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Zimbabwe migrants

From BBC News, 26 April

Forward's story

Forward, 23, spoke to the BBC by the roadside a few kilometres from South
Africa's border with Zimbabwe, where he was waiting for a lift southwards to
Pretoria. Travelling with only the clothes he was wearing, he hopes to get a
welding job at a factory that employed him during a previous stint in South
Africa. He has also worked on a cattle ranch near the town of Thabazimbi.

This is my third time in South Africa. I was here in 2003 and 2005. The
standard of living is higher in South Africa, and here I can do something
for myself. If I work here, I get more money. I have never been arrested in
South Africa - maybe I'm lucky - and I've never bribed anyone. One day in
Thabazimbi the white boss called the police, wanting the other Zimbabweans
to be arrested because they were on strike. Because I was good at looking
after cattle, I was allowed to stay. There I earned 575 rand a month,
working every day of the week. I am saving some money but it's difficult.
After several months I had saved only 800 rand, because I was also drinking
liquor, which I bought from a shop on the farm. On the farm we lived in a
compound. Conditions were bad. For water we had to go to the farmhouse 200
metres away. There were no beds, so we had to buy mats to sleep on. Normally
when you arrive for a new job you are not told what pay you will get. You
just have to wait and see.

Johnson and Jokoma

Johnson works as a security guard on a large fruit farm, where more than 400
Zimbabweans are employed, mostly as fruit pickers. He entered South Africa
illegally, but now has a work permit.

The farmer applied for a permit, and I now have a permit to work legally -
but that only happened last year. Zimbabweans work hard - we know how to
struggle for our stomachs. The South Africans don't want to work in the
fields - only in the sheds or driving tractors. The security guards get 36
rand a day, paid monthly. The fruit pickers are paid 37 cents for filling a
bag. So they get 37 rand a day if they fill 100 bags. And 130 rand is
deducted for housing each month. I don't particularly want to stay here, but
this is where I have a job. Sometimes funeral societies invite us to join
up, and offer to transport bodies back to Zimbabwe when people die. But
about 10 Zimbabweans are buried here on the farm.

Jokoma, 54, has a legal temporary permit to do seasonal work as a fruit
picker in South Africa. Legislation in South Africa and Zimbabwe allows
South African farmers get a licence to recruit workers on either side of the
border.

I am here for a seasonal contract then will go back home to Masvingo. The
boss of the farm comes to Zimbabwe to fetch us. I've done this every year
since 2003. I used to be a cashier at a mine, until it was closed. After
that I didn't have a job, so I discussed getting a job in South Africa.

Justice's story

Justice, 23, passed A levels in Zimbabwe. His mother, who trades between the
two countries, paid for him to make the journey to South Africa. After three
weeks of work pruning fruit trees on a farm near the border, he has still
received no wages, and does not know how much he will get at the end of the
month.

We travelled by bus from Masvingo, and I found people who helped us cross
the river [Limpopo]. We paid 20 rand to the ones who helped us cross. It was
difficult, the water was up to here [waist high]. Selling didn't give me
much money - it's much better to have a job, that way I can do something
with my life. Friends told me you can work here without a permit. But I'm
not so happy - the way we are treated is harsh. The owner can't appreciate
when you are doing your job, and he is always saying we are lazy. Wages are
not announced - we are working in the dark. Even if they give us peanuts
we'd appreciate that. I live with a relative in a compound on another farm.
For food we have to borrow from the farm shop, and then get the amount
deducted from our wages. Not all South Africans are good, but not all are
bad. With some of them, if you say, "Hi, what's up?", they don't see you
like a human being. Most of the South Africans don't speak English, so if
you can't speak Venda [a local South African language] you can't
communicate. The police could send us back at any moment, but it's a do or
die situation. If you are sent back to Zimbabwe, you just come back to South
Africa again. My mother wanted me to come here, because my younger brother
is doing O levels, and if he passes A levels he can do something with his
life.


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Mugabe falls back on farmers he evicted

From The Age (Australia), 29 April

By Rochelle Mutton

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe has been described as an economic cannibal, feeding
off its own as it exhausts capital and resources. "It's like eating your
left leg, knowing your next meal will have to be your right leg," says
independent economist John Robertson, based in the capital Harare. "It
doesn't leave much hope for recovery." Now, it appears, President Robert
Mugabe is trying to get his "economic legs" back. White farmers, driven from
their lands, are being invited back. Since the Zimbabwe Government began its
often violent seizures of more than 4000 white-owned farms in 2000,
supposedly to right colonial wrongs, the once prosperous agricultural-based
economy is in freefall. Inflation is believed to have broken past 1000 per
cent. (One Australian dollar is now worth $75,000 Zimbabwean). The health
system demise and AIDS pandemic have helped drive life expectancy down to
the worst in the world - 37 years for men, 34 for women. The former
breadbasket of southern Africa now requires food aid for up to 4 million
people. Most of the once-bountiful, farmlands lie fallow as the new
occupiers - poor back squatters, subsistence villagers and the Government's
rewarded cronies - lack the resources and expertise to produce the crops
that used to earn export dollars.

This year the Mugabe regime has introduced a blueprint it boasts will bring
about 9 per cent growth in agriculture providing enough food for everyone
within six months. To do that, the Zimbabwe Government is calling for white
farmers to apply for permission to make Zimbabwe an agricultural powerhouse
once again. Zimbabwe's mostly-white Commercial Farmers Union has confirmed
it has been liaising with the Government following a request from Didymus
Mutasa, Minister for Security and Land, for white farmers to apply for
99-year leases. Rumours of the proposal were doing the rounds last year, but
quashed. Both Mr Mutasa and Mr Mugabe reiterated their view of white farmers
as "filth", "irrelevant" and "murderous thieves". Suddenly, the white farmer
has been recast from pariah to an economic panacea. And it comes without any
government regrets on the policy of farm seizures that violently expelled
farmers from their land and helped destroy the economy. Farmers remain
denied both compensation and their looted equipment and they have no
security of tenure (the lease can be confiscated with 30 days' notice).
However, they are expected to accept the lease conditions gratefully,
despite the implication they had brought the land trouble upon themselves by
supporting opposition politics.

Mr Mutasa told South Africa's Sunday Independent: "When white farmers go
back to their land, I hope they will say they were allowed to go home by
President Mugabe. He let this happen," Mr Mutasa said. "And we hope these
white farmers will refrain from doing agriculture in a political way, they
must just be farmers and resist from politics on farms." Farm union
president Doug Taylor-Freeme confirmed this week that there were 600 farmers
still active in Zimbabwe and 200 who were forcibly inactive. He had passed
on the Government's offer to his membership and about 200 had applied. None
have been finalised. While he says some displaced farmers now living in
Australia were among those who inquired about leases, most of the land
applications were from those still in Zimbabwe hoping to resume production.
Mr Taylor-Freeme said he was very cautious about the leases, concerned that
leases could be granted to a new farmer when another still had the title
deeds. Vernon Nicolle lost his large-scale farming enterprise to a Zimbabwe
High Court judge and has started again from scratch with a farm in Western
Australia's Margaret River region. He said farmers would be "stupid and
naive in the extreme" to try to do a deal with the Mugabe regime. "They are
only prolonging their fate and all they're doing is keeping Mugabe alive for
a little while longer because he'll use that to get international support,"
Mr Nicolle said.

Despite the lease offers, dramatic farm seizures continue. The Oosthuizen
family was forcibly removed from Kwekwe this month. Mr Nicolle says
co-operation with the Government and vital large-scale food production did
not save either the Oosthuizens now, or his own farm back in 2003. "Sorry to
be boring, but we as the Nicolle family produced 24 per cent of the national
wheat crop," he said. "We fed the nation. We thought we were OK because we
weren't political animals, we were just farmers. And when it suited them
(the regime), they chucked us off." Mr Robertson said the Government had
destroyed Zimbabwe's wealth through its race-driven rationale to nationalise
farms. Land had been made worthless and impossible to invest in or borrow
against. He believed the Government was more nervous about potential social
unrest, than its "crazy" blueprint to get capitalist wealth from a communist
system. "It's a wish-list, it reads like a letter to Father Christmas," he
said. "None of this is going to happen because the means to make it happen
doesn't exist. The Government of this country doesn't want anyone to come up
with good ideas. Prosperous people tend to be much less likely to put up
with bad governance, bad city councils and bad treatment from the police."
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition co-ordinator Reverend Nicholas Mkaronda, based
in Johannesburg, said the lease invitation was a trap. "The money won't be
used for the agricultural evolution in Zimbabwe but only for the continued
protection of the elite and what we call the war against the people."


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White farmers 'must apply for farm leases'

IOL

April 29 2006 at 05:01PM

Harare - White commercial farmers who want to continue farming in
Zimbabwe must apply for leases on their land, a government minister was
quoted as saying on Saturday.

Minister of State for Special Affairs Responsible for Land, Land
Reform and Resettlement Flora Buka said white farmers had to apply for
"offer letters" - official permission from the government to farm - "as any
other people are required to do so".

Buka said 500 white farmers had applied for permission so far.

There's been confusion in recent weeks about unconfirmed reports
Zimbabwe had invited white farmers chased from their farms back to the land.

Government ministers have denied this is a dramatic U-turn in
Zimbabwe's land reform programme, which has seen up to 4 000 commercial
farmers lose their farms in the past six years.

Buka said "remaining farmers" had to apply for leases to farm, after
changes were made to Zimbabwe's constitution that makes all agricultural
land required for resettlement state land.

"The need to apply for land is open to every Zimbabwean, including
white commercial farmers," she told the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

"About 500 of the remaining 927 white commercial farmers have applied
and their applications are being considered," she said. The Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU) last week put the figure at only around 200.

"The reminder for the white commercial farmers to apply for
resettlement is an indication by government that the land reform programme
is open to all citizens of Zimbabwe, irrespective of race. Black or white
farmers are all requested to apply," Buka said.

President Robert Mugabe launched the land reform programme in early
2000 in what he said was a bid to correct colonial-era imbalances in land
ownership. But the programme has been mired in controversy after allegations
that ruling party officials had seized most of the best farms, while
agricultural production has plummeted.

Meanwhile, in central Midlands province, at least six white farmers
have been told to leave their farms in the past two weeks, an official from
farming pressure group Justice for Agriculture (JAG) said. - Sapa-dpa


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Trying to be normal

Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe apparently now has the highest inflation and the fastest
shrinking economy in the world. While those may be headline grabbing
words, the reality of living it are making these the hardest of times for
us all. Everywhere you go, everyone is talking about the dramatic
increases in the prices of food, medicines and services and undoubtedly
this winter 2006 will be the worst any of us can ever remember. Going
shopping has become a nightmare and budgeting an impossibility as the
prices keep changing to both match and fuel the 913% inflation rate. A
dozen eggs marked on the shelf at 260 thousand dollars this week, was
actually 290 thousand dollars at the till. "It's up" the woman at the
checkout announced when I asked why there was a thirty thousand dollar
difference in the three metres from shelf to till. Every week more and
more things get crossed off the shopping list as they become unaffordable.
Cheese, fruit, eggs and cereals, all have become luxuries now, bought
rarely and used sparingly - for a treat. They join goods crossed off the
list a year ago when they also became too expensive; things like yoghurt,
sausages, bacon, coffee, nuts, fruit juice and fish. These in turn join
the things we gave up three or four years ago, things that were bad for us
anyway like fizzy drinks, chocolates, cigarettes and alcohol.

913% inflation is so frightening that most people literally do not know
how they will make it from one month to the next. Food prices are just the
tip of the iceberg as hyperinflation rages into bills and services, swamps
medical and dental costs and makes clothes and shoes a complete
impossibility. School fees are now due for the winter term and they have
so many digits that they look like long distance international telephone
numbers. Talking about telephones, at the top of this month's phone bill
is a statement which reads: "Tariffs were increased from $1400 to $8609
per unit with effect from 3 Feb 2006." The statement doesn't mention that
this is an increase of over 500%, it doesn't offer a reason, excuse or
apology - its just a case of pay or be disconnected.

But, for as long as we can, we cling on to the routines of life, trying to
be "normal", trying to hold our homes and families together, trying to
keep our children reasonably fed, clothed and in school. Until next week,
love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle 29 April 2006.
http://africantears.netfirms.com


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115 000 children living with HIV/AIDS



April 29, 2006

By Andnetwork .com

UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador, Angelique Kidjo, today met with some of
Zimbabwe's 115,000 children (0-14years) infected with HIV and listened to
the problems faced by children living with AIDS.

Every week in Zimbabwe 550 children die of an AIDS-related illness and
a further 565 become infected with HIV. And yet nationwide less than 5000
Zimbabwean children are receiving ARV treatment. Zimbabwe - currently facing
1000% inflation and one of the world's highest HIV rates - also suffers the
worst rises in child mortality globally.

A day before she headlines the Harare International Festival of the
Arts (HIFA), Ms Kidjo visited the Harare Children's Hospital to spend her
afternoon with some of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable children. There she spoke
with the children and their families and paid particular attention to those
infected with HIV.

"The stories of these children are both heartbreaking and inspiring,"
said Ms Kidjo. "They are living in pain, they are often orphaned, and the
world seems more interested in their country's politics than these children's
plight.

"And yet they retain hope and determination. I don't know if they are
Zimbabwe's next musicians or not, but certainly with the drugs their peers
in the developing world have access to, they can be the country's next
teachers and doctors."

Advocating for their treatment and supporting orphans and vulnerable
children is at the heart of UNICEF's work in Zimbabwe. As part of the
country's National Plan of Action (NPA) for orphans and vulnerable children,
UNICEF is embarking on a massive programme with the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare to improve the health, education, protection and nutrition of
the country's orphans and vulnerable children. However, life-saving drugs
remain in desperately short supply.

"The vast majority of Zimbabwe's 115,000 children who are HIV-positive
could have been spared this immense burden. They contracted the virus
through mother-to-child-transmission," said UNICEF's Representative in
Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe. "The world has the drugs that prevent this and
yet less than 7% of Zimbabwe's HIV-positive pregnant women receive them."

Ms Kidjo - who has been nominated for three Grammys - was an instant
hit at the children's ward and took time to sing for the children.

"For me these children are much more than a reminder of how fortunate
we are. Their tears and their strength should remind us of our obligation to
support them."

Source : Relief Web


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Kikwete supports Mugabe over land

IPP media

2006-04-29 10:01:29
By Guardian Reporter

Tanzania lent its support to Zimbabwe and other African countries yesterday
defending their freedom in running the affairs of their countries without
interference or any form of influence from foreign powers.

In a clear indication that the country's leadership change had not affected
the historic relations with southern African countries, President Jakaya
Kikwete supported President Robert Mugabe's land reform policy.

Addressing top government officials and high-ranking government officials at
a dinner hosted by President Mugabe at the Bulawayo State House on Thursday
night, President Kikwete said Tanzania supported African countries that are
struggling to rebuild their economies.

''We will continue to propagate the philosophy that political freedom
becomes meaningful only if we can make decisions freely without being pushed
or interfered with by foreign countries,'' he stressed.

He also praised President Mugabe for his firm anti-neo-colonialism stand,
saying the freedom that Zimbabweans fought for would otherwise be
meaningless.

''As we speak today, Mr President, we can say those who sacrificed their
lives for the sake of the betterment of other people during Chimurenga and
independence struggle did not do so for nothing.''

He said the relationship between the two countries should not be only
confined to the independence struggle but also economy, commerce and
security.

''I emphasise this because it is very important that apart from the good
political relations that exist between us, we need to go further in
establishing economic and trade ties especially in this era of
globalisation,'' he said.

President Mugabe said Tanzania was the only country that has continued
supporting Zimbabwe's decision to distribute land to black Africans.

''You have continued supporting us in this move, you have continued backing
us even when big nations posed economic sanctions on us for our decision, we
thank you very much for the support,'' said President Mugabe.

He said it was his hope that after completing the exercise of land
distribution, the two countries would cooperate and work together in the
exchange of different experts including agricultural experts to enhance
economic development of the two nations.

The two presidents proposed the establishment of a joint commission to work
out strategies for common economic co-operation.

President Mugabe also said the recent heavy rainfall in various parts of the
country was a good omen that the country would have a good harvest to offset
the current food shortages.

President Mugabe also congratulated President Kikwete for his victory in
last year's general election.

Mugabe also praised efforts being undertaken by Tanzania to restore peace
and political stability in the Great Lakes Region, saying he was confident
the efforts would be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which
goes to the polls for the first time this year since independence, more than
four decades ago.

President Mugabe has urged the African Union to make deliberate and
concerted efforts to resolve the emerging conflict between Sudan and Chad
''The situation in Chad is worsening.

Our collective efforts should be taken to ensure war is averted,'' said
Mugabe.

.. SOURCE: Guardian


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Iranian products displayed in Zimbabwe Int'l Trade Fair

Islamic Repuiblic News Agency

Pretoria, April 29, IRNA

Iranian companies participating in the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in
Bulawayo, which opened Friday, have showcased an array of Iranian products.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the visiting Tanzanian President
Jakaya Kikwete as well as foreign diplomats and proprietors of various
companies attended the fair's opening ceremony yesterday.

The fair is being held in Zimbabwe's Bulawayo, an annual hub of trade and
industry fairs and the country's second biggest city.

Participant Iranian companies in the fair are leading names in the
production of textile materials, motorcycles and detergents.

During the opening ceremony, the Islamic Republic of Iran won the `best
foreign pavilion' prize and a gold medal for best design.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and Kikwete visited the Iranian pavilion on the sidelines
of the fair and lauded the wide range of Iranian products.

President Mugabe expressed great happiness over the Iranian companies'
presence in the fair.

The Zimbabwean and Tanzanian presidents were presented several gifts and
souvenirs by representatives of the Iranian companies participating in the
fair.


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Malawi to export power to SADC region


afrol News / The Chronicle, 27 April - The Electricity Supply Commission of
Malawi (ESCOM) says the Malawi-Mozambique power interconnection is a
profitable business venture as Malawi will be able to sell her power to the
rest of the SADC region (Southern Africa). The Malawi-Mozambique power
interconnection, which will tap power from River Zambezi, is in the process
of making.

Escom acting Chief Executive Officer, Kandi Padambo said in an interview
recently once the deal is finalised, Malawi will be in a position to sell
her power to all the countries in the SADC region because Mozambique is
interconnected with Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

"I want to assure you that Malawi is the biggest beneficiary of this
project. This is a very profitable business venture as we will be able to
sell our power to the rest of the SADC region because Mozambique has power
links with them," said Mr Padambo.

Mr Padambo said currently electricity costs three cents per kilowatt and
Escom would be able to sell the same at five cents per kilowatt to other
countries and therefore enhance its revenue generation capacity.

However, Mr Padambo said the country would take three years to witness
economic potential of the project, as the first two years will be used to
repay loan to the World Bank (WB) and the African Development Bank (ADB).

He added that the power sharing agreement would enable Escom to close some
of its power stations for rehabilitation. "With this arrangement, we will be
able to close some of our power stations for rehabilitation without any
power interruption. For instance, Nkula A which has a capacity of 24
megawatts has never been rehabilitated since its commissioning in 1966," he
said.

The chief executive, however, attributed the delays in the project to its
failure to finalise the power supply agreement with Hydro Cabora Bassa of
Mozambique, which has also delayed the acquisition of funds from World Bank.

"Initially we entered into a US$ 3 per kilowatt power supply agreement with
Hydro Caborabassa in 2003 but they surprised us last year when they raised
it to US$ 21.75 per kilowatt, which we could not afford and we were looking
for another partner instead," said Mr Padambo. However, Mr Padambo said they
would proceed finalising the deal with them because they have agreed to
revert to the old amount of US$ 3 per kilowatt through serious discussions
that have been going on between them.

Malawi and Mozambique signed a power-sharing memorandum of understanding in
1998 that will see the country importing between 50 and 100 megawatts from
River Zambezi in Mozambique. Currently ESCOM has four power generation
plants in Malawi, namely Kapichira with a power generation capacity of 64.8
megawatts, Wovwe with 4.5 megawatts, Nkula A and B with 124 megawatts and
Tedzani 1 2 and 3 with 106.7 megawatts.

By Charles Chisi

afrol News / The Chronicle


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Clash over Worker's Day celebration venue



April 29, 2006

By Andnetwork .com

THE Mutare City Council is at loggerheads with the Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) over the labour body's intention to use Sakubva
Stadium to commemorate the Workers Day.

The ZCTU had successfully booked the stadium last December for use on
Monday, but the municipality cancelled the booking this month without giving
notice.
ZCTU lawyers on Thursday wrote a letter to the municipality's director
of housing threatening legal action.

"We are instructed that on December 21 2005, and at Mutare, our client
booked in advance to hold their May 1 Day celebrations for 2006 at Sakubva
Stadium, you accepted the booking, having verified that as of December 21
2005, no one had booked the venue, apart from our client. Our client paid
for the booking and was issued with a receipt by the City of Mutare Treasury
(Sakubva)," read a letter from ZCTU lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

He argued at the time of the booking, the municipality did not demand
that the union produce a clearance letter from the police.

"Our clients were shocked to receive a letter from yourselves on April
25 2006, in which you purported to cancel our client's booking, allegedly
due to lack of police clearance," Muchadehama said. He argued the
municipality's action was illegal as "a legally binding contract" had
already been entered into.

He said ZCTU was not in breach of the agreement, adding the
municipality did not give notice to the ZCTU of its intention to cancel the
contract.

"We have advised our client to reject your refund as they are holding
you to the contract. Billions of dollars have been invested by our clients
to ensure the successful commemoration of the historic May Day celebrations
countrywide," the lawyers claimed.

He urged the Mutare City Council to respect the contractual
relationship by ensuring the celebrations proceed without hindrance.

"In the event that you remain in breach of contract, it is our
client's intention to sue yourself personally and also the Mutare City
Council for damages for breach of contract running into billions of dollars
in addition to any remedies at our clients disposal," added the lawyer.

He further argued that in terms of the Schedule to section 24 and 41
of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA-chapter 11:17), "public
gatherings of trade union organisations for bona fide trade union purposes
were exempt from notifying the police of the intended activities.

Reads a letter from the Mutare City Council dated April 24 2006: "I
regret to inform you that the booking of Sakubva Stadium on May 1 2006 has
been cancelled due to lack of Zimbabwe Republic Police clearance.

Council cannot indefinitely reserve the Stadium as you have had ample
time to produce the required police clearance." The letter written by
director of housing and community service, one S Mapurisa added: "the money
you had paid in advance is now being refunded."
Meanwhile, the ZCTU intends to distribute 19 tonnes of the
controversial sanitary pads it acquired abroad following the arrival of the
consignment in the country last Saturday.

Addressing a press conference in Harare yesterday, ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo said the labour body paid $1,7 billion in duty for the
consignment to enter Zimbabwe.

Source : The Daily Mirror

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