|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
January 3, 2004
Posted to the web January 4, 2004
AT least 62 people have been killed and 457 others were injured in 636
accidents recorded countrywide since the start of the festive season.
The accidents have been attributed to negligence, human error, speeding,
drunken driving and unroadworthy vehicles, among others.
During the same period in 2002, 42 people were killed, 20 of them on
Christmas Day while 280 others were injured in more than 250 road accidents
that occurred countrywide.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the accidents
occurred between December 19 last year and yesterday.
The highest number of deaths so far has been recorded in Mashonaland West
where 18 people were killed while nine deaths were recorded in Masvingo. The
least number of deaths were recorded in Matabeleland North where two people
Harare has the highest number of accidents after it recorded 229 accidents.
In one of the accidents that occurred on New Year's Eve, one person was
killed while five others were injured when a commuter omnibus they were
travelling in burst its tyre and overturned along the Harare-Bulawayo Road.
The commuter omnibus had 15 passengers on board and it was travelling
Police said the omnibus burst its rear left tyre, overturned and landed on
The deceased, whose name police are still withholding, died as a result of
serious head injuries on admission at Kadoma Hospital.
The injured sustained various injuries and were treated and discharged at
Mashonaland West police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Paul Nyathi said
they were still investigating the cause of the accident.
"We are still investigating whether the driver was speeding or not," he
Supt Mandipaka said there was a slight increase in the number of accidents
recorded in 2003 compared with 2002.
He urged motorists to exercise caution when driving during this rainy
"They should exercise caution since the roads will be slippery and
visibility poor at night," said Supt Mandipaka.
He said police would continue to mount roadblocks and bring to book anyone
found on the wrong side of the law.
Smuggling of Farming Equipment Must End
January 3, 2004
Posted to the web January 4, 2004
ON Thursday this week we carried a story on our front page that some former
white commercial farmers are illegally transporting farming equipment worth
millions of dollars to neighbouring countries in defiance of Government
regulations, which forbid them from doing so.
The Herald saw two containers, which had already been loaded, waiting to be
transported by road to Zambia. Four more containers are reportedly said to
have already gone to Zambia by road.
We would want to take to task the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and those
responsible for the issuing of export permits. One wonders what they are all
The smuggling of equipment comes barely a few weeks after the Govern-ment
announced new measures to acquire from farms all equipment and material that
is not being used for agricultural purposes.
The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Acquisition of Farm Equipment
or Material Regulations made it clear that no owner or holder of farm
equipment or material shall willfully demolish, damage, alter or export the
farm equipment without the consent of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and
The Government has entrusted the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to oversee that
all exports leaving the country are done legally. We don't want to believe
that the responsible authority cited by the regulations - the Minister of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement - consented to the exports of the
These exports are baffling and beyond one's reasoning. How can a truck-load
of farm equipment pass through a border post without raising any suspicions?
Border posts are manned by senior and experienced Zimra officials who are
supposed to know their job.
That we stumbled on this equipment, which was about to be "illegally"
exported, could just be a tip of the iceberg.
The director-general of Zimra, Mr Gershem Pasi, owes the nation an
We urge him to go back to the drawing board and come up with measures to
seal and tighten all loopholes used for smuggling this vital equipment.
All this points out to corruption. People are well aware that the shortage
of farming equipment has seriously affected production in the resettlement
areas, with most former white commercial farmers refusing to release their
Corruption is prevalent in all countries and societies but what is worrying
in Zimbabwe is that people now seem to assume that it is normal business
practice to pay a bribe if you want things done.
Once corruption becomes part of our culture it becomes increasingly
difficult to root it out.
We still wonder whether the stipulation by Mr Pasi engrossed in contracts
that all those to be employed by his organisation had to declare their
assets as a measure to stamp out corruption, is still being adhered to.
This followed reports that the Government loses millions of dollars in
potential revenue annually due to corruption within the departments of taxes
and customs and excise.
We still feel that this should be vigorously monitored and enforced if at
all it can help end corruption.
continue to declare their assets and state how they
acquired them. Audits should be conducted periodically to assess additional
acquisitions, which should be in line with a particular employee's salary.
The Government relies on Zimra as the only authority in the land to collect
its revenue. If there are no effective monitoring systems for the authority,
there is no way our economy and development will ever improve.
Zimbabwe army taking tough line on striking medics
January 5, 2004
By Basildon Peta
Report for work or face detention by the army.
This is the ultimatum to Zimbabwe's striking doctors from the
country's new defence force boss, General Constantine Chiwenga.
A two-month-old strike by doctors and nurses has crippled Zimbabwe's
health delivery system.
They are holding out for an 8 000% salary hike.
Chiwenga took over the Zimbabwe Defence Force from General Vitalis
Zvinavashe on New Year's Day.
According to the Zimbabwe Independent, sources at a meeting between
the health minister and the army chief said Chiwenga had ordered doctors
back to work.
"If you refuse to co-operate, we can take you to the army barracks and
detain you, and you will see what will happen," the paper quoted him as
telling the doctors and nurses.
"I have fought 45 battles since I was 17 years old and I have never
lost. This one is just a cup of tea and we can solve it within a matter of
minutes," he was reported to have said.
Chiwenga chaired the meeting between Health Minister David
Parirenyatwa and three representatives of the Hospital Doctors Association.
Parirenyatwa confirmed the meeting but denied the doctors
"You are well aware that army doctors are helping in the hospitals, so
naturally he is concerned, like anyone else. He was merely appealing to the
doctors to go back to work," the minister was quoted as saying.
The doctors went on strike two months ago. Medical specialists and
nurses from major public hospitals joined the strike just over a month ago.
The crisis deepened last month when the Public Service Commission
tried to force doctors back to work by declaring the strike illegal.
This failed when seven Hospital Doctors Association members were
acquitted in court.
Chiwenga reportedly told the doctors that the acquittal was
"I am sorry to inform you that we do not respect that ruling. We are
the ones who are in power and we can choose to ignore that ruling. Court
order or not, we rule this country," Chiwenga was reported as saying.
The doctors have vowed to continue striking until their demands are
met. - Independent Foreign Service
Private doctors hike fees
PRIVATE doctors increased their consultation fees from $20 000 to $46 000
and are demanding cash.
Most patients will receive significantly less from their medical aid
societies and payment from the societies can take up to two months.
Families covered by medical aid have for decades grown used to being able to
see doctors without having to pay anything, although during 2003 the
co-payment system, whereby the shortfall was paid in cash, was introduced
for many services.
Now everyone covered by medical aid will have to maintain substantial
reserves in cash or available in an account that can be accessed by an ATM
The Government had asked doctors to consider the plight of patients facing
economic hardships and wanted those on medical aid to be able to continue
seeing a doctor after filling in the claim form.
The doctors argue that medical aid societies are not paying them a fair
proportion of the patients’ contributions and that some societies pay so
late that the payments have been seriously eroded by inflation.
Zimbabwe Medical Association president Dr Billy Rigava said private doctors
had resolved to increase consultation fees to $46 000 owing to their own
Dr Rigava said an agreement could not be reached when Zima held negotiations
with the National Association of Medical Aid Societies.
Zima and Namas have since last month been negotiating on reasonable
consultation fees but they could not reach an agreement.
Namas executive secretary Mr Job Chiviru said negotiations between his
association and Zima were not successful.
"Although private doctors have gone ahead and implemented the $46 000
consultation fees, which is required up front, this will definitely make
healthcare inaccessible to the ordinary man.
"It is pleasing to note that private hospitals have not increased their
hospital fees although they vary from the various private health
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa said it was
important that Zima and Namas reached an agreement.
"I would like to urge Zima and Namas to reach an agreement for the sake of
the patients," he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa last month met representatives of Namas, Zima, Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe and the Premier Service Medical Aid Society chief
executive officer Mr Cuthbert Dube and urged them to negotiate reasonable
Finance crisis affects rebuilding of national herd
THE Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union has said efforts to rebuild the
national herd are being hampered chiefly by lack of finance and the rampant
theft of livestock.
In an interview recently, ZCFU (formerly Indigenous Commercial Farmers
Union) president Mr Davison Mugabe said livestock production was capital
intensive hence the need for more resources to be allocated towards
rebuilding the national herd.
"On average each farmer requires at least between $60 and $100 million per
year for livestock production and this translates into billions of dollars
that are needed annually," he said.
"We used to have an excellent scheme with the Cold Storage Company in which
farmers were loaned heifers and bulls for breeding purposes and we are
looking forward for this facility to be re-activated."
Efforts to resuscitate the cattle scheme in August this year hit a snag when
the CSC failed to raise $33 billion needed to kick-start it.
However, Mr Mugabe said the money allocated to the CSC in the 2004 national
budget was not enough to make a significant impact in the efforts to rebuild
the national heard.
The CSC was allocated a grant of $10,1 billion while the Livestock
Development Trust that is also involved in livestock production was
allocated $2 billion.
Farmers, Mr Mugabe said, were also losing cattle worth billions of dollars
to thieves with some losing up to 20 or 30 herd of cattle within a year.
"This has now become an epidemic and there is need for co-operation between
the stakeholders and the police in curbing this practice," he said.
In an effort to curb the rampant stealing of livestock, the Government has
come up with the Stock Theft Amendment Bill in which the minimum sentence
for stock theft would be a period not less than nine years.
The Bill has already been presented in Parliament and was referred to the
Parliamentary Legal Committee for consideration.
Mr Mugabe said the land allocated to farmers under model A2 scheme was too
small for them to venture into full scale livestock production and hence
they had to resort to artificial insemination due to their inability to keep
breeding bulls because of lack of space.
He said the grazing pasture in some parts of the country such as Midlands
and Matabeleland provinces had significantly improved following the recent
The Department of Veterinary Services director Dr Stuart Hargreaves recently
said records showed that the national herd was decreasing and one of the
major contributing factors was that fewer calves were being born every year.
He said it had also been observed that the number of slaughtered cattle had
been declining in the past three years, adding that there were an increasing
number of unregistered abattoirs.
The department is now undertaking a recruitment exercise of 800 livestock
extension workers to help farmers in livestock production.
This is expected to boost the country’s herd.
The national herd stands at five million down from six million largely
because of the recurring devastating droughts over the years.
The Government has embarked on a comprehensive programme to rebuild the
The rebuilding plan includes among other things, the establishment of
intensive breeding programmes on selected farms where farmers would be
assisted to breed high quality cattle, which would then be sold to their
Now is the time to chart way forward
OPINION: The call by MDC for a united front
against the ruling regime
was a welcome change of strategy.
Speaking at the party's second national conference in Harare in
December recently the MDC, ZCTU and NCA all conceeded to the fact that they
needed to be united if they were to succed in unsitting Mugabe.
I am sure they (MDC) have realised that what is concentrated, coherent
and connected has power.
As I have indicated in my previous articles on this subject, MDC
underrated ZANU PF and Mugabe in particular.
For the sake of clarity I will repeat the sentiments that I made last
year about Mugabe. For those who understand the game of chess, Mugabe would
be a grandmaster.
This man thinks and plans all the way to the end. This man outpaced
the late Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Ian Smith.
MDC can only underrate him at their own risk. Back to the united
front, it appears to me that the MDC have noticed that the political
landscape is not even and hence they need more hands to unsit Mugabe.
It is pretty obvious that they underestimated the thickness of his
(Mugabe) skin. What should concern most of us is NOT how this opposition
coalition will bring this about, but we must dwell on the level of
preparedness come doomsday when Mugabe is past tense.
The opposition effort must plan right to the end taking into
consideration all possible consequences, obstacles and twists of fortune
that might reverse their sweat and sacrifice and give victory and glory to
Suppose Mugabe steps down (however unlikely) on his own accord this
February on his birthday. Is the opposition ready for such an outcome?
Have they put in place a blueprint plug and play recovery plan for
Zimbabwe? I will not waste time discussing the hows and whens of how Mugabe
As much as we are certain that the sun will surely rise tomorrow,
Mugabe will go - naturally or otherwise.
As such, it is the end case scenario that needs attention and careful
planning. This is were the civic society comes in.
For now let the MDC, ZCTU and NCA increase cabin pressure against ZANU
PF while the civic leaders put together a meticulous plan - “Operation
You must clearly understand that “ORZ” is non-political and purely
technical. We must look at it as a project plan with clear objectives and
This kind of effort is however very much dependent on the way the
political game will turn out. That is why I am emphasising the need for
opposition efforts to consult widely even oustide party lines. Yes.
It would be disappointing if MDC is not already engaged in any kind of
underground talks with the “fresher” breed of ZANU PF Turks.
Well, if the opposition is not interested in engaging with ZANU PF at
any level, then we would be keen to know whose interests they respresent.
But as we know, ZANU PF has been dragging its feet to the table or is
that so? Mugabe is in fact not interested in steping down for obvioius
So it is pretty obvious that other senior members of ZANU PF see no
future post-Mugabe era, and as as such they will do everything possible not
to consolidate their power while Mugabe is still around.
Mind you ZANU PF will disintergrate after Mugabe. He alone is the only
person holding together the party that will surely and certainly crack up
along tribal lines.
When that happens, we hope people will be ready to make an about turn
and rebuild Zimbabwe on lines that have nothing to do with the colour of
your skin or tribe.
MDC should be careful not to be come a mirror image of ZANU PF itself.
There is danger that as the political pendulum swings to the other end, the
present opposition will want to revenge or get even with ZANU PF.
In short, that will be unacceptable. It is at this moment that we must
stand up and speak to both ZANU PF and MDC and ensure that whatever
political power shifts take place, no reprisals are meted out.
By now an interim government should be penciled in that will run the
country for a short while before fresh general elections.
This approach might send chills down the spines of many people. But
this appears to be the safest way to do it. Wait. Wait. Wait for mother
nature to take care of one variable in the equation.
In any case, the opposition is too weak to confront ZANU PF head on.
So only fools engage in direct confrontation when they know that they are
the weaker side.
Right now we need peace, progress and development for our country.
Never mind who caused all this present chaos.
The most important thing is how we forge ahead. Life expectancy is 37.
HIV/AIDS is rampant. Inflation 620 percent. No fuel. No sugar. No maize. No
Mugabe will be history one day. Yes it might not be this year.
New York, USA
2 held in R1m Zimbabwe bank swindle
January 5, 2004
Two top banking executives in Zimbabwe have been arrested over a R1
billion scandal that has devastated the country's already reeling financial
Investors have lost over Z$80 billion they entrusted to ENG Asset
Management company, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has announced
that it is closing the company and withdrawing the licence of its subsidiary
firm, Century Discount House.
Press reports in Zimbabwe say several other financial institutions
were heavily exposed to ENG.
This is the third major financial scandal to rock Zimbabwe recently,
forcing the government to close several financial institutions.
In 1997, the government shut down the United Merchant Bank when it
defrauded investors with fake investment bills worth Z$6bn .
Late last year, the First National Building Society was closed after
its chief executive, Samson Ruturi, allegedly used Z$bn in depositors funds
to settle his private debts.
Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Mutamba has confirmed the
arrest of ENG directors Nyasha Watyoka, 28, and Gilbert Muponda, 30, at
their offices at the weekend after their failure to account for the
disappearance of more than Z$80bn of depositors funds.
He told journalists in Harare that police were still hunting other
The ENG directors had established a reputation for living the high
life in Zimbabwe despite its debilitating economic crisis.
This seems to have aroused the suspicions of investors who called for
a probe after they were not paid for investments in full.
The police have said they will not say more until the
The arrested executives failed to attend several meetings called by
the Reserve Bank to discuss complaints that they had failed to account for
Exact details of how investor funds were siphoned away are not known.
In its statement on Saturday, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said it
would take steps to limit the damage caused by the ENG collapse.
The central bank also did not give details of the measures it would
take, but said some banks were experiencing liquidity problems as a result
of their involvement in non-core and speculative activities.
The ENG collapse could severely affect other financial institutions.
First Mutual, the insurance giant believed to have invested about Z$30
in ENG, has issued a statement saying it has taken precautions to protect
A number of Zimbabwean banks are said to be in turmoil after new RBZ
governor Gideon Gono introduced a new tough monetary policy withdrawing
central bank support for banks in distress and ordering them to raise their
liquidity ratios in line with the country's hyper-inflationary environment.
Zimbabwe has 17 commercial banks with assets amounting to Z$2.9
trillion. - Foreign Service
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 4 January
ENG bosses seek Zanu PF protection
By Rangarirai Mberi
Directors of troubled ENG
Capital, arrested last week after failing to
account for about $100 billion worth of investor funds, last week sought
protection from Zanu PF legislators David Chapfika and Philip Chiyangwa, The
Standard can reveal. Both MPs, who have vast business interests themselves,
confirmed to The Standard yesterday that they had indeed met ENG directors
Nyasha Watyoka, Gilbert Muponda and Elton Chitondo at Chiyangwa’s office
early last week, but strenuously denied any business links with the troubled
outfit. Chiyangwa yesterday said he had met the three only as a facilitator
for a meeting with Chapfika, who heads the Parliamentary Budget, Finance and
Economic Planning committee. "What’s wrong with that? I’m a public figure.
For your own information, if Tsvangirai wants to meet Mugabe, I will be
prepared to facilitate. I’m not afraid," Chiyangwa said. Asked why ENG
targeted him as a source of support, Chiyangwa said it was because of his
long history of black empowerment, and support for struggling black
businesses such as Zimbabwe Building Society and Universal Merchant Bank.
Chapfika, a former director of Unibank which caved in under the weight of
bad loans three years ago, yesterday denied any financial exposure to ENG.
"I just bumped into them at his (Chiyangwa’s) office. I hardly spent five
minutes in there. I told them to come clean on their status, that if they
were part and parcel of these speculative practices then the Reserve Bank
had to act", Chapfika said, adding the ENG directors had admitted to him
that they were operating without a licence.
Banking sources say the closure of ENG has pushed three more
towards financial ruin, as they had been exposed to ENG to varying extents.
Bankers say they fear the contagion effect of the closure will spread wider,
as Zimbabwe’s biggest ever financial crisis continues to unravel. Police on
Friday arrested two of the ENG directors Watyoka (28) and Muponda (30),
hours after RBZ head of bank supervision, Stuart Gwasira, announced the
central bank had shut down Century Discount House, a division of ENG
Capital, and withdrawn its trading licence. Police spokesperson Oliver
Mandipaka yesterday confirmed they were still holding the two on fraud
charges, as police widened their search for the remaining directors. The two
are expected to appear in court tomorrow. ENG Capital bought Century
Discount House from Century Holdings Limited for $1,6 billion in April last
year, but ENG had kept the name "Century" owing to delays by banking
regulators to approve a name change. Century Holdings CEO Gary Shoko
immediately moved to distance his bank from the troubled ENG, telling The
Standard in an interview on Friday that his bank had no exposure to ENG.
"None of the companies within the Century Group was exposed in any way to
Century Discount House or to ENG Asset Management", Shoko said. However,
investigations by The Standard last week revealed a network of banks that
had varied extents of exposure to ENG. One of the banks is a recently
licenced entity, which is still rolling out its branch network, while the
other, a large financial group, has been exposed to ENG through its own
ENG Capital was founded by a band of young
directors, Chitondo, Watyoka and
Muponda, and was headed by Lloyd Kazunga. Chitondo is separately a director
of Wanai Finance, another of the country’s ever-swelling ranks of asset
management firms. The three directors were college mates at the National
University of Science and Technology (NUST), and founded their outfit with
hardly three years of industrial experience behind them. Trust Bank, named
as one of the banks in trouble, has denied any exposure to ENG, and also
shot down reports it had been placed under curatorship. "The Reserve Bank
didn’t find anything untoward regarding the status of our bank", Nyemba told
reporters, however conceding that the bank would take "a little while" to
heal after the negative perception which has hurt the bank in the past week.
In reaction to widespread market reports that Trust had ploughed central
bank funds into the purchase of a substantial stock of bricks from Willdale
and an entire six months supply of vehicles from Willowvale, Nyemba said his
bank had simply extended support to both struggling companies. He insisted
that Trust had assisted Willowvale to import car assembly kits to assemble
passenger and light commercial vehicles. The bank had "ring fenced" its
exposure to its assistance to the firm, he added. "The bank has since sold
its shareholding in Willdale but has continued to support this important
asset", Nyemba said. "Trust had also converted its Willdale debt into equity
to save it from imminent collapse," said Nyemba.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 5 January
Sorghum could be key to food security
Bulawayo - For many subsistence
farmers in the semi-arid regions of southern
Africa, dependence on drought relief is tantamount to serving a death
sentence. About half of all farming seasons in the affected areas, which
support about 30 million households, are characterised by the early
termination of rains. Many have been encouraged to expand their production
of maize, which is the dominant cereal crop in the 14-member Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC). There is no doubt the cereal is popular. The
problem with maize is that it needs regular rainfall over a 90-day period.
And when seasonal downpours dissipate it is farmers who are most affected.
Dusty, dry furrows and failed crops mean they lack the grain necessary for
their own domestic requirements, let alone setting any aside for the next
season. In an effort to increase grain production many SADC governments
implemented technologies geared at expanding yields. But many of these were
inappropriate in semi-arid regions because they were originally designed for
higher rainfall zones.
Some scientists say
improved varieties of millet and sorghum could hold the
key to regional food security, despite the smaller grains' blighted
reputation as "poor man's" crops. Geoffrey Heinrich is the regional
representative of the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid
Tropics (ICRISAT). He says the institute helped develop early-maturing
varieties of sorghum and millet which, in effect, cheat drought. Tanzania is
a case in point. "They had several significant late season droughts," says
Heinrich. "Most of these materials (improved small grain varieties) are
early maturing. They yielded much better than the traditional varieties."
Based in Zimbabwe, which hosts one of ICRISAT's six centres on the
continent, Heinrich explains that Tanzania distributed two improved
varieties of sorghum six years ago. It did so with assistance from ICRISAT's
sorghum and millet improvement programme (SMIP). Heinrich says the good
reception of these early-maturing varieties resulted, in one year, to a drop
of US$17-million the country's food import bill. He admits that farmers may
be reluctant, at first, because of the work involved in protecting sorghum
and millet from birds. "People who are used to maize find it tedious," he
adds, "but there is no reason why it should be looked at as inferior."
With funding from the US development agency
USAid, the SMIP was launched in
1983, by ICRISAT, at an invitation of SADC heads of state to help ease
persistent food deficits caused by drought. The programme was also to ensure
the establishment of a technological base for the region over a 20-year
period. While those two decades ended on December 31, Heinrich says
components of the programme will continue because of the region's recurring
food shortages. SMIP has acted as nucleus of a network of various national
agricultural research initiatives, including studies by universities and the
private sector. In particular, the programme resulted in the development,
and distribution, of 49 varieties of sorghum and pearl millet across
Zimbabwe. The programme has also led to the strengthening of seed systems.
"Just releasing a variety doesn't do any good," says Heinrich. He adds that
while maize has a "pretty good" rural retail market, the same cannot be said
for crops like sorghum, millet or groundnuts which, in his view, are
important for food security.
In addition many traders
are reluctant to stock seed, or even fertiliser,
because agricultural inputs are periodically handed out, free of charge, as
part of relief efforts. Lack of demand, in turn, led to commercial seed
development and distribution lagging behind. ICRISAT and its partners
counteracted this by working through farmer-based production systems and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in an attempt to build rural retail
markets for seed. One of these systems, according to Heinrich, involves
voucher programmes, so that rural retailers stock the seed and instead of
being given free seed. Vulnerable households are actually provided with
vouchers, which they take to the retailer who remains in business and can
make a profit from that process. Currently there's close to 30% coverage of
improved varieties of sorghum in the SADC, and about 35% for millet.
Heinrich says more than 1.5 million households have access to, and are
utilising, improved seed. Developing industrial demand, which is key if one
wants to raise prices, was a persistent challenge for the SMIP. In Zimbabwe,
however, there has been major success. Demand for the small grains increased
exceptionally, particularly from the stock feed industry.
Research methods employed by ICRISAT in improving the small
relied on traditional scientific techniques. Bio-technology, or genetically
modified organism (GMO), has not been used, although Heinrich says ICRISAT
feels there are potential risk-free uses for some of these technologies. He
says such a possibility is being explored in developing disease-resistant
groundnuts. "But none of that would be released to any country that does not
have bio-safety regulations," he says. With the exception of South Africa,
which is much more advanced, the rest of the SADC countries have no
bio-safety regulations and so cannot benefit from the selective application
of GMO technology. "ICRISAT would like to work with SADC countries in
developing these kinds of policies," Heinrich says. "There are areas where
the materials would be very safe, where they can bring important benefits to
ICRISAT is also affiliated with an
initiative called the "Challenge
Programme on Water and Food Consortium". Chairman Frank Rijsberman, recently
called on scientists to breed new varieties of high-yielding crops that
require less water. Heinrich says this is another avenue ICRISAT will soon
start exploring. "The materials we have been looking at have, to a large
extent, been screening for drought tolerance. We have not been looking at
water usage efficiency but I think our programme is going to head that way."
He says the centre in Zimbabwe has been unaffected by the upheaval caused by
land reform programmes and is maintaining its presence in the country. Its
other core research activity -- natural resource management, especially soil
fertility and soil water management -- has become crucial and will also
continue. Soil fertility in most of southern Africa's communal areas is
declining, Heinrich notes. One reason is the non-application of both organic
and inorganic fertilizers. "There is a net outflow of nutrients," Heinrich
says. "If that trend is not reversed, ultimately the productive capacity of
those areas will be completely eroded."
UK court to hear case for Mugabe's arrest
January 05 2004 at 04:15PM
London - A human rights campaigner has been
granted a British court hearing
to consider a warrant for the arrest and extradition of Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe on torture charges.
Activist Peter Tatchell said on Monday that he will present affidavits from
alleged torture victims and reports from human rights groups when he makes
the application at Bow Street magistrate's court on Wednesday.
A court spokesperson confirmed Tatchell's scheduled appearance before Judge
The court list says Tatchell is applying for the warrant on charges of
torture under Section 134 of the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, the spokesperson
'This case will be worthwhile in two respects'
That section of the act rules that anyone who commits, authorises, colludes,
acquiesces or condones acts of torture anywhere in the world can be
prosecuted in Britain.
Tatchell is facing two major obstacles - Britain's attorney general must
agree to any prosecution, and heads of state are usually immune from
"Regardless of whether I win or lose, this case will be worthwhile in two
respects: It will help draw world attention to the human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe, and add pressure on the world community to do something effective
to end the tyranny there," Tatchell said in a statement.
The Australian-born Tatchell, 51, has twice tried to make a citizen's arrest
of Mugabe, first in London in 1999. When he tried two years later in
Brussels he was beaten by Mugabe's bodyguards.
In November, he announced that an armed rebel movement aims to depose the
president and put him on trial. Tatchell said he had no involvement in the
Zimbabwe Freedom Movement and was merely acting as its messenger.
The British government said it wanted nothing to do with the rebels.
Mugabe quit the Commonwealth in December after leaders, including British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, voted to extend by a year Zimbabwe's 12-month
suspension for election irregularities and human rights abuses. - Sapa-AP
Cost of Kunzvi Dam Project Soars
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
THE cost of constructing Kunzvi Dam, expected to supply water to Harare and
its surroundings, has increased almost seven-fold since last year owing to
continued delays in starting the project.
The cost now stands at $150 billion compared to $21 billion in March last
In March last year, the Government invited tenders for the construction of
the long-awaited dam in Murehwa but was forced to re-tender it in June at
$54 billion following poor response to the initial tender.
Last month the Government floated another tender for $150 billion, which
should see construction starting in April this year if it gets support.
The tender inviting interested financiers to bid was floated at the
beginning of last month.
The director of water development in the Ministry of Rural Resources and
Water Development Mr Vavarirai Choga said the money would fund the
construction of the dam, pipelines, treatment works, pumping station and
He said the tender closes on January 20, 2004. This is the second time
Government has tendered for a financier. The first tender attracted only one
"Tenders are invited from established single or joint companies to finance
the construction of Kunzvi Dam and conveyance system to Harare," he said.
Ironically the Harare City Council which is expected to be the major
beneficiary has budgeted $815 billion for the purchase of water treatment
chemicals next year.
The chemicals are needed to purify water from the city's water sources,
which are heavily polluted, forcing the city to use at least seven chemicals
to purify the water.
It is hoped that the construction of Kunzvi Dam would significantly reduce
Harare's budget on water treatment chemicals because water from the dam
would be free from pollution.
Harare's current water sources are situated downstream and suffer from
Mr Choga said the tender to invite constructors will be floated soon after
the closure of the one for financiers. The tender for constructors will
close in March.
"Construction of the dam is then expected to begin soon after", he said.
Mr Choga said the Harare City Council, which is jointly involved in the
project together with Government, would be expected to tender for the
construction of the water treatment plant and the construction of the
pipeline between June and July this year.
Harare residents have complained over the delay in the construction of the
dam and urged Government to speed the process.
The Kunzvi Dam project has been on the cards for a longtime.
Residents of Harare and surrounding towns view the dam as a lasting solution
to their growing water problems. The residents also feel the construction of
the dam will give council time to refurbish the Morton Jaffray Water
Treatment Works as Kunzvi Dam would have its own.
The dam, to be built at the confluence of Nyagui and Nora Rivers in
Goromonzi district falls in a different catchment area from Chivero,
Manyame, Seke and Harava dams that derive their water from Manyame River.
While construction appears to be an expensive venture, in the end it would
be a cost cutting measure considering the amount of money Harare City
Council spends in water purification chemicals.
Lake Chivero from where Harare draws its water is downstream of the city
resulting in all the wastewater finding its way back into the lake. Harare
residents and those from surrounding towns have in recent years endured
crippling water shortages sometimes going for periods of up to a week
The shortages have forced some residents to draw water from open wells while
in some suburbs those with boreholes resort to selling the water.
Sunday Times (SA)
Mbeki in 'Mugabe of the Caribbean' uproar
Monday January 05, 2004 07:16 - (SA)
President Thabo Mbeki enters 2004 with his foreign policy and image as
visionary leader of the African renaissance under considerable strain,
following his failed mediation bid on the Caribbean island of Haiti.
Diplomatic sources were puzzled yesterday why Mbeki would expose himself to
a potential foreign policy disaster in Haiti, particularly after his image
was substantially harmed by his enthusiastic support for Zimbabean President
Robert Mugabe during and since the Commonwealth heads of government meeting
in Nigeria in November.
Mbeki's visit to Haiti's President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was called
"the Mugabe of the Caribbean" by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon,
was cut short when a helicopter carrying members of his delegation came
under fire at New Year as they scouted the site of the 200th independence
anniversary celebrations in the city of Gonaives.
Mbeki could not attend what he felt were highly symbolic celebrations
because of the danger. He was reportedly the only foreign head of state to
respond to invitations to attend the celebrations, but was forced to leave
after three days with his proclaimed mission of mediating between Aristide
and the opposition in tatters.
SA and its large security contingent were roundly criticised by Haitian
opposition, and in some quarters were seen to be in the region for the sole
purpose of propping up the Aristide regime. One faction, Groupe 184,
reportedly said it was neither "pleased, proud nor welcoming" of Mbeki's
intervention. Others promised they could not negotiate with Aristide.
Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, said the president would continue to do
whatever he could to assist mediation efforts, though he did not specify
what that would be. And the SABC reported yesterday that Foreign Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had stayed on in Haiti after Mbeki's departure.
Khumalo said Caribbean bloc Caricom would still play the lead role in
"There is a process in Haiti which is led by the Caricom group They are
holding discussions and trying to resolve the Haitian problems. But he
(Mbeki) will give them any help that they actually require."
Diplomatic sources said while they understood the symbolic importance of
attending the independence celebrations of the first independent black
republic, by being openly uncritical of Aristide, Mbeki had once again
appeared to be backing a black leadership regardless of its human rights
abuses a repeat of Zimbabwe, in fact. Mbeki also received a drubbing back
home with Leon promising that he would probe the visit and its costs to SA
during Mbeki's state of the nation debate early next month.
"I am deeply concerned that President Mbeki is propping up yet another
international outcast and in the process misusing millions of SA taxpayers
rands by his visit to Haiti's President JeanBertrand Aristide, who in nine
years has become the Mugabe of the Caribbean.
"The new year has begun for President Mbeki as the old year ended for him:
with a foreign policy fiasco all of his own making. Once again he has placed
South Africa very firmly on the wrong side of the international street on
the side of would-be dictators and human rights abusers."
Leon said the facts about Aristide were freely available. "They must surely
have been available to President Mbeki before he set off on his journey to
infamy in the Caribbean.
"Reputable research and human rights activists of note record the country
which Mr Mbeki has chosen to align us with and to celebrate with its regime
as having one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere; a state
that has come increasingly to resemble a narco state', pushing drugs into
the US, headed by an authoritarian president who presides over a ruling
party, the Lavalas, which has been complicit in attacks on journalists and
human rights workers; the corruption of the police and the judiciary; and
the transformation of gangs of armed thugs into a semiofficial arm of the
"As a consequence of gross electoral fraud by Aristide's party, his
government and its increasingly authoritarian behaviour has been condemned
by the international community, which has suspended crucial foreign aid to
the point where today, apart from the injection of South African taxpayer
rands, there is an almost total aid embargo. Haiti has been suspended from
all International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other direct aid because, in
the words of the European Union, Respect for democratic principles has not
yet been re-established in Haiti' ," Leon said.
He said the US state department had said that Haiti had failed to implement
international counter-narcotic actions.
Paris-based journalist advocacy group Reporters sans Frontiers had included
Aristide on its list of "predators of press freedom" after the fire-bombing
of opposition radio stations and the murders of two prominent journalists.
"It is disgraceful that President Mbeki has squandered SA's foreign
prestige, moral authority on making common cause with yet another morally
dubious regime in order to thumb his nose at the west.
"I will use the state of the nation debate to demand to know the full costs
of this exercise and the benefits, if any, which it has brought to SA."
Doctors Fees in Zimbabwe Skyrocket
05 Jan 2004, 11:35 UTC
Private doctors in financially troubled Zimbabwe
have increased their fees
by more than 500 percent, and they are demanding payment in cash even for
patients on medical insurance plans. The move likely will make it even more
difficult for ordinary Zimbabweans to get healthcare.
It will now cost a patient on medical insurance more than $50 for a visit to
the doctor, up from $10 at the official rate.
The physicians announced the increase after the collapse of negotiations
with medical insurance companies. The president of the Zimbabwe Medical
Association, Dr. Billy Rigava, said private doctors decided on the hefty
hike as a result of the current hyper-inflationary climate the country is
Dr. Rigava also said they had decided on demanding cash up front from
patients because medical insurance companies were taking too long to pay
them after they had attended to patients. He said some medical insurance
companies were taking up to more than two years to pay the doctors after
submission of their claims.
Dr. Rigava accused the insurance companies of engaging in non-core
activities such as investing their members' money, resulting in large sums
of money being tied up and none left to pay the doctors.
The medical association chief said the talks collapsed after the insurance
companies offered payment in 30 days. As Dr. Rigava put it, We are demanding
payment within a week after submitting claims, and no more. He said that
because of Zimbabwe's current economic situation, the doctors were finding
it increasingly difficult to meet their own costs.
Medical insurance is not compulsory in Zimbabwe and membership is open to
most people with a regular job as well as their families.
Private doctors have for some time now provided an important alternative to
the country's public health system, which has all but collapsed due to the
shortage of foreign currency to buy essential drugs and equipment.
Doctors in the public sector have been on strike since last October for more
money. Nurses also have joined the strike.
A skeleton staff of army doctors and nurses and student nurses is now
manning Zimbabwe's hospitals. No end to the strike is in sight, and some
doctors and nurses are resigning and joining the exodus of skilled
Zimbabweans to countries where they can get better pay.
Zimbabwe: Land to Be Reallocated to "Serious And Committed" Farmers
UN Integrated Regional Information
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
About 400 of the farms recovered so far from senior government officials who
ignored a presidential directive and held multiple properties will be given
to farmers who are "serious and committed" to agricultural production,
authorities said on Monday.
"The land will only be reallocated to farmers who have experience and are
able to prove that they intend to use the land for the sole purpose of
agricultural production. Property speculators will not be considered,"
government spokesman Steyn Berejena told IRIN.
The government has yet to announce when reallocation will begin, but
Berenjena acknowledged that there was a waiting list of people who were
"very eager to move onto the land in order to begin farming".
In July last year President Robert Mugabe ordered top officials of his
ruling ZANU-PF party to give up excess farms if they had acquired more than
one under the country's fast-track land redistribution programme.
"There is now consensus that we are moving towards a fairer distribution of
land, so that there isn't one group of individuals who has more land than
they deserve," Berenjena added.
In 2000 Mugabe's government appropriated white-owned commercial farms for
redistribution to landless blacks. However, since the start of the
controversial programme, the government has been widely criticised for
allowing ZANU PF's top hierarchy to grab some prime farms.
Last year Mugabe appointed a committee headed by the former chief secretary
to the cabinet, Charles Utete, to assess the resettlement programme.
The "Utete Report" found that a number of top ZANU-PF officials owned
multiple farms, prompting Mugabe to issue a directive to officials to hand
over excess land within two weeks. It also noted that almost 40 percent of
land made available for commercial farming had not been taken up by
The government cited a lack of farming equipment and inputs, and the
difficulties resettled farmers faced in obtaining loans from banks as
reasons for the slow uptake.
Critics have argued that the land reform programme was implemented in a
haphazard way, leaving many resettled farmers without the necessary support.
However, Berenjena dismissed these claims, saying the government had
embarked on a number of assistance programmes that targeted newly resettled
"Of course there is the problem of funding but with the little that is
available the government has assisted farmers with seeds and fertiliser.
This has been ongoing - even those individuals who will be given the land
that has been recovered will be given assistance," he said.
Meanwhile the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was less
optimistic that the recovered land would be benefit those most in need.
MDC's shadow minisiter of agriculture Renson Gasela told IRIN: "We don't
expect that this land redistribution process would be any fairer than the
previous one. We suspect that the beneficieries are likley to be those who
were left out the first time, namely some of the top ranking soldiers in the
More than 200,000 landless black Zimbabweans have been resettled onto about
11 million hectares of land since the start of the land reform programme.
'African Countries Must Tackle Election Malpractices'
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
Hon. Irem Ibom is a member of the House of Representatives representing
Afikpo North and South Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State. He is also
Chairman, House Committee on Integration and Cooperation in Africa. He spoke
with Chinedu Eze, our Ebonyi State Correspondent in Abakaliki on the
activities of the Committee and other issues
As the Chairman of House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa,
what have you been doing since you took up the position?
After the inauguration of the committee, we found out that we did not have
legislative framework that properly make up the various arms of the African
Union, which is the umbrella union that takes care of African affairs. For
instance, before my assumption of office, the African Union Treaty hadn't
been ratified by the national parliament, it then fell on the committee to
ensure that it was ratified by the House of Representatives. We have done
Secondly, the protocol for establishing the pan African parliament was also
ratified through the efforts of the committee. There are other protocols and
conventions that have to do with both political and integration of the
African continent; we've been working on them. Then within the ECOWAS
sub-regional level, we are dealing with the ECO monitory zone, which is the
common currency for West African countries and we have been attending so
many meetings to ensure that there is convergent criteria on proper
legislative framework and to ensure that we need also the convergent
criteria to enable us have the common currency zone within the sub-region,
come July 2005. Then at the national level we discovered that NEPAD does not
have the law establishing it and therefore, it will have to be properly
domesticated to ensure its effective implementation. In that respect, we
have come up with a bill that is before the floor of the House of
Representative and it will follow the due process to ensure the proper
domestication of NEPAD. At the various other levels we have been ensuring
the enhancement of economic integration of Nigeria with her neighbours. For
instance, we have been playing active role with respect to the joint
development zone between Nigeria and Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.
Early next year, the Nigerian parliamentarians will be paying a
reciprocatory visit to the country; currently the Sao Tome and Principe's
parliamentarians are here in Nigeria.
We have also been meeting with other sub-regional groups like the
sub-regional organization of East Africa. I just came back from a
parliamentarian conference for Africa Peer Review Mechanism which is the
driving force behind the NEPAD project, where countries voluntarily agreed
to be self monitored, to be evaluated by other African countries. This is an
effort to ensure that proper democratic tenets are put in place and this has
to do with good democratic and political governance, good economic
governance, good corporate governance and other areas in order to ensure
that African countries meet up with the millennium developmental objectives.
Nigeria recently hosted the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. One
issue that over shadowed others was the case of Zimbabwe. What is the
consequence of the failure of African members of the Commonwealth,
especially Nigeria, to ensure that Zimbabwe was re-admitted into the Union?
As a matter of fact, I share a different opinion. If an African nation is
found to be wanting and it is suspended, I think the right thing wouldn't be
for other Commonwealth African countries to be lobbying for her
re-admittance. There are basic criteria that should be met before the
country could be re-admitted into the Commonwealth group of nations.
The issue at stake is that of election rigging, of election malpractice.
That matter has to be properly addressed because if you sweep it under the
carpet, other African leaders will be tempted to follow that line and it
won't be healthy for the development of democracy within the African
But as far as the Zimbabwe issue is concerned, what is at the centre of it
is President Mugabe's taking over of farmlands from the minority whites to
the majority blacks which were hitherto confiscated from the majority blacks
by the whites during the colonial era. That is the salient issue at play. In
that respect, I support the President of Zimbabwe because the majority of
opinions support him in that respect. I know that these other member
countries like Britain, for instance, only brought in the electoral
malpractice issue as a cover up to the main issue at stake and African heads
of states, as a matter of fact, did not actually fail in their bid to bring
back Zimbabwe to Commonwealth, I think, what had happened is just for
Zimbabwe to look inwards and correct some of those ills to enable the nation
move forward. So it is not a failure on the part of Africa heads of state.
Apart from starvation and disease, which ravage Africa, another major
problem confronting the continent is bad leadership. There are so many
sit-tight, despotic leaders in Africa whose leadership is supported by
president Olusegun Obasanjo, example is Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe
and the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor who after massacring
thousands of his people was allowed to come and live in Nigeria. By
supporting these kinds of leaders, do you think Nigeria is playing its big
brother role well?
There are two ways to look at it. There are two basic ways to look at it.
What prompted Nigeria to grant political asylum to Charles Taylor was for
the greater interest of the Liberian people. No matter how bad a leader is,
there are still people that support him and do not forget the fact that at
the time the man was still the legitimate President of Liberia, he had the
coercive instrument at his disposal, meaning that he could still go ahead
and use that to waste more lives. I think Nigeria's role in granting
political asylum to the former Liberian President was a patriotic role and
it should be seen as such. Despite the fact that some Nigerian journalists
were killed in Liberia, seeing himself as the leader of the African
continent and most especially within the West African sub-region if Nigeria
did not grant that political asylum to Charles Taylor, more Liberian lives,
move African lives would have been lost.
So Nigeria now decided to make that sacrifice to bring out this man so that
those other lives could be saved. It was actually in the interest of greater
number of Liberians that Charles Taylor was asked to leave the country.
And you should know that it is not easy for a serving president in spite of
all odds, to accept to vacate his presidency and go to exile. Many leaders
would have chosen to die-to fight to finish. In the process more lives would
have been lost. Initially I have talked about African Peer Review Mechanism.
That was Africa Peer Review Mechanism at play, that some African leaders
were able to look at Charles Taylor eye ball to eye ball and told him "Mr.
President, it is time to vacate the presidential seat" that is self
evaluation - self monitoring. They felt that he was exhibiting bad political
governance. There was no peace within his country. They were able to
convince him through sheer persuasion, no use of force. They were able to
convince him that it was time to give up the presidency and he accepted
that. That was African Peer Review Mechanism at play. So I think Nigeria has
not at all failed, I think it should be commended for that effort.
Do you believe in the efficacy of New Economic Programme for Africa's
Definitely, I am optimistic about it. This is because it was initiated by
Africans and African leaders who initiated it are giving it the desired
political will, quite unlike the previous developmental programmes, which
were initiated outside the continent without taking into consideration the
local prevailing circumstances within the continent.
Now, what is the approach towards rebuilding Africa's economy?
To rebuild Africa's economy it is important that Africans should believe in
themselves. Africans should reinvent themselves and build trust in
themselves. They should have the desire to develop and show that total
commitment towards developing the continent. We have the market and we have
the resources. African countries can develop trading relationships, stronger
trading relationships within the African continent. This will be better for
us instead of depending on people from outside the continent. This has been
the bane of Africa's economic progress.
We should only partner with people from outside the continent and not
depending on them for any kind of assistance, be it aid or technology
transfer I do not even subscribe to the idea of technology transfer because
to the extent they will like to transfer technology will be to the extent
they will still be at advantage.
Many African leaders steal money from their national coffers and stash them
in overseas banks; do you think that such leaders could submit to the
principles of NEPAD, which is diametrically opposed to their obnoxious
Now, the developed nations, be it EU, G8 or G7 have now accepted that the
only way of engaging with African countries is through the NEPAD process.
This means that you have to be part of those implementing the objectives of
NEPAD, which is being a member of the African Peer Review Mechanism, and
through the African Peer Review Mechanism it will be possible through the
various variables to know that this leader is stealing money from the public
purse and attention will be drawn towards that. If he fails to address the
situation, the international and multinational organizations would no longer
relate with such a country and he will be compelled to vacate his position.
Do you believe this can work?
It can work. See, Africa Peer Review Mechanism is not just made up of those
in leadership position; it has to do with the entire stakeholders in any giv
en country. The government will be represented, the parliamentarians will be
represented and members of the civil society, which includes organizations
like, Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), the Transport Unions etc. For instance,
I am a member of the national working group of the African Peer Review
Mechanism and I belong to the core group, so I know what I am talking about.
There is great hope; I am highly optimistic that it will work. Hitherto,
while such developmental initiatives haven't been working was that it was
government driven; Africa Peer Review Mechanism is government led, but not
The economic development of most ECOWAS countries are tied to the economic
growth of Nigeria, now that Nigeria is going through economic recession,
don't you think that the country's weak economy is affecting her political
clout in the sub-region?
I don't agree that Nigeria is going through economic recession. We have been
experiencing some marginal growth, that the value of Naira is declining does
not imply recession in the economy. Far from that, the only thing is that we
are trying to make Naira value to be realistic; it should not be priced
above its actual value. And through the decline of the value of the Naira,
in respect to the American dollar, is expected to boost the economy because
it can encourage export of domestic products because people will now know
that if you are able to export anything and earn a few dollars from outside
if you bring them here the value will be very high. That is what we are
experiencing in Nigeria today, which is the opposite of what is happening to
the Rand of South Africa. The Rand is getting stronger and it has led to the
laying off of so many workers. This is quite unlike Nigeria, so, the
Nigerian economy instead of receding is rather expanding. That's why people
are now talking about enhancing the production of cassava, cocoa and some of
other agricultural products for export. The most important thing is to
expand on the capacity of adding value to them before exporting them.
How can you compare Nigeria's relation with other African countries in terms
of the gains and do you think that by giving Charles Taylor asylum, Nigeria,
has defied the will of Liberian people?
It was not only Liberian people that suffered in the hands of Charles
Taylor, Sierra Leonians equally suffered in the hands of Charles Taylor and
that was why the International Court of Justice indicted Charles Taylor. But
what we are saying is that Nigeria played a very exemplary role. I have been
in Freetown and I know the way Sierra Leonians feel about the role of
Nigeria in spite of the fact that we granted Charles Taylor political
asylum. They feel very proud that Nigeria did the right thing in order to
curb the rate of conflict within the sub-region. If anything happens to
Charles Taylor, don't forget that he was the President of Liberia for over
six years, he has his own supporters if anything happens to him another
phase of conflict will start in Liberia all over again, this is a delicate
situation and we have to parry it very carefully.
Many were surprised when America said it would give $2 million to anyone or
group that is able to bring Charles Taylor to United State because it was
believed that America tacitly supported Taylor's going into exile in
Nigeria. Why this turn around decision of America?
Wide consultations were made before Charles Taylor was granted asylum. The
issue you are referring to is not the position of American government; it is
the decision of their parliament. More so, a United Kingdom security
organization recently said that they are looking for people to sponsor them
to enable them catch Charles Taylor. Nobody will touch Taylor in this
country because they will be insulting the sensibility of Nigeria because
this was duly worked out before political asylum was granted to Charles
The case of the ousting of the President of Sao Tome and Principe was a
success story for Nigeria as President Obasanjo was able to re-instate him;
but it was not so for Guinea Bissau, where the military junta that forced
the President defied Nigeria and refused to reinstate him. How do you think
this affects the image of Nigeria?
The military junta did not defy Obasanjo. It wasn't Obasanjo alone. He went
there with other leaders in the sub-region like John Kuffour of Ghana who is
the incumbent chairman of ECOWAS. What happened was that the coupists said
they would not reinstate the ousted president because he has resigned but
they acceded to the setting up of transition committee, which is currently
preparing the country for another election. The military junta is not in
How has it been as the Chairman of House Committee for Integration and
Corporation in Africa?
It is quite challenging. The treaty of the African Union was passed in 2001
and I made history being the Chairman of the House committee that saw to the
ratification of the treaty. I am happy that I am part of the history making
generation to ensure the stabilization and take-off of the African Union;
the actualization of the dreams of Pan Africanists like Kwame Nkrumah,
Nnamdi Azikiwe and Julius Nyerere.
Create Atmosphere of Dialogue, Media Practitioners Urged
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
THE director of the United Nations Information Centre in Harare, Dr
Christine Koerner, has called on the media to create an atmosphere of
dialogue in their reportage.
Dr Koerner said journalists play a critical role in ensuring that peace
prevails in the world despite people's differences.
"The United Nations itself was created in the belief that dialogue can
triumph over discord, that diversity is a universal virtue and that the
peoples of the world are far more united by their common fate than they are
divided by their separate identities," said Dr Koerner.
She was speaking at the launch of the Media and Dialogue Committee in Harare
She said the media could influence people's perceptions on life and how they
interact with each other.
A brainchild of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and different
local media personnel, the committee was launched to promote dialogue among
The committee is also meant to explore new horizons for constructive and
enriching interaction among people of various cultures.
Dr Koerner said the year 2001 was proclaimed the Year of Dialogue Among
Civilisations by the United Nations, on the initiative of Iranian President
Mr Mohammad Khatami. He said it was on this basis that the media dialogue
committee was launched.
The head of the cultural section at Iranian Embassy, Dr Amir Ahmidi, said
that the recent earthquake disaster that befell the people of Iran had
showed him how critical the media was.
"Inside this disaster we discovered the important role that the media plays
in getting across different messages and indeed ensuring that people hold
peaceful dialogues among themselves.
"That's why we received a good response from different countries, even those
that we are not in good relationships with," said Dr Ahmidi.
At least 30 000 people were killed after an earthquake destroyed much of the
south-eastern city of Bam.
The chairman of the Media and Dialogue Committee, Mr Joe Kwaramba, said the
main objective of the committee was to create a culture of dialogue among
Zimbabweans through the mass media.
"One of our assignments
in 2004 is to initiate and influence negotiations
through dialogue between political parties," said Mr Kwaramba.
He said this could be achieved through holding conferences, seminars,
television and radio panel discussions, advertising and any other mass
Shortage of Staff, Resources Affects Zrp Operations: Chihuri
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
AN acute shortage of staff and resources is affecting the smooth operations
of the police force, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has said.
He said recruitment was failing to meet demand as deaths, retirement and
resignations were very high.
The force has a staff complement of slightly over 22 000 instead of the
required 36 000.
The force also has only 1 651 all terrain defender vehicles instead of the
required 7 000.
"In the future, the ZRP will endeavour to raise its strength to 36 000. I
have, however, emphasised time and again that these setbacks should not
dilute our resolve to create a crime-free society and should not be an
excuse for mal- performance," said Comm Chihuri.
He said the police force was facing a serious shortage of uniforms and was
currently only able to provide new uniforms for recruits.
"Adequate uniforms are vital since the image of the ZRP is based on the
turnout of our officers," he said.
The ZRP recruits police officers every month. Their last passout parade for
2003 was held on December 18 last year and 334 police officers graduated.
However, most people have been accusing the police force of failing to
attend to crime scenes on time. Some people had to volunteer their own
vehicles in a bid to help them.
Comm Chihuri said he was aware that the police force was operating under a
depleting resource base.
"I am aware that the organisation is operating under a depleting resource
base, the most glaring being the shortage of fuel," he said.
"There is also a shortage of transport, as our Defender fleet is now a
"I am gratified that the Government is working on something that might
alleviate the situation in the near future," said Comm Chihuri.
He said their transport workshops required modern equipment for them to
Parallel Market Exchange Rates Take Major Knock
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
FOREIGN currency rates on the parallel market have taken a major dip as the
recently announced monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor,
Dr Gideon Gono, takes its toll against black market activities.
Major currencies like the United States dollar, which was hovering around
Z$7 000, fell a substantial 44 percent to $4 500 late last week while the
British pound slipped 67 percent to $6 000 from $10 000 during the same
The South African rand took the hardest knock from $900 to $500 against the
local unit, which represents an 80 percent slump with the Botswana pula also
falling to new levels of around $1 000 from about $1 750 prior to the
announcement of the monetary policy.
In his monetary policy statement last December, Dr Gono literally declared
war on operations of the black market, which have been suffocating the
The Governor also indicated his stern intentions of earning foreign currency
for the country through implementing a legal Auction System for trade of
foreign currency where rates would be determined by market forces.
The auction system is meant to act as a simultaneous method of enhancing
foreign exchange inflows and the subsequent eradication of the black market.
Said Dr Gono: ". . . the vision is to see the convergence of our interim
exchange and interest rate distortions into one stable currency with one
exchange rate . . . and the abolition of the black market."
Zimbabwe, currently riddled in severe foreign currency woes, has been losing
in excess of US$3 million monthly to the thriving black market where rates
can rise with much speed as they fall.
Analysts anticipate that the new auction system will finally eradicate
activities of the black market since foreign currency would now be traded
legally, with a regulatory framework.
Zimbabwe: Action Needed to Aid Mentally Ill
Regional Information Networks
January 5, 2004
Posted to the web January 5, 2004
The knot of morning commuters in Bulawayo's working class suburb of Pumula
North scattered as a frail-looking woman in ragged clothes, wielding a grass
broom in one hand and a stick in the other, bore down on them shouting
obscenities at the top of her voice.
As she passed by, the inevitable conversations sprang up in her wake about
"those people" and what the government should be doing to protect "normal"
However disturbing the encounter with the raging woman, what the
neighbourhood commentators failed to recognise was that the mentally ill are
usually the vulnerable ones.
Apart from abandonment by their families and neglect as a result of
shrinking spending on health, they also risk sexual exploitation and the
increased risk of HIV infection as AIDS awareness programmes have bypassed
According to the World Health Organisation, most middle- and low-income
countries devote less than one percent of their health expenditure to mental
health, which means that policies, legislation, community care and treatment
facilities are dismally short of resources.
The public's less than sensitive attitude towards the mentally ill is a
cause for concern. But Elizabeth Matare, national director of the Zimbabwe
National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH), believes the government
can do far more to enforce the rights of those stricken with mental,
neurological or behavioural problems and has shirked its responsibility.
"Mentally ill or retarded people are always left out of national budgets,
disease prevention and mitigation policies. The lack of laws and the
reluctance of the government in playing its part in the implementation of
the national mental health policy exposes the ill or retarded to disease,
deliberate neglect, and various forms of abuse, including sexual, which
gives rise to the issue of HIV/AIDS," said Matatre.
"The mentally ill people of Zimbabwe are not recognised in term of social
care and support systems, so there has never been a budget for them. The
National AIDS Policy, which forms the guidelines for the operation of the
National AIDS Council [NAC] has no provision for the mentally ill, yet they
are a group that suffers from AIDS just as everybody does," she recently
told a workshop in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.
According to ZIMNAMH's estimates, more than half of the country's 300,000
mentally ill are living with HIV/AIDS.
"What is alarming, however, is that the despite this majority, the National
AIDS Council, which has been in existence for three years, has never
[accepted] ZIMNAMH's [argument] for their inclusion in the national
anti-AIDS strategies. There is no AIDS education for the mentally ill, no
distribution of condoms, contraceptives or other preventives, yet these
people engage in sexual activities just like everybody," said Matare.
A spokesperson for NAC said the organisation was aware of the plight of the
mentally ill and was still considering the use of ZIMNAMH proposals as
guidelines for the formulation of a special programme in anti-AIDS
He noted that NAC "now recognises this important segment of society we had
left out. They might soon be considered in our quarterly budgets".
NAC distributes funds to local anti-AIDS campaigns through provincial
committees, which supervise district committees all the way down to the ward
At the national level, ZIMNAMH's advocacy campaign has targeted
parliamentary portfolio committees on public health, labour and social
welfare. Home affairs and justice committees have also been approached in
relation to the treatment of the mentally ill while in police custody and
inside the country's prisons.
ZIMNAMH says Zimbabwe's Mental Health Act of 1996 has never been fully
implemented, resulting in the shoddy treatment and exclusion of the mentally
ill. The act has also been criticised as being too vague - or outright
insensitive - on gender issues relating to mental illness.
The organisation argues that despite the government being a signatory to a
host of conventions on the rights of the mentally ill, mental health still
does not feature as a priority in national public health policy formulation,
and community-based health programmes remain on the drawing board.
Zimbabwe has two major referral hospitals with psychiatric sections in the
capital, Harare, and one hospital specialising in mental disorders in
However, the institutions have been hit by shortages ranging from food and
fuel to drugs and the lack of specialised personnel due to a brain drain
that has attracted some of Zimbabwe's best health professionals abroad.
Matare has called for consensus among all the role players and the creation
of a Mental Health Policy Advisory Council to formulate an alternative
South Africans care about Zim
05/01/2004 11:37 - (SA)
Cape Town - South African internet users
would most like to see a regime
change in Zimbabwe take up the news during 2004, rating more important than
seeing President Mbeki focus his sights on domestic affairs, or seeing the
rand break the R5/$ mark.
In a poll conducted on News24, 40% of the 3500 people who voted said they
would like to see Mugabe and his Zanu-PF regime replaced with new Zimbabwean
leadership in the news during 2004.
In contrast, only 18% said they would like to see President Mbeki focusing
on domestic affairs, and only 15% said they would like to see the rand break
A Springbok win came fourth in the list, with 9% of users saying they'd like
to see a positive result for the national squad during 2004.
Another 5% of respondents said they would like to see life discovered on
Mars, and an equal number said they'd like to see South Africa win the
Soccer World Cup bid.
And last but not least, 3% of those who participated in the poll said that
they'd like to see South African Aids activist Zackie Achmat take over as
minister of health.