Sat 17 Dec 2005 4:56 AM ET
By Nick Tattersall
DAKAR, Dec 17 (Reuters) - China is winning African hearts and minds by
offering the world's poorest continent everything from cheap flip-flops to
new sports stadiums, but the West is wary of the Asian giant's methods and
From a 20,000-seater soccer stadium in coup-prone Central African Republic
to a huge parliament building in war-hit Ivory Coast, China is opening
diplomatic doors with attention-grabbing gifts for the state and cheap goods
for the people.
Even in the fabled Saharan trading towns of Agadez and Timbuktu, the moped
of choice for young men is a Chinese "Jin-Cheng".
"We have gained the confidence of African countries," said Tongqing Wang,
political affairs advisor at the new Chinese embassy in Senegal's capital
"We have the same impulses. We understand African countries well; what they
want, what they do," he said as workmen wrestled a telecoms mast onto the
roof of his new office.
Senegal is the latest African country to be wooed by China, resuming
diplomatic ties in October after a 10-year break. In doing so it ditched
links with Taiwan and recognised Beijing's claim to sovereignty over the
The move left Taiwan -- which immediately accused China of luring Senegal
with "threats and inducements" -- with only 25 allies, many of them small
Caribbean and Pacific Island nations.
"States have no friends, they have only interests," Senegalese President
Abdoulaye Wade wrote in a blunt letter to Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian, informing
him of the decision.
With China seeking a home for its current cash surplus and Senegal looking
for cheap ways to develop its infrastructure, there were interests on both
sides: Sino-Senegalese trade hit $105 million in the first three quarters of
2005, up by more than a third on the previous year.
HUMAN RIGHTS, CORRUPTION
But the rewards for China's diplomatic push go beyond trade.
Chinese oil executives may be winning contracts to hunt for new reserves,
vital to sustain the world's fastest growing economy, but building
diplomatic clout is equally important.
Gaining support on the world stage from one of the few corners of the globe
where the influence of the United States and of former European colonial
powers is on the wane is seen as a goal worth pursuing by China.
"Beijing seems to be very much aware of the difficulties which a
late-industrialising nation faces in competing with established players for
influences in the world," said Xuewu Gu, chair of East Asian Politics at
Bochum University in Germany.
"They believe that China would only have the chance to establish itself
quickly in areas where the positions of other powers were yet weak," he
wrote in a study published earlier this year.
That worries Western politicians who fear China's cosiness with corrupt
rulers undermines international efforts to promote good governance: when the
West threatens sanctions by curbing investment, China is all too ready to
plug the gap.
"China's propping up of corrupt regimes hinders the United States' ability
to stop rogue states and to help create stable, prosperous and open
societies," said Carolyn Bartholomew of the U.S.-China Economic and Security
"China is willing to provide economic, military and diplomatic assistance to
undemocratic African regimes in direct opposition to political forces that
spent years attempting to encourage change in these regimes," she told
Congress in July.
She cited an order placed by the government of Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe -- shunned as a pariah by much of the West -- for 12 fighter jets
from China in late 2004 at a time when the country faced economic collapse.
BROTHERS IN ARMS
Chinese diplomats and businessmen are quick to point out that their nation's
political interest in Africa is nothing new.
Beijing supported African revolutionary movements struggling for
independence in the 1960s and 70s, some of whose leaders have since come to
power and are ready to repay the favour.
The entry of the People's Republic of China into the United Nations in 1971
was supported by many Third World nations who hoped it would play an active
role in the Non-Aligned Movement.
"China never forgets that," said Wang in Dakar.
"The friendship between China and Africa goes back a long way," he said,
adding the heads of state from every African country which recognises
China -- all but six of them -- would be invited to a summit in Beijing next
Chinese traders living in Africa pride themselves on having a closer
relationship with the man in the street than their Western counterparts, a
friendship they see as born of a common struggle to earn a decent living in
a developing nation.
"The biggest challenge for Beijing has been to open the door of Africa
without repeating the mistakes made by the 'American imperialists' and
'European colonialists'," Bochum's Gu wrote.
"Arrogance and ... patronising feelings are at the top of the list of
warnings for government officials and entrepreneurs involved with
It appears to have paid off.
Gaudily coloured Chinese flip-flops are ubiquitous in West Africa, adorning
the feet of everyone from Senegal's taxi drivers to Liberia's rebel
fighters, and outselling more expensive African leather sandals in the
"The Chinese and their goods are welcome in Africa," said Edvige Ettien,
shopping in a Chinese grocery store in Abidjan. "But we still have some
problems reading the labels." (Additional reporting by Peter Murphy in
17/12/2005 15:43 - (SA)
Musina - Tempers are said to be running high at the Beitbridge border post
in Limpopo, the SABC reported on Saturday.
Motorists wanting to enter Zimbabwe are having to wait in long queues while
their documents are processed.
Some travellers told the public broadcaster they have been waiting more than
A reporter on the scene said stationary vehicles stretched back some 12km
from the frontier.
Customs officials have refused to comment on the cause of the back up, said
to be the result of a go-slow on the South African side of the border.
Limpopo's Department of Transport officials have, however, denied that there
are problems at the border.
December 17, 2005, 08:00
The department of home affairs has dismissed reports of chaos at the
Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Witnesses say the post was closed on the South African side as a result of a
go-slow by immigration officials. They reported that long queues of vehicles
and people were waiting to cross the border.
Nkosana Sibuyi, a spokesperson for home affairs, says they have posted more
immigration officials at the border post for the festive season. "We are not
experiencing any problems at the Beitbridge border post. We are aware that
during this period a number of people are going back to their country, so we
have deployed more officials to assist. So there is no problem at Beitbridge
Harare, Zimbabwe, 12/17 - The Zimbabwe Central Bank Friday increased
interest rates by 125 percent points to 540 percent in a continuing bid to
contain surging inflation.
Latest figures released last week, put inflation at 502 percent in November.
The Central Bank raised the rate of secured lending to 540 percent and
unsecured lending to 550 percent.
Interest rates are the Bank`s main weapon against spiralling inflation, but
this has proved increasingly ineffective, with economists warning that
inflation could hit 600 percent by year-end.
Canada Free Press
Saturday, December 17, 2005
The North American Coalition For A Free Zimbabwe (NACFREEZ) whole-heartedly
pledges its unwavering support and solidarity with the organizers of WHITE
MONDAY and the people of Zimbabwe in their efforts to stop the suffering and
carnage caused by a despotic, ethnic and racist regime which has made the
independence of the people of Zimbabwe, a mockery in the eyes of their
neighbors and the whole world. We say hats off to your decision. ENOUGH IS
ENOUGH! SEKWANELE! ZVAKWANA!
We therefore appeal to the people in all walks of life, the villagers, the
town populace, the churches, and so forth. You have so far carried the
nation's independence torch and aspirations with pride, resilience, courage
and patriotism. You are the power, the life and the nation's backbone. You
are the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, an indispensable asset of
our nation. Unite! Shed the fear, wipe the tear, brave the storm of
political disparity and lift your expectations higher. You deserve better.
Don't settle for the worst.
To the professionals (doctors, nurses, teachers, tradesmen, journalists,
editors, etc), the civic groups, civil service (the police, secret service,
army, etc.) and political parties, rally round the common man, the worker
and the peasant, to demonstrate your rights which are enshrined in the
universal law of human rights and liberties, enshrined in the AU charter and
endorsed in the spirit of brotherhood and togetherness in all Holy
It is not only your will to be free, but the will of the Almighty. We urge
you to rise above your fears of intimidation and the likelihood of
persecution, harassment and genocide, and hold the regime by the horns. It
is only a matter of hours for an already dying regime to collapse. This is
We specifically call on the hoodwinked CIO. Dump the regime that has made
your sterling profession turn against the masses that have entrusted you
with their lives to fortify and defend. Think of your families, friends,
schoolmates and your peers who now look at you as snakes in the grass. Think
of your future and the future of your country that needs your services and
protection. Discard the yoke that binds you to a master that feeds on your
weakness that it has created to alienate you from the people who care for
and about you.
It's time to stand up and be counted. We call on the Police. You have been
made tools of oppression; tools of intimidation, imprisonment and torture.
Your noble protective profession has been turned to a commitment of fraud,
robbery and lying. The truth you are supposed to stand for, and the law
you're supposed to enforce, has been made a circus rhyme that you now sing
with shame. Throw away the bondage of fear, uncertainty and moral
degradation. Rally with your families, friends and colleagues. They will
always be there. Sooner or later, the regime will be gone and who will you
turn to for support? This is your chance to exonerate yourselves.
We call on the Army. The future never ends with the fall of an intimidating
regime. But it ends with the support of it. By virtue of the trust accorded
to your profession, you transcend any institutional politics and
governance... Yours is an apolitical role. Stand by the power that bestowed
you the privilege to play defensive pillars not offensive pillars against
those who look up to you for protection. Rise with the masses. Your future
is with them, not those whose days are numbered. End the terror that you
bring to yourselves and your fellow men. Time has come to call it ROT. Don't
imprison yourselves. Free everyone, free yourselves.
Prison Warders, set the political prisoners free. They don't have anything
against you! Let them join the revolution. They are equally responsible for
their fate. Let them confront their accuser. The fight is for us all!
We call on our neighbors, the SADDC, NEPAD and the African Union, and all
other continental governmental organizations and civic groups to stand in
solidarity with the oppressed masses of Zimbabwe who have now decided to put
their fate, that of their children and the pride and independence of their
nation in their hands. They will put their lives, beliefs, national pride
and the pride of the continent on line as their driving force to rid the
nation, the continent and the world a malignant tumor. They need your
solidarity, moral and interventional support. Let the period of standing
aloof and disinterested be pronounced a thing of the past.
Stand up, be brave and be counted for the sake of freedom of all! We call on
the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the European Union, all governmental
groupings on a global scale, Non-aligned groups, unions and church
organizations, particularly the World Council of Churches and all other
organizations and institutions that espouse democracy and good governance to
rally round the dehumanized and downtrodden people of Zimbabwe in their hour
Don't desert them, lest the forces of reason find you wanting. We are the
world we always sing.
We call on people of all nations. We call on even those nations that have
supported this regime to abandon their irredeemable sibling and stand in
solidarity with the masses of Zimbabwe, the ones who are being abused.
History will pay tribute to your noble deed. We appeal to China to display
an enlightenment and altruism, selflessness, maturity in reason and
pragmatism and accord a deserved support and solidarity to the masses of
Zimbabwe who own the land, the natural resources in it and the soul of the
land that the desperate regime disperses at a quarter cent on a dollar. It
is the enslaved masses who are masters and deserve to be treated accordingly
by the regime.
It is the people who go hungry but toil, the power now trodden, the jewel
now muddied and the core now cornered. They are prepared to free themselves.
Stand and fight with them. History will absolve you.
We call on the US, Canada, The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and all
nations great and small. This is the time to act and demonstrate the spirit
that you have preached to the world in your steadfast condemnation of the
Mugabe regime day in and day out; the spirit that made your nations what
they are today. We call on you to stand above any political hopes of
reforming an incorrigible regime but stand in solidarity with masses of
Zimbabwe. They deserve your support in this decisive moment. Stand by them.
The people of Zimbabwe have decided. They are determined to free themselves.
And the Almighty is on their side. May He see them through. He is greater
than their enemy. So are they.
PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE UNITE! PEOPLE OF THE WORLD UNITE!! GREAT IS THE TASK!!
UMKHULU MSEBENZI! IRI IBASA GURU!
NACFREEZ TEAM, USA
Dear Family and Friends,
I think if you could ask any Zimbabwean what three things they most wanted
for Christmas in 2005, the answers would be the same in almost all
households. Firstly we want food security in all areas: we want food
growing on our farms, food stacked in silos and warehouses and food in our
pantries and on our tables. After seventy months of turmoil, food security
would be a blessed gift for every Zimbabwean.
Secondly this Christmas we want our families. I don't think I know a
single family which does not have some or most of its members living
outside of the country. Siblings, parents, children and grandparents are
separated - we are a nation whose families and extended families have been
torn apart. Over three million Zimbabweans (almost a quarter of our
population) have left home in the last seventy months and they are sorely
Thirdly this Christmas we want fuel. Shops, businesses, transporters,
schools, institutions and ordinary families - we want to be able to go to
a filling station and buy fuel. Ever since the elections in March, the
vast majority of Zimbabweans have been unable to buy fuel anywhere except
on the black market. The nine month unavailability of fuel affects every
single Zimbabwean as black market fuel prices are now tagged onto
everything from bread to bus fares, shoes to sugar and everything in
between. We long to travel in our own country again, to see our friends in
other towns and to go to Zimbabwe's beautiful places again, what a gift
that would be this Christmas.
Seventy months - it is hard to believe that this has been going on for so
long and that we have endured so much The gap between the very rich and
the desperately poor continues to widen. The latest Standard newspaper
told of the extravagances of the Zanu PF annual Congress last weekend.
Three thousand delegates for four days were fed with: 50 cattle, 48 goats,
11 kudu, 5 reed buck, 17 impala, 5 buffaloes and 60 chickens. This was
accompanied by 1.19 tonnes of rice, 50 kg of wheat and 11 tonnes of maize.
Also on hand were 250 bags of oranges, a tonne of tomatoes, 400 cabbages
and 60 litres of ice cream. And, all this in a country in which THREE
MILLION Zimbabweans are eating world food aid.
And freedom, that flimsy concept taken for granted by so many, seems as
elusive as ever for Zimbabweans this Christmas. Darker days are already
upon us as 2006 approaches. This week passports of outspoken government
critics were seized and the Minister of Information said that journalists
were "weapons of mass destruction."
The excesses and traditions of Christmas are cancelled for most
Zimbabweans this year and we are left hoping and praying for an end to the
hardships, turmoil and struggle of living like this. I will not write
another letter until 2006 and wish all my family and friends, wherever you
are in the world, a blessed Christmas. Love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle
17 December 2005
The Herald (Harare)
December 16, 2005
Posted to the web December 16, 2005
CHITUNGWIZA Municipality has resumed refuse collection in residential areas
following the delivery of fuel this week.
The municipality also received a consignment of plastic bins for
distribution to residents on Tuesday.
Council had stopped collecting refuse completely in recent months citing the
non-availability of fuel, forcing residents to dump garbage in open spaces
and along streets.
But more work needs to be done to clear the town of litter that has
accumulated over the months.
Council received 15 000 litres of both diesel and petrol from the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) on Tuesday.
Residents interviewed welcomed the latest development but said council
should ensure that the service continued.
"This is what we have been calling for all along. Council should maintain
the momentum and improve the outlook of the town which has gradually
deteriorated over the months," said Mr Johnson Khumalo, a Unit K resident.
Residents, he said, should desist from dumping litter at undesignated
In an interview, town clerk Mr Simbarashe Mudunge said council was making
some headway in the normalisation of services in the town.
"We have bought refuse bags for people to dispose of their waste and we have
also started collecting refuse in residential areas, something we had
stopped owing to a depleted fleet and fuel shortages.
"Before this latest development, we had been advising residents to heap
their garbage at a central point where we would come and collect but we are
changing all that," said Mr Mudunge.
He however, said council's fleet was still depleted to effectively collect
refuse in the town.
Council, he said, was still trying to repair most of its broken down trucks.
Out of a fleet of 22, only six vehicles are on the road owing to minor
"We are expecting to have CMED (Private Limited) come and help us with the
repairs," Mr Mudunge said.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Dec-17
THERE are mixed reactions in Harare over Monday's re-appointment for a
further six months of the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission by the Minister
of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo.
In a snap survey conducted by The Daily Mirror yesterday, some residents
said it was improper for Chombo to re-appoint the commission and called for
the election of a substantive mayor, which they argue is long overdue.
The commission was appointed by the minister following the dismissal of the
MDC-led council in 2004 on allegations of gross mismanagement of the
"The commission was entrusted into office since last year, but it has not
achieved anything during its tenure. Nothing has changed for the positive,
in fact, conditions of service are declining everyday," complained Norman
Taruvinga claimed the commission's failure to re-strategise and turnaround
the fortunes of the capital demonstrated the widely held notion that it was
not accountable to residents.
"Since the commission was appointed things have not changed. This is partly
because the Makwavarara-led commission is not accountable to the majority
who happen to be the residents," he said.
He then called for the election of an executive mayor accountable to the
electorate and ratepayers alike.
"A mayor is always accountable to the people who elect him or her into
office while commissions are only loyal to the minister," added Taruvinga.
Walter Muneneri of Glen Norah echoed the same sentiments, saying: "The
commission is only good at unnecessarily hiking rates while they are seated
at Town House doing nothing. Sewer pipes are blocking everyday, garbage has
gone for months uncollected and potholes are everywhere in Harare
threatening the lives of motorists. Vehicles are clamped everyday and one
wonders where all that money is going to."
He went on: "The only option left is for responsible authorities to call for
elections so that residents can elect a mayor with a vision for the
Shingirai Ngwiri of Greendale called for improvement in service delivery and
said the six months lease extended to the commission by Chombo must be a
challenge to it to prove its mettle.
"We expect to see a change in the next six months," Ngwiri said.
But some residents applauded the re-appointment saying the commission had
done a lot in restructuring Harare, which before that was fast becoming a
mockery of the Sunshine City it was just after independence in 1980.
"We want to thank Minister Chombo for re-appointing the commission for the
next six months. The commission is working hard to restore normalcy in the
city. Today, Harare is very clean following the clean-up exercise initiated
by the commission. However, we urge council to address the issue of
repairing roads and garbage collection in most areas," said Marvis Goredema.
Mary Dick, who said Harare's conditions under the incumbent commission were
now much far better than during the era of former mayor Elias Mudzuri, who
was later dismissed for gross insubordination, supported her.
"The MDC-led council pursued politics instead of addressing problems on the
ground. We, however, urge the commission not to risk residents' health by
ferrying refuse regularly," Dick said.
Another city resident, Edwin Kasingatsengi said the commission deserved
another term in office.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel. Through the clean up exercise
initiated by the commission, Harare is now a clean city. I want to thank
Minister Chombo for re-appointing the commission as there was chaos in
Harare with thugs and streetkids all over the Central Business District,"
Sithabile Ndebele of Mbare's Nenyere Flats said despite the numerous
challenges Harare was facing, she was very much behind the commission's
continued stay in office until sanity returned to the manner the capital was
Ndebele said: "I welcome the re-appointment of the commission by Minister
Chombo because it is composed of people that we know can deliver. I,
however, urge the commission to address problems such as blocked sewers,
repair roads and replace old water and sewer systems at Nenyere Flats during
While a certain section of city dwellers gave thumbs up to Makwavarara's
administration, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) still
maintained that the commission's re-appointment was illegal.
Said Precious Shumba, CHRA spokesperson: "The minister has disregarded the
law in re-appointing the commission. In terms of the Urban Councils Act
(Chapter 29) once the term of a commission expires after six months it
cannot be extended beyond three months. The judiciary has since ruled that
the continued operations of the commission are illegal."
Shumba cited a case (HC12862/00: Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo versus City of
Harare) when Justice Rita Makarau ruled that the commission's re-appointment
Supreme Court judge Wilson Sandura, (in a case involving Lottie Stevenson
versus the Ministry of Local Government, case SC3802), Shumba said, also
ruled that "Chombo continues to misinterpret Section 80 of the Urban
According to Sandura: ".the minister could not avoid having a general
election of councillors by continually re-appointing the commissioners. In
my view, Section 80 (5) of the Urban Councils Act was not enacted for that
purpose. The power given to the minister for that purpose was intended for
use as a temporary measure during the period preceding the holding of
elections as required by the Electoral Act."
Chombo justified the commissioners' re-appointment saying he did not want to
disturb the turnaround strategy they were implementing.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
From Our Correspondent in Mutare
issue date :2005-Dec-17
AGRICULTURE Minister Joseph Made has urged small-scale farmers to
concentrate more on using natural manure instead of wasting time jostling to
access scarce and expensive inorganic fertilisers.
Made said farmers should switch to natural manure whose returns prediction
far surpassed that of inorganic fertilisers. "We encourage all communal and
small scale farmers to concentrate more on using natural manure as
substitute for inorganic fertilisers which are hard to come by because of
increased demand," said Made.
"Above all, organic fertilisers are cheaper, more effective, easily
accessible and easily applicable than inorganic fertilisers."According to
agricultural experts, organic fertilisers have greater advantages over
They say natural manure directly helps the crop and improves soil texture
while it also has no leaching effects.
expect to get sufficient fertilizer supplies overnight considering it's
increased demand catapulted by increased farming activities. A lot of
beneficiaries of the land reform programme have now taken up allocated plots
and turned to serious farming, hence increased demand. Imagine that demand
has shot up from 400 000 metric tonnes to 1000 000 metric tonnes per year
The shortages of foreign currency to import raw materials as well as fuel
and transport problems have also significantly contributed to the commodity
shortage, the minister said.
From ZWNEWS, 17 December
A speech by Robert Mugabe in Malaysia on Friday was cancelled due to a lack
of interest, it emerged yesterday. The Zimbabwean president had been due to
address the Perdana Global Peace Forum, a conference hosted by Mahathir
Mohamad, the ex-prime minister of Malaysia, on the topic of civil wars in
Africa. It appears that Mugabe had requested to speak at the conference at
the last minute, and was allocated the Friday lunchtime slot. But the
organisers, the Perdana leadership Foundation, decided to cancel the
engagement. "The organisers regret that the session for Mugabe had to be
cancelled due to an oversight. The atmosphere at lunch would not have been
suitable for a head of state," a spokesperson said diplomatically. Many of
the participants would have been at Friday prayers, and the organisers
decided not to risk having Mugabe seen talking to an empty hall. Mugabe did
not attend the lunch, but was expected to attend a dinner on Friday evening.
Mugabe has made a point of attending as many international conferences as
possible in recent years. He has recently spoken, without irony, at UN
conferences on food security and control of the internet, and attends UN
meetings in New York as often as he can. His government announced this week
that recordings of his speeches dating back to the 1970s were to be made
available on CD and cassette. The recordings "would not only provide good
home entertainment but would be useful to scholars", one of his ministers
said. "This will assist our children and will also educate people on where
we came from and where we are going".