of independence despite the
worst economic circumstances yet," FF Plus leader Pieter Mulder said.

The price of a motor vehicle battery in Zimbabwe was now the same as ten
brand new cars cost ten years ago.

"This equation gives an indication of the circumstances in the country and
the effect of inflation on the Zimbabwean economy," he said.

The South African government was currently planning various high level
visits to the Middle East in an effort to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict.

"It remains incomprehensible for the Freedom Front Plus that the government
is prepared to spend such a lot of time and money to solve the Palestinian
crisis in the Middle East while at the same it is trying to make out that
the problems in Zimbabwe are not that serious.

"Zimbabwe falls within the sphere of influence of South Africa and the
problems in that country have a direct influence on South Africa. The same
is not applicable to the problems in the Middle East," he said.

The FF Plus sympathised with young Zimbabweans who were apathetic towards
the independence celebrations.

If President Robert Mugabe's government could have also ensured economic and
political freedoms, together with independence, young Zimbabweans would more
readily have joined the celebrations.

"The days of quiet diplomacy and friendly gestures are gone. South Africa
and other neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe must make a bigger contribution
to force the Mugabe government to resign, to make way for a government which
would place the country on a course of economic recovery.

"There is no other solution," Mulder said.

Sapa


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Zimbabweans in SA mobilise to fight poverty

SABC

April 19, 2006, 07:30

The Forum of Zimbabweans in the diaspora says it has begun organising its
members to help solve some of the humanitarian problems in Zimbabwe. At
least 80% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. The forum celebrated
the country's 26th independence anniversary by holding a meeting in
Johannesburg yesterday.

It discussed the need for its members to begin contributing to the
development of their country. The move has also been prompted by the split
in the opposition MDC. Daniel Molokele, a Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean
human rights lawyer, says it is difficult for any country to assist.

"It is not really possible for South Africa or any other country in the
world, which has an interest in Zimbabwe to really support the initiative
because there's nothing on the grounds except conflict and confusion.
Zimbabweans who have left the country are beginning to organise themselves
around the civic society formations to address our problems. We want to
create an alternative to the divided opposition parties," he said.


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The emperor celebrates

Business Day

Posted: 2006-04-18 23:58

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Presenter: Lindsay Williams Guest: Dumisani Muleya

Classic Business Day looks at the legacy of Robert Mugabe as he
celebrates Zimbabwe's independence. With Business Day newspaper Harare
correspondent Dumisani Muleya

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: Today should be a day of celebration -
Zimbabwe is a country 26 years into independence from its former colonial
ruler, a country that was formerly the bread basket of Africa, a country
with great commodity wealth, and a country with a leader that 26 years ago
had the respect of the world, and held the hope of a nation. Today that
dream is in tatters as the world surveys a modern African tragedy -Zimbabwe
is an economic ruin on the brink of collapse. That's not an exaggeration -
its women have the lowest life expectancy in the world, the inflation rate
is the highest in the world at 913%, and perversely because of that
inflation the stock market according to Fortune magazine last week is the
"world's best performer". Dumisani, it's been 26 years since the shackles of
colonial rule were thrown off - can you characterise what's happened
economically in that last 26 years?

DUMISANI MULEYA: Basically the situation at the moment is that
the economy has virtually collapsed - the economic structures have really
been dismantled by government policies, and the extreme mismanagement that
has characterised the whole of the current government. As you were just
saying we've got some of the worst indicators in the world - the highest
inflation in the world at around 950% followed only by Iraq, high
unemployment, company closures, and then of course the destruction of the
agricultural base which is the mainstay of the economy - so the situation is
basically that of saving the economy.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: We've almost become anaesthetised about what's
going on to the north of us in South Africa, but occasionally I read
comments in the international press that really shake one up. John Makumbe,
a Zimbabwean political commentator, said in the Guardian this morning that
"life has become unbearable and unaffordable, the people are waiting to vent
their anger through mass demonstrations." He's saying Zimbabwe is on the
brink of mass demonstrations, and mass civil disorder - do you think we are
far away from that?

DUMISANI MULEYA: The situation at the moment on the ground - it
does seem like we could be heading in that direction. There's massive public
discontent - people are really struggling to make ends meet. Even during the
past couple of holidays - just to illustrate the problem - people were not
even able to go to restaurants, the restaurants were very empty. Just about
everything isn't working - so people were just staying at home. There's an
air of frustration all around here. The problem is that the opposition
parties here in Zimbabwe, and the civil society organisations - they're not
sufficiently organized, and at the moment the opposition is really
fractured, it's really disabled. They're not able to mobilise a critical
mass to confront the government and successfully defy the repressive laws
that are in place that prevent such things - so I don't think there is going
to be any successful demonstration. Even if they try, the demonstrations
will fail.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: But if there was a mobilisation from the
opposition Robert Mugabe said if Morgan Tsvangirai wants to "invite his own
death let him go ahead" - would you say that he would be crushed, and his
supporters would be crushed as well?

DUMISANI MULEYA: Yes, the opposition demonstration will be
successfully suppressed, because despite all the other problems the one
thing that's very strong is the security system - the military, intelligence
and the police are still very strong in their structures, they are still
organised. I think in the short to medium-term they will be able to overcome
any demonstration. Today Robert Mugabe said that he will crush any
demonstration, but in the process he also showed extreme anxiety about the
possibilities of coming demonstrations.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: Do you think that it has to get worse before
it gets better, and if it does get worse do you think it might have a
destabilising effect on the region?

DUMISANI MULEYA: Yes, I definitely think we are moving in that
direction - if you look at the ruling party there's extreme infighting, and
it's worsening because people are beginning to take over from Mugabe,
because they are already beyond him. Succession in the ruling party is
probably one of the biggest problems that we have here - it's potentially
destabilising not just to the ruling party of Zimbabwe, but also to the
region. In the opposition there's also chaos - so the picture at the moment
is that of potential chaos, which will cause collateral damage to the
region.


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Chegutu runs dry



April 19, 2006,

By Andnetwork .com

Most parts of Chegutu have gone for two weeks without water, forcing
residents to turn to unprotected water sources.

Some low-lying areas are getting water for two hours a day, usually at
night when most residents have gone to sleep. Chegutu residents have
complained of dry taps owing to prolonged periods without running water.

"Council should explain what is happening so that we are prepared. At
least they should give us a timetable and introduce water rationing so that
all areas get access to water," said Mr James Chitope of Pfupajena Township.

Mr Chitope urged council to provide water bowsers to ease the
situation. A few residents are drawing water from friends' homes and
relatives with boreholes while others are getting the precious liquid from
open sources, exposing them to water-borne diseases.

While efforts to get a comment from council officials were fruitless
yesterday, some residents attributed the shortage of water to inadequate
water treatment chemicals. "We have tried to inquire from council workers
and they said council was having problems getting water treatment
chemicals," said a resident who preferred anonymity.

Others, however, said council had limited pumping capacity to supply
every resident. Chegutu was on the market last year to borrow funds to
augment its water and sewer infrastructure.

Source: The Herald


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JSE hits new peak as platinum shares fall

Business Report

April 19, 2006

South Africa's major indexes marched to a new all-time high on Wednesday on
strong commodity prices, but platinums tumbled after Zimbabwe renewed
threats to nationalise foreign-owned mines, traders said.

The Top-40 index index of blue chips jumped 0.81 percent to 19,050.64
points, while the All-share was 0.73 percent higher at 21,100.61 points.
Both indexes closed at new peaks.

"Commodities are still on the rise especially gold on the back of concerns
over the Iran nuclear standoff and a general positive mood towards
resources," a Johannesburg based trader said.

Iron ore producer Kumba Resources rose 2.19 percent to 119.09 rand, while
world number six bullion producer Harmony Gold added 2.03 percent to 100.50
rand.

Heavyweights Anglo American and BHP Billiton
rose 1.61 percent to 262.02 rand and 1.3 percent to 126.99 rand
respectively.

Fine paper producer Sappi rose 2.33 percent to 89 rand. The group has agreed
to sell 25 percent of its local plantation land to black investors and staff
for 224 million rand.

Other notable gainers among blue chips were cement producer PPC , which rose
2.15 percent to 410.64 rand and Africa's biggest mobile operator MTN , which
was 1.72 percent higher after a broker upgrade.

Elsewhere on the bourse furniture retailer Ellerine Holdings
closed 4.52 percent higher at 92 rand after a positive trading update.

Ellerine said on Wednesday it expected its half-year profit to rise by as
much as 55 percent versus a year ago sending its shares more than 4 percent
higher.

It said in a statement that headline EPS - which excludes non-trading,
capital and certain extraordinary items - for the half-year ended Feb. 28
will be 45 to 55 percent higher than the same period a year ago.

The group said attributable earnings would be 100 to 110 percent higher. The
firm is due to release results for the six months to February 28 on May 9.

On the negative side, platinum giant Impala Platinum
dropped 3.25 percent, while rival and world number one producer
Angloplatinum lost 2.31 percent.

"These were under pressure again after the possibility of nationalisation in
Zimbabwe grabbed the headlines," a trader said.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday reiterated that his government
was seeking control of 51 percent of foreign-owned mines, backing a proposal
which has fanned fears among foreign investors.


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China's silence boosts tyrants


By Kenneth Roth International Herald Tribune

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2006

NEW YORK U.S.-China summit meetings traditionally include discussion
of Beijing's human rights practices. When President Hu Jintao of China
visits the White House on Thursday, the Bush administration's own
problematic record will make the conversation more awkward than usual, but
the topic undoubtedly will, and should, come up. This time, however, the
focus should not be limited to China's repression at home. President George
W. Bush should also raise China's troubling indifference to human rights
abroad.

When it comes to human rights, China's foreign policy is deliberately
agnostic. As Hu puts it, China operates "without any political strings."
Inspired by how it would like to be treated by others, Beijing adheres to a
policy of "noninterference in internal affairs," trading, investing and
providing aid without regard to whether its partner is a democratic
visionary or a tyrant.

Yet the effect is anything but neutral. When Western governments try
to use economic pressure to secure human rights improvements, China's
no-strings rule gives dictators the means to resist. Chinese investment and
aid can still sometimes help fight poverty, and it is not as if Western
governments always have human rights foremost in mind. But as China's quest
for new markets and natural resources spreads around the world, its de facto
support for repression has become increasingly common.

The people of Darfur have paid perhaps the steepest price for this
policy of indifference. China's massive investment in Sudanese oil fields
has helped Khartoum finance militia in Darfur that have murdered tens of
thousands of people and displaced more than two million. Some of these funds
were used to purchase Chinese arms for Darfur. Western oil companies, like
Canada's Talisman, have withdrawn from Sudan, but China, the largest
investor, remains.

To make matters worse, Beijing has prevented the United Nations
Security Council from imposing sanctions of any strength on Khartoum.
Emboldened, the Sudanese government is resisting pressure to accept a UN
peacekeeping force in Darfur.

In Angola, China's policy has hampered efforts to halt massive
corruption. From 1997 to 2002, $4 billion disappeared from Angola's public
coffers - the equivalent of the amount spent on social programs in that
period. The International Monetary Fund insisted on greater transparency as
a condition for lending, but China offered billions in loans without these
conditions.

As President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe uses mass evictions to attack
700,000 of his perceived political opponents, Western governments have
sought to isolate him. China, by contrast, remains a major source of
investment and military hardware.

China's human rights agnosticism is not limited to Africa. Last May,
less than two weeks after Uzbekistan's government massacred hundreds of
protesters in Andijon, China welcomed President Islam Karimov to Beijing for
a state visit, complete with a 21- gun salute. China then announced a $600
million oil deal with Uzbekistan.

Similarly, China is the most generous supporter of the military junta
in Myanmar and the autocratic government of Hun Sen in Cambodia. As for
Nepal, most governments condemned the king's 2005 coup and cut military
assistance, but China maintained warm relations and kept military aid
flowing.

Troublesome as this record is, China is sometimes willing to
accommodate Western concerns if they are firmly expressed. China did not
prevent the UN Security Council from granting the International Criminal
Court jurisdiction over the crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
Beijing also dropped its objections to a tribunal in Cambodia for its
one-time ally, the Khmer Rouge.

But convincing China to move beyond these rare exceptions requires
making it pay a price for its policy of indifference to repression. China's
ruling Communist Party claims an ideology of looking after the little guy.
But Beijing's uncritical support for tyrants has been a disaster for the
ordinary people of those countries. If China, in effect, is going to quench
its thirst for oil with the blood of Darfuris, if it is going to invest in
governments like Angola's that squander its people's funds for education and
health care, its disgraceful conduct should be highlighted.

So when Bush brings up human rights with Hu, the conversation should
not stop at China's borders. Bush should speak not only for the people of
China but also for the citizens of China's business partners. He should
encourage Hu to stand with the victims of official violence and corruption,
not with the governments that repress them.

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch.


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Switching the Currency of Aid is All About Trust

Embassy Magazine, Canada

Embassy, April 19th, 2006
OPED
By John Vidal

Over the past few months, millions of people in southern African countries
needed Western help to stay alive after their crops failed. A massive
humanitarian effort is under way, led by the UN's World Food Programme
(WFP), agencies and national governments. Ships full of North American grain
are even now crossing the Atlantic, lorries of maize and cassava are
thundering up from South Africa and countries with food surpluses, while
traders are hoarding food in expectation of the price rising and people are
queuing patiently for handouts.

But in southern Zambia, the British Department for International
Development, DFID, working with Oxfam, has started handing them the
equivalent of about $20 (US) cash a month -- roughly the price of a 50
kilogram bag of maize and some beans. The idea is that they can go to their
local markets and buy the food that they choose, or use it to stimulate
their economies.

The Zambian scheme is expected to be one of the biggest "cash transfers"
ever tried in a humanitarian crisis -- and the world's food-exporting
nations such as the U.S. and Canada, WFP and many NGOs are all watching
closely to see how well it works. The idea of giving money rather than food
or other commodities is politically and socially controversial.

Give people cash, say the cash skeptics, and you will increase insecurity
and corruption, upset local economies, fuel conflicts and exclude the most
needy. Apart from being physically risky for people handling the money, they
say, cash may disadvantage women who are less able to keep control of it.
Because of these and other fears, the overwhelming form of help by the West
in developing world emergencies for the past 30 years has been "in kind":
food.

But, the growing band of cash advocates responds, the potential benefits are
enormous. Theoretically, the money can go far further because the transport
and logistics costs of taking money around are up to two-thirds lower.
Giving cash lets people decide what they should spend their money on and,
they say, it can have knock-on multiplier effects for local markets. They
also maintain that cash is more dignified than food in the sense that people
can avoid waiting in degrading queues. Moreover, they claim, cash has the
potential to help development as well as to relieve suffering.

There's not much empirical evidence either way, but what there is so far
suggests that most of the skeptics' fears are unfounded, and -- this is
important -- as long as there is food to be bought in the region and the
market can respond, people overwhelmingly spend any money or vouchers they
are given on basic essentials. Giving cash has been tried successfully after
the Montserrat volcano, the Bam earthquakes and the tsunami, as well as the
first Iraq war and in the Palestinian territories in 2002. The Red Cross,
Oxfam and Christian Aid have tried in Afghanistan, Somalia and Ethiopia, but
all on a limited scale.

Oxfam is confident that the money will get to the right people in Zambia.
"We have worked out who are the poorest and most vulnerable. So far, from
the limited monitoring we have done, we have found that 95 per cent of the
money has been spent on productive use," says country director Ric Goodman.
"People bought mainly maize, cassava, oil, sugar and salt. A very few spent
some of it on education. There have been no reported misuses. Giving cash
gives people the flexibility to pay for other things. They have a range of
options."

So why has cash not been used more by agencies and governments? According to
a discussion paper by the humanitarian policy group at the Overseas
Development Institution (ODI), the barriers to cash are institutional and
organizational. The whole humanitarian system, it says, is structured around
food aid and there are few local, national and international organizations
with any experience in handling cash rather than sacks.

Clearly, one problem is that food aid is very big business, worth $3-4
billion (US) a year, and therefore highly political. Countries with surplus
food, like the U.S. and Canada, may tie their gifts of rice or wheat to
their strategic objectives. It has been used in the past to dump heavily
subsidized grain surpluses, to improve trade figures, to reward favoured
groups of farmers and transporters. Because there are so many vested
interests in subsidies, food aid plays an important part on world trade. The
European Community has made the link most clearly, phasing out food aid as
far as possible in favour of cash grants.

But there is another, seldom-addressed cultural reason why cash is not used
much for humanitarian aid. According to the ODI discussion paper, there is a
sense within humanitarian agencies that cash is psychologically threatening,
even dangerous. Giving people money, it says, means letting go control and
power, and it fundamentally changes the relationship between the donor and
the beneficiary. Giving food may have hints of superiority, even echoes of
colonialism. Giving the need money suggests a transfer of choice.

Much is at stake. Food handouts have been the backbone of humanitarian aid
for 50 years, and they are unlikely to be dropped, but as governments gain
the confidence and NGOs gain the skills to handle cash and not just food, it
is more than likely that cash will be used at least as an addition to food
aid. This in turn means that agencies and governments will need to learn new
skills and to trust their people more.

Cash is largely uncharted humanitarian territory, and much work needs to be
done before it is used on a wide scale. It's one thing to feed tens of
thousands of people in one area of Zambia or in an earthquake-devastated
city, but no one has much of a clue what would happen if, say, $200 million
cash was handed out in Zimbabwe or Malawi, or if planes were filled up with
dollars instead of sacks of food.

The arguments are tossed around in the West, but they are largely irrelevant
to the poor in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and southern Africa. They, after
all, do not much mind how the food gets to them, as long as it gets there
quickly.

John Vidal is environment editor of the Guardian.

editor@embassymag.ca


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Harare Council Buys $280m Cellphones for Two Senior Officials



The Herald (Harare)

April 19, 2006
Posted to the web April 18, 2006

Harare

HARARE City Council has bought two cellphones worth $280 million for
suspended city treasurer Mr Misheck Mubvumbi and a senior official in the
Department of Works.

Council bought the senior official a Nokia 6230 priced at $150 million while
Mr Mubvumbi's cellphone cost $130 million. It could not be established what
model council bought for the suspended treasurer. The unnamed official is
now using the Nokia 6230, which has a VGA integrated camera for taking
pictures and videos.

The cellphone has multiple connectivity options and can be connected via
edge and blue-tooth wireless technology. It also has a removable multimedia
memory card and can be connected to an MP3 music player. Although the model
of the phone bought for Mr Mubvumbi could not be established, The Herald is
reliably informed that it was bought two months ago. Mr Mubvumbi is entitled
to his full benefits while suspended. He has been on suspension for over
three years now.

Decent cellphones that allow for basic communication cost between $20
million and $35 million. No money was budgeted for cellphones in the 2006
capital budget, meaning that the funds had to be sourced el sewhere. The
acting director of works, Engineer Michael Jaravaza, recommended to the
director of finance, Mr Cosmos Zvikaramba, that a supplementary capital
estimate of $150 million be approved to buy the senior official a cellphone.
Money which had earlier been earmarked to buy four visitors' chairs and one
office desk was diverted towards the cellphone. The chairs were expected to
cost $84 million while the office desk was priced at $66 million.


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The Fever Trees of Zimbabwe

livescience.com

Image of the Day: The Fever Trees of Zimbabwe

By Bruce G. Marcot, Ecology Picture of the Week:

Here are trees of myth and stories. We are in the lowland swamps of a remote corner of southern Zimbabwe, Africa, along the "great, grey, green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees," as Kipling wrote. But why are these smooth-barked, greenish-yellow trees named "fever trees?" Do they have a temperature? Do they cause fever?

Actually, it is a good tale of how correlation and causation sometimes get intermixed. Fever trees grow well in wet soil along river banks and swampy areas, which also are prime habitat for the malaria-carrying mosquitoes of the region which do cause fever. Settlers of the region associated the trees with the ailment, and thus was born their name.

Fever trees provide more than fevers. The tree is browsed by large mammals and game animals, and the firm wood can be used for timber. The bark has medicinal value and the tree is sometimes even planted as an ornamental.

--Bruce G. Marcot

Image and text Bruce G. Marcot, Ph.D. Research Wildlife Ecologist,
who produces the Ecology Picture of the Week website.

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