|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
It is not the three-tier 2,500-volt fence nor the patrols of soldiers that scare Mashinga Homera as he sneaks across the border in the dead of night. He and thousands of others fleeing the economic crisis in Zimbabwe must contend with South Africa's most ruthless sentries: the crocodiles of the Limpopo River.
"The South African soldiers and police are polite. They do not beat us. They only shoot into the sky. When they arrest me and take me back to Zimbabwe, I immediately attempt once more to pass the border,'' said the 25-year-old bricklayer, hours after his latest successful crossing. "The crocodiles are the biggest danger. They are not polite.''
Last year, South Africa deported 47,469 Zimbabweans, compared to 14,651 in 1996. But police and army officials admit that for each Zimbabwean who is turned away from South Africa and its relative wealth, several more sneak through the 180-mile border dividing the countries. Many of them are helped by the guma guma, syndicates in Zimbabwe that, for a fee, can lead them to the best place to cross the border.
Many of the illegal immigrants, mostly men aged between 16 and 21, are escaping hardships linked to President Robert Mugabe's campaign to stay in power. Three weeks ago, Zimbabwe's fuel price rose by 70 per cent, making it uneconomical for many employed people to travel to work. Last week, the country's finance minister said the country was running out of food.
The Limpopo riverbed where the crocodiles bask is dry at this time of year. Soon after racing past them and getting through the electrified fence – identical to the one on the border between Mexico and the United States – Mr Homera was thumbing a lift on the N1 highway in South Africa.
"I have been crossing every few months for a year and I have been deported twice," he said. "When you are arrested, you can often just pay a bribe to a policeman or a soldier. If you get caught in a group, you are deported to Zimbabwe and then you have to start again.
"I am only afraid of the crocodiles now, and the hippos, and of drowning in the river when it is high during the rainy reason. This time, I saw an elephant on the Zimbabwean side and I took a detour so as not to trouble it.
"It takes about one minute to run across the river bed when it is dry. I always cross at the same spot because I know of a hole near a gate where the three fences come together.''
Mr Homera is now working on a building site in the town of Louis Trichardt, 60 miles south of the border earning 400 rand (£35) a month and is given food and lodging.
He has a wife, two children and other family who live near Masvingo, 150 miles into Zimbabwe. In his last building job, in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, he was paid Z$2,800 (£14) a month, after deductions. "Times are hard in Zimbabwe now; a 2kg packet of sugar costs more than Z$60 (30p). It all started when our president began taking farms from the whites. Now the whites are angry and will not do us any favours any more, so we are suffering."
So great is the human trans-frontier traffic that the 150 South African military deployed at sub-stations along the fence and the 52 police manning the formal border crossing at Beit Bridge, north of the town of Messina, seem demoralised. They are resigned to being little more than a symbolic deterrent.
Major Mornay De Ridder admits the crocodiles may be more effective than his men can ever be. "Once, from a plane, I saw a man in the middle of the riverbed being torn apart by seven crocodiles. It was horrific.
"The electric fence, which runs along 180km [110 miles] of the border, was built by the former government to keep out so-called terrorists. It has three settings, lethal, shock and alarm, and these can be changed only by order of the president. It was last on 'lethal' in 1990."
South Africa still deports more Mozambicans than it does Zimbabweans, and arrest figures this year have declined. But Zirk Gous, head of South Africa's border police, said this was caused by cutbacks in resources and a government decision to shift the force's priorities from immigration to fighting serious crime.
He said that while it was hard to prove that the declining economic situation in Zimbabwe had increased illegal immigration from that country, "in terms of a preliminary analysis, there is a strong impression that the number of Zimbabweans is increasing''. In the past four years, numbers of deportations to Mozambique have fallen by a third to 106,647. The figure for Zimbabweans has more than tripled.
Police Superintendent Jay Jay Uys, in charge of border control at Beit Bridge, swung open the door of a yellow police van, to reveal the latest catch of Zimbabwean illegals about to be deported; 28 men, women and even babies picked up by the military and the police in the previous 24 hours. "They will all be back in South Africa this afternoon,'' he said despondently.
Archibald Mauta did not deny it. Aged 18, dressed in clothes too small for him and sandals which were falling apart on his feet, he had left Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe after the deaths of both his parents.
"I did some odd jobs, just to get enough money to travel to the border," he said. "It was my first attempt to cross but I shall try again today. What else can I do? There is nothing for me in Zimbabwe and I do not have an education so I cannot get a job.Now, I do not have enough money to travel back to Chimanimani.
"I already know that South Africa is a better place than Zimbabwe because the food I got in the police cells was better than anything I have eaten all year in my country.''
An annual summit of African leaders expunged criticism of Britain's policy over Zimbabwe from its final declaration yesterday in a face-saving move that also served to humiliate President Robert Mugabe.
Lobbying by South Africa, Nigeria and other "modern" members of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was due to result in a mild declaration on Zimbabwe at the closing session in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, last night. It replaced a draft resolution by foreign ministers which, on Sunday, had expressed "concern" at moves by Britain "to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe".
Ahead of the closing session, the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said: "The declaration says that Britain and Zimbabwe need to get together and continue to search for a solution (over the redistribution of land). That supersedes the ministerial draft."
The scrapping of the anti-British declaration, which had been unanimously adopted by the OAU's council of ministers, saved it from ridicule as it prepares to relaunch itself as the African Union (AU).
President Mbeki is among presidents who want the AU – the brainchild of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi – to shed the OAU's image as a dictators' club, tolerant of corruption and coups. President Mbeki believes Africa should shed colonial allegiances and hang-ups and speak with one voice as an equal among other world lobbies such as the European Union. President Mugabe, on the other hand, expects an endorsement against former colonial powers such as Britain. Hours before the final declaration, the 77-year-old had stated that the anti-British draft "enhances our solidarity with our African brothers".
The OAU said in its final declaration that the Lusaka summit "reaffirmed that the land issue is central to ensuring durable peace, stability and economic development in Zimbabwe". The organisation reiterated its demand "for Britain to honour its colonial obligation" to fund land settlement. The summit called on Britain "to co-operate fully and enter into dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe with the purpose of finding a final solution to this colonial legacy".
Britain says it stopped funding Zimbabwean land resettlement schemes because corruption meant the poor were not benefiting. In 1998, an international donors' conference worked out a new approach, which the Zimbabwe government never implemented.
Ahead of parliamentary elections last year in Zimbabwe in which the ruling party faced its first serious opposition challenge since 1980, President Mugabe put the land issue at the centre of his campaign.
He promised to empower black Zimbabweans economically by giving them white-owned farms. He faces a presidential election next spring.
|MDC’s Holland besieged|
7/14/01 7:53:25 AM (GMT +2)
Geoffrey Manjengwa, a
security guard manning the offices of Sekai Holland, the MDC secretary for
international affairs, yesterday escaped unharmed after a suspected police
officer fired a gun at him but missed.
A policeman who refused to
identify himself confirmed the shooting, saying they suspected the people
driving into the premises were car-jackers. The shooting occurred at Mango Pvt
Ltd, an electronic mail services business operated by Holland in Avondale.
About 20 suspected CID members, including uniformed policemen, besieged Holland’s offices at around 10.30am and beat up three employees, Better Chakanyuka, 25, Norman Chinyere, 31, and Ringo Makunha, 41.
Chakanyuka said: “They forced their way into the premises, handcuffed us and forced us to lie down at gunpoint before they beat us.”
For at least two hours, Holland, her husband Jim and five employees blockaded inside the offices.
Holland said: “I was coming from the MDC offices in town together with four of my security people when my driver told me we were being followed. We are always followed and normally we lose the tail, but today we did not.”
At their offices, which is also their home, she said, they rushed into the house and locked the doors. “Before I knew it, I heard three gunshots,” she said. “I called Avondale police and the Press to witness the incident. I only opened the door when the police arrived. The invaders said they were from the CID vehicle theft squad and thought the truck I was travelling in was stolen.”
One shot hit the bathroom window. Holland retrieved the cartridge which she handed over to Avondale police.
Manjengwa, 20, said he saw Holland’s car being followed by a police vehicle.
He said: “I opened the gate and quickly closed it after she had driven through.”
He said a white Defender, stopped at the gate and the driver jumped out. “He pulled out his service pistol and demanded that I open the gate. When I refused, he fired at me but missed. The next thing I remember is lying on the ground being beaten up by the policemen.”
Zimbabwean police and security officers fired three shots at the home of a top opposition official Friday while trying to enter her house without a warrant, her employees said.
Sekai Holland, secretary for international affairs of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said an unmarked car had followed her through downtown Harare early Friday, leading to a chase through the streets of her neighbourhood.
She managed to enter her home before the police arrived, but they forced their way through the gate to her driveway and fired three shots at the house, employees said.
Three people at her home said police had beat them while they were being questioned.
Police said they were at the Holland home looking for a car thief.
Holland, her husband, and their employees locked themselves inside the house for about two hours, and came out only after a group of journalists had gathered on her lawn.
The Hollands also use their home as an office.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC which is Zimbabwe's leading opposition party, is currently facing terrorism charges brought by the government of President Robert Mugabe, whom he is due to challenge in presidential elections early next year.
Tsvangirai faces life in jail if convicted. However, Zimbabwean law does not bar a convicted prisoner from standing in presidential elections.
The charges against Tsvangirai, Mugabe's only serious competitor for the presidency, arise from a statement the opposition leader made last year suggesting Mugabe could be removed from power violently if he did not step down before the polls.
Holland was MDC candidate for the southern constituency of Mberengwa in the June 2000 parliamentary elections, but she lost the race after government supporters staged a bloody campaign of intimidation.
"We just want people to know that the harassment pre-June is still going on," she told reporters outside her home.
"We are grandparents. We don't need these kinds of heart attacks," she said.
The police raid on Holland's home is the latest by government agents on the opposition.
During the last week, police raided MDC offices in Harare, Bulawayo and KweKwe without search warrants, MDC officials said. At least 11 people were arrested during those raids.
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court adjourned on Thursday to consider arguments in the Tsvangirai treason trial.
Innocent Chagonda, the lawyer representing Tsvangirai, said the court was likely to give judgment within a few weeks.
Twenty-one years ago, Robert Mugabe saw Zimbabwe's defining moment. His
people had been subjected to Portuguese slave traders, British colonialists who
raped their land of precious resources, South African farmers who suppressed
their voices and countless "peace talks" that led to nowhere. By April 1980, his
people were ready for change and voted overwhelmingly for his ZANU party, making
him leader. Zimbabwe became independent, and blacks were no longer subjected to
white rule. Today, Zimbabwe is waiting for another moment.
Mr. Mugabe, referred to as the Old Man of Africa, is now disempowering the very same people. Those who formerly supported him are deserting him, and those he considers threats to his power are being murdered or charged with terrorism. Consider Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite the fact that the person who had previously seriously challenged Mr. Mugabe for the presidency of the country -- the Rev. Ndonga Sithole -- had been arrested and charged with plotting to kill the prime minister, Mr. Tsvangirai is hoping to overthrow the president in elections in April 2002. But today he, too, will face the Zimbabwe Supreme Court on charges of state terrorism and inciting violence. If convicted, this could conveniently put Mr. Mugabe's main competition behind bars just in time for the election and keep him there for life. Interestingly, in a gesture of desperation, Mr. Tsvangirai was charged with a law dating back to the era of white-ruled Rhodesia, a law used to silence black dissent and nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. All Mr. Tsvangirai had said was that Mr. Mugabe should go peacefully, or he would be removed violently.
Discontent has grown as the economy has rapidly deteriorated, and Mr. Mugabe has implemented a policy of settling war veterans from the time of the uprising for independence on land formerly owned by white people. It is estimated that 7.4 million acres have forcibly been taken, settling 100,000 such veterans, and Mr. Mugabe wants to settle another 300,000 by the end of the year.
As Mr. Tsvangirai sees it, though, empowerment is about jobs, not about land liberation. Since the land confiscation started, agricultural production has been disrupted, causing a food shortage. He hopes to focus on land and economic reform policy. He would rearrange the budget, too, focusing funds on health concerns, rather than defense, which Mr. Mugabe has used to fight his own domestic battles. This would help fight the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, which is killing 2,000 people a week there.
But before he can do any of that, he has to be sure that Mr. Mugabe will allow free and fair elections -- something unlikely without international monitors. "It is crucial that that election be run in a manner which is legitimate and which will give the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to express themselves to their own leadership . . . but we can't do it alone," Mr. Tsvangirai said in an interview at The Washington Times. "We need the assistance and support both of the regional governments and the international community."
For people who have had their voices silenced, a little monitoring doesn't seem too much to ask. Mr. Mugabe should know that the international community is already watching as Zimbabwe prepares for another defining moment.
Under siege in Avondale
By Jim Holland
At about 11 am this morning, my wife Sekai Holland was driving from Harare city centre to our home in Avondale after completing preparations to go to Mberengwa in the afternoon, when her driver noticed that an unmarked white Land Rover Defender had done a U-turn as they passed it, and that it appeared to be following them. He thought it was vehicle that is being used by Chinotimba, a leading Zanu PF thug, so he increased speed and tried to get away, but the vehicle kept chasing them. After a circuitous route they finally drove up our street blowing the horn and our security guard opened the gate, let them in and then tried to shut it again to block the Land Rover that was close behind. I heard the commotion and went to the front door of the house to see what was going on. At that point I heard a shot being fired. I saw the Land Rover at the gate, and it seemed to have a full load of about eight people in it, with one of them pointing a pistol towards the house. Our security guard was lying on the ground and it appeared that he had been shot.
Sekai and her driver managed to get inside the house and we then locked all doors and windows. We heard further shots outside the house and then unidentified people started banging on the doors and windows demanding that we come outside. I assumed at that stage that it was an assassination squad so we ignored their demands and kept under cover. I phoned the local police and asked a friend to contact all the journalists and other relevant contacts she had to say that our lives were being threatened. Outside I could see that several MDC personnel who had been in the vehicle with Sekai were being held on the ground at gunpoint by three men in plain clothes armed with pistols. I feared the worst.
While we waited the gunmen circled the house, peering into windows and shouting for us to come out. Finally, one of them - for the first time - announced that they were police, and that they wanted us to open up so that they could interview the driver of my wife's vehicle. As he didn't let us see his identity card, or explain why he wanted to interview the driver, we refused.
After what seemed like an hour the local police arrived - on foot, as they said that they had no transport. We then had a "dialogue" through one of the barred windows of the house. They told us that the gunmen were from the CID and that we should talk to them. I refused to discuss anything unless one of them let me inspect his Identity card. After much heated argument he finally agreed. He then claimed that they had been looking for a gang of hijackers who were travelling around in a blue Rustler pickup and that our vehicle looked suspicious. I pointed out that it was a white Mazda B1800 that bore no similarity whatsoever to a blue Rustler. He said "but they keep changing vehicles . . ."
My wife then joined us at the window to listen to what the gunmen had to say. When they said they were from the CID car theft division, Sekai pointed out that the vehicle she had been driving in had in fact been stolen for nine months by a ZRP police officer who now lives in London. She showed them a photograph of the thief that had been obtained by MDC security. She said that she had been harassed for the past week because of her election challenge which comes up in court on 28 July. She also pointed out that last year a group of men armed with AK47 rifles had also invaded our house with a similar excuse about investigating her car. That had been an hour before she was due to meet with Don McKinnon - the Commonwealth Secretary-General - who was visiting Harare at the time.
The leader of the gunmen (now holding a vicious-looking spike in his hand) initially denied firing any shots, but eventually said that it was necessary in order to stop Sekai's vehicle. He admitted that at no stage during the chase or before the shots were fired had they identified themselves as being police. He said anyone being followed by a white Defender ought to know that it was a police vehicle and ought to stop! (I did point out the absurdity of this, saying that we had once owned a white Land Rover ourselves, and that in these days of hijackings the last thing you would want to do would be to stop to talk to a vehicle full of men who were clearly following you with ill intent.)
Eventually quite a crowd of people had gathered, including employees from a security company, various journalists, an MDC MP and other MDC security personnel. Only at that point did I feel it was safe for us to go outside and talk to the alleged "police". They kept excusing their behaviour by saying they were just following a suspicious vehicle which had refused to stop. They wanted to know if it had been stolen, and if the people in it were involved in hijackings. They gave no explanation for their failure to identify themselves until the local police arrived, no explanation for shooting at a house with ordinary civilians and children around.
Finally the gunmen left, denying that this was political harassment. Only at that stage could I talk to the people who had been held at gunpoint. They said they had been chased by the "police" who fired pistols and then punched and kicked them once they had surrendered. One had handcuffs put on him that were painfully tight and injured his wrists. Others had bruises and lacerations. As everyone was leaving, one of the journalists pointed to a hole in our front window which I had not noticed before. We went inside and found broken glass and the slug from the bullet which had been fired from the Land Rover at the gate. It had fortunately missed our security guard by inches and smashed into the window at head height - but clearly the "police" had been shooting to kill.
We appreciate all the messages of support we have received from Zimbabwe and all over the world. The MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and other party members and friends came to visit us to express their solidarity.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 14 July
Gaddafi supports Mugabe with call to expel whites
The Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi offered aid and comfort to Zimbabwe's increasingly isolated regime yesterday and demanded the expulsion of white "colonisers" from Africa. Mr Gaddafi had attended a summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, where he outlined his vision of a united Africa. He then drove 350 miles to Harare to visit Mr Mugabe. In his journey he stopped in Karoi, a town surrounded by white-owned farms, most of which have been occupied by squatters. He told a crowd that whites should pay compensation for colonising Africa. He said: "We want them to pay. Europe must not deny us payment and compensation." After reaching the town of Chinhoyi, where the entire local economy is dependent on the nearby white-owned farms, Mr Gaddafi declared that all whites must leave Africa. He said: "Everyone who came as a coloniser must go back where he came from."
Throughout his progress through Zimbabwe, Mr Gaddafi was greeted by carefully regimented crowds of supporters of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. When he reached Harare crowds lined the streets and the official press hailed the visit of "Comrade" Gaddafi. Mr Mugabe's overriding objective when he met his Libyan counterpart yesterday was to secure emergency fuel supplies to ease the shortage that has paralysed Zimbabwe since December 1999. During several visits to Libya last year, Mr Mugabe made the same request to no avail. But The Herald, Zimbabwe's official daily, reported that Libya was expected to offer supplies.
Zimbabwean police and security officers fired shots at the home of a leading opposition official, a spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change said yesterday. Sekai Holland, the MDC's secretary for international affairs, said an unmarked car chased her through Harare to her home and three shots were fired when police tried to enter the house without a search warrant. Three people at her home said police officers beat them while they were being questioned.
From The People’s Daily (China), 13 July
China Provides 3.6 Million US Dollar Loan to Zimbabwe
The Chinese government Thursday provided an interest-free loan of 30 million yuan (about 3.6 million US dollars) to the Zimbabwean government. According to an agreement signed here between the two governments, the loan will be utilized within a period of five years starting from September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2006. The loan should be used for implementing economic and technical cooperation projects in Zimbabwe, which will be decided through consultations by the two governments. The loan will be repaid by the Zimbabwean government in instalments over a period of 10 years starting from September 1, 2011 to August 31, 2021. At the signing ceremony, Sun Zhenyu, vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of China, said the loan is the follow-up action after last year's China-African Cooperation Forum in Beijing. Speaking on the same occasion, Chris Kuruneri, vice minister of Zimbabwe's Ministry for Finance and Economic Development, expressed his thanks for the aid by the Chinese government.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 13 July
Muzenda, Makoni in row over $30b loan
A row has erupted between Vice-president Simon Muzenda and Finance minister Simba Makoni over a US$240 million ($31,2 billion) loan from Spain, it emerged yesterday. Official sources said the staggering financial advance was secured from Spanish donors to recapitalise the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda). Arda, which was headed by Joseph Made before he was appointed Lands and Agriculture minister last July, is facing collapse because of under-capitalisation and extended periods of mismanagement. It is saddled with a debt of more than $100 million.
Sources said the raging storm over the loan has drawn into its vortex Rural and Water Resources minister, Joyce Mujuru. Muzenda and Mujuru are said to be trying to divert part of the funds to the construction of Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam in Masvingo. Work on the dam has been suspended due to lack of funds. The two are said to be pushing the deal but have met with resistance from Makoni. Sources said Makoni was a major stumbling block because he had not been involved at any stage in the deal. The minister and his permanent secretary, Nicholas Ncube, who is the ministry's accounting officer, were by-passed by their subordinates on the issue, it is alleged.
Makoni initially told the Zimbabwe Independent that he knew nothing about the loan, only to say a week later that negotiations on securing the loan were still in progress. Efforts yesterday to get further clarification from both him and Ncube were unsuccessful. It is understood Makoni’s deputy, Chris Kuruneri, and an officer who handles domestic and external loans in the ministry, could have signed the deal. Notwithstanding the wrangle, sources said the money was coming. "The deal has already been approved and the money will be forwarded into the Arda bank account this month for disbursement at the beginning of August," the source said.
However, a new problem has emerged. The Arda board is said to be refusing to handle the loan after a warning by the Attorney-General’s office that the deal was unprocedural. "What it now means is that the deal has hit another snag," another source said. "But those supporting the deal have not given up. They are now busy scouting for an institution to handle the money." The Zimbabwe Development Trust (ZDT) and AgriBank - whose chief executive Taka Mutunhu is also Arda board chair - have been suggested as possible conduits for the money. But the ZDT, whose patron was the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo, is virtually a defunct organisation. Sources said AgriBank had not yet agreed to handle the money.
Mutunhu had not responded to questions from the Independent at the time of going to press. "The institution that will handle the deal will obviously get a commission," a source said. Sources claimed that US$40 million ($5,2 billion) would be offered as "commission" to the institution that acted as a channel for the funds. It has also been alleged that the original sum secured from Spain was US$260 million ($33,8 billion). Sources said it was suspected that at least US$20 million ($2,6 billion) had been deposited with the former National Westminster Bank - now known as Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation - in the United Kingdom for "sharing among those involved in the arrangement".
High-level sources said the deal, which caused heated debate in the Ministry of Finance, was brokered by former Arda chief executive, Liberty Mhlanga, and two Zimbabwean brothers based in Spain. Mhlanga, who is currently an Arda board member, owns sugarcane plantations in the Chisumbanje area and is in the process of setting up a sugar milling plant in the Lowveld. Arda implements agricultural and rural development activities. Its most prominent programmes include the integrated rural development programme in Masvingo, a fruit and vegetable marketing project in Mashonaland East and a small-scale coffee and fruit growers in the Eastern Highlands. Mhlanga could neither deny nor confirm the deal, but said he would be in a position to comment later in the month.
Note from ZWNEWS – The National Westminster Bank still exists. Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation took over the former Midland Bank.
From The Natal Mercury, 13 July
Court puts Zimbabwe's land grab on hold
Harare - President Robert Mugabe has suffered a new blow to his attempt to seize white land after a court ruled that it would hear no more applications to approve confiscations until the rule of law had been restored on the country's commercial farmland. The ruling on Wednesday by Judge Alfas Chitakunye of the administrative court meant that "government acquisition of the land was illegal in terms of the law, until law and order is restored", advocate Adrian de Bourbon said on Thursday. Approval by the administrative court is the last step in a complex legal and bureaucratic process in the "compulsory acquisition of land" by the government, and where owners can object to the confiscation of their land. If the court finds the government has taken all steps laid down by the law, the government can formally declare the land to be state property and evict the owner. However, in December last year the supreme court gave the government six months in which to end the anarchy on thousands of white-owned farms invaded by ruling party militias and illegally declared "state property" by government officials. The deadline expired on July 1. On Wednesday, in the first case since then, the court sat to hear objections from farmer Chris Grobler over the seizing of his farm in the Makoni district. The court found against the state.
From The Times of India, 13 July
Zimbabwe bans another talk show
Harare - Zimbabwe's state broadcaster has banned another talk show, the second in as many months, run by the National Development Assembly (NDA) civic organisation, the group's coordinator said Friday. The live phone-in show "Spotlight," carried on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's Radio 1 network, was cancelled with immediate effect, NDA national coordinator Kindness Paradza said in a statement. A letter from the ZBC's director of marketing and programs Musi Khumalo, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, said the show will no longer be broadcast because of "the restructuring process currently underway at ZBC."
The NDA has already sued the ZBC and the government for cancelling its television talk show, "Talk to the Nation," on June 4. Both programs focused on current affairs in Zimbabwe. The NDA is widely viewed as a pro-government group which holds town-hall style meetings around Zimbabwe. "Talk to the Nation" was cancelled after only three broadcasts, after callers challenged the policies of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. ZBC is Zimbabwe's only broadcaster, despite a Supreme Court decision that broke the government monopoly on the airwaves. After the ruling, the government pushed through new broadcasting regulations that have effectively blocked private stations from opening, while imposing editorial restrictions on any stations that should manage to operate.
|Hunzvi’s cars seized|
7/14/01 8:00:17 AM (GMT +2)
Investment Fund, the war veterans’ company, has seized 10 company vehicles
parked at the late Chenjerai Hunzvi’s flat in Belvedere, Harare.
Hunzvi, the national
chairman of the war veterans’ association and MP for Chikomba constituency, died
at the beginning of June and was declared a national hero.
Yesterday, Endy Mhlanga, the managing director of Zexcom and secretary-general of the war veterans’ association, said he took the vehicles for repair so that they could be used to generate income for the company.
The vehicles include five lorries, a Mercedes Benz vehicle, a Peugeot 306, two Mazda Twin Cab trucks and a Mazda 323.
Some war veterans immediately expressed their disapproval, saying Mhlanga was behaving as if Zexcom was his personal company. They described his move as arbitrary and high-handed.
However, Mhlanga said: “As the Zexcom managing director, I decided to take the lorries for repair at a Chinese company in Avondale, called Wallang Zimbabwe. After the repairs, the lorries will be contracted to various organisations to generate money for the company.”
He said other vehicles had been taken to a place of safety until the board decided on their fate.
But the war veterans’ taskforce, formed by Zexcom shareholders to investigate the maladministration at the company, is reportedly unhappy with the action.
Zivai Mboko, the secretary, said Mhlanga should stop operating Zexcom as his own company.
Mboko said: “Let him keep the vehicles for now, but I assure you that by 26 July the story could be different.”
He refused to elaborate.
Mboko added: “Without finances from the company, they would not be able to sustain themselves.
That’s why they are clinging onto power.”
But Mhlanga dismissed Mboko as “being overzealous”.
He said: “Who is Mboko to speak to me in that manner? Is it because Hunzvi is dead? Why should he discuss company secrets in newspapers?”
Zexcom is currently under provisional judicial management ordered by the High Court following allegations of gross financial mismanagement.
|Decision is a ploy to extend Zanu PF’s political patronage|
7/14/01 8:16:26 AM (GMT +2)
THE decision by the
government to handle disbursement of the $1 billion
indigenisation facility is nothing more than a ploy to extend its political patronage. This development also creates ideal circumstances for the fund to be looted. All the ingredients for corruption, embezzlement and abuse are there.
This week the government
announced that it would no longer allow banks and other financial institutions
to disburse the indigenisation facility. Instead, three ministries will be
involved in the exercise.
The role of the government is to create an environment that promotes the growth of enterprises. That role, however, does not include government interference as proposed in the case of disbursement of the $1 billion fund.
Three government ministries - Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation; Industry and International Trade; and Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare - will now handle disbursement of the fund.
However, it is common cause the Ministry of Youth Development is being used for the sole purpose of advancing the interests of the ruling party, Zanu PF. It has been the most active in liberally disbursing funds whenever there is an election pending - the Marondera West and Bikita West by-elections and the Masvingo mayoral race.
What the government has done this time is to extend its voter catchment area. This time industry is being courted in the hope that it will feel obliged to support the government. If industries support the government, then by extension workers in those industries will be beholden to the government.
This is the rationale behind the idea of bringing the Ministry of Industry and International Trade into the disbursement of the fund. One of the reasons why everyone is dissatisfied with the status quo but the captains of industry do not lift a finger is because they are beneficiaries of the system. Now they will have greater cause to feel grateful to the government.
Disbursement of the fund under the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare is intended to continue the patronage Zanu PF exercised over the Social Dimensions Fund. The beneficiaries were largely those recommended by the Zanu PF structures. This is outright vote-buying.
This particular strategy has been applied to farmers: convince the farmers to support Zanu PF and you have convinced their workers.
The War Victims Compensation Fund, the Social Dimensions Fund, the District Development Fund for boreholes and the pay-for-your house scheme were pillaged and plundered by people connected to the ruling party, Zanu PF.
It is argued there is some disquiet about the manner banks and financial institutions disbursed the 1997 World Bank $800 million fund intended to benefit small- and medium-scale businesses, but the same people expressing such views are aware they would not qualify if they approached banks because they have no credit rating. Roger Boka’s bank collapsed because he lent too much money to applicants who either did not qualify for or who were unwilling to repay the loans. They will be the same people who lobbied the government to ensure banks and financial institutions had no role in the disbursement of the $1 billion fund.
If a system does not work, the solution is not to scrap it totally. The normal process is to evaluate its performance and weaknesses and then improve and implement them. It is a process.
The World Bank facility took longer to disburse because the proposals and applicants in the majority of cases were not serious business propositions. A lot of those who failed know they will not access the fund if the same vetting mechanisms were employed. That is why there has been strong lobbying for a change.
But there is also another reason why the government would want to undertake disbursement of the fund: the government does not have resources for the 2002 Presidential election and the $1 billion is going to come in handy. The whole disbursement could be put put on “fast-track” by the ministries concerned, in time for recipients of funds to make generous donations to the Zanu PF election campaign.
Banks, especially, indigenous banks and finance houses, should protest vigorously because the same government which claims to support their efforts is now subverting their enterprise. The simple fact is that the government does not have the capacity and expertise of banks and financial institutions in vetting project proposals for businesses.
But this government, like a magician, is a master at creating impressions.
These proposals are vote-buying disguised as support for small- and medium-scale businesses.
|International trade union body condemns Mugabe for violence|
7/14/01 7:58:02 AM (GMT +2)
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has condemned President Mugabe and
his government for violence against trade union members and for the
deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
In a letter dated 5 July
2001, Bill Jordan, the ICFTU general secretary, said the unions supported the
two-day stayaway staged by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last
The letter reads in part: “The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions unequivocally condemns persistent state-sponsored violence against trade union members in Zimbabwe.
“We also wish to register our strongest protest at the deteriorating trade union and human rights situation, as well as the economic, social and political crisis, which continues to take a heavy toll on the majority of the people.”
On Wednesday, police arrested Wellington Chibhebhe, the ZCTU secretary-general, and interrogated him over last week’s stayaway. About 90 percent of the workers stayed away from their jobs, at a cost economists put at about $6 billion.
Chibhebhe was released after more than two hours of interrogation by the police’s law and order section.
“The ICFTU fully supports its affiliate, the ZCTU, in the successful stayaway action it has held against the massive fuel price hike and your government’s economic policy,” Jordan said.
“We are particularly concerned about the police intimidation of workers during the stayaway, the unnecessary deployment of the army in urban areas, and the continuing suppression of the right to organise, freedom of expression and the freedom of information, which is sorely undermining democracy in your country.”
He said the ICFTU would continue to monitor the situation and rally international support for the ZCTU.
Andrew Kailembo, the general secretary of the African Regional Chapter of the ICFTU, on Wednesday wrote another letter to Mugabe, condemning Chibhebhe’s arrest.
His letter reads in part: “The denial of the workers’ right to withhold their labour is a serious violation of internationally accepted labour standards and your government has an obligation to respect these rights by virtue of your membership of the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation.”
The Confederation of South African Trade Unions, a political ally of the ruling African National Congress led by President Thabo Mbeki, has also supported the ZCTU stayaway.
|Tekere tipped to lead war vets|
7/14/01 7:54:07 AM (GMT +2)
Kelvin Jakachira, Mutare
EDGAR Tekere, Zanu PF’s
former secretary-general, could find himself being persuaded to assume the
national leadership of the war veterans’ association, if the heavy lobbying
Tekere, who once held the
third most influential post in the ruling party before he was kicked out more
than a decade ago, is understood to command considerable respect among many
Asked for comment, Tekere last night said: “I have no comment at the moment.
I have just arrived from Harare and need to read the story in The Eastern Star first.”
But one influential war veteran leader said: “Tekere is likely to be the next war veterans’ national leader.”
The Eastern Star, The Daily News’ sister paper, yesterday reported that
Tekere was being courted to succeed Chenjerai Hunzvi, the national chairman of the war veterans’ association, who died early last month .
But some senior Zanu PF officials are reportedly working frantically to thwart any possibility of the no-holds-barred, acid-tongued Tekere taking over the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association.
“This will definitely be blocked by those at the top,” said one Zanu PF official, without elaborating.
Tekere faces a formidable challenge from those who have declared an interest in the post.
Among them are Joseph Chinotimba, the Harare provincial chairman of the association, Patrick Nyaruwata, the acting national chairman, Andrew Ndlovu, the secretary for projects, and Endy Mhlanga, the secretary-general.
Tekere, who unsuccessfully challenged Mugabe for the Presidency a decade ago after he formed the Zimbabwe Unity Movement party, is a patron of the war veterans’ association in Manicaland.
Zanu PF and war veteran insiders said those likely to block Tekere from the war veterans’ leadership were top ruling party officials, fearful that the tough-talking former Zanu PF stalwart could ruffle Mugabe’s feathers ahead of next year’s crucial Presidential poll.
Robert Gumbo, the Manicaland chairman of the war veterans’ association, professed ignorance over moves to draft Tekere for the post.
He, however, said the matter was likely to come up at a meeting scheduled for today in Mutare, where ex-combatants in the province will choose candidates to contest national positions at the end of the next month or early September.
|Britain must compensate farmers, says Gaddafi|
7/14/01 7:51:56 AM (GMT +2)
MUAMMAR Gaddafi, the
visiting Libyan leader, yesterday said, after touring farms in Mvurwi, the
British must compensate white commercial farmers for the farms that are being
seized by the government for resettlement.
The Libyan leader was later
in the day mobbed by curious members of the public when he took an impromptu
walk-about in Harare’s plush Eastgate shopping mall.
The security-conscious Gaddafi, dressed in white robes wrapped over with a brown scarf and donning a matching keffiyeh (headdress), greeted people as he walked around surrounded by bodyguards.
His bodyguards had a hard time in restraining members of the public who jostled to shake his hand and pose with him for photographs.
He even barred one of his aides from holding back the crowd pushing to take a glimpse of the man who has spearheaded the formation of the African Union to replace Kwame Nkrumah’s brainchild, the Organisation of African Unity.
Gaddafi’s security guards, who include the famous heavily-built woman Aiyasha, quickly whisked their leader into a waiting vehicle to drive away.
The headstrong Gaddafi immediately rose and punched the air with his fist -Zanu PF style.
Earlier, he visited the Heroes' Acre, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
On his way from Lusaka, Zambia, by road on Thursday, Gaddafi had his security guards in a bind when mingle freely with the crowd at a golf course in Chinhoyi.
Later the same day, traffic ground to a halt for more than an hour along Second Street, Lomagundi Road and adjoining roads when Gaddafi drove into Harare with his full convoy at the end of his 450km road journey. His movements were shrouded in secrecy and even the State media was kept in the dark.
Gaddafi is expected to leave the country this morning.