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

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The Australian

Mugabe rebuffed by China
Gavin du Venage, Cape Town
August 01, 2005
ZIMBABWE President Robert Mugabe has reportedly failed in his quest to
secure a $US1billion ($1.3 billion) loan from China to pay for desperately
needed fuel, electricity and medicines.

Mr Mugabe has spent the past several weeks urging his last remaining
friends, South Africa and China, to step in and bail out his ailing economy
after the IMF threatened to cut his last remaining lines of credit.

Without foreign credit, Mr Mugabe's regime will be unable to pay for
imported energy, turning out the lights and forcing the economy to a halt.

Citing sources accompanying Mr Mugabe to Beijing last week, South Africa's
authoritative Independent on Sunday says the Zimbabwean delegation was told
the loan would be refused.

China has pledged to veto further sanctions if they are called for at the
UN, and offered trade concessions to Zimbabwe, but balked at granting a
loan -- Mr Mugabe's main purpose for the visit.

"While they (the Chinese) are willing to provide infrastructural help on
generous credit terms, they are not willing to throw huge amounts of money
at us," according to an anonymous Zimbabwean official who was party to the

Chinese officials fear the loan would never be repaid. Mr Mugabe had offered
China farming concessions and even stakes in foreign-owned mines in his
country but this was not enough, the paper said.

In the past, Mr Mugabe has tried to swing similar deals with Libya, offering
generous cuts of the farming and mining sector in return for petroleum and
hard cash. Three years ago Libya abruptly suspended trade with Mr Mugabe
because the promised concessions never materialised, leaving the north
African country with a sizeable debt it is unlikely to recover.

Chinese officials are also concerned about recent statements the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change has made, saying that if it came to power it
would not honour any loan repayments or deals signed by Mr Mugabe.

If the report is true, Mr Mugabe will have no choice but to turn to South
Africa. President Thabo Mbeki has said South Africa would be prepared to
lend financial assistance.

However, that help will come with long strings attached, requiring that Mr
Mugabe meet the opposition and begin talks -- something he has vowed never
to do -- and that he end the campaign to drive hundreds of thousands of
urban poor out of the cities.
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'No white farmers' in Zimbabwe
July 31, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

ZIMBABWE has ruled out any plans to lure back white commercial farmers whose
land was seized during the country's land reforms that started in 2000.

"We are not inviting any white farmers back, never," Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa told the state-controlled Sunday Mail.
"The land here is for the black people and we are not giving it back to
anybody. Why did we repossess that land in the first place," said Mutasa,
who is also state security minister.

Mutasa's comments came in the wake of veiled overtures by Central Bank
governor Gideon Gono in May to white farmers to help shore up the struggling
agricultural industry.

"In order to ensure maximum productivity levels, there is great scope in the
country for promoting and supporting ventures between new farmers with
progressive-minded former operators of horticultural as to
hasten skills transfer," Gono said in a monetary policy statement in May.

Zimbabwe has seized land owned by some 4500 white farmers, forcibly taking
away millions of hectares of land and giving it to landless blacks.


Only about 400 white farmers are still operating in the country, according
to the country's white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU).
Mutasa's statement came just ahead of the CFU annual general meeting to take
place in the capital on Tuesday.

The land reform programme, which critics say is partly to blame for the drop
in agricultural output in recent years, was ostensibly to correct land
ownership imbalances created under British colonial rule which ended in

Before the land seizures, some 70 per cent of the most fertile land in
Zimbabwe was owned by white farmers who were mainly descendants of British
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      Zimbabwe NGOs back critical U.N. report on blitz
      Sun Jul 31, 2005 10:06 AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on
Sunday welcomed a U.N. report critical about the government's blitz on
shantytowns and urged that those responsible be brought to account.

Zimbabwe last week declared an end to the controversial demolitions after a
sharply divided U.N. Security Council was briefed by the report's author,
UN-HABITAT chief Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka.

In a statement, the umbrella body of NGOs, NANGO, said it supported the U.N.
demand to halt the campaign and hold to account people responsible for the
blitz. "It is hoped government will consider the contents of this report
with the gravity it deserves and will act swiftly to implement the
recommendations," NANGO said adding that this would assure Zimbabweans and
the international community that Harare took its responsibilities seriously.

Rights groups have already said they would press regional and international
governments, including Zimbabwe's ally China, to demand an end to alleged
rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe's government.

Mugabe's government argues that the campaign was necessary to weed out
sanctuaries of crime and end illegal trade in foreign currency and other
commodities. It says the U.N. report was biased and unfair.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuses the government of
targeting the party's urban strongholds in a campaign that Tibaijuka said
had destroyed the homes or jobs of at least 700,000 people and affected the
lives of another 2.4 million.

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Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Govt says 'No' to commission of inquiry
Staff Writers

GOVERNMENT has refused to create an independent internal commission of
inquiry to flush out and hold accountable the architects of Operation
Murambatsvina/Restore Order despite calls for such action contained in the
United Nations (UN) report on Zimbabwe's cleanup.

The adverse report compiled by UN special envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka,
blasted the callous nature in which the operation had been carried out and
amongst its recommendations, called for the setting up of independent
internal inquiry/inquest to "prosecute all those who orchestrated this
catastrophe." In response to the recommendation, Deputy Minister of
Information and Publicity, Bright Matonga, said government was not obliged
to abide by all the recommendations made by Tibaijuka in her report, and
immediately absolved the architects of the clean-up operation of any blame.

"Why should we have an inquest aimed at bringing to book those who were
responsible for the clean-up operation? It is a well-known fact that
government as a whole initiated the operation. So, who does she (Tibaijuka)
want to be brought to book?" queried Matonga.

Matonga refused to entertain questions from this paper that sought to
establish the architects of the clean-up operation in government.

"It was a government initiative. No one person is responsible," said

However, despite all these claims that the planning and implementation of
the clean-up operation was a collective inter-ministerial drive from the on
set; indications point to the campaign originating at Town House, after the
Harare Commission decided to rid the central business district of illegal
traders and black market foreign currency dealers.

Information filtering in is that officials running Harare came up with the
initial idea though they "lost control" of what was happening as the
operation spread to residential areas and other parts of the country.

It remains unclear who decided to take the clean-up to a national level, but
speculation is rife that the campaign spun out of control when the Ministry
of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development took the Harare
clean-up to a cabinet level.

Well-placed insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the volatile
nature of the issue, attribute this as the point when the clean-up "lost
focus" and moved towards high-density residential areas, where demolitions
of residences classified as illegal structures began.

However, Tibaijuka's report indicates that all these spirited efforts to
declare the promulgation and implementation of the clean-up as a "collective
ministerial position" could very well be a misrepresentation of the truth.

The fifth recommendation of Tibaijuka's report reads: "The government of
Zimbabwe is collectively responsible for what has happened. However, it
appears that there was no collective decision-making with respect to both
conception and implementation of Operation Restore Order." She went on to
say: "Evidence suggests it was based on improper advice by a few architects
of the Operation. The people and Government of Zimbabwe should hold to
account those responsible for the injury caused by the Operation" Two days
before the Operation started, in his Post Election and Drought Mitigation
Monetary Policy Statement, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono talked about
the need to reorient law enforcement systems to deal with corruption in the

Some observers have been saying this pre-empted the justifications given by
the government for engaging in the clean-up operation. When launching the
operation, the chairperson of the commission running the affairs of the City
of Harare, Sekesai Makwavarara more or less echoed Gono, saying the clean-up
was a "programme to enforce by-laws to stop all forms of illegal activities
in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)".

Among other objectives, the government has said the drive was designed to
flush out people illegally dealing in foreign currency and those hoarding
consumer commodities in short supply on the legal markets.

But Gono's concerns in the original clean-up operation that focused on
Harare were to deal with black market dealers of foreign currency, whose
transactions took place within flea markets, and robbed the country of the
much needed foreign currency at reasonable official rates.

If his sentiments in the monetary policy statement are anything to go by,
Gono's link to the clean-up most certainly did not have anything to do with
the displacement of between 500 000 to 700 000 Zimbabweans after their homes
were razed to the ground.

Highly placed Zanu PF insiders last week told the Sunday Mirror that there
had been divisions within the ruling party on the planning and
implementation of the clean-up.

As a result, the sources allege that some Members of Parliament (MPs) who
were disgruntled by the effects of the clean-up operation had sought
audience with Tibaijuka while she was in the country in a bid to condemn the
widespread suffering caused by the programme and distance themselves from
the decision to implement the exercise.

The sources pointed to the resignation of former Mberengwa legislator,
Pearson Mbalekwa from the ruling party as a signal of the deep-seated
divisions within the ruling party over some of its policies, which, although
the resignation was hardly earthshaking in the political scheme of things,
is seen in the context of the deep-seated factionalism.

At the time of going to press, it was not exactly clear whether there were
any ministers within the disgruntled group of MPs who sought audience with
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Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Sadc army to be operational by August
Staff Writer

THE Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) should have a fully
operational regional army at the beginning of August in line with African
Union efforts to ensure the security of the continent from civil and
foreign-induced destabilisation.

Sadc's peacekeeping brigade will constitute a part of the African Union's
Standby Force (AUSF), which will be tasked with quelling potential military
and civilian conflicts on the continent. Sadc member States will voluntarily
provide the troops and the brigade will be administered from Gaborone,
Botswana's capital, which has been the regional grouping's traditional
headquarters. The rapid response brigade will not, however, only focus on
Southern Africa alone, but will also be deployed to hotspots across the
continent and beyond thereby complementing the efforts of the African Union
(AU) and the United Nations.

This has been in response to recommendations made by the AU to form regional
military brigades in Central, Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Africa
for the purposes of peacekeeping and defence.

Through a number of training exercises carried out over the past few years,
Sadc troops have studied various methods of humanitarian relief operations,
hostage rescue, stress management and casualty evacuation among other key
aspects of peacekeeping and regional cooperation.

On a continental as well as a regional level, there have been a number of
crises - both man made and natural - that have devastated Africa over the
past few years though the presence of rapid response teams could have
significantly minimised the overall impact.

At one point, Libya proposed the creation of a United African Army that
would be conducted by a general board of command as the "highest authority
in the case of peace and war and chaired by the President of the (African)
Union." This proposal was motivated by the realisation that the security of
any AU member state was closely connected with the security of the rest of
the Union. Consequently, a threat of aggression against one member is to be
viewed as a threat to the entire AU.

This would require "The use of the United African Army for defence as an
implementation of the common defence policy of the AU contained in paragraph
'D' in Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union." The United
African Army would have the right to intervene in any member state "in order
to restore political legitimacy in case of a dangerous threat or in case of
grave circumstances such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against

As part of the establishment of a continental army, member states would be
required to build relevant infrastructure such as bases, airports and other

Training programmes in peace keeping, such as the internationally renowned
courses conducted at the Zimbabwe Staff College, would also be conducted to
ensure efficiency and relevance to the African context.

The now-defunct Organisation of African Union attempted instituting a
continental army to battle colonialism in Africa but many problems were met
and members settled for a liberation committee based in Dar es Salaam.

Those same problems could yet come and haunt people who envisage the
creation of a United African Army.

Furthermore, for a variety of reasons both historical and contemporary, the
continent is ravaged by regionalism and nuances of tribalism. As such, a
quota method would have to be fairly worked out to ensure representativeness
at both officer and ordinary staff level.

For it to respond appropriately to crises on the continent, funding would
have to be sufficient for the acquisition of appropriate equipment and
speedy deployment.

With the United States of America increasingly acting unilaterally, coupled
with the continued militarisation of the NATO bloc, observers have time and
again stressed the need for Africa to establish a unit that is prepared to
act as a deterring factor. Furthermore, it should be able to engage in
actual battles when mere deterrence has failed. In addition to military
operations, the army could also perform some of the duties performed by
regular domestic armies such as civil projects. This could be particularly
beneficial in times of crisis such as floods and locust invasions.

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Zim Online

Mugabe will renege on promises to reform once pressure is off: analysts
Mon 1 August 2005
  HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is most likely to wriggle out of a
cash-for-reforms deal with South Africa once pressure eases on his cornered
government, political analysts said on Sunday.

      Noting, it was still "early days" to tell whether Harare will stick to
a raft of economic and political conditions for a US$1 billion financial
bailout from Pretoria, they however said Mugabe and his government had a
history of backtracking on their word to South African President Thabo Mbeki
and other regional allies.

      "We have a history of policy reversals here, Mugabe is adept at
wriggling out of deals like this," head of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ)'s
politics and administrative studies department Eldred Masunungure told

      Masungure said there was no consensus within Mugabe's government and
ruling ZANU PF party on the desirability of a negotiated settlement with the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, one of the key
conditions set by South Africa.

      And more critical according to the UZ political scientist: "The fact
that Mugabe was to China to seek similar funding reportedly to avoid the
conditions being set by South Africa shows his government is not
whole-heartedly into this proposed deal with South Africa - that they will
only accept it as a last resort and hence may not implement all the
conditions comprehensively."

      Mugabe met Chinese President Hu Jintao and other top Communist
officials to seek hard cash to ease mounting international debts, including
a US$290 million outstanding debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

      Harare also needs hard cash to end worsening food and fuel shortages.
Four million Zimbabweans or about a quarter of the country's total
population could starve unless the country urgently imports 1.2 million
tonnes of food after poor harvests last farming seasons.

      The World Food Programme has offered to help Zimbabwe, but the
government has still not formally appealed for relief insisting it will feed
hungry Zimbabweans on its own.

      The southern African nation also badly needs hard cash to ease a
worsening six-year fuel crisis that worsened in recent months and is
threatening to bring the country to a complete halt with only a handful of
garages still able to supply fuel.

      Beijing, a long time ally of Mugabe and ZANU PF, dating back to
Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, promised to help but did not give the
81-year old leader the massive cash injection he urgently requires to avert
Zimbabwe's total collapse.

      South Africa in the meanwhile has successfully negotiated a five week
reprieve from the IMF for Zimbabwe, which faces expulsion over nonpayment of
debts. Pretoria has also offered to help pay part of Zimbabwe's debt to the
IMF as well as provide cash to pay for oil and food imports.

      The Bretton Woods institution that was to consider expelling Zimbabwe
this week will now do so in September after South Africa's intervention.

      Pretoria has however asked Mugabe and his government first to resume
dialogue with the MDC to break Zimbabwe's political impasse, implement
reforms to revive the economy and repeal repressive security and media laws
used to suppress journalists and the opposition in return for financial

      The South Africans have also asked Harare to abandon its controversial
urban clean-up campaign that was condemned by the United Nations as a
disastrous venture that also violated international law.

      Zimbabwe has already shown signs of moving to comply with some of the
conditions set by Pretoria with Vice-President Joyce Mujuru announcing last
week that the government had ended its clean-up drive that displaced at
least 700 000 people after their homes were demolished by the police.

      Another UZ lecturer Heneri Dzinotyiwei said Zimbabwe would go all the
way and fulfill the loan conditions only if Harare saw them, "as positive
and meant to make the country achieve positive goals such as a successful
economic turn around."

      But Dzinotyiwei was also unsure saying it was "just too early" to tell
whether Harare will keep its side of the deal.

      Masunungure said Harare was likely to accept South Africa's
conditionalities in order to get aid to escape IMF punishment and to avert
total economic collapse but would renege on their word once pressure was

      Mugabe and ZANU PF could even open dialogue with the MDC but could
easily derail the process down the line, he said.

      "They can say we agree on paper, but there is nothing to stop them
from shifting positions later on," said the respected Masunugure.

      Mugabe has in the past promised Southern African Development Community
leaders and Mbeki in particular that he would repeal repressive security and
media laws and allow more freedom for the opposition but to no avail. -

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ABC, Australia

Last Update: Sunday, July 31, 2005. 7:01am (AEST)
Rudd urges China against 'soft loans' for Zimbabwe
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, has issued a warning for
China to resist entering into any soft-loan agreements with the Zimbabwean
Government that may prop up the Mugabe regime.

Mr Mugabe is in China seeking financial assistance for his financially
crippled country.

More than 700,000 people have been displaced in the past few weeks by the
Mugabe Government's policy of urban cleansing.

Mr Rudd says the recent welcome Mr Mugabe received in Beijing is not good
for China's international image.

He says the Australian Government should express its concerns about China's
increasingly close relationship with Zimbabwe.

"We, speaking as the alternative government of Australia, would be deeply
concerned if the Chinese Government saw fit to provide soft forms of finance
to Mugabe's regime," Mr Rudd told ABC Radio's Sunday Profile program.

"I don't think that is appropriate in terms of where Zimbabwe now finds
itself in the court of international opinion.

"I don't think it would be a good thing also in terms of China's
international standing."
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Sunday Independent, SA

      Mugabe has Mbeki over a barrel regarding financial bail-out
            July 31, 2005

            By William Mervin Gumede

            The cantankerous Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe seems to
have won again. In spite of his appalling record of battering the
opposition, human rights abuses and disregarding basic freedoms, he is
likely to be bailed out by South Africa to the tune of R6,5 billion.

            This is the approximate amount Zimbabwe owes the International
Monetary Fund. The IMF meets in August to decide whether to expel the
country. A process of formal expulsion is already in motion. Mbeki and his
strategists argue that providing Zimbabwe with a rescue package will finally
give the South African government the leverage that five years of quiet
diplomacy has spectacularly failed to secure.

            Part of the South African rescue package would be agricultural
help following Zimbabwe's predictable maize crop failure, which has left the
country with a 1,6 million-ton shortfall. Not surprising,

            if one considers the disruption of agricultural production
following Mugabe's mismanagement of land reform.

            Among the terms of the rescue deal would be that Zimbabwe return
to the rule of law and that Zanu-PF step up talks with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change; lift the restrictions on the media and civil
groups; stop Operation Restore Order, a controversial urban clean-up
campaign; and protect the property rights of South African investments

            It also compels the Zimbabwean government to manage the economy
prudently, including reining in runaway inflation, devaluing the Zimbabwean
dollar and raising domestic revenue by increasing fuel prices.

            An important element in the renewed eagerness of the South
African government to stand surety for Zimbabwe is that Mugabe has also
approached China for a loan. The Chinese demand substantial concessions for
such a loan, including access to coal, gold and platinum deposits. In
return, the Chinese would not only grant the loan, but try to protect
Zimbabwe at the United Nations and IMF.

            Mbeki fears South Africa's political and economic interests are
at peril if the Chinese get a clear foothold in Zimbabwe - although the
Chinese are already there.

            Chinese political reach into the region will presumably go
against South Africa's attempts to bring good governance to Africa. The
symbolic value of the Chinese presence would be that bad governance does
actually pay.

            The loan offer to Zimbabwe reflects Mbeki's belief that
Zimbabwe's economic woes are partially to be blamed on the legacy of
colonialism. Thus Mbeki's statement: "It is wrong to say that the debt
problem in Zimbabwe is one of corruption, that money was disappearing to
corrupt politicians."

            But this is only half-true. It is obviously correct that after
liberation in Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesian regime left a depleted and
ransacked fiscus. The Nats did the same to the incoming ANC government in
1994. The Zimbabwean government initially spent and borrowed heavily to give
its newly liberated citizens a better life.

            The truth is that, since then, Zanu-PF corruption, kleptocracy
and mismanagement have compounded the country's woes. Rampant cronyism and
corruption - giving land and jobs to pals - caused outrage among Zanu-PF

            Mugabe and Zanu-PF's leaders responded to a potential revolt by
conveniently saying the fact that the land was still in a few white hands
(which was true and, it must be added, also in the hands of a few blacks
connected to Mugabe and the Zanu-PF leadership) was to blame for slow
delivery on land and jobs.

            The question of South Africa paying Zimbabwe's IMF debt was
proposed by Mbeki, and supported by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, in

            Then, predictably, Mugabe eagerly agreed to terms which were
almost exactly the same. And, no surprises, he reneged on all those.
Moreover, Mugabe has reneged on most, if not all, other promises he has made

            How is the South African government going to hold the Zanu-PF
regime to conditions when they've failed to do so up to now? And how is the
SA government going to ensure the money is actually going to feed the
starving people of Zimbabwe, and not only those seen as Zanu-PF supporters?
So far, we've had no clear answers.

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The Telegraph

            'Racist' Rhodes bequest blocks scholarships in poor countries
            By Colin Freeman
            (Filed: 31/07/2005)

            Its mission is to educate the brightest and best of every
country in the hope of promoting world peace and understanding. But after
nearly a century of grooming future leaders, Oxford University's Rhodes
Scholarship is embroiled in a dispute over the now-unfashionable wishes of
its founder, Cecil John Rhodes.

            The scholarship, which includes former President Bill Clinton
and the actor Kris Kristofferson among its alumni, has been forced to cut
its number of places because of the rising cost of a British university
education and losses during the investment crash.

            To the embarrassment of many of its alumni, the Rhodes
Scholarship's trustees have decreed that the axe must fall not on wealthy
countries such as America, which typically sends about 30 students a year,
but from more impoverished beneficiaries including Uganda, Pakistan and

            Despite protests that the cuts favour the rich, the trustees
have pointed out that the will left by Rhodes, the Victorian imperialist and
diamond magnate, who believed that the white man's duty was to lead the
world, stipulates that scholars from America were to take precedence over
most other countries.

            Members of the scholars' American fraternity, who typically do
two years postgraduate study at Oxford, are considering taking legal action
in Britain to attempt to change the will.

            Details of the soul-searching that the trust's decision has
sparked among Rhodes academics were laid bare in an article in last week's
Wall Street Journal by David Robinson, a Princeton University major who is
studying moral philosophy at Oxford's Balliol College.

            Quoting the "angry" views that had been expressed on a scholars'
email discussion group, he wrote: "How could anyone argue that Bangladesh or
Uganda should be denied the chance to send a Rhodes scholar to Oxford, when
the 32 American scholarships remain intact? Where's the fairness in that?"

            The move has given contemporary Rhodes scholars an uncomfortable
reminder that their benefactor, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape of
Good Hope in the 1890s and gave his name to Rhodesia, had a rather different
view of "progressive" thinking to theirs. He was a firm believer in colonial
doctrine, and structured the funding priorities of his scholarship

            Mr Robinson, 23, said that while he was personally "deeply
grateful" to Rhodes for funding the scholarships, his good intentions also
suffered from "blatantly racist paternalism".

            Sir Colin Lucas, the secretary of the Rhodes Trust, said that
under the terms of the will, which originally founded 50 scholarships, a
minimum of 32 had to be kept for Americans, along with similar quotas for
students from South Africa and Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.

            "About 25 new discretionary scholarships were funded in the
1990s, and it is these that we are having to look at," he said. "Legally, we
don't have the freedom to change things as people might think.

            "We have explained the situation to our representatives in the
affected countries, and while it is obviously regrettable, they fully
understand the reasons."

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Sunday Independent, SA

      From breadbasket of Africa to basket case
            July 31, 2005

            I refer to your editorial of July 24 and wish to take issue with
some points that you raised. It is rather odious to call Ian Smith a
dictator, thereby directly comparing him with Mugabe. Smith was never a
dictator, and while he was many things to many people, he was most certainly
not corrupt.

            When Mugabe took over Rhodesia in 1980, the country was still
very much a going concern and had money in the bank despite 15 years of
sanctions and a hugely expensive so-called war of freedom. Zimbabwe has gone
from being the breadbasket of southern Africa to being just another African
basket case.

            Ask the average black African in Zimbabwe who is old enough to
remember when Smith was prime minister and they will tell you that they were
far better off then than they are now with Mugabe, who has reduced this once
thriving, prosperous country to an international pariah. You talk of a
"negotiated settlement and freedom for Zimbabwe" - freedom from what?

            Of course Mbeki is going to recommend that South Africa
temporarily bail out Zimbabwe with what is euphemistically being called a
loan. The reasons for doing so now are rather spurious, as millions of
Zimbabweans have been flooding into this country (and indeed many other
countries) for years. He is doing it not for reasons of altruism but because
Mugabe is calling in favours that he extended to the ANC in the days of
South Africa's struggle and because, I suspect, Mbeki actually agrees with
what Mugabe is doing.

            DP Cattin

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New York Times

A New Face of Hunger, Without the Old Excuses

Published: July 31, 2005

THE pictures are wrenching. A nomad holds an infant aloft, its gaunt head lolling dangerously, its matchstick limbs akimbo. A father asks God to forgive him for weeping publicly; he has just buried his son. A child in an emergency clinic awakens from a hunger-induced stupor only to moan and weep from the pain of his starvation-induced skin sores.

Schalk van Zuydam/Associated Press

A boy suffering from malnutrition sits up in a make shift hospital in Maradi, Niger. More Photos >

These images of victims of a food crisis in the vast, landlocked West African nation of Niger, captured by a BBC television correspondent and shown around the world, look like something the world has seen before - the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980's. That catastrophe prompted an extraordinary outpouring of generosity, along with a vow that the world would never again stand by as millions went hungry.

Yet here it is again, far smaller in scale, yet replete with images of stick-thin children with hunger-swollen bellies clinging to bony, flat-breasted mothers. Once again there is the question: what causes these calamities that invariably afflict the world's poorest corners?

The immediate cause is certainly known. Locust swarms and poor rains last year wiped out much of the nation's harvest and caused grain prices to triple. But when misfortunes strike other countries, they can help their people, with planning, with resources and by seeking aid from abroad. So what has gone so terribly wrong in Niger?

For decades famine was seen largely as a consequence of bad political leadership. Food scarcity in Ethiopia in the 1980's had natural causes, but its transformation into a deadly famine came to be understood as mostly man-made, the result of a Stalinist regime's collectivist ideology and its pursuit of victory over insurgents without regard to the well-being of its people. It seemed a neat illustration of the development the economist Amartya Sen's dictum: "No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy."

But that does not explain Niger's problem. Niger is a democracy. It has been one since 1999, when it made the transition to multiparty democracy and constitutional rule after a decade of turmoil. It has also made, in part at least, the painful transition from a centralized, state-run economy to a market-driven one, earning praise and ultimately relief from about half of its estimated $1.6 billion in foreign debt from the World Bank.

Yet Niger still earns a horrifically high score on the index of human misery compiled by the United Nations Development Program, which lists it as the second least developed nation in the world, just ahead of Sierra Leone.

More than 25 percent of its children die before their fifth birthdays. Those who survive go on to scrape a meager existence from a harsh, arid savanna that is just barely suitable for farming and cattle grazing, yet must feed 12 million people. Cyclical droughts and chronic hunger are a way of life. Life expectancy tops out at 46 years.

Nor is Niger alone in its troubles. Of the 25 countries at the bottom of the development list, all but two are in Africa. Niger's food crisis - it is not, despite news reports, a famine yet - is not even the worst on the continent. Similar problems, involving even larger numbers, exist in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Darfur and elsewhere.

Far from ignoring or playing down its troubles, Niger's government, in cooperation with international aid agencies, sounded the alarm back in November. It provided subsidized grain and other aid from its own stocks, and has apparently made every effort to avert disaster. The world simply failed to respond, leaving the government unable to mount a sufficient aid campaign.

"The world has not noticed," said Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff to the Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general. "When you get a crisis of this kind in a little known, landlocked country, which is Francophone and hard to reach, the inability to mobilize and galvanize sufficient support in a timely way is huge."

Of $16 million requested by the United Nations in an appeal for aid, less than a third had been received until about a week ago, when images of starving children began appearing on television. Food distribution is well under way, but precious time was lost, Mr. Malloch Brown said.

Niger and its neighbors are textbook cases of what the Columbia University economist Jeffrey D. Sachs calls "the poverty trap."

"When poverty is extreme," Mr. Sachs wrote in his recent book, "The End of Poverty," "the poor do not have the ability - by themselves - to get out of the mess."


The new prescription he advocates for such countries, as he described it in a telephone interview, is a large infusion of aid directed to basic needs like growing more food, providing access to clean drinking water and preventing diseases like malaria.

If farmers in Niger got better seeds and fertilizers, he said, they would grow more crops, preventing food shortages in the first place. Children who had safe drinking water would not suffer from diarrhea or its deadly complications, malnourishment and dehydration. Fighting malaria, which debilitates as well as kills, would increase productivity. Good roads would allow rural populations to send produce to market in flush times and let their government and aid agencies know who is in trouble in bad times.

Niger may be a democracy, but its government is weak and its tiny budget is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid. It may have a free press, but if literacy is at 17 percent and few can afford radios or televisions, how can a free press safeguard against famine? It may have elections, but if the government has put itself at the mercy of international donors in return for promises of aid, can it be held to account when the world does not live up to its end of the bargain?

In the end, the way out of misery for countries like Niger is neither democracy nor increased aid alone, but a blend of the two, said Stephen Devereux, an expert on famine at the University of Sussex in Britain. Mr. Sen's phrase about famine and poverty is often misquoted to leave out the word "functioning." Helping young democracies become functioning nations is probably the only way to inoculate countries like Niger against catastrophe.

"Niger appears to have done everything it could," Mr. Devereux said. "We have to ask ourselves, what do international donors owe Niger in return? If you accept the situation that a country is so poor that it will be dependent on assistance for a long time, the responsibility for preventing famine is shared."

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Sunday Independent, SA

      Mugabe returns from China without securing a $1-billion loan
            July 31, 2005

            By Basildon Peta

            Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe failed to win the $1-billion
(R6,7-billion) loan he desperately needed from the Chinese government this
week to buy essential imports such as food, fuel, electricity and drugs.

            While visiting China, he won diplomatic points against the West
with a pledge from Beijing to veto any tough United Nations security council
resolutions on Zimbabwe.

            However, China failed to prevent the council debating Mugabe's
controversial campaign to "clean up" shacks and hawkers.

            But in cash terms, Mugabe returned largely empty-handed.
Authoritative sources who travelled with Mugabe said the Chinese did give
him $6 million (about R39 million) for urgent humanitarian aid.

            Beijing was also reported to have offered money to upgrade an
electricity power station and to sell Zimbabwe a commercial aircraft. The
two governments also signed broad economic cooperation agreements.

            But the sources said China had not made any "firm commitments"
to a $1-billion comprehensive economic rescue package.

            Mugabe hoped to get a big loan from China rather than from South
Africa, which has offered a loan of an undisclosed amount. But South Africa
requires economic and political reforms as conditions for a loan.

            Another source from a Zimbabwean parastatal who was part of the
delegation said he believed the Chinese were reluctant to lend a lot of
money for fear of not being repaid.

            The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's opposition,
has publicly warned that it won't necessarily honour any deals that foreign
firms are negotiating with Mugabe's repressive regime.
            Sources said Mugabe offered the Chinese - who are hungry for raw
materials - equity in several mines, as well as farming concessions.

            The sources said the Chinese had asked for time to review and
consider the offers, meaning they would not immediately release the large
sum of money that Mugabe was hoping for.

            The Chinese clearly preferred joint-venture business deals in
which each side would be taking a measure of risk. They had thus signed a
co-operation agreement to market coal from Wankie Colliery and pledged
similar ventures in the transport and telecommunications sectors.

            "While they are willing to provide infrastructural help on
generous credit terms, they [the Chinese] are not willing just to throw huge
amounts of money at us," said the source from the parastatal.

            The apparent failure of the Chinese trip will be welcomed in
Pretoria, although the Democratic Alliance and other observers have
expressed concerns that Mugabe may not stick to the terms or even repay a

            President Thabo Mbeki has said the South African government is
still considering Zimbabwe's loan request. - Foreign Service

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