|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Court told of MDC supporter’s painful death in Mberengwa|
7/4/01 9:45:01 AM (GMT +2)
MFANDAIDZA Hove, the MDC
candidate for Mberengwa West yesterday told the High Court one of his supporters
died a painful death.
Hove said Fainos Kufazvinei
was allegedly assaulted and tortured by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters led
by Biggie Chitoro alias Wilson Kufa Chitoro.
He was giving evidence before Justice Ben Hlathswayo in a petition hearing in which he seeks nullification of Joram Gumbo’s victory in the constituency.
Gumbo is Zanu PF’s chief whip. Hove wants Gumbo disqualified on the grounds of massive violence and intimidation of his followers by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans in the run-up to the parliamentary election.
He said: “Fainos Kufazvinei and his brother James Zhou were abducted by war veterans and taken to Texas Ranch near Zvishavane. They were severely assaulted before they were released five days later.
“They managed to walk to my home to seek assistance. I was not there and no-one could assist them. Unfortunately, Fainos died at my home before he could be taken to hospital.”
Hove said James would relate in court the circumstances of his brother’s death.
The court heard that Chitoro mounted road blocks on all major roads leading to Mberengwa West.
“I held my last campaign rally on 23 April 2000. I was advised by MDC supporters it was not safe to campaign. I was told Zanu PF supporters wanted to kill me,” he said.
Chitoro was arrested in July last year but has been remanded to a Zvishavane prison since then, awaiting trial.
Chitoro, 61, and three others, Stephen Hove, 25, Francis Ncube, 39, and Shadreck Makoni face separate charges for the murder of Kufazvinei in May last year.
Chitoro was served with a copy of the petition and is expected to testify in the matter.
Hove brought two computers which he used to illustrate to the court the major areas affected by political violence.
He said the violence scared MDC supporters from associating with their party and himself.
He is represented by Selby Hwacha.
Gumbo’s lawyer, Terrence Hussein yesterday said Hove did not witness the alleged acts of violence and his evidence was based on reports from MDC officials.
But Hove said witnesses would narrate in court their experiences in the run-up to the election.
Gumbo polled 23 595 votes against Hove’s 3 889 votes. The hearing continues.
|Merely paying lip service to democracy and the rule of law|
7/4/01 10:17:30 AM (GMT +2)
That our government is viewed as a dangerous delinquent by the rest of the civilised world is a fact which even the Department of Information and Publicity, with its now well known penchant for denials notwithstanding, cannot possibly dispute.
As he has always done,
Professor Jonathan Moyo will, no doubt, insist that the government respects the
rule of law.
But the reality on the ground, which is one of wanton acts of violence and aggression perpetrated almost daily by elements and agents of the ruling party, bears grim testimony to the fact that the government is merely paying lip service to democratic governance and the existence of the rule of law.
In the space of a little more than a fortnight, this newspaper has carried four reports on widespread violence, from all corners of the country, providing irrefutable evidence that there is a serious breakdown of law and order.
There was the “dismissal” of 32 teachers from several schools in Buhera by so-called war veterans who also reportedly deposed eight headmen. The dismissals followed a meeting held by war veterans in the district two weeks earlier and attended by senior government and party officials - including Shuvai Mahofa, Oppah Muchinguri, Kenneth Manyonda and Kumbirai Kangai - to formulate strategies to boost Zanu PF’s waning support ahead of next year’s presidential election.
The targeted teachers and headmen were accused of mobilising support for the MDC and so, although the Constitution provides for a multi-party democracy, meaning that it is not an offence for Zimbabweans to belong to lawful political organisations of their choice, it can be fairly said that their sacking was punishment for allegedly not supporting Zanu PF.
The teachers were told to “go and teach in MDC schools”. Such has become the plight of teachers, nurses and district council workers throughout the country as if schools and other public facilities and institutions now belong to Zanu PF.
The government has literally granted the lawless elements free rein. The Deputy Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, representing the relevant authority, arrogantly dismissed the teachers’ pleas for protection by telling them his “is not a security ministry”.
At about the same time, another group of former freedom fighters was wreaking havoc in the Macheke farming area onto which they had descended with an inexplicable vengeance.
Completely mindless of the country’s precarious foreign currency situation and the looming food shortage crisis, they threatened farmers with all manner of harm if they continued to prepare their winter wheat fields or to tend to their tobacco seedbeds.
They stopped farm workers’ children from attending school and even prevented a farmer from taking two critically-ill employees to hospital.
In the Bindura, Musana and Shamva areas of Mashonaland Central, the former freedom fighters are also spearheading a violent campaign, allegedly at the behest of the provincial governor, Elliot Manyika, who is Zanu PF’s candidate in the forthcoming Bindura constituency by-election. The war vets are burning down homesteads and viciously assaulting suspected MDC supporters and sympathisers, causing terrified villagers to flee their homes to Heaven-knows-where.
And in Matabeleland North, where last month teachers and nurses in Nkayi were forced to flee from persecution at the hands of the marauding gangs of war veterans, French volunteer doctors, members of Medicins Sans Frontiers, last week fled from Inyathi where they were working on an Aids support programme. Their flight followed threats of unspecified physical harm by war veterans accusing them of having MDC links. It could be said that perhaps this will help the selfish French sit up, reassess their immoral support for the Zanu PF government and, hopefully, start to co-operate with the rest of the European Union (EU) members now doing everything to call our runaway government to heel.
The EU last week gave government just two months in which to return the country to normalcy or face crippling sanctions. It made the following unequivocal demands for the temporary reprieve to continue to hold at the end of the two months:
The government has to end political violence and, in particular, end all official encouragement or acceptance of such violence; an official invitation to the EU to observe, unimpeded, coming elections; concrete action to protect the freedom of the media; ensuring freedom of the Judiciary and respect of its decisions and an end to illegal occupation of properties.
These EU demands are precisely what the majority of the citizens of Zimbabwe, including - in private conversation - Zanu PF stalwarts, has been calling for with growing intensity since the current madness set in last year.
The paper said President Robert Mugabe's government suspected that white farmers were trying to create food shortages by hoarding grain.
"This has forced the government to consider granting the (Grain Marketing Board) the temporary monopoly, which will be invoked from time to time," the Herald said in a report attributed to official industry sources.
"The new measure will see the (board) reverting to being the sole buyer and seller of maize in the country," one source was quoted as saying.
The Herald did not say when the law would be drawn up.
Government officials were not available for immediate comment and the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents 4500 mainly white farmers, said the measure would be "another disaster" for the farming sector.
Mugabe's government ended the board's monopoly in maize trade about 10 years ago through a liberalisation programme that also saw an end to a range of price controls. But the grain board still remains the sole legal exporter and importer of maize.
The government has been trying to roll back some of the measures in the last two years, accusing white farmers and business of sabotaging the economy in a bid to topple Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) party. Farmers and the business sector deny the charge, saying Zimbabwe's economic crisis is the result of gross mismanagement by the government.
Analysts say that Zimbabwe may face food riots later this year after a fall in production on farms which were invaded by Mugabe's supporters in the past year in support of his programme to seize white-owned land to resettle landless blacks. Reuters.
From The Independent (UK), 4 July
Three million in strike against Mugabe 'tyranny'
Harare - Zimbabwe ground to a standstill yesterday when almost three million workers staged a largely peaceful strike in defiance of President Robert Mugabe, who branded their action illegal. Virtually all factories and most shops in the main urban centres were closed as the nation heeded a call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to stay at home to protest against a recent 70 per cent increase in the price of fuel, and President Robert Mugabe's "continued mismanagement of the Zimbabwean economy and his escalating human rights abuses". Reacting to the popular support for the two-day stayaway - expected to cost the country's limping economy more than 20 million pounds - Washington Matombo, the ZCTU president, said: "I am humbled by the people's response. This is a clear message against Mugabe's continued tyranny and misrule of this country ... The people cannot take it any more."
Zimbabweans ignored persistent warnings on state radio that they should report for work because the strike was illegal. The government put the entire Zimbabwe National Army and police on standby in anticipation of violence. Militants from the Zimbabwe War Veterans' Association said they would attack foreign companies that closed during the stayaway. "We want to identify such people and if they are not citizens of this country we are going to deal with them ... [make] them evacuate our country within a day," Joseph Chinotimba, one of the veterans' leaders, told state radio. Police patrols continued in some of Harare's restive townships late yesterday and roadblocks were mounted around big cities and towns.
The government had said it would deploy buses to carry people to work and would cancel the licenses of private transport operators supporting the strike. But few buses of the state-owned Zimbabwe United Omnibus Company were seen carrying commuters. The strike action was largely peaceful. In the capital, Harare, police said three bread delivery trucks had been looted and the suspects had been arrested. In Epworth township, two photographers from the Associated Press news agency, and from the opposition Daily News were arrested when they tried to take pictures of a group of policemen on patrol.
Marking a significant show of support and a departure from South Africa's uncertain diplomatic stance in past months, the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it backed the strike and accused Mugabe of "terrorising the economy and ordinary citizens". Reports from Mutare in the east, Masvingo in the south and Bulawayo in the south-west said many businesses were shut, although government offices were functioning.
The ZCTU is a close ally of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has emerged in the past year as President Mugabe's most serious challenger since he came to power 21 years ago. Political tension has barely abated since a violent campaign in the run-up to general elections in June last year, when at least 31 people died. The violence was blamed on the ruling Zanu PF. The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to challenge 77-year-old President Mugabe in an election due by May next year.
Zimbabwe's economic crisis has pushed unemployment above 60 per cent and inflation above 70 per cent. An estimated 70 per cent of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people live in poverty. Previous national work stoppages organised by the ZCTU have successfully shut down the economy. A series of strikes in 1998 escalated into food riots. Eight people were killed in clashes with police and troops. The ZCTU represents about 90 per cent of the organised labour force, about 1.2 million workers in 32 affiliated unions.
From The New York Times, 3 July
Zimbabwe workers strike over fuel, looting reported
Harare - Two people were killed, shops and factories were closed and riot police patrolled townships on Tuesday as Zimbabwean workers began a two-day general strike over soaring fuel prices. Police said the deaths in violence in a Harare township were unrelated to the strike. But political tensions have risen since the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called the strike to protest over a fuel price hike of nearly 70 percent. ``Two houses have been petrol bombed. Six people were injured in that assault, two died as a results of assault,'' police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told Zimbabwe state television. ``It is not directly in any way suggestive of the stayaway,'' he added. He gave no further details or reasons for the attacks.
President Robert Mugabe's government denounced the strike as a challenge to its authority by unions aligned to the main opposition party. It declared the action illegal and promised protection to workers who ignored it, while self-styled war veterans who are staunch Mugabe supporters threatened to evict foreign companies closing during the strike. ``We want to identify such people and if they are not citizens of this country we are going to deal with them...(and make) them evacuate our country within a day,'' war veterans' leader Joseph Chinotimba said in remarks on state radio. In April and May, war veterans stormed private firms and aid agencies, forcing them to either reinstate sacked workers or award them compensation deals.
Tuesday's strike began with the dawn looting and burning of three bread trucks in the Harare township of Budiriro. Police said they arrested several suspects, but gave no details. Riot police patrolled townships and mounted roadblocks around the capital and other towns. Three Zimbabwean journalists, including a cameraman for the Associated Press news agency, were arrested for allegedly obstructing police operations while covering the strike. They have denied the charge. Harare's central business district was partially paralyzed by the strike, with some banks and building societies closed. The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange was open and traded normally.Teachers at some Harare schools said students had not turned up for classes, and some schools closed for the day.
Reports from Mutare in the east, Masvingo in the south and Bulawayo in the southwest said many businesses were shut, although government offices were functioning. The ZCTU is a close ally of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has emerged in the past year as Mugabe's most serious challenger since he came to power 21 years ago. Political tensions have barely abated since last year when at least 31 people died during a violent parliamentary election campaign, blamed mostly on Mugabe's supporters. The MDC made significant gains at the poll. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is set to challenge the 77-year-old Mugabe in a presidential vote due by April. Zimbabwe's economy, once among the strongest in southern Africa, is battling its worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980. Unemployment is at record levels and foreign investment has dried up as Mugabe pushes ahead with a plan to seize white-owned farms for black resettlement.
Multilateral support urgently needed to back Powell's criticism of Mugabe regime
By a Special Correspondent
The United States government, along with leading human rights and Africa experts, last week squarely blamed Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF for the political and economic chaos Zimbabwe was currently enduring. Testifying to a US Senate Foreign Relations' Subcommittee on African Affairs hearing about Zimbabwe, Walter Kansteiner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, confirmed that the United States could not have normal relations with Zimbabwe until "the violence and intimidation ended, and the rule of law is restored." Other panelists who testified at the hearing included Professor Robert Rotberg, a well-known Africa specialist who is currently president of the World Peace Foundation at Harvard University; Yves Serokobi, Africa director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; and John Prendergast, a consultant for the International Crisis Group - who recently returned from a field trip to Zimbabwe - unreservedly agreed with him.
In a question and answer session followed by his testimony, Kansteiner told Senator Russ Feingold, the newly elected chairman of the Africa sub-committee in the Senate, that the State Department was making constructive efforts to engage the European Union and Commonwealth to help push the process in a positive direction. The three panelists added their voices to Kansteiner's remark about engaging other countries to assist the process. "The US government now needs to work multilaterally and ensure that all the countries repeat what Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said in Johannesburg last May. Everybody's efforts must be co-ordinated," said one.
They also urged the US government to proceed with quick and proactive action to ensure the country's ever-increasing problems do not to spin out of control. "There must be US support for institutional funding for social security services. Both the opposition and civil society needs support on the ground as well," confirmed Prendergast.
When asked how the US government would handle Mugabe's rhetoric about opposing forces on the ground being seen "as puppets of the West", Kansteiner reiterated that, regardless, the US administration needed to focus on free and fair presidential elections planned for April 2002. "The presidential election - if conducted in a free and fair manner – would further Zimbabwe's emergence as a true multiparty democracy, no matter who wins. The United States must be clear on this point: it is up to Zimbabweans themselves to decide who will govern them, and they must be given the opportunity to choose freely," he said in his testimony.
Kansteiner also said he believed that they were starting to see the beginning of the election process happening in Zimbabwe, and that the State Department was looking for ways for the US to be involved in pre-election assistance now. "We can't just send in monitors. We need to encourage NGOs and others to become involved, as well as ensure a congressional presence," he confirmed. When asked by Feingold whether he felt the region was being affected economically, Kansteiner said that "yes, there has been an effect although there is no direct data available confirming this. We have anecdotal evidence of investment declining in South Africa and Botswana." Also of concern was the exodus of middle-classed professionals from Zimbabwe. When asked by Feingold if there had been a 'brain drain' from the country, Rotberg confirmed that there certainly had been, and that this had been occurring since the 1980s. "You must remember it is very hard to get these Zimbabweans back into the country," he said.
Prendergast also confirmed the current exodus (estimates place it at about 300,000 mostly black professionals leaving last year alone), and said that the US government should commit to supplementing salaries to those professionals - such as doctors, nurses and teachers - that remain in Zimbabwe in order to ensure they do not leave as well. Kansteiner also confirmed - in response to a question from Feingold asking if there had been any change in attitudes in the region - that he believed the recent commitment shown by the Commonwealth Seven, which included some of Zimbabwe's neighbours, demonstrated a change of attitude, and "I think this is a good effort which will certainly create an increase in interest in Zimbabwe."
When questioned about the necessity of the Zimbabwe Democracy Act (ZDA) being passed by the US Congress, both Rotberg and Prendergast agreed it had to move as quickly as possible. "The Zimbabwean government is petrified this bill will go through," Prendergast said, "they have a genuine fear of it passing for obvious reasons." Rotberg added that the US government's passing of the bill would be much more significant in Zimbabwe because of the psychological affects it would have on the Zimbabwean people. Also, with the Commonwealth and EU allegedly considering similar restrictions, they believed this was further reason for the US administration to back the passage of the ZDA.
All the panelists' testimonies, will shortly be available onwww.zwnews.com in the Politics - Reports section. See also Senator Feingold's introductory statement to the hearing below.
Statement of Senator Russ Feingold
Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on African Affairs
"Zimbabwe's Political and Economic Crisis" - 28 June
This hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs will now come to order. I want to welcome all of the witnesses who have come to testify; we appreciate your time and look forward to your insights. I also want to thank the ranking member, Senator Frist, for his leadership on this issue. I have been proud to work with him as the co-sponsor of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, a bill that sets out clear conditions relating to the rule of law and free and fair elections that must be met before non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Zimbabwe, which has already been suspended, can resume. And the assistance the bill authorizes once those conditions have been met is significant indeed. Senator Frist and I truly see eye-to-eye on the need to bolster those fighting to protect the rule of law and democratic institutions in Zimbabwe.
I had the opportunity to briefly visit Zimbabwe in late 1999. I came away with two dominant impressions - first that Zimbabwe's civil society was one of the best-organized and most admirable network of advocates that I have ever encountered, and second that there was a great deal of tension in the air. Of course, shortly after my visit, the current crisis erupted. Zimbabwe's very recent history is a sad one. The state has been complicit in, and sometimes has directly sponsored, violence against those who do not support the ruling party, Zanu PF. Judges have been intimidated and the very integrity of the judiciary has been attacked. The Government has stepped up efforts to constrain and often intimidate the independent press.
The economy, already weakened by mismanagement and corruption, is reeling from the violent disruption of economic life and the lawlessness that is frightening foreign investors and sending capital out of the country at alarming rates. Reports indicate that agricultural production is down 30%, unemployment is estimated at 60%, and that the Zimbabwean economy is one of the fastest shrinking economies in the world. I look forward to learning more about these issues today, their effect on the entire southern African region, and the options for a U.S. policy response.
Just two days ago, I met with Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's democratic opposition. He urged me not to paint too pessimistic a picture of Zimbabwe at this hearing, and he was right. Even in these difficult times, I have continued to be impressed with the people of Zimbabwe - for their daring vote on the constitutional referendum and for their willingness to go to the polls in the parliamentary election despite intense intimidation. Should this crisis abate through a return to the rule of law and free and fair presidential elections next spring, these courageous Zimbabweans will need the support of the international community to reinvigorate the economy, to address Zimbabwe's devastating AIDS crisis, and to pursue urgently needed, genuine, rule-governed land reform that meaningfully enfranchises beneficiaries.
When Secretary of State Powell was in South Africa recently, he publicly urged President Mugabe to submit to the rule of law and the will of the people in free and fair presidential elections instead of pursuing methods that the Secretary characterized as "totalitarian". Secretary Powell was by no means the first prominent figure to speak the truth about the Government of Zimbabwe - former President Mandela and Archbishop Tutu have also publicly condemned the government's behaviour - but adding his important voice to the chorus of critics signalled an important U.S. commitment to addressing Zimbabwe's crisis with an honest appraisal of the facts and a genuine desire to help the people of Zimbabwe in their efforts to protect their remarkable, democratic, law-governed country. This is one initiative on which the Administration will, I believe, enjoy the wholehearted support of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and the support of the many Americans who have watched in dismay as Zimbabwe has suffered.
From Business Day (SA), 4 July
Zimbabwe may ban private trade in maize
Harare - Zimbabwe's government is to ban private trade in maize, with a law making its grain marketing board the sole buyer and seller of the country's staple food, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported yesterday. The paper said President Robert Mugabe's government suspected that white farmers were trying to create food shortages by hoarding grain. "This has forced the government to consider granting the (Grain Marketing Board) the temporary monopoly, which will be invoked from time to time," the Herald said in a report attributed to official industry sources. "The new measure will see the (board) reverting to being the sole buyer and seller of maize in the country," one source was quoted as saying. The Herald did not say when the law would be drawn up.
Government officials were not available for immediate comment and the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents 4500 mainly white farmers, said the measure would be "another disaster" for the farming sector. Mugabe's government ended the board's monopoly in maize trade about 10 years ago through a liberalisation programme that also saw an end to a range of price controls. But the grain board still remains the sole legal exporter and importer of maize. The government has been trying to roll back some of the measures in the last two years, accusing white farmers and business of sabotaging the economy in a bid to topple Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party. Farmers and the business sector deny the charge, saying Zimbabwe's economic crisis is the result of gross mismanagement by the government. Analysts say that Zimbabwe may face food riots later this year after a fall in production on farms which were invaded by Mugabe's supporters in the past year in support of his programme to seize white-owned land to resettle landless blacks.
Comment from The Daily News, 3 July
Joshua Nkomo must be turning in his grave
There was much hype over the weekend as Zanu PF used state facilities and national resources to stage a gala to mark the second anniversary of the death of Vice-President Joshua Nkomo. President Mugabe and Vice-President Joseph Msika were present. To lend the occasion an aura of authenticity and respectability, Zanu PF ensured Dr Nkomo's widow played a prominent role in the proceedings. The event, which was broadcast live on all radio stations and on national television, was hosted by the National Arts Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and the Department of Information and Publicity. Even Radio 3, which is normally not used for political programmes, was not spared. It also chronicled the trials and tribulations of Nkomo's life as well as extolling his achievements.
In fact, in their commemoration of Nkomo's death, the government and Zanu PF went overboard in an obvious effort to make up for the vindictiveness and disrespect which Nkomo was subjected to when he was still alive. They even facilitated, assuming they didn't actually order it, the serialisation in The Herald of Joshua Nkomo, The Story of My Life, the autobiography of the late Vice-President. While not officially banned, no single copy of the book has been sold in Zimbabwe. The Story of My Life makes certain very serious allegations against Mugabe. Its serialisation is not likely to endear Mugabe to many Zimbabweans. It must have taken a considerable degree of reckless courage for the Department of Information and Publicity - which either instructed or was consulted - to authorise the serialisation.
This new display of affection for Nkomo, whose sincerity is doubtful anyway, does not in any way make up for the vilification to which the former Vice-President was subjected by Zanu PF and the government when he was still alive. He was treated as a traitor and, as he alleges in his book, at one point Mugabe's government ordered that he be killed. The overzealousness exhibited over the weekend to please those who hold genuinely fond memories of Nkomo is clearly shameless and could inflict severe damage on Zanu PF at this critical time when its political fortunes are hanging in the balance.
But that is a matter for those in Zanu PF to mull over. What we, and everyone else who holds dear to their hearts memories of Nkomo, find very disturbing is that this supposedly genuine show of respect and adoration is all part of a political strategy. This outpouring of praise and apparent sentimentality by the government and Zanu PF through the medium of naive and gullible, if not self-seeking, theatre groups and musicians, is a shameless exploitation of Nkomo's popularity as a just and righteous leader. Zanu PF and the government are showing all the signs of ultimate desperation in their efforts to shore up support for a ruling party which has made itself unpopular.
Because Zanu PF has little to offer to regain the support of the electorate as mayoral, municipal and then presidential elections approach, its campaign strategists have decided to use Nkomo's name to win votes. There is little evidence this will work. Bulawayo and Masvingo could be two sides of the same coin. To begin with, they cannot fool everyone. Every Zimbabwean of average intelligence knows that Zanu PF and the government hated Nkomo so much he was forced to flee the country (dressed like a woman, according to Zanu PF's propagandists) when his life was seriously threatened. They also know that the only reason why so much good is now being said about him is for the purpose of wooing votes from the millions of voters who hold Nkomo in the highest regard throughout the country, especially in the western part of the country where a mayoral election is fast approaching in Bulawayo.
Anyone who doubts this should ask themselves why the commemoration is only being held this year, the second anniversary of Nkomo's death, when nothing of the sort was done to mark the first anniversary. As we have said more than once before, what Joshua Nkomo needs is genuine honour, not wanton abuse of his memory. For instance, the naming after him of some important road or institution, particularly those built after independence, would be a more fitting tribute to this true revolutionary, freedom fighter and gallant son of Zimbabwe than the shameless abuse of his illustrious name as part of an ad hoc strategy to win a mayoral or presidential election. Umdala must have turned in his grave several times since Saturday.
Timber Industry to Lose 10,000 Jobs
UN Integrated Regional Information Network
July 4, 2001
Posted to the web July 4, 2001
At least 10,250 workers in the timber industry would lose their jobs if the government goes ahead with its planned compulsory acquisition of forest plantations for its land resettlement programme, the 'Zimbabwe Standard' reported on Tuesday. The Zimbabwe Timber Producers' Federation (ZTPF), which contributed significantly to Zimbabwe's industrial output last year, has registered its displeasure over the government's intention to compulsorily acquire forest plantations for resettlement.
Nigel Payne, chairman of the federation, said members of his federation are concerned about the government's decision to designate 55 timber plantations and farms for acquisition. "This has been probably one of the most, if not actually the most difficult year in living memory for the industry," Payne said at the federation's annual general meeting in the eastern city of Mutare. "Land tenure and the security of the land is paramount to the continued survival of the timber industry."
He said although the government had in the past given assurances to the timber industry that forest plantations would be spared from the resettlement programme, plantations continued to be listed for compulsory acquisition and resettlement. Payne said that many of the properties being seized were established plantations that had been growing timber for many years. He said the farms and plantations supplied 65 percent of the wood fibre used in the manufacture of newsprint and 90 percent of the wood fibre used to make paper packaging.
Forestry is a long-term venture requiring extensive capital investment with returns only realised at the end of the growing cycles, ranging from eight to 30 years. Long-term depletion of the forest resource base, Payne warned, would have disastrous effects on the viability of the timber industry. He urged the government to recognise the importance of the timber industry and make a "clear and unambiguous" statement on the security of tenure of timber plantation land.
|04/07/2001 17:45 - (SA)|
"They have been released. I'm not surprised that they have been released by the attorney general. The charges didn't make sense," said their lawyer Innocent Chagonda.
The three journalists were photographers Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, 25, from the privately-owned Daily News; Cornelius Nduna, 31, of the weekly The Standard; and nternational news agency.
The charge they were to face was hampering police investigations when they tried to take pictures of riot police harassing some 100 youths in a Harare working class suburb of Budiriro.
Police allegedly rounded up the youths and forced them to toyi-toyi on the streets.
"We did not disrupt anybody, we were just doing our job," said Mazivanhanga after his release.
'Ploy to harrass media'
The newsmen and their lawyer interpret the arrest as a ploy to harrass the media.
"That is a deliberate harassment of the press, that is my view, because it is an unusual thing," Chagonda said.
"I think these are just arbitrary acts to scare away the media ahead of the presidential elections. It's a big plan to silence us," Nduna told reporters.
The trio, freed after 24 hours of detention at Harare central police station, were arrested at a suburban police station where they sought refugee from a riot police van that chased them from where they were filming.
Police reportedly kept the journalists overnight to facilitate investigations yet the police themselves were the complainants.
The journalists alleged that police on Tuesday nearly forced them to admit guilt and pay a ZIM$500 dollar (US$9) fine to be let free, but the newsmen refused.
Chagonda said the fact that they were held overnight "is a very unusual incident for such a trivial charge."
Zimbabwe's government has received widespread criticism for its crackdown on independent and foreign media.
Foreign journos forced out
The government has forced three foreign journalists to leave the country this year, and has enacted a law that has effectively blocked private broadcasters from operating.
The printing press of the nation's only private daily paper, the Daily News, was destroyed in a January 2001 bomb blast.
In August, the paper said the secret service had hired a hit man to kill editor-in-chief Geoffrey Nyarota, but the plot fell apart when the would-be killer lost his nerve and confessed.
In April 2000, Obed Zilwa, a photographer for the Associated Press (AP) agency, was arrested by police on suspicion of taking part in the bomb attack at the Daily News offices. He spent three nights in detention and was released without charge.
The trio's lawyer said there was a "clear case for suing for wrongful arrest" after the country's attorney general refused to prosecute.
The journalists did not have any complaints against the treatment received from the police at the central station, except for the conditions under which they were held.
They said there were 16 suspects held in a single cell designed for six people.
The three journalists were freed Wednesday as many workers pursued a two-day strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in a challenge to President Robert Mugabe's government, which declared it illegal.
The powerful labor umbrella organisation wants the government to rescind its latest fuel price increase, an overnight hike of more than 70 percent that sent prices soaring for transport as well as for basic commodities.
|04/07/2001 15:45 - (SA)|
Made said the move was to allow the government to be directly involved in the operations of the parastatal which is responsible for marketing food grains in the country.
The dismissal comes in the wake of reports of food shortages, which the government has vehemently denied.
"Due to the strategic importance of GMB in terms of food security for the nation, it is imperative that decisions regarding its operations are implemented expeditiously and effectively in the interests of the people," Made told a news conference.
Made said some sections of the Zimbabwean society were creating artificial shortages of food in the country.
"I am aware that there are a number of people who are involved in activities ... meant to create an aspect of shortages," he said.
But he said he would move to apply measures that would ensure that "maize is secure for the good of the economy as this a staple".
The board was appointed in June last year and its term was to expire in July 2003.
"It has been found necessary to bring forward the expiry date of the current board of directors of GMB," he announced.
But he stressed that sacking of the directors was not an indication of problems or looming shortages.
"I do emphasise that this exercise has to do more with our strategic needs, it's not the other way round of saying what is the problem," Made said. - Sapa-AFP
|Wednesday, 4 July 2001 6:41
Zimbabwe strike enters second day HARARE, Zimbabwe, July 4 (UPI) -- Trade union leaders in Zimbabwe said Wednesday they expect more workers to join a national strike, on the second and final day of a protest against an unprecedented increase in fuel prices. Unemployment and high inflation have led to widespread resentment against the government in Zimbabwe. "Much of the economy was shut down on Tuesday by the strike, which has increased tension between ruling party militants and government opponents," the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. "Almost 99 percent of the country will stop working on Wednesday," said Lovemore Matombo, the head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, which called the strike. President Robert Mugabe' has denounced the strike as a challenge to his authority by unions aligned to the main opposition party. The two-day action is in protest against the refusal of the government to withdraw a 70 percent increase in fuel prices announced on June 12. Although the government promised to protect the workers who wanted to work, most of the workers failed to come to work on Tuesday. Mugabe's supporters have threatened to evict foreign companies who close their offices during the two-day strike, claiming that these companies were trying to undermine the national economy. Matombo said the government had repeatedly ignored the worsening plight of workers during the country's worst economic crisis. He also accused the government of creating "inflation and large scale unemployment through mismanagement and corruption." Harare's central business district was partially paralyzed, with some banks and building societies closed. Government offices and schools were ordered to remain open. Few buses of the state-owned Zimbabwe United Omnibus Company were seen carrying commuters while private transporters mostly ignored the government's warning to come to work. Shops, post offices and factories were also closed because of the strike. Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo came to a virtual standstill, the BBC reported. Angry mobs burned three bread delivery trucks in Harare, the report said. Two people were killed in a petrol bomb attack in a Harare suburb, but police said this was not related to the strike, the BBC said. Political tensions have barely abated since early last year, when political violence before parliamentary elections in June claimed at least 31 lives, most of them opposition supporters, the report said. -- Copyright 2001 by United Press International.