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Zimbabwe strikers return to
banks and factories have reopened in Zimbabwe after a three-day national
strike called by the main labour movement.
The unions are claiming
The strike shut down most businesses and was hailed as a huge success
by the Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
It said that 90% of its members had stayed at home in protest at the
decision of Robert Mugabe's government to triple the price of petrol.
The government announced a rise in the minimum wage to compensate for
the fuel rises.
Some 26 people arrested in the capital, Harare, during a raid on the
offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been
The MDC - which supported the strike and is planning its own mass
protests - said the police raid was part of a campaign of government
In March, the MDC organised a wide scale two-day strike in protest
against what it described as President Mugabe's oppressive rule.
Many shops, businesses and factories across Zimbabwe shut down during
week's strike - which the government had declared illegal.
Macomb, head of the ZCTU, said that the strike could resume next week if
the government did not reverse its the fuel price rise.
Mugabe faces domestic and foreign
The economy is in desperate trouble with inflation running at more than
200%, soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.
The ZCTU argues that for many workers it will now cost almost as much
to get to work as they earn in a day.
The organisation's deputy secretary general, Colleen GIGO, told the BBC
the strike was "largely an economic protest" rather than a political one.
"It has been a bread-and-butter campaign... every person who has the
effect of the fuel increases would realise that it is unreasonable," he
The government said the 200% rise in petrol prices was necessary to
help pay for fuel imports which have become scarce since shipments from
Libya stopped last year.
IOLMugabe's visit to posh hotel sparks
April 25 2003 at
By Zondi Mahlangu
They came to picket against the presence
of Zimbabwean First Lady Grace
Mugabe, but security personnel at Caesars
Palace dispersed the 20 protesters
in less than five minutes.
group, calling themselves Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad, converged on
hotel after reports that Mugabe had booked into the hotel. They
placards saying "Mugabe is not the people's choice" and "Mugabe must
According to Radio 702 news editor Stephen Grootes, the station
information that Mugabe was at Caesars. "We received information and
upon it. Our reporter actually had a short conversation with her.
dropped the phone as soon as he mentioned he was from
However when Saturday Star contacted the hotel we were told the
Mugabe was not on their guest list.
Jay Sibanda, president
of Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad, said: "We are having
the wife of the
president come stay in a five-star hotel. It is five star
The reality is that the people of Zimbabwe are suffering.
"Mrs Mugabe is
the right target of this protest. There is nothing more
embarrassing for a
man than having your wife come home and tell you that her
shopping has been
disrupted by disgruntled people. Wherever these people go
else in the world, the peaceloving people of the world
must tell them to
leave," said Sibanda.
Reacting to the 702 report, the Democratic Alliance
called the visit "a
"While Mrs Mugabe is living it up here
in South Africa, most shops in
Harare's central business district are
"Banks are closed and hundreds of people queued to withdraw money
automatic teller machines," said the party's chairperson and MP
Independent (UK)Zimbabwe face trial by
'It is time for a boycott along the lines of that which was
against apartheid in South Africa'
By Stephen Brenkley
Zimbabwe will arrive in England on Thursday for a tour
that is certain to be
marred by protests and civil unrest. There will be
grounds, and the real prospect exists of the two Test
disrupted by campaigners anxious to draw attention to the
Any cricket that is played by Heath Streak's
team is likely to be utterly
overshadowed either by pitch incursions and
sit-downs, or by the sort of
security presence to prevent them that might
outnumber paying spectators.
Peter Tatchell, the head of the Stop The
Tour group, declined to reveal
detailed plans, but the England and Wales
Cricket Board are well aware that
he has a history of direct action. Earlier
this year he laid siege to Lord's
and disrupted a meeting organised to
discuss England's contentious World Cup
match in Harare.
demanded the sacking of the ECB's two leading officials, Tim Lamb
Morgan, and claimed they have nakedly commercial motives. He also
England players to refuse to play Zimbabwe on moral grounds and
called on the
Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to grant refuge to any of the
seek it. The players are unlikely to heed the call. Richard
executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, said
they had no
comment on the moral issue.
The ECB at least may be comforted by the fact
that, so far, Tatchell's group
is a lone voice. When England were scheduled
to play in Harare in February
both the Government and Opposition brought
pressure to bear to withdraw.
England at first resisted that, but then
refused to play the game because of
safety and security
Tessa Jowell, the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, has
Lamb reassuring him that there is no objection to the tour: "As
there are no sporting sanctions against Zimbabwe, nor general
against its citizens." She said the Government objected to the
game because of the propaganda opportunities that it could have
regime of President Robert Mugabe, but did not wish to prevent
teams competing in Britain.
But opposition to the tour
could mount as it goes on. First, circumstances
in Zimbabwe could become
visibly worse. Second, the ECB may have made a
tactical error (let alone a
moral one) in apparently agreeing to fulfil
England's scheduled tour of
Zimbabwe in the autumn of 2004 in return for
their trip here this summer.
Millions of pounds of television money would
have to be forfeited if the tour
was called off. The ECB already face heavy
penalties for England's failure to
play the World Cup fixture.
The political position in Zimbabwe is
reliably reported to have worsened
since February. Millions are starving and
thousands have been tortured for
opposing the regime. Thousands of workers
joined a strike last week
objecting to fuel increases of 210 per cent, and a
dozen members of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change were arrested
during a police raid
on their offices on Friday.
The Zimbabwean team
are aware of what awaits them in England but appear
resigned to it. The tour
manager, Babu Meman, said: "We have been told about
the possibility of
protests but have been assured that there will be full
security at all
grounds. It is unfortunate that cricket has to be played in
like this, but we have no concerns."
Streak, the captain, has regularly
played down events in his country,
although his father, Dennis, a farmer, was
briefly jailed last year. The
only two Zimbabwean cricketers to have spoken
out publicly, Andy Flower and
Henry Olonga, have now retired from
international cricket and are in
England. At the World Cup, they both sported
black armbands "mourning the
death of democracy" in their
Both are now seeking to keep a lower profile as they try to
lives away from home. Olonga, especially, fears reprisals.
might back the tour - and, perversely, the demonstrations -
will keep the deteriorating situation in their country in the
public eye and
might help provoke change.
Tatchell, who has been
campaigning against Zimbabwe since 1997, is an
implacable opponent of the
regime and the tour. Nobody should underestimate
the depth of his feelings or
his determination to make his point. "It is
time for a boycott along the
lines of that which was instigated against the
apartheid regime in South
Africa, which ultimately helped to bring it down,"
he said. "That should be
commercial, cultural and sporting. It's going to be
very difficult to stop
this tour but we are determined to make things
Tatchell accused the Government of double standards after
stance. Opponents of the World Cup have fallen silent over the
tour. One of
the most vocal, the Overseas Development Minister, Clare Short,
make any comment on the tour.
The Conservative MP Michael
Ancram, who was also a leading opponent of the
World Cup game, said he was
not against the tour. But he said: "If the ECB
have agreed unconditionally to
go to Zimbabwe next year in return for this
visit that is a shabby deal. I am
totally against that and will continue to
Lamb repeated his
winter line that sport in general and cricket in
particular should not be
used to make political points. "There are no
blanket sanctions and companies
continue to trade. People have a right to
protest, of course, as long as they
do so peacefully, but we have plans to
deal with them. The cost of this tour
not going ahead would have a
catastrophic effect on English cricket at all
levels." But Tatchell warned
that there was no justification for financial
gain when people were being
tortured. "I would hope that the TV companies
would recognise the dire human
situation in Zimbabwe and waive their penalty
clauses," he said. "It would
be unforgivable to allow this tour to pass
Tatchell will not go away. The first tour of the summer
could be memorable.
ZBCZimbabwean business people assured of continuity in
Zimbabweans wishing to pursue business ventures in the DRC
have been assured
of continuity of state even when a new transitional
government is put in
place in the central African country.
assurance was made by the DRC information minister and press minister,
Bin Karubi at a joint press conference in Harare on Saturday.
Karubi said the two sides have been made considerable progress of
obstacles that had hindered the free movement of goods and people
as well as
the promotion of investment between the two countries.
comes after the end of the 4th ordinary session of the joint
commission of the DRC-Zimbabwe Momorandum of Understanding on
economic co-operation, which opened on Wednesday.
The minister of
Defence, Cde Sydney Sekeramayi said the purpose of the
meeting is to review
progress made in the implementation of the Memorandum
between the two countries.
The joint commission noted with assistance the
significant progress made by
the two countries.
BBC Inheritance dispute
The BBC's Mark
Dummett reports from Kinshasa in the Democratic
Republic of Congo where he is
at the centre of an unseemly battle over the
estate of his late
My landlord Jean-Pierre died several
months ago, but his impoverished
family are still fighting a civil war for
control of my rent money.
It started the
day he died. Jean-Pierre had the misfortune to pass
away at the end of the
month, when the money was due.
Even as the rest of the family was wailing or praying by the side of
coffin, a succession of uncles, brothers, and sons came to knock on my
each one declaring he was now the rightful owner of the house, and
The law courts do not count for
much here in Kinshasa. Their judges
are as underpaid and as easily corrupted
as most other civil servants.
dispute over who is the rightful owner of the house, and how
the rent money
is shared out just rumbles on and on, with no prospect of a
Sins of the
Every so often it threatens to get
violent, though so far only the
youngest members of the family, the children,
have come to blows.
Normally they play
football together in the dusty yard in front of my
house, but recently they
have started to get caught up in their parents'
battle for the
What has made the conflict worse is
that they all live together - 16
people, across three generations, in four
The mood is appallingly
tense, since Jean-Pierre's widow accused his
brothers of having murdered him
With the rent question
unresolved, no-one can afford enough food
Jean-Pierre's family has suffered
a lot since the war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo started more than
four years ago.
They're from the
north-eastern region, near the border with Uganda,
which has been in the news
recently because of a series of massacres.
At the beginning of April survivors in one small, isolated town
Drodro, described to UN peacekeepers how a militia from a rival ethnic
hacked to death several hundred civilians in the space of three hours.
killers were men, women and
Back at the beginning of
the war, Jean-Pierre's family was just about
able to get out in time, though
not before an elderly aunt and uncle were
murdered by some rebel
They took the last plane to
Kinshasa, a bumpy six-hour flight across
Soon afterwards the rebels, led,
armed and trained by the country's
neighbours Uganda and Rwanda, captured
half the country.
An enormous frontline,
running diagonally through the middle of Congo,
has divided east from west
Families, businesses and the
country's great trade route, the Congo
River, have all been carved in two,
devastating what was already a deeply
poor and traumatised
As soon as the war reached
stalemate, however, the peace talks began.
A ceasefire was signed, and the foreign troops - not only the rebel
but also Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, who came to the rescue of
government - agreed to withdraw.
Progress was desperately slow, as like the greedy uncles competing for
share of my rent money, the rebel leaders, government ministers and
foreign friends have been scrambling to get their hands on Congo's
Diamonds, gold, timber,
coffee and a mineral called Coltan, which is
used to make mobile phones, have
all been looted in vast quantities.
same time the country's infrastructure - roads, hospitals and
schools - have
Warlords, ethnic militias
and bandits have got their hands on guns,
and taken over huge areas of
An American aid agency estimates
that more than three million people
have died during Congo's war - mostly
through hunger and disease - making
this Africa's most costly
Little faith in
There have, however, been recent
glimmers of hope.
Most of the foreign
troops have now indeed left, and the rebels and
government of President
Joseph Kabila have recently agreed to form a
before elections are held in two years'
To be honest, few people in Congo
have much faith in their leaders'
sincerity, and everyone knows that
rebuilding this country will be a
But already there have been slight
improvements. Earlier this week one
of Jean-Pierre's sons flew back to
eastern Congo on one the first commercial
flights now travelling between
government and rebel held territory.
wants his mother and sisters to join him there so that they can
lives - but to do that they need money.
they have decided to sell my house. But if the battle with the rest
family for the rent money was a tough one, the fighting over the
the house sale promises to be a real war.
AgeAustralia tells Africa it must save itself
By Tom Nevin
Australia is emerging as a
champion of impoverished African and other Third
World countries as they try
to break down developed nations' protectionist
policies, tariff barriers and
agricultural production subsidies.
Canberra, at the same time, is saying
Africa must play the most crucial role
if it wants to win economic
In sweeping trade concessions and debt relief, Australia, from
July 1, will
waive duty and quotas on imports from the world's 49
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade in Canberra said
the policy "will be applied to all
sectors, including agriculture and
textiles... important areas of production
for LDCs (less developed
Also, Australia will continue
with a "limited aid program in Africa, linked
to increasing industry
viability, such as programs related to food
to questions from The Sunday Age, the department said Australia
to the African Union's "new economic partnership for Africa's
deliver on its promised political and economic clean-up of
The department said this would allow Africa to focus on
securing and reaping
the benefits of trade liberalisation, help eradicate
poverty and encourage
responsibility for lifting much of Africa out of poverty
development lies with Africa itself," the department
"Development has to be underpinned by a strong commitment to
standards of good governance, sound economic management,
respect for human
rights and the rule of law, peace and security."
Despite the Zimbabwe
Government's "reckless land and economic policies", the
Zimbabwe still did "good business with Australia, enjoying
a $12.5 million
trade surplus in 2000-01".
Australia had imposed no restrictions on trade
with Zimbabwe other than on
exports to Zimbabwe of defence-related material,
In implementing bilateral "smart sanctions" against the Mugabe
"Australia has made every effort to avoid harm to the people of
who are already suffering a humanitarian crisis brought about by
Government's reckless land and economic policies".
said: "To promote foreign trade, Zimbabwe's Government must
fundamental problems of the Zimbabwean economy and ensure
property rights, private investment and the rule of