December 5, 2005
UN humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland visited a squalid camp housing
thousands of victims of Zimbabwe's controversial shantytown demolitions
today and heard
complaints of horrible living conditions there.
He waded through the mud to reach hundreds of plastic-sheeting
shelters where victims live in the Hatcliffe informal settlement about 20km
from Harare, which owners said was often water-logged due to heavy rains.
Egeland said nothing to reporters at the start of his visit, the first
tour by a senior UN official since the May demolition of the shanty towns.
He kept journalists at a distance, with aides saying Egeland wanted to
hold private conversations with the victims.
"He is walking around in the mud, speaking to victims, taking in their
living conditions," a witness said.
Most of Hatcliffe's 8 000 settlers have no formal employment. Their
temporary shelters were erected by the Catholic Church.
President Robert Mugabe's government last month accepted a UN offer to
help the homeless after initially rejecting it on the grounds that the
demolitions did not
constitute a humanitarian crisis.
Egeland is expected to meet Mugabe tomorrow. - Reuters
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 5 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan
Egeland visited Zimbabweans affected by the government's controversial
clean-up campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, in the capital, Harare, on
Egeland also visited a government housing site and inspected units built for
those affected by the operation, which has left more than 700,000 people
homeless or without a livelihood after kicking off in mid-May. Although he
responded positively to the government's attempts to house those left
homeless, Egeland said "the needs are far greater". The envoy is also the UN
Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
The Zimbabwean government has maintained that the operation was aimed at
clearing slums and flushing out criminals, and has announced plans to
construct 5,000 homes across the country by the end of this year.
Zimbabwe initially rejected UN offers of assistance to build temporary
shelter for people affected by the operation, only to make an about-turn
last month. Subject to funding, the UN will construct 2,500 housing units
during the first phase of the programme, and will eventually build 20,000
units at a total cost of US $18 million.
The UN envoy visited two transit camps housing people left homeless by the
clean-up operation and also met with donors, church leaders, and
international and national NGOs on Monday.
Egeland was expected to meet President Robert Mugabe before leaving Zimbabwe
The envoy arrived in Harare late Saturday and met with Local Government and
Public Works Minister Ignatius Chombo on Sunday. He had asked Chombo "to
help us to help you," said UN spokesman Hiro Ueki in Harare, noting that the
comment had been made in the context of providing "broader" humanitarian
The UN envoy is expected to visit Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, and
other parts of southern Zimbabwe to inspect food distribution points. Last
week, the UN launched an appeal for US $276 million for Zimbabwe, saying at
least three million people would require food aid, as only an estimated
600,000 mt of maize had been harvested, compared to a national requirement
of 1.8 million mt.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the international watchdog organisation, claimed
in a report on the aftermath of the clean-up that the Zimbabwean government
had "refused to acknowledge the scale of the crisis precipitated by the
evictions campaign, and continued to blatantly violate the human rights of
the people displaced by Operation Murambatsvina".
HRW accused the government of failing to take measures to house evicted
people, "many thousands of whom continue to live in the open, in disused
fields or in the bush; or rudimentary shelters made from the debris of
destroyed houses; or who squeeze into tiny rooms with family members who
have agreed to shelter them".
Zimbabwe's Minister of Security, Dydimus Mutasa, reacting to critical
reports on the clean-up campaign, told IRIN recently, "They [clean-up
campaigns] happen everywhere in the world - whether it is London and even in
South Africa. Things have become better, people are able to sleep peacefully
Some of the 700,000 Zimbabweans hit by slum clearances are living in
"very bad" conditions, said a top UN envoy after visiting a squatter camp.
UN's emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland waded through mud to
meet people living under plastic sheets, reports Reuters news agency.
This is the highest level visit since a UN report condemned the
Mr Egeland was invited to "correct" the bias of that report, said
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.
"It is very clear that the needs are great, the needs are tremendous
and the people are living under very bad conditions," Mr Egeland said after
visiting the Hatcliffe camp 20km outside the capital, Harare, home to about
Reuters reports that women ululated and cheered when they saw Mr
Egeland, hoping his visit might lead to better living conditions.
He later went to Whitecliff, where the government says it is building
new houses for some of those made homeless.
The government had refused international help for those affected -
saying far fewer than 700,000 were affected.
But last month, it accept the offers of aid and has also reached an
agreement to let the World Food Programme distribute aid to at least three
million people going hungry after poor harvests.
The government said the slum clearances were intended to reduce crime
Mr Egeland is due to meet Mr Mugabe on Tuesday. He met Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and other government officials over the
The visit follows a UN report describing Zimbabwe as being "in a
virtual state of emergency".
It said forced government evictions of hundreds of thousands of people
earlier this year had deepened the country's economic problems.
The report, compiled by Anna Tabaijuka said the forced evictions had
caused untold misery.
Mr Egeland will assess the performance of UN agencies in their efforts
to help Zimbabweans through the worsening crisis.
He is also due to meet religious and civil society leaders, some of
whom are bitterly critical of the government.
In southern Zimbabwe, Mr Egeland is expected to travel into rural
areas where people are suffering severe food shortages.
Last week lobby group Human Rights Watch said that since Mrs
Tabaijuka's report, UN agencies in Zimbabwe have not done enough to help
destitute people and have been reluctant to confront Mr Mugabe's government.
A senior UN official in the region told the BBC that the agencies are
"caught between a rock and a hard place".
They have an obligation to maintain a presence in Zimbabwe and, he
said, they cannot achieve much without collaborating with Mr Mugabe.
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips says Mr Egeland will get a better
understanding of this awkward dilemma for the UN - to concentrate on
humanitarian work or confront the government but risk losing all influence.
December 5, 2005
December 05, 2005, 18:45
About 200 travellers were stranded at the Beit Bridge border-post, between
South Africa and Zimbabwe today.
There was an acute shortage of immigration staff. Only two officials are on
duty as the others are reportedly being investigated for corruption.
There are usually about 14 officials on duty, at the border post. But today,
there were just two, leading to long queues and delays. Just last week,
police arrested three officials for corruption. But they denied rumours that
they had done the same today. Officials would not appear on camera. But
there was talk of more manpower being called in, to assist with the backlog.
Mail and Guardian
05 December 2005 03:54
Zimbabwe team manager Babu Meman and test cricketers Vusimusi
Sibanda and Waddington Mwayenga were released from police custody on Monday
after being questioned for two days on taxation and foreign currency issues.
They were arrested Saturday at the Harare Academy cricket
grounds and held under the Exchange Control Act over their foreign currency
earnings from test matches and international match fees.
Babu Meman, who has managed the national team for several years,
together with batsman Vusimusi Sibanda and seam bowler Waddington Mwayenga,
were arrested on Saturday following a tip-off about their foreign currency
earnings from Test match and One Day International match fees.
But Meman told journalists on Monday: "We are in the process of
being released right now. I don't foresee any hiccups and there are no
restrictions on us. I believe the instruction to let us go came from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe."
Meman added: "We know who caused this mischief, but he has
failed except to give anxiety for our families."
Local government-controlled daily newspaper The Herald ran a
story Monday with the headline, "Cricketers arrested in forex scam."
Other test cricketers were warned on Sunday by Zimbabwe Cricket
(ZC) officials to go into hiding.
The Herald also ran a statement from ZC chairperson Peter
Chingoka and managing director Osias Bvute claiming they're still in control
of the country's cricket administration.
A crisis meeting of ZC got under way Monday at Harare Sports
Club under senior director Judge Ahmed Abrahim. About 40-50 directors,
provincial and club chairpersons, the national coach, players and selectors
met to consider what Ebrahim called "the way forward". Chingoka and Bvute
were notably absent when the meeting got underway.
Two leading Zimbabwe cricketers and a well-known official,
arrested Saturday on charges of violating foreign exchange rules, were set
to be released Monday.
Detectives were expected to question Chingoka and Bvute as part
of their investigations into alleged foreign currency violations.
Problems at ZC led to the resignation two weeks ago of national
team captain Tatenda Taibu.
He and other players had earlier teamed up with the country's
seven provincial chairpersons in a bid to have Chingoka sacked and Bvute
suspended. -- Sapa-AFP
5 - 12 - 2005
Fifty hours' detention in Harare Central Police Station gave
civil-rights activist Netsai Mushonga an unmatched insight into the decay of
Robert Mugabe's regime
On Monday 7 November 2005, following a weekend peace and
non-violence training workshop hosted by the Women's Peacemakers' Program
for church leaders from Epworth and other areas of Harare, I received a call
from the police asking me to come to the police station. The officer
stressed that it was to my advantage to cooperate. I went that afternoon,
arriving at 2.30pm.
Surprisingly, the whole section seemed to be waiting for me.
"She is here", one officer shouted when I introduced myself.
I am ushered into a dilapidated office, which looks like a
reception room. An old desk has an even older typewriter on top. One of the
four officers in the room looks bored and drunk. They ask if I was
responsible for organising the workshop, and tell me that the meeting was a
political one; we should therefore have informed the police in advance under
the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
I argue that it was a peace and non-violence meeting and explain
that the WFP operates with a constitution: all perfectly legal. The officers
believe the meeting was political since it discussed the history of
Zimbabwe. They seemed worried that we mentioned Gukurahundi (the military
operation in Matabeleland where 20,000 civilians were killed in the 1980s).
I maintain my cool. When the other officers discover that I am
not going to be a pushover they all but one slowly leave the reception room
to find something more exciting to do. For the rest of the afternoon, I
discuss the meeting with the officer who had called me. I have lots of work
and am anxious to leave, so I tell the officer that I have to pick up my kid
from school. But he detains me until 5pm and asks me to return at 8am the
Because I am very sure of my innocence, I do not raise the
alarm, try to find a lawyer, or even tell my husband, Albert. On Tuesday 8
November I rush to my office to plan for the day, since I have a meeting to
attend in the afternoon; by 8.30 I am at the police station. This time, no
one t seems interested in me. But after ten minutes' wait an officer asks me
to come with him.
We walk through the corridors and I realise that I am now in the
Central Intelligence Office (CIO) division. The offices and their personnel
are alike poorly maintained and a pitiful sight; almost all the staff are
wearing cheap, worn civilian clothing.
I am taken to the head of the division where a junior officer
comes to sit with me. The head himself pops in and out, ostensibly to give
orders to juniors though I suspect really to check up on me. I chat with
junior officers and ask one of them to phone my husband; he does so gladly.
My husband is shocked by the news and wants to find a lawyer fast. I am
still convinced of my innocence and I ask him not to panic.
After four hours, a woman officer comes to fetch me. She appears
high-handed but I remain pleasant, feeling sure that behind the mask is a
decent human being who wants the same things as myself: a happy life in a
peaceful, prosperous country. She is joined by another woman colleague, and
together they act as though I am guilty of a big crime, that under Posa the
police have a right to be informed of any public gathering (even a birthday
party or church mass), and that I can get a lawyer if I want. They then
charge me with holding a public gathering without informing the police.
They take my fingerprints, three copies. I remain cool. Why
should I worry; no crime has been committed, of that I am sure. My husband
brings me lunch, and I delve into the meal with gusto. The woman officer
interviewing me is having black tea and plain bread for lunch. I feel for
her and she notices it.
The first night
I am taken to the cells. An officer tells me I should remove my
shoes since I am now a prisoner. He assigns a woman officer to supervise me
who order me to remove my bra; I am left in a sleeveless top. They take my
cell phone and ask me to hand over all my money. I have a few Zimbabwe
dollars and $13. An officer looks greedily at the United States money and
asks if I declared it at the border. He realises that he can't get away with
snatching the money and puts it down.
I join other women prisoners in a day room and they ask me why I
am in. "Posa", I sigh. They clap hands and welcome me: "You are a brave
sister and we are here for Posa too." We sit and introduce ourselves. In the
next two hours, most of the women arrested under Posa are released. My
husband brings me more food - half a chicken and some chips. I share it with
two girls who are in for forgery and shoplifting respectively; the first
explains that she was desperate to get work and had forged an "O" Level
certificate so she could get a job as a tailor in the army; the second says
that this is her profession and even boasts that it pays well.
At around 9pm, we are sent to sleep in the smelly, filthy cells.
The cells are roughly six meters squared, containing a toilet that does not
flush; the stench is overpowering. Ten of us share three dirty blankets full
of lice. With my short-sleeved blouse, I cannot take the lice bites and
resolve to spread my newspaper on the floor and sleep there.
After turning and tossing forever, sometimes just sitting up
straight since the floor is cold, dawn finally comes. An officer arrives to
take us to the day rooms.
The second night
Albert and our friends have found a lawyer for me. But they are
misinformed that I am being held at Chitungwiza prison, thirty kilometers
from Harare. Rangu, from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, wastes his
journey there. At noon, my husband and friends are finally allowed to speak
to me for two minutes. Albert is angry, and I see him trying to control
himself; my friend Margie looks serious but composed. We speak briefly and
an officer asks them in very low tones to bring me something warm to wear.
They bring lots of food; rice, meat for maybe three people,
potatoes, bread, bananas, apples, drinks. The officers and other prisoners
look on enviously. I share it with three women prisoners who seem on the
point of collapse. I also give some to the crying child of a vagrant woman.
The day is uneventful. New prisoners arrive, most in various
stages of shock. We laugh, talk, and counsel one another. At night, it is
back to the excrement-covered cell. This time, I manage to catch some sleep
on the floor. But I am becoming angrier by the minute. Why am I in prison?
I get a hearty breakfast in the morning and share it with three
people, including one man who says that he is starving. Two young men in
prison under Posa slip into our day room and we talk and laugh with them;
one of the woman prisoners is his girlfriend. She looks distraught and
homesick. I try to cheer them up. I explain non-violence to them and they
gape at me, interested about the prospects of making soldiers and police
officer their friends in the struggle for food and jobs.
A longer version of Netsai Mushonga's experience was first
published in kubatana.net
Around 12.30 on Thursday 10 November, after two nights in Harare
police station, an officer comes to tell me that I am free to go. I pack my
bags and after hasty goodbyes I leave my food with my two new friends: the
shoplifter and the forger. The senior woman officer tells me that they will
prepare a docket and later send me a summons. Rangu tells me that the
attorney-general's office threw out the case and therefore they had to
release me after the mandatory forty-eight hours. He says that this is the
end, as there is no case to start with.
We head home. I feel angry. A fire has been ignited deep inside
me. I expect that people around me would be angry with me, but they are not.
Instead, my friends and colleagues are angry with the law and the system.
They realise that I have been a victim. It's one thing to talk of
injustices, another to be a direct victim.
I am wary of the suffering and stress that my family went
through during my ordeal, especially my husband. Thanks to them and all my
friends' support during this ordeal. I am blessed to have all of you.
What happens next? I now know what Posa means. I now know about
unlawful arrests and detentions. Non-violence principle number four has
taught me that unearned suffering is strengthening. Our society still needs
non-violence and peace education and we will continue to give it.
Los Angeles Times
December 5, 2005
By John Reed, Financial Times
LIVINGSTONE, Zambia - A rainbow arcs toward the horizon, just above a sign
saying "Welcome to Zimbabwe." The colorful spectacle happens when sunlight
is refracted through the mist thrown up by Victoria Falls, which straddle
the country's border with Zambia.
Zimbabwe has the best views of the falls, which are about 100 meters high
and known locally as mosi-o-tunya ("the smoke that thunders"). Visitors can
paraglide over the falls, take tea at the colonial-era Victoria Falls hotel,
or bungee-jump from a 100-year-old bridge spanning the Zambezi River.
But an increasing number of foreign visitors is choosing to view the falls
from Livingstone, Zambia. Like Zambia's broader economy, the town is
profiting from the economic and political crisis afflicting Zimbabwe.
On a recent weekend, several dozen foreign tourists crowded into Zambia's
Mosi-o-Tunya National Park to view the falls, which have been reduced to a
trickle on its eastern cataract by southern Africa's severe drought.
In less than five years several new hotels and tour operators offering river
cruises or game drives have sprung up in Livingstone, transforming it from a
provincial backwater into a growing tourist hub.
"Five years ago you could stand on Mosi-o-Tunya road and see only one car in
half an hour," says Misozi Tembo, a local spokeswoman for Sun International,
which in 2001 opened two hotels in Livingstone. "Now it's difficult to cross
A shopping mall and two new hotels are under construction, and the town's
tiny airport will be refurbished by the end of the year to allow Boeing 747s
and other big aircraft to land, said Ngandu Peter Magande, Zambia's finance
"Three quarters of the falls are in Zambia," said Magande. He says French,
South African and U.S. hotel groups have also expressed interest in building
hotels in Livingstone, named after David Livingstone, the Scottish
missionary and explorer who sighted the falls 150 years ago.
Zimbabwean farmers, driven abroad by President Robert Mugabe's seizure of
commercial farms, have also flocked to Zambia, alongside other neighboring
The migrants have brought capital and intensive methods rare in Zambian
agriculture and caused the country's tobacco production to more than double
in two years to 45 million kilograms.
"The impact they have made on tobacco farming in less than two years has
been tremendous," says Dipak Patel, Zambia's minister of commerce, trade and
Precise figures are not available on how many Zimbabwean farmers, many of
whom leased rather than bought land, are now in Zambia.
Many Zimbabwean farmers have struggled to make money in Zambia where
long-term finance and skilled workers are in shorter supply than in their
homeland. Many have been hurt by the drought, which the government says has
left 1.7 million Zambians facing food shortages.
The white migrants, after their eviction from Zimbabwe, have also made it
clear that they are in Zambia only to farm. Zambian officials appear to be
largely pleased with their presence. Zambia, called Northern Rhodesia under
British rule, was joined in a federation with Zimbabwe until its
independence in 1964.
Tue 6 December 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe has
given opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 10 days to show cause why a final
order, sought by lieutenants in his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party, to bar him from being party president should not be granted.
MDC deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire last night told
ZimOnline that he and other leaders of the party opposed to Tsvangirai
yesterday appealed to Garwe - a top ally of President Robert Mugabe - to
interdict Tsvangirai from performing duties as president of the opposition
"Mr Tsvangirai was served with summons this afternoon by the Judge
President through a messenger of court," said Chimanikire, who is part of a
faction led by MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube that is pushing for
Tsvangirai's ouster from the helm of the opposition party.
According to Chimanikire, they also want Garwe to order Tsvangirai to
surrender party property in his custody because he was suspended by the
MDC's disciplinary committee that is headed by party deputy president Gibson
Tsvangirai has rejected the suspension and party national youth leader
Nelson Chamisa, who is siding with the MDC leader, last night said
Tsvangirai was still to see the summons from Garwe, adding the opposition
leader would vigorously oppose in court attempts to topple him.
Chamisa said: "I have heard that papers have been served but Mr
Tsvangirai is yet to see the papers. We are currently awaiting delivery of
"We will have to file opposing papers but this (application for
interdict against Tsvangirai) is just like flogging a dead horse because
there is no basis for this court action to hold."
Giving out a hint of what is likely to be one of Tsvangirai's major
defence planks in the impending court battle, Chamisa said the MDC was
focused on its congress set for next February which he said had the
mandate - and not the courts - to choose new leaders for the party.
But that both Tsvangirai and Ncube must now bow before Garwe to be
told who should lead the MDC is testimony of how the six-year old opposition
party - that had offered Zimbabweans the only viable alternative to Mugabe's
rule - has fallen apart.
Garwe became president of Zimbabwe's High Court bench only after
Mugabe had purged independent judges. He last year exonerated Tsvangirai of
treason charges but he is, as is the case with most of the new judges
appointed by Mugabe in the last five years, still regarded by many as never
truly independent from the government.
The wrangling tearing apart the MDC began after the party's senior
leaders could not agree on whether to contest last month's senate election.
Tsvangirai ordered the MDC to boycott the poll and launched a vigorous
campaign to mobilise grassroots supporters to stay away from the election
which he said was a waste of money in a country that should be using its
meagre resources to fight hunger threatening a quarter of its population.
The MDC leader also opposed the election saying it was pointless to
take part in a poll that would be rigged by Mugabe and his government.
But Ncube and his faction insisted that the MDC should contest the
poll because its national council had voted for it to do so, adding that
Tsvangirai was violating the party's constitution by rejecting the council
The pro-senate group also argued that boycotting the election would be
unwise as that would be tantamount to surrendering political space to Mugabe
and his ruling ZANU PF party.
But Ncube and his group were thrashed by ZANU PF in the November 26
poll that most Zimbabweans largely ignored with less than 20 percent coming
out to vote, a development political analysts said appeared to suggest that
Tsvangirai had read the national sentiment better than his MDC rivals.
But the Ncube faction that controls the MDC disciplinary committee
immediately announced it had suspended Tsvangirai for breaching the party's
constitution by campaigning against the senate election. They had to seek
help from the courts after Tsvangirai ignored the suspension. - ZimOnline
Tue 6 December 2005
HARARE - A leading Zimbabwean opposition politician, Roy Bennett, is
suing the government's Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA)
for allegedly looting US$244 000 worth of coffee from his Charleswood farm
when it invaded the property in April last year.
According to papers filed at the High Court, Bennett - whose farm was
seized despite a court order prohibiting ARDA and the government from
expropriating it - left behind on the farm 107 560kg of coffee that was
ready for export.
There was also a further 34 880kg of coffee in various stages of
processing at the time Bennett, a former member of parliament of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, was forcibly evicted
Bennett alleges in his court papers that on August 26, 2004 an ARDA
official, one Simoye, who was running the farm on behalf of the state
agricultural authority, broke into the coffee warehouse and illegally
removed 107 560kg of coffee valued at US$132 298.44 which he sold to a
private firm called Predomn Investments.
The MDC politician is also suing the directors of Predomn, a Misheck
Makandiwa and a P M Jongwe, who he says bought the coffee knowing full well
that it was stolen.
According to Bennett, Simoye on various occasions later stole another
84 680kg of coffee worth US$111 944 which he sold away.
Bennett, who has asked the court to order ARDA to "disclose and
deliver the quantity of coffee picked at Charleswood Estate from April last
year", wants the government farming company to return whatever amounts of
his coffee it is still holding onto and to pay up for whatever it illegally
This is not the first time that ARDA or an arm of the government is
being sued for looting property and produce from white-owned farms during
President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and often violent programme to seize farms
from whites for redistribution to landless blacks.
Former white safari operator Wally Johnson is suing Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi after
soldiers and policemen allegedly took advantage of the chaos and lawlessness
during farm invasions to loot US$25 000 worth of property from his Mawenje
There have also been countless reports in the past in which police and
army officers were accused of either standing by while pro-government mobs
looted farm equipment and household property from white farms or actively
participated in the theft of property themselves. The government and its
security forces have however denied such reports.
Mugabe's controversial land redistribution programme under which he
chased most of Zimbabwe's about 4 000 white farmers from the land is blamed
for destabilising the mainstay agricultural sector, causing a 60 percent
drop in food production.
Zimbabwe has survived on food handouts from international relief
agencies since the farm seizures began six years ago with an estimated three
million of the 12 million Zimbabweans requiring more than a million tonnes
of food aid between now and the next harvest around March/April 2006 or they
will starve. - ZimOnline