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

Independent, UK

Zimbabwe undercover: how Mugabe is burning opponents out of their homes
Our reporter watches covertly as the urban poor are driven into the
countryside in a campaign reminiscent of Pol Pot
By our special correspondent in Kirllany squatter camp, Bulawayo
12 June 2005

From the road you could see the smoke climbing out of the bush like giant
black trees. Driving along the burnt-red dirt track, the only sign of life
was a bewildered woman carrying a baby. She waved in the direction of the
charred mud huts, and kept repeating the word "police".

She said that seven truckloads of police with assault rifles had come in the
morning. They had forced people from their homes at gunpoint and set them
alight. "They told us to get out. They told us they will come back with dogs
tonight to make sure we are gone," she told The Independent on Sunday.

Beauty and her two children are just the latest victims of a Pol Pot-style
campaign waged by President Robert Mugabe to empty the cities and force the
population into the countryside. It is a war that has been launched with a
concerted attack on the country's poorest and weakest people. Hundreds of
thousands living in squatter camps or working in street markets have had
their homes demolished or their livelihoods. Mr Mugabe calls the campaign a
"clean-up operation" to restore order and beauty to the cities. His critics
accuse him of waging a vindictive war on those who didn't vote for his
Zanu-PF party in the March general election.

Nearly half a million people have been displaced in a drought-stricken
country where conservative estimates say that four million are in immediate
need of food aid. The United Nations and the World Food Programme are
warning of a "humanitarian disaster". "This is like Pol Pot, corralling
people into the countryside where they can be controlled and indoctrinated,"
said Shari Appel, a Zimbabwe resident and human rights expert. "We're
heading into the dark ages here. What we're going to see is selective
starvation. He wants people hungry and compliant," said Ms Appel.

Mr Mugabe shows no sign of following Pol Pot's personal example and moving
to a rural mud hut. He continues to live in majesty in an expensive district
of Harare, where a strict 6pm-to-6am curfew ensures no one can so much as
approach the perimeter wall. Until yesterday, Beauty and her family had
lived in a one-room house with mud walls and a corrugated iron and thatched
roof. They were one of up to 400 families living in the Kirllany squatter
camp on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Now, only the blackened shell remains and
the thick smell of burning thatch fills the air.

As the word spread that we weren't police, people started to appear out of
the bush. Many barefoot, they came crunching through the husks of their
failed maize crop, carrying whatever they had left. Angry and confused, they
wanted to know why the police would do this and where they were supposed to

One woman, still breast-feeding her baby, said there was nothing they could
do. "What can we do to stop them? They had guns. They came suddenly and then
they were shouting, 'Get away!' Where are we supposed to go?" she asked. As
she spoke, a few hundred metres away on the main road, police pickups with
armed men patrolled the roads. Further away roadblocks were set up to stop
anyone coming closer to find out what was going on.

These scenes have been repeated throughout Zimbabwe. At the Victoria Falls,
the crowning glory of a once flourishing tourism industry, an estimated
30,000 people were evicted from squatter camps in a two-day operation
thatcontinued yesterday. As their homes were torched and their possessions
looted by the security forces, they were told to "go home". One resident
said he heard a government minister on the radio, saying that "the black man
comes from the countryside and should go back to the countryside".

In the capital, Harare, entire squatter camps - home to the majority of the
urban poor - have been emptied and burned. Trudy Stevenson, an MP with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, witnessed hundreds of people
being loaded on to trucks and sent one way, while their possessions were
taken elsewhere. The government insists that their campaign, dubbed
"Murambatsvina", or "drive out trash", was a long-overdue purge of the
informal economy.

AG Ndlovu, the deputy mayor of Bulawayo, says this is a fiction. "The
government came to us and told us to destroy the markets and we said 'no.
This is illegal'. They were legally there, we had given them standards, told
them where to put their things. They had applied and been given licences."

In the past, repression has tended to focus on the opposition stronghold of
Matabeleland, with Bulawayo as its capital, and home to the Ndebele people
who make up 20 per cent of the population. But the latest campaign has hit
just as hard in Harare, where the majority are, like Mr Mugabe himself, part
of the Nshona tribe.

The results of the 31 March elections - condemned by all but Mr Mugabe's
allies in neighbouring countries as illegitimate - showed that Zanu-PF has
lost the cities to the opposition MDC. With the economy in freefall after a
five-year period in which Zimbabwe has moved from being the breadbasket of
Africa to famine, even an allegedly rigged election cannot hide the scale of
the crisis. Agricultural output has been devastated by the farm invasions
that masqueraded as much-needed land reform.

Little is moving on the streets as foreign currency reserves hit rock bottom
and fuel imports have dried up. Fuel queues are so much part of daily life
that newspapers advise readers on which is the most sociable queue to wait
the four to five days it takes to get petrol. An attempted two-day national
strike, organised by opposition groups, human rights activists, churches and
unions was thwarted by a campaign of state intimidation. Graffiti on the
city walls call for an uprising. But those who still have homes stay put out
of fear.

"The severity of the onslaught shows how desperate the state is," said
Graham Shaw, a former Methodist pastor turned rights campaigner. "If they're
raiding street vendors for foreign currency then they're close to the end.
Lots of people are saying it's time to take to the streets, but nobody wants
to lead them."
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Scotsman

Mugabes' 1m party as millions face starvation


ROBERT Mugabe and his wife Grace are this weekend preparing for a lavish
wedding anniversary celebration by approving a guest list that includes the
names of African leaders seeking massive debt relief for their impoverished

"It will be a classy, royal-like occasion," a government source said in
Harare. "The Mugabes will be driven from a church service at Kutama Mission
outside Harare where they were married in August 1996 in an open Rolls-Royce
with horses in front. That's how they want it."

The wedding anniversary party will reportedly cost close to 1m. It will be
preceded by a Mugabe family trip to an as yet unnamed country with close
ties to Zimbabwe - possibly Libya.

Plans for the lavish celebrations in August have been confirmed as millions
of Zimbabweans face starvation. This year the country was forced to import
millions of tons of grain, most of it corn from neighbouring countries.

The all-day party will be partly paid for by President Mugabe - one of
Africa's wealthiest men - partly by impoverished Zimbabwean taxpayers and
partly by local companies seeking to stay in business at a time when the
words "ethnic cleansing" are never far away from the lips of European, Asian
and middle-class African businesspeople.

Grace Mugabe is 40 years younger than her husband. The couple met when
President Mugabe was still a married man.

His first wife, Ghanaian-born Sally Mugabe, died in 1992 and 40 days of
national mourning was declared. Then rumours started that the austere
Catholic-educated Mugabe had been having an affair for years with a State
House security operative, Grace Marufa.

Robert Mugabe fathered two children with her - Robert Jnr (now 18) and Bona,
who is 16. The children were presented to almost 30,000 wedding guests at
the end of August 1996. Since then the couple have had a third child.

They will have a 10th wedding anniversary celebration next year. "It will
probably be held at Mugabe's multi-million-pound palace in the suburb of
Borrowdale," said a source in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

"This year's anniversary will be huge. Next year's will be colossal," he

. The father of Prince Harry's girlfriend has defended himself against
allegations that his business dealings help "sustain" the Zimbabwean regime.

Wealthy safari operator Charles Davy said he was "in business not politics"
after his dealings with Webster Shamu, the minister responsible for policy
implementation under President Mugabe, were disclosed.

Davy said his daughter Chelsy's relationship with the Prince had caused a
"spate of rubbish" to appear about him in the media.

"I have decided to put the facts on the table in the hope that you will
either leave me alone or at least write the truth and limit the adverse
impact of all these untruths on my children."

He added: "I am in business with Mr Shamu and have been for five years. We
have an excellent and honest business partnership. Why should this change? I
am in business not politics."

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change said yesterday that Davy's
involvement with Shamu meant he was "sustaining" the regime.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Times

June 12, 2005

Mugabe policy branded 'new apartheid'
Christina Lamb

THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans made homeless in the government's
ruthless clean-up campaign are being herded into re-education camps and told
they can have a housing plot only if they swear allegiance to the party of
President Robert Mugabe.
Those who refuse are loaded into trucks and dumped in remote
rural areas, far from their own homes, where food is scarce. Human rights
workers say they are being left to die in what they believe is a deliberate
strategy by the Mugabe regime to exterminate opponents.

"This is social cleansing to try to eradicate the opposition,"
said Trudy Stevenson, an opposition MP whose Harare North constituency
includes Hatcliffe, where 30,000 people had their homes demolished along
with an orphanage for children whose parents had died of Aids.

"It's horrific. They are dumping people in rural areas to get
rid of troublesome elements to make sure they can't challenge the regime,"
she added.

The government's three-week Operation Murambatsvina - Shona for
"clean up the filth" - has left hundreds of thousands of men, women and
children without homes. Many are sleeping in streets in winter temperatures
with no water. Church groups are warning that thousands could die of
disease. There have been outbreaks of diarrhoea and reports of babies
freezing to death.

The United Nations estimates that 200,000 are homeless while the
opposition claims it is more than 1m.

Yesterday police rampaged through Harare, setting fire to the
few remaining belongings that many homeless people had salvaged, and warning
them against taking refuge in churches. So brutalised is the population that
some torched their own possessions on police instructions.

A Harare police commander was reported to have authorised the
use of live ammunition against people resisting eviction. "I need reports on
my desk saying we have shot people," he was said to told his officers. "The
president has given his full support for this operation so there is nothing
to fear. You should treat (it) as a war."

The barbarous campaign has left observers to reflect on the
chilling words of one of Mugabe's closest lieutenants, Didymus Mutasa, about
weeding opponents out of the population. "We would be better off with only
6m, with our own people who support the liberation struggle," he said three
years ago. "We don't want all these extra people."

Since then the population has indeed dropped, with an estimated
3.4m Zimbabweans now living outside the country. Almost half the remaining
11m are on the verge of starvation. A UN assessment last week estimated the
maize harvest at only 300,000 tonnes, half as much as expected and one-sixth
of Zimbabwe's minimum needs.

Mutasa was made minister for national security in April, putting
him in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Mugabe's secret
police. Many believe he is carrying out his threat to rid the population of
Mugabe's opponents, targeting the cities that voted overwhelmingly for the
opposition in elections last March.

Youth militias dressed as riot police laughed last week as they
smashed people's homes and livelihoods with bulldozers and sledgehammers.
Many were concrete houses where people had lived for years. Markets that
have stood since 1945 were razed. The owners watched as everything they had
worked for was destroyed in the space of an hour.

"A grave crime has been committed against poor and helpless
people," read a statement by some of Zimbabwe's Roman Catholic bishops. "We
warn the perpetrators, history will hold you accountable."

Some of the homeless have been taken to holding camps outside
the city, such as Caledonia Farm. Police guard the barbed wire compounds.

Church workers have revealed that those inside are being
subjected to political re-education, forced to shout party slogans and
warned that they will not be given new plots for homes or licences for
market stalls unless they join Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Miloon Kothari, the UN special envoy on adequate housing, called
the evictions "a new form of apartheid". On Friday the White House joined
the UN and the European Union in condemning the campaign.

Yet within Zimbabwe, reaction has been muted. This is a
population that has been cowed by years of torture, rape and food
deprivation, where up to 40% are infected with HIV.

A two-day mass "stay-away" from work fizzled out last week,
leaving Mugabe triumphant and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in disarray.

The state control of media meant many workers were unaware of
the stay-away. Police went to the homes of those working for utility
companies and forced them to go to work.

Many within the opposition believe that they are in danger of
becoming irrelevant if they do not act soon to topple Mugabe. Leading
members are demanding that the party takes a more confrontational stance.

"Passive resistance has not worked," said Nelson Chamisa,
chairman of the MDC Youth League. "It is time to engage in active struggle."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

My gardener has just arrived back, late. We asked him why he was late and he said he was in a state of shock and unhappiness. He had seen the bulldozers come and take out 2 blocks of houses in Chitungwiza. The army were threatening to whip anyone who resisted. He said families were gathered together just bewildered and seeing their homes razed to the ground. Its so cold here now, and they will be sleeping in the ruins of their houses. He said: "I have seen it now with my own eyes, the destruction and the hate. There is no hope for this country is finished. My own relatives now have nowhere to go...if only we had guns".
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Realism and Responsibility
Listen to some of the new wise men of Africa. They insist that unless
Africans get their own house in order, aid will not fix anything.
By Fareed Zakaria
June 20 issue - Richard Curtis, the screenwriter who wrote "Four Weddings
and a Funeral" and "Love Actually," has written a new romantic comedy, this
time about global poverty. I know, it sounds sleep-inducing, but the HBO
movie, "The Girl in the Cafe," is a pleasure to watch. And it does leave you
wanting to do something about global poverty, which is not the urge I
usually have when I walk out of a theater.


In the movie, the good guys are the British prime minister, a youthful man
who is almost too articulate, and a rumpled chancellor of the Exchequer,
both of whom want to end poverty in Africa. (Any resemblance to Tony Blair
and Gordon Brown is entirely coincidental.) The bad guys are the Americans,
who sound cautious and contrarian. But off screen, the good guys and bad
guys could complement each other and actually deal with one of the world's
most urgent moral challenges. There are three forces coming together that
make this potentially the brightest moment in Africa's history: American
realism, European generosity and African responsibility.

Realism is not simply an American attitude, though Washington voices it most
loudly. Germany and Japan are also extremely nervous about another round of
large-scale aid transfers. They know that unless the recipients are
competent and reasonably honest governments, chances are that large sums of
money will be wasted. The Western public will come to believe that this
problem has no solution. People who speak of the need for a Marshall Plan
for Africa should keep in mind that the continent has had, over the past
five decades, the equivalent of five Marshall Plans.

The Bush administration's Millennium Challenge Account is the right way to
think about financial assistance, because it provides help to governments
that have demonstrated the capacity to use it. Giving money to Robert Mugabe
is not going to modernize Zimbabwe's economy. The trouble with the
administration's approach, however, is that having proposed a good idea, it
has not followed through with the cash it promised. The Millennium Challenge
Account was meant to have a $5 billion annual budget. To date, the
administration has dispersed a pitiful $110 million.

European generosity has been more impressive and has forced a shift in
policy. Last week the world's eight richest countries closed a deal to write
off more than $40 billion of African debt. Public attitudes in the West are
changing. Five decades of peace and prosperity have produced general
affluence and also some concern for the fate of the world's poorest. Even in
the United States, where the government provides the smallest aid outlays as
a percent of GDP, the tide is shifting. Three years ago President Bush
increased foreign aid by 50 percent and no one objected. The Christian right
has now begun to take the problem of African poverty seriously. The left is
increasingly re-energized on this issue as well.


And there are things you can do with money even when governments are
hopelessly incompetent and corrupt. By focusing on health, for example, one
can often bypass government failures. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
has shown that by being smart, focused and disciplined, you can get a huge
bang for the buck. Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development
suggests that about $5 billion of the new aid money to Africa be spent
outside the continent, developing medicines to treat and cure diseases like
malaria and AIDS that have crippled Africa's economic growth. The money
would be spent efficiently in the industrial world but would have a massive
effect on Africa's future.

The most hopeful force for the future is Africa's growing sense of
responsibility. Listen to some of the new wise men of the continent, such as
South Africa's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, or his counterpart in Ghana,
Kwadwo Baah Wiredu. They insist that unless Africans get their own house in
order, aid will not fix anything. They are moving their countries toward
better governance and their continent toward greater accountability. All of
this is producing results. The IMF estimates that Africa's economy will grow
at about 5 percent in 2005, and inflation will average under 10 percent. In
the past 10 years, 16 African countries have had average growth rates of 4
percent. Of course, these trends are fragile, and many serious problems,
like AIDS, could overwhelm them. But for the first time in modern Africa's
history, there is significant good news to report.

In the movie "The Girl in the Cafe," the "bad" American official argues that
what Africa really needs is not aid but trade. Again, he's absolutely right.
But of course it is American (and European) policy to deny Africa access to
our markets. We subsidize a few hundred of the richest agricultural
companies in the world, and prevent tens of millions of the world's poorest
people from participating in free trade and capitalism. It is estimated that
if Africa gained 1 percent more of the world's share of exports, it would be
worth five times the total amount of foreign aid it receives. So America is
correct: good government policies are key-but in this crucial case, it's our
policies that need improving.

Write the author at

2005 Newsweek, Inc.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

True justice knows no boundaries

Amnesty leader Irene Khan replies to last week's attack on Amnesty's
direction on human rights

Sunday June 12, 2005
The Observer

I agree with Nick Cohen when he wrote last week: 'The choice between human
and economic rights isn't either/or. It's both or neither.' But that is
where my agreement ends. Cohen is wrong when he suggests that Amnesty
International is forsaking its role as champion of the oppressed in pursuit
of an economic development agenda. He appears to have totally missed his own
point that the rights to food, health and clean water are as much human
rights as freedom of expression or the right to a fair trial.
All human rights are interdependent and indivisible. That is what the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, that is what Amnesty
International is committed to, and that is what I passionately believe in.

Some of our recent work illustrates the importance of recognising that
indivisibility and inter-dependence if we are to attack human rights
violations effectively. In Zimbabwe, we have documented not only torture,
arrests, killings and the suppression of dissent, but also the manipulation
of the food distribution system by the Mugabe government to starve political

In the Palestinian Occupied Territories, we have exposed both the massive
human rights abuses by Israeli security forces which shoot, detain, torture
and kill with impunity, and also the severe suffering of Palestinians
because of Israeli policies and practices of border closures and curfews.
Children can't go to school, pregnant women can't gain access to hospitals
and men can't tend their orchards.

Cohen would do well to listen to the voices of the people. In Afghanistan, I
have heard women tell me that the best way to protect them from violence
would be to give them education and employment. In Darfur and in Goma, rape
survivors have spoken to me of their need for healthcare as well as justice.
In Nepal, men and women have described to me how a decade-long internal
conflict has destroyed their livelihoods as well as threatened their lives.

The people for whom we campaign see no hierarchy in human rights abuses, no
categorisation of injustice. What they do understand and demand are
practical results and real changes in their lives. That is why Amnesty has
never hesitated to criticise the massive corruption, abuse of power and deep
discrimination in Africa.

Amnesty International has never been afraid, either, of speaking the truth
to power. We do not believe that by criticising human rights abuses in the
context of the US-led 'war on terror', Amnesty International is holding the
US Administration to higher standards, as Cohen argues. On the contrary, we
apply exactly the same universal standards to all governments. It is the
Bush Administration that has claimed it is above, and its prisoners in
Guantanamo Bay camp outside, the rule of international law.

Amnesty International made the right decision in 2001, shortly before I
joined the organisation, to expand its mandate to cover economic, social and
cultural rights.

Far from being a case of mission creep by an incoming secretary general,
this was a conscious and considered decision by Amnesty's global membership
to move in this direction and to charge their secretary general with that

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Houston Chronicle

June 11, 2005, 7:17PM

Failure of mathematics at the U.N.
Disband Human Rights Commission

TO understand the systemic problems plaguing the United Nations, one need
only look at the composition and actions of the Human Rights Commission that
in April concluded its 61st session in Geneva.

Among the 53 arbiters that presided in Switzerland were China, Cuba,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, nations regularly cited by
groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as among the
worst violators of human rights.

This year, China, Cuba and Zimbabwe served on the five-member Working Group
on Situations, a gatekeeper committee that determines which human rights
complaints are worthy of consideration by the full commission. With
leadership like this, it seems the United Nation's guiding lights have
confused expertise in abusing human rights with the commitment to protect

The commission did manage to mete out largely symbolic resolutions about the
deplorable human rights situations in Nepal and Sudan, the first country so
small as to carry no diplomatic reverberations, the other's genocidal
actions so huge that despite friends in high places it could not entirely be
ignored. Beyond those two cases, however, it was authoritarian business as

Amnesty International's Geneva representative issued a statement saying,
"The selectivity and double standards that characterize the commission's
approach to addressing country situations, however, have once again shielded
from scrutiny and condemnation serious widespread human rights violations in
many other countries."

The problem that plagues the Human Rights Commission cripples nearly every
U.N. body: Namely, that all nations are considered equals. In the
mathematical system of the United Nations, Cuba equals the United States,
Zimbabwe equals Great Britain, and Israel is a greater threat to the
international order than North Korea, Iran and Sudan combined.

An internal U.N. report issued earlier this year to Secretary-General Kofi
Annan criticized the commission for its "eroding credibility and
professionalism." Addressing the body in April, Annan himself said, "We have
reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a
shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system."

Annan has proposed a smaller Human Rights Council to replace the Human
Rights Commission, one composed of members that meet accepted standards of
human rights conduct. To accomplish this, he has proposed that a two-thirds
majority of the 191-nation General Assembly, rather than a simple majority
of the 54-member Economic and Social Council, elect its members.

On mending the commission, Annan is half-right and totally blind. Of course,
a Human Rights Commission or Council should exclude human rights abusers
from its membership. But handing the election of members to the General
Assembly, where U.N. mathematics prevails, does nothing to achieve this.

Critics see the United Nations as a sinister international bureaucracy from
which nothing good can issue. Advocates consider it a sort of
superparliament of nations that can fairly well legislate out of existence
violence, disease and poverty.

In between are pragmatists who condemn the organization's very great, deeply
embedded flaws yet still recognize some important roles it can and should
play in a troubled world.

Annan has charged world leaders with settling on a broad-ranging U.N. reform
package in advance of an international summit this September. No better test
exists of the international community's resolve to reform the United Nations
than in its ability to disband the commission and create a successor
credibly committed to upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gurwitz is a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News. Readers may e-mail
him at
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Independent, SA

Massive African debt write-off
June 12, 2005

By Philip Thornton and Kate Dyall

London - A popular campaign that mobilised millions of people to
demand that rich countries lift Africa out of debt, poverty and disease has
scored a stunning victory.

Yesterday the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialised nations agreed
to write off more than $40 billion (R265 billion) - the debts of 18 of the
world's poorest nations, including many in sub-Saharan Africa - freeing up
enormous debt repayments.

The agreement provided 100 percent write-offs for the 18
countries straight away, with more countries to qualify later, Gordon Brown,
the British finance minister, told a news conference. The onus is now on
debt-free poorer countries to put the cash mountain to good use.

Milton Kutengule, Malawi's treasury secretary, said: "A decision
to cancel debt will help us reduce poverty but, overall, it cannot work if
African governments do not adhere to fiscal discipline, a critical phase in
the management of a country's resources."

For countries such as Malawi, the deal could be a lifeline: one
in five Malawians is HIV-positive and the country spends more on debt
interest payments than health.

The final terms of the deal were struck yesterday after
last-minute negotiations between finance ministers from the G-8 nations.

Brown - a leading light in securing the agreement - hailed the
deal as "the biggest debt settlement the world has ever seen".

Up to 20 other countries could be eligible if they meet targets
for good governance and tackling corruption, leading eventually to a total
debt relief package of more than $55 billion.

"The G-8 finance ministers have agreed [to] 100 percent debt
cancellation for heavily indebted poor countries [HIPCs]," Brown told a news
conference in London.

"Our agreement in return for debt relief is that it goes towards
health, hospitals, nurses, education, schools, teachers and infrastructure,"
he said at the close of a two-day meeting of finance ministers from the
United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy and France.

Aid agencies welcomed the deal, and said it would save the 18
countries a total of $1,5 billion a year in debt repayments. Nations in
sub-Saharan Africa alone owe about $68 billion to international bodies.

Trevor Manuel, the minister of foreign affairs, said the
announcement made him "exceedingly optimistic" for Africa. He and the
finance ministers of China, Brazil and India attended an informal breakfast
meeting in London with Brown earlier in the day.

Manuel said the announcement had a number of implications for
South Africa. It would mean a better quality of life for the people of some
of its closest neighbours.

This would make it less attractive for them to uproot themselves
and head for South Africa.

Also South Africa's trade with several African countries was too
much of a one-way passage and was not sustainable. Debt cancellation would
assist in developing institutions and infrastructure and boost spending.
This would lead to improved two-way trade, Manual said.

Zimbabwe was "unlikely" to benefit because it had never applied
for debt relief and South Africa would not be affected as it had loaned only
a nominal amount. But Manuel warned that debt relief on its own was not
enough and trade negotiations were central to success.

The 18 nations to benefit immediately are Benin, Bolivia,
Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali,
Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda
and Zambia.

Another nine countries are close to completing the targets for
good governance set out under the initiative and would then qualify. About
38 countries in total are taking part in the HIPC programme, launched by the
World Bank and IMF in 1996.

Sapa-AP reports that the package was put forward by Britain and
the United States after talks in Washington last week between US President
George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Britain shifted to the US position that the debts should be
scrapped outright, rather than rich countries taking on the repayments for
the poor countries.

Bush also made a significant concession and agreed that rich
nations would provide extra money to the multilateral bodies to compensate
for the assets written off, and ensure future aid packages would not be

The deal still falls short of the ambitious targets set by Brown
and Blair when they declared 2005 as the year for Africa. But British
officials are hoping the deal will pave the way for progress towards a
separate deal on aid and trade for Africa at next month's summit of G-8
leaders at Gleneagles in Scotland. - Foreign Service
Back to the Top
Back to Index