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

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Washington Times


By Katharine Hourald
June 23, 2005

CHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe -- Trucks, socks and even soft-drink cans are being
used by gold smugglers desperate to avoid exchanging their treasure for
worthless currency.
    One man's favorite method involves putting his gold dust into an open
Coke can. When he arrives at Beit Bridge, he puts the can to one side and
lets customs officers search his car and pockets.
    Two brothers hide paper packets of gold in their shoes. People living in
the Chimanimani mountains say the convoys of pickup trucks speeding down an
otherwise deserted road carry sacks of sand and gold.
    "See those?" asked a man gesturing toward the vehicles, some of which
bore government license plates. "They are going down to the diggings by the
    "They will be back this way in a couple of hours and heading for the
border with Mozambique."

    The government's cut
    People here are surprisingly open about the illegal activities taking
place in their midst. Small-scale smugglers might escape official notice,
but from serious operators, Zimbabwe officials insist on a cut.
    On the plush lawns of the polo club in Bulawayo, the nation's
second-largest city, government involvement in gold smuggling is an open
    "I reckon about 80 percent of gold that is being mined here is being
smuggled out of the country," said one mine owner who did not want to be
    "And everyone knows [the ruling party] is at the bottom of most of it."
    Other miners dispute the percentage of gold smuggled out of the country,
but figures from the London-based metals and minerals consultants GFMS show
wide fluctuations in the amount of gold mined.

From a high of nearly 30 tons in 1999, official output fell to about 12.6
tons in 2003. The next year, it was up again to 21.3 tons.
    "The swing occurs when the official buying price doesn't match what the
gold is actually worth," said Bruce Alway, a senior metals analyst at GFMS.
"A lot of gold is not declared by the mines and ends up leaving the country
through the back door."
    Zimbabwe has substantial gold and platinum deposits, and anecdotes
suggest that the number of small and medium-size mines is booming as other
sources of employment shrink.
    Terry Alberry, who owns a business in Bulawayo that sells mining
equipment, says his customers have increased tenfold in the past seven

    Policies go awry
    However, many mine owners fear the newly re-elected Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) government is planning a blitz on
the mining industry similar to the land-redistribution program that
destroyed the agricultural sector five years ago.
    The ensuing violence also drove away the lucrative tourist trade.
    Five years later, a quarter of the population has fled the country, and
there are riots in the streets when hungry citizens spot a rare bag of sugar
on supermarket shelves.
    A recent government crackdown on city dwellers, who traditionally
support the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, has left
hundreds of thousands homeless. Many were forced to participate in the
destruction of their homes and businesses and now live on the streets.
    The miners do not consider themselves to be a political target, but
think the government is eager to seize the few businesses that are making
money in the world's fastest shrinking economy.
    One white farmer-turned-miner complained: "Today, the ruling party
commandeered my tractor, driver and fuel. We don't dare object. They want to
process ore for free. Now they're coming to us and saying we must sign over
51 percent of our mine to previously disadvantaged citizens."
    A government spokesman confirmed that black-empowerment legislation was
being put before parliament, although he refused to comment on the
percentage of the business that would have to be in black hands.

    Poor get poorer
    That is old rhetoric to this former cattle farmer, his face still
scarred from the beatings he received. He went into mining in 2003, after he
was shot and threatened with decapitation when his farm was seized. Now,
like many other former farmers who have invested in the mining sector, he is
watching his business, which employs 100 men, crumble before his eyes.
    "The government forces us to sell all the gold to the Reserve Bank," he
said, explaining that the government buys gold at one-third the price the
black market pays.
    Despite losing one business and the threat of losing a second, this
miner is one of the lucky ones.
    "Before the economy crashed, I worked in a shop," said John Salburi, 42.
"We dig on the road because it is already clear of bush. I am just trying to
pay some school fees."
    Some weeks, he does not even make enough to feed his wife and two
children. Now he sleeps outside near his diggings under a plastic sheet
spread between some trees and returns to the city with money for his wife
when he can.
    Scattered among the tiny mines are large illegal mining camps with
powerful backers, usually rumored to be high in the ZANU-PF.
    One such site in Chimanimani, in the east of the country, has piles of
neatly stacked shovels and wheelbarrows, prefabricated buildings and heavy
earth-moving equipment. Gouges several yards deep have been dug into the
road in both directions to discourage unauthorized vehicle traffic.

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Day hell came to a place called 'we are happy'
By Alistair Leithead in Harare
June 24, 2005 - 3:20PM
An image from a recent video   shows a building being demolished by a bulldozer in Harare.

An image from a recent video shows a building being demolished by a bulldozer in Harare.
Photo: Solidarity Peace Trust

A piece of red plastic tape flutters from a post outside the remains of Lavender Nyika's home in Tafara - a place outside Harare which means "we are happy".

But there is little happiness here. The tape is a traditional sign representing a loss in the family, and while hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have lost their homes, few have lost a daughter.

Charmaine was two years old and inside the family home when the police came with their bulldozers and levelled the house.

All that is left is the foundations, a pile of rubble and a small dirt grave with a wooden cross and a girl's name scrawled on the back of a piece of scrap metal.

"The police came. They had been sent to destroy the house," said Herbert Nyika, Charmaine's father. "They knocked down the building, the walls; they smashed everything. This was when our child was trapped inside. She died there."

Her mother, Lavender, said: "I blame the government because it is they who instructed the police to do what they did. It is terrible. I have lost my daughter in such a strange way."

She added: "Of course they have managed to clean up the city but at the same time they have brought suffering to the people - property destruction, homelessness and now the death of a child."

The family is poor and their home was a small building in the back garden of a bigger house.

The Zimbabwean government has spent the past few years targeting white farmers, those with land and wealth; now it seems it is picking on the poor.

The Zimbabwean press yesterday admitted that two toddlers had died in the demolition drive - Charmaine, two, who died two weeks ago, and Terence Munyaka, 18 months, who died on Sunday from head injuries.

As outrage rose around the world, the Zimbabwean police called on its officers to exercise more care.

In London Jack Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, said on behalf of the G8 countries: "We call on the government of Zimbabwe to abide by the rule of law and respect human rights."

Every day in Harare, in Bulawayo, in the towns and cities of Zimbabwe, police in riot gear are systematically moving from suburb to suburb forcing people from their homes. Bulldozers with their buckets raised are silhouetted on the skyline.

The scale of the clearance is so great there is too much work for the police to do - they are now forcing the people to destroy their own homes, or charging them a fee for demolition.

On the roads are wheelbarrows piled high, trucks overloaded with cupboards, beds, mattresses - thousands and thousands of people making their way somewhere, but there is nowhere to go. Many are living in the open - their furniture arranged around them as if the walls were still there.

In Bulawayo, under the cover of darkness, a group of people huddled around a fire, a large pot of maize meal bubbling away on a wood stove. "They came to my home and they burned it down," one man said as he took his turn stirring the pot.

"They say they have a strategy, they say they are clearing up the towns," he says, confused as to why his home was destroyed, but too scared to speak against the government.

Old women, sick men and young mothers drag their mattresses inside the church hall, their few blankets all there is to keep away the bitterly cold African winter air.

The churches are full, their lavatories are overflowing, the people have nowhere else to go and so the government has created a solution.

Well over 2,000 people have been moved to Caledonia Farm, a resettlement camp outside Harare, with no clean water, sanitation or access to food.

The entrance was blocked by police. Intelligence agents mingled among the poor and the homeless. We crept in through the bush to catch a glimpse of the camp, knowing to be caught would mean a two-year prison sentence.

Again people had arranged their furniture around them, huddled together under plastic sheets and blankets. A desperate mass of humanity forced from their homes by the government.

Some say the reason is political retribution, to punish the urban electorate for voting for the opposition; others say it will scatter the angry and dispossessed before the seeds of revolution can be sown; and others look even further ahead and believe that forcing the people to rural poverty will make them dependent on the state for food and blankets and buy political patronage.

Either way hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, cold, destitute and desperate.

- Alastair Leithead is a BBC reporter based in southern Africa. His dispatch was broadcast on BBC 10 o'clock news on Thursday.

The Telegraph, London

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More than 46 000 held in Zim
23/06/2005 23:13  - (SA)

Harare - More than 46nbsp;000 people have been arrested in Zimbabwe since
the start last month of a controversial clean-up campaign by police aimed at
stamping out crime and destroying shacks, state television reported on

The operation, dubbed Restore Order, was launched in mid-May.

It started with the arrest of flea-market vendors and others considered to
be engaging in illegal activities, such as black-market foreign-currency

The police have also destroyed backyard shacks and cottages built without
official permission.

Independent estimates said more than 300 000 people had been made homeless.

State television reported: "Illegal dealings in foreign currency have also
been unearthed [by the police blitz], leading to the arrest of more than 46
000 people since the beginning of the operation."

Many of those arrested have already been released after being fined or taken
to court.

Earlier on Thursday, President Robert Mugabe said his government said they
supported the shack demolitions.

He said the shacks had served as "notorious criminal hideouts and havens for
black-market activities."

He was speaking at a graduation ceremony for more than 300 new police
recruits in the capital, Harare.

Mugabe's endorsement of the police campaign came as Amnesty International
and more than 200 other international human-rights groups condemned the
police action and called for the United Nations and the African Union to
pressure Harare into stopping it.

The opposition in Zimbabwe has described Operation Restore Order as an
effort to target opponents to the government. - Sapa-dpa
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Africa urged to act over Zimbabwe

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged African leaders to speak
out against forced evictions in Zimbabwe and other alleged human rights
She urged the African Union to speak out over the "tragic" events.
G8 ministers in London expressed strong concern about events in Zimbabwe and
called on African countries to act.
Zimbabwean police and city-dwellers were earlier urged to be careful when
demolishing illegal structures after two children were crushed to death.
A state-controlled newspaper in Zimbabwe has said that two young children
were crushed to death when their homes were knocked down on the outskirts of
the capital, Harare.
These are the first reported deaths in a four-week crackdown, called
Operation Murambatsvina [Drive out rubbish].
One of those killed was the 18-month-old son of a police officer, reports
the state-run Herald newspaper.
The UN says at least 200,000 have been left homeless in the operation, which
has been condemned by the G8 group.
President Robert Mugabe says the crackdown is designed to "restore sanity"
in urban areas, which he says have become overrun with criminals.
The Herald also reports that seven buildings in the centre of the capital,
Harare, have been closed due to overcrowding and "health risks".
"We would like to urge those demolishing illegal structures to ensure the
safety of everyone," said police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.

Terence Munyaka, 18 months, died on Sunday from head injuries after the
walls of his house fell down in the commuter town of Chitungwiza, south of
Charmaine Nyika, aged two, died on 8 June in a similar incident in Harare,
the Herald says.
The police have moved across Zimbabwe's urban areas, armed with bulldozers
and sledge-hammers, destroying shacks and informal markets.
Often, residents have been made to demolish the structures themselves.
Amnesty International and the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and
Evictions have released a statement, they say, on behalf of 200 African and
international aid groups, calling on the UN and the African Union to
They urged the AU to discuss the demolitions at next month's summit in
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said African nations must stop ignoring what
was happening.
"If the reports are simply half true, and we believe them to be much more
than half true, this is a situation of serious international concern, and no
government which subscribes to human rights and democracy should allow this
kind of thing effectively to go on under their noses."
No African governments have condemned the operation.
The United Nations is due to send a special envoy to Zimbabwe to investigate
the demolitions.
United States State Department deputy spokesperson Adam Ereli described the
crackdown as a "tragedy, crime, horror - that the government of Zimbabwe is
perpetrating on its people".
The opposition says Operation Murambatsvina is intended to punish urban
voters who rejected President Mugabe in March polls.
Many people are living on the streets, while others have returned to their
rural homes, encouraged by the government.
Officials also want to stamp out the black market, which they blame for
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown.
A Catholic priest told the Associated Press news agency that people would
never forget the "insane and evil" destruction of crops being grown on waste
ground, which many rely on to supplement meagre incomes.
The blitz comes as the country urgently needs to import 1.2 million tonnes
of food to avoid famine.
"It is a watershed, it is the beginning of the end, but the end will be
terrible," he said.
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ABC, Australia

Friday, June 24, 2005. 12:01pm (AEST)
Stand up to Mugabe, PM urges African leaders
Prime Minister John Howard says African nations must take a tougher stand
against forced evictions and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

The government of Zimbabwe says its campaign to clean up townships is
necessary to remove illegal dwellings and to cut crime.

The evictions have left 200,000 people homeless and two children dead after
their homes were knocked down on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.

Mr Howard says neighbouring African countries are not exerting enough
diplomatic pressure on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

"Mugabe is sustained because of the patronage of some of the countries
around him and I think the time has long since arrived for them to take a
tougher stand," he said.

Britain and the United States are also urging African leaders to speak out.

The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, says African nations must stop
ignoring what is happening.

"If the reports are simply half true and we believe them to be much more
than half true, this is a situation of serious international concern," he

"And no government which subscribes to human rights and democracy should
allow this kind of thing effectively to go on under their noses," he said.

The head of Zimbabwe's Opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, says the campaign of
forced evictions is designed to punish people who voted against the ruling
party in recent elections.

Mr Tsvangirai says neighbouring countries cannot simply ignore the issue.

"It is inexplicable why this exercise has not been condemned by our African
brothers, especially in the region," he said.

"Again, it is compliance in silence."

Human rights groups say the operation is a grave violation of international
law and a disturbing affront to human dignity.
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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday June 13th – Sunday June 19th 2005

Weekly Media Update 2005-22








1. General comment


THE media’s failure to adequately inform the public about critical issues affecting their lives was demonstrated by their failure to report and explain the authorities’ six-month extension to the life of the government-appointed commission running the City of Harare.

Except for The Herald (9/6), the rest of the media ignored the issue and the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)’s court application seeking the termination of the commission’s term to facilitate the holding of council elections.


In its application, CHRA argued that it was illegal for government to extend the commission’s expired term because according to the Urban Councils Act, a commission can only be in office for a maximum of six months. Thus, the Harare council commission’s tenure should have expired on June 10.


But instead of openly discussing the provisions of the Act and the legality of government’s moves, The Herald sought to justify the reappointment of the Harare Commissioners. It argued: “Although commissions are normally appointed for a period of six months, government indicated at the beginning that the commission would operate for 24 months, implying it would periodically renew the commissions’ mandate”. 


Without viewing this as proof of the authorities’ blatant disregard for the law, the paper then gave Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo acres of space to further try and legitimise government’s actions. Chombo claimed that it was “untenable to have elections” because former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri was contesting his dismissal, adding that government was happy with the commission’s “turnaround strategy” for the city.

“We cannot disturb the momentum. We also cannot disturb the clean-up campaign just to satisfy the whims of a few people”, he added.


Notably, the private media’s failure to pick up the story and expose the authorities’ disrespect for laws that attempt to entrench democratic practice and the blatant violation of the citizenry’s rights to choose leaders of their choice was tantamount to abdicating their professional role as watchdogs of government.


Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Independent (17/6) revealed that despite calls on the government to repeal repressive laws, the authorities were actually considering stiffer penalties for journalists and civilians who violate various sections of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA). According to the proposed amendment, fines for those found guilty of breaching some clauses of POSA, which currently range from $20 000 to $200 000, would be increased by between 400 and 800 percent.  

The government media ignored the matter.


2. Purge of the urban poor continues


THE government’s continued clampdown on the urban poor under its Operation Murambatsvina continued to dominate the media. The newspapers carried 59 stories on the matter, 31 of which appeared in the government-controlled Press and 28 in the private Press. The electronic media carried 99 stories. Of these, 64 appeared on ZBH (ZTV (38), Power FM (13) and Radio Zimbabwe (13) while Studio 7 carried 35 stories.


Although the stories generally pointed to a continuation of the severe social upheaval resulting from the exercise, all the stories from the government media unquestioningly endorsed it. Only private media reported on local and international condemnation of the programme, and exposed the brutal and inhumane nature of the “clearances”.


The passive nature of the official media’s coverage was illustrated by the way in which they only echoed or amplified government’s justification for the ‘clean-up’ by mainly depicting the authorities as working flat out to ensure that no one was disadvantaged by the operation. This unquestioning approval of the crackdown saw Power FM (13/6, 1pm), ZTV (13/6,6pm) and the Chronicle (14/6) using officials from the Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planners (ZIRUP) and the Urban Councils’ Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) to suffocate the real scale of the human suffering caused by Operation Murambatsvina with fatuous comments.


For example, ZTV merely quoted ZIRUP’s Percy Toriro urging “environmental stakeholders to maintain the glow that has been awarded to cities by the clean-up exercise” without linking it to the humanitarian misery it has caused.

Similarly, the Chronicle quoted UCAZ president Fani Phiri defending the denial of shelter and “survival means” of the victims because the clampdown was like a “bitter medicine that healed the people”.

But it was comment from Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri that best illustrated the authorities’ contempt for the victims of Murambatsvina. He was quoted in The Herald (16/6) describing them as the “crawling mass of maggots” that were “bent on destroying the economy”.


To justify the government’s harsh execution of the clampdown, The Herald (15/6) handily used an isolated incident in which “80 pigs and 120 goats” were discovered in one of the ‘illegal’ houses in Harare during the operation as “testimony to the extent to which our cities had deteriorated”.  In addition, the government-controlled papers carried nine stories – exposing alleged black market dealings in gold, fuel and several other commodities – as proof of the benefits of the crackdown.


The official media also portrayed government as caring for the victims’ plight by providing alternative accommodation. For example, ZTV (15/6,6pm) and Power FM (16/6) quoted Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo announcing that 30 000 stands were “awaiting allocation to those without homes”, adding that the names of the beneficiaries would be published in The Herald on Friday (17/6).


The Herald (17/6) itself was unhelpful. It passively reported that government had named 4 470 people out of 20 477 who would be allocated housing stands at Whitecliff Farm without questioning the criteria used to select the beneficiaries, or even whether they had been victims of the evictions. Nor did it provide any information about the stands except to say that the beneficiaries would only be allowed to occupy them once “basic services are put in place and until they are issued with a certificate of occupation”. The Herald did not ask how long this might take or why the authorities had not first serviced the stands and allowed the beneficiaries to build homes before flattening their existing dwellings.

ZTV (15/6, 8pm) and the Chronicle (18/6) also steered clear of asking pertinent questions.


Only the private Press reported estimates of between 200,000 and a million people who had lost their homes as a result of the clearances. Studio 7 (14/6) and The Financial Gazette (16/6) however, also quoted Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya disputing these figures. The Gazette quoted him as having said there “were much less than 20,000” affected.

The official media’s uncritical nature was illustrated by their reliance on the authorities and pro-government commentators at the expense of other pertinent sources. See Fig 1.


Fig. 1 Voice distribution in the public Press



Ordinary People


Local govt.











All 51 sources quoted by the official Press endorsed the operation. In addition, they carried five editorials and opinion pieces that also approved government’s action.

Similarly ZBH relied more on government/officials as their primary sources of news, quoting them 41 times, with only two from ordinary people.


However, except for The Daily Mirror’s comment (17/6) supporting Operation Murambatsvina and calling on government to extend it to illegal gold panners, the rest of the 62 stories the private media carried continued to expose the human suffering caused by the exercise. They also carried local and international criticism from Australia, the US, the United Nations, European Union, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), health experts and church leaders. 


The Standard (19/6) also revealed that even some senior members of ZANU PF had reservations about the operation. The government media dodged these developments by maintaining its one-sided positive portrayal of Murambatsvina. 

For example, ZTV (18/6,8pm) and Power FM (19/6, 6pm) announced that “efforts to transform Caledonia Farm into a planned, structured and well organized transit camp are now at an advanced stage” without comparing how this squared with Chombo’s earlier comments on ZTV (16/6, 6pm) that the exercise had been “conceived and planned by government” after “elaborate consultation” and “not initiated on the spur of the moment”.

Neither did the station (16/6, 8pm) question why government was only now setting up “committees to systematically execute resources to people affected by the clean-up exercise”.


Instead, Power FM and ZTV (18/06,8pm) reported on families at Caledonia Farm now having access to “clean water, better shelter and hygienic conditions…”

ZTV showed footage of the farm, where 13 small tents had been put up, with six big ones still to be erected. A police officer was quoted saying the people there were happy. None of the “residents” was interviewed to comment on conditions at the farm.


The official media ignored the public outcry arising from the purge. For example it was silent on the outbreak of riots in Bulawayo’s Makokoba suburb and the lawsuit brought against Chihuri by informal traders in Bulawayo “over the confiscation of their merchandise” as reported by Studio 7 (14/6 & 16/6) and the Independent.

In addition, the Independent revealed that government had barred humanitarian groups from assisting thousands of families who were affected by the exercise because they feared that donors’ intervention would be an acknowledgment of the humanitarian crisis the operation has caused.


The critical manner in which the private Press handled the operation was reflected in their more diverse sourcing pattern as shown in Figs 3 and 4. 


Fig. 2 Voice distribution in the private Press









Local government










Ordinary people





Fig. 3 Voice Distribution on Studio 7







Ordinary People

Studio 7








The private papers also carried four editorials and opinion pieces critical of the exercise.


3.  Inflation and economic issues    


THE official media’s preoccupation with portraying government in a good light was not confined to Operation Murambatsvina as symptoms of further economic decline did not get due prominence in the 42 stories that they carried on the matter (ZBH 27 and government papers 15).


These media’s reluctance to fully discuss the causes of the continued economic meltdown was reflected by the manner in which their stories glossed over Zimbabwe’s highly inflationary environment characterised by crippling fuel shortages.

For instance, the government Press – which carried seven stories on these issues – failed to view these problems as indicative of the general economic decline as illustrated by The Herald and Chronicle (15/6), which simply attributed the rise in inflation from 129,1% in April to 144,4% in May to “surprise price increases effected by retailers and manufacturers in the post-election period”. 


In fact, The Herald (16/6) even saw conspiracies behind the rise in inflation, opining that it was a consequence of “the haphazard price increases by retailers and manufacturers”, driven by other “motives” aimed at “derailing the economic turnaround programme”. 

To reinforce the notion that commodity shortages were artificial, the Chronicle (14/6) gave the impression that the on-going Murambatsvina had resulted in most basic commodities emerging on supermarket shelves “as people operating the black market turn away from illegal dealings”.

While ZIMPAPERS blamed the commodity price increases on the alleged machinations of the business community, they justified the hike in the selling price of their newspapers saying this was due to the increase in “production costs and raw materials”.


ZBH did no fare any better. ZTV (14/6,8pm) also announced the increase in inflation that the Central Statistics Office attributed “to the rise in food prices”, but carried no analysis on the development or reasons for the hikes as is its custom when the rate of inflation falls. Rather, Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe (17/6, 1pm) merely reported the RBZ governor’s assurance that “Zimbabweans have been assured that the recent rise in inflation will be arrested by year end.”

It was not clear how the governor would do this.


The official media’s superficial handling of the topic also manifested itself in the way they largely paid lip service to the scale of fuel shortages. The closest The Herald (18/6) came to addressing the matter was when it unquestioningly reported Energy Minister Mike Nyambuya saying his ministry would present to Parliament the Petroleum Bill, which is meant to regulate the oil industry, as part of government’s short-term measures aimed at ensuring adequate fuel supplies.

There was no detail about the Bill or exactly how it would resolve the crisis.


Further, despite revealing that the shortage was partly due to the rise in international oil prices, which had resulted in the country “receiving less fuel than it used to buy”, the paper failed to challenge the authorities on why they had not adjusted their pricing too.

Rather, the paper drifted into its typical blame-game and seemed to attribute the shortages to the “fuel industry” that was diverting “the product onto the parallel market”.

This vague and intimidating reporting reflected comments from Energy and Power Development Minister Mike Nyambuya who declared that “his ministry and law enforcement agents will intensify monitoring and inspection of the fuel supply system to ensure equitable distribution…”(ZTV, 17/6,8pm; Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe, 18/6,1pm).


The report did not question how much fuel government was importing, if any.

The official media’s professional ineptitude in handling the topic was illustrated by their reliance on official comment as shown on Fig 4.


Fig. 4 Public Press voice distribution




Ordinary people















Notably, alternative and business voices that were quoted echoed official views. The papers also carried four editorials that approved of government’s economic policies.


In contrast, the private Press was analytical in its 23 stories on inflation, price increases and other economic issues although Studio 7 inexplicably ignored these issues altogether. For instance, The Standard, which related the increase in inflation to the country’s poor economic performance, quoted analysts as having said the recent hike in inflation had sounded a “death knell” to government’s economic turnaround efforts. 

The paper quoted economist Tony Hawkins actually projecting a further increase in inflation saying the imminent hikes in electricity tariffs and fuel prices will “fuel the rampaging inflation scourge”.


The paper also claimed that the country’s economic woes were set to worsen following the printing of money by government to “finance an overshooting Budget deficit after failing to extract about $6 trillion dollars from local credit markets”.

The report was part of the 11 stories that the private papers carried on commodity shortages and price increases, all attributed to government’s failed economic policies.



The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:


Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at

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The Times

            June 24, 2005

            Wedding 'sting' that ends with one-way ticket to Zimbabwe
            By Daniel McGrory and Jan Raath in Harare

            IMMIGRATION officials are trapping Zimbabwean couples and
forcibly deporting them when they turn up for their wedding ceremonies.
            As Jack Straw told his G8 counterparts at a meeting in London
yesterday that the latest wave of terror by Robert Mugabe against his own
people was a "serious international concern", the Home Office insisted that
it was safe to send its detainees back to Zimbabwe.

            A number of couples who were told that they had to retake their
vows in a British register office to prove that they were married have been
arrested with their guests and sent back to Harare within hours.

            Lawyers claim that before they can get to court to fight their
cases, these asylum-seekers have already been expelled. One woman, who gave
her name only as Setimbile, was given a date for her register office
ceremony in London last month, only to find half a dozen immigration
officials waiting for her on the day.

            The 26-year-old was not allowed to speak to the man she had
married two years earlier in Zimbabwe. She was taken away in handcuffs and
flown out within 48 hours. Her family does not know what has happened to her

            One guest who escaped the wedding raid told how several other
members of the family were also arrested. "We followed the Home Office order
to prove they were genuinely married, and it was a trap."

            Half a dozen couples who showed up for weddings in Hatfield,
Reading and London have been victims of this "sting" by immigration

            A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Community Association said: "It is
a perfect chance to make sure that you get members of two families in the
same place, but is a despicable trick."

            Britain is speeding up the enforced return of failed Zimbabwean

            The revelation came as the hunger strike by Zimbabweans in Home
Office detention spread to more removal centres. A senior immigration
official said last night that the numbers taking part had doubled.

            The Home Office refused to give precise numbers, though there
are claims that staff at some centres are trying to force detainees to break
their fast.

            Detainees told The Times last night that they have been
threatened by staff that if they continue the protest they will be the first
to be deported.

            Human rights organisations and the main opposition groups in
Zimbabwe intensified their pleas to Tony Blair yesterday to halt the forced
expulsions before the G8 summit next month. Officials say that they still
intend to deport a celebrated Zimbabwean opposition figure, Crespen Kulingi,
tomorrow. Mr Kulingi, 32, was crippled during his detention by Robert Mugabe's

            His lawyers say that the Home Office has lost a tape given to
them by Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader, supporting Mr Kulingi's claims that he should be given
sanctuary in Britain. Immigration officials say that the activist, whose
mother and sister were tortured and sexually abused by Zimbabwean police, is
a bogus asylum-seeker.

            Mr Straw told Zimbabwe's neighbours to do more to stop the
abuses, saying: "If the reports are simply half true, and we believe them to
be much more than half true, then no government which subscribes to human
rights and democracy should allow this kind of thing effectively to go on
under their noses."

      The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night that it had no
idea why Whitehall colleagues at the Home Office still regarded Zimbabwe as
a "safe place" to return asylum-seekers to.
      The Government ended a two-year ban on enforced removals last November
after ministers argued it was being abused by Zimbabweans. More than 15,000
Zimbabweans have sought sanctuary here in the four years up to 2004, though
only a few hundred have been granted asylum.

      The MDC in Harare last night appealed to British authorities to
reverse their decision to expel Zimbabwean refugees awaiting deportation.

      Paul Themba Nyathi, an MDC spokesman, said: "The international
community thinks that because there's not a war going on in Zimbabwe, it's a
normal country," "But in reality, all the manifestations of a nation at war
are there.

      "The atmosphere is stifling.It's a police state. There is no freedom.
You always have to look over your shoulder in case someone is watching you.

      "People's homes are being destroyed now, and they have nowhere to go.
What do you call them when they leave the country? Economic refugees? "In
Zimbabwe today, you either stay and fight or you leave. Most Zimbabweans
have a very good reason for leaving the country."

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The Age, Australia

Zimbabwean govt destroys poor township
June 24, 2005 - 3:14PM

Video smuggled out of Zimbabwe has showed how masses of poor people have
fled after the government tore down their homes in an urban renewal project
that been condemned internationally.
Police there prevented journalists from filming the demolition campaign, so
the footage was collected clandestinely by the church-based Solidarity Peace

The film was released abroad after news that two Zimbabwean toddlers died
when the walls of their houses came crashing down.

In the video, people at Hatcliffe Extension - a impoverished Harare
township - said they were being forced out of homes that had been given to
them by the government ahead of elections in 2000 and 2002.

Those who refused to leave voluntarily were driven in trucks to a patch of
wilderness on the outskirts of the capital, where they were shown surrounded
by their paltry possessions.

"We were dumped here by people with whips," said one young man, whose name
was not released for fear of retribution. "We don't know what went wrong. We
were given these stands by the government."

At a series of news conferences in Africa and at the United Nations, more
than 200 international human rights and civic groups said the campaign known
as Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, is "a grave violation of
international human rights law and a disturbing affront to human dignity".

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's political opposition, which has its
base among the urban poor, says the monthlong campaign is meant to punish
its supporters for voting against the ruling party in recent parliamentary

Mugabe has described Drive Out Trash as an urban renewal campaign.

After a seven-hour meeting of the government's highest policy-making body,
Zimbabwe spokesman Ephraim Masawi said military personnel would lead
national and provincial reconstruction committees being formed immediately.

During a stormy parliamentary session this week, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa conceded harm had been done to legitimate housing by what he
called a "cleanup" meant to flush out black marketeers and criminals.

The government blames them for runaway inflation of 144 per cent and
shortages of most staples.

"We are aware that there is damage, people are homeless and so forth," the
minister said. "But government has put into place the necessary logistics to
address those immediate concerns such as health."

Since police launched the blitz in Harare on May 19, it has been extended
throughout the country, causing sporadic rioting as impoverished residents
tried to resist the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.

This week, the campaign in a nation facing severe food shortages moved on to
the vegetable gardens planted by the poor plant in vacant lots around
Harare. Police say the plots threaten the environment.

International rights groups said at least 300,000 people have lost their
homes by conservative estimates. The United Nations puts the figure as high
as 1.5 million, though Zimbabwe police only acknowledge about 120,000.

© 2005 AAP

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