|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
MDC MEDIA ADVISORY
· MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai will launch the MDC’s ‘RESTART Programme’ at the Harare International Conference Centre on Thursday 29 January at 5.00pm.
(Reconstruction, Stabilisation, Recovery and Transformation) is the MDC’s blueprint for equitable, inclusive and sustainable
economic development in
· Tendai Biti (MDC Secretary for Economic Affairs), Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC Shadow Finance Minister) and Paul Themba Nyathi (MDC Secretary for Information and Publicity) will all be available for interview immediately after the launch.
For members of the press unable to attend the launch, we have provided the contact numbers (see list below) of those giving interviews, as well as the contact numbers of officials in the MDC Information Department:
Tendai Biti – 00263 11 602 401
Tapiwa Mashakada – 00263 11 601 424
Paul Themba Nyathi – 00263 91 291 727
MDC Information Department
00263 91 248 570
00263 91 370 326
0027 727 310 554
Tsvangirai questioned about consultant
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai was grilled during
his trial on Monday on why his party hired a Canadian political consultancy
to help promote its image when it had already engaged a British firm to do
so. The state had queried why the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
engaged Dickens and Madison when BMSG of Britain was already doing work for
it. Dickens and Madison of Canada is owned by Ari Ben Menashe, the key state
witness in the case in which Tsvangirai is charged with plotting to kill
President Robert Mugabe ahead of presidential polls in March 2002, which the
opposition leader lost. Tsvangirai has denied conspiring to assassinate
Mugabe, saying he believes the long-time leader has to be involved in
efforts to end the southern African country's crises. If convicted,
Tsvangirai (51) could face the death sentence. Tsvangirai insisted in court
Monday that a $500 000 contract his party signed with Dickens and Madison
was genuine, contrary to state evidence that it was meant to cover up a plot
to kill Mugabe. "The contract was bona fide and genuine. We hired Dickens
and Madison because we were convinced that, unlike BMSG, it had intimate
knowledge of the Zimbabwean political scene and was widely known in Canada
and the United States," he said.
The MDC said it had
enlisted the services of the Canadian firm to help
polish its image abroad and raise funds for the election campaign in the
run-up to the 2002 election. Asked during cross examination by state
prosecutor Bharat Patel why BMSG had paid $50 000 to Dickens and Madison,
Tsvangirai said: "It's usual that big companies can share work. I cannot
explain that". Zimbabwe plunged into its worst political crisis since
independence from Britain in 1980 after the presidential vote. The economy
is in a downward spiral, with inflation hitting a record 620% in November,
amid rising levels of poverty and unemployment approaching 80%. Talks
between the government and the MDC broke down before they were able to gain
momentum in 2002 after Tsvangirai mounted a court challenge against Mugabe's
election victory. The brokers of the talks, presidents Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, last week hinted that formal talks
could be rescuscitated soon.
From ZWNEWS, 27 January
Still at large
In July last year, the
UN Peacekeeping mission in Kosovo announced that a
Zimbabwean police officer, Henry Dowa, serving on secondment there, had been
withdrawn from public duties. Allegations had been made that he had been
involved in torture sessions in Harare. It is not certain precisely when
Dowa joined the UN police force in Kosovo, but it appears to have been
around March 2003, as he was still seen in Harare the month before. By May
2003 his presence in Prizren, Kosovo was confirmed. By September, he had had
been returned to Zimbabwe. The UN authorities in Kosovo, and the UN itself,
were reminded of their responsibilities under international law by REDRESS,
an organisation which seeks justice for the survivors of torture. In
particular, under the UN Convention against Torture, it had a duty to
extradite and prosecute the officer. The UN decided not to do so, citing a
lack of funds. By October, he was back at work at Harare Central police
station: accused of preventing lawyers from having access to their clients
in police custody, and ordering savage beatings of detainees.
[I will obtain from ZWNEWS the REDRESS report on how Henry Dowa escaped
justice.... it will be a Word doc
attachment. It should be available from this site tomorrow]
Comment from the Mail & Guardian (SA), 26 January
The renaissance of jungle stew
But to resume. Yes, Harare has become a shadow of its former self. I don’t
know how important this is to our leadership, who enjoyed some of its
splendours in exiled times gone by, and now seem to find nothing wrong with
the desolation that it has become. But this is an election year - just as it
is in the United States. Grand gestures must be made. Flesh must not just be
pressed, but be seen to be pressed. A hug and a grin for President Robert
Mugabe, doves of peace and battleships in the chaos of Haiti, and a pat on
the back for President Joseph Kabila, unelected leader of the vast, hungry,
debatable entity called the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s irregular
heartbeat, the eternal question mark over the whole post-colonial agenda.
What has it all come to? Why are we not being told?
But to return to the striking, unforgettable images of
Harare. So many
things stand out. I am sitting with friends of old on the veranda of their
picturesque house, my home-from-home, always the same, always welcoming,
always perched just above the impending mudslide of the beautiful,
treacherous savannah. Always there. "Where else would we be able to have a
lifestyle like this?" they say to me, as we all stare out into the beautiful
gloom and listen for the sounds of an incipient revolution that will never
come out of the night. The subtext is that we are all strangers, interlopers
here. What right do we have to be here? But, heck, here we are. It is
daylight now. We jump into the car, making the unnatural assumption that
there is still petrol in it. The Libyans have lost patience with this
revolution that never comes, and have pulled out their oil pipelines and
gone on to look for greener pastures in the north. (These used to be very
green pastures, by the way. But I digress.) But amazingly, surprisingly,
petrol there is, the gas tank is tanked up, and so we drive into the
remnants of the town that we were not involved in building, but now have
every intention of owning, possessing, inhabiting, using up in any way that
we like and generally controlling at the behest of our fickle whims. We
drive, in a word, into Harare.
It’s a funny feeling. Something
is wrong. There is hardly any traffic on the
roads. But then again, what right do we have to expect traffic: cars, buses,
motorbikes, kwela-kwela wagons loaded up with all the usual suspects and
trucks (apart from various prangs that one sees, including a juggernaut that
had fallen over on its side while trying to negotiate a perfectly simple,
right-handed corner and spilled its load of precious bags of mealie meal on
to the unsuspecting sidewalk- and nobody had tried to loot it for a whole
two days)? Why shouldn’t the African bush be simply allowed to take over
again, without our ludicrous expectations of righteousness, good governance,
automatic wealth and empowerment? What right do we have to expect Harare to
look like it did in the good old colonial days? Why, in fact, should the
grass still be green and the jacaranda trees still have dizzy, foreign,
purple buds like they did before? What business is it of ours?
And so we drive on into the deserted
town. We get stuck at a significant
crossroads where there is, for once, some traffic blocking our progress as
we try to make a right turn towards the central business district (which is
where they formerly did business). We get stuck for an indefinite period of
time because the robots are not working. Actually, I exaggerate. The robots
are not working because there are no robots there at all. The tall, yellow
metal stalks that used to hold the robots in place are bent at a peculiar
angle, and the red, amber and green lenses that used to control the
intersection like cruel, silent policemen have long since disappeared. There
is no longer any kind of long-distance regulation from an unseen point in
the depleted city that tells drivers when to go, when to stop, or when to
just get ready to do one of the above.
No more robots. I swing my head towards my friend behind the
wheel with an
unasked question. "The discos," he says, without waiting for me to
articulate my unspoken thought. "What discos?" I say. "Managers from the
discotheques come out in the middle of the night and steal the lights in the
robots so that they can have coloured lights in the discos." "Oh." And there
you have it. The jungle has taken over, you see. What right, indeed, do we
have to expect working traffic lights at critical traffic intersections when
people want to go to discotheques at night? When there is no further rule of
law, in the accepted, biblical, colonial sense, why should we still expect
the former things to function as they functioned before? Who are we to
question Uncle Bob’s infinite wisdom in allowing the whole thing to simply
degenerate into its own chaos, chaos that makes more sense, in the African
sense, than all this Europeanised nonsense that we don’t seem to be able to
eject out of our heads? The idea that there are still discos in Harare, and
that there are still people who are able to get to them, hardly comes into
the equation. In the scheme of things, nothing is working, but everything
still works. You have to try and see things from the other guy’s
perspective. What looks like total collapse in Western eyes might be an
extraordinary renaissance from the other point of view. Or at least I hope
that is how our president is seeing it. Bite the bullet. Press the flesh.
You just never know.
EU set to renew Zimbabwe sanctions
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU foreign ministers are poised to extend sanctions
against Zimbabwe next month, the EUobserver has learned.
Foreign ministers, due to meet in Brussels on 23 February will approve the
renewal of the targeted sanctions on leaders of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF
party, diplomats have confirmed.
The measures, which were put in place in 2002, restrict the travel of 72
government officials and people close to them, in retaliation for human
rights abuses in the country.
However the extension of sanctions last year was complicated by a French
request that the Zimbabwean ruler, Robert Mugabe be allowed to visit Paris
for a Franco-African summit.
For almost a month Paris refused to renew the sanctions, calling for Mr
Mugabe to be granted a waiver.
The waiver was eventually granted, but only after causing a significant
diplomatic disagreement between France and the UK.
"We don't expect any of the hassle that we had last time around", one
Commission official said.
Confirming that Paris will back the extension of sanctions this time round,
a spokesman for the French foreign ministry told this news site, "We are in
favour of the [Irish] presidency's proposal".
The measures are expected to be extended for a period of one year.
Expand and extend?
However no agreement has yet been reached on widening the scope of
"That is something that is being discussed in Paris and with partners", the
French spokesman said.
However one British official said that "certain people are working on
whether the list is still up to date", adding also that "the focus of them
is being discussed".
The deputy leader of the Zimbabwean opposition Gibson Sibanda, on a visit to
Brussels today (27 January), backed calls for the sanctions to be expanded.
"The sanctions should be expanded to cover these people who are economic
pillars of the regime", said Mr Sibanda adding, "the international community
needs to put more pressure on [Mr] Mugabe to come to the negotiating table".
Mr Sibanda however said that the sanctions should not be imposed without
being accompanied by a "a promise to lift them at a particular stage of
However the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Brussels, Gift Punungwe, rejected the
sanctions saying they placed "a stranglehold" on the country's economy, also
accusing outsiders of meddling in internal affairs.
"Outside is where the agenda of the country is being determined", he said.
Mugabe: I was in SA for a wedding
January 27 2004 at 02:45PM
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on
Tuesday he visited
South Africa at the weekend for a family function and not to get medical
treatment as reported by media there.
The Zimbabwean government has denied reports by South African
newspapers quoting unnamed sources saying the veteran leader, who turns 80
next month, had been to South Africa for medical treatment.
In remarks broadcast on Zimbabwean state television on Tuesday, a
jovial Mugabe said he had gone to participate in a traditional marriage
ceremony for his nephew, whose family settled in South Africa decades ago.
"I am very strong, very fit and I thank God. I have my own doctors
here in Zimbabwe that I move with, but South Africa, I have never been there
for treatment," he said.
Some newspapers had also speculated his visit could be linked to
statements by the leaders of South Africa and Nigeria last week that he had
agreed to begin formal talks with the opposition to help resolve the
political and economic crises afflicting Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF walked out of talks with the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2002 after it went to court to challenge
Mugabe's re-election in a poll several international observers said was
Mugabe insists he won the election fairly.
Rumours swirled last October too that Mugabe had been secretly flown
to South Africa for medical treatment, but officials denied the reports and
the Zimbabwean leader appeared on state television soon afterwards looking
Sunday Times (SA)
Zimbabwe judge 'fast-tracks' Daily News bid
Tuesday January 27, 2004 14:48 - (SA)
justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, has "fast-tracked" an
application by the state's media watchdog for the independent Daily News to
be shut down until the courts hear a comprehensive appeal over the legality
of official press controls, lawyers said.
Gugulethu Moyo, legal adviser to Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe which
owns the Daily News, said Chidyausiku, widely seen as a government
supporter, had decided to hear an "urgent application" from the
government-appointed Media and Information Commission in his chambers.
The commission is asking Chidyausiku to bar the Daily News from publishing
until the court hears the commission's appeal against a high court ruling in
October that dissolved the commission on the grounds that it was "biased"
and "improperly constituted."
The high court ruling was a successful appeal against the commission's
banning in September of the Daily News, the country's only critical daily
voice and the largest circulation daily newspaper.
The high court ordered that the commission be reconstituted and then issue
the Daily News with a licence to
However, the government filed an appeal against the court orders and went on
to ignore three more court rulings to lift the ban on the newspaper, sending
heavily armed police to occupy the newspaper's offices and its printing
Only on Wednesday last week did police comply with a third court ruling that
directly ordered them and the media commission not to interfere with the
The commission immediately filed its latest application with the supreme
court, while the information department in President Robert Mugabe's office
filed another with the high court here.
It took the commission's application four working days to be granted a
hearing, Moyo said. "How many other matters have still not been heard by the
supreme court, some of them that have been waiting for over two years?"
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and civil rights organisations
accuse the supreme court, dominated by pro-Mugabe judges, of dragging its
feet in cases that could go against the government.
Chidyausiku's court has been sitting on appeals against MDC victories in
parliamentary elections in 2000. It has also failed to hear critical
constitutional cases, including appeals against the "Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act," the state's new press-gag laws, since
shortly after they were passed in early
"Here you have a situation where closing a newspaper is a matter of such
importance that the government can rush to the supreme court and get a
hearing as a matter of urgency," Moyo said.
"I have never seen any case fast-tracked in the courts so quickly. It is
The government's application to the high court was due to be heard on
Wednesday or Thursday, said Moyo.
"There is no need for the chief justice to hear this case in his court now.
The supreme court is obliged to hear appeals or constitutional cases. This
is neither. The supreme court should chuck it out if they want to do
The Daily News has been a major thorn in Mugabe's side since it began
publishing in March 1999, and won over a million readers with its outspoken
criticism of the regime.
The newspaper has been bombed twice, and had dozens of its staff, including
editors, journalists and even vendors, arrested, tortured and harassed.
The newspaper reported that charges of attempted murder had been dropped
against the state-controlled television service's chief corespondent, Reuben
Barwe, nicknamed "Zimbabwe's Lord Haw-Haw" after the infamous Nazi
broadcaster during World War II.
Barwe was charged for opening fire on a member of Mugabe's war veteran
militia who attacked Barwe when the broadcaster tried to take over a former
white-owned farm occupied by a group of veterans.
The war veteran had decided he no longer wanted to press the case against
Barwe, the Daily News reported.
Zim's Daily News gets reprieve
27/01/2004 20:25 - (SA)
Harare - The Daily News, Zimbabwe's lone independent daily
Tuesday won a stay of execution in its battle to continue publishing.
The country's most senior judge postponed a bid by state lawyers to have the
newspaper closed until the Supreme Court had decided on an array of law
suits involving the paper.
Chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku told lawyers from the state and Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which owns the newspaper: "It's so untidy to
deal with these matters piecemeal".
He ordered the lawyers to consult each other to consolidate a confusing
range of cases.
The judge also ordered that they seek a court date for Tuesday next week
when the Supreme Court is due to hear ANZ's constitutional challenge to
press gag laws passed in March 2002. These had been used to arrests scores
of journalists and to ban the Daily News in September last year.
Earlier, in the court, government and ANZ lawyers had argued over three
court orders, granted since September, that revoked the banning order by the
state-appointed media commission and the series of appeals filed against the
orders by the government.
All the orders were ignored by authorities who kept heavily armed police in
illegal occupation of the newspaper's offices and printing rooms, until
Wednesday last week when a fourth court order was finally obeyed.
The first court order came a month after the banning when a judge ruled that
the media commission, which can stop journalists and newspapers from
operating by refusing to issue them with press licences, was "biased" when
it banned the gutsy tabloid. The order also said the commission had been
Chidyausiku told State advocate Johannes Tomana his argument was an attempt
by the media commission to have the newspaper closed "through the back
The Daily News has been a major thorn in President Robert Mugabe's side
since it began publishing in March 1999, winning a million readers with its
outspoken criticism of Mugabe's government and exposure of the state's
violent repression of opponents.
The newspaper had been bombed twice and had dozens of its staff - editors,
journalists and even vendors - arrested, tortured and harassed.
Tsvangirai denies plotting assassination
Tuesday, January 27, 2004 Posted: 2:00 PM EST (1900 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a court
hearing Tuesday that a Canada-based political consultant had tried to
convince him of the need to assassinate Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, but
denied he had in any way agreed to such a plot.
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, is charged with
plotting to assassinate Mugabe in a case that carries the death penalty if
he is convicted.
The charges hinge on a grainy and barely audible 4 1/2-hour video, secretly
recorded in 2001 at consultant Ari Ben Menashe's Montreal offices, in which
Tsvangirai is accused of calling for Mugabe's "elimination."
Under cross examination in his long running trial, Tsvangirai said Ben
Menashe spoke of the elimination of Mugabe by "sinister" means that could
cause the leader harm.
"I was really upset. The meeting was getting so tense. Mr. Ben Menashe was
pushing this agenda. It was my feeling that there was a sinister meaning,"
Tsvangirai told Judge Paddington Garwe.
The early part of the meeting on December 4 in 2001 focused on Mugabe's
exclusion from presidential elections in 2002 through a retirement deal or
his possible defeat at the polls, Tsvangirai said.
Ben Menashe had promised to lobby for international support for a new
Tsvangirai said Ben Menashe then changed track, calling for the physical
removal of Mugabe, and demanded his response.
Cross examined by state attorney Bharat Patel, Tsvangirai said it was clear
Ben Menashe was proposing the violent removal of Mugabe.
Patel asked: "The sinister removal of President Mugabe was on the table. Did
you think about it?"
"Yes," replied Tsvangirai.
But he said he did not think Mugabe's murder was an option to remove him
from office. "I discussed the principle of Mugabe going, not the method,"
Tsvangirai was charged two weeks before he ran against Mugabe in 2002
presidential elections. Mugabe narrowly won re-election in the vote, which
independent observers said was swayed by intimidation and vote rigging.
Defense attorneys argue Tsvangirai, who is free on bail, was entrapped by
Ben Menashe who already was working as a consultant for the Zimbabwe
government when the secret video was recorded.
Ben Menashe, who claims to be a former Israeli intelligence agent, was
acquitted by a U.S. federal jury in 1990 of illegally arranging a $36
million deal to sell U.S.-made military cargo planes to Iran in exchange for
the release of four American hostages.
Israel denies he did intelligence work for the country but says he served
briefly as a junior clerk in its civil service.
Ben Menashe visited Zimbabwe last week to offer to sell the government oil
from Azerbaijan, government officials confirmed. Zimbabwe is suffering acute
Low-Income Earners to Get Free Stands
January 27, 2004
Posted to the web January 27, 2004
LOW-INCOME earners will soon get free land for residential stands, while a
Housing and Infrastructure Bank will be established to support the
production of building materials.
The new move is part of a Government programme to acquire land, plan and
allocate it to homeseekers based on socio-economic groupings.
The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Cde
Ignatius Chombo said a circular stipulating the maximum residential stand
sizes would soon be issued to all stakeholders.
Under the new rules, no residential stands allocated by governmental
agencies would exceed 2 000 square metres.
Cde Chombo said middle-income homeseekers would be offered a 60 percent
discount for the land on open market values.
He said this last week at Rukanda Resettlement Scheme near Mutoko Growth
Point after inspecting a low cost rammed-earth and micro-concrete roof-tiled
"In this connection, the minimum stand sizes for housing development will
range for low, medium and high-income households from 65, 300 and 800 square
metres respectively," he said.
High-income groups would be charged market values for the residential
The gazetted minimum wage is around $47 000 a month with many Zimbabwean
workers classified as being in the low and medium-income groups.
The Government widened the tax income bands and increased the income tax
threshold from $180 000 a year to $2,4 million a year in this year's
The high-income group is composed of top company executives who are
reportedly earning around $30 million a month.
Cde Chombo said the Housing and Infrastructure Bank would support
beneficiaries of the housing delivery programme.
"Apart from extending infrastructure and housing development to local
authorities, land and housing developers and individual beneficiaries of the
housing delivery programme, the bank will also support entities involved in
the production of appropriate building materials," he said.
Building Material Production Units, Cde Chombo said, were being established
in all districts to produce building materials.
He commended the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre
(SIRDC) for coming up with cheaper ways of building houses.
The two bed-roomed rammed earth and micro-concrete roof-tiled house was
built at a cost of nearly $18 million, almost half the price of building a
similar house using conventional materials.
Cde Chombo said another circular would be issued specifying additional
materials and building technologies to be used in the construction of
The materials would include rammed-earth technology, micro-concrete roof
tiles, standardised farm bricks and timber framed housing.
"Our standard bearers, including our planners and designers of the building
environment, local authorities and insurance companies have remained
prisoners of classical designs and building technology, which are invariably
steeped in our history of colonialism," said Cde Chombo.
"Government is directing all local authorities to take heed of the new
planning and building standards regime I have pronounced and adopt a
facilitative approach to plan management if we are to achieve the objectives
of our National Housing Development Programme."
The Government recently launched the National Housing Development Programme
to acquire at least 310 406 hectares of peri-urban land for housing.
The move was expected to help clear the housing backlog of around one
million within the next five years.
The Minister of State for Science and Technology Dr Olivia Muchena urged
local authorities to be proactive to benefit from low cost housing
"My department is establishing an award for the adoption, use and
commercialisation of the rammed earth and micro-concrete roof technologies
specifically target at local authorities," she said.
The rammed earth house was built for teachers at a proposed site for a new
secondary school at Rukanda Resettlement Scheme.
There were plans for all structures at the new school to be built using
rammed earth and micro-concrete roof tiles.
The school would be built by selected youths from all provinces as part of a
training of trainers programmes to spread the technology.
President Invited to Summit
The Herald (Harare)
January 27, 2004
Posted to the web January 27, 2004
PRESIDENT Mugabe was yesterday invited by his Libyan counterpart to attend
an extra-ordinary African Union summit in that country next month.
Libyan African Union Affairs Minister Mr Mokhtar Gannas who delivered the
special message at Zimbabwe House said it was from his counterpart Colonel
"I have delivered a special message from President Gaddafi inviting
President Mugabe to attend the extra-ordinary summit that is scheduled to
take place on February 27 and 28," he said.
Mr Gannas said the summit was expected to deliberate on a number of issues
which included agriculture, water, defence and security. From Zimbabwe, he
will travel to Mozambique, which is the current chair of the AU.
Zimbabwe last week became the latest AU member to ratify the protocol
establishing Peace and Security Council to end conflicts that ravage the
At least 17 countries have so far ratified the protocol out of a required
simple majority of 27.
In addition to the AU Peace and Security Council, there would also be a Pan
African Parliament, a Common Court of Justice and eventually a common
Zimbabwe has already seconded five MPs to the Pan African Parliament.
The Peace and Security Council and the Pan African Parliament were expected
to give the union more political clout, more unity and a forum to solve
regional problems such as conflicts.
The 53-member AU last year succeeded the Organisation of African Unity which
was criticised during its 39 years of existence for being powerless in
resolving Africa's several conflicts.
Government Descends On Defiant Schools
January 27, 2004
Posted to the web January 27, 2004
GOVERNMENT yesterday descended on schools that have illegally increased
their fees and levies and four schools were visited as the crackdown
Although the Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture, Dr Thompson Tsodzo,
would not disclose the names of the schools, it is understood that Prince
Edward Boys High School is one of them.
Dr Tsodzo only said a team tasked by the ministry had identified several
schools, both primary and secondary, flouting its directive not to increase
fees and levies without its approval.
"As a result we are beginning to act. We are taking this very seriously as
shall be seen by the way we deal with those caught on the wrong side of the
fence," he said.
"We can even close a school down if it continues flouting our directives."
While acknowledging that there were private schools in the country, Dr
Tsodzo said they were also subject to the Education Act.
"Both Government and non-government schools are our responsibility at the
end of the day and as such, no one is above the law," he said.
Private schools lead the pack when it comes to charging exorbitant fees and
levies with some demanding as much as $7 million per term.
Dr Tsodzo also lashed out at parents saying they were "selling out" by
paying whatever was demanded by these schools.
"They continue to pay these fees yet on the other hand they will be
complaining that we issue empty threats without doing anything.
"We should work together if we want to win this battle," he said.
Dr Tsodzo said parents should only pay increased fees and levies after
having sight of written approval from the ministry failure of which they
should revert to last term's fees.
"If their children face any problems as a result they should report to us
and we will take appropriate measures."
School Development Associations and Parents, Teachers Associations,
responsible for new fees structures in most schools also came under fire for
27 Jan 2004
Aid agencies fear Zimbabwe food crisis worsening
By Tom Thabani
HARARE (AlertNet) – International aid agencies fear Zimbabwe’s food crisis,
already afflicting half the population, could be worsening due to economic
collapse and are urging the government to release food stocks to ease the
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and other relief agencies say they have
indications that more Zimbabweans now need food aid than the 5.5 million
people -- 50 percent of the population – initially forecast by a U.N. study
“This figure may have increased if one considers the food price shocks that
we have experienced since last year’s harvest,” said Makena Walker, a senior
WFP official in Harare, referring to Zimbabwe’s galloping inflation, now
estimated at 600 percent.
Walker said the price of a 50 kg (110 lb) bag of staple maize sold by the
government-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which has a monopoly on maize
and wheat trade, had risen to more than Z$8,500 ($11) from Z$580 (62 cents)
a year ago.
“Since GMB supplies are inadequate, many people have to source their maize
from the parallel market, where prices are double those of the GMB,” she
“It is therefore fair to assume that a large number of people who could feed
themselves from GMB supplies last year can no longer afford to do so. The
effects of inflation have been devastating to low and even middle-income
earners in the past year.”
Walker added that WFP food aid was only targeted at the most vulnerable
households, including families without income, people suffering from
terminal diseases such as HIV/AIDS or the elderly and disabled.
“When one takes into effect the number of people rendered unemployed in the
current economy, those who fall under the WFP category (of being helped)
naturally increase,” she said.
Independent estimates put unemployment in the formal sector at more than 70
PEOPLE MORE VULNERABLE
Walker’s comments were echoed by NGOs, which are forecast to have
distributed about 346,000 tonnes of international food aid to Zimbabweans,
mostly in rural areas, between mid-2003 and Zimbabwe’s next harvest in
The international food aid cost $197 million, and WFP officials say they
have received between 80 and 85 percent of pledges.
“The economic decline that Zimbabwe is experiencing has increased the
vulnerability of the population,” said Jean-Claude Mukadi, relief director
of World Vision International. “The number of people in need of assistance
is increasing, particularly in urban areas.”
World Vision statistics project an increase in the number of people needing
food aid in areas where it is distributing maize in the coming months before
In January, the agency fed a total of 824,000 people in Zimbabwe’s five
provinces, but the figure is seen creeping up to more than one million in
WFP statistics also see a sustained monthly increase in food aid
beneficiaries as Zimbabwe enters what one official described as “the next
critical three-month phase” when most locally grown food is expected to have
“I would say that the work of humanitarian organizations has averted a human
catastrophe in Zimbabwe and we are still not yet out of the danger,” Mukadi
Aid agencies declined to give their own estimates of how many Zimbabweans
could now be threatened by starvation ahead of a report by the Zimbabwe
Vulnerability Assessment Committee, comprised of government and agency food
The report is due in coming weeks, while a new U.N. survey on Zimbabwe’s
food aid is expected in the spring.
'RELEASE GRAIN STOCKS'
Zimbabwe, once a food exporter to its poorer neighbours, has been plunged
into economic crisis by the controversial policies of President Robert
Mugabe, not least his decision in 2000 to seize productive commercial
farmland from minority whites.
Commercial agriculture, Zimbabwe’s lifeblood, has ground to a halt as a
result of Mugabe’s land reforms, which the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights groups say are aimed at buying
political support in the face of popular opposition.
Although no accurate official figures exist on the death toll from the food
crisis that started more than two years ago on the back of a severe drought,
churches in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo and the city council there
have said that more than 100 people have died.
In the face of concerns that hunger might be spreading, the WFP and NGOs are
urging the government to urgently release an estimated 240,000 tonnes of
maize stocks that government media say is being held by the GMB from last
“We have made a request to the government to release the food into the
market,” Kevin Farrell, WFP’s country director for Zimbabwe, told a news
briefing in Johannesburg last week.
A WFP official in Harare said it was the responsibility of the Zimbabwe
government to feed its own people, “and so we expect the government to
release this maize onto the market”.
The government, which faces a general election next year, has not yet
responded. But official sources say it intends to release the maize as soon
“We have no intention of holding onto these stocks when people need food,”
one source told AlertNet, rejecting charges by critics that Mugabe plans to
use the food as a weapon during the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Opposition and human rights groups have in the past accused the government
of giving or selling maize only to its supporters, charges the government
RATIONS TO BE RESTORED
Zimbabwe’s Daily News, the country’s only privately owned daily, has also
weighed into the food crisis saga. The paper had been banned in September
2003 for operating without a licensing, but resurfaced in late-January
pending a court decision on its future.
“Whatever the reason for the government delaying to release the maize, it is
simply indefensible that innocent children, widows and HIV/AIDS patients
continue to go hungry while government fat cats sit on such maize,” the
paper said in an editorial.
But it is not all bad news for Zimbabwe’s starving.
The WFP’s Walker said her agency, which last December halved maize rations
to the hungry to 5 kg (11 lb) of maize per person a month because of
concerns the food aid would run out before the next harvest, planned to
restore the rations next month.
“We will be restoring the rations because we have just received a pledge of
30,000 tonnes of corn from the U.S. government and because of another food
pledge of Z$25 million ($31,000) made by the European Union,” she said.
“One could say that, once the pledged amounts of food arrive in the country
next month, we should have adequate reserves to take us, at least, up to
April/May. There is no doubt we need more food.”
Museveni Now Tells Off Donors
January 27, 2004
Posted to the web January 27, 2004
Badru D. Mulumba & Emmanuel Mugarura
President Museveni was in a combative mood yesterday as he celebrated 18
years in power.
Speaking during the national celebrations at Kololo Airstrip, Mr Museveni
asked donors to keep off the internal affairs of the country.
"These fellows dispense and disperse opinion about everybody and everything
in Africa," he said.
"If foreign dominance and dependence could develop a country, then black
Africa would be one of the most developed continents on earth," Museveni
Several donor countries have publicly encouraged Museveni to leave office at
the end of his term in 2006.
In a recent television interview, the US government's acting Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Charles Snyder, said his
government was talking to Museveni to persuade him to leave.
Museveni is constitutionally ineligible for another term in office and has
not publicly said he will seek one.
However, a Cabinet proposal to lift the two five-year term constitutional
limit would allow him to stand again - and Museveni said yesterday that he
would not listen to donor advice on electoral matters in Uganda.
He said the National Resistance Movement revolution brought about the
concept of "one person, one vote at a particular time. We know how to solve
The President also said he is not happy with the public criticism or advice
from the donors.
"If there is an exchange of views, it should be done discreetly without any
show of arrogance," he said, drawing applause from the VIP tent in which sat
senior government officials as well as the vice president of Kenya, Mr Moody
Awori, and that of North Korea, Mr Hyong Sob.
"We don't want that touristic expertise," he said. "Someone comes here and
after two days he calls himself an expert on Ugandan affairs. We shall not
No 3rd term crisis
Despite public concern about his reluctance to state whether he will step
down at the end of the current term, the President said there is no
political crisis in the country.
He said the 1995 Constitution says that any matter of national interest
shall be resolved by the people.
"The people of Uganda should therefore [shun] those alarmists," he said.
Having discounted the advice of donors, Museveni said Uganda's problems
would be solved by home-grown solutions.
He cited fighting Idi Amin and HIV/Aids, as well as the economic recovery as
examples of locally driven success stories.
"Some people immediately started working with Idi Amin. Nobody asked us to
fight him but we went ahead against their will. Eventually we got rid of Idi
Amin; where would we be if we had followed their advice?" he asked.
The President also defended Uganda's military engagement in the DR Congo and
said it had saved the region from chaos.
"But the way we are maligned, 'that Uganda is in Congo because of
diamonds'some of these foreigners don't realise that black people have a
conscience, a vision, ideas; why?
"They think: why is Uganda in the Congo? They are there to steal.
"How can you have a partnership with such arrogant and self egocentrism?"
He advised donor countries to open up their markets to African products and
Museveni also rejected donor advice on fighting corruption.
"I am given sermons on how to fight corruption," he said yesterday, "but I
know how to fight corruption."
He defended the practice of shooting poachers in the game parks and robbers
elsewhere on the spot.
"I don't hear these experts on corruption and community talking about that.
I don't hear them," he said.
The President said "small paymasters" are behind the corruption in the army
and ruled out granting an amnesty to rebel leader Joseph Kony at the end of
the current offer.
"I don't want to hear of calls for a ceasefire until the bandits are located
in one area," Museveni said.
Museveni also used his speech to defend Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe -
and attack some donor countries for their double standards over the weapons
of mass destruction.
"Why don't all countries stop these weapons?" he posed, in reference to the
WMDs, and "not to say, 'you, don't have them; I would have them'."
Speaking of his Zimbabwean counterpart, Museveni said: "I disagreed with
Mugabe on Congo. His army was fighting on the other side, ours on another.
And sometimes Mr Mugabe made unfair accusations. He was calling us names."
However, Museveni defended Mugabe against allegations of electoral
malpractice and said regional countries should be left to address the
"The problem is that Mugabe didn't lose as some people would have wanted him
to lose," Museveni said.
"If you don't lose as somebody wants you to lose, that is an offence."