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Mbeki confident of solution to Zimbabwe crisis

Reuters

Thu 22 Nov 2007, 18:38 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki said on Thursday he
was "very confident" that mediation efforts between Zimbabwe's government
and the opposition would produce a solution to the country's political
crisis.

Analysts and Western diplomats have cast doubt on Mbeki's chances of success
in breaking the deadlock between the ruling ZANU-PF of Zimbabwe's President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after
regional leaders appointed Mbeki as mediator earlier this year.

But an upbeat Mbeki, who has been criticised for being too soft on Mugabe's
embattled government, said he was optimistic of a positive outcome.

"They (the talks) have gone very well. I came to Harare today to see the
president and the leadership of the MDC so we can reflect on where we are
and to report to them as facilitator how the talks have gone," Mbeki said
after meeting the two sides.

Mbeki was asked to mediate between the MDC and ZANU-PF ahead of elections
next year.

The MDC has accused Mugabe's government of rigging past elections and called
for democratic reforms before the 2008 poll. The party has threatened to
boycott the vote if those demands are not met.

The MDC has alleged that authorities have stepped up a campaign of
repression as a means of stifling the opposition in the run-up to the
election.

After meeting Mbeki, Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main faction of
the MDC, told reporters the meeting was "very good" and said his party was
optimistic the talks could end the country's political crisis.

"There's a chance that the Zimbabwe crisis might be resolved through this
dialogue," Biti said.

"We remain fully committed despite the process's challenges and its
slowness. As a party we believe he (Mbeki) is an honest broker and a genuine
African with genuine concern about the suffering of Africans."

Biti said the MDC had raised its concerns about political violence against
its members with Mbeki.

But Mugabe dismissed charges of a government crackdown on the opposition at
a briefing with Mbeki.

"It's the usual accusation which the MDC makes. It is one basis they have
for raising allegations against us and informing their friends, whoever they
are," he told reporters after a meeting that lasted about an hour.

"I suppose he wanted to inform his friends that these are some of the
matters they (the MDC) are talking about during the dialogue process. I
wonder if he also raised the matter of the violence in his party."

The political stand-off has coincided with a devastating economic crisis
seen in inflation of over 8,000 percent and severe shortages of food and
fuel -- a situation critics blame on government mismanagement.

Mugabe, however, accuses the West of conspiring to ruin his government as
revenge for Zimbabwe's seizure of white-owned farms.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Giles Elgood)


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Friction Rises in Zimbabwe Opposition Faction Led by Morgan Tsvangirai

VOA

      By Peta Thornycroft
      22 November 2007

The political future of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's divided
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is facing challenges. As Peta
Thornycroft reports for VOA, many of his closest associates are openly
expressing dismay with his leadership.

Recent attacks on two journalists and two women, allegedly by young members
of Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, sparked a sudden outpouring of dismay from senior party leaders.

The criticism follows a dispute over the appointment of the leader of the
party's Women's Assembly and has spread through Tsvangirai's faction of the
divided party. Most of the legislators elected on an MDC ticket in 2005
oppose the appointment and some members of the Youth Wing have also
expressed dismay.

Violence among youth and others loyal to Tsvangirai has dogged the party
almost since its formation in late 1999 and was one of the main reasons the
party split into two factions two years ago.

Now many of those who stayed with Tsvangirai at that time are angry with
him. And some party insiders say this may negatively impact his role as the
opposition's candidate to take on President Robert Mugabe in presidential
elections due in March.

Last week Tsvangirai told VOA in a telephone interview, that he is not in a
fight for his political life and that the controversy is all "water under
the bridge". But party sources say Tsvangirai was holding meetings with
individual legislators to regain their support right up until his departure
for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda.

Party official Roy Bennett, who lives in Johannesburg, told VOA the party
dispute is not serious.

"There is no dissatisfaction among the members of MDC with Mr. Tsvangerai's
leadership," said Bennett. "We have just had, on Saturday, every single one
of our structures throughout the country had a meeting in the boardroom of
Harvest House [party headquarters]. Every one [of the structures] was
present, every one [of the structures] attended and there was absolute no
dissatisfaction among those members."

Talks to deliver an opposition co-operation pact before next year's
elections failed in May when the Tsvangirai faction rejected the proposal.

Analysts say the party dispute, one of many over Tsvangirai's leadership in
the past three years, is embarrassing, particularly as both factions are
engaged in negotiations with the ruling ZANU-PF. The talks are facilitated
by South African president Thabo Mbeki, on behalf of the Southern African
Development Community SADC.

While Mr. Mbeki has insisted on strict secrecy around the talks, some
information has reached the media and it seems significant progress has been
made, including an agreement on new electoral laws.

President Mbeki is in Harare meeting with President Mugabe and negotiators
from both sides. Opposition legislator Trudy Stephenson says Zimbabweans
have cause for celebration over the negotiations. She said the new laws give
Zimbabweans the framework for free and fair elections.

Previous election laws, analysts say, favored the ruling ZANU-PF party and
made it difficult for many opposition supporters to be registered or cast
their vote.

In 2000 the MDC, when it was only nine months old, made political history by
appealing to voters across tribal and racial lines and came within a whisker
of defeating ZANU-PF.


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Zimbabwe and the 2007 Commonwealth Forum


The issue of Zimbabwe was tabled in the final statement by representatives
from civil society organisations from across the Commonwealth meeting at the
2007 Commonwealth People's Forum in Kampala,Uganda. The statement, released
yesterday, 21.11.07, will be presented to the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads
of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Amongst other issues, civil society
representatives urged CHOGM to take action on Zimbabwe in terms of Article
B.3 (viii) of the Millbrook Plan of Action to promote the fundamental
political values of the Commonwealth as agreed in the Harare Declaration
whose full text can be found at
http://www.thecommonwealth.org/shared_asp_files/uploadedfiles/%7B65E0B6B1-A26B-4280-887F-D6F1310C7D78%7D_millbrook.pdf

Whilst the full text of yesterday's civil society statement can be found at:

http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/uploads/documents/Kampala%20Civil%20Society%20Statement%20final.pdf

Meanwhile, in Kigali, Rwanda, the 14th Session of the African Caribbean
Pacific - EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (ACP/EU JPA) has ended this
afternoon, 22.11.07. Zimbabwe was not on the formal agenda but members from
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum who attended noted that several references
to the situation in Zimbabwe were apparently made during the plenary sitting
and during the question session to both the EU Council and the Commission.
We will keep you updated on developments as they occur and as and when
relevant items appear on the web site which is:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/acp/10_01/default_en.htm

International Liaison Office
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
56-64 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4LT
Tel. +44-(0)20-7065 0945
Email:IntLO@hrforumzim.com


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Malawi faces grain shortages after giving Mugabe maize



By Henry Makiwa
22 November 2007

Malawi faces severe food shortages after the government of President Bingu
wa Mutharika gave thousands of tonnes of maize to the Mugabe regime, which
are yet to be paid for.

Our investigations reveal that maize has become scarce on the Malawian
market and where it can be found, prices have increased three-fold despite
last year's good crop yield. Last year Malawi declared a bumper harvest but
now people are angry with Mutharika for emptying the country's grain
reserves by giving the food to Zimbabwe.

But grain shortages have brought increases in maize prices. A 50 kilogram
bag of maize has shot up in price from 600 kwacha ($US 4) to
2 800 kwacha ($US 17) in the past two months.

Details of the maize deal are shrouded in secrecy, as Zimbabwe is not listed
on the debtors' records of the body responsible for grain provisions, the
Malawi National Food Reserves Agency. This is despite obvious evidence that
grain was exported to Zimbabwe.

The development has sown much public resentment for Mutharika, after further
revelations that he was secretly supplying fuel to Mugabe. The fuel deal has
reportedly led to severe diesel shortages in the midlands and northern parts
of Malawi. The price of fuel has also recently risen by 20% with subsequent
similar increases in public transport fares.
Most of Malawi's 11.9 million people earn less than $US 1 a day.

Public opinion is swelling against Mutharika, after revelations that oil
tankers destined for Malawi are being diverted to Zimbabwe in a top-level
deal between the two leaders. The arrangement is meant to provide a cushion
to Zimbabwe's acute fuel shortages. Mugabe's poor economic and political
policies have meant that the country faces serious food and fuel shortages.

Kamlepo Kalua of the Malawi Demcratic Party accused Mutharika of
jeopardising the welfare of his countryman in support of the tyrannical
dictatorship of Mugabe.

Kalua said: "If all the progressive forces of democracy in the world are
opposing Mugabe's corrupt governance, abuse of power and disregard of human
rights, what duty is it for a poor little country like Malawi to support
him.

"The people here are starving and suffering from fuel shortages because
their leader has taken it upon himself to aid a pariah state. We are
obviously angry especially because this is being done in secrecy without the
knowledge of parliament or the public at large, so the people need answers
from Mutharika."

Mutharika's late wife was Zimbabwean and the couple owned a farm in
Zimbabwe. A known ally of Mugabe, Mutharika launched an anti-corruption
drive when he came into power in 2004 but the opposition in Malawi now
accuse him of being as crooked as Bakili Muluzi and Kamuzu Banda before him.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Rights Activists Lobby for Zimbabwe



New Vision (Kampala)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 22 November 2007

Henry Mukasa
Kampala

HUMAN rights activists are lobbying the Commonwealth to continue
pressurising Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to stop political repression
even though he withdrew from the grouping.

Several participants at the Commonwealth Human Rights Forum in Kampala
argued that the Commonwealth should put pressure on Mugabe as it did on the
apartheid regime in South Africa.

The representatives of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Dewa Mavhinga
and Moyo Nokuthula, said Mugabe withdrew their country from the Commonwealth
without consulting the citizens.

The argued that the Commonwealth had an obligation to re-engage Zimbabwe in
accordance with the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration, where member
states pledged to protect and promote fundamental political values such as
democracy, human rights, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and a
just government.

They said the Commonwealth was also compelled by the Millbrook Commonwealth
Action Programme of 1995. "The Millbrook action programme provides that the
Commonwealth takes appropriate bilateral and multilateral measures to
reinforce the need for change in the event that a government leaves the
Commonwealth and persists in violating Commonwealth principles," Nokuthula
said.

"The Commonwealth cannot turn its back on Zimbabwe as this sets a wrong
signal to potential dictators within the Commonwealth that withdrawal of
membership from the Commonwealth grants them liberty to violate fundamental
human rights with impunity," the activists said in a statement.

Gambia was also in the limelight following the disappearance and
extra-judicial killing of over 50 people on July 23, 2005.

Forty Ghanaians, 10 Nigerians, two Senegalese, one Togolese and one Ivorian
were attempting to go to Europe when they were intercepted by Gambian
security off the cost.

"They were arrested upon a false belief that they were insurgents plotting a
coup against the government," the Human Rights Defenders from West Africa,
who have formed a Gambia Task force, said in a statement.

The emigrants were allegedly taken to the naval base from where eight were
taken to a killing site in Siffoe. The task force wants the Commonwealth to
pressurise President Yahya Jammeh to account for "this injustice and take
responsibility" or face suspension.


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Zimbabwe after Mugabe?

Africa News, Netherlands

  Posted on Thursday 22 November 2007 - 14:06

  Jaco Roets

  Currently it is almost impossible to think of Zimbabwe without thinking of
its leader of 27 years, Robert Mugabe. For many he remains a great hero, a
freedom fighter, the face of Zimbabwe' s liberation. For others he
represents 27 years of increasingly dictatorial rule. 27 years of
diminishing rights and freedoms. 27 years of human rights abuses, of
silencing the opposition.

  For many Zimbabwe today is nothing more than a 27 year one-man show.
Robert Mugabe is 83 (at the time of writing).  What will be his legacy?  And
most importantly, what will change as when he goes?

  Citizens or children?

  Robert Mugabe, as the main voice behind the long struggle for liberation,
possibly had reason to believe that he spoke on behalf of those he
liberated - his 'children.'  Governments believe that they are able to act
in such a way as to bring relative prosperity to the majority of their
population.  But as soon as governments fail to understand the concept of
citizenship, their understanding of the public good becomes murky as well.

  Peter Ekeh (2004:36) reminds us that democratic states should treat
individuals as citizens who own the state [1] .  For Mugabe this would have
meant handing over the state for which he fought.  Instead, he chose an
easier option: treating his citizens like children.  Children do not have
the same privileges as citizens.  Children should be seen, and not heard.
Children do not know what is good for them, and should be grateful that
older, wiser parents are leading them.

  Citizens, on the other hand, have the right to play a role in government.
Citizens have different opinions, they debate, they demand and they
disagree. This is because, having chosen their representatives, they feel a
sense of ownership.   True democracy can make leaders uncomfortable and it
takes a most dedicated leader to remain focused on what is best for the
nation in the midst of the cacophony of different opinions and demands.
However, the debate also urges them to rethink policies.  It reminds them
that they are inadequate in many ways.  It is a sober reminder that despite
past credentials, a leader can be replaced at any time should he/she fail to
deliver on their promises.

  For Robert Mugabe and his cronies, different opinions and demands
expressed by the citizens of Zimbabwe have increasingly been viewed as
dissent.  Dissent that had to be stopped at all costs, in order to make sure
it did not spread.  The desire to control this perceived dissent has meant
that their influence had to be spread through the ranks of the security
forces, the courts, the media and the intelligence services.  For Mugabe the
most important thing is now to protect the rights and privileges of those
that support him - and dissenting citizens must pay the cost.

  As a result, Zimbabweans find themselves in a situation where it is
dangerous to disagree, to debate.  Communities are increasingly divided and
polarized. Anyone could be working against you, spying on you and relating
this back to security forces.  Distrust continues to spread through the
community halls, the workplace, the church, the home.  Where distrust
remains, it is impossible for the collective citizenry to own government.
It is easier for one man or group to own the people.

  What happens after Mugabe?

  There will be a large void after Mugabe goes.  The example of Saddam
Hussein is illustrative here. As a leader, he contained all the dissenting
voices within Iraq using brute force where necessary.  As such, he served as
a lid on a pressure cooker, a cooker that boiled over as soon as the lid was
removed.  Suddenly, people could speak, but they were forced to be silent
for such a long time that they had forgotten how to listen.

  Will Zimbabweans be able to speak to one another once Mugabe is gone?  To
what extent has distrust disrupted any chance of successful debate?  The
reality is that even within a one-man state there is never only one opinion.

  Zimbabwe is not Mugabe.  It will continue to exist long after he exits.
Many hope that Zimbabwe will flourish once he is gone.  But, whoever
replaces Mugabe will have to deal with many issues.  The economy is in a
shambles, and the next leader will have to bring back international
investors and the millions of highly educated Zimbabweans that left the
country.   Is there currently a leader in Zimbabwe that can encourage
citizens and communities back into action?  The socio-economic situation is
currently weighing in on the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans on a daily basis,
will they have the political will to choose wisely?

  It is a scary thought, but without great leadership and a dedicated
approach to renew a sense of citizenship, of community, of debate and
democracy in Zimbabwe, the future might be even worse than the present.
Zimbabwe is not Mugabe, but unfortunately his influence and legacy will
remain long after he has left the political landscape.

  1. Ekeh, Peter.  2004.   Basic Security Needs and the limits of
Democratisation, in Ethnicity and Democracy in Africa, edited by Bruce
Berman, Dickson Eyoh and Will Kymlicka. James Currey: Oxford.


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Food security in Zimbabwe

Africa News, Netherlands

  Posted on Thursday 22 November 2007 - 14:12

  Zimbabwe Crisis Platform
  Food security is a complex issue in Zimbabwe. But, is it really a case of
mass starvation? Or, is it a selective view of what we think are the
consequences of poorly implemented land reform that has suffered from a lack
of sustained material and technical support by Zimbabwe's political elite?
After a conversation with a Zimbabwean citizen, the picture of a varied
situation emerges.

  Food security means different things to people living either side of the
rural/urban divide in Zimbabwe. The rural areas can be divided into three
generic categories: fertile and productive, productive but unsupportive of
national food security and, drought-stricken and food insecure. However, the
true crux of food security appears to reside in the nature of the
urban-rural political divide.

  When we hear of shortages, of food insecurity and declining living
standards, do we essentially mean that the urban folks no longer have
sufficient currency at their disposal to purchase food and negotiate the
terrain of hyperinflation? Or do we mean that Mugabe's economic policies are
failing to deliver the goods to the shelves? When we speak of starvation in
the rural areas, is it not perhaps just some areas where drought is
commonplace?

  Politicization of food

  Where food insecurity in the arable rural areas prevails, whose political
agenda has been supported? There has been a significant amount of analysis
on the politicization of food aid in the country. This politicization has
much to do with the nature of political control, the desire to retain
authority and to legitimate the right to rule. In these instances, food is
merely a political instrument, a case of the big dogs, after eating their
fill, determining which of the little dogs eat, if at all. Food aid has been
directed into areas where government support is strong, and this usually
means that aid food is directed away from the urban areas where the
opposition MDC has considerably more influence than ZANU-PF. Even in the
case of the rural areas, historical rivalries may have determined the
presence of World Food Program feeding schemes just as drought and
subsequent crop failure may necessitate external intervention to provide
food aid..

  The role of traditional rulers, such as village headsman and chiefs, in
providing food aid to drought beset areas illustrates that food and
traditional structures have become methods of indirect control over the
rural areas. The traditional leaders have ensured that their positions are
protected even if it means that outsiders, such as the urban-based political
opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and food aid NGOs
remain unable to canvass support or deliver food to the food insecure
respectively. If traditional leaders are unwilling to support central
government policies issued through the ZANU-PF structures, their privileges
are revoked and their political import and benefits reduce proportionately.
Thus, the delicate balance of political dependency keeps ZANU-PF the
custodian of the political upper hand.

  The distribution of networks of dependency appears to explain the nature
and distribution of food aid. More importantly, distribution networks for
food inadvertently create the conditions essential to the realization of
food security and this plays into the hands of the ruling party. If the MDC
is urban-based, is it not in the interests of the government to limit the
transportation of food from the rural areas to the urban areas? In the
meantime, we are left with the impression of food insecurity as a pervasive
countrywide phenomenon when imported foodstuffs are available to those who
can afford it.

  Though there may be drought, and some areas subject to food shortages, are
they anywhere near to the proportions they are said to be or is it a case of
a lack of distributive capacity to get produce from one part of the country
to another? If this is the case, is the food aid that a third of the
Zimbabwean people are getting required to overcome government incompetence
and maladministration or is it required to overcome the political game
playing in which human life becomes a bargaining chip for the ruling party
and its myriad social alliances?

  Engineered or not, food shortages demonstrate a lack of capacity and a
stunted human rights consciousness in the Zimbabwean government. If this is
the case, then the way ahead is clear: power must circulate to more able
rulers.


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Effects of migration on children

Africa News, Netherlands

  Posted on Thursday 22 November 2007 - 14:56

  Annah Y. Moyo
  The current situation in Zimbabwe has led to the exodus of many
Zimbabweans. A large proportion of them come to South Africa in search of
better socio-economic opportunities. This flight has left its mark on many
households and family structures in Zimbabwe.

  Child-headed households are on the rise in Zimbabwe, such that children of
school-going age have been forced to transform overnight into 'adults',
responsible for the day-to-day running of the household, amongst other
things. It goes without saying that most of these children are slowly but
surely being robbed of their childhood.

  Child-headed households

  In most communities it is up to the first-born child who is usually left
in charge of the younger siblings and the household as a whole by his or her
parent(s), to fend for the younger ones, by making sure that there is food
on the table for everyone. This same child still has to attend school but
sooner or later, gives their studies up as a luxury that their situation no
longer affords them.  More often than not, this first-born child abandons
his or her studies in order to concentrate fully on looking after their
younger siblings and the household. This child's future is placed on hold,
while the parent(s) are seeking better opportunities and a better life for
their family.

  While some parents get lucky in their quest for opportunity and manage to
send a monthly supply of foodstuffs and money, nevertheless, someone in the
household has to manage the funds and the inflow of commodities, and usually
the first-born child is delegated to perform this intimidating task. The
fact remains, even in such a scenario, that this first-born child is
unfairly deprived of a normal childhood. Instead of worrying about the
things that normal teenagers worry about, the child who heads a household,
worries about issues and matters that would normally be the concern of
people ten years his or her senior.

  HIV / AIDS

  Other parents who make it successfully across the Zimbabwean border are
not so lucky. They come face to face with the reality that jobs are also
hard to come by in South Africa and, as a result, they are not in a position
to send anything home to their children. In such a scenario, the first-born
child has the daunting task of putting food on the table at all costs. If
this proves impossible, the same child has to live with the misery and pain
of watching his or her siblings subsist in abject poverty. The faint-hearted
of these 'breadwinners' end up putting their lives and health on the line.
They  'sell their bodies' just to avoid seeing their siblings being chased
out of school or going for days without food. HIV/AIDS looms large in such
scenarios.

  Only a decade ago a child, being anyone under the age of eighteen, had
every right to be a child, a right that although not absolute, was at least
accorded significant status in African culture and specifically, in
Zimbabwe. The Ministry of Child Welfare in Zimbabwe was at the forefront of
the protection of children's rights and child-headed household were unheard
of in the country.

  A stark question remains: if our children are tomorrow's leaders and if
they are the future; then what kind of leaders is Zimbabwe breeding, and
what future are we looking forward to?


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Swedish Government Split over Mugabe Meeting

Radio Sweden

     
      A split has developed in the one-year-old Swedish center-right
coalition government over sharply-criticized President Robert Mugabe of
Zimbabwe and the coming summit meeting of European Union and African
leaders.

      The new leader of the Swedish Liberal party and minister of education
says the coalition government has not finished discussing the question of
whether Sweden's moderate conservative prime minister will attend the
meeting between the 8 and 9th of December in Lisbon.

      However, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt insists that the question is
indeed decided that he will go, that's it's too late to make a change and
that Sweden has already told the Portugee running the rotating EU presidency
that Mugabe should not be invited.

      His argument is that it is necessary to condemn the human rights
violations of the Mugabe regime - but not to avoid a crucial top level
discussion with other Africas.

      British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is the only EU minister so far who
says he will boycott the Lisbon meeting because of Mugabe's presence.


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Zimbabwe future prospects positive

Africa News, Netherlands

Posted on Thursday 22 November 2007 - 11:48

Bas Vugt, AfricaNews
[INTERVIEW] As Zimbabwe keeps its way down in terms of economic and
political developments, theories on the future of that once prosperous
southern Africa nation abound. Jabulani Mwale, a Zimbabwean church minister
living in Ireland, advocates cautious optimism.

' I am looking for any contacts, people that are looking to help grassroots
Africans establish sustainable business particularly in Zimbabwe' , says
Mwale. He believes that he believes that efforts are needed from everywhere
to get his country from the economic and political crisis. Here are excerpts
from the e-mail interview he granted AfricaNews.com.

You want to promote small business in Zimbabwe. How is it going?

'The promotion of small business in Zimbabwe is not an easy task given the
current economic climate. I guess living in Ireland, I have seen how small
businesses have contributed to the economic success of Ireland and that is
where this idea of promoting them has come from. As it stands, this is not
going well.'

Are you hopeful for the Zimbabwean economy in the short term?

'I am not hopeful for the short term prospects. I think that it will take
time for the short term economic benefits in a recovery situation to filter
down to the guy trying to run a small business. I think the long term
prospects are potentially positive, I would rather air on the side of
cautious optimism because that has conditions attached. These are the change
of political leadership or the transformation of the ruling party, positive
flow of inwards investment and the easing of sanctions.'

What role can the churches in Zimbabwe play in the development of the
economy?

'I think Churches need to have a more holistic approach to their ministries.
What I mean by that is go beyond the spiritual and look at ways of meeting
the physical needs. The spiritual man needs to eat physical food so they may
need to explore avenues of linking up with people that can provide skills
training etc.

Having said that, one has to remember that the current situation has made
churches more focused on helping to feed the homeless, the hungry, the
orphans, the widows; all due to the AIDS epidemics and made worse by a
failed economy, so skills training is probably the last thing on their
minds. Churches need to stand for truth.

How this helps the economy is that if you stand for truth, you don't
tolerate corruption, which is a big problem in Africa and increasingly so in
Zimbabwe. Churches can help in envisioning transformational leaders; I mean
leaders that have Godly principles and live those principle, walk the talk
so to speak. Churches have a voice but in Zimbabwe have not really been
vocal until recently (say in the past year). So their economic contribution
could be the development of people.'

What role can Zimbabweans in the Diaspora play in the development of
Zimbabwe, especially the Zimbabweans in South Africa?

'I guess they can position themselves strategically whilst in South Africa
and basically wait for a change in leadership. Once this change happens,
they will be well positioned to create jobs in Zimbabwe, basically point as
much business as possible to Zimbabwe.

This will not work in the current climate, so I think positioning themselves
in South Africa is a better strategy. I would say the same for all
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora; get educated, start successful companies,
position yourselves so that when things change, you can go home and help
make a difference. They can also attempt to put pressure on President Mbeki
so he can in turn put pressure on the Zimbabwean leadership to change.

I am not sure that will work though and whilst it may achieve a short term
goal, it would do nothing for the long term development of Zimbabwe. They
can pray for the country, in fact, they must pray for their country. I
believe God can still heal Zimbabwe and He will. If they were allowed to
vote, I would say make sure that you vote, but this is not the case.'

What is the latest news?

'The latest news is bleak. People are hungry, no consistent supply of
electricity, no fuel, no food, no jobs, no money to buy the very scarce and
expensive products and no tourists coming to Zimbabwe. There will be
elections next year and we are already praying that these will be peaceful.
There is corruption and a serious amount of political confusion. As
Zimbabweans, we are hopeful that the future is bright!'


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Workplace AIDS programmes feel the pinch


HARARE, 22 November 2007 (PlusNews) - Zimbabwe's seven-year economic crisis
has forced private companies to make some difficult decisions about
workplace programmes for HIV-positive staff. How do you provide
life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) medication, care and support, when
you're struggling to keep your business afloat?

"We are meeting real challenges in carrying out HIV/AIDS programmes at
workplaces, and this inevitably comes from the macroeconomic problems that
the country is going though," Nyika Mahachi, the HIV/AIDS programme advisor
at the Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention Support Organisation (ZAPSO), told
IRIN/PlusNews.

ZAPSO is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) addressing the epidemic in
the workplace. "Because of the [economic] meltdown, companies are feeling
the pinch; business is declining, profits are shrinking," he said, and the
costs of running the programmes were too high.

New official figures released in November 2007 found that HIV prevalence
rates have fallen by 10 percent over the past 5 years. The Zimbabwe Ministry
of Health and Child Welfare based the new seroprevalence rate on HIV
infection in pregnant women attending antenatal clinics, and estimated the
level among the adult population at 15.6 percent, according to a UN
statement.

Zimbabwe is suffering shortages of food, fuel, power, medicines and basic
commodities; inflation is approaching a staggering 15,000 percent, and the
country also has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection.

"Companies are struggling to keep operating, and where they are expected to
fork out money for HIV/AIDS programmes they easily back down, feeling that
they could be throwing money into a bottomless pit at a time when they
should be resuscitating their businesses," Mahachi said.

Although it was generally recognised that "a healthy workforce tends to
promote production", he alleged that most companies "would rather have
employees die [of AIDS] and then have them replaced" than meet the costs of
running workplace HIV programmes.

Production had declined precipitously over the years and operations had
suffered huge losses, so HIV/AIDS programmes were also being undermined by
staff turnover, said Simplicius Samudzimu, executive director of a
supermarket chain in the capital, Harare.

"Employees are leaving our company at an alarming rate to look for
better-paying jobs both locally and abroad, and these include the committees
tasked with coordinating and implementing the HIV/AIDS programmes ... there
are too many disruptions, information is sometimes lost and levels of
commitment differ," Samudzimu said.

Frequent changes in the committees also caused staff members to lose faith
in the company's programme and seek help elsewhere. Even when the programme
was still operating, HIV-positive staff often stayed away from work due to
illness and being unable to raise enough money for transport.

"I pity those who have already fallen ill because the company does not have
money to buy ARVs and, since it is failing to remit money to our medical aid
scheme, the patients are being turned away when they seek help from
hospitals and clinics," said Samudzimu.

Simon Phiri, the transport manager at a haulage company, said although their
drivers who worked on cross-border routes were at risk of contracting HIV,
and some of them were already living with the virus, his company had not
bothered to start a programme to educate workers because they were
preoccupied with the losses they were making.

"In the past five years we have grounded 10 trucks because we could not
secure the foreign currency for new spares, and management thinks it would
be a luxury to start an HIV programme for the workers, most of who are
always on the road," he said.

Despite all these woes, there are companies that have recorded relative
success. A workers' committee member at Barclays Bank said they had a
vibrant committee that was providing counselling and treatment to its
workers with the help of an NGO.

"Right from top management to the ground floor, people are committed to the
programme," the workers' committee member, who did not wish to be named,
told IRIN/PlusNews. "And I am happy to say there is hardly any stigma
against those who have come out in the open about their HIV status, and one
of them is actually a boss here."

fm/kn/he

[ENDS]
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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NCA activists try to ambush Mbeki entourage



By Lance Guma
22 November 2007

Over 400 activists from the National Constitutional Assembly took to the
streets of Harare for the second day in a row, protesting constitutional
Amendment 18. On the day South African president Thabo Mbeki arrived in the
country riot police reportedly moved swiftly to disperse the protestors.

The marchers led by chairperson Lovemore Madhuku had wanted to march near
Mbeki's motorcade and denounce the compromise agreement between Zanu PF and
the MDC which led to the bill that harmonised elections.

An NCA statement said their members arrived at the main post office from the
Copacabana bus terminus, when Mbeki was less than 400 metres away along
Julius Nyerere Way. The group say they whistled and chanted songs denouncing
the constitution making process, including Amendment 18. No arrests were
made on Thursday in stark contrast to Wednesday when 5 were arrested and 7
injured in skirmishes.

A defiant Madhuku said, 'As long as Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment
(Number 18) Act is there, we will continue to show our displeasure over it.
We want this Act repealed and then have a people-driven and democratic
constitution.'

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Mbeki flies into Harare to attempt to revive stalled negotiations



By Tichaona Sibanda
22 November 2007

South African President Thabo Mbeki flew into Harare Thursday on a mission
to break the stalemate surrounding the SADC sponsored talks between the MDC
and Zanu PF.

MDC Secretary for International Affairs Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro
confirmed that Mbeki plunged directly into the negotiations by heading
straight into consultations with the political leadership in the country,
both from Zanu-PF and the two factions of the MDC.

Mukonoweshuro said Mbeki's visit was part of an attempt to provide a kiss of
life to the seemingly endless mediation talks. Amid concern that only weeks
are left to save the talks, the MDC chief of Foreign Affairs told us he
believed Mbeki's stopover mission was to put pressure on the main
protagonists to settle their differences, before he headed off to the
Commonwealth summit in Uganda.

Despite intense negotiations in the last month, the negotiators from both
parties have failed to reach a concrete outcome on electoral rules, security
legislation, and the overall political climate.
With pressure mounting on Mbeki to push the two sides to reach a settlement
before next month, the negotiating teams now have a matter of weeks to agree
on the modalities that would meet the standards required for a free and fair
election in 2008.

Later at a press conference Mbeki said he was confident the mediation
efforts between Zanu-PF and the MDC would produce a solution to the country's
political crisis.
He said the talks went well despite the differences between the two parties.
Tendai Biti the secretary-general of the Tsvangirai MDC said they told Mbeki
Zanu-PF were not serious in coming up with a solution to the country's
crisis.

In a separate press conference Biti said; 'We told him Zanu-PF is in denial
about the need for change in the country and that they have not bothered to
reign in their supporters in so far as violence is concerned.'
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai revealed in Kampala, Uganda on Wednesday that
the talks had stalled over the ruling party's reluctance to repeal
repressive laws like POSA and AIPPA. The opposition in turn threatened that
its participation in next year's elections would be subject to the repealing
and implementation of key agreements concerning the voters' roll and the
reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Other key demands by the opposition include international monitoring and
observation of the elections by SADC, the African Union and the United
Nations and a transparent delimitation exercise of all constituencies.

The SADC process, already five months behind schedule because of the
continued intransigence of the Zanu-PF negotiators, has forced the South
African President to become directly engaged in the talks.
Eddie Cross, the MDC's policy co-coordinator, believes Mbeki is anxious to
try and get a final agreement before the European Union-Africa Summit in
Lisbon, Portugal next month. Sources say Mbeki wants to attend the December
EU-Africa with a comprehensive and positive report on the talks.
'This is a very strategic moment in the whole process, any further delays
will put the March election date in jeopardy,' Cross said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Mystery surrounds the disappearance of Ugandan national

zimbabwejournalists.com

22nd Nov 2007 17:55 GMT

By David Baxter

MUTARE - Mystery surrounds the disappearance of a Ugandan national who is
believed to have been abducted by security agents just as he entered the
country from neighbouring Mozambique.

Richard Katende from Kampala City, Uganda's capital, was in this eastern
border city to see his younger brother Godfrey, a refugee staying at
Tongogara Refugee Camp, about 180 km south east of Mutare.

The missing man's brother is staying in Zimbabwe as a refugee after fleeing
from from his motherland where he claims Yoweri Museveni's regime is after
him.

Richard Katende, whose age could not be acsertained, is also considered a
political enemy by Museveni's ruling Movement Party.
The brothers are believed to have campaigned for Museveni's opponent, Kizza
Besigye in Uganda's controversial general election held last year.

Police sources said Katende was taken for questioning on 12 August 2007 at
Mutare Central Police Station but where he was taken there after remains a
closely guided secret.

Soon after the mysterious disappearance Richard Katende's brother made a
report to the police but nothing concrete have come out of "investigations"
caried out by the law enforecment agents.

Police say they are not aware of such a person but a human rights watchdog
said they were aware of the case.

ZimRights, a local human rights group said they were following events but
declined to comment further on the grounds that the police had promised
investigating the mysterous disappearance of Katende.

ZimRights, regional co-ordinator, Reverend Stephen Maengamhuru said: "We can
not say anything for now because the manner is before the police." He
declined to comment further.

The RRB for the case is 0090412, according to police sources.It is not a
secret that Museveni does not brook any opposition to his rule, which is
increasingly being criticised by the Western world and now seen as
undemocratic and intolerant.

During the run-up and after the 2006 multi-party poll the European Union and
the US expressed concern over the ill-treatment of Besigye and his suppoters
by Museveni's security agents.

Last April, Britain cut some of its aid in protest and critics at home fear
he wants to become president for life.

This resulted in many opposition supporters, including Godfrey Katende, to
flee Uganda and seek asylum. It is not clear why the Zimbabwe government
could detain Museveni's poltical opponent because President Mugabe and the
Ugandan leader can not be regarded as close political allies but others here
beg to differ.

Other sources were speculating the missing Ugandan could be wanted in his
country for criminal offences and could have been on the Interpol wanted
list.

But the abduction of a foreign national who is hostile to their government
back home is not new in Zimbabwe. In 1998 security agents tried to abduct
Emile Nendaka, a son of a former top military intelligence officer of the
late Mobuto Sese Seko after Laurent Kabila had siezed power in the then
Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The abduction was foiled by the United Nations which declared such actions
as a violation of international law. Nendaka had entered Zimbabwe fleeing
Kabila's soliders who were eager to know his father's whereabouts.

"We can not rule out anything," said an aid worker based at Tongogara
Refugee Camp.


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The Disappearance of a Mother

Mbare Report No 49

by Oskar Wermter SJ

The eldest is only 16 years old, a slim boy of light complexion, sickly
looking. He has four younger brothers and sisters. Another two children are
staying with them. He came to see me with one of his little sisters, "We are
hungry, we have no food. Our mother has left for Mozambique two months ago
and has not come back." - "What do you think might have happened to her?" -
"Maybe she was arrested." Often people just slip across the long border
between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, without proper documents. It can be done,
but it is risky. Maybe she fell ill. A widow, she may have been HIV
positive. Is she even still alive? We don't know, and have no way of
knowing. In the meantime the children must be taken care of: food, medical
care, school fees. City council bills mst be paid so that the child-headed
family is not evicted. And we keep hoping that one day the missing mother
will turn up again. Elderly Europeans are as likely to be victims of poverty
as the rest of the population. An elderly lady of Eastern European origin
came and showed me the quotation of a funeral parlour. Her son has died, and
she can't pay the bill for his funeral. She is afraid of approaching her
newly installed parish priest: he is a local priest, will he help a white
person, she wonders. In fact, he does.

There are still homeless people in Mbare. One of them has been accommodated
temporarily in a small room attached to the sacristy. The husband is in
South Africa, working. He has started sending her remittances. But even of
you have money, finding a room to rent is difficult.
A group of people sleeping rough along "Jo-burg lines" have no chance of
finding accommodation. They are dirt poor, literally : from their looks you
can tell that finding water for a wash is a problem for them. They ask for
plastic sheeting, to protect themselves against the rains. Hopefully we will
find some of that stuff which we used to give freely in large quantities
immediately after "Murambatsvina".
There is no "Operation Garikayi" ("Operation Living Well"). No one can salve
his conscience about "Murambatsvina" by saying, "But they were given better
housing as part of Operation Garikayi". I have yet to meet a homeless person
who benefited from it. This is just another propaganda lie.


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The Gorbachev Factor



The recent passage of Constitutional Amendment 18 through the Zimbabwean
Parliament  with the consent of both Zanu PF and the opposition MDC has
caused much alarm and confusion within Zimbabwean civil society and even
amongst MDC supporters within Zimbabwe and abroad. Some have gone so far as
saying that the opposition has sold out. Others think that the opposition
has made a serious error of judgment and has compromised not only principle
but political advantage. This arises from a perception that Amendment 18
only helps Zanu PF and that there is no benefit for those struggling to
bring democracy to Zimbabwe. The press has enhanced this view by its
reporting that Amendment 18 allows Robert Mugabe to handpick his successor.

Whilst I think we in the opposition did ourselves and our colleagues in
civil society a disservice by proceeding with unseemly haste in passing the
amendment, and by failing to explain our actions sufficiently to our
colleagues, I do not think our consent per se was a mistake. There is no
doubt that the process used to pass the amendment was flawed. But had we
been able to consult widely and argue our case with our civic partners I am
sure they would have agreed that we should consent. Accordingly save for the
one reservation about the flawed process I think history will show that it
was the right thing to pass the amendment.

Firstly, the amendments, to put it negatively, do not introduce any worse
provisions than any that already sully our Constitution. In other words the
amendments do not make the Zimbabwe Constitutional order any worse than
would have been the case had the original draft of Amendment 18 tabled by
Zanu PF been passed. That document would have, for example, allowed further
gerrymandering of the delimitation process (the original amendment proposed
the existing 20% maximum variation between constituencies to be increased to
25% - which would have allowed Zanu PF to create even more rural
constituencies and to further dilute the urban vote).

Secondly, and on the contrary, the final Amendment 18 has introduced several
improvements to our Constitutional order. For example aside from a token 5
Senatorial seats, the President no longer has the power to appoint members
of the legislature - all 210 Members of Parliament will be directly elected
by the Zimbabwean electorate as will the vast majority of Senators. This is
a welcome break from the provisions in place since 1987 which have allowed
the President to handpick 20% of Parliamentarians.

Concern has been expressed about the alleged power now given to the
President to handpick a successor. In fact Amendment 18 grants no such
power. Prior to the amendment if the President died, resigned or was
impeached a Presidential election would have to be held within 90 days of
the termination of his or her office. Amendment 18 now states that
Parliament will elect a successor pending the next scheduled election, which
is similar to the position in South Africa and the United Kingdom. This is
better in some respects to the relevant US provision which allows the US
Vice President to assume office for the balance of the original term.
Accordingly the new Zimbabwean provision is a logical and fair provision
designed to ensure that elections are held at predictable times and that all
parties will have some say in the election of a temporary Head of State.

However perhaps the main fear about the amendment is that it is part of a
process which will allow Zanu PF to wriggle out of the hole it has dug for
itself. There is deep concern that Zanu PF, through the Mbeki mediation,
will agree to a variety of legislative changes without materially changing
the political environment. In other words people fear that we may in the
next few months witness a much fairer legislative environment being agreed
to without genuinely free and fair electoral conditions being created. We
may see, for example, our media legislation amended which in theory will
allow independent papers to operate freely, but which in practise will not
be implemented early enough to enable independent papers to have a material
effect on the electoral process.

In the short term these are valid concerns. There is a real danger that the
Mbeki mediation process will result in all the form of a free and fair
electoral environment being created without any substance. We may well in
the short term see the implementation of a new democratic constitution
without a democratic environment being created prior to the elections
scheduled for 2008. It will take time for constitutional and legislative
amendments to take root and change the way we conduct our politics in
Zimbabwe.  27 years of oppression has created a certain mindset within the
Zimbabweans electorate. It will take time to liberate the minds of
Zimbabweans. The concern of many is that if elections are held too soon Zanu
PF will be able to claim legitimacy through a process which has a democratic
façade but which in reality does not allow for a genuinely free expression
of the informed will of the electorate.

Many are worried that by agreeing to Constitutional Amendment 18 the
opposition has helped Zanu PF create a mere façade of democracy. Only time
will tell whether this is the case. Much depends on whether the Mbeki
mediation results in an acceptable period being agreed to between the
promulgation of a new Constitution (and other laws) and the holding of
Presidential and Parliamentary elections. There is no doubt that if an
election is held too soon after the passage of these new laws it cannot not
be free and fair. Moreover Zanu PF, in the event of it winning, would be
able to claim legitimacy having been elected in a theoretically free and
fair environment. In that event the agreement to Amendment 18, and for that
matter any agreement regarding the rest of any new legislative changes
arising out of the Mbeki mediation, will be seen in the short term to have
merely bought time for an oppressive regime.

Let me assume for the moment that this is what does in fact happen over the
next few months; that the opposition is forced to agree to an unacceptably
short period between the passage of new legislation and the holding of
elections and that that results in a Zanu PF victory which is endorsed by
SADC at least as legitimate. Will that automatically mean that Amendment 18,
and indeed our participation in the Mbeki mediation process as a whole, was
a terrible mistake?

That leads me to the third and final argument why I think the opposition has
not erred. I believe in the medium to long term it will shown that even in
this worst case scenario the opposition was correct to act in the manner it
has. This is for one reason - which I will term the "Gorbachev Factor".

Mikhail Gorbachev never wanted to destroy the Soviet Union or communism. As
President of the Soviet Union and leader of the Communist Party he was
committed to the preservation of both institutions. However with the
collapse of the Soviet economy in the 1980s he realised that if he did not
make certain political reforms he would not be able to hold Soviet Union
together. It was in this context that he agreed to the new policies of
Perestroika "comprehensive rebuilding of society" and Glasnost "candour or
openness". It was his hope that through the moderate liberalisation of
Soviet society he would be able to hold on to power and keep the Soviet
Union intact. However history shows that once he started the process of
reform, the process then ran away from him and he was left powerless in
controlling the course it followed. Ultimately both perestroika and glasnost
led to the destruction of the Soviet Union and the near collapse of the
Communist Party.

One of the reasons why this happened is because the core of the Soviet Union
was so weak that once laws were liberalised it became impossible for the
core of the Communist Party to control every aspect of governance. This
stands in marked contrast to the the Communist Party in China which has been
able to implement economic and some political reforms without adversely
affecting its political control. The difference in outcome lies in the fact
that the Chinese started liberalising their economy long before the core of
their political power became undermined. The Chinese in essence anticipated
the need for economic reform whereas the leaders of the Soviet Union reacted
to the need for economic reform.

Zanu PF has, ironically, not followed the example of its Chinese mentors. It
has tried to maintain tight controls over the Zimbabwean economy for 27
years. It never wholeheartedly liberalised the Zimbabwean economy at a time
when it was politically powerful enough to withstand the turmoil which
sometimes accompanies such reforms. It is now reacting to the collapse of
the economy by agreeing to the implementation of political reforms - but it
is too little and too late.

Accordingly I have no doubt that we will see the Gorbachev Factor unfold in
Zimbabwe over the next few years, if not in the course of 2008. Whilst
Amendment 18 may well result in Zanu PF gaining the legitimacy it craves in
an election next year, it will not in itself provide any solution to the
collapsed economy and the thoroughly weakened political core of the Zanu PF
regime. The new Constitution and other new laws will require the regime to
liberalise society. The terms for economic assistance which will be insisted
upon by international financial institutions will do likewise.

Once these terms are implemented Zanu PF's remaining control over Zimbabwean
society will unravel. For example when the current dual exchange rate is
abolished, Zanu PF's principal means for dispensing patronage to the ruling
elite will end. That in turn will end its last remaining core of support
because it has already lost the support of Zimbabwean workers, the business
sector and the rank and file of the civil service and the military. And the
same will apply to every single aspect of governance.

In conclusion the opposition has, in my view, been correct in participating
in the Mbeki mediation and in agreeing, as part of that process, to
Constitutional Amendment 18. Whilst that may not in itself yield any change
in government in the short term, it has introduced the Gorbachev Factor to
our political climate and that will ultimately be the catalyst for far
reaching political and economic changes in Zimbabwe. We have in essence now
unleashed a process that no-one will be able to stop.

David Coltart MP
Bulawayo
22nd November 2007


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Sokwanele - Zimbabwe Election Watch

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Zimbabwe Election Watch
Issue 11: 21 November 2007

Bar chart of breaches in this issueExecutive Summary

THE 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights is now underway in the Congolese capital Brazzaville with Zimbabwe's deteriorating human rights situation dominating the proceedings.

In his welcoming remarks, outgoing Commission Vice Chairperson, Commissioner Yassir Sid Ahmed El Hassan, set the tone when he described the situation in Zimbabwe as "alarming". (Ref: zimjournalists.com)

On November 16, SW Radio Africa reported that the MDC would make further representations to South African President Thabo Mbeki about the escalation of political violence and intimidation against its supporters. Secretary for Home Affairs Sam Nkomo said it was still impossible for the opposition to hold a public demonstration or political rally. The radio station noted that scores of MDC supporters had been arrested and assaulted in Chipinge, Mutare and Bulawayo for holding legitimate consultative meetings.

In this issue we include brief information on the latest report released by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum which expresses concern at the upsurge in politically motivated violence. It has recorded 2 333 cases of violations on freedoms of association, expression and movement from January to September 30.

Similarly, a report released by the International Bar Association has found evidence of police torture, intimidation and illegal arrests which threaten the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for March next year.

People living in rural areas continue to experience political repression, which remains rampant and under-reported. The safety and security of opposition supporters is under constant threat and during mid November, war veterans and Zanu PF militia severely assaulted a 59-year-old woman for wearing an MDC T-shirt and carrying an opposition party umbrella.

A 57 year-old activist from the pressure group Woman of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who had been arrested on 10 different occasions and had been physically and mentally abused by the police each time, has died. Ninety-eight activists from WOZA and their male counterparts, who were protesting against escalating state sponsored violence, were arrested by the police earlier this month.

Fifteen opposition activists were abducted from a house belonging to an MDC member in Chipinge South and a police chief threatened to invoke the shoot-to-kill order against MDC activists if they went ahead with a planned rally in Chimanimani.

Contentious developments on the election front include the appointment of five former government employees to positions of influence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The appointments have been condemned by the opposition and civil society.

Zimbabwe's Defence Minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, has expressed confidence that the elections scheduled for next year will be free and fair. "The election will be held on schedule and as things are now in Zimbabwe the environment is quiet," he said.

However, a report in the Zimbabwean Newspaper (November 13) that Mr Mugabe's government is buying arms from China suggests a different scenario. According to the article, a shipment of heavy assault rifles, military vehicles and tanks, riot equipment, tear gas and rubber batons is being secretly moved through the port of Beira in Mozambique.

Zim Online reports that police officers who have recently undergone retraining in public control and management ahead of the elections confirm that military trainers as well as police instructors have taken them through rigorous and intensive physical and weapons handling drills.

The viability of independent newspapers is under serious threat after government ordered privately-owned newspapers to slash their cover prices to levels that could force them to close down.

War veteran leaders are being paid as much as Z$100 billion, in one instance, for co-ordinating marches to drum up support for President Mugabe.


MDC cries foul over ZEC appointments
Source Date: 18-11-2007

The recent appointments of former government employees to positions of influence in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have been condemned by the opposition and civil society.

Of the nine commissioners, five have served in various capacities in President Robert Mugabe's government, accused of manipulating previous elections….

ZEC spokesperson, Utoile Silaigwana said the appointments were made on merit rather than political allegiance….

But Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Nelson Chamisa (Tsvangirai faction), said the ZEC had been "impregnated" with Zanu PF functionaries to enable the party to manipulate next year's elections in its favour.

This, said Chamisa, was contrary to the Zanu PF/MDC agreement reached under South Africa-brokered talks to re-constitute the current ZEC, which the MDC has described as illegal.

"This whole electoral process has been 'Zanuised' and we are going to raise the issue with all the stakeholders. We can't afford to have another flawed plebiscite when people are suffering like this," Chamisa said.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) believes the appointments were a clear testimony that Zanu PF intended to rig the elections.

NCA national spokesperson, Madock Chivasa, said the appointments signalled that next year's elections would not be free and fair….

The NCA felt the present ZEC would not allow any opposition political party to form a government in 2008.

“Instead, what Zimbabweans will witness is a well stage-managed election in which President Mugabe will retain his post as the head of government,” he said….

Source: Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/nov18a_2007.html

SADC standards breached


Political violence could mar Zim elections
Source Date: 18-11-2007

Rising political violence and human rights abuses could mar Zimbabwe presidential and parliamentary elections next year, political analysts and pressure groups said on Monday.

They said a report released at the weekend by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum showing an upsurge in politically motivated violence was the clearest indication yet that violence could still be used to influence the outcome of polls despite talks between the ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition….

Jacob Mafume, who is co-ordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) political pressure group, said rising violence was confirmation of Mugabe and Zanu PF's unwillingness to act to end political violence as well as their insincerity in the inter-party talks.

He said: “. . . they are telling their supporters that all you need to do is to be violent in order to win elections."

The overall total number of cases of violations on the freedoms of association, expression and movement recorded by the Forum from January to September 30 stands at 2 333.

Source: Zim Online (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=2305

SADC standards breached


Police abuses threaten Zimbabwe poll – report
Source Date: 12-11-2007

There are few guarantees upcoming elections in Zimbabwe will be free and fair because of widespread police abuses, concludes a report by the International Bar Association….

The association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) said it found evidence of police torture, intimidation and illegal arrests, which threaten parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for March next year.

"Police officers are responsible for some of the most serious human rights and rule of law violations in Zimbabwe today," the report said.

"The ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) has consistently shown disrespect and contempt for the law, lawyers, and judicial authorities to an extent that it has seriously imperilled the administration of justice and the rule of law in Zimbabwe," the report said….

The report called on Harare to establish an independent system of monitoring the police and urged leaders of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) political bloc to address police abuse as part efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"Without policing that protects human rights, it will be difficult and perhaps impossible for the citizens of Zimbabwe to participate freely in any democratic process, including elections," said Professor Danny Titus, deputy dean of the law college at the University of South Africa and member of the fact-finding team.

Source: Reuters
Link to source: http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN751578.html

SADC standards breached


Rights groups say political repression in rural Zimbabwe still rampant
Source Date: 14-11-2007

Despite seeming progress in crisis resolution talks taking place under South African mediation, human rights groups say those living in Zimbabwe’s rural areas continue to experience political repression which remains rampant and under-reported.

Reports released by member organizations of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum say opposition members in rural areas who are seen wearing items of clothing with the logo of the opposition, reading independent papers, or listening to independent radio stations such as VOA's Studio 7, are beaten up, or “severely punished.”….

Village headmen and chiefs tell those who do not support the ruling party to look to Britain or Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, for land and food.

Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that more and more cases of repression in the rural areas are being reported as the build-up to 2008 elections gathers momentum.

Source: VOANews (USA)
Link to source: http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/Zimbabwe/2007-11-14-voa38.cfm

SADC standards breached


Zanu PF youths chase MDC supporters from homes
Source Date: 20-11-2007

Ruling Zanu PF youths have evicted scores of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in Bikita West in Masvingo province in a fresh wave of political violence to hit troubled Zimbabwe….

The Zanu PF youths allegedly told the MDC supporters to leave the area as they were supporting a “puppet party that wants to reverse the gains of the liberation struggle.”

The evictions come hardly a fortnight after a delegation of the MDC told Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi that Zanu PF had stepped up a campaign of violence against its supporters around the country.

“What disturbs us most is the fact that these villagers were evicted because of their political affiliation. They were never given a chance and defend themselves. This is a clear case of harassment being perpetrated by President Mugabe and his supporters,” said Sitemele.

Source: Zim Online (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=2342

SADC standards breached


Chimanimani Police Threaten to Shoot-to-Kill MDC Activists
Source Date: 12-11-2007

An overzealous police chief on Sunday threatened to invoke the shoot-to-kill order against MDC activists if they went ahead with their planned rally at Nedziwa business centre in Chimanimani.

The officer-in-charge of Chimanimani police, identified as Inspector Banda deployed heavily armed officers to cordon off the venue of the MDC rally….

…Inspector Banda told them that as long as he remained officer-in-charge of Chimanimani the MDC would never hold a rally in the area. Fearing for the safety of their activists, the MDC called-off the rally and asked its supporters to disperse.

'Inspector Banda told us he had instructions from his superiors that no MDC rally was to be held in Chimanimani and made it clear his officers would shoot-to-kill anyone who disregarded that order. …

The spokesman accused the police of being so inextricably bound to the ruling party that it would take years to get rid of the Zanu PF indoctrination from the police force.

Identified perpetrators: The officer-in-charge of Chimanimani police, Inspector Banda

Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news121107/chimipolice121107.htm

SADC standards breached


WOZA blame police for death of founding activist
Source Date: 13-11-2007

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) pressure group has blamed police torture for the death of founding member and activist Maria Moyo. The 57 year old died on November 6 from pneumonia complications which WOZA say were worsened by her experiences in police custody.

Six members of the police Law and Order section allegedly burst into her Bulawayo home a few months ago and despite pleas from family members that she was ill, proceeded to drag her outside and bundled her into a vehicle with four other women from WOZA. The group was taken to Khami Dam outside Bulawayo, where they were interrogated, tortured and abused for five hours….

In just four years with the pressure group Moyo has been arrested ten times and on each occasion has been physically and mentally abused by the police. At the time of her last arrest her condition was deteriorating. Police are said to have only released her because they feared she might die in custody…

Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news131107/woza131107.htm

SADC standards breached


Dozens of Protesters Arrested in Harare
Source Date: 07-11-2007

Zimbabwean police on Tuesday arrested dozens of civic society activists for demonstrating against what the protesters described as escalating state sponsored violence against opponents and other dissenting voices.

Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama … said: "Ninety-eight people are in police custody and the police are still arresting more people. They have not advised us of the charges they are preferring on the activists."

The arrested activists belong to the Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MEZA) groups….

Source: Zim Online (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=2279

SADC standards breached


Government targeting student leadership ahead of elections
Source Date: 15-11-2007

Student organizations have said they believe university officials are under government instruction to target influential student leaders and remove them from campuses around the country, ahead of the elections scheduled for next year.

They referred to the escalating assaults, arrests and evictions of student leaders at major universities as evidence of this campaign….

McDonald Lewanika, a coordinator with the Student Solidarity Trust, said … "What is happening cannot be viewed outside the context of elections that will be taking place in this country next year, a couple of months from now. What we have is a process whereby different university authorities are weeding out people who they think are critical of the government of Zimbabwe within the students' movement and throwing them off campus so that they will not be able to influence anything where students are concerned, during that critical period."…

A strong statement released by the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said in part: "The government of the day seems to be at unease because the students, as the general populace, are fast losing their patience and cannot wait for a change in governance."

Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news151107/students151107.htm

SADC standards breached


Private newspapers under threat
Source Date: 16-11-2007

The viability of independent newspapers is under serious threat after government this week ordered privately-owned papers to slash their cover prices.

The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) ordered the Zimbabwe Independent and the Financial Gazette to reduce prices from $600 000 to $150 000.

The Independent's sister publication, The Standard, was also directed to reduce its cover price. The directive comes after police arrested the chief executive of the Zimind Publishers, Raphel Khumalo, and Financial Gazette CEO Jacob Chisese last Friday on allegations of increasing prices of their newspapers without NIPC approval.

Khumalo and Chisese were quizzed over the increases. They were summoned to appear before the NIPC at Runhare House on Monday and told to revert to the old price of $150 000, an amount they say cannot cover their costs.

Khumalo said the directive could lead to closure of the newspapers that are already struggling to survive because of escalating costs of fuel, labour, ink, and newsprint.

It currently costs about $950 000 to print a single copy of the Independent, he said. "A newspaper is not a basic commodity. It seems that when all the media laws have failed to get the newspapers closed this new crackdown could finally force private newspapers to shut down," Khumalo said….

In approving the $150 000, the NIPC used the state-owned Sunday Mail as its benchmark. Privately-owned newspapers however argued that their cost structures were different from those of the state-owned newspapers which get subsidised fuel….

In his column (in the state-owned Herald newspaper) on October 26, NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa included the Independent among "enemies of the people"…

Identified victims: Raphel Khumalo, CEO of Zimind Publishers and Jacob Chisese, CEO of the Financial Gazette

Source: Zimbabwe Independent, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200711160606.html

SADC standards breached


Govt misleads world on media freedom
Source Date: 18-11-2007

Recent government actions concerning the private media are part of hoax intended to mislead the international community ahead of the European Union-Africa Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, The Standard has learnt.

President Robert Mugabe is expected to attend the EU-Africa Summit next month and the government is anxious to present a façade of relaxing the draconian media environment, ahead of the meeting so that Mugabe is not put in the dock over harassment of the private media.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) yesterday said the appointment of a committee (on November 14) to re-look into Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) - publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday - by the Minister of Information and Publicity, lacked a clear mandate on how this would be accomplished.

"The individuals selected have questionable credentials, if one goes by their personal and institutional views. The committee chairperson, Chinondidyachii Mararike is a prominent State media columnist who has written widely in The Herald (and) Charity Moyo once/or is still working in the External Affairs section of Zanu PF," MISA said.

While the Minister of Information and Publicity says the committee was put in place "in the true spirit to demonstrate a democratic and liberalised media", MISA-Zimbabwe says the true spirit of democracy would be to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and all undemocratic media laws that have shackled the operations of the media and enjoyment of freedom of expression rights in Zimbabwe….

"This ANZ issue, coming as it does, against a background of the arrests of The Financial Gazette's Jacob Chisese and Hama Saburi and the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard's Raphael Khumalo on 9 November 2007, demonstrates a government still determined to repress independent media voices."….

"It is in this environment that ANZ might be relicensed by the committee, knowing very well that the economy itself and the new tactics by the Incomes and Pricing Commission might as well maintain the ANZ off the news stands….

Source: Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/nov18a_2007.html

SADC standards breached


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UK tribunal to decide fate of failed asylum seekers



By Lance Guma
22 November 2007

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the UK will on Friday decide the fate
of thousands of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers who argue they risk
persecution if deported back home. A temporary ban on deportations is in
place, pending finalisation of the case which has dragged on for a long
time. Initially called the AA test case the matter has now been renamed HS
following on the initials of a new applicant. The only deportations taking
place are targeting those who have over-stayed their visas, plus failed
asylum seekers on voluntary return schemes and people who entered the
country using foreign passports.

Rumbidzai Bvunzawabaya, an immigration lawyer with RBM solicitors, told our
Behind the Headlines program that the tribunal will look at the
deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe since last summer and use that to deal
with the refugee status of Zimbabweans. The circumstances surrounding HS and
his case are considered more appropriate for use as a test case. This is
because the initial AA case involved old country guidance criteria and
events in Zimbabwe have since changed. In September this year judgment in
the long running matter was reserved, adding to the frustration of countless
appeals and counter-appeals by both the UK Home Office and the applicants.

Any judgment on Friday will determine new country guidance criteria for
Zimbabwe and will be used to assess the vulnerability of deported failed
asylum seekers. The UK Home Office has argued against blanket immunity for
everyone, saying it should be allowed to decide each case on its own merits.
Campaigners however say returnees, irrespective of background, are classed
as agents of regime change and face possible arrest, torture and other forms
of ill treatment.

Meanwhile the body of asylum seeker Adonis Musati is still stuck in South
Africa. The former policeman died of hunger after spending 5 months in Cape
Town trying to appeal to the Home Affairs Department for asylum. Most of
that time was spent in a queue. His friends and relatives now need to raise
over 19 000 rand in order to repatriate his body back to Zimbabwe. His death
was covered extensively by the South African media but observers say despite
the shock felt by many people over the welfare of asylum seekers not much
has changed. Many have nothing more than a piece of cardboard as a shield as
they queue in all weathers, sleeping on the ground and desperate not to lose
their place in the endless queues that hardly move.

NB: For the full interview between Lance Guma and Rumbidzai Bvunzawabaya
tune in to Thursday's 'Behind the Headlines' programme.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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South African newspapers invade Zimbabwe

zimbabwejournalists.com

 22nd Nov 2007 18:06 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE -South African newspapers have moved in quickly to plug the hole
caused by the shortage of local newspapers in Zimbabwe.

A salesperson with Munn Marketing, the distributors of the South African
newspapers in Zimbabwe, Tonderai Charamba told zimbabwejournalists.com that
South African newspapers have quickly gained acceptance on the market.

"Though I can't give you figures, I can safely say that the newspapers we
are bringing in from South Africa are doing very well but the lack of local
newspapers has made it rather easy for them", he said.

According to him, the South African titles available through his company's
distribution network are The Sunday Times, The Mail & Guardian, The Sunday
Independent, The Saturday Star and The Wednesday Star.

Charamba further added that The Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian are the
most popular of the South African newspapers among Zimbabwean readers.

A combination of factors, chief among them, the shortage of newsprint on the
Zimbabwe market and the imposition of unrealistic newspaper prices by the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) have caused the shortage of
local newspapers in Zimbabwe.

The availability of two of Zimbabwe's biggest business weeklies, The
Financial Gazette and Zimbabwe Independent had improved somewhat after their
prices had been unilaterally hiked from $150 000 to $600 000 but the two
newspapers were immediately ordered to revert to the old prices.

The managers of the two papers Jacob Chisese of the Financial Gazette and
Raphael Khumalo of the Zimbabwe Independent along with Hama Saburi editor of
the Financial Gazette were arrested on 9 November for increasing the prices
of their newspapers without prior authorization from the NIPC.

The future of the Zimbabwe newspaper industry is very bleak given the
continued control of newspaper prices in an environment of escalating input
costs.

Representatives of the the Zimbabwe newspaper industry including both the
private and public papers on Monday told the Parliamentary portforlio
committee on transport and communications chaired by Makonde West MP Leo
Mugabe that an urgent pricing review was necessary to avert the collapse of
the endangered newspaper  industry.

They cited the major problems as being an unfavourable pricing policy and
plummeting newsprint supply to the operational challenges at Mutare Board
and Paper Mills,Zimbabwes sole supplier of newsprint.

The newsprint supplier told the portfolio committe that it had made a
cummulative loss of Z$145 billion due to the price blitz and that they
require US$400 000 a month to import pulp used in the production of
newsprint

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