The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Harare newspaper slams SA over 'mercenaries'

By Moshoeshoe Monare and Basildon Peta

Harare - South Africa allows "terrorists" to operate freely and with impunity from its soil, a state-owned Zimbabwean Sunday newspaper has charged.

The Sunday Mail, in an editorial on Sunday about the detention of 70 alleged mercenaries in Harare, asked: "Why is it that mercenary outfits like the notorious Executive Outcomes operate freely in South Africa when they are known to be there to destabilise the peace of other countries?

"What kind of a democracy is this that nurtures terrorists and allows them to train, buy arms and take off from the airport of this supposedly security conscious country?

However, the paper said the incident was an "embarrassment for South Africa, though they did well in part in later thwarting the coup".

The suspected mercenaries, all of whom carried South African passports, have been linked to an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea. They were arrested when their aircraft landed in Harare earlier this month, after a tip-off from South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe High Court will hear an application on Monday to have the suspected mercenaries tried in open court, as reports emerged that they had initially been assaulted by Zimbabwean soldiers.

The 70 men, in custody since March 8 after their arrest at Harare International Airport, have not appeared in court. The state has repeatedly postponed their court appearances.

The men had been widely expected to appear in court last week, but their appearance was delayed. Counsel argued the state could not bring them to court for security reasons and would rather have them tried by a private court at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Their lawyers vehemently opposed this, and went to the High Court for an order that they appear in a normal public court.

Lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the application would be heard on Monday before High Court Judge Tadius Karwi.

The privately owned Standard newspaper reported its investigations showed some of the 70 men had been "seriously assaulted" and some of them might even have been tortured.

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Vanguard
Senators Split!

By EMMA AZIKEN
Sunday, March 21, 2004
*Obasanjo’s white farmers project raises dust among MPs

PRESIDENTOlusegun Obasanjo’s administration’s plan to accept the relocation move by white farmers from Southern African, especially those recently displaced by land re-distribution in Zimbabwe, to boost  Nigeria’s foreign investment drive, has triggered division among senators. A perspective shared by some members of the Senate is that President Obasanjo may, by the plan, be on his way to planting the seed of racial problem in the country. Significantly, senators with this mindset on a project on which government has already set up a presidential committee are led by the chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, Senator Bode Olowoporoku.
Senators backing the government’s move said Nigeria needs the white farmers expertise to revolutionize the nation’s agriculture sector but warned that the project must be handled with care so that the Zimbabwe experience is not replicated here. Following a forceful ejection from their farms and redistribution of lands, especially in Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe accused them of taking over the ownership of most lands in the country, many white farmers from the Southern Africa region indicated their intention to invest in Nigeria.
This prompted  the setting up in January of a  presidential committee by the Obasanjo administration which saw the white farmers intention as a “positive move in the effort to move Nigeria from peasant to mechanised commercial agriculture.” The committee has agriculture minister, Mallam Adamu Bello, as chairman while members are the governors of Adamawa, Benue, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kwara, Nassarawa, Ogun and Ondo states as well as the national security adviser and the chief economic adviser. “One thing that we have been blessed with in this country is that there has never been any racial problem as you had in Southern African countries. So, anybody wanting to bring the white farmers into Nigeria now wants to plant the seed of racial problem for our children in future,”   Olowoporoku, the chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture, said last week.
He explained that he and many of his colleagues in the upper house believed the Federal Government’s move was misplaced to an extent that if activities of the white farmers could result in land problems in Zimbabwe, then the chances are high that the problems can be replicated here if the white farmers are allowed to migrate to Nigeria. Said the Senate committee chairman: “I think the plan is highly misplaced. We are in an evolutionary society which means that all lands belong to communal interests. If all lands belong to communal interests, what this translates to in essence is that there are no vacant lands. Therefore, in order to find land for anybody, you must be ready to deprive some interests of the ownership. And the Nigerian constitution is very clear about the right to property. So, in trying to get lands for these white farmers hoping to migrate to Nigeria, having lost out in southern Africa, is government now to forcefully evacuate Nigerians from their lands and give the lands to them?”
“So, I wonder how that strange thinking came up to bring in the white farmers to Nigeria, it is just not practicable. By all factors of our evolutionary development, it is not workable. As an example, look at Yoruba land. Every portion of land there belongs to specific families, you do not have any free land there. So it is all over the country,” Olowoporoku pointed out. Asked if government is not in the position to take lands from Nigerians and give to the white farmers  using the Land Use Act, the senator stated that the Act vests in government the power to take lands from communities and individuals for government projects and not private projects, stressing that any project anybody may want to embark upon concerning the migration of the white farmers to Nigeria cannot be classified as government project.

The senate committee chairman argued that government can improve the nation’s agricultural sector if it genuinely wants to without involving the displaced white farmers.
Senators Farouk Bello (ANPP, Kebbi) and Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross River), both advanced a counter position. Bello stated that the move to bring the white farmers to Nigeria is a right step but cautioned that government should learn from the Zimbabwe experience so that the problems their activities caused in that country are not repeated here.
Zimbabwean farmers
Said he: “In all honesty, I see it as a step in the right direction. There is nothing better than expertise. When you don’t have expertise in something, I think it is only reasonable for you to tap from the expertise of other countries of the world. If the Zimbabwe farmers don’t come to Nigeria, they will go elsewhere. Nigeria needs their expertise, Nigeria needs to produce food for the growing population, not  the kind of food we grow with cutlasses and hoes, not the one we grow using or relying on the vagaries of weather, whether there is rain or no rain. For now, we do not have those people, we do not have the resources to do that. So, to me personally, I believe it is a step in the right direction and we can now go into another phase and that is, how do you regulate them?
Ndoma - Egba explained why the government’s move ought to be supported.  His words:” I support it for a number of reasons, I come from a farming area and I know that our farming population is aging, the younger ones are not going to the farms any more and the farmers are now not only aged, but also aged in methods. Their methods have not changed over the years, so if it is only for the purpose of introducing new energy into agriculture as it were, then we should encourage that.
Secondly, they will come with new methods and new technology, so I think their presence here will add value to our farming methods.”
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Open court bid for alleged mercenaries

By Basildon Peta

The Zimbabwe High Court was to hear an application on Monday to have 70 suspected mercenaries tried in open court.

This follows reports that the men have been assaulted by Zimbabwean soldiers.

In the meanwhile, a new charge under two United Nations resolutions - of conspiring to commit international terrorism - was brought against the men on Saturday.

The state has repeatedly postponed the court appearance of the 70 for a variety of reasons since they were taken into custody on March 8 after their arrest at Harare International Airport.

The men had been expected to appear in court last week, but their court arraignment was delayed again.

Counsel argued that the state could not bring them to court for security reasons and would rather have them tried by a private court at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, where they were being held.

The men's defence lawyers opposed this and went to the high court for an order that they appear in a normal public court.

Lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the application was to be heard on Monday before Judge Tadius Karwi.

Samkange said any attempt to deny the men their rights to appear in a public court was totally unacceptable and he would "thoroughly" argue the case.

He said the state had enough manpower to provide security for any public trial of the men.

Any security fears were totally unfounded as the men "were not murderers nor mercenaries as alleged" and would "easily be acquitted if granted a fair trial".

Sixty-seven of the 70 men were arrested at Harare International Airport aboard a Boeing 727 allegedly en route to Equatorial Guinea on a mission to topple that country's president. The other three were arrested when they went to meet the plane.

They deny the claims against them, saying they were headed for the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they were to guard a mine.

The privately owned Standard newspaper reported on Sunday that its investigations showed some of the 70 men had been "seriously assaulted" and some might have been tortured.

The newspaper said its investigations had revealed that the men were initially taken to police stations all over Mashonaland province as part of state efforts to make them "confess".

The paper quoted sources as saying the men had been assaulted after capture at the airport and when they were taken from the airport to jail.

Samkange confirmed that the men were beaten by soldiers when they were arrested but he had no complaints of any beatings while they were in jail.

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Fury over mansion for one of Mugabe's men

March 22 2004 at 03:19AM

By Gustav Thiel

The Zimbabwean finance minister is not welcome in one of Cape Town's most expensive suburbs.

This was the verdict of Llandudno residents, who are up in arms over Christopher Kuruneri's apparent plans to move into a R30-million mansion.

Llandudno councillor Pieter Venter said on Sunday he was "observing with interest" the construction of Kuruneri's mansion.

He said residents "may have objections" to a senior Zimbabwean government official moving into the area.

'People are already up in arms about the whole thing'
"People are obviously allowed to buy property where they want, but one wonders where a Zimbabwean minister got the money from, considering the value of the Zimbabwean dollar."

"My personal opinion is that senior Zanu-PF officials, including President Robert Mugabe and any other official, should be tried for crimes against humanity."

Llandudno resident Chris Summersby said: "Rumours have been circulating that Mugabe is building here, but even one of his ministers will not be welcome here."

"I think that is the general sentiment. People are already up in arms about the whole thing."

Several other Llandudno residents agreed with Summersby that Kuruneri's presence would not be met with approval.

They did not want to be identified, but said they would support an action group of residents formed to halt Kuruneri's plans.

The Sunday Times reported that Kuruneri, appointed finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle on February 9 to spearhead Zimbabwe's economic recovery, has been financing the property with foreign currency.

This was despite the strict limits imposed on exporting foreign exchange in Zimbabwe.

Property developer Chris Hayman refused to comment on the details of the deal with Kuruneri.

Quizzed by the British press a week ago, Hayman said he knew nothing about Mugabe's possible involvement in the development.

Kuruneri is the sole director of a company called Choice Decisions, which bought the property for R2,7-million on April 22 last year. He also bought another property in the area for R2-million.

A Cape Town-based construction company owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been sub-contracted to do work on the property.

"We got paid in American dollars. Once I received (the equivalent of) R200 000, and I always had to exchange the money in my own name..."

"The stereo system in the house was imported from the United States and will cost R1,5-million."

He added that construction of the house would cost about R17-million, "but with all the accessories and stuff, like the hi-fi, the final cost will probably be in the region of R30-million, if not more".

When completed in November, it will have eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a large dining area and a massive outdoor swimming pool.

Kuruneri has reportedly denied contravening Zimbabwe's exchange rules.

He claimed that he made the money to pay for the house as a consultant for several multinational companies.

Since Kuruneri was appointed finance minister, the country has cracked down on businessmen for contravening foreign exchange rules, closing down three businesses.

  • This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on March 22, 2004
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No More Dictatorships by 2025
By Alan Caruba
Mar 22, 2004
Michigan Post




In late February, Parade magazine’s cover article was about the “The World’s Worst Dictator.” We have reached this new century after one wracked with wars begun by its dictators, the long “Cold War” sustained against the dictators of the former Soviet Russia, and the creation of the United Nations, intended to end such wars.

We live in a world where just forty-five men rule the lives of more than two billion people. In his book, “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictatorships by 2025”, ($27.95, Rowman and Littlefield) former Ambassador Mark Palmer lays out the plan by which the entire population of the world could begin to live in democratic nations. The dictators include Hu Jintao of Communist China, Kim Jong II of North Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Ayatollah Ali Khameni of Iran, and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

The greatest concentration of dictators is in the Middle East and Africa. Others are in Southeast Asia. Still others run the former Soviet republics, such as Saparmurat Niyazo of Turkmenistan. Red China stands alone simply for its vast population ruled by a Communist Party that poses a threat to the stability of everyone on their borders.

The one universal reason for ridding the world of these men is a moral one. They are murderers and thieves on a grand scale. Another reason is the right of all people to live in freedom, to live where the rule of law exists and the will of the people determines the decisions made by elected, representative leaders.

Then and only then could the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become a reality with everyone enjoying regular and free elections, a free press, trade unions, and an independent judiciary. This document is the heart of the aspirations set forth with the creation of the United Nations, but the UN accepts as members those same dictatorships and treats them as equal to free nations.

There is another compelling reason. As Ambassador Palmer notes, “the free nations produce 89% of the world’s economic output; the dictatorships just 6%.”  Imagine how productive the world could be if the remaining captive nations could be set free to tap the energies of their people? We would see an end to famine everywhere. We would see the great flow of trade and goods that would enrich everyone. We would see the “hidden hand” of competition that would insure the affordability of those goods.

What some Americans and others around the world have not understood about the invasion of Iraq by the United States and a coalition was the absolute need to remove one of the world’s worst dictators, Saddam Hussein. Even now we hear influential voices saying that we could have continued to accept his rule, that he really didn’t pose an immediate threat to the United States, that he didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. All this ignores Saddam’s endless potential as a continuing threat, willing to threaten war against his neighbors and to hatch grave plots against the US with its enemies among the fanatical Islamic Jihad movement.

In the few short months since the invasion, it has significantly transformed the entire region. Pakistan, a hotbed of Jihadists, is now an ally in the war on terror. Libya’s dictator has taken steps to secure American and international acceptance. Syria’s dictator may be contemplating trying to seek peace with Israel and withdrawing from Lebanon. Iran is contemplating allowing international inspections of its nuclear facilities. Saudi Arabia’s rulers are contemplating what changes they must make to save themselves from the very Jihadists they has funded and supported for decades. Other Middle East nations such as Bahrain and Kuwait seek to ally themselves with the United States and consider movement toward establishing some aspects of democracy.

Ambassador Palmer states that the “removal of dictators is first and foremost a domestic political matter, undertaken by the people living under tyranny.” That said, he outlines the steps the United States and other free nations can take to support such efforts. Nor does he rule out military intervention such as that undertaken in Iraq.

The reason for eliminating the remaining dictators is the simple proof of history that “by attempting to base US security in other parts of the world, the practitioners of foreign policy common wisdom not only failed, but also undermined American credibility worldwide.”

When people ask why do people around the world hate us, the answer is they have seen our great example of democracy and wondered why we have accepted to work with and even praise dictators who are utterly corrupt. The last century demonstrated why this simply does not work and why appeasement only leads to war. An estimated 169,000,000 people died in the last century due to war and famine that was the direct result of the tyrannies of Nazi Germany, Japan, Red China, and the former Soviet Union. Others died on the vast African continent and continue to die every day because of the tyrants who rule so many of its nations.

The notion that Americans should live in a republic governed by the world’s oldest, living Constitution, and that others in the world do not yearn for the same blessings of liberty is absurd. We saw that in the 1989 when thousands gathered in Tiananmen Square, the heart of Red China, to protest peacefully for more representative government. Deng Xiaping made it very clear that the protesters wanted to “overthrow the Party, state and socialist system and to replace it with pro-Western bourgeois republic.” He was right. That is why the protesters had created their own Statue of Liberty. It was crushed beneath the treads of Communist tanks.

It is a wonder to me that people still go around mouthing all the lies and nonsense about Communism and Socialism as the answer to the world’s problems. They have long been and remain one of the world’s greatest problems. It is why Communists resist all efforts toward democracy and freedom. It is why Socialist nations cannot even begin to compete with those utilizing our Capitalist system.  Communist and Socialist systems are inherently corrupt. Both systems concentrate power in government rather than allowing the economy to flourish and its benefits to enrich and enhance the lives of free citizens.

The concentration of power in the hands of forty-five dictators or in governments where citizens have no say in the conduct of their lives is a tyranny that must end. There is a movement toward that and it is called the Community of Democracies. Ambassador Palmer calls it “the best-kept secret in foreign affairs.” It has met in 2000 in Warsaw ad produced a founding document. It met again in Seoul in 2002. Ultimately, the CD must replace the UN. The UN is an utterly failed and flawed international institution. The Ambassador also sees an expanding role for NATO.

It is time to let the world’s remaining dictators know their time is up. It is time for free and democratic nations to join together to encourage domestic opposition to them. If they don’t, the lethal technologies of the new century can make the millions of deaths in the past one look puny by comparison.

The good news is that in 1972 there were only forty-three free countries in the world. Today there are eighty-nine. We are about to add Iraq to the list no matter how messy that effort may seem. Americans are dying there for the same reason they died in far greater numbers to free Europe and Asia in the last century. That’s what free people do. They fight and they die to free others because it is the right thing to do and because a free world is a safe world.

-------------------------------------------
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.

© Alan Caruba
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Africa Braces for the Fallout of Global Warming




A number of African scientists are urging governments on the continent to take measures to prepare for the impacts of global warming. "Climate change is now with us and poised to change our pattern of life," said Dr. Cecil Machena, a Zimbabwean ecologist and conservationist. "Yet few people know what climate change is all about."

The vast majority of the greenhouse gases behind global warming have been released by industrial countries like the United States and Europe. Scientists expect, however, that climate disruptions will take their heaviest toll on poor nations, which have contributed relatively little to the problem in the past century.

"African countries are expected to be the hardest hit by climate change because they have the least resources to adapt," said Brett Orlando, a climate expert at the World Conservation Union (IUCN). "The difference between impacts on developing and industrialized countries is categorical. In industrialized countries one speaks of loss of property and income, whereas in developing countries one speaks of loss of life and livelihood."

A recent report from scientists at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom concludes that current trends of droughts in Southern Africa are likely linked to climate change. "It is becoming increasing likely that [human-caused] emissions of greenhouse gases, and other atmospheric pollutants, are changing global and regional climates," finds the report.

While occasional droughts are common in the region, the scientists found that the last 20 years "have seen a trend towards reduced rainfall," as well as an increase in the number of serious droughts -- two or three during the early 1990s alone. "The decade 1986-95, as well as being the warmest this century, has also been the driest," according to the report, which is titled "Climate Change and Southern Africa."

The researchers recommend that Southern African countries should change their agricultural policies in anticipation of the negative impacts of climate change on crop yields. "The clearest objective at present is to prepare for changing climatic hazards by reducing vulnerability, by developing monitoring capabilities, and enhancing the responsiveness of the agricultural sector to forecasts of production and food crises," concludes the report.

However, few efforts are currently underway to address the anticipated impacts of climate change in Southern Africa. "Very few governments, particularly in the South, are prepared to mainstream climate change issues in development processes," said Dr. Machena, who is director of the Africa Resources Trust.

And yet the impact of climate on the poor is a serious concern. "Rural people in less-developed countries are more dependent on local resources, so when land is degraded or access is cut off, those people are particularly hard hit," said Dr. Peter Veit, the World Resources Institute's regional director for Africa.

The Africa Resources Trust has called on Southern African governments to take steps now that will help people cope with hotter, drier weather, coastal storm surges, and other anticipated effects of climate change. Dr. Machena has proposed that countries invest in drought-resistant crops and promote forestation projects around farmlands, which would protect watersheds and create belts of vegetation to link up national parks and other habitats threatened by climate change.

A report recently published in the journal Nature concludes that if no action is taken to address global warming, climate shifts could soon surpass habitat loss and other threats to wildlife and plants. The study, which examined six biodiversity-rich regions around the world representing 20 percent of the Earth's land area, projects that the consequences could be significant for Africa.

Important African conservation areas, such as Kruger National Park, could risk losing up to 60 percent of their species. More than one-third of the 300 plant species studied in South Africa are expected to die out, including the country's national flower, the King Protea.

Using the current distributions of 1,103 plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, butterflies and other invertebrates, the scientists developed computer models to simulate the ways species' ranges are expected to move in response to changing temperatures and climatic conditions.

The study found that 15 to 37 percent of species sampled could be threatened with extinction by 2050 as a result of their inability to adapt to changes in climate. "If the projections can be extrapolated globally, and to other groups of land animals and plants, our analyses suggest that well over a million species could be threatened with extinction as a result of climate change," said lead author Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. (WRI Features)


--30--

By Emmanuel Koro, a contributor to WRI Features (features@wri.org)




For more information, contact:

Adlai J. Amor
Media Director
World Resources Institute
10 G. Street, NE
Washington, DC 22203
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SABC

Leon urges govt to help SA 'mercenaries'

March 21, 2004, 17:25

Tony Leon, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), has asked government to intervene to help South Africans arrested in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe. He was speaking during a Human Rights Day election rally in Bushbuckridge, Limpopo province.

Leon said all those arrested in an alleged plot to overthrow the Equatorial Guinea government should be treated in a humane way. Seventy alleged mercenaries are being held in Zimbabwe and 15 in Equatorial Guinea. Zimbabwe is determined to have 70 suspected mercenaries tried in a top-security prison where they are detained, but the trial would be open to the public, the country's chief prosecutor said yesterday.

The men held filed an urgent court application on Friday to have their case heard in an open formal court, but the appeal is still to be considered. - Additional reporting Reuters

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Sunday Indep
Figures show massive increase in brain drain

March 21 2004 at 10:42AM
Sunday Independent

By Edwin Naidu

The number of skilled professionals leaving the country went up by 62 percent last year, according to a report by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

Doctors, engineers, accountants, teachers and managers joined the exodus of skilled South Africans working abroad in 2003. Last year, according to Stats SA, 4 316 people emigrated, compared with 2 689 in 2002. In December, 934 professionals left the country for greener pastures while 508 settled in South Africa, the majority from Nigeria, Britain, China, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The report released earlier this month said South Africans leaving the country in December headed to Britain, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Namibia.

Anton Lourens, the secretary-general of the Public Servants Association, said the figures were disturbing as they showed that South Africans from a variety of professions were leaving the country in large numbers. "People are leaving because there is a perception that we have a high crime rate and professionals know that they can easily get jobs overseas," he said.

Left for overseas teaching jobs immediately after graduating
Lourens said it was of great concern when medical practitioners - who studied for a minimum of seven years and were often subsidised by the state - were allowed to go.

The report said 192 medical practitioners left in 2003, compared with 117 in 2002. It costs a minimum of R120 000 to train doctors over seven years.

Teachers have also left in droves to work in Britain and the US, with 666 leaving last year, compared with 410 in 2002; while 736 people in the accounting profession emigrated last year, up from 529 in 2002.

The department of labour said this week that skilled professionals in short supply included scientists and researchers, managers, accountants, engineers, medical practitioners and artisans.

Solidarity, the Pretoria-based trade union, said the country loses R800 million annually in lost tax contributions from people who had emigrated. Flip Buys, the union's spokesperson, said 11 000 people left the country in 1999, adding that figures were obtained from a study conducted by the University of South Africa's bureau of market research.

Sechaba Nkosi, the spokesperson for the South African Revenue Service, said the statistics were not based on anything substantive, and that they confused the loss to the gross domestic product with the loss to the tax base.

Rej Brijraj, the chief executive officer of the South African Council for Educators, said the council had no statistics on the number of teachers working overseas, but estimated that there were about 10 000.

Pieter Martins, the spokesperson for the South African Teachers Union, said advertisements were being placed in large numbers for teaching posts, and that many students left for overseas teaching jobs immediately after graduating.

The Democratic Nursing Association of South Africa and the South African Nursing Council could not provide details of members working abroad, although the latter confirmed it was requested by overseas hospitals to verify qualifications of nurses before they emigrated.

Phadi Lehohla, the statistician-general, said since 1999 the number of immigrants had been less than the number of emigrants and that the gap between the two was slowly closing.

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Scotland on Sunday
Old African enemies join hands

MEGAN LINDOW IN MOZAMBIQUE

IN A sign that southern African nations are burying their differences in the interests of enterprise and the environment, former enemies Mozambique and South Africa are joining forces to create the world’s largest wildlife conservation area.

This move will merge the Limpopo National Park with Kruger National Park across the border, and also take in the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.

There are landmines to clear, infrastructure to build and 6,000 people to resettle, but in coming years border fences will disappear from the 23,000-square-mile area, opening up swathes of land for animals to roam and offering visitors greater access to some of southern Africa’s most pristine wilderness.

This concept of creating parks and conservation areas that straddle national boundaries is gaining momentum across southern Africa, said Willem van Riet, chief executive officer of the Peace Parks Foundation, a South African organisation that is promoting the creation of 22 different transfrontier conservation areas on the continent.

The first peace park, the Kgalagai Transfrontier Park, shared by South Africa and Botswana, opened in May 2000. Eventually, the foundation even hopes to see such parks in war-torn countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa’s Kruger National Park draws two million visitors each year. But, until recently, impoverished Mozambique wasn’t featured on too many tourist itineraries.

Officials hope that will soon change thanks to the creation of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which is being funded by Germany, the US, South Africa and the World Bank.

However, while Mozambique and South Africa are both gearing up for the new park, political instability is slowing progress in Zimbabwe.

The greatest worry is that people who have illegally occupied land adjoining the park will kill off animals, and the country also has not been able to raise money to develop its side of the park.

A version of this article originally appeared in Christian Science Monitor

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Capitalist greed behind aborted coup in Africa

By Monica Moorehead

Zimbabwean officials have announced that they will bring legal charges against 67 mercenaries detained March 7 after a plane full of the professional killers and their high-tech equipment touched down at Harare International Airport.

The leaders of the mercenaries have admitted that they were flying from South Africa to a secret military base in Came roon, with the objective of kidnapping the president of nearby Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema. They intended to replace him with a leader of the Spanish-based opposition, Severo Moto Nsa. Equatorial Guinea is a former colony of Spain.

The mercenaries included South Africans, at least one of whom holds British citizenship, Angolans, Namibians, Congolese and one Zimbabwean, according to an official of the South African Foreign Ministry. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on March 16 that "all were reportedly carrying South African passports, and are said to be ex-South African military or police personnel."

Since the downfall of the apartheid regime, its former operatives have been a thorn in the side of the South African coalition government, dominated by Black representatives of the African National Congress. The South African government is reported to have tipped off Zimbabwe about the group's arrival. It says they will be tried in Zimbabwe, although South African law does allow for citizens arrested in another country to be transported back to South Africa.

Since these arrests, the big-business media have focused a lot of attention on the so-called corrupt nature of the Nguema government in Equatorial Guinea. But the United States, Britain, Spain and other imperialist governments have installed and supported many reactionary puppet regimes around the world.

Executive Outcomes, a British-based firm that provides mercenaries to private corporations, was an integral part of this ill-fated operation. According to the March 14 Sunday Herald of Harare, "The firm's latest planeload of mercenaries included many former personnel of the notorious 32 Buffalo Battalion of the South African special forces and Civil Cooperation Bureau, which was responsible for the deaths of several anti-apartheid activists."

It has been confirmed that U.S., British and Spanish intelligence agencies are the masterminds behind the aborted coup, on behalf of big-business interests. The British citizen arrested was Simon Mann, "an ex-Royal Scots Guard and troop commander with the British Special Air Services. He also has a lead role in Sandline International, a murky company with oil and mining interests, and ties to U.K. intelligence services. Sandline absorbed Executive Outcomes in 1998. Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi says Mr. Mann was offered $2.3 million and oil rights in Equatorial Guinea for the plot." (Globe and Mail, March 16)

Zimbabwe also target of imperialist destabilization

When these arrests first took place, there was justified suspicion that the United States and Britain were attempting to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from office. It is no secret that President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are close cohorts in their efforts to economically and politically destabilize Zimbabwe.

They hate President Mugabe because he has publicly sided with dispossessed Black farmers who are seeking to regain ownership of the arable lands stolen by white commercial farmers over many decades of racist colonialism.

Bush and Blair claim that Mugabe stole the presidential election in 2002 from opposition forces that the West supported both financially and politically. Observer teams from Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, however, stated that Mugabe won a majority of the votes fair and square.

Why were the mercenaries targeting a small country like Equatorial Guinea? Certainly one reason is that the imperialist secret agencies felt they could take advantage of the geopolitical situation. But the motive lies in the greedy nature of imperialism.

Oil, oil and more oil

EG is one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. It was a colonial possession of Spain for 190 years until its formal independence in 1968. Its population is less than 500,000; life expectancy is 50 years for women and 48 for men. The average yearly income is $700. (World Bank, 2001)

EG's territory includes the island of Bioko off the coast of neighboring Cameroon. Its capital, Malabo, is located there. Large deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered off Bioko during the mid-1990s. As a result, EG has become the third-biggest producer of oil in Africa, after Nigeria and Angola.

The abundance of oil has meant very little for the people of EG. In fact, as in the rest of Africa, the minerals and wealth are being sucked out by Western multinational corporations headquartered in the large imperialist countries.

The theft of Africa's natural resources under colonialism and now neocolonialism--in which these countries' economies are controlled through debt and "structural adjustment" programs devised by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank--has kept this long-suffering continent from economic development and, along with it, true independence.

The biggest exploiters of EG's oil are all U.S. companies: ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco and the Houston-based Mara thon Oil. The United States buys 28 percent of the country's exports--mostly petroleum products. Spain buys 25 percent. (allAfrica.com, March 12)

The imperialists could not care less that the majority of the 600 million people on the African continent suffer from poverty, HIV/AIDS, civil wars and illiteracy. Any government corruption and mismanagement stem from having local economies undermined and destroyed by imperialist greed for profits.

Right now, the Pentagon is sending troops into all parts of Africa, especially the north and west, under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and "terrorism." In truth, the most important reason is to protect the economic domination of U.S. foreign capital against its rivals in Europe and Japan.

Whether through open colonialism or setting up neocolonial puppet states, today's imperialist powers got rich through the plunder and super-exploitation of Africa as well as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The masses in those developing countries need international, revolutionary solidarity from the workers in the imperialist centers, especially through the demand that the exploiters pay long-overdue reparations for their theft.

Reprinted from the March 25, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper
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The Herald

Caps Tragedy: Motorist in Court


Augustine Hwata
Harare

IT has since emerged that the accident that killed three CAPS United players and two supporters on Sunday morning involved another car.

Police in Harare on Wednesday arrested a man from Kuwadzana in connection with the tragic car crash which claimed the lives of three CAPS United players - Blessing Makunike, Shingirai Alron and Gary Mashoko - together with two supporters, Onismo Murinye and Gibson Hanyire.

The man was picked up by police following an anonymous tip-off and was yesterday brought to the Harare Magistrates* Courts where he was remanded out of custody until Thursday next week for trial.

He is facing five counts of culpable homicide.

Police spokesperson Andrew Phiri said the driver*s identity is being withheld for security reasons.

"It has since been established that another vehicle was involved in the accident and the Dustan Pulsar was proceeding to Norton with a driver and four passengers.

"We have arrested the driver and he will be charged with five counts of culpable homicide and he will also answer charges of driving without a driver*s licence, failing to stop, failing to render assistance and failing to report the accident.

"The other four will be brought as witnesses," said Phiri.

Mashoko and Alron were buried on Tuesday at Granville Cemetery, Makunike was laid to rest at Yeovil Cemetery in Mutare on Wednesday while Hanyire and Murinye were buried in Masvingo.

The accident is thought to have happened at around 1am on Sunday as the deceased were returning to the capital after a Premiership match against Sundowns at Luveve in Bulawayo.

According to sources, the arrested man was allegedly driving towards Norton, encroached into the right lane resulting in his vehicle hitting the car in which CAPS United players and fans were travelling in.

The Norton-bound Dustan car had its right side damaged and one of the windows shattered but it did not stop at the scene of the accident.

Police who are still gathering more evidence have since impounded the vehicle while the man has visible scars.

CAPS United president Twine Phiri yesterday said that the arrest of the alleged negligent driver had at least cleared the air on how the players and supporters* car could have crashed.

"As CAPS United, we are saying that the arrest will at least show that our boys were not to blame for the cause of the accident.

"The involvement of the other car some-what exonerates our players of having been involved in the accident alone and being drunk.

"No sort of punishment will be able to erase the grief we have suffered on losing the players and their death is irreplaceable," said Phiri.

"Now we want to see justice being done and the justice should come now while the memories of losing the players and fans are still fresh in the minds of their families and friends.

"We appeal to police to handle the matter very efficiently and effectively so that justice takes its proper course," added Phiri.

Phiri said it would be more painful for the families of the deceased to know that other people might have contributed to their death but at the same time better to know that the five are not totally to blame.

Taurai Mashoko, Gary*s father yesterday he was still grieving over his son but would want to see the justice take its course.

"It pains me to know that some other people were involved in a case of hit and run.

"No one is able to stop accidents if they are to happen but it hurts me to know that they did not even stop.

"If they had stopped maybe they could have helped by putting off the fire or opening the doors.

"But now everything is in the hands of the police," said Gary*s father.

Meanwhile CAPS United have expressed their appreciation to the help they received from companies and individuals during the funerals of their players.

"We offer our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to the support we got from everyone during the trying times," said Phiri.

Among the organisations which gave contributions for funerals expenses were Zifa who gave $1.5 million, PSL $750 000, Sporting Lions $500 000 to the Alron family, CAPS United Bulawayo chapter who gave $600 000 while Motor Action, Douglas Warriors and Munenzva provided with transport.

Ben Chiwondegwa gave $500 000, with Shepherd Bwanya, Tawanda Chitapi, Wellington Chando, Lisa Hlabangani among others giving $200 000 each while several other people also made contributions.

Raylton Sports Club provided the venue for the church service while the Sports Commission gave moral support.

A condolence book for the five accident victims will be opened at the club*s offices at the National Sports Stadium.

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The Globe and Mail
Madelaine Drohan
One man's guard, another man's mercenary



By MADELAINE DROHAN
From Monday's Globe and Mail

What do mercenaries do in their spare time? This is not an idle question. It goes to the heart of why the planeload of mystery men who are currently incarcerated in Zimbabwe should be of interest to Canadians.
For there is not always a war to fight or some unstable government willing and able to buy the services of trained fighters. Between engagements, as they say, your average soldier of fortune still has to pay the bills. And there are few jobs around, aside from being a mercenary, that require his particular set of skills.
Being a mine security guard comes close, however, particularly if the mine that needs securing is located in one of Africa's conflict zones. Only experienced fighters know how to safeguard stockpiles of diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper or coltan in the midst of civil war.
The oil industry has dealt with instability in Africa by moving its operations offshore wherever possible. Angola is a case in point. Most of the oil that is produced from what is officially Angolan territory never even touches shore. It is pumped from fields deep beneath the sea bed, put into waiting tankers and shipped to markets overseas.
But mining companies have to go where the minerals are located. Lured by Africa's vast potential, they have waded into conflict zones like Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and tried to minimize their risk by maximizing their security. Many of those companies are junior mining firms listed on Canadian stock exchanges and financed by Canadian investors.
Canadian firms raised $3-billion last year for mineral exploration around the world. Boosted by China's voracious demand, commodity prices are soaring. This has made companies look twice at opportunities that were previously considered too risky, because of government instability or war.
Mining companies in Africa draw their security guards from the same pool that the private military firms — which is what mercenary groups like to call themselves these days — draw their fighters: soldiers who lost their jobs when the apartheid regime in South Africa made way for a black, democratic government. Once the South African government stopped destabilizing its neighbours and suppressing its own black majority, the soldiers too closely associated with this work were let go. Neighbouring countries no longer facing a threat from South Africa were also able to slim down their armies.
These are the unemployed soldiers who went looking for other work and found it as mercenaries, security guards, or both.
This is not to say that every Canadian mining firm active in Africa is employing a security force staffed with former and perhaps future mercenaries. There is enough crossover between the two groups, however, to warrant the observation that the mining sector is, perhaps inadvertently, supporting the mercenary sector by providing work for former soldiers when fighting contracts dry up.
Which brings us to the 70 men arrested earlier this month when their plane stopped in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare. They claim they are mine security guards. The Zimbabwean government says they are mercenaries intent on overthrowing the government in Equatorial Guinea. They may well be both.
Simon Mann, the former British military officer who is reported to be among those arrested, provided security for an investment tour I went on in 1998 to the Angolan mine owned by then-Canadian company DiamondWorks Ltd. Earlier, he had worked closely with Executive Outcomes, the most notorious of the South African mercenary groups, when they were called in to retake an oil-storage depot seized by rebels during the Angolan civil war.
Tim Spicer, the former head of Sandline International, a British mercenary firm, told a British House of Commons inquiry that he intended to import night-vision goggles for a mission he was planning in Sierra Leone, sending them to a mining firm in order to avoid scrutiny.
The murky connections between mercenary groups and mining security forces have gone largely unexamined by governments, companies and investors. Most investors are only too pleased to hear that their company's operations are well protected, and don't question who is providing that security. Mining firms argue that it is not their business to vet the staff of subcontractors. Governments don't particularly want to get involved.
It's only when a planeload of former soldiers is seized that the issue gets fleeting attention. Even then, the event is dismissed as the type of craziness that can only take place in Africa, with absolutely no relevance to Canada.
Yet Canadian mining firms in Africa have a stake in ensuring that their security forces are seen to be above board and not just teams of moonlighting mercenaries. Investors should demand that they do. Until that happens across the industry, one mine's security force will continue to be seen as another man's private army.
Madelaine Drohan is the author of Making a Killing: How and Why Corporations Use Armed Force to do Business.
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Mail & Guardian
Zimbabwe to 'tighten' election laws
22 March 2004 12:51
The Zimbabwe government plans to tighten electoral laws ahead of next year's parliamentary polls, the state-run Herald newspaper reported Monday.

The proposed amendments to the Electoral Act, which include giving the state control over voter education, are contained in a bill published last week and due to be debated in parliament, the Herald reported.

The announcement comes at a time when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has threatened to boycott next year's polls unless certain conditions, including an independent electoral commission, are met.

According to the Herald, the proposed amendments include banning foreign donations towards voter education unless they are made through the state-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC).

"The bill allows the minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs to assign any person in the employment of the state to perform secretarial and administrative functions for the commission," the paper added.

According to the Herald the bill also seeks to make political graffiti in public places an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to five years.

The opposition, which won 57 out of 120 contested seats in parliamentary elections in 2000, claims President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF stole victory from it through violence and intimidation.

It has demanded that more than a dozen conditions be met before it is willing to participate in next year's elections, including that the poll be held in accordance with standards set for the region, and the repeal of strict press and security laws. - Sapa-AFP
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Burst Sewers Clog City's Maintenance Budget



The Herald (Harare)

March 22, 2004
Posted to the web March 22, 2004

Harare

PERSISTENT sewer bursts in Harare are forcing the city authorities to
destroy sewer pipes to clear blockages, increasing the city's sewage
maintenance bill.

The chief engineer of sewerage works, Mr Mabhena Moyo, said council was in
most cases forced to destroy the existing pipes in order to clear the sewer
systems of objects.

The disclosure came in the wake of a recent clearing of sewer pipes in
Highfield from which mounds of sand, kitchen utensils and various clothing
items were removed.

Mr Moyo said engineers use rods to clear the objects but residents were
off-loading heavy objects into the sewer system, objects which break the
rods.

"Taking out the objects takes a long time, at times it takes one to three
days," he said.

He said they receive up to 20 reports of blockages in Highfield per day.

Council has often been accused by residents of failing to respond in time to
reports of sewer bursts.

Harare public relations manager Mr Lesley Gwindi said it took longer to
respond to burst pipes because of the high number of the bursts.

He said residents should play their part in ensuring that the sewer pipes
were not blocked by sand and clothing items.

Vandalism of sewerage manholes was also cited as a reason for the bursts.

"Council has now resorted to the use of concrete instead of iron cast covers
because thieves are stealing them," said Mr Gwindi.

Waste that comes from the sewer system goes into water bodies that supply
the city making it necessary to use more water treatment chemicals.

He said workers at water treatment complexes remove 30 to 40 tonnes of sand
and other objects every day.

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Utilise Land for Self-Sustenance: Hungwe



The Herald (Harare)

March 22, 2004
Posted to the web March 22, 2004

Harare

FARMERS should work hard for the country to enjoy the gains of the land
reform programme, Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU) president Mr Silas Hungwe
has said.

He was speaking last Thursday at a field day organised by the Zimbabwe
Fertiliser Company (ZFC) at Mukodzonge Village in Chiweshe.

Mr Hungwe said farmers were the backbone of the economy and should utilise
the land for self-sustenance.

"We have to be thankful to the Government for reclaiming the land from
colonial masters and, as farmers, we should ensure the country has enough
food so that nobody goes to bed with an empty stomach," he said.

He said the Government was going an extra mile to adequately supply farmers
with inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and farming equipment at affordable
prices.

At the field day, Mr Khama Mukau was honoured for being the best burley
tobacco grower this farming season.

"I feel proud to have been recognised by ZFC for my efforts and hope other
people would emulate," said Mr Mukau.

He said the Government should facilitate cheap access to finance and
agricultural equipment for small-scale farmers within their areas.

Small-scale farmers have complained that often they are denied access to
loans from banks on grounds of lack of collateral.

Speaking at the same occasion, ZFU vice-president Mr Wilfanos Mashingaidze
said the Government was willing to assist farmers but in many instances the
farmers themselves were disorganised and did not co-operate with the
authorities.

He said the Government introduced the Tobacco Growers' Trust (TGT) to which
farmers can apply for finance.

The trust oversees the growing of tobacco by small-scale farmers in the
country, empowering them with information on producing the crop.

It also helps farmers get farming resources from depots in their areas
instead of sourcing them from distant places.

Mr Mashingaidze took a swipe at people who apply for loans from agricultural
banks and finance houses as farmers only to channel the funds to other
purposes.

"These people are a let-down to the nation and discredit genuine farmers
with the potential to do well. They should be reminded that the land is back
forever and there is no going back," he said.

He said there were loop-holes in the distribution of agricultural grants
from the Government.

Farmers also expressed dissatisfaction over the tobacco prices at the
market, saying they were low and discouraged many from venturing into
tobacco farming.

"We are not pleased by the money we get at the tobacco auction floors and we
get demoralised to cultivate the crop as we get little at the end," said Mr
Shepherd Mutsvedzi.

However, Mr Mashingaidze said the Government had made a provision that
tobacco buyers could now buy direct from farmers in a move that is going to
reduce transport costs.
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Zim, Mozambique Trade Set to Increase



The Herald (Harare)

March 22, 2004
Posted to the web March 22, 2004

Alfred Chagonda
Harare

IT used to be a pastime for some, but cross border trading has since become
the livelihood of thousands of Zimbabweans who were retrenched or failed to
get formal employment.

At a time when formal employment has become scarce, thousands of youths have
ventured into informal trading that was now estimated to be sustaining
thousands of families.

Previously women were the most notable cross border trading.

They were generating millions of dollars in foreign currency from their
regional and international ventures annually.

Mrs Maria Chihota of Msasa in Harare said through learning what other people
were doing over a period of time, she had now joined the informal trading
and since last year, she has never looked back.

"It needs hard work and determination but it is worth the sweat," said Mrs
Chihota, a single mother with four teenage children.

She said the informal sector became her only salvation after the death of
her husband, who used to the family's breadwinner, in a bus accident four
years ago.

While others are forced by circumstances beyond their control to engage in
cross border trading, there are others who have voluntarily left their lowly
paid jobs to try their lucky in the venture.

"I am proud of what I have achieved so far despite the fact that I have been
in this business for just two years," said Mr Lazarus Nyamukapa of Glen-View
high-density suburb.

Mr Nyamukapa said he only got to know that cross border trading pays and it
was contributing immensely to the economy of the country after his neighbour
bought a second hand commuter omnibus from the proceeds of this trade.

"If you know what to sell at which parts of the country you will be trading
in, you can make money and live a normal life.

"I now specialise in selling things like tea bags, margarine, butter and
others that are on demand in Mozambique and when I come back, I bring some
rice for sale," said Mr Nyamukapa, showing off his fancy mobile phone,
designer jeans, and branded sports shoes.

Other cross border traders expressed concern that the business had been
adversely affected by stringent conditions imposed by the Department of
Immigration and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).

"We are sometimes asked to carry just a few quantities of goods into
neighbouring countries, particularly Mozambique and it no-longer makes sense
to get a profit that is less than the cost of a visa and transport," said Mr
Wilbert Bepura (26), also a cross border trader.

He said it was high time governments of neighbouring countries waived visa
requirements to facilitate the smooth movement of traders between countries.

Mr Bepura said because of the need to maximise profits in the cross border
business, most people were now tempted to jump the border illegally,
carrying foodstuffs for re-sale in Mozambique where there was a ready
market.

Other experienced traders had now spread their wings to as far away
countries as Angola where business was reportedly brisk.

"The Angolans like almost anything from Zimbabwe and cross border trading is
making us earn enough money to live," said one middle-aged man interviewed
as he was waiting to pay for his visa at the Angolan embassy.

Trade between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in particular where most cross border
traders flocked to, is poised to grow following the recent signing of a
bi-lateral preferential trade agreement between the two countries in January
this year.

The signing of the agreement that was long overdue, came after almost 10
years of discussions and ironing out of legal modalities, which had
negatively impacted on the ability of business people to continue trading
between the two countries.

The signing of the agreement marks the beginning of a zero tariff agreement,
making the buying and selling of goods much easier.

To complement the signing of the trade agreement, the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce opened a link office in Chimoio, Mozambique to offer
legal services, match making and joint venture facilitation, consultancy
services and the organisation of business and appointments for local and
Mozambican business people.

Some traders were also flocking to Namibia capitalising on the
Zimbabwe/Namibia Preferential Trade Agreement, which allows traders from
either country to do business for up to three months.

The main products that were imported by Namibia from Zimbabwe were
agricultural products, building materials, mining equipment, pharmaceuticals
and textile products.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe imports mainly fish products, beverages and salt
from Namibia.

Trade between the two countries has grown from a paltry $10 million in 1992
to more than $600 million in 2001.
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Mail and Guardian

      'Mbeki has become Mugabe's best friend'




            22 March 2004 13:41


      Human rights are not fundamental for President Thabo Mbeki, but
flexible depending on the political interests and allegiances of the ANC,
says Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon.

      In a Human Rights Day speech prepared for delivery in Bushbuckridge,
Limpopo, the DA leader launched a sustained attack on Mbeki, saying "again
and again" Mbeki "sides with oppressors like Saddam Hussein and Mugabe
against their people".

      Last month, according to Leon, Parade magazine in the United States
published a list of "The World's Ten Worst Dictators".

      Two of these were Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (number four on the list),
and King Mswati III of Swaziland (number ten). The ANC had on occasion,
spoken out against abuses of human rights and democracy in Swaziland. But it
refused to do so with Zimbabwe.

      "In fact, President Mbeki has become Robert Mugabe's best friend, his
foremost ally, and his strongest defender. For President Mbeki, human rights
are not fundamental. They are flexible, depending on the political interests
and allegiances of the ANC," Leon said.

      Two other dictators on this list, according to Leon, were Fidel Castro
of Cuba and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea -- "both of whom are
good friends of the ANC and its leaders".

      The ANC had said nothing about gross abuses of human rights in these
countries, nor about the rights abuses of former Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

      "The ANC government picks and chooses which human rights abuses it
condemns and which it condones, depending on its ideology and political
interests. Again and again, President Mbeki sides with oppressors like
Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe against their people."

      At home the government had failed to honour some of the rights
enshrined in the Constitution, Leon said. He visited the town of Bochum two
weeks ago and observed that at the Desmod Park Housing Project there were
"no houses at all".

      "There is only a pile of bricks, cement, door frames, toilet pans and
roof sheets. The government delivered the materials but did not bother to
build anything with them. They are just lying there, a year later, on the
ground. Already the cement has been ruined by the rain," he complained.

      Meanwhile, the people of the community were still living in shacks.

      "They are still waiting for the government to build the houses that it
promised them. They are still waiting for their constitutional right to
housing to be fulfilled."

      This, Leon said, was the story of human rights in South Africa.

      "The building materials are there, in the pages of our Constitution.
But the houses have not yet been built. We have rights on paper, but not in
practice."

      He cited Cambridge township in East London where people lived in
"poverty and squalor" and Bushbuckridge where people were still waiting to
receive the houses they were promised and where 10 000 jobs had been lost
between 1996 and 2001, as further examples of how the socioeconomic rights
of the people had not been fulfilled.

      Last month, said Leon, the SA Human Rights Commission inspected the
Tintswalo hospital, which served almost one million people in the region.

      The Human Rights Commissioners found the conditions at the hospital to
be "shocking".

      "It is because of the neglect and mismanagement of the ANC government
that Tintswalo hospital does not have the proper staff and facilities that
it needs," Leon declared.

      Turning to crime, Leon said the ANC government had clearly failed to
protect the rights of ordinary people and victims of crime. The government
had also admitted it had "lost" R15-billion over the past decade meant to be
spent on social development.

      "The state simply lacks the capacity to uphold the socioeconomic
rights of the people. We cannot let the bricks of Bochum lie in the sun and
rot in the rain. We cannot let the people of Bushbuckridge wait another
decade to see a real change in their lives."

      Leon concluded with his party's election slogan: "We must act today.
We must vote DA. Because South Africa deserves better." - Sapa
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Sent: Monday, March 22, 2004 10:59 PM
Subject: you just cant keep a good woman down


An open letter to friends and fellow activists,

For the second year running I spent International Women's Day, 8th March in
Police custody! Fortunately last year it was just a few hours before sanity
prevailed and myself and the 18 other women were released. This year I was
arrested on the eve and only made $ 10000 bail on the 9th March after
spending over 48 hours in terrible conditions in Police cells. This was my
eighth arrest and brings my tally to over 160 hours in Police custody since
February 14, 2003. I am not ashamed at all and regard these hours as and
investment in my future well being as a Zimbabwean. I find solace in the
words of Ghandi "the real road to happiness lies in going to jail and
undergoing suffering and privations there in the interest of one's country
and religion".

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) was born as a national movement on that
Valentines Day 2003. Over 78 of us were arrested in Harare and Bulawayo.
That was my first arrest and I was honoured to be one of 48 women, 6
journalists and my teenage son who was watching the march from across the
road. On that day I was charged under the repressive Public Order & Security
Act (POSA) but was freed after signing a warn and cautioned statement. My
WOZA sisters back home in Bulawayo fared worse and spent the night in
custody and were only released under the pressure of our daybreak vigil
outside the Police station. On Valentines Day we had marched in defiance of
POSA calling on our brother and sisters to learn to love again and felt that
we had a God given right to deliver this message to Zimbabweans who had
seemingly forgotten how to love each other in all the chaos.

I am a founding member of WOZA, a civil disobedience movement for Zimbabwean
community women who need to speak out and act to expose the current
suffering they and their families are undergo as political leaders posture
for power forgetting completely the people they should serve. We speak out
and demonstrate peacefully, Ghandi and Martin Luther King style, despite
POSA, Police and Politicians. I regard POSA as an attempt to stifle the
nation of Gods gift of speech and human association. Martin Luther King, Jnr
said "One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and
who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the
conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the
highest respect for the law". That is why I and members of WOZA continue to
march to demonstrate what we think of POSA.

I write this letter having spent the last 3 days in retreat and fasting to
meditate on developments and strengthen my commitment the cause. I reflected
long and hard on many issues, including my apparent notoriety due mainly to
my street activism. Last year, I had been asked to speak at a local meeting.
I was advised that Police clearance had been sought under POSA, but Police
had declined to allow the event if  "Jenni Williams" was one of the
speakers. A local state newspaper had advised the "Jenni Williams" name
could not be used in an advert. I was told that the offices of the
organisation had been visited to search for me. Sadly, since that time I
have received no further invitations to speak at this organisations events
and whenever I meet the people associated, they recount their amazement at
the Police reaction. Just this week someone elaborated further and told me
that the Police called me a "Forbidden Person".

On the 7th March, WOZA was attending a National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) meeting whose agenda was elections for the Matabeleland officials.
WOZA had elected to join NCA' s call for a new constitution and therefore
attendance at this meeting was vital. Despite a caution from the MC that
WOZA was not to 'disturb' his meeting, WOZA was graciously given a platform
to read its position statement out and did so. We had already visited the
NCA and advised them of our activity for 8th March and requested their
support and endorsement. Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a brave champion of
constitution reform and NCA Chairman addressed the meeting and gave a no
holes barred call for activists to get out into the streets and be prepared
to "die for a new constitution". I admired his courage in delivering his
speech candidly to an audience with at least 4 state intelligence agents
present. He has only just recovered from wounds inflicted by brutal Police
who were prepared to "leave him for dead". During that meeting, one of my
colleagues arrived and informed me that she had been followed from home by a
plain-clothes intelligence agent. Two Riot Police men in their full riot kit
were seen patrolling around and the MC announced their presence. It became
apparent that the state agents in the meeting had been detailed to arrest my
colleagues and myself before we left. We marveled at this intelligence as we
thought they had come to arrest Lovemore.

Perhaps we should have taken the tip off more seriously in light of our
planned protest march the next day but we are in God hands. We were fully
prepared to be arrested in 'action' on International Women's Day, but not
then. We decided to make an early exit and asked for some activist friends
to escort us to the car. Three agreed to come with us but unfortunately as
we reversed out of the parking, 2 Riot Policemen stopped us saying "Our boss
wanted to speak to you at Bulawayo Central Police". Lawyers were contacted
and we played for time fully expecting 'our comrades' in the meeting to come
out and support us. Our friends who had escorted us informed us not to
expect support as the meeting continued on undisturbed. Although Lovemore
did do his best to get us lawyers. We eventually accepted our fate and
followed the WOZA tradition of walking ourselves, under Police escort to
jail.

We were initially charged with distributing our newsletter WOZA MOYA (come
Holy Spirit), calling for a new constitution and Valentine Cards, which
carry the message: Our beloved Zimbabwe is crying. We must defend our right
to love, and let love overcome hate." On arrival at Police Central, we did
not see 'the boss'. We spent over an hour being verbally abused by
Policemen. Our lawyer finally arrived and was advised that it was a Sunday
and she should only make representations for us on Monday. My two
colleagues, Magodonga Mahlangu and Patricia Khanye had never been arrested
before and could not believe the flimsy charges. As we were led to the jail
cell we knew in our hearts that those policemen were just out to suppress
women's voices on their special day.

All three of us feel frustrated at the lack of active support from the NCA
activists and as Patricia told them - "one day it could be you and what
would you want us to do." Not one came to visit us or bring us food in jail
and not one of them came in solidarity to the court hearing.

I must mention another frustration in that, despite all these arrests, not
one cleric has visited us or thought to bring us a cup of tea. Many of those
that meet me in the streets bemoan that the situation is tough but do little
else. Martin Luther King Jr wrote of the clerics of his time by saying, "How
often the Church has had a high blood count of creeds and an anemia of
deeds." I must however give thanks to one pastor who has given me hope. He
performed the prayer service in Harare before the march and remained as
observer throughout the march, praying and giving the WOZA women courage.

We shared our jail cell with 3 illegal foreign currency dealers
(moneychangers) and other youngsters on various charges. At 4am, 5
prostitutes joined us bringing our total to 15 women. The first night we
sang in protest at the lack of blankets refusing to be silenced. We had a
jolly good time and built up a real sisterhood. It was great and my
colleagues admitted that they had been afraid of jail and that they now knew
it to be just fear of the unknown.

The next day, a businesswoman found herself in custody for suspected fraud.
She stood at the door, reluctant to come in. Then she sat on the cement
floor a distance from us. I got up to use the toilet, which is in view of
all cellmates. This shocked the newcomer into saying, "so you just wee and
we all watch", 'yes sister', I said and that broke the ice. Within 20
minutes she was singing and dancing with us, her woes and the filth
surrounding us forgotten. Again we protested through song to the Policemen
for blankets and water to drink. We were denied both. Some moneychangers in
the next cell formed a chorus with us. When we went out for headcounts which
happens frequently, other prisoners kept asking me (the only white skinned
person) what I had done and I replied that I am a women's rights activist
charged under POSA.

This time, there was less abusive intimidation towards me personally by
uniformed Police managing the cells. In previous times they have pointedly
engaged me abusively and tried to intimidate me. From the first arrest of
WOZA activists, we have accepted an additional task and phase in our civil
disobedience and that is to engage every officer that we can. We call on
their common sense to prevail and for them to admit that times are hard and
we need to be allowed to speak out. We do this in a feminine and of late, I
have found myself having moments when I pity a police officer that starts to
provoke one of us. He gets it thick from at least 5 women, in concert and
with high-pitched voices. I feel that this could be one of the reasons the
Police sought to arrest a few of us beforehand as they know in the demo they
will have to arrest over 20 women and then labour to process us all. They
apparently don't like working late and being harangued.

On the Monday morning, as International Women's Day dawned we said a prayer
for WOZA and especially the secondary leadership painstakingly trained for
such a test. Police had hoped that our arrest would halt planned
demonstrations by holding the leadership as 'hostages' in jail. We got
quieter and prayed harder as the appointed times of the protest approached.
Our silent prayer was that our arrest would not be in vain. We were prepared
to face any charges and even spend a month in jail, if only the WOZA women
continued their march. And March they did, all though Bulawayo, passing a
block from the Police Station. In Harare too, women
Marched and marched. No arrests or intimidation from Police. Our prayers
were answered.
The Police had tried to disable WOZA by arresting the leadership, but women
amply demonstrated that WOZA is theirs and the issues are theirs. And so
that International Women's Day afternoon Police began processing new
charges - from distributing leaflets to encompass the demonstrations under a
POSA section. The next day they failed to charge us under POSA and had to
take us to court on lesser charges. These were, "Contravening Section 360
(2) (b) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act as read with Section 7
(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act. The essence of the charge: Inciting
other people to demonstrate and cause a public disorder and/or disturbance
and/or nuisance. We posted bail and were remanded to this Tuesday, 23 March
2004 when our lawyers hope to get the charged dropped completely. I must say
that I would much rather go to jail than pay a fine admitting to a guilt I
do not feel.

I pay tribute to the organisations that stand alongside us as we perform
this fight for freedom and conduct our form of national service. These
include the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Crisis Coalition who
called for our release. Thank you also to international friends for their
emails of support and care packages sent to us. We urge Women's Coalition to
stand alongside us as we fight for an amplified women's voice within this
current crisis. Their official 'silence' when WOZA women are arrested on
flimsy charges is deafening! As an individual I call on fellow activists to
not be scared away by state propaganda. By now all activists should know
that the state would work day and night to create disunity. Stand alongside,
support in anyway you can, without fear, any activist fighting for democracy
and freedom. God himself will fortify you as he has always done throughout
history when common citizens stand up for their God given rights.

United we stand, divided we fall. After all it is not just Jenni Williams,
Patricia Khanye and Magodonga Mahlangu that were incarcerated, we were
symbolic hostages for 54 percent of the
population of Zimbabwean women crying to end the suffering and calling for
their human rights to be upheld. Most of all, we called for love to overcome
hate and dignity on International Women's Day. We must develop a culture
wherein we cherish our champions. Will you attend the WOZA court hearing on
23 March? Will you bring us a cup of tea when we are imprisoned?

If you do, you will have understood that this is OUR collective struggle and
together we will win freedom and equality but we must be prepared to endure
suffering. Freedom does not come easy. We have to fight (albeit passively),
for the right to be free!

Jenni Williams
Bulawayo
Sunday 21 March 2004
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ZIMBABWE: Increase in malnourished children at clinics

JOHANNESBURG, 22 March (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's economic crisis has seen
deepening vulnerability in urban areas and an increase in the number of
malnourished children attending clinics in the two largest urban centres.

In its latest situation report the World Food Programme (WFP) noted that
"there is an increased need for assistance for malnourished children under
the age of five in the cities of Harare [the capital] and Bulawayo [the
second city], as evidenced by an increased turnout at clinics".

WFP spokeswoman Makena Walker told IRIN on Monday that "the economic
downturn in Zimbabwe has had a severe impact in urban areas".

"When household incomes fall, one of the strategies to cope is cutting down
on meals and changing the kind of food a household will eat. [That results]
generally in a less than standard diet, which is what is affecting these
children under five," Walker said.

A recent urban vulnerability assessment showed the impact of the current
food crisis, coupled with the country's sharp economic decline, on urban
dwellers.

"Before [the assessment] we were estimating there were 1 million needy
people in urban areas. The assessment quantified the number of people,
stating that there were 2.5 million," Walker noted.

The increase in the number of malnourished children attending clinics in the
two major cities "shows the great impact [the economic decline] has had in
urban areas, as the most vulnerable people, when there is a crisis, are of
course children and women".

WFP and its implementing partners are working with 40 clinics to prevent a
deterioration in the condition of malnourished children between the ages of
six months and six years. "Over 80,000 children received food aid under the
programme during February," the aid agency said.

Walker added that the programme has been running for a year now. "It started
as a pilot programme in Harare and then extended to Bulawayo and covers most
of the clinics in the cities. WFP is working with the NGO, Help Germany, and
the children are referred to this programme through the clinics once they
are registered as 'growth faltering'," she explained.

WFP was also implementing school feeding programmes in primary schools in
selected high-density suburbs.

[ENDS]

IRIN-SA
Tel: +27 11 880-4633
Fax: +27 11 447-5472
Email: IRIN-SA@irin.org.za

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004
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