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Man-made tsunami engulfs urban poor

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

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HARARE, 21 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - The physical evidence of the scale of destruction in Zimbabwe's informal settlements is plain to see: row upon row of what were once the homes of the urban poor demolished by government bulldozers or the bare hands of the residents on the orders of the police.

What is less clear are the numbers of people affected nationwide by Operation Murambatsvina ('Clean Out Garbage') - colloquially known more evocatively as "the tsunami".

Since it began in the capital, Harare, in mid-May, the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe estimates that 75,000 households have been struck - a total of around 375,000 people. The figures are based on assessments by churches and the Zimbabwe Red Cross, who are providing limited assistance to the displaced.

The government's figures are more confusing: overall numbers affected are put at 133,000 households, which would translate to 665,000 individuals; but when the figures presented for each province are calculated, the total number of households falls to 85,000, or 425,000 people.

Operation Murambatsvina began as a blitz on unlicensed street markets and traders "to rid the capital of illegal structures, businesses and criminal activities". It quickly expanded to encompass unapproved housing and illegal extensions to homes owned or rented by the poor across the country, with armed police deployed to enforce eviction orders and government officials insisting that the victims return to their rural home areas.


Beyond the numbers are the individual tragedies of people swept away by the suddenness and scale of the operation. Four weeks on, 34-year-old Oscar Mutume*, a former security guard and father of three, was still visibly shaken by the experience, and concern for his family's future.

He had been living in Hatcliffe Extension, 20 km north of Harare, a settlement that had received the official blessing of the government, with a water supply system funded by the World Bank. It had "decent shelter, toilets, a clinic, shops and was near the bus terminus", said Mutume.

Hatcliffe was established in 1993, when the government settled people evicted a year earlier from the farm of an opposition leader who had allocated them free stands. Residents were granted stands and leases from 2000 onward, but because some were unable to afford permanent structures and connection to services, the authorities deemed them illegal - even though most of the homeowners had been paying fees to the city council.

For the past three weeks Mutume's home has been a two-by-two metre hovel made of donated plastic sheeting at Caledonia Farm, a holding camp for the displaced 15 km east of Harare. His children are out of school, he fears the authorities may force him to move again and, after missing the monthly distribution of relief food by the World Food Programme, his own small supply of pumpkins and maize-meal is running out.

"I'm not settled in my mind," said Mutume, arms crossed, head bowed. When the police first came to Hatcliffe Extension they told residents to remove the roofing and wooden sidings from their homes, which they burnt. For a week Mutume and his family slept out in the open, in the cold of mid-winter, until the police returned. "They said 'We don't want to see anybody here', and put us on a transport and drove us here."

He was forced to sell some of his belongings at knockdown prices, but still frets over the goods, like his plastic sheeting, that he had to leave behind. To an unemployed security guard this represents an investment, and he insists he will not leave Harare without it.

More than 4,500 people shelter on the sloping farmland of Caledonia, many of them originally from Hatcliffe. Some have been there for as long as a month - in what was supposed to be a transit stop lasting only a few days - relying on basic services supplied by the UN and NGOs, including food, water, sanitation and blankets.

On Thursday the Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo, and Minister of State for Policy Implementation Webster Shamu, visited Caledonia and announced the camp would close. Those with lease agreements at Hatcliffe, or had been allotted stands at new government developments, had been paying dues to registered housing cooperatives, or could prove they had jobs in Harare, would be allowed to return to their communities. Everybody else would be removed to their rural areas.

"Those people from Hatcliffe are going back to a worse situation - not only have their houses been destroyed, but also the services. What about the water? What about the sanitation?" asked one aid worker. The demolition at Hatcliffe included an orphanage and an AIDS centre.

While Caledonia appears set to close, the police in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, raided church compounds on Wednesday night where 300 displaced were sheltering, and transported them to the official holding camp at Hellensvale.

In Mutare and Odzi in eastern Manicaland, the police were also this week clearing former commercial farm labourers who had squatted on land belonging to newly settled farmers, humanitarian officials said.

Not far from Caledonia is Belapezi Farm, a new section of Epworth, an established settlement on church land that had existed before independence. In 2001 the commercial farm was taken over by ruling party supporters encouraged by the government as part of its controversial land reform programme, and stands were distributed through a housing cooperative.

It is extremely cold in the evenings and when IRIN visited, Bertina Ndlovu was sheltering behind a low wall built from salvaged bricks, warming herself by a small fire, a nine-month-old baby strapped to her back. It was dark and eerily quiet; Ndlovu said she was a little scared as her husband, with a job in town, would not be back until around 8.00 pm, "depending on transport" - a reference to the country's crippling fuel shortages.

There were 500 families at Belapezi, but only 350 have hung on since the police ordered the demolition of their houses on 16 June. "We have no alternative place to live - this is our home - we have never been established in the rural areas," she said.

Ndlovu, a young woman in her twenties, explained that the police had initially ordered them to leave the area, "but then we heard we could stay, and wait and see what the housing cooperative could do ... We'll leave this place only after being told of a final decision on whether we'll be given alternative accommodation".

The official rationale for Operation Murambatsvina was that unplanned and illegal housing had placed an enormous burden on water and sewerage systems, and were a health hazard. President Robert Mugabe told parliament in June the "vigorous cleanup campaign" was to restore "sanity and order in urban and other areas".

Lawyer and opposition shadow economic minister Tendai Biti countered that the programme was an attack on the poor, made no sense in an economy with only 20 percent formal employment, and was illegal in Zimbabwean law.

Although an injunction to halt the demolitions was rejected by a high court judge, Biti insisted that the evictions clearly flouted legal requirements obliging local authorities to apply to a housing court for an eviction order, and ignored the tenants' right of appeal.

According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, many of those whose homes had been destroyed held valid lease agreements. Eyewitnesses told IRIN that in some instances the police had not consulted city-planning maps and had ordered the demolition of property at their own discretion.


Zimbabwe, with a population of 11.5 million, has a housing backlog of around 2 million units. In 2002 the Harare city council had a waiting list of 300,000, with people expected to renew their application each year.

But acquiring a stand is not the end of the problem for the urban poor, analysts point out. Interest rates are around 200 percent, building permission requires paying for costly architectural plans, while proper construction materials are extremely expensive.

As a result, the hard-up have taken to living where they can: illegal extensions to existing property rented out per room; crowded backyard shacks and brick-built "cottages".

The authorities had "previously done little to enforce the building by-laws in relation to these informal settlements", said a report on Operation Murambatsvina by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

Along with turning a blind eye to building code infringements, the government had also tolerated the informal sector as Zimbabwe's economic decline accelerated from the late 90s. Some of the markets razed and torched by the police - which had provided livelihoods for many of those now displaced - had previously been opened by government officials.

Harare has more than 10 major informal settlements. According to the Combined Harare Residents Association, prior to the cleanup, over half of the city's estimated three million residents were living in makeshift accommodation.

One of the oldest informal settlements is Porta Farm, 18 km west of the city centre, and home to some of Zimbabwe's poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

It was meant to have been a temporary camp for accommodating the homeless cleared out of the capital by the image-conscious authorities when Queen Elizabeth II visited Harare to open the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in 1991.

Fourteen years later, the 7,500 residents have still not been officially recognised as a community, compounding their squalor: there are no government-run health facilities, electricity or piped water; instead, NGOs provide basic services.

More than half the households affected by the government's demolition between 27 and 29 June are still living out in the open amid the wreckage of their homes; some have taken to burrowing into the clay soil as protection from the cold and rain. The area looks like the aftermath of urban combat.

Regardless of the conditions, community leader Felistas Chinuku said she was staying put at Porta Farm. The community had won two court orders in 1995 and 2004 against their eviction and, through Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was now suing the police commissioner and the authorities for damages arising out of the destruction of the settlement.

"We're staying here until they give us homes," she said firmly.


The response by people affected by Operation Murambatsvina has, inevitably, been mixed. Some have preferred to stay put in their neighbourhoods, hoping the government will change its policy, or are unable to afford transport; others have moved in with family and friends, or found alternative accommodation and are prepared to pay the inflated rents demanded by landlords.

An unknown number have gone back to what officials insist every Zimbabwean should have - a rural home.

But, like many other Zimbabweans, 25-year-old Tabitha Mbayi does not have roots in the rural areas. She was born in Harare, lived in Hatcliffe, and her parents are with her in Caledonia Farm where her second child, Kudakwashi (God's will), was born two weeks ago.

She does have grandparents in Morewa, 60 km northeast of Harare, but doesn't think they would welcome her family, as the rural areas are struggling to cope with yet another poor harvest that threatens 4.5 million people with hunger.

And there is another problem: the grandparents would expect her to stay with her husband's relatives, and although he was also born in Harare, his parents were originally from Malawi, a common genealogy in a region with historically strong migration patterns.

An assessment by the UN in conjunction with the government and NGOs to determine the humanitarian impact of the forced evictions finally began this week. Five locations in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Mutare and Kariba were chosen to gauge conditions and map potential needs.

The assessment follows a two-week visit this month by the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, who has presented her report to Kofi Annan. UN spokesperson Marie Okabe said on Monday: "The Secretary-General is increasingly concerned by the human rights and humanitarian impact of the recent demolitions of what the government of Zimbabwe has called 'illegal settlements'."

In Zimbabwe the humanitarian community is especially alarmed at the impact of the demolitions on the vulnerable - child-headed households, the elderly, the infirm and people infected with HIV.

According to one NGO helping with rural orphans, although the most direct impact of Operation Murambatsvina has been felt in urban areas, there has been a ripple effect in the countryside.

"Particularly on access to education," noted an aid worker, who asked not to be named. "Children often go to school in urban or peri-urban areas and lodge there during the week. Inevitably the lodging is in cheap accommodation, which has been affected."


In Zimbabwe 21 percent of the adult population is HIV positive, down from 25 percent in 2003. While the destruction by the police of the AIDS centre in Hatcliffe, which helped 600 people, dramatically underlined the plight of those living with the virus, for most Zimbabweans the HIV/AIDS repercussions of the forced removals will be more insidious.

Bertha Matema, 45, is HIV-positive and a volunteer home-based care worker at The Centre, an HIV/AIDS NGO with 4,500 registered clients. She had lived in Westlea, 7 km west of Harare, but has now moved to Dzivaresekwa, further out of the city, after being homeless for the past month.

Of the 11 people she was responsible for in the Westlea area, she can only trace six, and because of the distance she has to travel from Dzivaresekwa, is no longer able to keep in contact. Bertha said she was suffering from stress and high blood pressure - major accelerators of the virus. "It's like killing people; it's like finishing them off."

Lynde Francis, who runs The Centre, is in no doubt that, as a result of the clean-up campaign, successes made in fighting HIV/AIDS will be irrevocably set back.

"We will see an increase in prevalence, an increase in mortality, an increase in resistance to the virus, and we will see a lot more violence against girls and women - it's already happening: husbands beating up their wives because they allowed their houses or tuck shops to be destroyed."

Around 8,000 Zimbabweans are on treatment - 6,000 through a free public programme. The most widely used first-line antiretroviral (ARV) drug regimen is the generic combination therapy, Triomune, which is sensitive to treatment interruption. If a patient becomes resistant to Triomune, the second-line regimen is four times the cost.

In the rural areas the health services are understaffed, under-resourced and struggle to provide even basic care, Francis noted. ARVs, which require treatment support and a full stomach, are unavailable.

"The main thing [about the clean-up] is that girls are going to be very much more vulnerable now, and the only thing they have to sell is sex," she said. "They are going to accept less payment and accept no condoms because they are desperate."


While the government has framed Operation Murambatsvina solely in terms of urban regeneration, its critics insist that its goal has been primarily political.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alleges that it was designed to destroy the party's urban support base, relocate people to the rural areas where they would be under the sway of ruling party-aligned chiefs, and forestall popular protest by the poor as the food crisis deepens.

However, there have been reports of chiefs not wanting to accept the displaced, given the increasing hardships in the countryside, while settlements occupied by former war veterans - staunch ZANU-PF supporters who led the land invasions and represent the radical wing of the party - were also demolished in the cleanup.

Some analysts have suggested that the attack on the informal sector was the result of the government's determination to kill the parallel market and mop up the foreign currency it so desperately needs.

If that were the case, it would be a huge misreading of the significance of the informal sector, said Biti. It is generally agreed that the parallel market used to generate 35 percent of GDP, but the MDC shadow minister suggested the real figure could by now be 60 percent - almost double.

"What's really been supporting the economy has been the informal sector," he said. "They should have regularised it."

Sam Moyo, director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies, widely regarded as close to the government, has written a paper offering an alternative reading of Operation Murambatsvina.

Although "on the face of it, it was a mess, it shouldn't have happened", he sees the cleanup as the response to three interlinked goals: the reassertion of state authority and the reigning in of radical elements within the party; the regulation of the economy and a crackdown on corruption; and the restoration of functioning services to the cities.

"There was a misreading of the effect, and the execution snowballs into this militaristic thing," he said.

At the end of June the government announced the end of Murambatsvina and the launch of a Zim $3 trillion (US $300 million) Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle ('Stay well') to accommodate the people affected by the cleanup, and construct factory shells and market stalls.

The official Herald newspaper reported that 10,000 housing stands would be developed at White Cliff Farm - which the government expropriated after the owner objected - and had 62 other farms ready for housing development.

But why Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle was not launched before Operation Murambatsvina as part of a strategic programme for low-cost housing and urban renewal, and where the government intends to source the funding for the project, are issues that have been seized on by its detractors.

"In the face of multiple statements condemning events in Zimbabwe, the government now talks hurriedly of vast sums for housing; even if the money were in fact to materialise - and there is no reflection in the existing parliamentary approved budgets that the money is there - it will take years of work to build sufficient houses for the displaced," said a report by Solidarity Peace Trust, an NGO representing Southern African church leaders.

* Certain names have been changed

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Las Vegas Sun

Four Clergymen Detained in Zimbabwe Raid

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -

Police raided church halls in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, rounding up
people sheltering there since their homes were destroyed in a hated urban
renewal drive that has displaced hundreds of thousands, church leaders said

At least four clergymen were detained in Wednesday's raids in Bulawayo,
which came ahead of the anticipated release of a U.N. report on the
demolition campaign.

The government of President Robert Mugabe defends the campaign as a cleanup
drive in overcrowded, crime-ridden slums. The opposition says it is aimed at
breaking up its strongholds among the urban poor and forcing them into rural
areas where they can be more easily controlled by chiefs sympathetic to the

Police raided nine churches in Bulawayo overnight, arresting between 50 and
100 people at each, said the Rev. Kevin Thompson of the city's Presbyterian

"It was pretty brutal and horrific," he said. "They had elderly folk, and
they were piling them onto vehicles; they were frog-marching children ...
who had been asleep, and Bulawayo is very cold at the moment."

South African Methodist Bishop Rubin Phillip said four clergymen were
briefly detained for questioning, one of them when he apparently tried to
take photographs of the police action.

Those removed were believed to have been taken to a transit camp known as
Helensvale in Umguza, about 20 miles west of Bulawayo, Phillip said.

Many of those who initially sought shelter in churches already had moved to
Helensvale voluntarily after clergymen were assured they would continue to
have access to them there.

But on Tuesday, police interrupted Pastor Albert Chitendo as he was
conducting a service at Helensvale and ordered him to leave, Phillip said.
Church leaders have been barred from the camp since then, he said.

Police have torched and bulldozed shantytowns, informal markets and other
structures deemed illegal since launching the campaign on May 19. Vendors
accused of black-market dealing also have been arrested or had their goods
confiscated. Independent estimates of the number affected range from 300,000
to over a million.

About 20,000 people had their homes destroyed in Hatcliffe on the northern
outskirts of the capital in May. Many were given just 30 minutes to pack and
forced at gunpoint to tear down their own houses. Some of those displaced
were allowed to returned to Hatcliffe on Thursday, state media reported.

Local government minister Ignatius Chombo told Parliament the government
would help the displaced rebuild but warned that any returnees who fail to
meet state building standards would be evicted again.

Many of the displaced also lost their livelihoods and do not have the means
to rebuild, she added.

Mugabe's government has promised $325 million for the reconstruction effort,
but economists question whether the funds are available at a time of
economic crisis.

Last month, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent an envoy to assess the
humanitarian impact of the campaign.

Anna Tibaijuka, the Tanzanian head of U.N. Habitat, submitted her report
earlier this week. A copy was also sent to Mugabe for review before it is
made public, expected on Friday or Monday.

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Homeless Zimbabweans moved back to shacks
          July 21 2005 at 12:46PM

      The Zimbabwean government has started moving some former slum dwellers
left homeless by a controversial demolition campaign back to what remains of
their destroyed shacks, state television reported on Wednesday.

      "What is happening is that those from Hatcliffe Extension who have
lease agreements are being asked to return to their old stands," said police
inspector Garikai Marange, referring to a once densely populated shanty

      Marange, who is in charge of a transit camp on the outskirts of the
capital Harare, added: "About 100 people have left the camp so far. We have
between 200 and 300 people and they are very happy to go back to their

      Otto Saki of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it was not clear
whether they were going to stay or if this was just another political

      "The other question is what is the government going to do about
property they destroyed and the families who have moved to their rural
homes. Are they going to compensate everyone affected?"

      Bands of armed police have gone on the rampage in the past two months
in major towns across Zimbabwe, demolishing and torching backyard shacks and
makeshift shop stalls. - Sapa-AFP

      This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus on July
21, 2005
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Mail and Guardian

      Zim central bank devalues currency by 40%

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      21 July 2005 05:10

            Zimbabwe's central bank on Thursday massively devalued the local
currency in a bid to increase inflows of scarce foreign currency as the
country battles to find hard cash to pay for fuel, food and electricity.

            The Zimbabwe dollar was devalued by 40% from about Z$12 500 to
Z$17 500 to the United States dollar, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
Governor Gideon Gono announced in a monetary policy statement.

            "The rate that's now going to be given to exporters is Z$17 500
per US dollar," Gono said, adding that the same rate will apply to anyone
who exchanges foreign currency at commercial banks in Zimbabwe.

            The devaluation is the second in just two months. In May, Gono
announced a devaluation from Z$6 400 to Z$10 000 to the greenback. The
central bank later said anyone changing hard cash with local banks would be
given a 25% bonus, taking the effective rate of exchange to Z$12 500 to the
US currency.

            However, the new rate is still significantly less than the
black-market rate for the US dollar, which is reported to be about Z$25 000.

            Gono said the devaluation is one of several "bold moves"
Zimbabwe is taking to halt the country's economic decline.

            Zimbabwe's economy has experienced more than five years of
economic recession. Annual inflation is currently estimated at more than
164% and is one of the highest rates in the world.

            Gono said battling inflation will continue to be a priority. He
promised inflation will start to tail off by September, and was optimistic
about reducing it to double digits by year-end.

            News of the devaluation comes amid reports that the Zimbabwe
government has been making efforts to secure a loan from its economically
powerful neighbour, South Africa.

            Zimbabwe has not been granted international loans for several
years, mainly due to concerns from Western donor nations over the
government's human rights record.

            Harare owes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about
$300-million, and there have been unconfirmed reports that Zimbabwe is in
imminent danger of expulsion from the international lender over the unpaid

            But Gono said on Thursday the RBZ is now repaying the IMF
$9-million every three months, up from $1,5-million every quarter.

            In a surprise move, Gono also announced that the RBZ will
designate fuel stations throughout the country that will sell fuel for one
US dollar per litre in order to ease a critical shortage that has seen no
significant fuel deliveries in Zimbabwe for the past two months.

            Zimbabwe's foreign currency market is tightly regulated, but
Gono said "no questions will be asked as to where one got his or her foreign
currency" to buy fuel.

            Thursday's edition of the state-controlled Herald reported that
Zimbabwe's national airline has had to cancel international and domestic
flights due to shortages of jet fuel. -- Sapa-DPA

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Zimbabwe airline suspends flights amid fuel crisis

July 21, 2005, 16:45

Zimbabwe's national airline has been forced to suspend some domestic and
international flights as a fuel crisis bites, state media reported today.

The southern African nation is grappling with its worst fuel crisis in years
with petrol stations remaining dry for weeks, forcing many urban commuters
to walk to and from work. The crisis has also hit production in the
manufacturing sector and slowed annual tobacco deliveries.

Flights suspended,
"Some flights were suspended while some are operational as usual," the
official Herald newspaper quoted David Mwenga, Air Zimbabwe's spokesperson,
as saying. He did not give details on the suspended flights.

The Herald quoted an official at the national carrier as saying the
cancelled flights included those to the resort town of Victoria Falls, South
Africa and London. It said a London-bound flight was delayed on yesterday
for nearly seven hours as "officials ran around to find the scarce
commodity". Airline officials were not immediately available for comment.

Zimbabwe requires 2.5 million litres of diesel and 2 million litres of fuel
every day, but imports have been erratic since 1999 amid foreign currency
shortages due to poor exports. The fuel woes have exacerbated an economic
crisis with food shortages, record unemployment and one of the highest rates
of inflation in the world.

A spokesperson for Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, has said the
government was seeking credit lines from South African and Asian allies to
revive the economy as Western donors withhold aid. - Reuters
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Tsvangirai seeks to dissolve MDC executive

July 21, 2005, 15:30

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader, is making moves to dissolve the party's national executive and
reduce the powers of Welshman Ncube, his secretary general. Insiders say
Tsvangirai, whom they say has been losing his grip after losing the March
parliamentary elections, wants to retain absolute control of the party and
crush existing dissent ahead of the party's congress to be held next year.
The moves are the latest in the party's simmering power struggles.

The MDC leader believes a lot of people are making unilateral decisions
without consulting him. Among them is Ncube, whom people close to Tsvangirai
believe has aspirations to become party leader. Tsvangirai is not talking to
the SABC. However, those close to him say a strong faction aligned to Ncube
is now being targeted. Those not aligned to either faction believe
Tsvangirai is being misinformed by some of his immediate advisors, among
them trade unionists who worked with him prior to the formation of the MDC,
who may feel threatened by people like Ncube.

"There is no infighting within the MDC, even if we were to go for congress
tomorrow, Morgan Tsvangirai will be returned as the undisputed leader of the
party. I know not of anyone who wishes to have him removed," Ncube has said.

Analysts say the reported in-fighting within the MDC is normal within any
political party. "Others want to run more than others and the general
frustration because of the difficulties people are facing within the MDC,"
said Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe.

Political players are curious to see how these simmering tensions may impact
on the party's chances of posing a real challenge to the ruling Zanu(PF).
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SA media slams Zim media ban

  Basildon Peta
          July 21 2005 at 07:42PM

      South African media has expressed outrage at a Zimbabwe government
decision to deny the Harare Daily News a licence and called for a tougher
South African stance on its northern neighbour.

      The SA media spoke as publishers of the Daily News prepared court
action against the Media and Information Commission (MIC) over its decision
to reject a second Daily News application to resume publishing.

      Daily News chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo said the newspaper, which
was initially banned in September 2003, would go to the administrative court
seeking a specific order over-turning the MIC's Monday decision to deny the
newspaper a licence for the second time.

         The MIC refused the Daily News a licence for among other things
having used "unaccredited journalists" before it was banned.

      The Supreme Court had set aside the MIC's refusal to register the two
newspapers in March and ordered it to give Daily News publishers another
opportunity to apply for a licence.

      Veteran journalist and Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA -
South African Chapter) Raymond Louw said he was outraged by the spurious
reasons advanced by the MIC for refusing to allow the Daily News to resume

      Zimbabwean media organisations have also united in condemning the
MIC. - Independent Foreign Service

      This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on July
21, 2005
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ZIMBABWE: Police forcibly remove homeless from church compounds
      21 Jul 2005 18:26:14 GMT

      Source: IRIN

BULAWAYO, 21 July (IRIN) - Zimbabwean police on Thursday forcibly removed
hundreds of homeless people from churches in Bulawayo and banned religious
groups from providing humanitarian assistance to those seeking shelter at
Hellensvale, a transit camp north of Zimbabwe's second city.

The camp was set up as a temporary measure to house hundreds of desperate
families who lost their homes in the government's crackdown on illegal
settlements in urban areas.

In a midnight raid police descended on churches in the city where more than
300 people were sheltering and escorted them to the camp, raising fears of
overcrowding that could spark a humanitarian crisis.

Church leaders, who were helping the homeless to relocate to Hellensvale,
said they were saddened by the latest development and accused the government
of a "total disregard of the law and perpetrating human rights violations".

The clergy were also concerned that living conditions at the camp would to
deteriorate, as they were instructed not to provide food to the displaced.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Thursday the clergy said: "The
removal of the poor, innocent, weak, voiceless and vulnerable members of
society by riot police in the middle of the night was uncalled for and
unnecessary. It is inhumane, brutal and insensitive, and in total disregard
of human rights and dignity.

"These people are not criminals but bona fide citizens of this nation. It
seems the crime they committed is that they are poor."

Reverend Raymond Motsi, the spokesperson for a coalition of church groups,
told IRIN that facilities at the camp could cater for a maximum of 300

"It is worrying to think how overcrowded these places are and since we have
been banned from the camp, their needs are not catered for," Motsi pointed

Information minister Tichaona Jokonya has refused to comment on the latest
round of evictions.

Zimbabwe has been widely condemned for its destruction of informal
settlements, but has defended the move, saying it was aimed at rooting out
criminal elements.

An estimated 375,000 people have been affected by the "cleanup" programme.

Despite a public announcement on Sunday that the government had halted the
demolitions, the programme is still underway in some parts of the country.
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Mugabe under Siege

The past few weeks have been very interesting in Zimbabwe. The G8 summit
and the AU meting in Libya have come and gone and all the while the
economic and political situation in Zimbabwe has been rapidly

If we had hoped that the Zimbabwe crisis would be dealt with at these
summits we were always going to be disappointed. After all we are a
minnow in world and even in African affairs and just a "bloody nuisance"
everywhere else. But there can be little doubt that at the end of this
process of global consultation and internal implosion, Mugabe is now
under siege. The question is can he lift the siege, and if so who will
help him do so because he no longer has the strength to lift it by

The key events in the imposition of the siege have been the visits to
West Africa and South Africa by Morgan Tsvangirai, subsequent
consultations at the AU and in Britain on the sidelines of both meetings
and then the commencement of a series of pressure actions by the UN -
coordinated through the office of the Secretary General. The latter
started with a statement in New York by James Morris that the Zimbabwe
situation was rapidly evolving into the worst humanitarian crisis in the
world. Then a panel of experts in matters concerned with humanitarian
issues condemned what was happening here and finally the Director of
Habitat - the UN agency responsible for shelter, was dispatched with an
instruction that she was to investigate and review the "clean up"
operation here and report to the Secretary General.

The latter report is not out but it is clear that its contents have been
leaked to key States and this has already spurred the South Africans to
urge Mugabe to halt the destruction of informal sector homes and

But all of this pressure would have not translated into a siege without
the evolving economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe itself. After
7 years of decline in national economic output and a collapse of export
activity to less than a third of the level achieved in 1997, the country
is no longer generating sufficient resources to either fund government
activity or to finance the import of essential supplies. The recent
purchase by the State of about US$600 million worth of arms, military
equipment and aircraft have just compounded this crisis.

Up to now the worst effects of this fall in economic activity has been
muted by falling consumption as both the population and the economy has
shrunk and by the ability of the State to obtain credit from the
domestic financial markets and South Africa. But as a consequence of the
former activity, national debt now stands at an extraordinary level
equal to about two years GDP while our foreign debt has continued to
grow because we are not servicing the interest it is attracting. This
alone now exceeds GDP by at least 40 per cent. This is simply
unsustainable and the State continues to soak up domestic borrowings at
an astonishing rate.

Government can still print money - the resultant inflation destroys
peoples savings and wealth, but if you do not give a damn about either,
so what?
What they cannot print is hard currency and it is in this sphere where
the crunch has finally come. We need about US$3 billion a year in
imports to maintain our economy. In the past this came from capital
inflows, foreign aid, exports and other sources such as transfers from
abroad by Zimbabweans living in other countries. With exports only
expected to reach about US$1,1 billion this year and foreign aid
virtually non existent and with the failure of the "Homelink" scheme
designed to attract cash inflows from the Diaspora into the Reserve Bank
system, actual foreign exchange resources becoming available through
official channels has shrunk and stood at a mere
US$385 million in the first five months of the year.

While official resources through the Reserve Bank system have dried up
the Government has clamped down hard on all informal sector activity.
This has driven this market underground and diminished returns to the
Diaspora resulting in a fall in these receipts and a subsequent fall in
domestic spending by local beneficiaries. It has also meant that
companies, who had filled the gaps in their procurement programmes with
informal sector trader'
s assistance, now shunned these routes for fear of prosecution.

As a result Zimbabweans now face a wide range of shortages - flour and
maize meal are rationed, soap and soap powder are unobtainable.
Vegetable fats and oils are in critical short supply and commonplace
items such as matches are no longer available because of foreign
exchange shortages. Fuel shortages may be the most obvious of these
shortages but they are just one of the mores serious. Medical supplies
are critically in short supply as are all protein foods.

Economic activity is now gradually closing down - companies cannot
source fuel, raw materials, spare parts and many are faced with closure.
Traffic is at very low levels - great for the environment and parking -
but bad for everything else. If you produce something you cannot move it
to the market.
There is so much panic in the country it is reported that when Zambia
imported fuel from Kuwait and used the Beira to Harare pipeline to bring
it to Harare for subsequent movement to Lusaka, the Zimbabwean
government commandeered the consignment and has not paid for it - you
can imagine the fury in Zambia and in the international oil industry!

And so Mugabe is under siege - the AU has decided he is a liability, the
South Africans want him to go, the UN is about to launch a broadside and
the global community has intensified its isolation of the regime. Now
the markets are fighting back inside the country and he cannot fight
back without external help. To compound these problems the split in Zanu
PF is final - the Munangagwa camp has been isolated and pushed out of
all power circles. This reduces Zanu to a Zezuru minority Party and
further diminishes its chances of long term survival.

Will Mugabe get the help he needs? I doubt it very much, the South
Africans want their pound of flesh for every dime and the Chinese are
simply too savvy. No one else will even entertain the man let alone give
him a billion US dollars. Zanu spokespersons say they need the money to
"pay the IMF to avoid expulsion". That is claptrap - there is little or
no prospect of the IMF expelling Zimbabwe - for that they would need a
majority vote among member States and that is unlikely. No they need the
money to lift the siege and to maintain payments on the gravy train.
Anyone who does that needs their heads read and does immense harm to the
real interests of this country and the region as a whole.

What is needed now is an exercise designed to return Zimbabwe to
democracy and the rule of law - the rest will sort itself out in time.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 19th July 2005.
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The Zimbabwean

Just what is the 'national interest'?
HARARE - The minister of information, trying to 'clarify' the role of the
media in Zimbabwe, told journalists recently they should be 'patriotic' and
act 'in the national interest'. But what is 'patriotic' at the present time?
Telling people that to destroy their homes is in their best interest?
As usual, government fails to tell the difference between the state (and its
constitution which is permanent) and the government / ruling party of the
day (changeable). This mental confusion does not 'clarify' anything.

According to this view, the interest of the party in power equals the
"national interest". Anyone not supporting the claim to absolute power of
the ruling party is not "patriotic".
What is excluded is the very real possibility that it may be in the true
"national interest" to remove the party at present in power from government
and elect someone else.

If you accept the "national interest" as your highest value you may well
justify extremely dangerous government action in the international scene,
e.g. military adventures for the self-enrichment of the rulers.

Rights of individual citizens can be disregarded in the "national interest".
The life of the poor may be sacrificed in the "national interest", as
happens at present in the "Murambatsvina" campaign (now called
 "Murambavanhu" by many).

Media ethics demands a key role for the CONSCIENCE of the individual media
worker. Significantly, conscience was never mentioned by our top media

Journalists without a conscience are mere propagandists who have sold their
souls to the powers that be, mercenaries who have hired themselves out to
the highest bidder.
Such hirelings running our media is not in the "national interest". - In
Touch, Jesuit Communications.
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The Zimbabwean

It's all about power - and money

Not content with making a million people homeless, the Zanu (PF) government
appears to be determined to inflict pain on urban dwellers throughout
Zimbabwe who had the temerity to vote for the opposition during the last
Despite announcing a 10-day grace period to give low-density urban dwellers
a chance to regularize their building plans, the police went on regardless
and destroyed a building on the western fringes of Harare's central business
district at the weekend. Why that particular building, on the corner of
Speke Avenue and Luck Street, remains a mystery.

The misnamed Operation Murambatsvina is expected to resume at full strength
in 10 days time. The reprieve, we believe, is to allow party faithfuls and
government officials to sort out their own property plans in order to exempt
them from destruction.

As corruption is now a way of life in Zimbabwe, you can be sure a lot of
money will change hands during this grace period as people scramble to get
the requisite copies of building plans from municipal offices around the
country - assuming, of course, that such records still exist. We understand
that residents are being asked to supply the plans for houses built 50 and
60 years ago. In most instances, the current owners have no idea where the
original plans are or even of the identity of the original builders.

On our front page this week we have a picture of an office block behind the
Sam Levy Village shopping center in Borrowdale. This entire complex is
beautiful, well maintained and an asset to the area - but it was built
without the requisite town planning permission and in the face of stiff
opposition from local residents.

The then minister of local government and housing, the late Enos Chikowore,
somehow got involved in circumstances that have never been explained - and
construction of the complex went ahead. Last week a spokesman for the city
council vowed the place would be demolished under the terms of operation
"clean-up". We doubt it.

For some time in Zimbabwe now there has been one law for the poor and
vulnerable and another for the rich and powerful. Mugabe might rant on about
black and white but that actually has nothing to do with it. It is all about

The residents of Hatcliffe, Killarney, Mbare and Chitungwiza were not given
10 days to regularize their building permits. The bulldozers simply arrived
and they had to salvage what they could from the wreckage. We know of some
who produced their carefully-kept permits, duly signed and stamped, from tin
trunks beneath their beds. But these were rudely disregarded and the
bulldozers roared on ruthlessly.

The country has ground to a halt. There is no fuel. Those trying to run
businesses, both large and small, are being thwarted in their efforts at
every turn. The rationale behind Operation Murambatsvina, so we are told, is
to beautify the cities. The municipalities have no fuel with which to
collect mounting piles of stinking refuse throughout these cities - will
someone please explain where the fuel is found to keep the diesel-guzzling
bulldozers on their path of destruction?
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The Zimbabwean

No longer at ease
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices;
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

The repeated 'and' in the middle of this extract from T.S.Eliot's Journey of
the Magi suggests an accumulation of woes as the wise men search for the new
born king. The poem describes a particular journey familiar to all who know
the Christmas story. But it also describes a human experience repeated
constantly in human history: people on the move in search for a new way of
life. The Magi did not have to set out. We are not told anyone destroyed
their 'illegal' dwellings or that they were 'criminal elements' involved in
'black market trading.' But, in another sense, they did have to set out.
They were caught up in a new hope for humanity. They had to set out, as
Abraham did, 'without knowing where they were going' (Hebrews 11:8), for the
sake of all who would follow them.

Thousands of people in Zimbabwe are on the move. Many do not know where they
are going. Their fathers came here for work in Federation times and they
have no rural home to go to. Yes, Mr. Gwindi, 'people came from somewhere'
but so long ago that they do not now know from where. Even some of those who
do have family in the rural areas are not being welcomed. Relatives say,
'you are only remembering us now because you are in trouble.' Others move to
relatives in town but then there is over crowding and 'charging high prices.'
Others seek desperately to prove their buildings are legal but they need
fuel to go and fetch the plans. And there is no fuel - except for police
vehicles and bulldozers. Some spend the night in the open 'for lack of
shelters' and with 'night-fires going out.'

The accumulation of sorrows mount and worst of all is the feeling of
helplessness. The Zimbabwean carried an appeal to Nelson Mandela recently to
intervene. But that 'most gracious of men' - as the Queen of England called
him in a Christmas broadcast - could well reply, 'my friend who appointed me
your judge, or the arbiter of your claims?' (Luke 12:14) So we are thrown
back on ourselves.

Eliot ends his poem:

I had seen birth and death,
But had though they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation .
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The Zimbabwean

Doomed or damned?
LONDON - I have heard that some Zimbabweans - originally a few white
people - were being referred to as "the Jews of Africa" when all the
displacement mayhem began. This description may also be a little extreme,
considering that there is no planned mass extermination program of an ethnic
minority - as far as we know, that is.
But indigenous Zimbabweans are dying right now, and there will be more
deaths, not natural or AIDS-related, make no mistake about that. The
displacement in Zimbabwe has moved to encompass great swathes of urban

Carrying little but a few hastily packed possessions, they shuffle slowly
towards camps, obeying orders but ignorant of the true purpose behind their
displacement. To carry the analogy just a little further, their only 'crime'
has been their capacity to make a living in an environment far from their
ancestral homes. What is most sinister about the Zimbabwean predicament is
the contrived invisibility of politically-induced dying: the lies and
denials in parliament, (read Hansard last week), the gagged press, the cover
up, the refusal to admit entry into Zimbabwe of possibly impartial
witnesses - even those who have been perceived as supporters of the ruling

The victims are doomed, or is it damned. Who knows how to express it? It
would seem as if our people are obeying an almost lemming-like compulsion to
move towards oblivion. no mad bloodletting, just the fear of it. There are
armed policemen inexplicably compliant, unbelievably callous, seemingly
indifferent to the fact that they are engaged in acts of utmost depravity.

There is another issue which this week's cornucopia of comment and opinion
in The Zimbabwean has inspired. It is a reminder that the Marxists who did
so much to appraise Africa of its underdevelopment, ostensibly at the hands
of Europe (remember Walter Rodney's 'How Europe Underdeveloped Africa'?) are
still out there, drawing their convoluted conclusions.

Firozi Manji's "Making Looting History" was an arresting title, but I was
misled into believing that I would read about how African leaders might be
urged to desist from looting their people. Manji correctly analyses some
historical looting by the Europeans following the 'scramble for Africa' in
the late 19th century and onwards, but his view that today's Europe is still
bent on making huge, exploitative profits out of Africa is hard to swallow.
Perhaps his piece, which also dealt with aid, was written before the G8
announced debt forgiveness and a somewhat reluctant intention to improve
terms of trade. However, his concluding assertion that 'a substantial
portion of [that] aid is used to hire private consultancy companies whose
task is the privatisation of water supplies' is either quite mad or
deserving of serious scrutiny.

Being acquainted with a highly qualified hydrological engineer with decades
of experience of water development in Africa, I have access to a detailed
knowledge of the history of the management of water resources in Zimbabwe.
Up to the period before a lot more than water started on its way down the
proverbial drain, water supplies were more than adequate in spite of poor
rainfall in many areas and an absence of natural inland lakes.

Now this story cannot be written up in a few paragraphs, but the future of
water supplies in Zimbabwe is a topic worthy of debate in view of a
worldwide worry about water resources. The Times (UK) editorial of July 16's
headline "Global drought and rising water demand pose long-term threats" is
a good opener. There is also a reminder that the UN "believes that over the
next 20 years the average supply of water worldwide per person is expected
to drop by a third." China, we are reminded needs huge water supplies for
agriculture in order to feed more than a billion people . think about that
for a while.
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The Zimbabwean

The last winter of our discontent?
Dear Family and Friends,

Zimbabwe is shuddering to a stop just 14 weeks after Zanu (PF) declared they
had won the 2005 parliamentary elections. Chronic shortages of petrol and
diesel have almost shut the country down. There is a silence spreading over
the land and with it is coming a sense of camaraderie and unity as
Zimbabweans literally walk to the end of the line of these years of madness.
It is here on a cold but crystal clear winter morning in the silence that
has become suburban Zimbabwe and flip through many hundreds of weekly
letters I have written since this began and wonder if this will be the last
winter of discontent. If I did not see my own words in black and white I
would not believe that such things could have happened or that our
prosperous country and her wonderful people could have endured such horrors.

In July 2000, four months after our farm had been invaded by war veterans
and government supporters, I wrote: "Went down to the little dam today
...Once densely enclosed with trees, the surrounds are now sparse and a cold
wind blew through the haven where our cattle used to drink. The dam wall had
been broken and water gushes out... the entire surface area of the dam is
covered with thick, choking, suffocating red Azolla weed. Floating and
bloated in the water is a dead animal ..."

In July 2001 I wrote : "I cannot tell you how I felt this week when a
grandfather phoned me to see if there was anything I could do to help his
son, daughter in law and three grandchildren under 10 years old who had been
barricaded into their farmhouse by two dozen war veterans. Gates had been
smashed down, fires had been lit on the lawn, dogs had been cowed into
submission and through the night the war veterans sang and drummed and
pelted the roof of the house with rocks to try and chase this family

In July 2002 : "I have an 84 year old man living two doors away from me and
he stood at my gate again this week. He calls me his Guardian Angel and begs
that I give him $60 for a loaf of bread. He is white and his need is as
great as the 14-year-old black boy who runs alongside my car when I turn in
at the supermarket. He too begs for money to buy a loaf of bread. If only
the men and women in our government would stop their motorcades, get out of
their chauffeur-driven limousines and see this immense tragedy, see the huge
suffering of all black, white and brown Zimbabweans."

In July 2003: "I heard how 200 Kamativi villagers are hiding in the
mountains to escape the violence of the government youth militia who have
hounded them out of their homes accusing them of not supporting Robert
Mugabe's Zanu (PF). I can hardly bear to think of how those people are
surviving. It is the middle of winter here and as my son and I cycle to
school every morning wearing coats and gloves and woolly hats, the frost
lies in thick white sheets along the roadside. What sort of government could
knowingly allow their supporters to force people out of their homes and into
the freezing elements..."

In July 2004: "The issue under the spotlight at the moment is the Government
Ministers and high ranking officials who have got, taken or been given more
than one farm... One of the Ministers concerned said the withdrawal letters
were 'preposterous and annoying.' He said of the multiple farms credited to
him, one had been reallocated to his cousin and
another to his mother."

And now, many winters later, in July 2005, I quote the South African Council
Of Churches who have just visited Zimbabwe: "In God's name, stop Operation
Murambatsvina ...This operation is inhumane and causes widespread suffering
to the people . They [the Zimbabwean government] have no idea what to do
with the people, and this is the sadness of it." The Church report estimated
the number of people thrown out on the street to be between 800 000 and one
million. Until next week, Ndini shamwari yenyu.
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The Zimbabwean

Vigil report 16th July 2005

LONDON - Heat wave here. OK you don't believe it! But it has been pretty
hot. To our relief we were not targeted by the CIO today. Patson and friends
came down from Leicester and Julius and Addley were there, together with
Ephraim, chair of MDC Central London Branch. With other regulars, they were
such a powerful force. The passion of the singing, dancing and drumming
pulled in everyone passing to sign our petitions and offer support. We were
worried that after a concerted attack on the Central London Forum on Monday
by Mugabe supporters that the Vigil would be targeted next. Thankfully we
were spared this - but all the effective anti-Mugabe organisations are being
targeted as the regime collapses.
Our highlight this week was Tino Vigil Muzuwa, the Vigil child, now taking
her first steps around the place and learning how to blow a whistle. We also
acquired a Vigil juggler, Nick. We really needed him to keep everything in
the air. To top it all, we had a Vigil rickshaw - a new acquisition which
took Sarah on a guided tour of the whole Vigil - about one minute.

A Nigerian passer-by encouraged us all: put pressure on South Africa he
said. The feeling is that Mugabe is becoming increasingly isolated as shown
by his desperate begging to China for support.

FOR THE RECORD: about 35 supporters came today.
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The Zimbabwean

The fascinating kachasu business
HARARE - The urban poor who are being dumped out of town without their
possessions will doubtless be relieved to hear that they can now buy an
elephant from National Parks. That's bound to make them feel better. And
anyone who has been to Harare International Airport in the last five years
will know that the place is heaving with tourists desperate to get at our
resettled elephants.
Two plastic bottles remain by my gate, testimony to the disappearance of
those who have collected and sorted my rubbish for the last few years. A job
the city council charges me for but only does once a month or so and then
only at the weekend.

Those who sell things like flowers, baskets and tomatoes around the corner
are now shadowy figures hiding like criminals with their wares. But the
street people who break open our water mains and use the same area as a
latrine are still firmly ensconced under the jacaranda tree where they live.
But this was never about dealing with real problems like health hazards.

The purveyors of kachasu (illegal hooch) who normally operate on the corner
have disappeared. The delightfully drunken cook who works for my neighbour
will have to find another watering hole.

The kachasu business has fascinated me since Standard 4 at Junior School,
when a farmer's daughter told me that they made it with 'rats and even dead
babies!' I recently suggested to one of their customers, that it might be
better not to drink what was in his tomato sauce bottle until he'd driven to
where he was going.

He agreed most affably then took a hefty swig, before waving cheerily as he
drove off in his battered car. It not all battered cars though - the jerks
in Mercs come there too.

Last week a visiting friend took me for a drive in his hire car (they have
fuel). He couldn't believe that Mupedzanamo and Siyaso are gone. (Where will
we buy back our hubcaps when they get nicked?)

I was there just after it happened and it looked like a war zone after a
bomb blast. Hordes of people were picking through smoking piles of
devastation to salvage what they could carry away or load onto trucks and
hand carts. Timber was piled high on the central island in the road, waiting
for transport.

In the industrial sites my friend was slowed down by a front-end loader with
a police escort front and back.
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The Zimbabwean

Mbare was never so ugly
MBARE - I could not get into my own premises, such a throng of people
jostling each other were in front of the gate. People are hungry and
desperate. Where is the next meal coming from? The sick, the handicapped,
the elderly may get elbowed out of the way; the bedridden may be left out
Mbare has an unusually large elderly population. Leaders of our parish
neighbourhood groups come with lists of people we have not been able to
assist yet and tell harrowing stories of biting hunger. How do we reach them

A few vendors are timidly emerging again on the streets with just a few
vegetables and fruits for sale, not more than they can grab and run with if
the police come round the corner. You get arrested if caught vending.

Most people who were self-employed or depended on income from renting out
rooms are ruined. They have no chance ever to follow their trade again
unless they are party supporters and are given stands at the new sites
controlled by the party. People not supporting the party no longer have a
right to life.

Not all who escaped the chaos in Mbare to the rural areas have been lucky. A
woman who has a history of being harassed as a opposition party supporter,
who had her house burnt and was beaten up, came back from a remote area to
look for food: there is nothing where she went; she has been feeding her
family on vegetables only.

There is no cleaning-up. There is only destruction and heaps of rubble
lining certain streets and filling up empty spaces where people have dumped
the debris left after 'tsunami'. Mbare was never so ugly.

That is the depressing thing: the enormous lies that are being told day in,
day out. The 'country is being cleaned up, order is restored; you are freed
from crime and corruption; new houses are being built'. Truth is constantly
being twisted and distorted. Which touches our very humanity. We cannot live
without truth. It is part of the air we breathe. You choke on this diet of
lies, you vomit when constantly fed such poison.

The boys of Hartmann House loaded our car with blankets they had brought
from home for the displaced people. The students of St George's - reputed to
be interested only in cricket or rugby, far from the social reality of the
country - raised $ 20 million with which we bought three bales of blankets,
60 blankets each. It is very encouraging to experience the solidarity of
fellow Christians.

On Monday afternoon, while watching the crowds lining up for food
distribution, amidst the hustle and bustle of people shouting and arguing,
crying and pleading, suddenly Cardinal Napier, archbishop of Durban, SA,
appeared. I could not believe my eyes: what is he doing here? Then more
clergy emerged from a mini-bus: the delegation of the SA Council of Churches
was visiting Mbare. "Tell your president..,"our aid workers told the
visitors. Our president never received them. It was good to experience the
concern of our neighbours from down south.

Oskar Wermter SJ, In touch Jesuit newsletter
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The Zimbabwean

Deputy minister sells government vehicle to pay off private loan
GWANDA: A deputy minister has sold his parliamentary issue vehicle to settle
a long-standing monetary loan with Agribank.
Impeccable sources told The Zimbabwean that the minister (name supplied)
applied for and got an undisclosed amount of money from the Gwanda branch of
Agribank under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)-funded new farmer support
scheme introduced in - but made no attempt to repay the loan as he hoped to
use his privileged position to have the loan written off.

"The loan was long overdue and several notices have been sent to the
minister without response. It took a lot of courage for bank officials to
place his name on the defaulters list and let him know that his case would
be handed over to debt collectors. The bank is under pressure from the RBZ
to recover all loans, and many party bigwigs owe Agribank a lot of money,"
said a source familiar with the debtors list.

"With the increasing calls for beneficiaries to be accountable in terms of
how they spend the money, an investigation was carried out which also
revealed that the man diverted the money, primarily an agricultural support
fund, to build a big farm-house for his mistress. I cannot tell you exactly
how much he owes but the Z$300 million is a small fraction of a greater
whole," alleged the source.

Efforts to get a comment from the deputy minister were fruitless but several
people close to him confirmed he sold the parliamentary issue vehicle last
month. They also confirmed that he had held a big house-warming party to
officially open the house that was built using funds from the Agribank-RBZ
farmer support loan scheme.

Officials at the bank's headquarters in Harare confirmed that the deputy
minister owed some money but refused to give details. "We are bound by the
bank regulations not to divulge information relating to our customers'
accounts to third parties unless they can prove that they have been cleared
for that. All I can say is that he is a big debtor like many other ministers
with farms in different provinces," said an official who refused to be

Meanwhile, a Zanu (PF) councillor received a jail term for sexually abusing
a minor. Witness Sebata, the councillor for Ward 11 in the Gwanda Rural
District Council was facing several charges of sexually abusing a 13-year
old girl at his bottle store south of the town.
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The Zimbabwean

'Disastrous' Chirundu project end
HARARE - The proposed Chirundu Project, highlighted in The Zimbabwe two
weeks ago, has been "stopped". The project is described by a spokesman for
the Zimbabwe Conservation Development Foundation (ZCDF) to involve a
structured group made up of farmers, business persons, companies and other
independent stakeholders, who have moved comprehensively towards launching
Stage 1 of a 120,000 hectare agricultural development in the proclaimed
Urungwe, Chewore and Sapi Safari Areas and the Mana Pools National Park
bordering the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.
According to the ZCDF, the proposed development, which was due to be
launched on November 1, 2005, has been stopped. "What is not clear is
whether this decision has been taken for economic reasons, or because of the
exposure the project received as a result of our objection. It is however
known, that the term 'hot potato' was used by the developers to describe the
prominence surrounding the proposed development," says a statement issued
this week.

"The level of prudence that needs to be applied though, given the added
decision by the developers to consign the matter to a senior government
executive for attention, is that to protect the interests of the project,
the "stop" decision is intended as a smoke screen, or it could have been
moved into "suspension" mode rather than a complete stoppage, if at all.
Given this, the ZCDF will continue to closely collaborate with information
sources to secure insight to any further motives or decisions that may be
taken by the developers," said the spokesman.
The full extent of the project, it is understood, encompasses not only the
pristine Urungwe Safari Area, but a vast tract of land from Urungwe's
western boundary, across Mana Pools National Park, the Sapi Safari Area, to
the Chewore Safari Areas' eastern boundary - an area measuring plus 100
kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, with the Zambezi River as its
northern boundary.

"The ZCDF is determined to prevent developments such as the Chirundu
Project, which pose a major threat to the environment and contribute to the
multifaceted and escalating annihilation of wild and natural assets in
Zimbabwe. The organisation subscribes to the need for intense vigilance,
research, evaluation and preventive action across all applicable frontiers
in its endeavours. The adversaries in this daunting task are lawlessness,
greed, bribery, corruption and unsustainably discreditable covenants of
conservation and natural resources management.

"As the ZCDF assiduously crusades for the protection, propagation and
progressive development of the country's feral resources for benefit to all,
bar none, the organisation accepts this cannot be achieved alone. We
therefore welcome input from and through partnerships with those in a pool
of resources of excellent experience, qualification and compatible

"A major hurdle at this time is the perilous state of wild and natural
resource affairs being exacerbated by intensifying complexities that
underscore the applicable emergency factors. It could be argued, that
resolutions no longer exist in doing things right, but moreover in doing the
right things. In the context of this, the ZCDF in close alliance with
willing partners will stand firm in actively preventing the Chirundu
Project, or any such likened proposal," says the statement.
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The Zimbabwean

BA ferries failed asylum seekers

LONDON - British Airways is one of last airlines still prepared to fly home
failed Zimbabwe asylum seekers from the UK. Speaking at a joint news
conference with several members of both houses of parliament across the
benches, Labour MP Kate Hoey last week urged members of the public to write
to British Airways protesting the airline's continued willingness to carry
failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe where they face possible arrest and
Hoey, who visited Zimbabwe recently, said fear permeated everywhere she
went. "It is nonsense for the British government to expect Zimbabwean asylum
seekers to prove that they will not be arrested or tortured if they are sent
home," she said. "This is a silly statement by the Home Secretary."

Conservative MP Allan Burt told the news conference that the statement was a
'cop out'. "We should stop the deportations now," he declared. "The
treatment meted out to Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK needs to be
investigated. There have been a number of incidents of abuse by escourts."

Baroness Park drew a parallel between Mugabe's Zimbabwe and communist USSR.
"In he days when people escaped from Russia would we have sent them back?"
she asked. "What is happening to Zimbabwean asylum seekers is grossly
unfair." She said she found it disturbing that European governments were
coming together to arrange air charters that would fly from one country to
another picking up failed asylum seekers for deportation to their home

She was supported by Baroness d'Souza who said the British government was
infringing its own laws as well as international conventions on human
rights. "You don't have to have evidence of individual torture. All you need
is to know that torture is an everyday occurrence in the country," she said.
The attitude of the government was 'irrational' and threatened to 'blot our

"Torture is prevalent in Zimbabwe and the judges have given the politicians
the chance to think again. I hope we won't have to rely on judges to protect
the asylum seekers," she added.

Several asylum seekers answered questions from behind a screen to protect
their identities. Crispen Kulinji, whose deportation was averted at the last
moment by the parliamentary group, gave a moving testimony in which he said
sending him back to Zimbabwe would be tantamount to signing his death

Dr Frank Arnold from the Medical Foundation said torture was a normal
practice in Zimbabwe today. He said the Zimbabwean asylum seekers he had
examined displayed a variety of physical evidence to substantiate this
statement, including cigarette burn and whip scars, damaged foot soles,
signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and evidence of beatings.

"In every case the verbal witness of the patients has been borne out by
physical evidence in their bodies," he said.

Baroness Williams, who chaired the meeting, said she was worried that when
the final judgment as to whether deportations to Zimbabwe should be stopped
was handed down on August 4, parliament would be in recess and the Home
Office might commence deportations, currently on hold until the judgment.
"It frightens me to think that parliamentarians might not have the
opportunity to discuss the matter, or to intervene on behalf of the victims,
because of the recess," she said, adding that the number of Zimbabwean
asylum seekers had dropped significantly in the last 12 months.
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The Zimbabwean

Western tycoon sides with Mugabe
LONDON - How does he do it? President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe unabashedly
rides roughshod across the plains of politics - unscathed, unscarred,
unhindered. He is free to do as he pleases. And not one of Africa's 53
leaders raises his voice in protest against the trail of destruction and
grief he leaves behind him. Like the outlaws of Western movies he is
untouchable - that is until one day they, too, meet their nemesis.
Not even President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Zimbabwe's neighbour and
closest trading partner, has condemned Mugabe. Indeed, most commentators now
accept that Mbeki is not just a passive onlooker, but politically Mugabe's
most important backer. And this despite the fact that Mbeki parades himself
as a democratic leader and Africa's renaissance man.

It is extraordinary how Mugabe finds ways of financially sustaining his
leadership. He calls on countries like Malyasia, China, and earlier Libya to
give him aid. In return he forfeits state assets to them. Mugabe has chosen
his allies well: all are sensitive to accusations of human rights abuses.
One day when the accounting is done it will be seen just how much of
Zimbabwe's resources (and manpower, considering the soldiers he sent to the
DRC) Mugabe has squandered in pursuit of his personal power.

Included in Mugabe's circle of 'friends' are white businessmen. There is
Charles Davy, a South African born businessman, whose daughter Chelsy has
been linked to Prince Harry, the Prince of Wales' son. Davy moved to
Zimbabwe when he was young, and today owns several thousand acres of land
there. Yet he was spared appropriation of his land during Mugabe's
notorious - and continuing land grab.

In an exclusive report for the Daily Mail, Trevor Grundy and Tom Rawstorne
claim that Davy owns several properties in Zimbabwe and his business HHK
Safaris is said to have cornered the big game hunting market there. Davy's
safari business operates 15 camps covering 4 million acres. He charges a
'trophy' fee for each animal killed and charges a fee of around £17,000 for
a 24-day safari. According to conservationists between 10,000 and 25,000
animals die annually on Davy's property.

His relationship with Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party, according to the Daily Mail,
is an amicable one. One of Davy's closest business partners is Webster
Shamu, a government minister and one of Mugabe's right hand men, whom Davy
describes as a 'personal friend.' Eddie Cross, Zimbabwe's Opposition shadow
chancellor, however describes Shamu as "an absolute hood, one of the worst.
He is personally suspected of murder and is a political thug of the first
order and a savage individual."

Then there is the British property tycoon, Nicholas van Hoogstraten. He too
has courted controversy and earned a reputation as a "robust" businessman.
He too was spared of the land grab - yet he owns a 600,000-acre farming
estate. He once described Mugabe as "100 percent decent and incorruptible."
He is also reported to have once said: "I don't believe in democracy, I
believe in rule by the fittest."

Van Hoogstraten in the last couple of weeks has become the majority
shareholder in Zimbabwe's leading coal producing company, Wankie Colliery
and has a controlling stake in the National Merchant Bank (NMB).

Wankie Colliery mines for coal in Zimbabwe and was previously owned by South
Africa's Anglo American. The coal is used primarily in electricity
generation and steel manufacturing. Founded in 1923, the government holds a
40% stake, the largest coal company in Africa outside South Africa. Van
Hoogstraten owns about 32% of the company. Wankie Colliery is listed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and
the London Stock Exchange (LSE) but its performance over the last few years
has been weakened by foreign currency shortages, ageing equipment, fuel
shortages and an unreliable transport system.

The Colliery is expected this month to float Z$1 trillion rights issues to
raise funds for recapitalisation. The government meanwhile will raise its
equity by injecting Z$400bn into the company, while the remainder Z$600bn
will come from other shareholders, including van Hoogstraten.

Van Hoogstraten's stake in the NMB comes through his UK-based Messina
Investments and Palisades companies. Messina Investments is the fifth
largest shareholder in the bank with 8,62%. Palisades owns just under 10%
and Edward Nominees about 1,51%. Van Hoogstraten's total equity stake will
be 19,88% making him the single largest shareholder in the bank.

The second largest shareholder is South Africa's Old Mutual Life Assurance.
The third majority equity stakeholders are former NMB directors, four of
whom fled Zimbabwe for Britain last year during Mugabe's anti-corruption
crackdown in the financial sector. All four directors were supporters of
Zimbabwe's opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It is
rumoured that these directors may have sold their equity shares in the bank
to van Hoogstraten.

Van Hoogstraten has courted trouble from the start of his career, in both
words and deeds. Once heralded as Britain's youngest millionaire, having
made his money in property, by the time van Hoogstraten was 22 he is reputed
to own 22 properties in Sussex alone. But the methods by which he acquired
his properties were questioned.

By the 1980s he had acquired 2,000 properties and in the 90s sold 90% of
them making massive profits. Today he owns homes in Barbados, St Lucia,
Cannes, Zimbabwe, and the UK. His home in East Sussex, called Hamilton
Palace, after Bermuda's capital, has a 600ft art gallery, and a mausoleum -
with three feet thick walls - designed to hold van Hoogstraten's body for
5,000 years. He was reported to have said: "The only purpose of creating
great wealth like mine is to separate oneself from the riffraff."

Meanwhile van Hoogstraten has committed himself to donating £500,000 to
Zimbabwean charities - the amount which was awarded to him from the family
of a Sutton businessman he was accused, but later acquitted, of killing. Van
Hoogstraten now plans to move to Harare permanently.
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The Zimbabwean

SA v China - 'Scramble for Zim'
LONDON - Is Zimbabwe's future about to be decided in Pretoria and/or in
Beijing? The question is prompted by a recent visit to South Africa by a
high-level Zimbabwean delegation seeking rescue from the startling
possibility that Harare faces expulsion from the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) (as of late June Zimbabwe was $306 million in arrears to the IMF); and
from President Robert Mugabe's visit to Beijing on July 23 for talks on a
rescue package for his regime.
China and South Africa share international criticism for their support of
Mugabe: China for being the only member of the UN Security Council not to
condemn Mugabe's atrocities, and President Thabo Mbeki for his "quiet
diplomacy", now universally seen as open support for Mugabe. The two
countries in this sense are in the same predicament. It would make sense for
them to put pressure on Mugabe to give the appearance at least of making his
regime look less oppressive: not for the sake of Zimbabwe's population, but
for the image of China and SA.

It could be in Mugabe's interests to play along. A necessary move would be
for him to talk to Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Talking could cost him nothing. Knowing Mugabe he could turn it into
no more than a gesture. Somewhat more difficult for him would be to issue
and order a halt to the present "clean up" campaign. His repressive regime
could halt the demolition of houses and shacks and still remain repressive.
And China and South Africa would in effect be granted international
permission to bail him out.

China's interests in Zimbabwe were cemented in 1980 when Zimbabwe gained
independence. Since then ties between the two countries have been tightened
steadily. Today China is Harare's single largest investor. It has helped to
construct the Harare stadium, hospitals, dams, schools, wells, clothing
factories, and in the reconstruction of the Iron and Steel Corporation while
China's International Water and Electric company is contracted to farm
250,000 acres of agricultural land in return for, it is rumoured, payment in

China has offered credit lines to Zimbabwe's small and medium enterprises,
and it is also financing and providing mining equipment to an expansion
project of Zimbabwe's Electricity Supply Authority and Hwange Colliery, in
return for which China has coal and coke concessions. Militarily, China has
provided Zimbabwe with six K8 jet aircraft, a radar system for Mugabe's
personal residence and other military hardware estimated to cost around

In return Beijing gets a firm foothold in Africa, and with Zimbabwe's
increasing isolation and dwindling economy, a golden opportunity to unearth
Zimbabwe's prize possessions: its natural resources. Zimbabwe has the second
largest deposits of platinum in the world, estimated at over $500bn. It also
has gold, silver, copper and other valuable minerals.

Beijing will continue to support Harare, while extending its grip on
Zimbabwe's natural resources. Without competition from Western firms,
Zimbabwe could become China's most important resource base in Africa - as
long as Mugabe is president anyway.

South Africa also has to be taken into the equation: its immediate help
would be to pay Eskom to continue to supply electricity to Zimbabwe, and to
pay for grain and fuel provided by SA distributors. The visiting delegation
reportedly requested a US$1 billion line of credit from Pretoria - which
seems almost certain to be granted.

Analysts are asking whether Mbeki and Beijing will be partners or rivals in
what is almost a new "scramble for Zimbabwe".

There would be some rivalry, but the odds are that they will work in tandem:
both have too much to gain and too much to lose by not doing so. Evidence of
the growing concern of China's move into Africa is reflected by a report in
the Johannesburg Business Day, which quotes (among others) political analyst
Nic Borain as saying: "SA would not want to lose its geo-strategic influence
in the Southern African Development Community to China and this might be a
push factor for SA to exercise leverage." How much of its financial and
political independence Zimbabwe will retain after China and Mbeki have
staked out their claims is still to be seen.
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The Zimbabwean

From liberation to democratic crisis
HARARE - Most mixed race (coloured) people had no idea how to deal with the
regime's action when Operation Murambatsvina hit the suburb in Arcadia and
sister suburbs of Sunningdale, Braeside and St Martins recently.
When the police and army demolition squads descended there was shock, dismay
and terror as temporary structures like tuck shops and semi-permanent
structures like cottages, which supplemented income or pensions, were

It was the most undignified and ugly abuse of authority ever experienced by
harmless civilians, most of whom were elderly, at the hands of so-called law
enforcement officials.

Most of the families in this area, like thousands of others across the
nation, have broken down as their children fled Zimbabwe after the 2000
referendum and elections, as violence and internal civil strife escalated.

Some coloured people were thrown off their farms and lost their entire life
savings. They were told that the land belonged to the "Black people of
Zimbabwe" and they should go to their white fathers in Britain.

During the 25 years of Zimbabwe's 'freedom and democracy' the majority of
our community did not share Zanu (PF)'s Marxist-Leninist ideology. Since
independence party structures excluded this minority from participating in
national grassroots development and nation building.

Media and NGO sectors within the country failed to capture the insecurity of
the coloured minority or to conduct periodic critical reviews into its
inclusion, or lack of, in national political, social and economic
participation and development.

It is time for all these sectors to stop ignoring the concerns and issues of
this forgotten segment - Zimbabwe's smallest ethnic group - and assist in
raising its profile as a valuable contributor toward nation building and
economic and wealth creation.

The mixed race minority is of Zimbabwean extraction and to paraphrase the
words of Governor Gono, it is time to buy into this very Zimbabwean product.

In 2000 the National Association for Advancement of Mixed Race Coloured
Minority was formed to represent our interests within the Zimbabwean
context. A positive outcome of the NAAC was a national survey carried out to
determine progress and negative impacts on this vulnerable people. As a
minority, the mixed race person is disproportionately affected by problems
of statelessness as a result of citizenship legislation and other legalities
covering national registration laws with respect to the "OO" status appended
to national registration identity cards.

Many mixed race families who have British ancestral rights have fled to the
UK, others to South Africa and Canada and New Zealand when these countries
opened their doors to those fleeing tyranny and political instability.
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The Zimbabwean
NMB shareholders to lose out?
"Could you make it R1.5 billion this time? The R1 billion you gave us last week seemed to go nowhere!"
LONDON - It appears the government is determined to wrest control of National Merchant Bank from its original founders and to pave the way for well-connected party loyalists to take over the bank.
The founding directors Dr Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Francis Zimuto and Otto Chekeche were forced to flee the country in 2003 when the government decreed the presidential powers temporary measures, through which anyone suspected of externalizing foreign currency could be indefinitely detained.

This measure was used to victimize a number of selected black businessmen who were not toeing the ruling party line. Former Minister of Finance, Chris Kuruneri is still languishing in prison a year after being arrested on charges under this decree. Prominent businessman Mutuma Mawere, now an exile in South Africa, was similarly charged. His mining, manufacturing and agricultural business empire has since been nationalized without compensation.

The four NMB directors had their homes and offices searched at the time of this purge but managed to flee the country prior to being arrested. They have been publicly accused and vilified for allegedly externalizing foreign currency – but never charged.

The four men have always maintained their innocence and said that they are victims of selective application of the law, as at the time all Zimbabwean banks were using a parallel market rate to attract foreign currency inflows with the full knowledge and approval of the Reserve Bank. Indeed, the majority of the money brought into the country in this way went to fund government itself and state-owned utilities such as fuel-procurer Noczim and the electricity distributor Zesa.

Under the management of the original four directors, NMB even initiated the homelink scheme in an attempt to repatriate desperately-needed foreign currency earned by Zimbabweans abroad. The scheme has since been adopted by the Reserve Bank and people are still able to use this scheme to send money to their relatives at home at a much higher rate than the official exchange rate.

NMB itself has been charged with breaching exchange control regulations and judgment was due to have been handed down on July 7. Several other banks and individuals who were charged at the same time have had the charges dropped, altered or withdrawn. In addition, the NMB judgment has been inexplicably postponed to July 28 – two days after a planned extra-ordinary general meeting of the Bank, the primary purpose of which appears to be to raise additional capital so that the four exiled directors and their family trusts are diluted to a point where they are no longer controlling shareholders.

Analysts have raised eyebrows at the recent board decision to sell 90% of the un-issued shares as this will totally change the bank’s shareholder profile. The four original directors are precluded from exercising their right of first refusal as they have been declared ‘specified persons’ – unable to do business in Zimbabwe. The share issue will therefore effectively wrest control of the company from them.

Sources say the men’s crime was that they were independent of the ruling Zanu (PF) patronage system and could therefore not be depended upon to co-operate with the government. In addition, their personal loyalty to the party was questionable.
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Zim Online

Soyinka calls for sanctions against Mugabe
Thu 21 July 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has called on the
African Union (AU) to impose sanctions on President Mugabe's government
which he branded a "disgrace" to the continent.

      "There is no question at all about (sanctions)," Soyinka said in a
radio interview in South Africa.

      "Bulldozers have been turned into an instrument of governance and it
is the ordinary people who are suffering ... it is a disgrace on the

      Yesterday, Soyinka was equally scathing in his attacks on Mugabe whom
he also called a "monster" and a "rogue" who must leave power now for the
good of Zimbabwe.

      "One monster breeds a greater monstrosity, that's what the world is
confronted with. Yes, like Mugabe," said Soyinka speaking at the Cape Town
Press Club on Wednesday.

      Kenyan cabinet minister and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai accused
Mugabe of exploiting the emotive land issue to remain in power.

      Responding to a question about the Zimbabwe crisis after she delivered
the third annual Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, Maathai called for
a sober leadership in Zimbabwe to deal with the problems facing that

      "It is very easy for leaders to use whatever issues they think will
resonate with the people whenever their grip on power is threatened," she

      "The land issue is a very captive issue in Africa, even in Kenya. I
think it is unfortunate that if leaders feel they have to stay in power and
they use that (land) as the issue to rally people around.

      "In Zimbabwe and many other countries you really need a very sober and
secure leadership to deal with the issue without using power to victimise
those who are perceived to be in a weak position," she said.

      But it was Soyinka who had the harshest word for Mugabe.

      Describing Mugabe as a "monster," Soyinka said the 81-year-old
Zimbabwean leader should go now and the African Union should have the
courage to deal with him.

      Soyinka, won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. He has been
repeatedly victimised by military regimes in Nigeria.

      Soyinka said the African Union's peer review mechanism was "excellent"
but suggested it be applied effectively against rogue leaders who were
"running amok like rogue elephants".

      "I think we know one of them currently, the much revered, well-loved
Mugabe. A great revolutionary and liberation fighter, he has become a
monster. There is no other word for it, he's a monster, and he's lost his
bearings completely and he's turned against his own people," charged

      He said the US$1 billion loan which Zimbabwe is trying to get from
South Africa should either be suspended or made conditional. He accused
Mugabe of trying to do worse than the colonial regimes he tried fought

      "He's behaving like a colonial bully. So what you have in Zimbabwe
today is internal colonialism. To resolve the situation in Zimbabwe, Soyinka
said there was "no question at all" that there had to be some form of
censure by other African leaders.

      "The African leaders must take a grip of the situation."

      Sanctions, whether economic or cultural, or suspension from the
African Union should be considered.

      Henry Louis Gates, Jr, one of America's most prominent black
academics, who shared the podium with Soyinka also launched a broadside at
African leaders over their silence on Zimbabwe.

      "The complicity between African leaders is often embarrassing," he
said. - ZimOnline

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MDC activist killers get 25 yrs
21/07/2005 21:08  - (SA)

Harare - Two Zimbabwe men accused of murdering a political rival ahead of
presidential elections three years ago have been jailed for 25 years each by
a high court judge, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on

The report said Edmore Mapanje, 43, and Langton Tsamwisi, 37, escaped the
death penalty after they were convicted of murdering Atmos Makomere, 60,
"over political differences".

The two then buried his body in a shallow grave in Jerera, southern Zimbabwe
in January 2002, the report said.

The incident took place two months ahead of hotly-contested presidential
elections, pitting President Robert Mugabe against archrival Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

The Herald did not say which political party the two convicted murderers
belonged to, but an MDC official on Thursday claimed the victim had been a
member of the opposition.

No death penalty

The official said Atmos Makomere had been incorrectly named as Atnos
Mapingure by the MDC in its "roll of honour", a list of party supporters
killed over the past five years.

The roll of honour says Mapingure was killed in Jerera in 2002. "He was
killed by Zanu-PF supporters. The person is the same, I'm 100% sure," said
the official, who requested anonymity.

The Herald said Judge Samuel Kudya did not impose the death penalty on the
two men because "the political environment prevailing at the time of the
murder was an extenuating factor because tension was extremely high in the
pre-election period".

The sentences are the first significant ones to be handed down as punishment
for politically-motivated violence that marred the run-up to parliamentary
elections in 2000, as well as the presidential polls two years later.

Zimbabwe is deeply divided between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the
opposition MDC, which posed the biggest challenge to Mugabe's hold on power
when it narrowly lost parliamentary elections in 2000. - Sapa-dpa

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Army Officer Accused of Soliciting Bribes

The Herald (Harare)

July 21, 2005
Posted to the web July 21, 2005

Thupeyo Muleya

A WARRANT officer with the Zimbabwe National Army has been arrested for
allegedly demanding a $9,6 million bribe from truck drivers who wanted to
smuggle cigarettes into South Africa.

The suspect was attached at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority as scanner

Police arrested the suspect after a tip off from the public that he was
asking for bribes from truck drivers to facilitate their smuggling of
cigarettes to South Africa.

"We arrested him after a public tip off," said the police spokesman
Inspector Johnson Nyoni.

He said the arrangement was that the cigarettes would not go through the
normal scanning process after which he would get about $9,6 million for his

Insp Nyoni added that police set a trap with a Zimra officer resulting in
his arrest.

"A Zimra staffer phoned him purporting to be one of the truck drivers and
they then agreed to meet at a local hotel for the transaction.

"He was arrested soon after receiving the money," said Inspector Nyoni.

The suspect was arrested on his way out of the hotel and is set to appear in

Police could not release his name as they felt there were a lot of people
involved in clandestine deals.

The incident barely comes three weeks after another member of the ZRP
Support unit was arrested for demanding a bribe of $50 000 so that he could
let into Zimbabwe three border jumpers.

Another Zimbabwe truck driver was also arrested for trying to smuggle
tobacco cigarettes valued at one million South African rand and some two
Harare men were arrested after trying to smuggle into South Africa $150
million cash.
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