British companies have been chastised by Kate Hoey, the Labour
MP, for not doing enough to ensure that they are not giving financial
succour to Zimbabwe's repressive regime. James Hall
Tony Blair will on Tuesday morning - via a satellite
link from Singapore - urge businessmen at a conference in London to invest
in Africa. The G8 Business Action for Africa conference is a curtain-raiser
to the G8 summit in Gleneagles, which begins on Wednesday. Along with
assorted corporate leaders, including Jeroen van der Veer, the chief
executive of Royal Dutch Shell, the oil giant, and Sir Mark Moody-Stuart,
the chairman of Anglo American, the mining company, the conference will be
addressed by the presidents of Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia, among others.
However, one nation that will not be represented at the conference is
Zimbabwe, the southern African country that is in turmoil under President
Robert Mugabe. Brutal repossession of white-owned farms, widespread
demolition of property and abuses of human rights characterise Mugabe's
regime. Savage food and oil shortages, 500 per cent inflation and 80 per
cent unemployment are crippling the ravaged country, which has been
teetering on the brink of collapse for months. And yet many UK companies do
business in Zimbabwe in a way that - according to their critics - helps to
prop up Mugabe and his reign of terror. Even if they are not deliberately
trading with the beneficiaries of illegally expropriated property, they may
not be doing enough to establish whether or not the companies and people
they deal with there are bona fide.
This matter of corporate
conscience was highlighted last week by Kate Hoey, the MP and former
minister, who returned from a trip to Zimbabwe a fortnight ago. She said
that she was "concerned about companies in this country that continue to do
business with counterparts in Zimbabwe that are working hand in hand" with
Mugabe's regime. "Supermarkets - I simply mention Tesco, but there are many
- have not yet taken seriously their obligations to ensure that their
vegetables and flowers are not being sourced from illegally seized farms or
operations run by proxies for the regime," she said. Hoey added that certain
UK and European banks are arranging lines of credit for the repressive
regime and its associates. Hoey has placed those companies in a dilemma. UK
retailers have rigorous rules governing which suppliers they use. As well as
having their own codes of conduct, the retailers regularly employ external
agencies to carry out audits of their supply base. Further, large retailers
- including Asda, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, J Sainsbury and Boots - are
all signatories to the Ethical Trading Initiative, meaning that they must
assume responsibility for the labour and human rights practices within their
supply chains. But when a country is as corrupt as Zimbabwe, and when
information is kept from the outside world, how can these companies be so
sure of what and whom they are dealing with?
John Worswick, a founder
of Justice for Agriculture (JAG) - a Zimbabwean organisation that represents
commercial farm owners and workers - says that although supermarkets may
source goods from legally owned farms, these farms often outsource
production to other farms, whose ownership may not be legal. Therefore,
tacit collusion with supporters of Mugabe's regime may be occurring. "What
is happening is that the big suppliers have outgrowers who are on illegally
acquired farms," he says. "The farms have been illegally acquired in that
the government hasn't followed the due process, and confirmation of the
acquisitions hasn't gone through the courts. Worse, in many situations the
original owners haven't been compensated," he says. JAG has been building a
database of farms in Zimbabwe that have been seized. Through this, it can
assess the legality of their ownership. "We would like to see organisations
like Tesco and Sainsbury being transparent in terms of who they are
acquiring products from. Organisations like JAG can do due diligence and
identify if the product is legitimate or not," he says. Worswick says that
he has examples of suppliers in Zimbabwe who are sympathetic to Zanu PF,
Mugabe's ruling party.
David Banks, a policy advisor for the Zimbabwe
All-Party Parliamentary Group, has been on three clandestine missions to
Zimbabwe over the past two-and-a-half years. He says that companies must not
be allowed to "turn a blind eye to human rights abuses just in the name of
getting a few pence off their mangetout peas. It wouldn't happen if it was
Burma or somewhere like that," he says. What is needed, Banks says, is an
up-to-date official list of approved farmers that should be readily
available to those who source goods from the country. "It would be quite
straightforward if the will was there to do anything about it," he says.
However, retailers deny Hoey's suggestion that they are not taking their
obligations seriously. An official at Tesco, which was singled out by Hoey,
says that it buys "very little" from Zimbabwe and that it tends not to use
suppliers who outsource production to third parties. She says that suppliers
are regularly audited and that any change in ownership of a farm results in
an automatic re-auditing. Two years ago, Tesco stopped sourcing from two
farms in Zimbabwe that changed owners. "If a farm changes ownership it is
unlikely, frankly, that they'll be able to guarantee those standards,
particularly ethical ones. Our track record speaks for itself," she
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury says that the retailer has
"strict regulations in place to ensure that our suppliers only buy from
farms that are legally owned", even though it does not employ those farms
directly. Chris McCann, the ethical trading manager at Asda, the UK
supermarket owned by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, says that Asda
sources no goods at all from Zimbabwe. And he sheds some light on the
lengths that supermarkets go to in their audit processes. As well as
implementing its own code, Asda - like its rivals - uses third-party
auditors, such as Bureau Veritas. These auditors visit farms and interview
workers, both individually and collectively. They carry out inspections of
the sites, including the dormitories (if the farm is residential). An
auditor will also demand to see documents, such as pay slips from the
employer and passports from the employees, to verify that staff are not
being held in bonded labour. "We do find issues, but I don't know a retailer
in the world that doesn't," McCann says. Companies that fail the audit have
120 days to implement a corrective action plan or be shut down. Last year,
Wal-Mart carried out 13,000 audits of its suppliers
However, Hoey says that more must be done. She has
seen flowers of uncertain Zimbabwean origin sold at the New Covent Garden
Market in her London constituency of Stockwell. Her message to retailers is
clear: 100 per cent certainty that products come from an ethical source is
required. "I - and the public - would want to be absolutely certain that
anything that has Zimbabwe on it has not been sourced, or any part of it
sourced, from land that has been illegally seized. We know if that has
happened then we will not be helping the poorest people in Zimbabwe by
buying it," she says. "In fact, at the moment, I would ask people to be very
careful about buying anything from Zimbabwe," she adds. Dan Rees, a director
at the Ethical Trade Initiative, says that Hoey has raised "very important
questions about what are extremely serious issues". "The decisions taken by
the Mugabe regime have plunged the country into crisis and the effects on
workers and others have been severe," he says. "ETI membership obligations
require retailers to ensure that their suppliers are observing national and
international labour law. We urge retailers and brands to identify their
suppliers, assess the conditions for their workers and where necessary, seek
improvements to workers' conditions." However, he admits that this can be
hard, given the blanket of secrecy over much that takes place in Zimbabwe.
"Given the current context in Zimbabwe, where the rule of law does not apply
and where there are real concerns about personal safety issues, it is
extremely difficult for companies to implement ETI membership obligations in
full," he says. Sourcing from such countries is an ethical minefield. So Dr
Mohan Kaul, the director general of the Commonwealth Business Council, which
is co-organising this week's G8 conference on Africa in London, has a simple
solution. He says that countries such as Zimbabwe should simply be
off-limits: "We are saying: 'Don't touch these countries.' "
AU envoy on 'un-procedural' Zimbabwe mission-paper Sun Jul 3,
2005 7:49 AM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - The African Union last week sent an
senior official to probe Zimbabwe's controversial demolition of illegal
shanty towns without notifying President Robert Mugabe's government, the
Sunday Mail reported. In a move it said authorities had slammed as
"un-procedural" the paper said Alpha Konare, chairman of the African Union
Commission which runs the day-to-day affairs of the continental body sent
Bahare Tom Nyanduga to Zimbabwe on Thursday.
The state-owned paper
said Harare only became aware of the visit when Nyanduga was already on his
"He was, however, informed that he could not proceed with his
mission before he had fully appraised the Government of the purpose of his
visit," the Sunday Mail said.
The paper quoted Nyanduga as saying he
would meet government ministers, rights groups and visit areas affected by
the crackdown which Mugabe says is meant to rid Zimbabwe of settlements that
had become hives of illegal trade in scarce hard currency and
"Being a member of the AU Commission on Human Rights and special
rapporteur on refugees, asylum seekers and internal displaced persons in
Africa, I was requested to assess the displacement and humanitarian aspect
of the clean-up exercise," he said.
"Based on the information I would
have gathered from the assessment, I will then come up with a report to be
presented to the AU chairperson."
Officials were not available for
comment on Sunday.
Rights groups, who say the operation has left at least
300,000 people homeless, have urged Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, as
chairman of the AU, to put the crisis in Zimbabwe on the agenda of it summit
starting on Monday.
The AU had previously indicated it would not
interfere in what it said was a member country's internal affairs.
special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Anna Tibaijuka has been
in Zimbabwe for a week on a similar assessment mission which has seen her
tour townships and squatter camps affected by the crackdown in the capital
Harare and the eastern city of Mutare.
On Friday, Tibaijuka visited a
camp on the outskirts of Harare where 4,000 people have been moved after
their homes were destroyed in a campaign Amnesty International and Action
Aid say killed at least three more people last week -- in addition to two
children reported crushed to death during demolitions.
not yet confirmed reports of three more deaths.
The opposition Movement
for Democratic Change says well over 1.5 million people have been displaced
and that the crackdown its meant to punish its supporters in the urban
strongholds where it kept most of its parliamentary seats in March 31
The United States and European nations raised
Zimbabwe's housing demolitions in the U.N. Security Council for the first
time on Thursday, using a debate on extreme hunger in southern Africa to get
the issue on the agenda.
Inside the heart of Mugabe's hell hole July 03 2005 at
By Roy Bennett
The Zimbabwean people have
watched their beautiful country slowly decay into corruption and chaos. Even
so, the core of the despair remains behind closed doors with no hope of the
human rights abuses and suffering being exposed.
On May 15 last
year, during a parliamentary debate, I pushed Patrick Chinamasa, the
minister of justice, to the floor. By that time, I had suffered four years
of political abuse and victimisation resulting in the murder of two of my
employees, the rape of three, the loss of an unborn child and the theft of
This included the contents and clothing, 820 head of
cattle, 122 sheep, 14 horses, 12 chickens, eight bantams, four rabbits,
eight guinea pigs, two cats, eight tractors, three lorries, five pick-ups
and a full range of faming equipment, including irrigation pipes, pumps and
I pushed him to the floor after he had told me these items
had been taken from me because my father and grandfather were thieves and
murderers and that I would never set foot on my beloved Charleswood Estate
I was unconstitutionally sentenced by the Zimbabwe
parliament to an illegal and excessive prison term of 12 months, and
imprisoned on the October 28 as hard labour prisoner No
I have just been released after serving eight months,
having had four months removed by the Prison Act for good behaviour. I lost
23kg. On my first day I arrived at Harare Central Prison to find all the top
brass waiting for me.
I was told to step naked in front of them
and given a new set of white canvas shorts and a shirt to put on. I was
taken to cell upper 12, which was the juvenile cell. On reaching the cell
door I was ordered to undress and I was thrown filthy, lice-infested clothes
that exposed my private parts.
I walked around for two days in
these clothes until the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights arrived. The
authorities tried to give me the clean clothes back, but I refused, and
after the lawyers intervened and made representations, the clothing abuses
I am also very disturbed and sad for those remaining
behind The conditions were appalling. There was no hygiene, and only
filthy lice-infested blankets. The ablution blocks were in a terrible state
and the food was inadequate with very little nutritional value. There was
total repression and inhumane treatment by the guards.
witnessed several beatings and heard the pitiful screams when the prisoners
were taken by guards into empty cells and forced to lie on the floor face
down, with their legs bent to expose their bare feet. They were beaten on
the soles of their feet with a rubber truncheon.
Every time a
prisoner talked to a guard they had to either sit or squat on their haunches
and if they were not down by the time the guard was next to them, they were
slapped and kicked to the ground. They were spoken to in a very derogatory
manner and had all their dignity stripped from them.
of the prisoners never received visitors, who would be their only source of
toothpaste, soap or fruit and food. As a result, they ended up exchanging
sexual favours in order to get food or basic needs.
I am happy to
be back with my family and friends, but I am also very disturbed and sad for
those remaining behind. The prison experience has made me more determined to
fight for the basic rights of the Zimbabwean people and a better life for
.. This article was originally published on page
4 of Sunday Independent on July 03, 2005
Mugabe shielded security minister from arrest Mon 04 July
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe earlier this year ordered the
police not to charge State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa for allegedly
stealing billions of dollars worth of equipment from former white-owned
farms, police sources told ZimOnline yesterday.
They said the
police team investigating massive looting of equipment from former white
farms in Manicaland province had unearthed a racket allegedly led by Mutasa
whereby $2.5 billion (about US$250 000) worth of equipment was forcibly and
illegally taken from farms and kept at a warehouse belonging to a company
owned by the government official.
Mutasa, who comes from Manicaland
and is touted as a possible future deputy to Mugabe's successor, is one of
the ageing President's closest confidantes. He was appointed by Mugabe to
the key post of secretary of administration of the ruling ZANU PF
Mutasa was recently tasked to oversee completion of Mugabe's
controversial land reform programme and is also in charge of distribution of
food aid, a critical operation in a country facing starvation.
A senior officer at police national headquarters in Harare said a special
investigating team led by one Superintendent Maguramene began probing Mutasa
last December and had in January this year recommended that he be arrested
and prosecuted for stealing equipment from farms. But the matter came to a
dead-end on Mugabe's intervention.
officer, speaking anonymously for fear of victimisation, said: "The
investigations were conclusive. Mutasa was using his influential position in
the ruling party to steal equipment and enough evidence for a successful
prosecution was uncovered, but the President (Mugabe) instructed that the
case be dropped.
"We had already recommended that Mutasa be
arrested and were it not for the intervention of higher offices, he should
have been arrested in February or March."
It was not possible
to get comment on the matter last night either from Mugabe's spokesman,
George Charamba or from police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena. But Mutasa, who
was Anti-Corruption Minister before taking over the security portfolio,
vehemently denied that he had stolen from white farms and that Mugabe saved
him from prosecution.
He told ZimOnline: "The President is on
record as saying that he will not defend anyone caught in illegal activities
and there is no way he could have protected me. The bottom line is that I am
clean but my detractors wanted me down. Do you think the President would
have appointed me to two senior Cabinet posts if there was evidence of
But the sources said according to evidence
uncovered before the police were told to lay their hands off Mutasa, the
government official and other senior ZANU PF officials from Manicaland would
move around the province grabbing equipment from farms that had been
gazetted for seizure by the government.
In some cases, they
seized equipment from farms even if the white owners had still not vacated
the farms. The equipment was transported to a warehouse owned by a company
called Nyati Holdings in the town of Rusape, about 170 km east of Harare.
Nyati Holdings is owned by Mutasa.
Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri had accepted the recommendation by the investigating team that
Mutasa be arrested and prosecuted. But the commissioner told his officers to
back off the case after he was told by Mugabe, during his regular briefings
with the President, not to arrest Mutasa. - ZimOnline
Methodist bishops warn of genocide in Zimbabwe Mon 4 July
JOHANNESBURG - Southern African Methodist bishops have warned
of a potential "genocide" in Zimbabwe where the government has evicted close
to a million people from their homes in the last four weeks.
a statement released at the weekend, the bishops urged President Thabo Mbeki
to put in place fresh measures to deal with the expected influx of refugees
from Zimbabwe following the crackdown in urban areas.
"We have on
our hands a complete recipe for genocide," the bishops said in the
statement. They also said that there was "little doubt that we are
witnessing a tragedy of unprecedented enormity in Zimbabwe."
United States, Britain, United Nations, human rights groups and local
churches have all criticised the "clean-up" drive which has rendered close
to a million people homeless as an assault on the rights of the
But Mugabe has vigorously defended the exercise saying it is
necessary to smash a thriving but illegal black-market for foreign currency
and basic foodstuffs in critical short supply in Zimbabwe.
quarter of Zimbabwe's population of 12 million people are already outside
the country, the majority of them in South Africa, after fleeing the
five-year old economic and political crisis which critics blame on Mugabe's
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand want Mugabe
dragged to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights
violations in Zimbabwe. The two countries also agreed at the weekend to push
for a sports ban on Zimbabwe to prod Harare towards the democratic
In a statement signed by Australia's foreign affairs minister
Alexander Downer and New Zealand counterpart Phil Goff, the two countries
said: "The continued failure of the Zimbabwean government to respect
democracy and human rights needs to be addressed firmly by the international
The two countries, which have consistently
criticised Mugabe's government, want the International Cricket Council to
change the rules to allow states to cancel tours to countries accused of
serious human rights violations. - ZimOnline
JOHANNESBURG - Irish rocker Bob Geldof fired a broadside at
President Robert Mugabe at the weekend branding the Zimbabwean leader "a
thug" who has destroyed his country.
Geldof, who organised the
Live 8 aid concert for Africa at the weekend, was speaking during an
interview with South Africa's 702 Talk Radio on Saturday.
about the absolute, absolute thuggery, brutality and mayhem of that mad
creep Mugabe (President Robert)? Why does Africa refuse to acknowledge what
is happening in that country? This man is mad. He's destroying his country,
he's killing his people," he said.
Geldof also criticised South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki for failing to intervene and help address the
crisis in Zimbabwe and said Mbeki's stance was a "serious negation of
South Africa has consistently refused to openly
chide Mugabe over human rights violations in Zimbabwe and prefers "silent
diplomacy" in dealing with the veteran Zimbabwean leader.
policy has been criticised in the past by Western governments and the main
opposition in Zimbabwe who want Mbeki to adopt a much more robust approach
in dealing with Mugabe who is accused of stealing elections and human rights
The Zimbabwean government is under fire from the
international community for demolishing houses in urban areas in a campaign
that that has left close to a million people without shelter.
The United States, Britain, human rights groups and churches have all
condemned Mugabe for the "clean-up" exercise which Mugabe says is necessary
to crush the illegal foreign currency market and spruce up the image of
cities and towns.
A United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka
is already in Zimbabwe to assess the "clean up" exercise while the African
Union which had refused to intervene in the crisis finally bowed to pressure
from the international community and dispatched an envoy last week to assess
the controversial exercise. - ZimOnline
UN says envoy never endorsed clean-up exercise Mon 4 July
HARARE - The United Nations (UN) at the weekend denied that
its envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, had endorsed President Robert Mugabe's
controversial urban clean-up drive and said reports by Zimbabwe state media
suggesting Tibaijuka had praised the evictions were incorrect.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper last Friday quoted Tibaijuka praising
the government's "vision" in allocating residential stands to evicted
people. Tibaijuka, who is head of UN Habitat, is in Zimbabwe to assess the
impact of the clean-up exercise.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric
told the Press the envoy's comments were taken out of context and did not
amount to an endorsement of an exercise that has cast thousands of families
onto the streets without food or clean water after their informal businesses
and homes in and around urban areas were demolished.
listening to the statements made by the ministers should in no way be seen
as her endorsing the government's policy," Dujarric said. "UN Habitat, the
agency that she heads ... has clearly stated that forced eviction is one of
the main barriers to the significant improvement of slum
Besides being criticised by the UN, Mugabe's
clean-up campaign has also been roundly condemned by the United States,
European Union, Zimbabwean and international church and human rights groups
as a gross violation of poor people's rights.
In what observers
said was an attempt to pre-empt the UN probe into the mass evictions, the
government announced the same week Tibaijuka arrived in Harare that it was
beginning a mass housing construction project to build houses for evicted
families by next month before the onset of the rainy season.
The cash-strapped government said it would also build millions more houses
to wipe out the national housing backlog list that has more than two million
names. But the government, pressed for cash for food and fuel imports, did
not say how it will raise the US$300 million it says it needs to finance the
unbudgeted housing project.
Meanwhile, an African Union envoy, who
arrived in Harare at the weekend also to probe the mass evictions, is stuck
and unable to start his mission because the government will not allow him to
The government-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper said African
Commission on Human and People's Rights Commission rapporteur on refugees,
Bahame Tom Nyanduga's visit was unprocedural and in breach of protocol
because Harare was not forewarned of his mission.
alleges that AU Commission chairman Alpha Konare's office only alerted
Harare that it was sending an envoy to assess the evictions when Nyanduga
was already on the plane on his way to Zimbabwe. Nyanduga cannot proceed
with his mission until he is cleared by Harare, the paper said.
Konare's surprise decision to probe the Zimbabwe evictions was a policy
U-turn after mounting criticism against the continental body which had
earlier rejected calls to act saying the clean-up operation was an internal
matter. - ZimOnline
AU Leaders to Meet on Poverty, War By VOA
News 03 July 2005
Leaders from the African Union are
gathering in Sirte, Libya, for a two-day summit to focus on fighting
poverty, disease and war on the continent.
The leaders are expected to
use the summit, which opens Monday, to pressure rich countries for more
engagement in Africa. This includes calls for debt cancellation as well as
increased funding for AU peacekeeping missions.
U.S. and European leaders
say they hope the African summit will also include a strongly worded
statement about Zimbabwe's recent clampdown on shantytowns - a move that has
left millions homeless.
On Saturday, AU foreign ministers proposed a
reform plan that would give the continent two permanent seats on the United
Nations Security Council, along with three non-permanent seats.
15-member Security Council now has five permanent members -- a status that
includes veto power (for the United States, Britain, France, Russia and
Some information for this report provided by
Good money wasted? UNLESS G8
HAS A SAY, THEY'LL POUR GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD, WRITES BOB MACDONALD
1979, I had just returned from a working trip to Africa, which included
covering the Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka, Zambia.
returned, a local TV show asked me what I thought was Africa's greatest
problem. I said it was covered by one word -- "maintenance."
that such aid organizations as the Canadian government's CIDA spent huge
amounts of Canadian taxpayers' money on messed-up African
For instance, in Zambia, Canada had
spent millions supplying diesel locomotives for a new railroad.
Unfortunately, neither the locomotives nor the railroad tracks and bridges
were maintained. Result: The railway ground to a halt with little or nothing
done to get things working again. The locomotives became
Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, lionized by western
liberals, imposed a one-party socialist regime after Zambia received its
independence from Britain in 1964. He ruled for 27 years, and turned a
once-prosperous nation into an international basket case, increasingly
dependent on foreign aid just to maintain a subsistence economy.
was finally driven from office in 1991, but only after he, his family and
close aides made themselves millionaires who lived in luxurious mansions and
drove the best German-made cars. Most fled to comfortable exile in
Switzerland and other countries.
However, when I was there in 1979,
Kaunda was busily supporting an armed rebellion against the Rhodesian
government. One of the rebel leaders was Robert Mugabe, a Marxist who later
became the President of Zimbabwe.
And one of the ironies of the
Commonwealth Conference was that the once-prosperous Zambian agricultural
industry couldn't even supply cattle and prize produce to show to delegates.
Kaunda's folks had to sneak in livestock and produce from guess where? Yep,
the still-prosperous Rhodesia.
Of course, we all
know what Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe's economy. Basically, he has stolen
land from efficient white farmers and turned it over to many black owners
who proved to be poor farm managers. And he's consistently rigged elections
to cling to power.
However, despite his woeful, anti-democratic record
and destruction of his country's economy, Mugabe is still supported by many
other African leaders.
And we have such horrible African atrocities as
the 1994 genocidal slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsi men, women and
children by supporters of the Hutu government in Rwanda. I remember writing
a column about it at the time, noting that the horrific killings via guns,
machetes, knives and clubs included mass rapes of Tutsi women.
also noted the story was receiving little notice in the outside world at the
time because it was looked on as "just blacks killing blacks."
me to today's concerns by the more prosperous outside world -- especially
the G8 nations -- with African regimes that have piled up a foreign debt of
over $300 billion. This week-end, it has received major attention because a
group of pop musician stars put on a televised worldwide concert yesterday
urging the G8 to forgive the debt.
Fine and dandy. But there has been
little attention given to the fact that many of these African nations are
plagued with corrupt and often-murderous dictatorships.
the African Union has estimated corruption costs African countries $148
billion a year -- equal to half of that $300 billion debt.
the debt when such massive amounts are being stolen? Hell, do they think
this is Canada where the Liberal regime has ripped off $250 million of
Canadian taxpayers' money in the AdScam scandal and still leads in the
public opinion polls?
In other words, there has to
be some way for the G8 and other nations owed money to have a say in how the
African debtor governments handle their finances. Otherwise, they'll just
continue to pour good money after bad -- and see it disappear into numbered
Swiss bank accounts.
Meanwhile, it would be interesting to know how much
some of these billionaire and millionaire pop music stars have pledged of
their own money for African aid.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- CNN's Chief
International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour spoke to UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair about his vision for Africa. The following is a full text of the
interview: Amanpour: What motivates you to take up the cause of
Blair: There's a strong moral reason because there are thousands
of children dying every day from preventable diseases, there are millions of
people who have died from circumstances that are preventable over the past
few years, through conflict, through famine and through disease. And I think
there is a very strong reason of self-interest as well. Africa's a, a
continent of mixed religion and mixed races and if we end up with the
continent continuing to get poorer and it's people devoid of any hope, I
think that could cause us huge problems in the future. So I think there are
reasons of self-interest but frankly, there's the moral causes are upper
most in my mind.
Amanpour: Do you mean a war on poverty could also be
a war on terrorism?
Blair: I think you've only got to look at the
conditions that give rise to terrorism. Now sometimes people who become
terrorists are people who are well-off, and for various reasons get drawn
into terrorism and, and you can't really say it's their social conditions or
poverty that's given rise to that. On the other hand, I think it's very
clear as we saw with Afghanistan, if you have an immensely poor country
without any economic infrastructure, without any hope that people have for
the future then it's in those conditions that terrorists can recruit, and
can train and if you look at Africa, you've got Christians and Muslims
living side by side. It's important I think that for those reasons too, that
we try and make progress in Africa. But, again, as I say, in a sense, I
think they're always long term reasons of enlightenment, self-interest for
doing these things. The most immediate reason is how many people die in
circumstances of tragedy and preventing it.
Amanpour: Urgent issue --
how quickly will you and other regions move to the 0.7 in terms of budget
and foreign aid?
Blair: Well, we're going to move over the next few years
and by 2013 we will reach 0.7 but already we've been increasing our aid and
trebled aid to Africa over the past few years. But other countries are doing
the same now. And I'm reasonably hopeful at the summit that we will get a
substantial increase in aid to Africa. Although, very much with emphasis on
measures to root out corruption, for better governance, for conflict
resolution as well as simply more money. Although for things like the killer
diseases, HIV, AIDS and malaria, polio, TB and so on, the money plus the
help in using the money is precisely what the countries
Amanpour: How will you do it if the U.S. doesn't move up to
Blair: Well, I haven't actually asked the U.S. to get to 0.7,
they're a long way from that now and frankly it would be a lot to expect the
President suddenly to say right we're going to, I don't know what it would
be, but you would multiply it by many, many times to get there. What I would
ask him to do and hope that he would be able to do, is increase
significantly the amount of aid that's going to Africa. I mean, he's trebled
it already, I would like to see a, effectively a doubling of the amount of
money that America is paying because I think that, tied to the proper ways
of using that money, to things like education and dealing with the killer
diseases, to water sanitation and infrastructure, it, the proof is there, it
can make a real difference.
Amanpour: Columnists being derisive, is
this about Africa lifting the poor into the middle-class?
think the first thing it is about is stopping Africa from declining as a
continent and things like HIV, AIDS are affecting the population to such an
extent that some countries can't teach children properly because the
teachers are dying of AIDS. Now, there's an urgent need to act in these
areas that I think, that I hope is obvious to everybody. But we are not
saying that AIDS is the only thing. Opening up markets and tide is
important, too conflict resolution is important but we've got sitting on our
desks for the past two years, a report from the United Nations that
describes how we should build an African peace-keeping force and peace
enforcing force that will allow the African union to go into various
conflicts for example the Sudan and manage to keep people apart so the
political process can work. There's also measures to do with building
capacity in those countries, capacity for governors, proper judicial
systems, proper commercial and legal systems. There is a lot more than
simply aid but without aid it is difficult to make progress. And, you know,
it's important to look at some of the countries like Mozambique or Botswana
and you can actually see tremendous progress has been made. It's not true in
Africa things have gone backwards. Even in Ethiopia and even with the
problems you will have seen that there is significant
Amanpour: An effort to get people off the bottom of the ladder,
what is your reaction when people say we've been there, done that, it
Blair: I mean, my reaction is to say first of all, look at
the areas in which it has worked and often countries have been helped to do
better. The second thing is to say we've made certain commitments
internationally. All of us signed up to the United Nations millennium
development goals on poverty and on education, on the killer diseases. We're
not going to meet these goals unless we change course. And it's not a great
deal to ask. I mean, even when we get to 0.7 per cent of our GDP, it's not,
it's not a massive undertaking that's going to mean our people here in
Britain are poor. If you look at the way the world came together and helped
over the tsunami. It's a magnificent collective international effort. And
yet the consequences in terms of the death toll of the tsunami, such things
are happening , I can't work out the statistics, virtually every month in
Africa, so you, know, I think that it simply isn't right to say that nothing
can be done which is a council of despair and far too easy to fall into in
politics, or that when you act, it doesn't have an effect. Because you can
see them in the debt relief that we've given to some of these countries ,
look at, you know, primary education in Uganda, look at the changes that
have been happening recently in Ghana. It's possible, I mean, it's not
impossible for countries to change.
Amanpour: I've just come back
from Ethiopia, spoke to the PM, he said what is really necessary -- the
unfair trade policies -- what are you going / can you do about
Blair: We can make sure the EU changes. We've tried to make sure the
EU does that but America and Japan have got obligations to change that as
well. There's the World trade round that's coming up later this year, we've
got to make progress there. You're absolutely right, I mean, this is one of
them main things that the aid, the aid can help relieve the worst poverty,
the aid can help build capacity but in the end these poor countries have got
to be able to sell their goods into our markets and particularly their
agricultural products. And the trade distorting subsidies that the wealthy
countries have in respect of agriculture, it's not in the interests in any
of our own consumers and it's certainly not in the interests of those poor
Amanpour: An EU cow gets more than a an average African
Blair: Correct. That's right. And that's why it's got to change.
It's all part of, if you accept as I do, that the world is more
inter-dependent today and that it isn't an intelligent international policy
to allow one part of the world to lapse into, you, know, deprivation and
decline, then there are very strong reasons for us, particularly with an
emerging African leadership that is prepared to take it's responsibilities
seriously of saying, how in partnership can we make a difference. And you'll
always get people who'll say, well it doesn't matter what you do, nothing
ever works and so on. But I mean that's, people who say those things don't
end up achieving anything.
Amanpour: Is it fair to hold the people
accountable to their governments?
Blair: Well, there are two things here.
I mean, first of all, of course it is outrageous when you have situations as
is happening in Zimbabwe at the moment and it's a terrible situation, the
government there is causing it's people untold misery and deprivation,
wholly unnecessary. So of course we say that and part of the whole deal here
is, you are not going to get the extra help for governments to improve
unless they are prepared to come up to the mark in terms of government,
action against corruption and son.
But the second thing is for the, the
children that are dying needlessly of disease. It's not their fault if their
governments aren't making the proper measures and putting the proper
measures in place in order to tackle them, we've got to help them anyway.
And we can help them and sometimes, the help would be to governments to help
them build their capacity because for example with HIV, AIDS its not just a
question of getting the drugs and the right treatments into the country,
they've got to have the capacity in their health care system to deal with it
and you know, there are ways that we can with the international
institutions, make sure that the money's tied to proper outcomes and the
fact is there are around about a million people in Africa now getting help
with HIV/AIDS. Those million people weren't getting help before. If you go
and talk to those people and say is this aid all wasted, they will sure
enough tell you it isn't.
Amanpour: Do you think if people knew how
little their governments paid in aid, do you think they would back their
governments if they paid more?
Blair: I think they would. But I think
what is important this time is that we do show real deliverables out of this
so for example we are able to turn around at the summit in two years time
and say here are the number of extra children in primary education. You've
got a hundred and thirty million kids in Africa without access to education.
If you were able to turn around in a few years time and say here are six
million more children that are in education as a result of the help that was
actually given. This is what's actually happened to death rates from malaria
as a result of the expenditure on treatments and bed nets.
If we were
able to say look this is what the African union conflict resolution force
has been able to achieve, whether it's in the Sudan or Burundi or elsewhere.
If you were able to do this and show tangible outcome, then I think that
would make a big, big difference to public support I think you're right in
saying there is a worry, we've heard all this before, we've been hearing it
for decades over Africa, is there anything that can be done? And I think one
of the things that we've got to show is that there is also an African
leadership that is ready to take responsibility and that it is recognized,
it isn't just about charity or a donor -- recipient relationship, it's also
about a partnership between African countries prepared to assume their
responsibilities of leadership and the developed world that is the wealthy
world, prepared to help them do so.
Amanpour: Bush is not prepared to
increase, what are you going to ask him to do when he stands beside you at
the G8 summit?
Blair: Well, the first thing is, in fairness to the
administration they have increased aid to Africa, significantly
Amanpour: But that's like aid ...
Blair: No, that's right but
it's just worth pointing out that I think, they've trebled it over all. And
that's a substantial step forward and people have welcomed that. What I
would like to see however, is a substantial extra increase tied to the
specific projects that I know the administration care about whether it's
education or it's things to do with infrastructure or whether its to do with
the killer diseases. Now these are all things that can be done with the
policies the administration have set out and I hope they are able to do that
and then it's up to the European Union and Japan and Canada to commit
After talking to the UN special
representative about his "urban renewal" project at State House, Mugabe was
caught on camera saying "people have to expect a little discomfort in an
exercise like this." That remark ranks with the one "if there is no bread,
let them eat cake!" The person who said that soon lost her head in the French
revolution. Perhaps that will happen this time as well!
Mugabe has done in a well planned and ruthless exercise is to deny millions
of their sole means of making a living, I estimate a conservative 3 million
people are destitute and that this single act will further constrict national
economic output this year. In his so-called "urban renewal" exercise, he has
destroyed an estimated 300 000 homes. In his eyes they might have been
unsightly shacks, but to the people who lived in them they were home. At
least 1,5 million people are homeless as a result of this exercise. Often
carried out at night, frequently without warning, these representatives of
the absolute poor are now hungry, cold and homeless today because their
government says they are "rubbish" to be swept away.
it was very cold here in Bulawayo - well below freezing in low-lying areas.
Even now at midday it is cold and we have a fire in the house to try and warm
things up a bit. I feel absolutely devastated for those who have been
affected by this Murambatsvina. Many of those affected are HIV positive or
even sick with Aids. They are short of food and especially protein, their
children are out of school and they have no means of making a living except
through prostitution or crime.
Half a million children under 16
are affected, three quarters of a million women, hundreds of thousands of the
elderly. Just a little discomfort! Sitting in his State House with air
conditioning and luxury. With no shortages of any kind. A helicopter to take
him wherever he wants to go - day or night, a luxury car with outriders - his
new home at a cost of at least US$20 million. His homes in Harare, Zwimba and
farms in many parts of the country. Several homes outside the country - just
in case. Mugabe does not know the meaning of the word discomfort! Others call
The urban renewal bit comes from a government task
force hurriedly put together to try and put a brave face on what they have
done. This collection of sycophants has stated that they are allocating 250
000 stands for new houses, spending Z$3 trillion on housing and will get the
whole thing done in a few months. This from a regime that promised housing
and health for all by 2000. In the past decade they have built less than 1000
new homes per annum. Now suddenly, with a collapsed economy and no foreign
exchange they are able to build 50 000 houses a month! It's a
These guys could not organise a party in a beer hall, they
cannot organise fuel for the country, food supplies, even a supply of
matches, how on earth are they going to replace the 300 000 homes they have
just knocked down? Even if they do - who can afford the price tag of Z$100
million for a four-roomed house on 600 square feet of land? The answer is
very few - especially now that the State has stolen their assets and closed
down their businesses.
This exercise in ruthless futility has
at least done one positive thing - it has given the huge G8 campaign, led by
Blair and others, a real focus. You want to know what is wrong in Africa -
look at Mugabe. You want to know why we are poorer than we were in 1960. Look
at Mugabe. You want to know why aid, debt relief and trade opportunities are
not going to be the panacea they hope for - look no further than Mugabe. The
other thing that it has achieved though is that it has rattled
In a few days Thabo Mbeki is off to Scotland to meet
the great and powerful and to plead the case of Africa for a new start. He is
going to have to begin with a recount of what he has done since he stood on
the lawns in Pretoria with G W Bush and accepted that as far as Zimbabwe was
concerned - he was the point man. He was the man with the responsibility of
bringing to an end the crisis here that has cause so much damage to the
region and to Africa in the past 5 years.
As he goes, there is
a guided missile waiting for his aircraft and it will come from an unexpected
quarter. It will be fired by diminutive Tanzanian woman who is the head of
the UN agency Habitat from the roof of the UN Headquarters in New York. This
missile will confirm the situation here as I have set out in this letter. It
will confirm the human suffering and the crisis that it has created. It will
follow hard on the heels of another heat seeking missile fired by James
Morris last week in which he said the situation in Zimbabwe is evolving
rapidly into the gravest humanitarian crisis in the world today. Furthermore,
both missiles will target Mugabe and his cohorts as being at the core of the
As if this was not enough, the Mugabe regime this week
mounted yet another attack on what remains of the economy. They slated the
Impala Platinum Mines and Smelter at Chegutu for a forced transfer of assets
to the Chinese. Not only is this the largest single investment in the country
since 1980, it forms the foundation of a new industry for the country that
could transform the economy. It also constitutes a strategic outreach for the
massive South African mining houses in their efforts to retain control of the
global market for platinum, the metal of the future in an oil dependent
world. No other threat could have been more designed to concentrate the minds
in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
And so the MDC gets a call -
please come and see us urgently, we have a few things we would like to talk
about with you. Perhaps this time they will take the interests of the region
and the people of Zimbabwe seriously and embark on a long awaited exercise to
bring sanity back to this small patch of planet earth. Certainly living here
is a bit like being confined to a psychiatric facility where the inmates are
actually in charge and the sane and the saints, the inmates. Maybe, just
maybe, that is about to change and in the meanwhile we go back to doing the
hardest part - offering these unspeakable people, the other
Refugees sent back to Zimbabwe
by the British government have been tortured and beaten by Robert Mugabe's
secret police, The Independent on Sunday can reveal today. The disclosures,
which last night plunged the Government into a new row about its
controversial policy, highlight the grave danger that deportees face when
refused asylum and forcibly deported back to the country ruled by President
Mugabe's regime. The cases uncovered by the IoS include at least six
incidents of refugees being assaulted; one beaten so severely he was
hospitalised; one being nearly drowned during interrogation; and others
dumped without food and water deep in the bush. These new revelations will
fuel the bitter row now enveloping the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, after
he refused to halt the forcible returns of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers
despite the violent repression now gripping the country. Kate Hoey, the
Labour MP and former minister, said these cases meant it was "shockingly
wrong for the Home Office to continue to deport people". Ms Hoey added:
"Charles Clarke keeps saying that we have no proof but I met people when I
was there who had been tortured. Anyone who is deported back from the UK,
even if they are not a political activist, is at risk because the
anti-British feeling is so strong."
Ministers are planning a
fresh round of deportations this week as they face a series of legal
challenges over the continued detention of these refugees, and allegations
of ill-treatment by guards at detention centres. The Government dramatically
lost one case last night after the High Court blocked attempts to deport a
26-year-old woman on the grounds that her deportation was "inappropriate".
Menzies Campbell, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said last night
the evidence uncovered meant the Home Office now had a moral duty to suspend
all deportations to Zimbabwe. David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, asked
that the Government suspend deportations until a rigorous method of
monitoring the safety of those returned to Zimbabwe could be put in place.
The controversy erupted last month after scores of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers
in immigration detention centres around the country began hunger strikes in
protest at Home Office plans to deport them. Up to 125 detainees are now
refusing food. The allegations uncovered by the IoS - based on
investigations by Zimbabwean human rights groups and church leaders -
include: A refugee in his 40s sent back last December alleges he was
handcuffed at Harare airport by Zimbabwean secret police and driven into the
bush. He was then beaten repeatedly, had his head forced into a bucket of
water and was accused of being a British spy; Also in December, a refugee
was seized a day after being interrogated for three hours at Harare airport
and beaten so badly he had to be rushed to hospital. It is believed his
assailants were militia linked to the ruling Zanu PF regime; In May, British
officials escorting another man back to Zimbabwe allegedly handed him
straight to the secret police at Harare airport. He was assaulted by his
interrogators, and is now in hiding; Last month, another returnee was
interrogated at the airport, made to divulge addresses of other dissidents,
then arrested at his home and interrogated again.
Chireka, director of the Zimbabwe Association, said the regime's secret
police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, who are increasingly
paranoid, only focused on people they believed were dissidents or spies.
"The Central Intelligence Organisation is the most feared in Africa," he
said. In other cases, suspected dissidents are seized by militias, linked to
Zanu PF, whose favourite techniques include forcing metal rods through the
victim's armpits and using paddles studded with roofing nails to beat people
with. The fate of the Zimbabweans who have been expelled by the Home Office
is now being investigated by human rights activists, lawyers and religious
groups. Evidence compiled by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Group, the Zimbabwe
Association and a Methodist preacher from the Midlands, Dr Martine
Stemerick, suggests there could be at least 10 cases of refugees being
persecuted. Dr Stemerick has recently returned from a three-week-long trip
to Zimbabwe, covertly recording evidence about the ill-treatment of returned
asylum seekers. However, tracking deported refugees in Zimbabwe is fraught
with difficulty. Expatriate leaders say many asylum-seekers go into hiding
immediately after they return, or are too fearful of retaliation to
co-operate with lawyers and opposition groups. Susan Harland of the Zimbabwe
Association, said: "It is incredibly frustrating. These people don't have
the confidence to make statements because they fear their names will be
plastered everywhere. If they did, we'd be able to stop these deportations
happening." The ban on deportations to Zimbabwe was lifted in November as
officials said there had been a substantial rise in the number of people
making asylum claims falsely saying they were Zimbabwean. Since January at
least 95 people have returned to Zimbabwe, a figure that includes people who
left voluntarily. Next week, lawyers are preparing a High Court challenge
over Mr Clarke's refusal to release Crispen Kulinji, the most prominent
hunger striker and opposition activist. Human rights groups are
investigating reports that at least two male hunger strikers in
Harmondsworth were placed in solitary confinement by guards as punishment
for leading the protest. A third man is also understood to have been placed
under "room arrest".
Bail bid in Zimbabwean asylum row A total of 50
Zimbabweans are making a mass application for bail while the dispute over
their deportation back to the southern African state continues.
Forty-two Zimbabweans being held in UK asylum centres are refusing food
after a ban stopping their forcible return to Robert Mugabe's regime was
On Saturday, a High Court judge issued an injunction
preventing one woman's return hours before she was to leave.
Her lawyers are to apply for a judicial review of her planned
Recent moves in Zimbabwe to demolish
informal settlements - which the UN says has left 275,000 people homeless -
have drawn objections from the Foreign Office and prompted fears over the
safety of failed asylum seekers who are returned there.
UK, the hunger strikers' protest against the lifting of the ban is entering
its 12th day.
'Bail applied for'
Sarah Cutler, policy
and research officer for Bail for Immigration Detainees, confirmed the
protesters had applied for bail.
"We listed the applications on
Friday and they will be happening on Wednesday," she said.
"Between 40 and 50 detainees are due to apply for bail. They are all
representing themselves and we are helping them with the
Detainees held in Yarl's Wood and Campsfield House will
have their bail hearings at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in
Birmingham while those in Colnbrook, Harmondsworth, Dover, Haslar and
Tinsley House will have theirs in London.
Labour MP Kate Hoey described the attempted deportation of the 26-year-old
Zimbabwean woman as a "shameful act" and added: "To do it on the same day
they support something like the Live 8 concert shows outrageous
The woman, who does not wish
to be named, claims her father, a manager on a white-owned farm, was killed
in 2000 by Zanu PF supporters of Robert Mugabe and that her two brothers
have since been beaten to death.
Solicitor Jovanka Savic said they
would be applying in the High Court on Tuesday for a judicial review of her
The Home Office would then have 21 days - or seven days if
the judge chose to expedite the case - to reply.
said she was taken on Saturday night from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal
Centre, near Bedford, to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, near
Heathrow, where she was being held alone in the temporary unit.
insider said sympathisers staged a peaceful protest in her room at Yarl's
Wood when the removal was due to take place.
Her MP, John Austin,
and the MP for Yarl's Wood, Alistair Burt, lobbied the Home Office on her
President Thabo Mbeki is to meet with Zimbabwean opposition party
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Pretoria this afternoon, Bheki
Khumalo, the presidential spokesperson, said.
"The President will
meet with the leadership of the MDC in Pretoria this afternoon, at the MDC's
request. It will be an open agenda. The MDC is welcome to raise anything. We
are in their hands," Khumalo said.
The meeting, at an undisclosed venue,
was due to begin at 6pm. It would be attended by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC
leader, and Aziz Pahad, the deputy minister of foreign affairs. There would
not be a media briefing after the meeting, Khumalo said. -
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe
president Robert Mugabe's barbaric clean-up campaign, which has left
hundreds of thousands homeless, has also brought misery in the entertainment
Greatmore Chatya, Zimbabwe's representative in the Face of
Africa 2005 pageant, this week had her heart broken when she received news
that her family were living out in the open after their house in the
populous township of Dzivarasekwa, outside Harare, was destroyed during the
widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina (drive out trash).
one of 10 finalists, is in Randburg for the event.
The finalists are
receiving five-star treatment from hosts M-Net and the sponsors, but
Chatya's heart bleeds as the reality comes home that her family probably has
nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep in the icy Zimbabwean
She said this week: "Right now I am eating good
food and sleeping on a good bed. I am warm while my family is grappling with
the cold back home.
"They are sleeping outside and are trying to find a
place to stay, but it is difficult because everybody else is also looking
for a place."
What has surprised many is that Chatya's father is a member
of the Zimbabwe National Army, stationed in Inyanga in the east of the
country, but it seems that Mugabe knows no friends.
The army and
police in Zimbabwe have remained loyal to Mugabe after over a decade of mass
suffering and growing anger at his rule.
Chatya said: "I have been crying
ever since I heard the news. What makes it worse is that I am enjoying
myself here ... but my family is sleeping out in the cold while I represent
the country here.
"These demolitions are getting on my nerves. Whenever
reports about them appear on the news here, the stark reality that I no
longer have a home to return to dawns on me and this disturbs me a
Despite all these setbacks Chatya remains
optimistic that she will land the big prize.
"I am confident I will
win and buy my family a house. I hope God will not abandon me in this time
of need. He has been on my side throughout this competition," she
The Face of Africa finals are due to take place at the Sun City
Superbowl on July 10. The event will be broadcast live at 17.30 on
Three of the contestants are from Nigeria, two from Ethiopia, and
one each from Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Zambia.
lucky girl stands to win $125 000 (about R858 000) in prize money, and she
could break into the highly lucrative international modelling scene, like
Nigeria's Oluchi a few years ago.
Oluchi has become one of the most
sought-after models in the US.