|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
In the second city of Bulawayo, there is tight security around the courthouse, where 39 people are appearing in connection with food riots on Friday, reports the French news agency, AFP.
Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe has moved to tighten his control of the main cities, which are opposition strongholds, by announcing that he will appoint governors for both Harare and Bulawayo.
Correspondents say that governors enjoy considerable power and they are likely to be used to sideline opposition mayors in both cities.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said that about 200 people were queuing up for mealie-meal, the scare staple food, when a group of youths attacked the police who were controlling the crowd.
"In the process of controlling the crowd, some youths came and disrupted the queue resulting in four police officers being injured," Mr Bvudzijena told AFP.
Opposition supporters have been prevented from receiving food aid and even from buying food in urban areas, says the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and donor agencies.
But it is reported that activists from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were behind the disturbances in both the town of Chitungwiza, 23km south of Harare, and Bulawayo.
The privately owned Daily News reports that "Green Bombers", graduates of a government-run youth training scheme, were involved in the Chitungwiza riots.
The police said they had not identified the culprits.
In Bulawayo, a group of "war veterans" was dispersed by riot police when they tried to protest outside the courthouse on Monday.
State media have accused the "war veterans", who have been used to intimidate opposition supporters, of organising Friday's food riots.
They were apparently unhappy at the unfair distribution of food.
The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported that residents had accused grain board officials of corruptly supplying maize to unscrupulous millers, who then sold it on at exorbitant prices.
Zimbabwe's eight largely rural provinces already have governors, who also sit in parliament.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo denied that the new governors would make the opposition mayors redundant and said they would coordinate development.
But MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyati told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that it was "laughable" for the government, which had presided over a 22-year decline in services, to say it would now turn things around.
The new governors would usurp the powers of the elected mayors, he said.
Opposition parties point the finger of blame at Mr Mugabe and his government for the food shortages because of disruption caused by his controversial programme of land reform.
The president says the cause of the crisis is a combination of a drought and a Western imperialistic plot aimed at keeping power in the hands of Zimbabwe's whites.
Close to seven million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid following critical shortages countrywide
JOHANNESBURG, 6 Jan 2003 (IRIN) - A top ZANU-PF official has
called for greater transparency in the distribution of the government's grain
resources, echoing calls made by several NGOs and the opposition who have
accused the ruling party of manipulating access to supplies.
The call by Jabulani Sibanda, the ZANU-PF regional chairman in the southern city of Bulawayo, came after two clashes over the weekend between protestors and police outside government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) distribution depots.
Thirty-four people were arrested following violence at the depot in Bulawayo on Friday, reportedly between "war veterans" and police. In a similar incident, four policemen had to be treated in hospital on Sunday after clashes between youths and police monitoring a food queue in Chitungwiza, south of Harare.
"We want a transparent system and we want a local task force to distribute [food] to local people as they know the people better. They will know who received [supplies] yesterday," Sibanda told IRIN. "There should be a more transparent system because even if there is nothing to distribute, [without transparency] people will feel something is being hidden."
Sibanda refused to elaborate on alleged problems with current distribution methods, but the online Sunday News quoted him as saying: "Maize is there but it is not reaching the intended consumers but instead the maize is being used by 'big fish' to spin money."
He also reportedly accused the police of not investigating allegations of illegal maize sales after being supplied with addresses of offenders.
However, the newspaper also reported that the chairman of the provincial task force alleged that Sibanda and his "war veterans and gullible party supporters" were hampering the work of GMB officials, and that he had allegedly dissolved the government task force putting himself and "war veterans" in charge.
Sibanda denied the allegations.
The newspaper reported Nicholas Goche, the minister of state for security, as saying that a call at the recent ZANU-PF conference that war veterans be represented on local provincial task forces had been misconstrued to mean they should replace the existing task forces.
Last year the Danish organisation, Physicians for Human Rights, the Bishop of the Catholic Church in Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Association alleged in separate statements that Zimbabwe's scarce maize supplies were being distributed on party lines in some districts.
They said that in some cases residents had to produce proof of membership of the ruling party to be elible to purchase the staple food.
Denying the allegations, press secretary in the Ministry of Information, Steyn Berejena, told IRIN: "The food is distributed by the government officials but people assume that civil servants are party people, which is not the case. The problem is, we have shortages. People are not branded, they don't have marks ... how do you tell which political party they support?
"Some of these areas are undersupplied and demand is greater than supplies and when people go to the GMB they might not find grain available," Berejena said.
Last month the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) questioned the government's claim that it had imported 600,000 mt of grain, saying that shortages on the ground did not reflect this.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Monday that beef, chicken, bread, flour, maize meal, milk, and sugar continued to be absent from supermarket shelves and fuel shortages were ongoing.
In addition, soft drinks and cigarettes were now becoming scarce. There have been shortages of cash reported as well, with banks restricting amounts that can be withdrawn.
WFP said its implementing partners had distributed just under 20,000 mt of food aid during December in 32 districts.
Close to seven million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance as a result of drought and the government's controversial land reform programme.
|Starving horses rescued|
6 January 2003
The first horses rescued from starvation following the troubles in Zimbabwe have arrived in South Africa
A Scottish riding instructor who has been organising a fundraising effort to save horses caught up in the troubles in Zimbabwe has told Horse & Hound Online that the first two loads have reached South Africa safely.
Twenty-eight horses are now at a rehoming centre in Pretoria. Another load is expected later this month.
Organiser Kirsten Harris said: “It's taken two to three weeks to get them here from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. There's been a lot of problems with paperwork, veterinary tests and vaccinations which have to take place to control diseases in wildlife in Africa.”
Kirsten became involved in the project to rescue the horses via friends in Zimbabwe where horses were being left to starve or were shot by vets to put them out of misery after farmers were evicted from their land.
“It's been amazing what has been achieved by a group of women getting together by e-mail. Everybody knows somebody in the team that has put this together, with people in Harare, Bulawayo and South Africa,” said Kirsten.
“It was the fundraising in Britain which made it happen. We raised £20,000 and got another £2,000 from the ILPH.
"The rescue operation is in communication with the South African Horse Trust, which has links with the ILPH. The horses are being rehomed according to the league's guidelines.”
If you want to help this fundraising mission: The Zimbabwe Horse Rescue Fund, c/o 21, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4DS.
Comment from ZWNEWS, 6 January
The New Year message Zimbabwe needs: Mugabe fools no-one
By Michael Hartnack
For the past three years Robert Mugabe's policies and their effects have been denounced again and again as "insane." Industry has been destroyed, millions of Zimbabweans forced to emigrate, and now the onset of famine is threatening some eight million lives. To Mugabe, feted by British governments during the first decade or so after independence in 1980 and now surviving courtesy of South African President Thabo Mbeki, the lambastings must all seem dreadfully unfair. But who was more deluded: Mugabe, or those who failed to realise there was never more than a promise, a distant hope, of the sort of fair tests of public opinion which happened in Zambia in 1991 and in Kenya last week when the long-ruling KANU party was thrown out, without violence and with a vote?
In 1980, the then Anglican Bishop of Mashonaland, Paul Burrough, was one of the few who warned that the installation of Mugabe was less than a diplomatic triumph. Zimbabweans had "accepted fraud rather than return to violence", he said. Since then, the nearest Zimbabwe got to democratic workings was in 1996 when a still independent judiciary upheld the right of an outspoken, independent former member of Parliament, Margaret Dongo, to her Harare South parliamentary seat. In other respects Zimbabwe was never substantially different from Swaziland, but with various stage-managed reinforcement rituals - bogus elections in place of Swaziland's Reed Dance and the First Fruits Ceremony. Does anyone ask why South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma fails to salute the Swazi royal family, as she recently did Mugabe's Zanu PF party as a "progressive force"?
And as long as there are suckers prepared to applaud the drivel Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa gave Mbeki's African National Congress conference in Stellenbosch recently, attacking "the neo-liberal individualistic and predominantly capitalistic world view", the Zimbabwe regime will keep up the charade, no matter what the economic and human cost. It is significant Mnangagwa also bears the title Speaker of Parliament, using his powers to ensure Mugabe's rule is not seriously challenged from its benches by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Zimbabwe does not need what Mbeki calls "megaphone diplomacy". It simply needs the regime to have it made clear that the world, particularly Africa, is not fooled. The country advances into the New Year in frightful danger. Mugabe hangs on, his ambitious self-delusion reaching ever more gigantic proportions. The rational processes by which the workings of a state can normally be judged have been discredited and cast aside. All those who three years ago argued from clear economic fact "the situation cannot last another six months" have been proved wrong. Strikes, protests, petitions, have faltered in the face of individuals' daily struggle for survival.
The next phase may resemble what in currently happening in southern Malawi - where irrationality has spread to people who are incapable of articulating their misery, and denied democratic representatives who will do it for them. One man has been killed and three Catholic priests mobbed in a widening madness that vampires are sucking blood secretly from unconscious victims and giving it to aid agencies in exchange for food. Once a society gets to that state, it is too late to ask retired Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay to conduct an objective investigation and calm the public. The madhouse will have burst its doors. Mugabe was always the principal inmate. But also to blame are those, including past British governments and the ANC, who over long years claimed the madhouse was a temple of progressive modern democratic values.