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SA's new Zim team plays it safe

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 4 December

Jason Moyo

It has been a quiet end to Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe, with
little emerging from the first meetings of Jacob Zuma's new task team in the
country to suggest a major shift in approach. Instead, old disputes were
being piled up again between Zimbabwe's two main parties, as both sides
tried immediately to get the measure of Zuma's new team. Zuma has sent in
Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu to mediate in a row
threatening Zimbabwe's unity government. A second Southern African
Development Community (SADC) deadline to resolve the dispute passes this
weekend with no real solution in sight. The Zuma team's appointment
officially ended the Mbeki mediation, despised by the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) and activists for chumming up to Mugabe, but
hailed by its supporters for brokering a deal that has brought some kind of
stability to Zimbabwe.

Both sides in Zimbabwe have been searching for clues to what direction the
new team will take. A comment by Zulu that Zimbabwe would now be taken more
as a domestic matter for South Africa than a foreign policy issue has been
taken by the MDC and the critics of the Mbeki mediation as a sign that Zuma
wants urgent action. But there was little else to show early signs of a
marked departure from Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy". On Monday Nqakula declined
to say what progress had been made. "We will not make a determination of the
quality of what we were able to get, but we are satisfied that we came and
did our job," he said. The team was to report to Zuma this week, who in turn
would report to the head of the SADC troika on politics and security. The
troika will then call a meeting of regional leaders to present the report,
he said. "Our instruction was to come here and do an assessment of how far
the parties have gone in terms of finding answers."

They would first have had to win the confidence of negotiators who had grown
attached to the Mbeki team. Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the smaller
MDC faction, said it was not yet clear how Zuma's "evaluation team" differed
from Mbeki's "facilitation". "Previously there was a facilitation team and
this was not an evaluation team. These [the Mbeki team] were the
facilitation team, they sat with the negotiators, chaired the meetings when
they were required to be chaired and then when we requested that we wanted
to talk on our own without them being present we would tell them so. They
were not an evaluation team. I have no idea what the terms of reference of
the new team are." According to Nqakula, his team sought to assure the
parties "that our job is to assist in the search for a permanent solution to
this situation".

In the meetings Zanu PF stuck to its position; Mugabe will not discuss any
other issue until Western sanctions against himself and his top allies are
lifted. Zanu PF also wants the MDC to call for an end to private radio
broadcasts into Zimbabwe. The MDC says it does not have the power to call
for an end to sanctions or foreign radio broadcasts, insisting political and
media reforms would end such action. Zanu PF also complained that Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who is also the prime minister, is running
"parallel government structures" made up of his party allies. The MDC told
the mediators that its most immediate demands are the reversal of the
appointments of the Reserve Bank governor and attorney general. The two
sides drifted further apart on the land issue, with the MDC demanding an
audit of all current landholdings. But Zanu PF negotiators argued this was a
plot by their rivals to "reverse land reform" by handing resettled land back
to white farmers.

A range of other quarrels has emerged, with the two sides now even fighting
over who gets to be buried at the national shrine for liberation war
veterans. There is also a fight over plum diplomatic postings. MDC
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said his party wanted posts in Pretoria and
Brussels "in the principle of sharing of ­authority and responsibilities".
Both sides agree that a new constitution is a key task for the unity
government, but they cannot agree on how a commission to lead the process
should conduct its work. The MDC wants the country's 10 provincial
governorships distributed according to the March 2008 election outcome,
which would give Tsvangirai most of the posts. Mugabe had originally agreed
to this, but his senior loyalists have told him this would only allow the
MDC to entrench itself in the areas it took from Zanu PF last year.


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Talks to continue over the weekend

By Tichaona Sibanda
4 December 2009

Talks to resolve outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement will
continue over the weekend, amid reports the government will make an
'important announcement' next week.

Speculation is rife in Harare that the principals might have agreed on the
final composition of candidates to sit on the various commissions meant to
reshape and democratize the country's political arena.

Inter-party negotiators have been meeting in Harare this week and it's
believed have covered much ground around the list of 27 items on their
agenda. The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that the negotiators
have discussed 15 items and have reached consensus on 12 of them.

The push to conclude the negotiations is reportedly coming from Jacob Zuma,
the South African president who is the new facilitator in the talks. Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently visiting South Africa, spoke to
journalists in Cape Town on Thursday; 'I want to assure you there is
progress,' Tsvangirai said, adding that negotiations covered the positions
of central bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us there is one major problem
being faced by journalists chasing the story. There is a media blackout and
journalists are having to report on hearsay.

'What is happening is the talks will continue throughout the weekend and if
there is a breakthrough, I understand Zuma will fly to Harare to be briefed
on the outcome. If they fail to agree or resolve the outstanding issues,
then I understand Zuma will send his facilitation team again next week to
get an update,' our source told us.

There are rising concerns from human rights defenders that the
attorney-general's office continues to abuse its authority by selectively
applying the law to prosecute people with links to the MDC and chooses to
ignore perpetrators of violence from ZANU PF supporters.

Recently the child of MDC MP for Gutu North Edmore Hamandishe Maramwidze was
viciously assaulted because of his father's position in the MDC.

Takunda Judah Hamandishe Maramwidze, a Grade 5 pupil at Hwiru Primary
School, was beaten up after an argument with a school mate on their way

According to the Changing Times, the weekly MDC newsletter, a woman teacher
at the school, identified as Mrs. Madzingo, wife to the losing ZANU PF
councillor for Ward 33, ordered the beating of Takunda.

And despite the hopes that surround the latest round of talks, media
repression still continues with no change. In Victoria Falls, police
detained three people for reading the popular MDC newsletter. Simbarashe
Kushanda from Emakhandeni in Bulawayo, together with a man identified only
as Mr. Mbano and a woman known as Ms. Khumalo were detained for more than 8
hours at Victoria Falls Police Station on Monday.

The Changing Times said the three were stopped at the Victoria Falls/ Zambia
border post by state security agents who saw them in possession of the


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Western Donors say Zimbabwe's Budget Needs Their Support

The German ambassador to Zimbabwe says Western countries and major
international financial institutions have changed their engagement with the
country's inclusive government during the past few months. The countries,
who have aligned themselves in a group they call Friends of Zimbabwe, have
established ways to begin financing the rebuilding of the country's
shattered infrastructure.

Peta Thornycroft | Harare 04 December 2009

"Donor support, for the time being, cannot be done through classical
instruments like financial aid or budgetary aid as Zimbabwe is not yet out
of the corner it had maneuvered itself into over the past 10 years," says
German ambassador to Zimbabwe.

The German ambassador to Zimbabwe says Western countries and major
international financial institutions have changed their engagement with the
country's inclusive government during the past few months. The countries,
who have aligned themselves in a group they call Friends of Zimbabwe, have
established ways to begin financing the rebuilding of the country's
shattered infrastructure.

German Ambassador Albrecht Conze explained how the Friends of Zimbabwe group
agreed in October to a new formula that has taken international funding from
providing only humanitarian assistance to funding developmental projects.
He said this was a response to greater political stability in Zimbabwe.

Addressing a media briefing in Harare, Conze said under the new formula the
money is held in a trust fund managed by the World Bank and distributed by
the United Nations.

"Donor support, for the time being, cannot be done through classical
instruments like financial aid or budgetary aid as Zimbabwe is not yet out
of the corner it had maneuvered itself into over the past 10 years," he

He added that two sectors, agriculture and education, are receiving
assistance from the trust fund.

The Friends of Zimbabwe includes the United States, Australia, Canada,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the
European Commission, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations.

Conze said the group wanted to support Zimbabwe's transitional government,
even while limited U.S. and EU sanctions exist that do not allow
government-to-government aid.

He said Finance Minister Tendai Biti's budget was a dramatic example of the
need for donor support.

"There is a clear indication that more than $800 million are missing," he
said. "He knows he can only get this from donors.  Where else should he get
it from?  Zimbabwe is still working on a cash budget, the country has
practically no credit lines, its international rating does not permit it
going to the capital market."

Conze said the Western countries hoped all outstanding issues of the
so-called global political agreement (GPA) which led to formation of the
unity government in February would soon be implemented.

"Once this GPA has been implemented and once you have your new constitution
and once you have free and fair elections, [then] that is more or less the
road map for full engagement of the international community," Conze said.

He added that the Friends of Zimbabwe group hoped the country would be able
to regain its voting rights at the International Monetary Fund's spring
meeting next June.

Conze said that attitudes of the West towards Zimbabwe had been strongly
influenced by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's statement earlier this year
that although President Robert Mugabe was part of Zimbabwe's problems, he
was also key to solving the country's 10-year crisis.

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State media news editor takes top job in journalist’s union

By Lance Guma
04 December 2009

Dumisani Sibanda, the news editor of the state owned Sunday News newspaper,
is the new president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ). Foster
Dongozi the Secretary General who was re-elected unopposed, and who is an
independent journalist, told Newsreel the Friday congress in Bulawayo went
ahead without incident despite reports suggesting otherwise. It was
predicted the congress would be bitterly contested following allegations
that the outgoing executive was trying to cherry pick its successors.

Dongozi said the state-owned Zimpapers group which owns most of the
government newspaper mouthpieces had invested heavily in busing people to
the congress to try and influence the results. The organization forked out
US$85 per delegate per night in accommodation costs. Even before the
congress Zimpapers chief executive Justin Mutasa is said to have sponsored a
retreat for state media journalists in Nyanga, to ensure they made up the
majority of the journalists union.

Before the congress several journalists said they wanted to reform the union
and accused former President Matthew Takaona of being a one-man band,
mismanaging ZUJ affairs and ignoring the plight of journalists. It did not
help Takaona’s cause that he was a former journalist at the Herald
newspaper. Takaona however fired back, accusing his critics of being
sponsored by politicians who wanted to control the union and its activities.

Takaona and his executive were also accused of having antagonized relations
between ZUJ and organizations like the Zimbabwe Media Institute of Southern
Africa (MISA), the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe and the Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe, among others. Financial Gazette Political Editor
Njabulo Ncube told the Zimbabwe Times website that, ‘In the past two years,
relations between ZUJ and these organizations have deteriorated over policy
and personal issues.’

Secretary General Foster Dongozi however denied this friction and said ZUJ
was a trade union, while organizations like MISA and others were NGO’s. This
he said meant their work could not overlap and caused friction. But there
was no denying there was friction over preparations for the congress itself,
with accusations that Takaona’s executive kept the identity of delegates
secret. Dongozi conceded they had received reports that certain government
ministers and senior members of the armed forces were hiring buses to
Bulawayo on behalf of journalists.

Those elected to the ZUJ executive include President Dumisani Sibanda
(Sunday News), first Vice President Mercy Bote (ZBC), second Vice President
Michael Padera (Herald), Secretary General Foster Dongozi (independent
journalist) and Treasurer Vince Mugumbate.


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Timba deplores meddling in state media

December 4, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Jameson Timba
has launched a veiled attack on Minister Webster Shamu and permanent
secretary George Charamba for  interference in the editorial content of the
state media.

Timba says the ministry has no business in dictating how stories are

"My ministry has got no business in any of the newsrooms of Zimpapers.

We must just get off there," Timba said to journalists in Harare Thursday
evening during a panel discussion on media freedom that was hosted by the
Quill Club.

Timba has in the past complained of being left out of ministerial meetings
by Shamu and Charamba.

Officials from the ministry are known to interfere with the Zimpapers
management and editorial departments.

Charamba, also President Robert Mugabe's spokesman, has been fingered as the
main culprit.

The meddlesome officials at the ministry routinely prescribe to editors what
to publish or not to print.

The Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust (ZMMT) was formed in 1980 after the new
government bought the Zimpapers stable from South Africa's Argus Group.

ZMMT was meant to house the majority shares in the newspaper group on behalf
of the Zimbabwean public. It was meant to act as a buffer between the
government and the company which is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

However, government has always exercised direct interference in Zimpapers.

"Zimpapers must go back to its owners, which is the Zimbabwe Mass Media
Trust of Zimbabwe. Either a senior civil servant or myself or my minister
has got no business in that newsroom or any other newsroom for that matter,"
Timba said in apparent reference to Shamu and Charamba.

Timba said he would not be tempted to storm any state media newsroom to
instruct editors on what to write for the next day's publication.

"This is against my principles," said Timba, a cabinet minister from the
mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Timba also described as immoral, laws that compel radio and television
owners to pay listeners' licences to the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) without paying attention to the preferences
of the market.

"There is no moral justification for this government to force people to pay
listener's licences for a broadcaster whose broadcasting does not pass the
public interest test," he said.

"ZBC does not pass a public interest test. ZBC is a partisan broadcaster in
which we are as a government compelling citizens to pay the listeners'
licence. There is a doctrine which says that there cannever be taxation
without representation. ZBC is a typical example of the breach of that
doctrine where there is taxation without representation.

"Members of the public whose concerns in terms of programming are not taken
into account are compelled by law to pay listeners licenses."

According to Timba, it was even absurd for ZBC to demand licences from some
areas in the remote Matebeleland North provinces which technically cannot
receive any signal from the state broadcaster.

"That's an immoral law and that's a bad law which should not be allowed to
continue," he said.

Timba further lashed out at those calling for the banning of pirate radio
stations beaming from outside the country saying this was a result of the
country's strict media laws.

"There is a complaint that we have got pirate radio stations," he said. "I
do not call them pirate radio stations but extra territorial broadcasters.

"A market has got rules. If you control the price of goods and services, you
create a parallel market. This is how the law of supply and demand would
respond to an intervention into a natural law of the market. This is very

Timba said had the technical capacity to licence four new TV stations, three
on Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band, one TV station on the VHF band.

If it goes digital, Zimbabwe also has the capacity to host seven more TV
stations, six on UHF and one on VHF.

In terms of radio stations, the country has the capacity to licence, two
more national FM radio broadcasters, 31 local commercial radio stations
which are urban based and 60 community broadcasting licences.

Furthermore, there are 13 unallocated Medium Wave frequencies that can be
allocated at national.

"If you have got all these capacities in terms of broadcasting, issue them,"
Timba said.

"When you issue those licences, you will remove that market which is
parallel. If you continue to close that space, then those entities will
continue to operate."

Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe director Takura Zhangazha
was the co-presenter during the discussion.

On his part, Zhangazha criticized the MDC-T for perceived selfishness when
it calls for media freedom.

Zhangazha said the MDC would not raise any voice if the state media
refrained from attacking the MDC but directed its attacks on civil society

He was adamant the state had no business in regulating the operations of the
local media.

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Zimbabwe Has Room For More Than 30 Radio Stations

Harare, December 4, 2009 - Media and Information deputy minister, Jameson
Timba, has hit back at those seeking the banning of exiled radio stations
broadcasting into the country saying they were justified in doing so because
Zimbabwe had a capacity to licence 31 commercial radio stations.

"A market has got rules. If you control the price of goods and services, you
create a parallel market. This is how the law of supply and demand would
respond to an intervention into a natural law of the market. This is very
simple," Timba told journalists in Harare.

He said in terms of the current frequency allocation plan, Zimbabwe had the
capacity to host three new television stations on the Ultra High Frequency
(UHF) band and one TV station on Very High Frequency (VHF) band. If Zimbabwe
was to go digital through a multiplex, it could have six additional
television stations on the UHF and one more on the VHF and this would be an
additional 7 stations in the country.

Timba said Zimbabwe also had the capacity to host two more national FM
licences in terms of the current frequency plan and 31 local commercial
radio stations. This could allow every urban centre in Zimbabwe to have a
radio station.

In terms of community broadcasting, Timba said, Zimbabwe had the capacity to
issue 60 community broadcasting licences. There were also 13 unallocated
Medium Wave frequencies that can also be allocated at national level.

"If you have got all these capacities in terms of broadcasting, issue them,"
Timba said. "When you issue those licences, you will remove that market
which is parallel. If you continue to close that space, then those entities
will continue to operate."

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF is campaigning for the ban of all exiled
radio stations. It has accused Botswana and Madagascar for hosting the
stations, saying it is a breach of the Global Political Agreement (GPA),
which was brokered by SADC.

"By hosting the pirate stations, Botswana and Madagascar - which hosts a
relay station for Voice of the People - are violating International
Telecommunications Union protocols by supporting the broadcasting of the
hate messages," the state Herald wrote on Friday.

"The two countries are also in contempt of Sadc and the African Union as the
guarantors of the Global Political Agreement signed by Zanu-PF, MDC-T and

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Zimbabwe Basket Fund Takes Off

By Stanley Kwenda

HARARE, Dec 4 (IPS) - A basket fund aimed at increasing the economic participation of women in Zimbabwe, has been relaunched after a start which faltered due to the delayed appointment of the new government earlier this year.

The fund, properly known as the Gender Support Programme, seeks to improve gender equality and equity in Zimbabwe. 

Speaking at the launch of the fund on June 17, Udo Etukudo, an MDG specialist and economist with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the cost of not investing in gender equality in Zimbabwe was enormous.

"Gender equality is important in the reduction of not only women and girls' poverty, but also that of men and boys," said Etukudo.

Basket Fund a milestone

Gender activist Rutendo Hadebe decried the fact that gender and women's empowerment were typically under-funded.
She said the fund would help women lobby for reconstruction in health, education and security, particularly in eliminating impunities and pursuing crimes committed against women and girls, such as politically motivated rape during last year's elections.

"The inauguration of this fund is a milestone. Change has come to Zimbabwe. Supporting women is the difference Zimbabwe needs to turn around decades of political and human rights violations," said Hadebe.

Businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, a founding member and first chairperson of the Affirmative Action Group of Zimbabwe (AAG), a black-empowerment group, said the fund offered women an opportunity to leap out of poverty.

"It is now up to women to aspire to be big, move from informal trading and make strategic choices to approach and learn from people who have made it big in business," said Chiyangwa.

He urged women to demand economic quotas to empower them, and take advantage of the constitution-making process to push for policies that increased their participation.

Funds from the European Commission (EC) and the UK's Department of International Development (DFID) totalling more than three million dollars, have been committed for the next three years.  

The fund supports organisations in the fields of women's health, education, migration, human trafficking, economic empowerment and decision-making.

A strict selection process is used to determine grant recipients.   Organisations working under the banner of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), and registered non-governmental, community and faith-based organisations working in the gender and women's empowerment arena, are eligible.

But while the fund will engage with the women's movement - particularly the WCoZ - it will also work with a wide network of partners in the area of gender and women's rights, particularly those working in grassroots communities.

"We work with a cross-section of organisations both large and small, particularly those working in communities," Ndanatsei Tawamba, the UNIFEM national director, told IPS. 

She said the first phase of the fund circle had been done, and initial disbursements of about $2 million made.

"We have had a rigorous period of selection, and we did not target specific organisations. We called for proposals and selected 30 from the applications received," said Tawamba.

"Among these is a trade organisation dealing with issues such as how the government can engage women, and more particularly those involved in trade between Zimbabwe, China, Singapore and Japan.

"We did not have an organisation dealing with cross-border traders, but hope one will be included in the next cycle."

Tawamba said no organisation dealing specifically with HIV/AIDS had been selected as a grantee, as it was believed the pandemic was part of gender-based violence (GBV).

"For us HIV and AIDS is not a stand-alone issue - we treat it as part of GBV," said Tawamba. 

The UNIFEM official said the basket fund was firmly rooted in Millennium Development Goal 3, which seeks to promote gender equality and empower women. 

"There is a big scarcity of resources for gender issues, so we are happy that the fund has taken off, and it is a good thing donors are pulling together to promote women," Tawamba told IPS. 

Asked what impact the fund had had so far, she said, "Issues to do with women have suffered for a long time in Zimbabwe due to economic, social and political problems, but the fund has had a positive effect so far, because women at grassroot level are benefiting from the work of the organisations which received funds, and can now present their issues."    But she admitted it was still too early to measure real impact.

There is no role for the government in this revival of the fund.  

"We are working only with civic society organisations (CSOs)," Tawamba told IPS.

But many grassroots organisations which are often used in justifying funding are left out.

Emma Mahlunge, who works with a grassroots-based organisation, the Kunzwana Women's Association, told IPS that the KWA feels it has been left out.

"It's better for UNIFEM to do their things without us because the design of the funding mechanism favours big organisations and ignores grassroots organisations working with community-based women whose idea of empowerment is to enable them to form commodities associations, access markets and achieve self sufficiency," Mahlunge told IPS.

She complained about funding criteria which force grassroots organisations to partner with big organisations dealing with policy related issues that affect women.

"For us it makes no sense to ask organisations with women who can't even speak English to partner with an organisation of lawyers, when we attend meetings discussions are only in English and they are often held in hotels where most of the grassroots women have no access. UNIFEM should give us funding directed at our needs."

Activist Rita Nyamupinga, works with WCoZ, but nonetheless questions the coalition's position managing the fund.

"The fund is helping women make a difference because organisations that previously couldn't access funding are getting something but there is a gap," she told IPS. "The money is too little and the distribution pattern is problematic because it assumes that WCoZ represents all women."

"The fund acquires an elitist agenda because most of the grassroots organisations are not part of WCoZ."

She added that the Gender Scoping Study done ahead of the establishment of the basket fund was all inclusive, but the implementation of the fund is exclusive.

"Most grassroots organisations' members cannot write proposals. They are asked to engage consultants who are often paid a lot of money eating almost half of the money that they are applying for so these donors must plan with all that information in mind," Nyamupinga told IPS.

Naome Chimbetete, who works with the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN), concurs, but hopes her organisation will benefit from the fund.

"The fund is making a difference in women's lives in areas it has touched, but the design needs to be reworked to include the specific needs of grassroots organisations  which are unfortunately sometimes left out. That is the weakness of the fund," said Chimbetete.

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SA, Zim epicentre of rhino poaching explosion

    Tony Carnie
    December 04 2009 at 07:19AM

South Africa and Zimbabwe have been ringed as the new epicentre of a
resurgent rhino smuggling and poaching crisis, with reports of bogus "sport
hunters" from Vietnam coming to hunt, allegedly with the collusion of
Vietnamese embassy staff, including a senior official who invoked diplomatic
immunity to escape arrest.

South Africa's proud record in protecting Africa's endangered rhinos also
lies in tatters with the publication of a report on a recent wave of
poaching for the international rhino horn trade, now at its highest level in
15 years.

Well over 100 live rhinos have been exported to China and there is evidence
that marksmen have been hired to kill rhinos using poison, crossbows and
lethal drugs - quieter killing methods to prevent gunshots alerting game
guards and security patrols.

More than 200 rhino have been poached in South Africa over the past three
years. At least 70 have been killed this year in state-funded and private
parks, and two dehorned carcasses were found last weekend in KwaZulu-Natal's
Opathe and Imfolozi game reserves.

The report was compiled by international rhino specialists Tom Milliken,
Richard Emslie and Bibhab Talukdar, and is to be presented at a meeting of
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (Cites), next year.

Noting that more than 25 percent of the country's rhinos are now privately
owned, the report implicates unscrupulous private ranchers in arranging
illegal trophy hunts and permit violations.

Despite clampdowns over the past two years initiated by Marthinus van
Schalkwyk while he was minister of environmental affairs, the report
suggests that Vietnamese "trophy hunter" tourists were being allowed to hunt
rhino on private farms, although some could barely shoot straight, did not
bother to apply for hunting permits and were prepared to pay well above the
market price.

At least 203 Vietnamese "sport hunters" were allowed to hunt rhino over the
past four years. There was also growing evidence that rhinos were being
exported to China and Vietnam for their horns to be harvested commercially.

While rhino horn has a long history of use in Eastern traditional medicine
to reduce fevers and as an aphrodisiac, horns were now advertised as a cure
for cancer and marketed on the Internet.

The publication of the report is likely to put further pressure on South
Africa to introduce even stricter curbs on poaching and the number of rhinos
hunted legally.

It identifies loopholes in horn record-keeping and permit controls and a
"precipitous decline in law enforcement".

At least 470 rhinos had been poached on the continent during the past three
years, with nearly 95 percent of them killed in South Africa or Zimbabwe.

"These two nations collectively form the epicentre of an unrelenting
poaching crisis."

Another disturbing trend was a shift in poaching tactics.

"In Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, quieter methods to kill rhino to
avoid detection have been employed, including the use of veterinary
immobilising drugs, poison and crossbows. This points to a growing and
cunning sophistication in the illegal procurement of rhino horns and the
involvement of marksmen with specialised skills."

Also for the first time, criminals were targeting rhino on private game

Milliken and his fellow researchers estimate about 1 500 rhino horns entered
the illegal markets of Asia over the past three years. About 940 were from
poached animals, 286 from rhinos killed in legal hunts and 200 from
privately owned stocks sold illegally.

"The number of rhino horns being traded has steadily grown, with 2008
probably representing the most intensive illegal movement over the last 15

Milliken notes statistics from Cites and South Africa do not match. For
example, official records said 193 live rhinos were exported from 2006 to
this year, whereas other records showed Ăf« were received in other
countries in that period. South Africa declared 61 live rhino exports to
China in 2006/07, but China said it received 117.

Grave concern

Another area of "grave concern" was the involvement of Vietnamese sport
hunters. In 2003, South Africa allowed Vietnamese hunters to shoot nine
rhinos. "From that modest beginning, trade in rhino horns to Vietnam rapidly
grew to entail 286 horns from 2006 to 2009."

Further discrepancies in records suggest that more than a third of the
Vietnamese "sports hunts" took place without Cites permits.

"Investigations have revealed disturbing evidence of organised crime,
including the frequent involvement of a small number of Vietnamese nationals
in rhino hunting, often on the same game ranches repeatedly; numerous cases
where Vietnamese 'trophy hunters' paid above market price for rhino hunts,
but had to be instructed how to shoot."

The report cites "repeated involvement of Vietnam embassy staff, one of whom
invoked diplomatic immunity to avoid arrest".

South Africa instituted a clampdown on trade rules and hunting regulations
in February, leading to an immediate decline in Vietnamese trophy hunts. But
there was an immediate surge in poaching.

           This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on
December 04, 2009

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U.S. film star to attend Chimusoro HIV/AIDS Awards

Harare, December 4, 2009 The Emmy Award winning actress and Population Services International (PSI) Ambassador, Debra Messing, will visit Zimbabwe next week, and will attend the ninth presentation of the Auxillia Chimusoro HIV and AIDS Awards on December 10.

The awards, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and held this year at the National Art Gallery, celebrate organizations and individuals who have demonstrated commitment and courage in breaking the silence around the infection, reducing stigma and discrimination, and caring for infected and affected people.

The awards are named after Auxillia Chimusoro, one of the first people in Zimbabwe to openly disclose their HIV positive status. At the time, in 1987, the disease was shrouded in silence.

“I am honored to be invited to speak at the Auxillia Chimusoro Awards ceremony, honoring Auxillia’s legacy and recognizing those making such direct progress against this devastating disease. USAID’s ongoing support has made such success possible and I'm grateful to them for their commitment, generosity, and partnership,” says Messing of her participation in the 9th annual awards ceremony.

“We are excited to have Debra Messing speak to Zimbabwean HIV and AIDS activists during the Auxillia Chimusoro Awards,” says Tim Gerhardson, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Harare. “The fight against AIDS is a central piece of the foreign policy and global health agenda outlined by the United States. Artists can play an important role in both spreading the message and fundraising, which makes Messing’s experience with PSI a positive model for all Zimbabweans.”


Internationally, Messing is best known for her role on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning comedy series “Will & Grace.” She captivated television audiences worldwide for eight seasons with her comedic brilliance as Grace Adler. For her work on the popular sitcom, Messing won the 2003 Emmy Award and has earned numerous accolades, including several Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild nominations. In 2001, Messing collected the TV Guide’s Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series honor and was awarded a Screen Actors Guild award with the cast of “Will & Grace.”

She also portrayed Mary Magdalene in the four-hour CBS miniseries, “Jesus,” and starred in the USA miniseries “The Starter Wife” with Joe Mantegna. Messing’s recent film work includes several romantic comedies, including The Wedding Date, box office hit Along Came Polly, with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston, and The Women, alongside Annette Benning and Meg Ryan.

While in Zimbabwe, Messing will take the opportunity to visit a variety of HIV prevention and treatment programs and will meet with local officials and researchers.

Media Note: More information about Debra Messing’s visit to Zimbabwe is available at PSI. Contact Michael Chommie, Country Director on 334 631 or e-mail:

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Issued by the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section,

Contacts:       Tim Gerhardson – Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Tel +263 4 758800-1

                Cary Jimenez, Outreach & Project Development Officer, USAID, Tel. + 263 4 252401

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Zimbabwe: weekly bulletin #9 - week ending 1 December 2009

Click here to read the ninth Zimbabwe Weekly Bulletin for the week ending 1 December 2009.
It is five pages in length and gives a brief synopsis of the following areas:
The bulletin is accessed from the Zimbabwe Democracy Now website.

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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: A letter from the diaspora

Written by Pauline Henson
Friday, 04 December 2009 17:39
Dear Friends.
It's not surprising that dictatorial regimes all over the world resist the
idea of a free press. Zimbabwe is no exception. It is to the foreign media
that people must look for the truth about what as happening in their
Thanks to a (relatively) free press in the UK I was able to pick up three
items of news about Zimbabwe this week which dealt in detail with stories
that reveal the current malaise that is besetting the country. Greed is the
underlying theme behind all three stories.
The first story came from The Zimbabwean and it was there that I read the
list of multiple farm ownership by Zanu PF top officials. I remembered the
original criteria that Robert Mugabe himself laid down for land ownership.
One man one farm, he said and that sounded eminently fair and reasonable; no
absentee landlords was the next condition of ownership and, again, no
fair-minded person could argue with that. Mugabe also said that any
commercial farm that abounded on communal land could expect to be
expropriated and that too made a certain kind of sense. Those criteria did
not hold for very long as the political realities changed. After Zanu PF
lost the Constitutional Referendum in February 2000, it became clear that
the land question was no more than a political tool designed to placate the
increasingly disenchanted rural people and the 'big men' in government. The
list of multiple farm owners published in last week's Zimbabwean clearly
demonstrates the total abandonment of the 'One man One farm policy'. This is
nothing more than sheer greed, theft on a grand scale; one highly placed
minister owning 11 farms or the Chair of the Senate with 6 farms - and
taking more. The list includes Mugabe family members who have 9 farms
between them, the Minister of Justice and his wife and sister who jointly
own 9 farms. There are senior police officers, MP's, District Governors and
top military officers on the list. This is the 'righting of colonial
injustices' that Mugabe uses at every international forum as his
justification for 'land reform'. In reality it is nothing more than
political patronage to assuage the greed and ensure the continued support of
his cronies. Conscience it seems is not a concept they are familiar with.
My next story came from the medium of television and concerned one Simon
Mann. The BBC featured the white mercenary in a documentary entitled 'Simon
Mann's African Coup' which once again demonstrated the overpowering motive
of greed, not for land this time but for oil, black gold. In exchange for
'dishing the dirt' on his co-conspirators, Mann has just been released from
the notorious Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea, the west African
country ruled by Teodoro Obiang, an even longer serving dictator than
Mugabe. Obiang's human rights record is rated by Human Right Watch as 'one
of the most abusive and corrupt in the world'.  Zimbabweans will remember
the day Mann and his mercenary crew landed in Harare to be met by 'Mugabe's
Gestapo' as Mann described his arrest and imprisonment in Zimbabwe. The BBC
documentary showed very clearly that the attempted coup was common
knowledge: the Americans, the British, Spain, the former colonial power,
they all knew. The South Africans had followed every step of the coup
attempt from the moment the plane left South Africa.  Zimbabwe was tipped
off by the South Africans and the military were waiting for the mercenaries
when they landed.  The inevitable result was imprisonment in Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison; from one hell to another as Mann was released by
Mugabe into Obiang's 'tender' care. The story made fascinating viewing and
Mann spoke openly, making no attempt to conceal the fact that his motive in
supporting a coup in Equatorial Guinea had nothing to do with restoring
democracy. 'It was money' he said looking straight into the camera. Control
of the country's massive oil reserves, the third biggest in Africa would
have made him and his fellow mercenaries immensely rich. And the west looked
the other way, the US wanted to be free of its reliance on Islamic sourced
oil and they welcomed Obiang as an honoured guest as he deposited his
millions in American banks. As the former US Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea
said, "Both countries are severely repressive but if Harare had oil the
doors to the US would be open to the Mugabes as well."   .
But, and this brings me to my third story fom the British media (The UK
Sunday Times) this week. Zimbabwe may not have oil but it does have
diamonds! Another story to illustrate how greed stifles conscience as the
top echelons of Zanu PF through its military takes control of the Marange
diamond fields. The precious stones were previously mined by local
prospectors and sold on the black market. Once it became apparent that they
were sitting on a fortune, 200 locals were slaughtered and the military
moved in and took control. The Sunday Times article exposes the complicity
of top Zanu PF officials, including Obert Mpofu the Mines Minister who
selected the companies that would take over the running of the diamond
fields. "Heavy mining machinery has arrived, capable of extracting thousands
of carats of diamonds an hour" reports the Sunday Times. "It will be much
more money than they have ever had. We could be talking about $25 - $100
million an hour" Incredibly, Zanu PF's partners in government appear to have
colluded in this arrangement, though the MDC had no say in the choice of
companies chosen to exploit this wealth.
Greed has won the day again - but money equals power and the former ruling
party is bankrupt and rapidly running out of popular support. With this new
source of wealth, Zanu PF and their military partners will hope  to hold on
to power indefinitely. The greatest danger for democracy in Zimbabwe is that
the military, headed by General Constantine Chiwenga and backed by this
enormous wealth, may seize power and take over the country in a full
military dictatorship.
Once again the world looks the other way. Diamonds may be forever as the
song says but they not do not fuel the world.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH aka Pauline Henson author of Case
Closed published in Zimbabwe by Mambo Press, Going Home and Countdown,
political detective stories set in Zimbabwe and available on and

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