The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

July 12, 2002

Mother of courage cares for dying as famine boosts Aids
From Jan Raath in Zimbabwe
Anastasia is 44 and has watched eight close family members die
THERE is no sugar in Chishawasha any more, so Anastasia Muringayi cannot get the tough plastic bags it comes in to protect her hands from the faeces, urine, vomit and blood of her bedridden neighbours.

When the sugar bags ran out, she used the soft, fragile bags in which bread is sold, but they, too, have become rare in this part of Zimbabwe, only 20 miles from Harare.

Mrs Muringayi, having watched eight close members of her family die, has become an Aids carer, working with the Roman Catholic Church’s Silveira mission. Exposure to body fluids contaminated with HIV is one of the little-considered side-effects of Zimbabwe’s food shortages. On Wednesday the mission issued hygiene packs for its community-based Aids programme. They contained two pairs of disposable gloves, which can be used only once.

Mrs Muringayi probably would not have to worry about looking after Roger and Everine in their little brick and thatched huts near by if food were available. They fell sick when maizemeal and cooking oil ran short two months ago.

Nearly six million people in Zimbabwe, almost half the population, now need emergency food rations, according to the United Nations Relief and Recovery Unit’s latest bulletin, issued this week. Simultaneously, UNAids’s Barcelona report on global Aids this week estimated that 34 per cent of Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with the virus. Aids and famine were made for each other. Lack of nutrition lowers the body’s resistance, and the virus is let loose to ravage the infected person. The virus’s spread is accelerated as the hungry sell themselves for a meal.

When breadwinners die, their infant orphans and elderly relations have not much more to expect than starvation. On the scale of numbers affected in Zimbabwe now, the combination is apocalyptic.

“This is a nightmare scenario,” said John English, emergencies officer for the British Red Cross, which is helping the Zimbabwe Red Cross to distribute food and medicines. “People are already hungry, all over the country. Most people are eating one meal a day, but some are going four days without eating.

“This crisis cannot be addressed without looking at the HIV pandemic,” Mr English said. “The figure is one in three adults, and that means every family in the country is affected by the disease. Add to that food shortages, lack of drugs, decrease in hygiene standards and you are looking at a massive, massive human catastrophe. It has the potential of being on a much bigger scale than East Africa and Ethiopia in the mid- Eighties.”

It was only half way through her family’s deaths, starting with her husband in 1993, that Mrs Muringayi, 44, learnt the importance of the rigid hygiene needed to prevent infection.

A year ago, after the last death, she suffered “burn-out”, the acute depression common to the survivors of families devastated by Aids. “I was afraid, I was always asking, is it me next to die?” she said.

Counselling by volunteers from Silveira’s home-based care programme, run by the Church’s Silveira mission, helped her through. Now she bustles about her spotless yard with dogged cheeriness.

She has been left in charge of two orphans and three of her own children, two of whom are working. She used to earn pin money selling tie-dyed cloth, but 122 per cent inflation has taken the cost of dyes well out of reach.

Her eight cattle have gone, one slaughtered with each funeral to feed the crowd of mourners. The only source of income is her small garden of yellowing tomatoes and rape plants, which she sells in the village. Her own well has dried up and she collects water with a five-gallon bucket on her head from the nearest pump, 500 yards away.

Assistance from President Mugabe’s Government is sporadic, and predicted to disappear as the economic disaster runs out of control. The bag of government maizemeal delivered two weeks ago ran out on Tuesday night.

“The load is too heavy,” Mrs Muringayi said. “There is almost no one else left. At least no one else is sick.”

Not quite. Mrs Muringayi had not been well lately, Anselm Tapfumaneyi, Silveira’s Aids programme officer, said. She had rashes and lesions. She is still muscular, but is not the heavily built woman she was. “She knows she is HIV-positive.”

AIDS epidemic exceeding estimates
By Ed Susman
UPI Science News
From the Science & Technology Desk
Published 7/13/2002 10:57 AM

Two years ago, during the hugely successful International AIDS Conference in
Durban, South Africa, the congress was abuzz with the sense that the worst
was apparently over for Africa as far as the AIDS pandemic was concerned.

Models of how many patients the virus could infect -- as high as 35 percent
of adults in the nation of Botswana -- indicated the peak had been reached,
and although the situation in the sub-Saharan area was grave, recovery might
be on the horizon.

Today, at the just completed 14th International AIDS Conference in
Barcelona, Spain, researchers said they now realize the epidemic has, in
fact, worsened in Africa. New studies foreshadow the expanding epidemic
spreading into Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and the massive populations of
India and China -- where in numbers alone, the epidemic could double in size
in just a few years.

"We made a lot of mistakes in calculating the extent of the epidemic and how
it could grow," admitted Dr. Stephano Vella, the outgoing president of the
International AIDS Society, the organization that sponsored the Durban and
Barcelona meetings. "We've been surprised by these new figures."

Compiled by the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS, the new statistics
show even though no one thought the situation in Botswana could get worse,
it had. Latest figures estimate 39 percent of the adults are infected in the

"The figures from Botswana are really troubling," said Dr. Eugene McCray,
director of the global AIDS program of the National Center for HIV, STD and
TB Prevention of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

Most upsetting, of all the nations in Africa, Botswana has considerable
resources -- it is a leading world exporter of diamonds, major portions of
its population have access to reasonable medical treatment, anti-AIDS
messages are supported by top officials and the country is awash in condoms
to prevent transmission of the disease.

"Despite all this," McCray told United Press International, "the rates in
Botswana went up."

Another piece of bad news arrived via reports from West Africa. For years,
that area of the continent had been assumed to have a stable epidemic with
infection rates in the 3 percent to 5 percent range.

In 2001, the rates have jumped to double digits in Cameroon and the Central
African Republic. An estimated 9.7 percent of adults in Cote d'Ivoire and
6.5 percent in Nigeria are infected -- and Nigeria is the most populous
nation in Africa, so that translates to 3.5 million people.

"We don't know why the numbers have jumped so quickly in West Africa,"
McCray said. He suggested it may be due to previous underreporting. Vella
said displacement due to regional conflicts could have played a role as

In Africa, the epidemic continues to be spread by heterosexual contacts --
with more and more women becoming infected rather than equal numbers of both
sexes. In Eastern Europe and the republics that used to make up the Soviet
Union, the epidemic is being spread through injecting drug users.

In China, drug use and supplies of tainted blood have delivered AIDS with
sudden impact. In India, another area where sexual contact spreads the
disease, researchers cite dense slum brothels of the urban centers of the
country as the incubator of the outbreak that has now spread to villages.

"AIDS is everywhere in India," Vella said. "It will be a catastrophe. The
numbers of people are immense."

World Bank officials predict that without major intervention in India more
than 13 million people could be infected with the virus that causes AIDS by

McCray said new studies have shown that in places such as China where the
epidemic has found a solid foothold, the risk of rapid spread is great, in
part due to almost complete lack of knowledge about the disease and how is
passes from one person to another in the most vulnerable populations.

The UNAIDS figures predict by the year 2020, AIDS will claim the lives of 68
million more people in the 45 countries of the world where the disease is
most prevalent, mainly in the nations of Africa. The disease has already
killed more than 20 milion people worldwide.

Dr. Ron Valdiserri, deputy director of the National Center for HIV, STD and
TB Prevention, said although some people were surprised by the numbers,
"most epidemiologists were not. We have seen infection rates greater than
the rate in Botswana." He noted in the 1980s, the infection rate among gay
men in San Francisco reached more than 60 percent."

The concern about China and India, Valdiserri said, "is that we know that
once AIDS is introduced into an area that the spread of it can be
explosive." But "these predictions are not inevitable. If we provide more
focused attention on scaling up prevention programs as well as scaling up
treatment access we could change the pattern," he said.

Two years ago, Vella noted, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria did not exist. Now it is beginning to use the $2.8 billion already
promised by the world's wealthy nations to begin a series of treatment
programs in the hardest hit areas.

"This is nothing like enough," said Richard Feachum, head of the global
fund, which is a United Nations agency. Estimates are that $10 billion a
year will be needed to fight the disease on a worldwide scale.

Valdiserri said the CDC is working in China and India to try to check the
epidemic before it goes out of control. He said a few steps are showing
promise including efforts by commercial sex workers in India to negotiate
with male clients to use condoms to prevent AIDS transmission.

"I think that we have seen in Barcelona a number of proposals and ideas that
taken together could impact and slow the epidemic," Valdiserri said. "If we
don't take these steps, the epidemic will become that freight train racing
out of control down the tracks."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Monday, 15 July, 2002, 19:00 GMT 20:00 UK
Zimbabwe reporter fights deportation
Andrew Meldrum, with his wife, Dolores, arriving at court
Andrew Meldrum must leave after 22 years in Harare
An American journalist, Andrew Meldrum, has appealed to Zimbabwe's home affairs minister to reverse his decision to expel him from the country.

On Monday morning, Zimbabwe's immigration officials ordered Mr Meldrum, a journalist with the UK's Guardian newspaper, to leave the country within 24 hours.

In this country you get acquitted and then deported and the government still has the last laugh

Andrew Meldrum's lawyer
He was informed of the decision to revoke his permanent residency minutes after being acquitted of publishing falsehoods in what was seen as a media test case.

He told the BBC that he was "elated" over the acquittal but "crushed" over his deportation.

Mr Meldrum, 50, was the first of a dozen journalists charged with offences relating to the new laws, which his lawyer described as "absurd".

He told the BBC that his acquittal was "a great victory for press freedom in Zimbabwe".

No explanation

Mr Meldrum has appealed directly to the minister of home affairs, who he said was courteous but gave no indication he was going to reverse his decision concerning Mr Meldrum's residency visa.

Nor did the minister explain why the journalist was being expelled.

Mr Meldrum's legal team is now trying to file an urgent application with the High Court to challenge the ruling.

Mr Meldrum said the decision to deport him was another way of preventing him from doing his job.

"The Mugabe government does not want to see me, or any other journalist... holding the government accountable for the good of all the people of this country."

President Robert Mugabe
Media law introduced by President Mugabe requires:

Journalists must apply for an annual licence
Only Zimbabwean nationals can apply
Foreign journalists may report with special permission

  Full details of Zimbabwe media law

Three other foreign journalists have been deported from Zimbabwe since February 2001 and most foreign media, including the BBC, are not allowed to send foreign correspondents to the country.

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, has deplored the decision to deport Mr Meldrum.

"The deportation order was signed on 3 July, suggesting there was never any intention of a just result," he said.

Mr Meldrum was charged with publishing a story which later turned out to be untrue, now seen by the state as a crime punishable by up to two years in prison.

He has lived in the country for 22 years.

In acquitting Mr Meldrum, magistrate Godfrey Macheyo accepted that he had tried to verify the story.

"He acted like any other reasonable journalist in these circumstances," the magistrate said.

During the trial, Mr Meldrum's lawyer had argued that the police had refused to comment on the story and so Mr Meldrum could not be held responsible.


The defence had also argued that as the story was published in Britain, in the Guardian newspaper, it was beyond the jurisdiction of Zimbabwean law and so all charges should be dropped.

However, this argument was dismissed on Friday.

In closing statements, Mr Meldrum's lawyer said the new laws were absurd - a view shared by many journalists working in Zimbabwe.

A dozen have also been charged with various offences under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Mr Meldrum said he hoped that the legal precedent of his acquittal would help them.

His lawyer described the decision to deport him as harassment:

"In this country you get acquitted and then deported and the government still has the last laugh," she said.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Meldrum's past eight months in Zimbabwe

Ciar Byrne
Monday July 15, 2002

      Andrew Meldrum

Andrew Meldrum, the Guardian's correspondent in Zimbabwe, has been singled
out for criticism on several occasions by President Robert Mugabe's regime.
One of his accounts of the repressive media laws was branded "gibberish" and
"malicious" by the state newspaper, the Herald.

Meldrum, in common with other foreign correspondents, has faced an
increasingly hostile state reaction to independent reporting, culminating in
today's deportation order.

Here charts the perils he faced while reporting in
Zimbabwe over the past eight months.

November 2001: Meldrum is one of six foreign journalists the Herald accuses
of supporting opposition "terrorists". The International Press Institute
writes to Mr Mugabe asking him to repudiate the accusation.

January 2002: After condemning Mr Mugabe's plans to introduce laws curbing
the freedom of the press as "the most repressive legislation of his 22 years
in power", Meldrum comes under personal attack from the Herald. The minister
of information, Jonathan Moyo, launches a diatribe against Meldrum, calling
him a liar and suggesting he is a saboteur and a security risk to Zimbabwe.
Mr Moyo condemns Guardian journalists and "those controlling the paper" as
"either malicious or ignorant or both". He describes a report by Meldrum in
the Guardian as "gibberish" and adds: "All those foreign correspondents that
were not prepared to stand by Zimbabwe's values and laws were free to leave
the country."

February 2002: Zimbabwe's parliament passes the access to information bill,
giving the government the right to ban newspapers and prevent reporters from

May 1 2002: Meldrum is arrested by Zimbabwean police on a charge of abuse of
journalistic privilege, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in
jail. He is the seventh journalist to be arrested under the sweeping access
to information laws. Meldrum and two other journalists are charged with
reproducing a story, first published in the local Daily News.

May 8 2002: Meldrum is among a group of journalists who file an affidavit
asking Zimbabwe's supreme court to declare the new laws on the registration
of media groups and licensing of journalists unconstitutional.

June 12 2002: Meldrum goes on trial in Harare accused of intending to
publish falsehoods in a test case for the state's restrictive media laws. If
convicted he could face up to two years in prison. The state prosecutor,
Thembani Mpofu, says Meldrum had been charged under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act because he has abused journalistic
privilege by publishing falsehoods. Meldrum pleads not guilty to knowingly
publishing false information without verifying the facts.

June 19 2002: The case is adjourned after lengthy legal arguments about
whether the story could be considered to have been published in Zimbabwe if
it appeared on the Guardian's website. Meldrum's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa,
tells the court that if anyone could be accused of publishing the article in
Zimbabwe, it was the state - a police officer had downloaded it from the
website and pressed the print button. She says the article is a truthful
account of what had appeared in the local Daily News. Ms Mtetwa compares the
law to the draconian apartheid legislation that once existed in South
Africa, which forced the accused to prove his or her innocence.

July 15 2002: The trial resumes on July 12 but ends three days later when
Judge Godfrey Macheyo finds Meldrum not guilty.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


BBC's Simpson condemns Mugabe

Ciar Byrne
Monday July 15, 2002

      John Simpson

Robert Mugabe will achieve nothing by "cutting the tongue" of Andrew
Meldrum, the Guardian correspondent who has been given 24 hours to get out
of Zimbabwe, the veteran foreign journalist John Simpson has said.
The BBC's world affairs editor, who has reported on events across Africa
said Zimbabwe's president was wrong to try to silence Meldrum.

"I've read Andrew's copy for years and it's hard to think of a more
objective correspondent," he said.

"I don't think a country can live with throwing someone like that out and
not suffer for it. It builds up in any society the kind of pressure that can
only be dealt with by talking about things openly. It's a very destructive

He added: "It's not at all in Zimbabwe's own interests. The idea that
somehow or other you make everything right by cutting out the tongue of
those who point out that things are wrong is a foolish concept. It doesn't
achieve anything."

Meldrum was served with deportation papers just minutes after being
acquitted by a court of intending to "publish falsehoods" under the
country's draconian new media laws.

He has lived in the country for 22 years and earlier today said he felt he
was being "crushed" by the government, which drew up the deportation papers
on July 3 and July 5 - 10 days before the court ruled on whether an
offending story broke the new media laws.

Speaking from his own experience, Simpson said: "The one thing I do know is
that Andrew will be able to do his job outside Zimbabwe.

"The fact is that nowadays throwing somebody out of a country doesn't
succeed. The prevalence of mobile phones means that every contact Andrew has
in Zimbabwe today will be his contact tomorrow. He might not be able to
report with his own eyes, but he will be able to report fully because he'll
know everything that goes on there.

"If they think they can stifle any untoward news by chucking out the people
who write it, they're in the wrong century."

The decision has also been strongly condemned by the editor of the Guardian,
Alan Rusbridger, who called the deportation a serious blow to independent
media in Zimbabwe.

Opposition party Movement for Democratic Change has also criticised the
severity of today's decision.

"The Meldrum trial reveals the sinister agenda of the illegitimate Mugabe
regime to crush the remaining vestiges of independent media in Zimbabwe. If
Meldrum had been convicted it would have been another 'nail in the coffin'
for one of the central tenets of democracy: freedom of speech," said a

"Andrew has lived there for over 21 years, he has residency rights and they
are just trampling over his basic rights."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Country Left Out of Itinerary As World Bank President Visits Africa

The Daily News (Harare)

July 15, 2002
Posted to the web July 15, 2002

Business Reporter

World Bank Group President James D Wolfensohn is visiting this part of the
continent for the second time in as many years and Zimbabwe is once again
not on his itinerary.

In February 2001, Wolfensohn and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s
managing director, Horst Kohler visited Mali, Nigeria, Madagascar and
Tanzania - their first visit to the continent.

Wolfensohn began his second visit to Africa on Friday, a three-nation tour
to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania.

The trip, from 12 to 17 July 2002, will focus on post-conflict
rehabilitation and economic recovery, culminating in a meeting of ministers
from nine African nations emerging from conflict in Dar es Salaam.

Wolfensohn will also take part in the inauguration of an Investors' Round
table in Tanzania - an initiative supported by both the World Bank and the
IMF - that seeks to increase investments in targeted sectors by involving
local and international business leaders in investment and trade policy.

The World Bank chief is scheduled to meet with the head of state and civil
society leaders in each of the three countries, and visit some World
Bank-funded development projects.

A major theme of the visit will be the bank's re-engagement in the DRC and
its support for other countries affected by conflict in the Great Lakes, as
well as its commitment to do more to support the transition from war to
peace in Africa.

Wolfensohn will take questions from the media during Press conferences that
will be held prior to leaving each of the countries on the tour.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe farmers seek talks with Mugabe over land

HARARE, July 15 - Zimbabwe's embattled white farmers appealed on Monday for
face-to-face talks with President Robert Mugabe as a government deadline
loomed for hundreds of farmers to leave their land by next month.
       Colin Cloete, president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), said
the government's decision to press on with its two-year land reform plan had
severely impacted crop production.
       Aid agencies say six million Zimbabweans need emergency food aid as a
result of a drought and disruption of farming operations resulting from the
government's land drive.
       Cloete acknowledged that there had been lack of trust between the
farmers and the government, but he said the only solution lay in dialogue.
       ''It is still not too late and we appeal to our State President for
an audience,'' Cloete told reporters in Harare.
       Nearly 3,000 white farmers have been ordered to vacate their farms by
August 10 to make way for landless blacks.
       The farmers were ordered to stop all farming on June 24, and those
found guilty of defying government orders face heavy fines or two years in
       The CFU leader said white farmers no longer knew their rights because
of the various interpretations of laws governing Mugabe's land reforms, and
recent government statements that no farmer would be left without land.
       ''We want to clear issues with the president on where exactly we
stand, and what our future is,'' Cloete said.
       Mugabe left Harare on Sunday night for Cuba, and there was no
immediate reaction from his office to the farmers' request.
       Zimbabwe was plunged into its worst crisis in two decades of
independence in 2000 when pro-government militants, led by veterans of the
1970s liberation war, began invading farms.
       Mugabe says his ''fast-track'' land resettlement programme is aimed
at correcting imbalances in land ownership created by British colonialism.
       Farmers say they support land reform but are opposed to methods
employed by Mugabe, who won a March presidential election condemned as
fraudulent by the opposition and many Western powers. The government insists
the election was fair.
       The government has often accused white farmers of seeking to tie it
into endless talks as a strategy to hold onto their land.
       ''We have been castigated as British or that we are British-born but
we see ourselves as Zimbabweans. This is our home and we want to live here
and to farm,'' Cloete said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Departing federal official left unaware of key details

Episode points to lack of scrutiny, follow-up in Foreign Affairs intelligence, critics say

Monday, July 15, 2002 

A senior Foreign Affairs official who left the government to join a firm run by a pair of Montreal consultants says he made the switch without knowing crucial details about his new employers' controversial pasts -- despite having been part of intelligence-gathering interviews involving them over a two-year period.

Just how well Foreign Affairs gathers, scrutinizes, and follows up on the information it collects are among the questions raised by Herb Fraser's 1999 decision to work for Ari Ben-Menashe and Alexandre Legault.

The Montreal political consultancy run by the two men came into sharp focus early this year after Zimbabwe's Opposition Leader was charged with treason on the basis of information they supplied. They later went to work for his archrival, President Robert Mugabe.

"I'll underscore that I had nothing to do with Zimbabwe," Mr. Fraser said in an interview this week, explaining that he worked for one year alongside the two men as a researcher, speechwriter and political adviser.

For a time, the presence of a retired senior Canadian official lent cachet to the consultancy that has produced a series of made-in-Canada controversies. The Zimbabwe incident is just the latest episode.

Mr. Ben-Menashe and Mr. Legault separately came to Canada as immigrants after encountering legal troubles abroad. About a decade ago, they teamed up and incorporated Montreal companies called Carlington Sales Co. and Dickens & Madson.

Over the years, many complaints have stemmed from Carlington Sales byzantine international business dealings, mostly involving contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of bulk food. The consultants once estimated they have done more than $50-million in business.

But since 1994, government records show, people from Armenia to Zambia have complained to Canadian trade officials about getting bilked in such food deals. Several such complaints resulted in lawsuits.

In 1996, one Canadian trade commissioner abroad advised all of his colleagues to use "extreme caution with Carlington," alleging the company "did very serious damage to the commercial relationship between Estonia and Canada by what could only be termed unethical conduct."

But the federal government never made such information public.

By 1997, Mr. Fraser had about 30 years experience in Foreign Affairs, where he was a top intelligence official.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ben-Menashe, a charismatic speaker with a knack for dropping names and asserting scintillating knowledge of top secrets, was globetrotting to places such as Britain, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

The two men met through the intelligence-gathering program. Not greatly resourced for global excursions, bureaucrats in the department routinely invite Canadians who travel extensively to stop by for unpaid chats.

Following these meetings, in 1999, Mr. Fraser left government to join Carlington Sales. He was promised more pay by Mr. Ben-Menashe than he was making in the ministry. Before leaving, he was reminded by Ottawa that the Official Secrets Act prohibited him from divulging sensitive government information.

"I was what you would call a political adviser," Mr. Fraser said. The work consisted of "writing speeches for ministers in certain governments," such as in Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union, he added.

Asked whether he was aware of food-deal problems while working at Carlington Sales, Mr. Fraser said, "No, I was not involved in the commodities side at all." He then pointed out that the allegations made in the various complaints remain unproven.

Like several others who have worked for Mr. Legault and Mr. Ben-Menashe, Mr. Fraser had a falling out over money and left the company a year after joining.

But during the time he spent at Carlington Sales he lent credibility to the firm. Mr. Ben-Menashe would introduce Mr. Fraser as a former senior Canadian government officer.

Some government trade officials familiar with Carlington Sales disputes say that department does a poor job of sharing information.

"The information was there, but it wasn't something everybody would necessarily be aware of," a Canadian official who encountered a trade controversy while working overseas, said in an interview. "There was very little follow-up."

And this is a real problem, critics say.

"I think that shows an appalling lack of co-ordination within the department and speaks to gross inefficiencies that could be quite dangerous for the country," said Canadian Alliance MP Keith Martin.

"I'd like to see the Department of Foreign Affairs take a cold, pragmatic look at the Ben Menashe-Legault scenario," he said, adding Ottawa has treated the two men with "kid gloves."

The former intelligence officer, who has not rejoined government, does not consider his stint at Carlington Sales the stuff of scandal.

"Quite frankly, it is really a non-story here," he said.

But the government may have thought differently.

Newly released public documents show bureaucrats gave each others heads-up warnings about the imminent release of the files involving Mr. Fraser, and anticipated media questions before they were asked.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


US criticizes Zimbabwe for expelling journalist

WASHINGTON, July 15 - The United States on Monday criticized the Zimbabwean
government's decision to deport American journalist Andrew Meldrum after a
court acquitted him of publishing a false story.
       ''We are pleased with the acquittal of Mr. Meldrum. However the
decision to deport him is not compatible with the internationally recognized
human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press,'' State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a daily briefing.
       ''The U.S. Embassy is in contact with Mr. Meldrum and will assist him
in any way possible,'' he added.
       Meldrum, the Zimbabwe correspondent of Britain's Guardian newspaper
and a longtime resident of Zimbabwe, said the authorities told him to leave
the country within 24 hours.
       He had been charged under President Robert Mugabe's harsh new media
laws and was the first of a dozen journalists accused of publishing
falsehoods to go on trial.
       Boucher said the United States deplored the use of the new laws ''to
restrict freedom of the press in Zimbabwe.''
       ''Intimidation and harassment of journalists have continued unabated
since the fundamentally flawed March presidential election. We strongly feel
that the media must be free to report the news,'' the spokesman added.
       Mugabe was re-elected in March but the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change alleged widespread vote-rigging.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

Swiss block Zimbabwe assets

BERN, Switzerland - Swiss authorities said on Monday they had frozen $10,000
in a bank account linked to the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs refused to identify the account
holders or provide other details, but said the money had been blocked
following notification from the bank.

The move follows a Swiss decision in March to impose economic and diplomatic
sanctions on Zimbabwe, including the freezing of assets and a ban on travel
by senior government officials. This shadowed sanctions imposed by the
European Union, of which Switzerland is not a member.

The 15-nation EU imposed the embargo against President Robert Mugabe's
government after international outrage over allegedly rigged elections in
March. The United States also has imposed sanctions.

Last week, British authorities said they had frozen 76,000 pounds ($118,500)
in assets belonging to Mugabe's party.

Zimbabwe has been wracked for the past two years by political violence that
opposition supporters, human rights activists and many international
officials blame on the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Mugabe, 77, has ruled Zimbabwe since it won independence from Britain in
1980. As his popularity has waned, he has imposed curbs on journalists and
opposition parties, and many of his critics have been attacked or threatened
with prosecution.

Zimbabwe's government also has targeted about 95 percent of farms owned by
the country's white minority for seizure, saying it wants to redistribute
them to landless blacks. The often violent programme of seizures has been
condemned by Western governments and has contributed to widespread food

Back to the Top
Back to Index

A timely warning for those who are selling up and moving on -- the greenback
is shonky right now as the US financial pond is more intensely stirred and
dark and dirty dealings belch free from the slimy bottom and float to the
top -- go for Sterling or Euro in any exchange if you have the option.  Or
else negotiate a better rate to US than 600, if you can.  The US freefall is
probably part of the reason the Parallel Market rate has recently dropped
from 800 to 600 zimbucks to one US$ (along with the govt clampdown on street
traders).  There were reports a couple of weeks ago, that rates had dropped
as low as 300-400 to $US1 in some parts of the country.  Just a thought?
I'm not an expert on financial trading in any sense whatsoever -- just
alarmed by certain trends than I am observing and monitoring.  Read the
report, for what it's worth.


Business - AP

Dollar Falls Below Parity With Euro
Mon Jul 15,10:20 AM ET
By DAVID McHUGH, Associated Press Writer

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Amid worries over American stocks, the U.S. dollar
fell below parity Monday with the euro for the first time since February

The dollar's weakness is a mixed blessing for the United States, the world's
biggest economy. It means costlier European vacations and imports for
Americans and increases inflationary pressure. But it eases price
disadvantages for U.S. manufacturing exporters, who have complained about
the strong dollar for months.

The strong euro also relieves inflationary pressure in Europe by making
imported goods and energy cheaper.

The decline of U.S. stocks and a series of scandals about the
trustworthiness of earnings reports are a major force driving the dollar
down, according to economists. That, more than any new conviction about the
strength of the economy in the 12 nations that use the euro, has fueled the
common currency's rise.

Slumping U.S. indicators — including "lower equity prices and very
disappointing numbers for consumer confidence" in a recent U.S. survey —
provided the underlying push that finally lifted the euro over the top, said
Michael Schubert, an economist at Germany's Commerzbank.

The joint European currency has been hovering near one-to-one with the
dollar for weeks. On Monday, it shot up from an opening rate of about 99.3
cents to $1.0032 before settling back down to about $1.0025. It has risen 15
percent since beginning its rally in early April.

The euro hit its all-time high shortly after its launch on Jan. 1, 1999, but
then began to slide, falling through the $1 mark in February 2000 and
hitting a record low of 82.30 cents in October 2000.

Foreign investors' eagerness to buy U.S. stocks during the boom of the late
1990s was one of the things that kept the dollar high against foreign
currencies, because investors need dollars to purchase U.S. investments.

For years, that was enough to offset the huge U.S. current account deficit,
the broadest measure of foreign trade, running at $417 billion last year and
showing no sign of abating this year. When Americans buy more from overseas
than they can sell, that puts downward pressure on the dollar.

Touching the parity mark with the dollar is a psychological boost for the
euro, which in the past staged several tentative rallies that always

The euro's supporters had hoped it would challenge the dollar as the favored
currency of investors and central bankers, and parity could give them a
public relations boost.

Economists caution that despite euro's rally, there is little encouraging
economic news from the 12 countries using the shared money. Growth in the
euro zone was an anemic 0.2 percent in the second quarter, though most
economists predict a pickup in the second half of this year.

But there may be limits to the euro rally because Europe's economies — led
by Germany — depend on exports to lead their way to recovery.

"That will move to the front burner in the months to come, if the euro
continues its upward trend," Deutsche Bank economist Stefan Schneider said.
"People will have more doubts about the euro zone recovery."

The Australian

Bears predict total crash
Have we 'bearly' begun to feel pain, asks Robin Bromby


A DOW Jones industrial index below 3000, the Standard & Poor's 500 at 560,
and a Nasdaq at 500. Never have the bears felt more confident of their
predictions that the roof is about to fall in.

Look, they say, Alan Greenspan talked about "irrational exuberance" when the
Dow was at 6300 all of six years ago. And, they add, the Federal Reserve
chairman just kept helping the bubble get ever larger by successive interest
rate cuts. More debt to keep the party going.

There are some sobering facts to back their gloom. According to New York
broker HD Brous & Co, the 1929 mania saw stock exchange turnover in dollar
volume equivalent to 130 per cent of US gross domestic product. In 2000, it
was more than 300 per cent of the GDP figure.

Even with the lower prices and burned fingers, in June 2002, $US1.91 was
spent on share trading for every $US1 used to buy goods and services.
Brous's newsletter explains that much of the buoyancy remaining can be put
down to the fact that 75 mutual funds control 44 per cent of the entire
stock market. They have an interest, you could say.

Among the increasingly listened-to bears is David Tice. Back in 1995, he set
up his Prudent Bear Fund to provide investors an opportunity to take the
contrarian view and short the US stock market. The value of the fund rose 20
per cent in the first six months of this year while all else (apart from
gold) was tanking.

He is now picking a Dow below 3000 and a Nasdaq below 500, compared with the
8684.53 and 1373.50 they ended at on Friday. From its peak in March 2000 to
the level at the end of June 2002, the Nasdaq dropped 71 per cent. A fall to
500 would be 63 per cent off the latter level, so not unimaginable.

While we tend to watch New York, some of the European tech markets have
already taken even worse hits. Germany's Neuer Market is already well below
its levels in the aftermath of September 11; since its high of 1329 on
November 26, this index hit 527 this month. London's techMARK is showing a
similar pattern.

Much of the bear case can be read about on specialised internet sites. Some
of it tests even the pessimist's credulity.

Take Clive Maund, described as a British technical analyst trading the US
markets from Bavaria. His contribution to the web in the past week was
titled "The Great Crash of 2002". He posts several S&P 500 charts to support
his case: that we have yet to reach the panic stage of the bear market.
Every bear market has one.

"I state now, without exaggeration, that I firmly believe we are now about
to witness, within the next few months, possibly within the next few weeks,
the MOST DRAMATIC STOCK MARKET CRASH IN HISTORY, which will make the crash
of '29 look like a Sunday school outing," argues Maund. (There are a lot of
capital letters on these sites.)

His charts show a vertical plunge of the S&P to 560. Total meltdown.

The S&P, based on 500 stocks, is a much better indicator of the health of
the stock market than the Dow Jones, which has 30 stocks. There are also
index funds based on the S&P; it has lost 40 per cent of its value since
early 2000.

Risible possibly, but it is no joke when Vince Heaney, markets editor of FT
Investor (part of the Financial Times group) wrote on Friday that his charts
showed the S&P 500 going down a further 600 points to -- wait for it -- 332.

Not all gloomsters are out there on the edge, among them Morgan Stanley's
chief economist Stephen Roach. Earlier this month he warned of systemic risk
in the US economy.

System failure is triggered by an unexpected, major financial accident.

"The lessons of history are painfully clear ... the excesses of debt are a
breeding ground for financial accidents and the systemic risks they uncover.
Record ratios of debt to GDP that persist to this day -- for businesses and
consumers alike -- drive that point home." Another sober warning. Forbes
magazine last week quotes a senior fund manager and economist predicting
that S&P index funds would do poorly over the next several decades -- yes,
that's decades, not years.

So show us the good news. Hard to do. German unemployment is at its highest
in three years and factory production fell in June. Brazil is in danger of
following Argentina. Did we mention the ballooning US current account

But we have saved the best for last.

Meet collateralised debt obligations, derivatives devices used by banks to
get loans off their balance sheets. These are linked to debt markets through
structured bond issues. Effectively, much of the loan risk is moved to
insurance companies. CDOs have also been described as "the most toxic
element of the financial markets today" by one banker.

Moody's Investor Services has found that many CDO portfolios are exposed to
WorldCom's $US30 billion ($53.62 billion) debt. If WorldCom files for
bankruptcy (to get new financing) then the CDO holders might have a

Britain's Financial Services Authority recently warned the insurance
industry about its large exposure to CDOs and similar derivatives.

As with all derivatives, but more so in this case, the funds are so
leveraged that one large default can set off a ripple through the sector. Or
more than a ripple.

The Australian
Back to the Top
Back to Index