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Mugabe rejects UN offer for homeless


      Tue Dec 6, 2005 6:50 PM GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has rejected a United
Nations offer of temporary shelter for victims of a government slum
clearance programme but has accepted an offer of food aid, the world body
said on Tuesday.

The U.N. says Zimbabwe needs emergency aid including tents to accommodate
hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by evictions earlier this year
but the government says it only needs help to provide permanent homes.

"There are issues we disagree on frankly, but we also agree on the
importance of the international community to raise its profile in pursuing
humanitarian principles," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian affairs
and emergency relief coordinator.

"There is agreement to work, to re-double our efforts to be much more
effective to meet all the challenges of millions of people infected with HIV
... (and) several million people being food insecure," he said, giving no

Egeland was speaking after talks with Mugabe in the capital.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba confirmed the president and Egeland
disagreed on the question of housing.

"For us it is not to do with the U.N. capacity, it has to do with attitude
towards the Zimbabwe government," Charamba said, noting that the U.N. was
building permanent homes in Zambia and the troubled Sudan region of Darfur.


The demolitions added to the woes of many Zimbabweans facing shortages of
food, fuel and foreign currency, high unemployment and one of the highest
rates of inflation in the world.

Mugabe denies responsibility for the crisis and says domestic and
international opponents have sabotaged the economy in retaliation for his
programme of seizing white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to

Egeland toured several settlements on Monday where families have lived in
makeshift plastic tents since their houses were destroyed.

The evictions, which Mugabe argues were meant to root out illegal trade in
scant basic commodities, left 700,000 people homeless or without a
livelihood and affected 2.4 million others, U.N. estimates show.

A U.N. report criticised Harare and said the demolitions were carried out
"with indifference to human suffering".

Mugabe also raised his concern that the United States and Zimbabwe's former
colonial power Britain were trying to use the United Nations to settle
political disputes, said Charamba.

"This kind of picture does not help the case of the U.N. in its humanitarian
work," he said, adding that Egeland had also asked Mugabe to make it easier
for non-governmental organisations to register and operate.

"We have our own reservations on that. The president said some of the NGOs
are politicising food aid and the whole housing programme," Charamba said.

In November, Harare accepted a U.N. offer to help the homeless after
rejecting it on the grounds that the demolitions did not constitute a
humanitarian crisis. About 2,500 houses are expected to be constructed under
the programme.

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Power cuts black out Mugabe's speech


          December 06 2005 at 03:21PM

      By Angus Shaw

      Harare, Zimbabwe - Power cuts Tuesday blacked out much of President
Robert Mugabe's state of the nation address, during which he promised to
address Zimbabwe's chronic electricity shortages.

      Downtown Harare was hit by widespread outages minutes before state-run
radio and television were scheduled to broadcast Mugabe's speech live from
parliament. The television station ran cartoons until power was restored
about half an hour into the traditionally hour-long speech.

      Mugabe promised to reinvigorate a program aimed at identifying new
energy sources, including extracting oil from coal deposits and the
biological production of fuels. Zimbabwe currently imports more than 30
percent of its electricity from neighboring countries.

       Power and water outages have become routine in Zimbabwe, which is
caught in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980.

      The often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms
for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, combined with four years of
drought, have crippled the agriculture-based economy. Inflation has soared
to 411 percent and unemployment is around 80 percent.

      Last month, the national carrier Air Zimbabwe grounded its eight
planes for 24 hours after running out of jet fuel for the first time. Mugabe
blamed the loss-making airline's woes on mismanagement and corruption.

      He also expressed concern about the soaring cost of health care, which
put basic services out of reach for many.

      Zimbabwe, he said, was tarnished by what he called "British and
Anglo-Saxon imperialism" - London and Washington have been frequent and
harsh critics of his increasingly autocratic 25-year regime. The United
States and European Union have imposed targeted sanctions against
individuals and groups who work with Mugabe.

      But Mugabe claimed Zimbabwe was winning back regional and
international confidence.

      "We have shown immense progress in the face of daunting challenges,"
Mugabe told lawmakers, who included members of a new Senate elected on
November 26. - Sapa-AP

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Mugabe wants UN to play active role, says Egeland

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 6 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe wants
the United Nations to play an active role in addressing the humanitarian
crises in the country, said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland
after meeting the leader on Tuesday.

He also announced that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was considering
visiting Zimbabwe next year.

Egeland told a press conference in the capital, Harare, that there was still
"disagreement" around government's controversial clean-up campaign,
Operation Murambatsvina, which has left 700,000 people homeless or without a
livelihood after kicking off in mid-May.

He described his meeting with Mugabe as a "long, good and frank exchange",
but noted, "There is disagreement on how to help those who were evicted;
there has been some concern on how to reach food security," adding, "this is
not the time to list all the points of disagreement".

The UN envoy, who is also the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs, remarked, "We're here to help - I explained to the president that
we can be more effective if we get even better procedures for how to help.
He says that he will certainly work on having these improved procedures, so
that we can help Zimbabwe to get out of the situation where there have been
declining standards of living of late, and into a better future."

Zimbabwe initially rejected UN offers of assistance to build temporary
shelter for people affected by Murambatsvina, 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.

Egeland said he had "reiterated our willingness to help with shelter
material for those who have inadequate shelter - I could see them myself
yesterday - after the eviction campaign". On Monday, the UN envoy visited
two transit camps housing people left homeless after the clean-up operation
in Harare.

Underlining the points of agreement with the Zimbabwean leader, Egeland said
efforts had to be redoubled to effectively deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis in
the country, which had more than a million AIDS orphans.

He also referred to the food crisis affecting millions of people. Last week,
the UN launched an appeal for US $276 million humanitarian appeal for
Zimbabwe, which included food aid for at least three million people.

The UN envoy was accompanied by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
in Zimbabwe, Agostinho Zacarias, while Mugabe was joined by his foreign and
defence ministers at the meeting.

Later on Tuesday, Egeland flew to Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, where he
met with the mayor, the governor of Matabeleland North province and church
leaders. Due to inclement weather, he was unable to visit Matabeleland
South, where he was scheduled to observe food distribution, among other

Egeland ends his five-day fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe on Wednesday,
after which he will head to neighbouring South Africa for talks with the
government on closer collaboration in humanitarian assistance, including
raising resources for the proposed global Central Emergency Response Fund

The new CERF will probably be larger than the existing fund, established in
1992, which UN agencies can draw upon when responding to emergencies,
provided they can identify how the money will be replenished.


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Tsvangirai in court?

6 December 2005
High Court grants Chimanikire more time to prepare for his "urgent" legal
challenge to Tsvangirai's presidency of the MDC

The proposed hearing into an urgent application filed by Gift Chimanikire on
behalf of the disputed disciplinary committee of the MDC failed to take off
While MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai's defence team was ready to oppose the
application before High Court Justice Yunus Omerjee, lawyers for Chimanikire
immediately applied for a postponement on the grounds that his clients were
not ready.
Justice Omerjee accepted the application after Mr. Tsvangirai's lawyers
indicated that they had no objection to the request for Chimanikire to
prepare his legal counsel and himself adequately for the hearing.
The matter has now been set down for 11 am tomorrow, Wednesday.
In his heads of argument, the MDC leader questions Chimanikire's credentials
and interest in this matter given that he is not a member of the MDC
disciplinary committee.
Answers are also being sought as to the identity of the complainant in this
matter, especially after Gibson Sibanda - the disciplinary committee
chairman - was an interested party and  an immediate beneficiary of the
benefits of the post of President should Mr. Tsvangirai be suspended as
leader of the MDC.
In a related development, Chimanikire has publicly stated his intention to
challenge Mr. Tsvangirai's presidency at the February congress of the MDC.
Chimanikire is seen as a politician seeking an unfair advantage in the
forthcoming contest - hence his desire to rush to the courts to seek relief
from the courts following his failure to maneuver a internal palace coup
Mr. Tsvangirai further argues that the hearing has long been overtaken by
events, given that the MDC national council - at it's meeting on Thursday
last week - nullified the purported suspension because of numerous
irregularities associated with the botched attempt to punish the MDC leader.
In making the determination, the National Council highlighted a set of
Constitutional breaches linked to the attempted leadership challenge, in
particular the fact that the Disciplinary Committee of the MDC, as a
committee of the party, does not have powers to effect punishment without
the approval of the National Council.
Mr. Tsvangirai maintains that the purported decision of the Disciplinary
Committee of the 20th of November 2005 is null and void and without any
force or effect. For the avoidance of doubt, the National Council as the MDC's
highest policy implementation and administrative organ, set aside that
 A decision of a party committee, including the Disciplinary Committee, on a
major policy issue shall not be implemented without the approval of the
National Council. A decision to suspend the President is a major policy
issue. It follows therefore that Chimanikire, Gibson Sibanda and others
breached this Constitutional provision.
Further and in any event, the powers of the Disciplinary Committee of
suspending a member can only be implemented after due process and the member
has been found guilty of a misdemeanour. The President has not been found
guilty of any charge.
Members of the Disciplinary Committee in particular Messrs Tichaona
Mudzingwa, Ena Chitsa, Innocent Gonese and Edith Mushore were never advised
and invited to attend the meeting of the 20th November 2005. The meeting was
therefore not quorate and was improperly called for.
It is quite clear that Sibanda has acted both as complainant, investigation
officer, prosecutor and judge in his own charge. The allegations made in the
letter of suspension are exactly the same that Gibson Sibanda made and
announced against President Tsvangirai on the 18th of October 2005.
Principles of natural justice demand that justice must not only be done but
seen to be done. Having noted the above, the national council set aside the
Mr. Selby Hwacha, of Dube, Manikai and Hwacha is representing the President.
Chimanikire is understood to have asked Mr. Mandizha to be his lawyer after
two other lawyers, in separate incidents early today, declined to represent
him and his group for reasons which have not been made public.

Nelson Chamisa
Spokesperson for Information and Publicity
Movement for Democratic Change
Harare, Zimbabwe.

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Chingoka and Bvute arrested

Martin Williamson

December 6, 2005

Zimbabwe's cricket bosses Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute were arrested late
on Monday after surrendering themselves at Harare Central police station.
The pair are understood to have arrived accompanied by their lawyer, Wilton

The news was confirmed by Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka who said:
"They have been charged with contravening sections of the Exchange Control
Act, and they will appear in court soon." He added that more arrests could
follow in the coming days.

A source close to Zimbabwe Cricket said that the charges relate to the
ongoing investigation being carried out by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. It
is thought that the pair were charged with several offences, including funds
misappropriation and violating Zimbabwe s foreign currency exchange

The ZC board is now expected to meet as a matter of urgency and it is widely
rumoured that Chingoka and Bvute will be removed from office. An insider
said that the first move would then be to gain entrance to their
heavily-locked offices, and hand over all the books and accounts to a
forensic auditor.

It is known that ZC is in deep financial trouble. Harare Sports Club has not
been paid rent for office space by ZC for two months, and many players have
not had their match fees from the New Zealand and India series almost three
months ago. The full scale of the financial predicament is not yet known.

The forensic audit will include investigation into alleged importation of
many top of the range vehicles for resale in Harare and unexplained cash

If Chingoka and Bvute are ousted then it will pave the way for the striking
players to return. Tatenda Taibu, who quit as Zimbabwe's captain last week,
is likely to resume and other players who retired because of the
Chingoka-led ZC's conduct might also be persuaded to reconsider.

Lovemore Banda, the ZC media manager, repeatedly denied he knew anything
about the arrests but failed to respond when asked several times to clarify
the situation.

In a letter to the ICC last week, the seven provincial chairmen asked for a
freeze on all foreign income pending investigation of transactions through
an account in London, income and expenditure accounts for TV companies and
"other allegations of several instances of impropriety in ZC".

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

© Cricinfo

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Municipalities struggle to provide basic services

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 6 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's urban centres are having to cope with
persistent water shortages, electricity blackouts and sanitation problems as
municipalities struggle to provide basic services.

The economic challenges facing the country, characterised by major foreign
currency and fuel shortages, has negatively affected town councils across

In Chitungwiza, a satellite town of the capital, Harare, children play in
streets dotted with uncollected garbage. They ignore the stench of
overflowing sewerage and race little home-made boats in contaminated water.

"The problems in Chitungwiza are beyond the council's control," said mayor
Misheck Shoko. "We cannot source donor funding on our own to upgrade the
sewerage and water systems, which are old and dilapidated, as the [central]
government dictates that such funding should be channeled through its

"Our garbage collection vehicles are immobile due to fuel shortages, but
[central] government regulations stipulate that urban councils can't procure
fuel from abroad on their own," Shoko complained.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has been lobbying for a
rates boycott until local governance and service delivery improve. "We
cannot pay rates when there is no water, refuse is not being collected and
street lights are not being repaired," said CHRA spokesman Precious Shumba.

Last year the central government appointed a commission to run Harare, after
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo dismissed its elected opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) mayor, Elias Mudzuri, for alleged

In Harare uncollected rubbish has begun to pile up in the central business
district. Environmentalists and health experts have warned that the city may
be sitting on a disease time bomb, as raw sewerage continues to spill into
Lake Chivero, the capital's main source of water.

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, has been facing acute water shortages due
to successive droughts, but mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube's council does not
have the authority to borrow funds, making it difficult to maintain minimal

Francis Dhlakama, the mayor of Chegutu, 140 km southwest of Harare, said his
town was "as good as dead". "While we need 30,000 megalitres of water a day,
we are able to purify only 12,000 megalitres a day ... [and] some of it is
lost through leakages," he explained.

In smaller urban centres like Bindura and Shamva, north of Harare, ongoing
fuel shortages have forced councils to collect refuse using ox-drawn carts
hired from nearby farmers.

"We are trying to ration fuel so that we can attend to cases that require
immediate attention, like in the health sector. The [ox-drawn cart garbage
collection] programme will continue until the fuel situation in the country
improves," said the Shamva council chair, Sydney Chiwara.

In Marondera, southeast of the capital, schools closed early due to water
and electricity supply problems.

The CHRA blames government interference for the crisis that is gripping most
urban centres and claims that politics have taken precedence over good
governance and service delivery issues in many local authorities.

Morris Sakabuya, the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
Urban Development, acknowledged that there were problems affecting service
delivery in urban centres, but blamed councils for operating without set

"The government cannot sit [idly by] while services go down, we [have to]
react to situations on the ground," Sakabuya commented. "If things go wrong,
people always ask: 'Where was the government?' If we intervene, they start
calling it interference."

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Media commission chief urged to resign after allegations of political control

Reporters without borders

Reporters Without Borders today called on Tafataona Mahoso to step down as
head of the Media and Information Commission (MIC), which supervises the
news media in Zimbabwe, after a journalist who resigned from its board,
Jonathan Maphenduka, alleged that Mahoso takes orders from his political

In a written statement to the high court, Maphenduka claimed that the board
originally agreed to let the banned independent newspaper, the Daily News,
register with the MIC and thereby allow it to resume publishing, but finally
bowed to pressure from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
reversed this decision.

"The MIC's loyalty to the regime was already obvious but now there is proof
that it is under the government's direct political control," Reporters
Without Borders said. "Its members, who perhaps still laboured under the
illusion of its independence, should publicly acknowledge this state of
affairs and dissociate themselves. And now he has been unmasked, Mahoso must

The representative of Zimbabwe's journalists on the MIC board until he
resigned on 18 August, Maphenduka made his allegations in an affidavit that
was given to the Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans law firm on 22 November and was
then submitted to Rita Makarau, the Harare high court judge tasked with
ruling on the appeal that was filed in July by Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publisher of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday,
after its request to be registered with the MIC was rejected.

Maphenduka, who used to work for the Chronicle, a pro-government daily, said
the ANZ's request to be registered was initially accepted by the MIC board
at a meeting on 16 June. But Mahoso then allegedly decided to postpone
announcing this decision in order "to consult higher authorities." Mahoso
reportedly said there was a need to "clear up the confusion" in the ANZ's
organisational structure before taking a final decision. Despite his
requests, Maphenduka was never able to get a copy of the minutes of the 16
June meeting.

At a meeting two days later, the MIC board members were asked to approve the
minutes of the 16 June meeting although Maphenduka, at least, had not
received them. Mahoso and MIC legal adviser Daphne Tomana then asked them to
reverse the 16 June decision and refuse to register the ANZ. "I am
convinced, however, that the approach and the eventual decision resulting
from it were largely political," Maphenduka said in his affidavit.

Maphenduka resigned from the MIC a month later in protest against the
"ill-advised and counter-productive" manner in which it reached its
decisions. Mahoso has responded with a statement denying that he ever
receive Maphenduka's resignation and accusing him of "bringing scandal" to
the MIC because he "has an interest" in the ANZ.

The allegations have stoked a controversy in Zimbabwe about the growing
evidence that the MIC, which was supposed to be independent, is in fact
directly dependent on the government. It has emerged, for example, that the
salaries of the MIC board members are paid by the Department of State
Enterprises and Indigenisation.

A milestone in the drawn-out legal wrangle between the Daily News and the
government was reached on 14 March when the supreme court quashed the MIC's
September 2003 ban on the newspaper, forcing the MIC to reconsider the ANZ's
request for a licence within 60 days. Although the deadline expired on 15
May, the MIC waited until 16 and 17 June to consider the ANZ's request,
along with a request from The Tribune, a weekly that was closed in June

Mahoso refused to make any statement after these two days of deliberations,
saying the newspapers would be told when a decision had been made, without
explaining what he meant. The MIC finally announced its refusal to give the
ANZ a licence on 18 July, as a result of which the ANC immediately
challenged the decision before the Harare high court.

The legal battle between the ANZ and the MIC has gone from court to court
ever since the Daily News and its Sunday edition were banned in September
2003. In February 2004, the battle reached the supreme court, which took a
year to issue a ruling. Because of enormous financial difficulties and its
desire not to expose its journalists to the possibility of arrest, the Daily
News decided to stop publishing pending a resolution of the dispute.

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Mugabe targets 15 critics for travel ban

FIFTEEN Zimbabwean critics of President Robert
Mugabe's regime have been hit with a travel ban on
allegations of threatening the country's "national
interest", New can reveal.

The group which includes opposition officials,
businessmen and journalists are the first to face such
an order following an amendment to the Zimbabwe
constitution in September.

The amended Section 22 of the constitution allows the
government to restrict the right to freedom of
movement by denying a passport to a Zimbabwean wishing
to travel outside the country "where it is feared or
believed or known that the Zimbabwean in question
will, during his or her travel, harm the national
interest or defence interest or economic interest of
the State."

Immigration sources told New that a memo
has been sent to all exit points and border posts for
immigration officials to seize the passports of the
people on the travel ban list.

Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Information, Bright
Matonga, professed ignorance of the list seen by New

"I don't know anything like that because the
government wouldn't make it a secret. Maybe you guys
are only trying to seek asylum and want to use that
story. But I will check, contact me later," said

Following the constitutional amendment, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists: "There
are people who gallivant across the globe calling for
sanctions against the country. Those are the ones we
are targeting. I don't want to mention names because
they know themselves. If you are one of them, you are
in for it."

Immigration sources at some of the country's border
posts, including Harare International Airport,
confirmed the existence of the names of the people in
the travel ban.

The sources said all immigration officials at the
country's border posts have been instructed to seize
passports of the people on the list "with immediate
effect" if they try to either leave or enter the

The sources said the list is likely to be expanded.
Those on the current list include former Daily News
editor-in-chief Geoff Nyarota and the paper's last
editor, Nqobile Nyathi.

Lloyd Mudiwa, a former reporter for the same paper who
wrote a story that was later proved to be a CIO hoax
of a Magunje woman who was allegedly decapitated by
Zanu PF supporters is also on the list.

Other journalists on the list include Basildon Peta,
currently working in South Africa and Caroline
Gombakomba a former ZBC news presenter now working for
the Voice of America's Studio Seven.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change's
national spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi and the party's
European Union representative Grace Kwinjeh are the
only two members of the opposition on the list.

Human rights lawyers, Beatrice Mtetwa, who was
recently in the United States to receive the
International Press Freedom Award and Gabriel Shumba
are also on the travel ban. Shumba is currently suing
the Zimbabwe government for torture before an African
Human Rights tribunal in the Gambia.

Poet, trade unionists and teacher Raymond Majongwe's
name is also on the list and so is that of business
mogul Strive Masiiyiwa.

The National Constitutional Assembly chairman,
Lovemore Madhuku is also one of the people whose
passport must be seized if he tries to enter or leave
the country.

The Crisis Coalition chairman, Brian Kagoro is also on
the list, together with Noble Sibanda a relentless
campaigner for asylum seekers in the United Kingdom.

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Disturbances rock University of Zimbabwe campus

      By Lance Guma
      06 December 2005

      All is not well at the University of Zimbabwe following the double
suspension of the entire student leadership in defiance of a High Court
order. Following a meeting at the campus dining hall on Sunday which
denounced the suspensions, some students took their frustrations out on
nearby parked cars, smashing windscreens and scuffling with university
security guards. According to the Students Executive Council (SEC) Secretary
General, Mfundo Mlilo the students are not happy with the suspensions which
were prompted by their resistance to paying for hostel refurbishments.

      Justice Ben Hlatshwayo sitting in the High Court ruled that the
suspensions were null and void as the students had a right to express their
grievances. Undeterred, the Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura re-suspended the
students for allegedly plotting another demonstration soon after the
judgment. A disciplinary hearing scheduled for November was deliberately
postponed to make sure the students could not sit for their
November-December exams. According Mlilo they have filed another application
in the courts to reverse their suspensions and now, at the very least, to
sit for supplementary exams next year.

      Turning to their petition to the European Union seeking the imposition
of travel sanctions on the Vice Chancellor, Mlilo said he is reliably
informed university authorities are already drafting expulsion letters even
though no hearing has taken place. The Vice Chancellor is alleged to have
said the petition had tarnished the image of the university and the student
leadership - wholly responsible for it - had to be punished.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Vote for ‘This is Zimbabwe’ in the 2005 Weblog Awards

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

Sokwanele Announcement: 6 December 2005

Please vote for 'This is Zimbabwe'‘This is Zimbabwe’, our Sokwanele blog, is a finalist in the 2005 Weblog Awards in the category for ‘Best Middle East or Africa Blog’. The final decision on the winner will be determined by public voting.

Please support us by visiting our blog at and clicking on the link to the awards in the right hand column. Or go direct to the polls which can be found at this link: Voting ends on the 15th of December.

Zimbabwean voters are advised of the following:

You don't need to produce a national identity card or proof of address to vote; you don't need to worry that you might find yourself struck off the voters roll after queuing for hours and hours in the hot sun; you will not be forced to attend an intimidating pre-election rally; it does not matter if you have a distant relative that was born decades ago in a different country; you will not be visited by green-bombers and threatened with violence; and Zimbabweans in the diaspora can vote too.

And if our blog does not win?

We assure you all that we will not track you down and punish you with violence, or destroy your home, or deprive you and your family of food!

Zimbabwean voters will also be interested to note that on this occasion, they too can revel in that unique experience enjoyed by a minority of Zimbabweans; that is, what it feels like to have multiple votes! (See the rules below - you may each vote once every 24 hours per computer.)

On a more serious note, we wish we could say that this voting experience represents a completely fair and level playing field for all voters. Unfortunately, it is restricted to those who have access to the internet - an extreme minority of Africans - and to those who have the correct version of Macromedia Flash installed on their computer (you will be prompted to download the correct version for free if the voting system detects you don't have it).

We would therefore be very interested in receiving feedback on your online voting experience. We will then provide the organisers with constructive criticism and hopefully encourage them to improve the system and the process of voting for African blogger finalists next year.

Enjoy voting, and know that by doing so you will be helping us to raise our profile and continue fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. Please ask your friends to help out too. Don't forget that you can each vote once a day!

If you would like to support us further by adding a link to the polls to your own website, please visit our blog at this link - - for badges and details on how to do so.

Many thanks for your support!

These are the voting rules:

Visit our website at
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We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.

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EU policy on Zim unwise, says SA ambassador


    Peter Fabricius
          December 06 2005 at 03:19PM

      The European Union's ambassador to South Africa is blunt about his
organisation's Zimbabwe policy: "it is unwise," says Lodewijk Briët.

      The EU's policy of "smart" sanctions is unwise, he explains, because
it has not improved the lot of ordinary Zimbabweans and because it has
blocked Europe and Africa from conducting relations at the highest political

      Because of Zimbabwe, a summit of the leaders of both continents which
was supposed to take place in Lisbon in April 2003 has been postponed

      The EU's ban on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants
visiting any of their member states means he could not attend the planned
summit. And the African leaders will not attend if Mugabe cannot.

      But Briët's frank criticism is one indication that the EU is
re-thinking its Zimbabwe policy. And President Mbeki said at the
Franco-African summit in Mali this past weekend that there was a willingness
to resolve the summit issue.

      "It makes no sense that the whole of Europe and Africa cannot meet
merely because of Zimbabwe" he said.

      And Portugal's deputy foreign minister Professor Joao Cravinho, on a
trip to SA in November, said there had been a change of mood in Europe about
Africa over the previous few weeks.

      "It sometimes takes a tragedy to change a situation," he said,
referring to the deaths of so many African migrants trying to enter Europe
and clashing against its "fortified border" in Spain's enclaves of Ceuta and
Melilla in Morocco. This tragedy had been splashed across the front pages of
Europe's press.

      "This has concentrated the minds of Europeans about the need for a
dialogue with Africa. If we really want to discuss this problem we have to
go beyond conversations among police departments about how to stop migrants
coming in.

      "We need to look at the problems behind and if so, then we must
inevitably look at development and a wide range of political questions which
can only be addressed by political leaders."

      As the intended host of the postponed Africa-Europe summit - which is
still to be held in Lisbon if it ever happens - Portugal has been working
hardest to ensure it does.

      For the eight-month-old socialist government which Cravinho
represents, holding the summit would be a major coup in its efforts to
re-establish Portugal's standing as a major player in Africa.

      "I can't give a date but it's going to happen," Cravinho said.

      He too deplored the fact that the Zimbabwe issue was blocking a summit
which was much wider in its scope and objectives.

      "It's a mistake to allow a problem in a small number of countries to
block the dialogue of 78 countries. Relations will never be perfect between
all pairs of 78 countries."

      He made a comparison with China, saying that Beijing had a problem
with some African countries which recognised Taiwan.

      "Yet this very complicated problem has not been an impediment to
dialogue. We really need to be more creative and say that, despite those
problems, we still need a dialogue.

      And in Zimbabwe itself, he said, "There has not been the progress we'd
all like to have seen the last few years. The climate of economic
degradation is very worrying for the region and wider afield.

      "So we have to ask ourselves if policies are producing the intended
effects. We have to seek more creative ways to help Zimbabweans."

      But neither Briët nor Cravinho proposed that the EU should simply drop
its ban on Mugabe attending the summit. Briët said Mugabe would undoubtedly
exploit the opportunity to attack the EU from the podium at the summit.

      Cravinho said: "We have not got to that point" of inviting Mugabe.

      Briët talked about the possibility of Zimbabwe being invited to attend
the summit at a lower level.

      A South African official said some way needed to be found to avoid
"humiliating" Mugabe.

      Cravinho acknowledged that there was no appetite in the EU for easing
sanctions against Zimbabwe unless there was a clear indication that that
would a positive effect. There had been no such indication.

      An EU official in Brussels said that, to the contrary, Mugabe's
Operation Murambatsvina, his drastic cleanout of slums, had dashed whatever
hopes there might have been of relaxing sanctions.

      Mugabe had even rebuffed the African Union's efforts to intercede,
through former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, in the aftermath of

      This official suggested that as a result the African side might need
to make the first concession towards holding the summit.

      Cravinho suggested that both sides needed to re-think their Zimbabwe

      "I'm hearing from the African side a similar frustration and a need to
find a way forward.

      "We have great respect for the discipline of the AU but we also know
Africa is not homogeneous. There are different positions on many issues
including Zimbabwe."

      Everyone seems to agree that, despite a yearning to hold the summit,
no-one has a "magic trick up their sleeve" to make it happen.

      Cravinho predicted nonetheless that the summit would happen within a
year. He said that although the countries in the region, especially South
Africa, had the greatest stake in the future of Zimbabwe and therefore the
greatest role, Portugal also had a role.

      "We think we can play a role as facilitator between different parties
of Africa and Europe. It's all of our responsibility."

      Portugal had close links not only with Angola and Mozambique but also
Nigeria, Senegal and Morocco.

      "We have historical relations to build bridges with Lusophone
countries and attach a lot of importance to Africa and its relations with

      This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on
December 06, 2005

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