Sat 17 December 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe police were by late last night still holding three
journalists of the private Voice of the People (VOP) broadcasting company as
"ransom" until the director of the company hands himself over to the law
enforcement agency, according to the journalists' lawyer.
The journalists, Maria Nyanyiwa, Nyasha Bosha and Kundai Mugwanda were
arrested earlier on Thursday when police and officials of the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) raided the VOP offices in Harare. They are being
held at Harare Central police station and are most likely to spend the
weekend at the station known for its filthy cells.
In an urgent application to the High Court on Friday seeking the
journalists' release, their lawyer, Jacob Mafume, said the police had told
him that they would not free his clients until VOP director David Masunda
turns himself in.
"The respondents (police) are holding the applicants as ransom as they
have already stated in no uncertain terms that they will only release them
after their director hands himself over to the police," Mafume said in a
He added: "The respondents have thus acted and continue to act outside
the law and look set to continue to do so."
Mafume also said in his court papers that the police officers had
indicated during the Thursday raid that they were acting on orders from Home
Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and that they would not let legal niceties
"The . . . respondents arrogantly boasted that they were not going to
be bogged down by the objections of lawyers, whether lawful or otherwise . .
. They said they were doing what they were doing as "Minister akamirira"
(the Minister is waiting for a report), giving a hint that they were
operating under instruction from above," Mafume said.
Several police officers, Mohadi and Attorney General Sobuza
Gula-Ndebele are cited as respondents in the application that however
appears unlikely to be heard in court before next Monday.
It was not possible to get comment on the matter last night from
Ndebele, who is the government's chief legal officer, or from Mohadi and
police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.
Meanwhile, armed police were maintaining a tight guard on VOP offices
barring people access to the office.
During the raid on Thursday, the police said they were looking for
transmitters and other broadcasting equipment.
Under the government's draconian Broadcasting Act, it is illegal for
radio and television firms to broadcast from the country without first
obtaining a licence from the BAZ.
But VOP does not broadcast from Zimbabwe although it maintains offices
and reporters in the country. The station broadcasts into the southern
African country using a Radio Netherlands transmitter in the Indian ocean
island of Madagascar.
VOP, which was once bombed three years ago by unknown people, is one
of several foreign-based radio stations set up by Zimbabwean broadcasters
unable to broadcast from home because of the stringent conditions under the
The crackdown on VOP comes days after a vitriolic attack by government
Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya against the privately-owned media
which he accused of being paid by Western countries to tarnish the image of
President Robert Mugabe and his government.
Jokonya threatened to take unspecified but tough measures against the
small but vibrant privately-owned media. - ZimOnline
Sat 17 December 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has vowed to crush any
opposition-led mass revolt against his 25-year old government, state radio
reported on Friday.
Mugabe, who is in Malaysia attending former Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohammed's Perdana Global Peace Forum, told Zimbabweans in Kuala Lumpur that
a faction of the splintered opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party led by Morgan Tsvangirai was plotting to organise a mass uprising to
unseat his government.
The radio reported: "The president comrade Robert Mugabe said the
decision of the anti-senate MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai to engage
in unlawful acts to push a British agenda of a regime change in Zimbabwe
will not be entertained. The Tsvangirai faction has a propensity of violence
as it has more brawn than brains."
The six-year old MDC, which had posed the greatest threat to Mugabe's
government, has splintered into two rival factions after disagreeing on
whether to contest last month's senate election.
Tsvangirai opposed contesting the poll which he said would be rigged
by ZANU PF and was besides a waste of resources for a country that should be
channelling all efforts towards fighting hunger threatening three million
out of its 12 million people.
The MDC leader has said he is now focusing on mobilising Zimbabweans
for democratic resistance against Mugabe's government.
But MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube supported by other top
leaders have disagreed with Tsvangirai insisting they will fight to remove
Mugabe from power through the ballot box.
Differences between Tsvangirai and Ncube have paralysed the MDC and
appear to have for now removed the threat that the party posed to Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU PF party.
But Mugabe remains wary of the hugely popular Tsvangirai who he fears
might still be able to take advantage of public discontent - rising because
of worsening economic hardships - to mobilise Zimbabweans to revolt against
his government. - ZimOnline
Sat 17 December 2005
CAPE TOWN - South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma has defended her government's controversial policy of quiet
diplomacy towards neighbouring Zimbabwe saying it was based on "the
principles of justice and international law".
South Africa, which analysts say has the economic muscle to push the
Zimbabwe government to abandon some of its controversial policies, has
refused to publicly condemn misrule and human rights violations by President
Robert Mugabe's government.
Pretoria insists that it is better placed to influence events in
Zimbabwe through its quiet diplomacy approach and not through public
condemnation of the Harare authorities.
Zuma, who was responding to a question from opposition chief whip,
Douglas Gibson, whether SA had a strategic foreign policy document and how
it influenced South Africa's policy, said she had a strategic policy plan
running from 2005 to 2008.
The strategic objectives of the plan included among other things,
protecting South Africa's national interests, sovereignty and territorial
Zuma, who is one of South Africa's most vocal defenders of Mugabe,
said Pretoria's dealings with Harare broadly focused on advancing the
Pan-African agenda, promotion of South-South co-operation, North-South
dialogue and global governance.
She also said South Africa's relations with Zimbabwe were also
influenced by the Pretoria government's commitment to the promotion of human
rights and democracy.
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
however says South Africa's policy towards Harare has virtually been guided
by a strong desire to keep Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party in power with or
without Mugabe in charge and regardless of the feelings of the electorate.
South Africa, which is negotiating a US$500 million financial bailout
with the cash-strapped Harare government, denies shoring up Mugabe's
government saying its policies have been aimed at avoiding Zimbabwe's total
collapse while at the same time encouraging dialogue between Zimbabweans to
find a solution to their problems. - ZimOnline
With the economy in tatters, endemic poverty and unemployment, and
continued political strife, where is Zimbabwe heading as 2005 draws to a
Life expectancy in the country is just over 30 years and 20% of adults
are infected with HIV/Aids.
In sport too, controversy reigned this year with squabbles and
allegations of fraud in cricket.
On the other hand, things are looking up with Zimbabwe having
qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations. And on the arts front, the scene
continues to thrive.
As 2006 approaches, where does Zimbabwe stand in terms of its
politics, economics, arts and sports? Is it in "meltdown" as the UN recently
described? What does the rest of Africa feel about Zimbabwe's future?
Send us your comments and experiences using the form on the right, or
text us to +44 77 86 20 20 08. If you would like to take part in the Africa
Have Your Say radio programme on Thursday 29 December at 1600 GMT, please
include a telephone number. It will not be published.
My heart cries out to the plight of the people in Africa like
Zimbabwe. I just wish I could do something. Those two girls picking rotten
eggs are Africa's future generation. As 2006 approaches, it is high time we
Africans mobilised any resources we have to help out our fellow brothers and
sisters in Zimbabwe rather than waiting for international bodies like UN or
World Food Programme.
Prossy Nannyombi, Entebbe, Uganda
Zimbabwe is melting down, and its recovery is through foreign aid.
Having rain or no rain is not going help anything because there is no-one to
utilise the rain.
Tafara Alfred Mukwendi, UK, Birmingham
Zimbabwe is heading to renewal and prosperity. It might seem that
Zimbabwe is poorer now than before, but no Zimbabwean peasant will agree
with that. They were landless in their own country and now they have land.
Muhoza Chiza, Mwanza, Tanzania
One solution: Re-colonize under the guise of the UN. Have transparent
elections after four years. Invest heavily in new true democracy. Hold true
to a constitution that believes in fundamental human rights.
Steve, Boston, USA
Call it drought, Western media, colonialism, Blairism or whatever
excuse you can trump up. The fact is there are virtually no crops in the
ground because there are virtually no legitimate farmers. For those
Zimbabweans not in Zimbabwe supporting this lunacy, why are you not still in
Zimbabwe if it is so great?
I am living in Harare. We have got problems but the media is
over-exaggerating them. Zimbabweans are soldiering on and in the end will
come up stronger. 2006 will be a good year for Zimbabwe.
Chimhosva Chimhosva, Harare, Zimbabwe
I come from Zambia and I know where Zimbabwe is coming from. The only
next thing for Zimbabwe is to have a new leader with fresh ideas and have
good international relations.
Percy Ngwira, Hong Kong
The plight of Zimbabwe is a scandal. How can the world stand by and
let this happen? If this was a business, it would be placed in
Jeremy Wilcock, Hull, UK
Zimbabwe is going down and it has most probably hit rock bottom. If
the country does not have a good rainy season in 2006 and the billion dollar
aid package does not materialise from South Africa, the country will be
doomed. Zimbabwe will have a future when the country starts correcting some
of the mistakes made during the land reform programme. It is imperative that
those who have been allocated farms become productive.
Farai Zichawo, Reading, UK
Dear Zimbabwe - how I would have loved to gather you in my bosom just
like a mother hen does to her chicks. You were one of paradise, then
suddenly the laughing stock of the whole world. You have more wrongs than
rights. You have the richest soil, but cannot produce your own food because
of internal and external interference. Africa stands watching you
deteriorate, but cannot provide solutions to you.
Shuttie F. N. Libuta, Kitwe/Zambia/Central Africa
We as Zimbabweans we know the truth about our country and some don't
as has always been the case in every society. Politicians of all walks of
life have failed to resuscitate the political, economic and social life of
an average Zimbabwean. What every Zimbabwean at home and abroad wishes is a
proper rain season in 2006 and nothing else.
Oliver Mtyambizi, Cardiff, UK
If Zimbabweans want to improve their economy and get back to track,
they must vote for another party.
I am a Tanzanian who happened to be in Zimbabwe in 1986 then 1992 and
in 2004.The situation there is next to worst. Food is scarce, there is no
employment and it is queues everywhere. Those who blame or condemn the
western media it seems they can not differentiate what are opinions and what
are facts. The pains and sufferings that our brothers and sisters are
experiencing can not be imagined and for sure it will take time for Zimbabwe
to be a paradise again.
Al Mwambulusye, Toronto, Canada
This past August I returned to Zimbabwe for the first time in more
than a decade. The changes I saw were astounding. Reading about the
situation in the Western media is one thing, living it is a twilight zone
experience. The city is virtually dark, everywhere there's the smell of
smoke. Foreign currency is available only on the black market. A haircut was
$20,000 when I arrived. Three weeks later it was $40,000. There are lines
everywhere - lines for petrol that might show up, lines at the passport
office for those desperate to get out, lines for bread, mealie meal, sugar,
cooking oil, lines for the dwindling public transport fleets. As far as
other African countries, it's not a big deal because we have just joined the
club, and we have not yet hit rock bottom.
Tamuka Hwami, Zimbabwean in USA
I was born in Zimbabwe but refuse to call myself a Zimbabwean. I
disowned that country because it's easier not to care. And the only reason
someone stops caring is when there is no hope. Take it from me, Zimbabwe
melted way before the United Nations decided to admit it had.
Sibusisiwe, San Antonio, Texas
Zimbabwe has hit rock bottom and the only way it can go is up. HIV
infection rates have fallen and it appears the country will have a good
rainy season. The people of Zimbabwe have been resilient despite the
tremendous odds stacked against them, for example, economic sanctions and a
hostile international media.
Farai Dziva, Leicester, UK
Zimbabwe is in dire straits. I do not see any future for the country,
until the leaders do the right thing, which is protect the interests of
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos
The hardship Zimbabweans have endured for all these recent years would
take time for the country to recover from that situation. Meanwhile, some of
these policies that have been carried out or used against Zimbabwean
citizens are against international laws. However, Zimbabweans will continue
suffer and suffer because of its neighbouring countries cold water policy
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA
Zimbabweans have voted for Mugabe in multiple elections again and
again since 1980. I presume they must be happy with his government and agree
with its policies. All the bad news in that case can only be because of the
bad 'colonial' or 'western' media campaigns. Surprising though, over three
million Zimbabweans have left the country that they so dearly love.
Ralph Miescher, Luzern, Switzerland
I never in my lifetime thought I could leave my country to be a
citizen in another country but because of corruption, government
mismanagement and unaccountability, and disregard for the rule of law, most
Zimbabweans, myself included, had to flee our beloved country. This has got
nothing to do with the media.
Rebecca Muzorewa, Quebec, Canada
Zimbabwe has been destroyed by negative media coverage. I'm not sure
that all is gloom and doom about the country. With the happenings in
Ethiopia if it were in Zimbabwe God knows what you, the world media, would
Besenty Gomez, Kitty Village, The Gambia
I think Zimbabwe is building a backbone just from scratch, thus this
I feel bad for my fellow Africans in Zimbabwe. The untold hardship and
suffering they go through is beyond human comprehension. With the precarious
nature of things in Zimbabwe right now, I do not see any improvement or
changes, except if a miracle happened.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
Just recently, hundreds of thousands of people and perhaps a million
were left homeless and jobless because of a government program to tear down
urban shelters and commercial stalls considered illegal structures. We
received heart-rending stories of families and children living in the open
during the cold months. If the government was cohesive and transparent in
their dealings, there can be a bright future for Zimbabwe.
Josephat Mua, Kenyan in USA
The policy of allocating farmlands to landless poor Africans seems a
good idea. However the tactless implementation and the less than diplomatic
method of handling the inter-racial and international relations of the whole
exercise has reduced things into a pitiable disaster.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA.
By Lance Guma
16 December 2005
Three journalists from an independent radio station, Voice of the
People (VOP), who were arrested by police during a raid on their offices on
Thursday, have been told they will be charged under two separate but similar
Maria Nyanyiwa, Kundai Mugwanda and Nyasha Bosha who are being held at
Harare Central Police Station will face charges under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) for allegedly practising
without accreditation. A further charge under the Broadcasting Act for
allegedly operating an illegal radio station without a licence is set to be
added to the case.
Surprisingly the station has been operating in the country as a
Communication Trust since its creation in 2000. The station had its offices
bombed in 2002 by unknown assailants and whom the police have not bothered
to track down. According to Itayi Zimunya from the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, the police are still looking for the station manager John Masuku,
Chairperson David Masunda and Editor Shorai Kariwa. They have since told
lawyers for the journalists that their clients will not be released until
the radio station's directors hand themselves over.
Five Central Intelligence operatives raided the stations offices in
Beverly Court Building, Harare. After failing to find any broadcasting
equipment, they confiscated computers, tapes and files before arresting the
three journalists present. They also asked for John Masuku, the station
manager who was away at the time. Its reported they produced a search
warrant which according to witnesses stated that the CIO had reason to
believe Masuku was in possession of subversive materials and that the
warrant empowered them to search the offices.
Government recently started jamming the shortwave transmissions of the
station which broadcasts in the country via a Radio Netherlands transmitter
in Madagascar. This happened soon after SWRA switched to medium wave
following persistent jamming of its own signal. In August 2002, VOP's
offices in Milton Park were destroyed by a bomb blast. The blast also
completely destroyed their production facilities. This took place soon after
threats by government officials on the operations of private radio stations
in and outside the country.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
16 December 2005
A paper by Robert Mugabe entitled: Horrors Of Civil War: An African
Perspective,suffered a setback when his address was cancelled last minute by
organisers at the Perdana Global Peace Forum because of poor participation.
Mugabe is in Malaysia to attend this Forum set up by former Malaysian
Prime Minister and long time friend, Mahathir Mohammed.
A report emailed to SW Radio Africa by the New Straits Times quotes a
spokesperson for the Perdana Leadership Foundation, the organiser for the
Forum saying, "The atmosphere at lunch would not have been suitable for a
head of state."
Organisers were forced to change the slot at last minute due to poor
The New Straits Times said Mugabe had requested to speak at the forum
at the last-minute and the only slot available was Friday's lunch. He was
scheduled to give a 30-minute speech to the participants but was
inexplicably replaced at the last minute by Buddhist scholar Dr Chin Kung.
Organisers were apprehensive that Mugabe's talk might not be well
attended. One source said, "It was a difficult decision but rather than have
no one in the hall, the organisers decided to cancel it." It was claimed
many participants were off for Friday's prayers.
In the past few months Robert Mugabe has enjoyed the irony of
participating in international conferences on food security, press freedom
and now he is in Malaysia to talk about peace and perhaps it is not too
surprising that nobody wanted to attend.
The former Malaysian Prime Minister had to defend Mugabe publicly and
argue for his right to speak
In his press conference Thursday, Dr Mahathir Mohamed was questioned
on the relevance of Mugabe's presence at the peace forum. He replied that
the forum made no distinction among its speakers.
He said, "Everybody can attend. If he wants to say how good it is to
be a dictator, he can."
Although Mugabe failed to address participants at the forum he told a
small group of Zimbabweans in Kuala Lumpur that the regime will crush any
opposition-led mass revolt against his government.
State radio said Mugabe told Zimbabweans that a faction of the
splintered MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai unlawful acts to push a British
agenda of a regime change in Zimbabwe will not be entertained.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
From The Daily Mail (UK), 12 December
By Sue Lloyd-Roberts
Arrogant whites!' 'You are stealing from our country!' 'You come here, take
your pictures and then go away and put out your rubbish reports!' This was
just some of the abuse yelled at us by three police officers in a cramped,
dingy room at Harare Central Police Station. My crime? My cameraman and I
had been caught filming people queueing for sugar in downtown Harare,
capital of beleaguered Zimbabwe. We were bundled into a car and taken in for
questioning. I tried to defend myself by arguing: 'There are so many food
queues in Zimbabwe these days that it is difficult not to film them.' But
the police weren't having it. They wanted our pictures. Queues are simply
everywhere - for flour, mealie meal, sugar, mobile phone cards, petrol (two
miles long outside some petrol stations) and bank hole-in-the-wall machines.
Since a Zim $1,000 note is so devalued that it is currently worth less than
1p, people have to line up at cashpoint machines several times a day to
accumulate the $85,000 necessary to buy a loaf of bread. But as far as the
authorities are concerned, food queues do not exist and so pictures of them
cannot be published in 'rubbish reports' sent abroad.
When international relief agencies offered President Robert Mugabe millions
of pounds in aid to give food to his starving people earlier in the year, he
turned the offer down, saying: 'Food shortages? What food shortages?' Ever
since 'Uncle Bob' - as he's called here, with affection by some and derision
by many - seized the white-owned commercial farms and handed them to his war
veterans and friends, Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed. Production of grain,
tobacco and coffee has halved, inflation is running at 500 per cent and
unemployment at 80 per cent. No one knows how many thousands have already
died in this self-inflicted disaster. I was among a handful of journalists
the government allowed into the country to report on Mugabe's latest
pretence at democratic rule - the election last month for a new upper house
of parliament. Uncle Bob personally appoints 16 of the 66 new senators.
Cynical observers say that because Uncle Bob has now run out of farms to
give away, he has been forced to hand out jobs, prestige and official cars
to his cronies in the new upper house.
As a public relations exercise, the decision to allow a foreign TV film crew
into the country backfired badly. Fed up with phoney, rigged elections (this
is the second this year), the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), called for a boycott and, as a result, fewer than 15 per cent
of voters turned out - the lowest number for a national election since
independence in 1980. On polling day we could hardly fail to notice that the
queues for the cashpoints were longer than those at polling stations.
Zimbabwe today has become one large, stinking, starving prison. Uncollected
rubbish, beggars, hunger and fear now stalk the land that was once the bread
basket of southern Africa. Robert Mugabe's violent and crazy 25-year rule
has reduced what was one of the most affluent countries in the continent to
one of the poorest and, for those who dare oppose the government, it is now
the most fearful.
'It was after midnight when 30 soldiers burst into the house,' Mary, a young
MDC activist, told me, shaking with emotion in the tiny living room she
shares with eight members of her family. 'They took me into my room and
started beating me. I heard them beating my mother in the living room and
asked them: "Why are you beating my mother? It is me that you want." 'They
then took me to my mother. They had hit her on the head and one of her eyes
was injured. They made me watch as they pulled apart her legs and forced an
AK47 rifle in her.' "How many MDC activists have you produced?" they shouted
at her. 'How could they do that? My mother is over 60 years old. They then
found my brother and beat him until he was almost dead. He had deep cuts
everywhere.' At this point Mary broke down. Her long, loud howls filled the
tiny room. Her family nervously asked her to stop. She could be heard
outside the thin walls of the house.
Any untoward behaviour in Zimbabwe is noted by the members of Mugabe's
Central Intelligence Office (CIO) who patrol every street and infiltrate
every meeting. Telling such a story to a journalist would earn you another
beating and a prison sentence. Not surprisingly, there is much more that the
government of Zimbabwe wants to keep hidden. On the outskirts of Harare and
Bulawayo, you see vast areas of wasteland that have been recently cleared.
Look closely, and you might see a child's shoe or the remains of a smashed
radio. This is where Operation 'Restore Order' (or 'Clean Up Filth',
depending on the translation) has taken place. The plan is to remove
thousands of 'politically incorrect' slum dwellers and to destroy their
livelihoods. This, the most brutal attack yet launched by Mugabe on his
people, began in May and the last clearances took place three weeks ago. The
operation was so thorough that these people, and the thousands of little
businesses and food stalls which sustained them, have apparently disappeared
into thin air. All that is left is the ploughed earth. The UN estimates that
700,000 people have lost their jobs and homes.
I found a man called Joseph sleeping in a garden shed, half a mile or so
from his destroyed home. We had arranged a meeting just before dawn, when
the Harare sky was still grey and before the men from the Central
Intelligence Office started their rounds. The shed, built to accommodate
garden tools, just about covered the length of his long, thin body. It was
little more than a metre high. With difficulty, he eased his body out of its
coffin-like space and told us his story. He said: 'We lived a good life - my
wife and family - we had two rooms. But then the MDC won lots of votes round
here in the general election and so the government got vicious. Two days
after the vote, police officers and soldiers came and told people to destroy
their own houses. If we refused, they beat us and put guns at our
head.'Within hours Joseph's house was dismantled and bulldozers finished the
job. His wife was pregnant and the shock led to her giving birth on the
streets. Tragically, their newborn daughter lived only two weeks.
Understandably, Joseph has sent his wife and their two remaining children
back to his village. He hopes to start his confectionery business again and
eventually bring them back. But it is unlikely. Even the flower sellers at
the graveyard where he buried his daughter cower in ditches at the approach
of a car. They say that if the police see them, they snatch the flowers and
trample them into the dirt.
Thousands of other survivors of Operation 'Restore Order' have been dumped
in isolated villages where the locals can barely feed themselves, let alone
cope with the new influx. Others have been put in 'resettlement camps' that
are little more than open prisons. When we walked up to the gates of one
camp, we were met by police who told us it was a 'restricted area'. Our
formal request to film was turned down with fury by a man from the Ministry
of Information. Like food queues, displaced people just do not exist in
Mugabe's Zimbabwe. But brave locals who have gone into the camps with
cameras to record the evidence have proved otherwise. It is now the rainy
season and families are having to live in makeshift shelters constructed out
of black plastic and brushwood. With no clean water and no food supplies,
people have to forage for food like animals. One woman shows a handful of
insects in her hand. She says: 'Look. This is what we are eating now. There
is hunger and starvation. We cannot survive.' On the surface, this attack on
Zimbabwe's army of small entrepreneurs appears malicious and meaningless.
The thousands involved in the country's shadow economy may not pay taxes,
but neither are they a huge burden on the state. The only rational
explanation is that all the recent clearances have involved areas where MDC
supporters live. With people stretched to the end of their endurance, the
government is taking drastic action to prevent civil disorder.
But is an uprising possible? In Bulawayo, the Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius
Ncube is one of the few people who gets away with saying the unsayable. I
found him in his library with two former stallholders who had their
livelihoods destroyed in the recent operation.'We are starving,' they tell
him. The archbishop, who with his forthrightness and blunt speech reminds me
of Bishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, draws up his impressive six-foot
frame in fury. His long, powerful arms thump the table for emphasis. 'This
is a murderous government and Robert Mugabe is the biggest murderer of all.
We should be standing up to him and telling him to get out.' But I think
this is unlikely. On a practical level, there is not even enough fuel for
buses to take people to a demonstration or uprising, should one ever be
called. According to a major in the Zimbabwean army, even soldiers are
hungry and dispirited. But he rules out any chance of a coup d'etat. He
says: 'Members of the Central Intelligence Office have infiltrated the army
rank and file. A conspiracy would be impossible.' The truth is that a people
so enfeebled by hunger and fear are simply unable to rise up.
Amid a host of desperate images, my abiding, haunting memory of Zimbabwe
will forever be the children's ward at the mission hospital outside
Bulawayo. It is filled with mothers and malnourished children with their
thin arms, huge eyes set in sunken cheeks and distended bellies. Some women
succeed in putting small spoonfuls of mealie meal in unresponsive mouths.
Others just look on as their listless children lie inert, as if tragically
accepting their fate. One mother stumbles into the ward carrying a tiny
bundle in her arms. She has walked and hitched lifts for 200 miles to get
here, the only functioning hospital in a vast area of the country. The woman
doctor gently lifts her three-year-old boy onto a cot. His face is wizened,
his ribs protrude. He does not move. 'What have you been feeding him?' the
doctor asks, almost accusingly. The mother mumbles the name of a local root
vegetable and adds: 'It's all we have.'The doctor replies: 'But your son
needs protein, eggs, milk.' The mother looks at her, uncomprehending. Next,
the doctor mumbles to herself: 'What's the point? There is no hope for this
country.' A few hours later, the little boy dies.
By comparison, my little inconvenience at Harare police station pales into
insignificance. But it is satisfying to punch a small hole in the fabric of
this murderous regime. Hunger and food queues do not exist, according to the
authorities who were determined to confiscate my tapes so that I could not
prove otherwise. They strip-searched me but I managed to get away with our
film. I am not the first to report on the hell that exists in Zimbabwe
today. The world knows what is going on there. But even so, many Zimbabweans
demanded of me: 'Why does the outside world not do more to help us get rid
of this murderer Robert Mugabe?'
In an attempt to rescue his failing programme of land redistribution, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is trying to involve the army in a "command agriculture" programme.
"Instructions have already been passed onto battalion commanders," a Zimbabwean army major told the BBC.
Five years after Mr Mugabe ordered the seizure of the white-owned commercial farms, agricultural production has halved.
Mr Mugabe has admitted that the people to whom he gave some 4,000 farms have some responsibility for the country's current problems.
"Mugabe is now saying that the people who are on the farms are opposition supporters and that they are sabotaging the country. He says the army must take over," the major said.
"This is an idea which Mugabe got from China, where the army is used in agriculture and industry".
The major risked his job and his life in talking to us. We met on a street in the capital, Harare, late at night and interviewed him in the safety of a car, away from the eyes and ears of Zimbabwe's network of informers.
I asked the major whether he believed the idea would work.
"I don't think it will because soldiers are not trained for farm work," he says.
"They're trained to fight. They don't have the skills. It's out of desperation that he's doing this. It will not work."
Others I spoke to in Zimbabwe agree. John Robertson, the country's foremost economist, pointed out that "the idea has been tried out in China, North Korea and Stalin's Russia and look where it got them."
Roy Bennett, a former opposition MP who lost his farm in the recent seizures, describes the scheme as "a non-starter".
"For farming, you need experience and commitment. The army has neither."
Many soldiers and other officials have already been given land individually under the land reform programme.
A country which once exported grain must now import 80% of its foodstuffs.
The hospitals are filled with malnutrition cases with the very old and the very young the worst affected.
Surrounded by children suffering from HIV and in the advanced stages of malnutrition, Dr Julie Kanaki, who works at a mission hospital near Bulawayo, says, "the situation is hopeless and getting worse".
The hospital puts children on an emergency feeding programme, releases them but they are back within weeks because, the doctor says, their parents have "no meat, eggs, beans, sugar or milk".
In the town, the queues for basic foodstuffs are getting longer.
In cities like Harare and Bulawayo, people line every street in the hope of a shipment of grain, mealie-meal, flour, oil or sugar.
With inflation at 600%, a loaf of bread now costs $85,000 Zimbabwean dollars.
"Our wages have not gone up in a year," the major says. "The soldiers cannot afford the most basic food stuffs. Soldiers are really pissed off."
Will there be a mutiny in the army?
"No," he replies. "Government informers are everywhere in Zimbabwe, including in the army.
"The soldiers want to rebel, but it is impossible."
By Violet Gonda
15 December 2005
An outspoken political analyst has warned that the events of the past
week, where the government seized passports from several critics, is an
indication of more repressive measures to come. Dr John Makumbe says the
latest passport seizures are a classic demonstration of how Zimbabwe is
going back to the communist era where you needed a visa to get out of your
own country and where your passport was impounded if you said anything the
dictator in your own country didn't like.
On Wednesday overzealous immigration officials and state security
agents, under instructions from the Registrar General's office, confiscated
yet another passport - that of outspoken Zimbabwean activist, Raymond
Majongwe. This is despite the fact that on the same day, the leading
newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube and opposition official Paul Temba Nyathi
had their passports returned. The Attorney General had conceded that the
seizures were unlawful.
Dr Makumbe said the Central Intelligence Organisation were unduly
enthusiastic and "not particularly intelligent". He said they did not
realise that after a constitutional amendment there is need to develop an
enabling act for implementing what is contained in the constitutional
But he believes this is a temporary reprieve and warned that the evil
of the regime is bound to escalate, where not only passports are going to be
taken but things like computers and telephones are going to be used to
clampdown on opponents. "They are intending to be as vicious and brutal as
ever and very likely to use a very wide net to catch many more people."
The outspoken critic also noted that the MDC is fighting each other at
a time when it is supposed to be fighting the regime. But on the other hand,
he said, what was happening in the opposition is a necessary ingredient of
the struggle for the liberation of the country.
"The MDC was an omnibus when it was formed because everyone who didn't
want Mugabe got on board. Now it is time to examine and sift those on board.
We are now going to end up with an MDC which is more focused and has a
better ideology. But it's unfortunate in the timing because it is happening
while the dictator is tightening the noose on opponents."
Robert Mugabe openly welcomed the controversial measures at the ZANU
PF conference last weekend and vowed to take "stern action" against
non-governmental organisations and critics of his government.
Makumbe said this is an indication of how unschooled this regime, is
saying a person does not need to go outside Zimbabwe to expose what is
happening in the country. "I can do that from my home without touching my
passport. But the regime thinks everyone is as backward as they are."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 12/16/2005 22:42:57
ZIMBABWEAN intelligence agents have launched a probe over Reserve Bank
governor, Gideon Gono's offer of a job to a British citizen, John Rushton --
accused of having links with the opposition MDC.
Sources said Thursday that Gono took Rushton on board after the 60-year-old
Briton blew the whistle on alleged economic crimes by some Zimbabwean
businessman including Mutumwa Mawere and James Makamba and his company,
Rushton was said to have acquired the information on the personalities after
working for Mawere's Africa Resources Ltd transport division, Petter
International as a senior manager based in South Africa until October 2001.
Between April 2003 and February 2004 Gono's whistleblower also worked for
Cecil Muderede transport company, Nemini also in South Africa.
Whistleblowers are entitled to 10 percent of the total amount recovered
following successful prosecution of the alleged guilty parties.
Gono was attacked by Mawere last year who accused him of "exerting more
energy in hounding individuals - as if he was a police commissioner - than
working on economic recovery."
Sources said State security minister Didymus Mutasa was aware that the RBZ
had employed the Briton, but had decided not to take any action as
"everything was under control".
"We have been mandated from the top to proceed with investigations after the
MDC link," said an intelligence source.
"Who knows maybe the man (Gono) is also a British agent. It is one thing for
him to be a whistle blower and another to be offered a full time job there
at the RBZ," said a source.
He added: "Mutasa knows the case, but he has not sanctioned the
investigation. We don't know what he is waiting for, as there are no
questions that Rushton is a British passport holder. His delay maybe aimed
at saving Gono. But as a precaution, we are checking on the matter."
Gono was repeatedly said to be in meetings Thursday while Mutasa was
For the chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano to say he is amazed or surprised by the indignation over the agreement to have pilots from the Zimbabwean Air Force assisting with the training of South African pilots, beggars belief.
One really wonders if he is so naive, or simply ill informed about the history of Zimbabwe.
In case he doesn't know, his Zimbabwean counterpart, General Perences Shiri, then known as “Black Jesus” ,was the commander of the notorious Fifth Brigade during operation Gukurihandi in Matabeleland in the early 1980s.
If Lieutenant-General Gagiano needs to be further enlightened: the Fifth Brigade was involved in the massacre of something like 20,000 Ndebele. While these atrocities were nothing on the same scale as those committed by the Nazis during World War II, or by Stalin during the Russian purges, they were every bit as savage, rapacious, grotesque and evil.
Entire villages -- young and old, men, women, babies and children, were butchered in their thousands.
It may sound sick to say they weren't simply killed.
But they weren't. They were butchered in the most horrendous way. People -- including babies, children and the aged and infirm -- were locked in their huts that were torched. Woman -- including young teenage girls, were raped and disembowelled. People were made to dig their own graves before being shot, clubbed and bayoneted and in instances buried alive. People were thrown down old mine shafts. In typical Stalinist style, General Shiri also resorted to mass starvation. During a severe drought in 1983 and 84, the Fifth Brigade destroyed crops and livestock and then interdicted food supplies to large areas of Matabeleland. Of course, the biggest victims of starvation were the very young and the aged and infirm. They simply perished in vast numbers.
If Lieutenant-General Gagiano still has a problem understanding the indignation aroused by the use of military personnel from the tainted Zimbabwean security forces, more especially a branch of the military commanded by General Shiri, he should say if he would be as happy to use fixers from the old apartheid regime. Operatives such as Joe Mamasela, Dirk Coetzee, the late Gideon Neiwoudt, or the security policemen who were involved in the death of Stephen Biko to assist in the training of the country's contemporary security apparatus.
Lieutenant-General Gagiano's moral compass seems way off course!
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 16 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - Although Zimbabwe's ministry of health
has received 12 percent of the national budget - its highest allocation to
date - government officials and health experts agree that this will do
little to address the brain drain afflicting the sector.
The newly created Health Services Board (HSB) received Zim $2 billion (US
$22,000) of the requested Zim $30 billion ($330,000) in the 2006 budget. The
HSB was mandated with improving the salaries and conditions of service of
health personnel, the major push factor in the ongoing exodus of medical
Parliamentary portfolio committee chairman Blessing Chebundo told IRIN the
failure of the government to cater for the HSB, the new employer of ministry
of health personnel, would do little to stem the flight of health
professionals seeking greener pastures outside the country.
"The inability of the government to provide for the HSB means we are not
doing anything about the problem of brain drain. The HSB cannot attract
people by offering poor salaries - it certainly cannot retain them if the
conditions do not change either. Government has to find money for the
board," Chebundo told IRIN.
The budget has also renewed debate about the government's commitment to the
fight against HIV/AIDS, especially its failure to provide a specific
allocation for scaling up treatment. Of the 500,000 people in immediate need
of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), only 24,000 are on treatment. Zimbabwe has
1.8 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa told IRIN that the government was
aware of the growing areas of need in the health sector and conceded that
the HSB would not be able to perform its core functions unless it received
supplementary funding, and that the 2006 budget was inadequate in the areas
of HIV/AIDS treatment.
"The treatment needs are ever-growing, but we should also take note of the
fact that government has not been sitting idle. Over the years we have been
allocating money to the NAC [National AIDS Council] for disbursement for
activities in the districts. Besides, we now have access to the Global Fund
[finance], which also helps us in facing up to AIDS, but the HSB is
incapacitated unless some supplementary funding comes," Parirenyatwa added.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said the HSB would have to apply for
additional resources specific to their needs, and there was a possibility
that fresh funding allocations could made on demand.
The budget had prioritised areas of immediate need, like hospital
construction and rehabilitation, and the provision of ambulances, drugs and
medical equipment. "Most of the equipment at our institutions is obsolete or
not working at all," Murerwa told IRIN.
Zimbabwean hospitals have been in crisis since the forex crunch started in
2000. Drug shortages have become endemic, while the massive exodus of highly
qualified personnel has been blamed on poor salaries and bad working
conditions. Most of the country's medical staff has left for Europe, North
America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Botswana, where salaries
and working conditions are better.
The Herald (Harare)
December 16, 2005
Posted to the web December 16, 2005
A HEALTH hazard is looming in high density suburbs of Victoria Falls as
residents are dumping garbage in undesignated areas because the council has
not collected refuse in the past five weeks.
The affected suburbs are Mkhosana and Chinotimba, which are now littered
with refuse dumped by angry residents.
Residents interviewed said the last time council refuse trucks collected
garbage in the two suburbs was in early October.
"A health hazard is looming as residents are now dumping refuse in any open
space because council has not been collecting the garbage," said Mrs Nomsa
Sibanda of Mkhosana Township.
"The last time we saw a council refuse truck here was on the last weekend of
October, which is six weeks from now."
Mrs Sibanda said the residents were concerned as their children were playing
at the dumpsites.
"Our children are at great risk of contracting diseases because they are
playing at the dumpsites," she said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Town Clerk, Mr Godfrey Maphosa, were
fruitless as he was said to be out of town and would be returning on Monday.
However, officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said refuse trucks
were grounded because of lack of spare parts and shortage of fuel.
"Council has not been collecting refuse from the suburbs and the whole town
in general because the only truck that was operating has been grounded
because of the unavailability of fuel," said the official.
December 16 2005 at 10:34AM
Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says his government will not
allow the fractured opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to push
for regime change, state radio reported on Friday.
Speaking to a group of Zimbabweans in Kuala Lumpur, Mugabe accused a
faction of the opposition party led by former trade unionist Morgan
Tsvangirai of wanting to unseat the Zimbabwean government by non-democratic
"The president Comrade Robert Mugabe said the decision of the
anti-senate MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai to engage in unlawful acts
to push a British agenda of a regime change in Zimbabwe will not be
entertained," the radio said.
"The Tsvangirai faction has a propensity of violence as it has more
brawn than brains," Mugabe was quoted as saying.
The six-year-old MDC was split down the middle over whether or not to
participate in elections for a new senate here last month.
Tsvangirai opposed any participation in the polls and said his party
would begin building "democratic resistance".
Senior MDC officials went on to suspend the opposition leader, a
decision he has refused to accept.
Zimbabwe's ruling party has welcomed the splits in the MDC, which has
been the only real challenger to its 25-year hold on power.
Mugabe is in Malaysia to attend the Perdana Global Peace Forum, set up
by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.
On Friday he is due to give a paper entitled: Horrors Of Civil War: An
African Perspective, according to the state-owned Herald newspaper. -
The most prominent church critic of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
party says he does not fear its latest threat to clamp down on government
critics. "They will not silence me," Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo told
The Tablet this week, "and I will continue to denigrate the evil things they
have done against their own people."
He was speaking on Monday after a Zanu-PF conference called for the security
forces to draw up a list of Zimbabweans whose passports should be seized
under new laws aimed at muzzling opponents. The passports of the main
opposition party spokesman and a leading Zimbabwe publisher whose papers
have carried stories critical of the Government have already been
confiscated this week.
The crackdown comes amid disquiet within Zanu-PF about how to tackle chronic
shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, as well as triple-digit
inflation. Last week, after a four-day tour of the country, the UN
humanitarian envoy, Jan Egeland, described Zimbabwe as being in "meltdown".
He estimated that around three million people would be in need of food aid
by February, particularly since the country's agricultural output has fallen
by more than half in the last five years.
"We are in the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest inflation in
the world," said Archbishop Ncube. Although it officially stands at 500 per
cent, he felt the real figure was closer to 700 per cent.
"Essential staff such as teachers feel devalued when their wages can buy
very little," he said. Harare's Herald newspaper noted the same day that a
two-kilogram chicken for Christmas dinner would cost around 273,000
Zimbabwean dollars, roughly £2. Archbishop Ncube described Mugabe's
Government as "so silly" not to accept the UN offer of tents for hundreds of
thousands of homeless people sleeping out in the open. The only glimmer of
hope this week is the coming of rains, due in October. "This will help
people trying to grow food," he said, "and here in my own house we might get
water out of the taps again!"
Zimbabwe's Bishops' Conference, meeting in Hwange last week, agreed
unanimously that the destruction of homes in the Government's recent
demolition programme and Zanu-PF's Youth Militia were areas for church
concern; but quiet diplomacy remains the favoured conference strategy for
engaging with officials.
None of the bishops met Mr Egeland because of their meeting's clash with his
visit, although junior church officials did brief him. Zimbabwe's bishops
were delighted to welcome a delegation from the Catholic Bishops' Conference
of England and Wales to their meeting. Headed by Bishop Crispian Hollis of
Portsmouth, who chairs the Department for International Affairs, it was
described as "a private pastoral visit to renew relationships between our
In October, Archbishop Ncube predicted that some 200,000 Zimbabweans could
starve to death as a result of the Government's destructive policies. He
based this figure on the effect of severe food shortages on a population
ravaged by HIV/Aids and extreme poverty at a time of hyperinflation and near
80 per cent unemployment. The figure is exacerbated by the consequences of
"Operation Murambatsvina" ("Drive Out Trash") which, since May, has left at
least 700,000 Zimbabweans trapped in a spiral of poverty, hunger and
Mail and Guardian
Reesha Chibba and Elvira van Noort | Johannesburg, South Africa
16 December 2005 11:55
"I am relieved, so relieved," said an exhausted looking Trevor
Ncube, the owner and publisher of the Mail & Guardian, after he landed in
Johannesburg on Friday morning, exactly a week after his passport was
confiscated by Zimbabwean authorities.
Parliament in August approved changes to the Constitution that
allow the state to seize the passports of people perceived to be
Ncube, who regularly commutes between South Africa and Zimbabwe,
was in Bulawayo on a business and family trip.
Ncube said he was not planning on going back to Zimbabwe "very
"This was a very traumatising experience. With this over
everyone's head we must revise my schedule and see how we continue to manage
the news," said Ncube.
"People in Zimbabwe are scared to speak out now. They are scared
to write letters to newspapers. It is more than press freedom, it's about
the people's freedom -- the freedom to move where you want to move and to
"In the end everyone must be able to express themselves without
fear," he said.
Ncube said: "I love Zimbabwe, I would rather stay there than in
South Africa. But this was such a painful experience. I am very patriotic
and passionate about my country, but now it is about building a normal
fearless society in Zimbabwe."
Ncube's wife, Nyaratzo, told the M&G Online on Friday morning,
just before her husband arrived, that she was very excited to see him.
"It's only been a week, but it feels like a whole month," she
said. "First thing I'm going to say to him is: 'Oh no, they let you out',"
Ncube who filed an urgent court application on Monday, had his
passport returned on Wednesday.
The respondents in the court application included the Zimbabwean
chief immigration officer, the registrar general and the minister of home
Ncube's lawyers said the judge ruled that the authorities had
"erred in their conduct".
"It is declared that the purported invalidation or withdrawal or
cancellation of the applicant's [Ncube] passport is unlawful, null, void and
of no force and effect."
The authorities were ordered not to interfere with Ncube's
possession of his passport without due process and were aslo ordered to pay
the costs of the court application.
Ncube appeared to be the first person to have his travel
documents taken away from him under new laws when his name appeared on a
list of nearly 60 prominent Zimbabweans.
The list includes human rights lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Brian
Kagoro and Gabriel Shumba, journalists Geoffrey Nyarota, Basildon Peta and
Lloyd Mudiwa, leading opposition official Paul Themba Nyathi, trade unionist
Raymond Majongwe and former opposition lawmaker Tafadzwa Musekiwa.
On Thursday Mtetwa told the Mail & Guardian Online in an
interview that she has a passport from Swaziland.
"Whether they know what passport I hold, I do not know, but the
point is that they ought to have checked that the people they put on that
list actually do hold valid Zimbabwean passports, so that if they purport to
be withdrawing those passports at least they are withdrawing something that
"The apartheid regime did exactly the same thing, but that did
not stop people from travelling."
Mtetwa said that the she thought the travel ban was a "silly
thing to do on a practical level" and that it would not stop people from
travelling or speaking to the press outside the country.
"The Independent and the Standard have been critical of a lot of
the governments actions in Zimbabwe and that is a threat for government. So,
clearly Trevor Ncube is deemed a threat to the government. I know for a fact
that he is independent and has succeeded without patronage," she said.
Ncube was last week also erroneously placed on the Australian
government's list of Zimbabweans who are under sanction, though he is in
negotiations to have his name removed from the list.
Australia, an outspoken critic of the Zimbabwe government, on
December 8 acknowledged "mistakes" in the list of people facing sanctions
for cooperating with President Robert Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian
Ncube said that the Australian embassy in Zimbabwe had phoned
him to apologise "profusely".
By Tichaona Sibanda
16 December 2005
Militant MDC activist Remember Moyo, detained in a Johannesburg jail,
has gone on a hunger strike after refusing to eat prison food because he
fears it could be poisoned.
Moyo was arrested on Tuesday on charges of using false documents. He
has since denied the charges, alleging that he is being punished for being
an outspoken critic of the Zimbabwe regime.
On Thursday he was granted 2000 rand bail, but could not leave the
police cells due to a technicality. Rodgers Mudarikwa, the vice-chairman of
the Zimbabwe Action Support Group (ZASG) said they got to Booysens police
station after 3.30 pm when they had closed the fines office.
Mudarikwa said they will pay his bail money first thing Monday
morning. He also confirmed that Moyo has not been eating prison food since
the day he was arrested on Tuesday.
'We have been barred by the police authorities from giving him food
from outside their complex. He (Moyo) doesn't trust the prison food because
he fears someone within the South African side wants him dead,' said
Moyo, a militant and high profile activist in South Africa is facing
deportation from that country for allegedly using false documents. He has
rubbished that claim, countering that he was granted refugee status in that
country and had no reason to use false documents.
Fellow activists believe the real reason behind the threat of
deportation for Moyo has to do with a recent bilateral defence and security
cooperation agreement signed between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Moyo, who was picked up by the Scorpions, an elite police unit in
South Africa, was locked up the day state security minister Didymus Mutasa
authorised the release of South African spy, Aubrey Welken who had been in
jail in Zimbabwe for over a year.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Union Network International
UNI have written to President Mugabe and also to three companies in
Zimbabwe that are state owned to condemn their behaviour where they are
using the courts to ensure that the issues take a long time to resolve at
the cost of the workers.
Some workers in Zimbabwe have not been paid for nearly two years!
The UNI-Africa Telecom Committee met in Johannesburg in November and
made a resolution (below) that noted with concern the deepening crisis
affecting the communications industry in Zimbabwe, as well as the
deteriorating economic and social situation.
UNI has asked UNI Telecom affiliates to support our colleagues by
writing similar letters to the President of Zimbabwe, TelOne,NetOne and
The full letter and resolution by the Committee is below:-
President of Zimbabwe
His Excellency Mr Robert Mugabe
FAX: +263 4 708540
Nyon, 15 December 2005
Our Ref : CDM/tel/zimbabwe/pj
Dear Mr President,
Union Network International (UNI) is the global union which represents
over 15 million members in 900 unions in over 150 countries worldwide
including over 2 million in the Telecommunications industry.
Our UNI-Africa Telecom Committee met in Johannesburg in November and
made a resolution that highlighted the deep concern of the committee about
the crisis in the communications industry and deteriorating economic and the
social situation in Zimbabwe. (A copy is attached for your information)
The global trade union movement shares their concern and join them in
condemning the behaviour of three state-owned companies (ZIMPOST, NetOne &
TelOne) who have shown clear violations of human and workers' rights.
We are deeply concerned that all these companies have failed to accept
the Labour court's decisions that have ruled that they reinstate the workers
who were unfairly dismissed in 2004. The companies have decided to prolong
the situation by appealing to the Supreme Court which is totally
unacceptable. To continue strangling the workers through such prolonged
legal cases and thus denying them their salaries for over 14 months and in
NetOne's case nearly 19 months is deplorable.
UNI Telecom affiliates will continue to support our colleagues from
the Communications and Allied Services Workers' Union of Zimbabwe in their
quest for social and economic justice.
We urge you to take steps to ensure that these companies stop their
current immoral behaviour and that your government quickly address these
highlighted issues which, if left unresolved, will continue to negatively
affect workers, their families and communities - as well as service
delivery - in the Communications sector.
I look forward to a positive response.
UNI-Africa Telecom Committee Meeting
Johannesburg, 18-19 November 2005
RESOLUTION ON ZIMBABWE'S COMMUNICATION SECTOR
. We the members of the UNI-Africa Telecom Sector Committee,
representing communications workers on the African continent, meeting from
18-19 November 2005 in Johannesburg, note with concern the deepening crisis
affecting the communications industry in Zimbabwe, as well as the
deteriorating economic and social situation.
. We are concerned with Tel-One's failure to accept the High Court's
ruling that nullified the sacking of 1,265 employees who were unfairly
dismissed in October 2004 and the company's decision to prolong this case by
appealing to the Supreme Court. It is unacceptable that the company would
prefer to continue strangling the workers through such prolonged legal cases
and thus denying them their salaries for over 14 months.
. Similar negative trends are also being replicated in Net-One where
management preferred to appeal to the Supreme Court over the case of the 53
workers who were also unfairly dismissed in May 2004 despite the workers
being reinstated with full pay and benefits by the arbitrator, a decision
which was later upheld by the labour court.
. We are aware that ZIMPOST has also decided to appeal to the labour
court against the ruling of the arbitrator which ordered the reinstatement
of 980 workers who were unfairly dismissed in October 2004.
. We condemn this immoral and inhumane pattern being used by these
three state-owned companies. This is a clear violation of human and workers'
rights and outright abuse of the judicial system. At a time of acute food
shortages and run-away inflation of over 400%, the continued denial of
salaries and prolonged litigations are punishing workers.
. We therefore resolve to continue supporting our colleagues from the
Communications and Allied Services Workers' Union of Zimbabwe in their quest
for social and economic justice.
. We also demand that the government of Zimbabwe should quickly
address these issues which, if left unresolved, will continue to negatively
affect workers, their families and communities - as well as service
delivery - in the sector.
http://www.union-network.org/telecom - Contact:
Union Network International:
http://www.union-network.org - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec 16, 05 4:39pm
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is an embarrassment to the present
government as well as Malaysia. Robert Mugabe has been the cause of untold
misery in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe are starving and children are
dying due to malnutrition.
Once a country which exported food, its people are now dying due to lack of
food. A news report showed that people have resorted to eating insects plus
a two-kilometre line just to buy petrol.
Robert Mugabe blames the white minority and Britain for the state of affairs
in his country and he denies that there is food shortage in his country.
Why is Mahathir associating with a dictator? He has brought shame on
Malaysia. Or is it a case of the 'birds of the same feather flock together'?
Remember that it was Mahathir who made a gift of timber to this despot to
build his mansion in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's House of Assembly has passed a bill that seeks to provide a
legal framework for the country's membership to the African Export and
Import Bank (AEIB),local media reported on Friday.
The AEIB has already established an office in Harare.
In his second reading speech on Thursday, Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa told the Lower House that the bank had been Zimbabwe's largest
external financier, releasing 900 million US dollars over the last five
The funds were mainly earmarked for fuel and grain imports.
The AEIB also advanced another 50 million US dollars to Zimbabwe for
food and fuel imports about three weeks ago and the funds were released at a
time when Zimbabwe was hosting the third annual general assembly of the
African Banker's Forum and the 12thshareholders general meeting of the AEIB.
-- Sir Satcam Boolell
There is not a single day when thefts with violence are not reported
in the press. They have become so common that they are now treated as faits
divers. A young man waiting for a bus at Jan Palach, Curepipe was beaten to
death by a gang of young thugs from the housing estate of Mangalkhan.
Another man had to surrender the Rs 800 he was carrying to save his life
from three young criminals threatening him with revolvers and knives. No
honest citizen can walk the street after dark without the risk of being
attacked for money. Car travellers have to lock the doors from inside at
traffic lights where young criminals are lurching to jump into the back seat
armed with cutters. Last Tuesday afternoon, an employee of a supermarket was
forced by four bandits to drive his car from the MCB car park of Quatre
Bornes to Avenue Berthaud where he was compelled under threat to give them
all the money (Rs 200 000) he was carrying. The bandits took the money and
disappeared. This is a sample of the daily fare of crimes. Pickpockets are
swarming at bus terminus waiting to snatch ladies handbags and make away on
motorbikes. Police who are supposed to keep a watch are helpless to act for
fear of their own safety. Unarmed they have no defence against the threats
of violence of young delinquents.
Drug addicts are on the prowl to steal anything, however small the
value, to buy their dose of high. The litchis and mangoes in the yard are no
longer private property. In broad daylight, aggressive individuals just
enter to take whatever quantity they like and walk out before police show
up. Neighbours are afraid to intervene for fear of being bodily harmed. If
by sheer act of daredevilry you happen to give the trespassing thieves a
good thrashing, you must be careful not to show too much enthusiasm
otherwise you might yourself land into trouble with police for wounds and
blows. The law often frowns severely upon those who are suspected of taking
it into their hands to deal with alleged criminals.
We are living in a society redolent of the inner city life of
countries notorious for lawlessness. Is there any way of stemming the rising
tide of robbery with violence one aspect of criminal activities which has
roughly shaken society? A tendency has developed to suggest strong
punishment as a deterrent. Magistrates and even judges, it is said, show too
much leniency in sentencing the culprits. Sending too many people guilty of
crimes to prison without a proper assessment of the nature and gravity of
the offence and the background and character of the guilty will create the
problem of overpopulation in the prisons. The Commissioner of Prisons who is
desperate for space is already planning to release a certain number every
year on parole.
The deterrent remedy is only half the solution, although I agree that
the lack of severity in certain cases of heinous gravity misses the target.
At a time when psychiatric studies are laying emphasis on rehabilitation and
deterrence is statistically losing ground the causes for the spread of
criminal disposition among the youth must be sought first before any remedy
can be applied. Preventive measures are always preferable to curative ones.
Time and again attention has been called to unemployment as the root
cause for our social evils. The problem is how to grapple with it when the
country is overwhelmed by an impending economic crisis, which has almost
paralysed development and the creation of jobs. Gone are the days when
factories were advertising for recruitment of labour. Now the reverse is
happening. Labour is laid off every month. The government is conscious of
the urgency of the situation. The price of petrol compounded by the rising
dollar has added to the gravity of the problem already underway by the
deathblow to sugar and textile. With the inevitable increase of the price of
commodities we will soon be faced with the spiral of high cost of living and
demand for increased wages as compensation.
The country cannot afford any increase in wages except in extreme
cases. The trade unions must be told very bluntly either half a loaf or no
loaf at all. Tripartite should be done away with and replaced by sectoral
negotiations. Somebody had suggested the training for larger number of
nurses who are in high demand in England. From what we read Europe will need
not thousands but hundreds of thousands of skilled workers to replace the
ageing workforce in their industries. There are two categories of skills
e.g. electricians and plumbers who are easily employable in Western Europe
and the United States. Government should carry out a survey to find out the
type of skills easily exportable and train our youth accordingly.
Last week I suggested that Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo's idea of zero tax
should not be dismissed offhand but thoroughly studied and even adopted if
it has the merit to attract foreign investment.
As regards foreign investment we must look to sources where there is
finance, knowhow, and conditions encouraging the prospective investors to
diversify their portfolio. Zimbabwe under President Mugabe has scared many
rich white farmers and business people and quite a number are looking for
safe havens to transfer their capital and know-how. This is a source which
must be tapped. We need foreign investment very badly and in the present
circumstances we cannot be too choosy. What we need is development to open
up vistas of hope to our young men and women who will otherwise drift
further and further into crimes and drugs. Time is against us. We must act
Sir Satcam Boolell
Copyright © 2005 Mauritius Times.