Mugabe hails demolition drive, as world
dithers By Simon Freeman, Times Online
A defiant President Robert Mugabe once more brushed aside international
condemnation to publicly proclaim the success of a so-called urban renewal
campaign that has left up to 1.5 million people
The increasingly autocratic President
described Operation Murambatsvina, literally Clear Out the Rubbish, as
setting the framework for the creation of a new generation of urban
Mr Mugabe's comments came as the African Union
side-stepped demands that Zimbabwe's neighbours act to stop the campaign,
saying it could not interfere in the internal affairs of member
And Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission
President, also failed to back growing calls to demand intervention on the
eve of talks with President Thabo Mbeki, of South Africa.
M Barroso shied away from any direct criticism of the regime, saying: "We
should not be giving lessons."
The EC president's comments
stand in stark contrast to those made by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary,
and Condoleeza Rice, the US Secretary of State, who both described the
ongoing campaign as an outrage that the world could no longer
Yesterday, G8 ministers called on Zimbabwe to "abide
by the rule of law and respect human rights" at a meeting in London that set
the tone for next month's G8 summit in Scotland.
emerged this week that hundreds of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers held in British
detention centres have begun a hunger strike over the Government's
determination to return those whose applications fail back to
Human rights groups and MPs have demanded that the
Home Office stop the deportations, and are urging Tony Blair to discuss the
plight of the refugees at next month's G8 summit at
But in a statement issued tonight, Tony McNulty,
the Asylum and Immigration Minister, insisted: "We categorically condemn
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and are committed to providing protection to
those Zimbabweans in genuine fear of persecution.
asylum applications, including every application from Zimbabwe, are
considered on their individual merits in accordance with our international
obligations. An independent appeals process ensures that this process is
properly observed in every case. It is an important part of ensuring an
effective and fair immigration and asylum system that those found not to be
in need of international protection are removed from the UK.
"Since returns were resumed to Zimbabwe last November we have received no
substantiated reports of abuse of any person returned to the country. We do,
however, continue to keep the situation under review and will investigate
any allegations of mistreatment of returnees."
Harare. the urban poor, who represent the powerbase of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC), have watched as their homes are
bulldozed, market stalls torched and vegetable gardens
They have been ordered to relocate to rural
villages but fuel shortages and a famine sweeping the country mean hundreds
of thousands of people, including the sick and elderly, are sleeping rough
on city streets.
The MDC has compared the demolition drive to
the actions of Cambodia's Pol Pot regime, which forced townspeople to the
countryside for political "re-education."
Mr Mugabe, however,
said that the campaign was wiping out havens for criminals and black market
profiteers. He said he was "happy that a new breed of organised
entrepreneurs will emerge."
"The Government is fully behind
the clean up and applauded the police for ensuring the success of the
M Barroso, who has said that he will discuss South
Africa's response to the continuing human rights abuses during talks in
Pretoria tomorrow, said: "Let's be frank. It is very delicate for a foreign
group of countries to intervene if the countries in the region do not take
themselves the initiative first."
Mindful of accusations of
neo-colonialism, he added: "I hope that Africans themselves can decide the
way to go in terms of freedom and can see that freedom is not a foreign
Latest reports from the African Union (AU) suggest that is
unlikely. The umbrella group which represents 53 member states today said
that it would continue with a policy of quiet negotiation over direct
Desmond Orjiako, spokesman for the AU, said that it
was "not proper" for the AU to start running the internal affairs of
He added: "But if it is in the interests to prevent
crime, or improve sanitation or ensure the health of the people or ensure
Harare does not turn into a slum I do not see how the AU should take over
the internal legislation for action the government says they have taken to
improve the livelihoods of their people."
In Britain, Liam Fox,
the shadow foreign secretary, described Mr Mugabe's latest action as "crimes
He said: "The Government must take Zimbabwe to
the UN Security Council at once. "The UN must send a team of observers to
ensure that food is distributed to all Zimbabweans, not just those who
"It must freeze the assets of those who bankroll
"We must ensure that those countries that are able to make
a difference do so. If they refuse to act the international community will
need to examine further options.
"It is clear that words are
not enough and that the British Government must show some leadership and
recognise the scale of the humanitarian disaster that Mugabe has
Africans stunned by leaders' silence on Zimbabwe Fri Jun 24,
2005 8:43 PM BST
By Tume Ahemba and Tsegaye
LAGOS/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The silence of African leaders over
Zimbabwe's violent eviction of slum dwellers has stunned many ordinary
people across the continent.
Two children were crushed to death this
month by rubble during the a campaign to demolish illegal houses that human
rights groups say has left hundreds of thousands homeless.
Robert Mugabe's government argues that unauthorised structures in cities had
become a haven for illegal trade in foreign currency and scarce food items.
Police say the operation has reduced crime by a fifth in Harare.
leaders have been as restrained in their reaction to the crackdown as they
have been during much of a five-year political and economic crisis in
Zimbabwe. But their citizens have been more open.
"I don't think it's
right," said Ruth Anyango, a receptionist at a furniture shop in the Kenyan
capital Nairobi. "It's not their wish to be living in the slums. They cannot
afford to live the luxurious lifestyle that Mugabe is living."
Ssendaula, a Ugandan who studied in Zimbabwe, criticised African leaders for
not condemning Mugabe's actions openly -- which he attributed to respect for
his role as a struggle leader against minority white rule in the
"I know that as Africans we are supposed to respect him as a
great freedom fighter," he said. "But until I had seen it with my own eyes I
would never have believed how one man can ruin a country so
The United States, Britain and the European Union have all
condemned the evictions. Groups such as Amnesty International have called
for the human rights situation in Zimbabwe to be put on the agenda of the
African Union's summit in Libya next week.
Luke Adione-Egom of the
Nigerian Institute of International Affairs said the slum dwellers had
little choice but to leave the countryside to try to make a living in the
"Most of these people are not happy in these shanties, but they
have no chance of earning a living if they remain put in their villages," he
told Reuters in Lagos.
Policies such as the
seizure of white-owned farms for landless blacks are widely blamed for
Zimbabwe's most serious economic crisis since its independence from Britain
Once a promising economy in Southern Africa and the region's
bread basket, today the country faces severe shortages of everything from
food to fuel. Inflation is running at 144 percent and 70 percent of the
workforce is unemployed.
Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's economic woes on
Western powers, accusing Britain and the United States in particular of
working to unseat him because of his land policies.
Thabo Mbeki of neighbouring South Africa has led a campaign for good
governance and democracy in Africa, he is accused by critics at home and
abroad of taking a soft line on Mugabe.
Regional analysts said the annual
AU summit next week would come under strong pressure from human rights
groups to come up with a clear condemnation of the crackdown in
But an AU spokesman said although it was painful that the poor
of Zimbabwe were being displaced, the group had no mandate to intervene in
the internal affairs of a member state.
"I do not think it is proper
for the AU commission to start running the internal affairs of the AU member
states before we become the United States of Africa, which we are aiming at
achieving," AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako said.
AU Commission Chairman
Alpha Konare's own spokesman said he intended to make no statement on
But Zambia's acting foreign minister Brian Chituwo said the AU
summit would indeed discuss the Zimbabwe clampdown.
"That is an issue
which will be discussed by heads of state and I will not pre-empt it at this
time. The heads of state will definitely come up with a position concerning
the Zimbabwe issue," he told Reuters.
AI Index: AFR 46/020/2005
(Public) News Service No: 175 24 June 2005
International rejects AU claim that violations are 'internal'
matter Amnesty International rejected claims by the African Union (AU) today
that it would not be "proper" for the AU to interfere in the "internal"
affairs of Zimbabwe.
"The people of Zimbabwe are being sold out - in
the interests of a false 'African solidarity'. This conspiracy of silence
amongst African leaders is fuelling a human rights catastrophe for the
people of Zimbabwe. African solidarity should be with the people of Africa -
not with governments responsible for grave human rights violations," said
Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme,
speaking from Lagos today.
"All AU member states have made a
commitment to promote and protect the human rights of the people of Africa.
This commitment is explicitly stated in the Constitutive Act of the AU,
adopted by member states in 2000."
"The AU must take action to protect
the rights of African men, women and children. Human rights are not simply a
Background The AU statement was made earlier today
by AU spokesman Desmond Orjiako.
Amnesty International, together with
more than 200 African and international human rights organizations, launched
an urgent "Joint Appeal" yesterday calling on the AU and UN to take action
on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Document **************************************** For more information
please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20
7413 5566 Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org
UN steps up aid to children evicted in Zimbabwe clearance
24 June 2005 - The United Nations children's agency issued
an urgent appeal today for nearly $3 million as it steps up its support to
tens of thousands of children evicted from their homes in Zimbabwe during
the Government's drive to clean up cities.
"Many children are now
without shelter during winter, others have been separated from their parents
and caregivers, schooling has been widely disrupted, access to water is
difficult, and respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases are a real
threat," said Dr. Festo Kavishe, representative of the UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF) in Zimbabwe.
Operations Restore Order and Murambatsvina began
four weeks ago in what the Government called an effort, to clean up cities
and fight the black market across Zimbabwe. As a result, tens of thousands
of homes and market stalls have been destroyed.
established access to most clean-up sites across the country and, with
various ministries and a range of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is
distributing aid to affected children and women, in the form of water and
sanitation equipment, health supplies, blankets and plastic sheeting and
The agency is seeking more than $2.7 million to continue
all existing activities and expand health care aid, deliver urgently needed
non-food items, provide HIV prevention and care, and place social workers in
people died in Chitungwiza, about 30 km east of Harare as the controversial
crackdown on illegal structures code named Operation Murambatsvina or remove
filth by government continues. In a hotly debated motion in parliament
yesterday Opposition Movement for Democratic Change MPS called for the
setting up of a parliamentary committee to probe the legality and
implications of the operation.
A red cloth flies by a desolate gate. A
sign of a funeral in Zengeza township, Chitungwiza. The bereaved family lost
their son Farai Banhwa Tuesday this week when the police forced him to bring
down a backyard structure. Riot police - armed to teeth - and bulldozers
descended on the township forcing people to bring down their homes. Farai
went up the building. As they demolished his home, he panicked, fell and was
crushed by rubble. He is not the only one, three more have died around
Harare since the operation began
Tens of thousands of people have
nowhere to go. Their homes destroyed - the trudge long distances to
surrounding farms for shelter. Caledonia farm, about 40km east of Harare is
providing temporary shelter to thousands of these. With temperatures below
19°C, they sleep in the open, together with their children who have not been
going to school. Their future has been put on ice.
In the cold
evening others follow suit using pushcarts. Not even enough to carry all
their belongings. They have no hope, no future and wonder why their
government demolished their homes.
AU declines to intervene in Zimbabwe Spokesman says it is not
proper to run internal affairs of members
Friday, June 24, 2005; Posted:
1:29 p.m. EDT (17:29 GMT)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- The
African Union rallied to an African leader, saying it would not intervene in
a Zimbabwean campaign of evictions and arrests that has been described as
cruelly anti-poor because Robert Mugabe might be trying to help his people
in the long term. "I do not think it is proper for the AU Commission to start
running the internal affairs of members states," Desmond Orjiako, spokesman
for the 53-member union, said Friday.
He acknowledged: "It is painful
that the poor people in Zimbabwe are being displaced."
"But if it is
in the interests to prevent crime, or improve sanitation or ensure the
health of the people or ensure Harare does not turn into a slum, I do not
see how the AU should take over the internal legislation for action the
government says they have taken to improve the livelihoods of their people,"
The increasingly autocratic President Mugabe was quoted by
his state radio Friday as saying his Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out
Trash, was wiping out havens for criminals and black market
His government has promised those displaced -- estimated at
more than 1 million by the United Nations -- would be given a new
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, though, says only
supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF were getting new housing sites and
trading licenses. The opposition, which has its support base among the urban
poor, says the campaign is aimed at punishing those who voted against
Mugabe's party in recent parliamentary elections.
lawyers and human rights groups have condemned Operation Murambatsvina. They
have been joined by international human rights groups and Western
African leaders, though, have been largely silent about the
actions of a fellow African. South Africa, the regional heavyweight to whom
many are looking for leadership on Zimbabwe, has pursued what it calls a
policy of "quiet diplomacy," arguing it would be counterproductive to push
Mugabe too hard or cut off discussion with him.
"We believe that
there really is a high responsibility placed on African leaders not to
continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on in Zimbabwe," British
Foreign Minister Jack Straw said in London on Thursday at a meeting of Group
of Eight foreign ministers. "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."
At the same meeting, U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, long a sharp critic of Mugabe, called on the African
Union to speak out "against these outrages."
"If human rights are
violated, people have to give evidence to the African Commission on Human
and Peoples Rights," the AU's Orjiako said Friday.
The African Union has
intervened elsewhere on the continent, earning praise at a time when rich
nations in the West are looking for signs any overture on their part to
increase aid to Africa would be met with political reforms.
Union suspended the membership of the tiny West African nation of Togo and
imposed a travel ban and economic sanctions after what many saw as a
military coup there in February. An AU envoy is now charged with finding a
political solution for Togo.
The African Union also has peacekeepers in
the volatile Darfur region of Sudan and is mediating truce talks between the
Sudanese government and Darfur rebels.
Each year hundreds of thousands of people are killed,
tortured, raped and displaced in some countries within the continent.
Commemorating the UN Amnesty Day, human rights groups have questioned
southern African countries' lack of response to "a tragedy in
Tens of thousands of shacks and market stalls have been
demolished across Zimbabwe since police launched "Operation Restore Order"
more than a month ago. A red cloth flying by one of Chitungwiza families'
gate is a sign of a funeral. The family lost their son when the police
forced him to bring down a backyard structure and the family is scared to
talk about it, fearing victimisation. "Lives have been lost. (We're)
wondering why the government did this without notice," says Goodrich
Chimbaira, a local MP.
Pro-human rights lobby groups are, as a result,
calling on South Africans and the rest of the world to help expose the
situation in Zimbabwe. "SADC (Southern African Developing Community) has not
responded. I don't think any single government in the region has responded.
This is a tragedy to have something of this scale happening in the region,"
laments Elinor Sisulu, an official of Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition South
Aisa says it supports a global call to adopt a proposed
international arms trade treaty, which will bind industrialised countries to
stop arms exports to poor countries. Arms export from these countries to
poor and conflict-ridden countries are said to be fuelling poverty and human
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, today defended his
government's crackdown on what it calls illegal settlements - a drive that
has left thousands homeless and drawn condemnation from the west. Two
children were crushed to death this month during the campaign that critics
say has exacerbated an economic crisis, marked by severe food and fuel
shortages, unemployment of around 70% and inflation of over 140%.
Mugabe repeated it was part of a bid to fight crime and clean up cities. "As
much as Z$3 trillion (Zimbabwe dollars or around $3 billion) has been
committed to this programme ... There is a clear construction and
reconstruction programme," he said in remarks broadcast on state
"We pledged to revitalise our cities and towns and to deliver
as many as 1.2 million housing units and residential stands by the year
2008. We also undertook to reorganise our SMEs (small and medium business
enterprises) so they could grow and expand in an environment that is
supportive, clean and decent", Mugabe said. Rights groups say up to 300 000
have been rendered homeless by the crackdown. The official figure is 120
Criticism Jose Barroso, the European Commission president, today
joined the United States and Britain in criticism of what has been called
"Operation Restore Order". The operation once again threatened a rift
between the West and African nations over how to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis,
which critics blame on government mismanagement and a plan to give
white-owned farms to landless blacks. After Jack Straw, the British foreign
secretary, blamed African leaders yesterday for not stepping in, an African
Union (AU) spokesperson said it could not intervene in "an internal
This followed calls by some 120 rights groups, including Amnesty
International, for the AU to put the matter on its agenda at an annual
summit in Libya on July 4-5. President Thabo Mbeki, leader of the
continent's key diplomatic power, has been among those reluctant to speak
against Harare for alleged rights abuses, opting for "quiet diplomacy" that
has in the past angered the West. Mugabe said today the criticism was to be
expected from those he has blamed for targeting him over his
"This, comrades, is the programme which has drawn broadsides,
criticism from ... our habitual critics, led of course by Britain and as
usual supported by the Washington administration and the government of
Australia," said Mugabe, the country's leader since independence from
Britain in 1980. "Even more ridiculous is the fact of the new World Bank
president (Paul Wolfowitz), himself an ex-official of the American
administration, joining in the attack without any firsthand impression of
what is going on here. "What has the World Bank to do with it?", the
question is asked. - Reuters
HARARE, June 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe on Friday denounced Britain and its allies for attacking the
country's ongoing clean up campaign, which saw illegal shacks destroyed,
street vendors arrested all over the country.
addressing you against the backdrop of unprecedented renewed attacks on our
party, our government and country by the usual British-led anti-Zimbabwe
western coalition," Mugabe said during a ruling party meeting.
"Their latest pretext is the clean-up operation we launched nearly a month
ago, whose objectives are both clear and laudable,"said Mugabe.
For the past month, police have been carrying out the clean up campaign,
demolishing shacks and stalls in cities and towns acrossZimbabwe. Western
media have accused the campaign of leaving thousands homeless.
Mugabe said the clean up operation was launched to obviate a potential
hazard posed by unregulated and uncontrolled informal urban settlements and
He said it was hypocritical for Britain and its
allies to vilify the campaign, adding he had agreed to receive the United
Nations Secretary General's special envoy in the country to enablethe
secretary general to understand and appreciate what Zimbabwe is trying to do
for its people.
The United Nations will send its envoy next
week to assess the clean up campaign which, Mugabe said, is supposed to end
by end August. Enditem
Zimbabwe to imprison journalists for 20 years Sat 25 June
2005 HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has signed a new law to imprison
journalists for up to 20 years for publishing false information, ZimOnline
Mugabe signed the new Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act on June 2, 2005. But the legislation remains
ineffective until a statutory instrument is published stating the date it
comes into force.
Officials at the Attorney General's office, who
were expecting the statutory instrument this week, indicated that it could
be published "any time from now."
already faced long jail terms for publishing falsehoods under existing law.
Under Section 15 of the Public Order and Security Act enacted in 2002,
journalists could be jailed for up to five years or fined Z$100 000 for
publishing incorrect information.
The privately-owned Daily News,
Zimbabwe's largest circulating paper at the time off its banning, is among
four newspapers forcibly shut down by the government since
American-based world Press rights watchdog, the Committee to
Protect Journalists, ranks Zimbabwe together with Iran and Uzbekistan among
the three most dangerous places for journalists in the world. -
Section 80 of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act also passed in 2002, imposes a two-year jail
term or Z$400 000 for publication of false information. Both the security
and information Acts punished falsehoods published on Zimbabwean
But Section 31(a) of the new and tougher criminal law says it
is "an offence for anyone inside or outside Zimbabwe to publish or
communicate to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially
false with the intention or realising that there is real risk or a
possibility of any of the following:
"(i) Inciting or promoting
public disorder or public violence or endangering public safety; (ii)
adversely affecting the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe; (iii)
undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the Prison
Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe; (iv) interfering with, disrupting
or interrupting any essential service."
The Act says it shall be an
offence even if the publication or communication of false information does
not necessarily result in any of the scenarios envisaged in the Act and
those convicted of breaching the law will be liable to a jail term not
exceeding 20 years, a fine of Z$2.5 million or both.
Journalists as well as ordinary citizens will also be prohibited under the
criminal Act from making or uttering any false statement including making
gestures or actions that might cause hate, contempt or ill-feeling towards
President Robert Mugabe in his official or personal capacity.
was already an offence punishable by a one year jail term or a $20 000 fine
or both to ridicule or insult Mugabe. The new law maintains the one year
jail term but increases the fine to $200 000.
The new legislation
is certain to make it almost impossible for Zimbabwean journalists to
criticise in their articles Mugabe and his government, who analysts blame
for ruining Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy.
The criminal Act
passed by Parliament last year but which Mugabe had until now not signed is
yet another example of the vicious clampdown by Harare on free media and all
other voices of dissension.
Journalists and newspapers in the
southern African nation must also register with the government's Media and
Information Commission to practise in the country.
100 journalists have been arrested since 2002 for breaching strict
government media laws while at least 45 journalists of the banned Daily News
newspaper are on trial at the High Court for having worked for the paper
without being registered with the state commission. They could be jailed for
up to two years or banned for life if found guilty.
G8 foreign ministers demand action against Mugabe Sat 25
June 2005 LONDON - Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading
industrialised nations yesterday condemned the ongoing evictions in Zimbabwe
and urged African leaders "not to turn a blind eye" to the unfolding
At least a million people have been rendered homeless after
the government demolished their homes in an exercise the government says is
necessary to restore the beauty of towns and cities.
campaign has attracted universal condemnation from the United States,
Amnesty International, Britain, church and civic groups as a violation of
the rights of the poor.
"We believe that there really is a high
responsibility placed on African leaders not to continue to turn a blind eye
to what is going on in Zimbabwe," said Britain's foreign secretary Jack
"If the reports are simply half true - and we believe them
to be much more than half true - this is a situation of serious
"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.
In Australia, Prime Minister John
Howard also urged African leaders, whom he accused of turning a blind eye to
the crisis, to take a tougher stand against Mugabe's human rights abuses in
He said: "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."
Attempts to hold
Mugabe to account for human rights violations in Zimbabwe have all failed in
the past after the majority of African countries backed the 81-year old
Yesterday, South Africa expressed "irritation"
at Britain's call on African leaders to step up pressure against Mugabe over
human rights abuses. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwe bank offers forex "sweetener" Sat 25 June
2005 HARARE - A government-controlled commercial bank is offering customers
who change their foreign currency at the bank a 25 percent bonus as a way of
encouraging people to bring in scarce foreign exchange into the official
The Zimbabwe Banking Corporation (Zimbank), a
subsidiary of state-majority owned Financial Holdings Group (Finhold), has
introduced a 25 percent "sweetener" to anyone changing foreign currency at
This effectively means the bank is offering an exchange
rate of $12 370 to one American dollar, way above the official exchange rate
of $ 9,896 to one greenback.
A ZimOnline correspondent on
Thursday this week was able to change foreign currency at the bank and
benefited from the sweetener with the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent of foreign
currency tendered increased by a quarter.
started this week as a means to encourage customers to use the official
channels when changing money. It is a form of saying thank you for doing
business with us," a teller at one of the bank's branches in Harare
There was no immediate comment from Elisha Mushayakarara, the
Financial Holdings Group (Finhold) chief executive officer who was said to
have been in meetings and did not return calls left with his
A snap survey of the country's commercial banks showed
that other banks did not offer the "sweetener".
foreign currency shortages have reached unprecedented levels with the
central bank-run auctions failing to meet surging demand.
at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said bids had shot to US$370 million
at last Thursday's auctions while only US$7.5 million was
The police have now resorted to raiding black market
foreign currency dealers as a means of supporting the central bank's bid to
Zimbabwe needs more than US$250 million to import 1.5
million tonnes of maize required to avert hunger after a poor harvest last
season. The crisis-sapped southern African nation is also grappling acute
fuel shortages because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers. -
Zimbabwean holidaymaker flogged in Botswana Sat 25 June
2005 GABORONE - Botswana police last Friday severely flogged a Zimbabwean
holidaymaker after mistaking him for an illegal immigrant.
Relations between Harare and Gaborone are strained with Zimbabwe accusing
Botswana authorities of ill-treating Zimbabweans visiting that
Gaborone, which denies victimising Zimbabweans,
regularly administers corporal punishment against the citizens of its
north-eastern neighbour whom it accuses of crossing illegally into Botswana
and committing crime.
Zimbabwean banker David Mbwende, who was
visiting a cousin who lives and works in Gaborone, was arrested by the
police as he walked past a spot near the city centre where Zimbabwean job
seekers regularly gather waiting for prospective employers.
was detained in a police cell overnight before he was taken to the customary
court the following day. Despite telling the court that he had entered
legally to visit his cousin, the court still sentenced him to eight strokes
by cane allegedly for loitering.
Gaborone Urban Customary Court
President Dikwalo Monametsi told ZimOnline: "The accused was flogged for
being idle. Most Zimbabweans, who frequent the area to look for jobs, run
away when they see the police (because) the majority of them do not have
Corporal punishment deemed across the world as
degrading and a violation of the dignity of recipients, is prohibited by the
United Nations. But Gaborone, which administers this form of punishment to
locals as well, says it is a necessary alternative to imprisonment and helps
ease congestion in jails.
Botswana says it will finish
constructing an electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe in August
which it says is necessary to control spreading of cattle and animal
diseases between the two countries by preventing free movement of wild
animals and livestock across the frontier.
But Harare accuses
Gaborone of constructing a Gaza-style electric fence that will endanger the
lives of villagers living along the frontier. - ZimOnline
GOVERNMENT and other stakeholders have set up a
committee to look into ways of making the newly launched Harare-Dubai route
Secretary for Transport and Communications Mr Karikoga Kaseke
said the committee was established following an agreement by stakeholders to
promote the Harare-Dubai route introduced by Air Zimbabwe last
"The meeting called by the Minister of Transport and
Communications Cde Christopher Mushowe is basically trying to look at issues
that together we can make the new route viable.
"We feel that the
route can perform better if all stakeholders are involved," he
Mr Kaseke said the meeting agreed that the Harare-Dubai route is a
lucrative market with great potential to succeed.
"So we were looking
at how best we can come up with ideas as stakeholders especially those in
tourism and make contributions in terms of ideas. There is urgent need to
come up with a promotion strategy to promote Zimbabwe as a competitive
tourist destination in the Middle East and Gulf region," he
Dubai, he said, was a lucrative market, which Air Zimbabwe with
the proper campaign and support could highly benefit from.
the air market is high. There is high propensity for people to travel and
spend very substantial amounts of money.
"So we said Air Zimbabwe had
already started flights to Dubai and certain things that were supposed to be
done were not done when the airliner started its flights," Mr Kaseke said,
adding that this is why they came up with the national strategy to support
the national airliner.
The committee, Mr Kaseke said, would comprise
three sub committees which would look at different issues such as promotion
of the airliner, marketing, facilitation of visas and organising of the
official launch of the Harare-Dubai route.
"We think when we launch
the route we should look at the region in terms of marketing flying to the
new destination with Air Zimbabwe," he said.
Mr Kaseke said he was
recently in Dubai together with the minister and they held fruitful talks
with the United Emirates Airlines and that they had during the meeting given
feedback to other various stakeholders on their trip.
On its maiden
trip to Dubai about a month ago, Air Zimbabwe took of with about 49
passengers on board instead of 120 passengers needed to break even before
cruising back more than 6 000 kilometres to Harare with a lone
Church leaders attack Mugabe's 'cruel and inhumane'
HEADS of the Roman Catholic church
in Zimbabwe yesterday condemned Robert Mugabe's "cruel" clampdown on street
traders and shanty town dwellers, saying it "cries out for vengeance to
The government's Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, may
have left more than 1.5 million people without homes and livelihoods,
according to United Nations officials.
Police also have arrested more
than 30,000 vendors, accusing them of dealing in black market goods and
attempting to sabotage Zimbabwe's failing economy.
archbishops, bishops and administrators of church dioceses, in a formal
message to an estimated one million churchgoers which was pinned on hundreds
of church noticeboards throughout the country, said: "A whole nation has
suffered because of recent and ongoing actions.
"Now, almost four weeks
after the event, countless numbers of men, women with babies, children of
school age, the old and the sick, continue to sleep in the open air at
winter temperatures near to freezing."
They called for special prayers to
be said next Sunday.
"Any claim to justify this operation becomes totally
groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have been used,"
they said. "We condemn the gross injustice done to the poor."
churchmen, led by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare and Archbishop Pius
Ncube of Bulawayo, attacked self-styled Christians in the government who
"lead a double way of life, one for Sunday services in church and another
for public tasks, be they political, economic, social or any other
President Mugabe, 81, regularly attends mass, but the pastoral
letter did not mention the name of the Jesuit-educated leader. The Catholic
leaders added: "Innate human dignity given to us by the Creator Himself was
gravely violated by the ruthless manner in which the operation was conducted
and... cries out for vengeance to God."
It was the toughest statement
yet by church leaders against the government crackdown. With 80 per cent
unemployment, most Zimbabweans survive in the "informal sector" and now face
The United Nations, which estimates four million people will
need famine relief before the next harvests in 2006, believes up to 1.5
million may have been left without homes or livelihoods by the
Police have warned it will be extended from cities and towns
to previously unaffected country areas, to which the majority of the shanty
town dwellers have fled.
President Mugabe's recently dismissed
propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, said last week that the operation was not
pre-planned, but part of manoeuvring by ruling Zanu-PF party factions
seeking to name a successor to Mr Mugabe when his current term ends in 2008.
He has been in power since 1980 when the country became independent from
His rule has become increasingly authoritarian since he embarked
upon a controversial programme of confiscating 5,000 white-owned
Archbishop Ncube has called for a peaceful "mass uprising" to end
President Mugabe himself blames sanctions and boycotts
sponsored by Britain and the United States for economic problems, alleging
they are meant to reverse land redistribution.
Over the weekend,
South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, criticised
president Thabo Mbeki's public silence over the "clean-up" campaign, saying
the "operation bears all the hallmarks of Apartheid-era forced removals,"
when non-whites were forcibly transferred from their homes to different
A Zimbabwean opposition leader facing deportation has
won a last-minute reprieve from the Home Office, he said today.
comes as a hunger strike among Zimbabwean asylum seekers spreads through the
UK's immigration detention centres.
More than 20 have been protesting
for two days against the lifting last November of a ban which prevented
Zimbabweans from being deported against their will.
was due to be deported tomorrow (Saturday) but won a reprieve after the
intervention of Labour MP Kate Hoey.
Mr Kulinji, 32, from Harare, an
organising secretary and election co-ordinator for the Movement for
Democratic Change, is recovering from injuries he claims he sustained in
jail in Zimbabwe.
Speaking from Campsfield House, in Oxford, he said: "My
solicitor has told me that the flight tomorrow has been cancelled.
am pleased for that but I am going to continue with the others on hunger
"We are not prepared to go and face a dictator at home and we
feel the UK government is using double standards."
Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns claims that almost 100 Zimbabweans
in detention are now on hunger strike.
The Home Office said tonight the
figure was 21.
GSL, formerly part of Group 4, confirmed that 20
Zimbabweans were on hunger strikes in two of its immigration centres, at
Yard's Wood, Bedford, and Campsfield House.
Kate Hoey MP said: "It is
just unbelievable that we would think to send some of these people back to a
country that's just falling apart.
"They are at a real risk, particularly
if they are coming from the UK, as they will automatically be considered to
"We need the ban on deportations brought back again as
the situation is much worse now than it was then."
More than 15,000
Zimbabweans fled to Britain in the four years up to 2004, though only a few
hundred have been granted asylum.
In the first three months of 2005, 95
Zimbabweans were forcibly removed and another 104 are currently in detention
awaiting possible deportation.
The Home Office said on Thursday it had no
plans to halt the removals and would not comment on the individual case of
Tony McNulty, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and
Nationality, said: "We categorically condemn human rights abuses in Zimbabwe
and are committed to providing protection to those Zimbabweans in genuine
fear of persecution.
"Since returns were resumed to Zimbabwe last
November we have received no substantiated reports of abuse of any person
returned to the country.
"We do, however, continue to keep the situation
under review and will investigate any allegations of mistreatment of
An Amnesty International spokesman said: "We were shocked at
the government's decision last year to start sending unsuccessful asylum
applicants back to Zimbabwe."
'I'm Ready to Stand in Front of the Gun and be Shot'
June 24, 2005 Posted to the web June 24,
A coalition of more than 200 African and
international civic groups has called on the United Nations and African
Union to press for an end to evictions and demolitions that have left people
across Zimbabwe homeless.
"Over the past four weeks the government of
Zimbabwe has orchestrated the widespread forced eviction of tens of
thousands of informal traders and families living in informal settlements,"
the groups said in a joint statement issued Thursday at press conferences in
five African cities, including Johannesburg, and at the United
"During these forced evictions homes have been burnt and
property destroyed. Many individuals have been arbitrarily arrested,
detained, fined, abducted and/or beaten. Such actions continue unabated, and
The coalition, coordinated by Amnesty International and
the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), has urged
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to place events in Zimbabwe on the
agenda of the upcoming African Union (AU) summit. Obasanjo currently chairs
the AU, which is scheduled to meet in Libya next month.
solidarity should be with the people of Africa -- not their repressive
leaders," said the coalition.
It also called on the UN to ensure
Zimbabwe's government provided relief aid and compensation to those whose
homes had been destroyed. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has already
appointed Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, executive director of the organisation's
Human Settlements Programme, as a special envoy to report on evictions in
Rights groups claim that upwards of 300,000 mostly poor
Zimbabweans have been targeted by the eviction campaign, officially aimed at
clearing away unauthorized buildings and ending black market trade in scarce
The state-run 'Herald' newspaper has quoted President Robert
Mugabe as saying the crackdown is meant to "restore sanity" to urban
centres. It also noted that overcrowding in these areas posed health risks
which needed to be addressed.
Zimbabwe's main opposition group, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), believes the campaign -- known as
Operation Murambatsvina (a Shona word meaning "drive out rubbish") -- is
directed against its supporters, largely found in poor, urban
Arnold Tsunga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
"Mugabe wants to destroy the MDC's power base. He wants these
people to go to the rural areas so that he can control the channels of food.
When they are dependent on food aid it's easy to control them," he said
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a severe food crisis, blamed
on drought and farm occupations officially intended to end racial imbalances
in land ownership. About a third of the country's 12 million people are said
to be in need of emergency aid. "Now the number is going to be more,"
Others point out that the campaign has not only
affected MDC supporters. For Zimbabwean activist Daniel Molokela, who works
for the Johannesburg-based Peace and Democracy Project, it is simply an
exercise in the "politics of diversions".
"They are now a trait of
the regime. When there is an internal focus on an issue - say on the flawed
March parliamentary elections - Mugabe starts another thing," he told IPS.
"You can see that people have now lost focus on the election. People are now
concentrating on the demolitions."
The evictions come in the midst of the
Southern Hemisphere winter, leaving many exposed to the elements.
care has been shown for these people, many of whom are vulnerable. Thousands
of children, the elderly and the ill face the prospect of disease and in
some cases death from hunger, exposure and drinking unsafe water," the
coalition said in its statement.
Matters are doubtless aggravated by the
fact that Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence rate of almost 25 percent
(according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS). With
anti-retroviral drugs reaching only a fraction of those who need them, there
may be many HIV-positive Zimbabweans who find their immune systems further
compromised by being forced to live in the open.
To drive its message
home, the coalition showed a short video clip, shot clandestinely in
Zimbabwe and smuggled out of the country.
The film shows a distraught
woman, weeping uncontrollably. "We have lost everything. My family sleeps in
the open. There's no one to turn to for help or advice. No one in the
government is willing to listen to us," she says.
Archbishop Pius Ncube from the southern city of Bulawayo also appears in the
clip to denounce government's actions.
"The government wants these people
to go to the rural areas where they can starve them. I'm so angry with this
government that I'm ready to stand in front of the gun and be shot," he
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) has been accused of manipulating food supplies in rural areas to
punish opposition supporters.
Zimbabwean officials have reportedly
promised to provide new homes for those left destitute by its
However, COHRE isn't waiting to see whether Harare fulfils this
pledge. Instead, it intends bringing the Mugabe administration before the
International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands.
"We feel that
the government has a huge case to answer. This is a calamity," the NGO's
Jean du Plessis told IPS.
"It may take a long time, but we'll be pushing
for it," he added. "The perpetrators will be prosecuted - if not today, then
in the future."
The ICC, based in The Hague, was established in 1998 to
prosecute persons accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against
The move by COHRE comes as Zimbabwe's own courts appear unable
to prevent the destruction of housing.
Tsunga claims that his
organisation has filed seven cases in a bid to end the evictions, but that
these were thrown out by the high court. Concerning a bid to prevent
removals in the Harare suburb of Hatcliffe, the court apparently claimed
evictions could proceed because of unauthorized construction on
"Zimbabwe's judiciary has become impotent to protect the
weak. In fact, our judiciary has become a liability to the society it is
supposed to serve," notes Tsunga.
Molokela believes a more concerted
mobilization of Zimbabweans living abroad is key to improving the situation
in his country.
"In South Africa alone we have two million plus
Zimbabweans. ZANU-PF has won the international propaganda war because the
MDC has failed to organise the Zimbabwe diaspora," he says. "As civil
society, we are now going to assume that role and highlight the crisis in
Events of the past four weeks mark the latest in a series of
developments that have put Zimbabwe at the centre of international attention
in recent years.
Since the start of 2000 the Southern African country
has held three elections marred by political violence, most of it directed
against the opposition. Legislation has been passed that assists government
in stifling dissent, and efforts have also been made to muzzle the
Zimbabwean archbishop urges U.N. to arrest Mugabe 24 Jun 2005 19:39:32
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON, June 24
(Reuters) - The United Nations should arrest Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe and put him on trial, Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic Archbishop
of Bulawayo, said on Friday, warning of a potential massacre.
compared Mugabe to Cambodian dictator Pol Pot whose reign of terror killed
millions of people by forcing them from cities into the countryside -- an
act he said was being repeated in Zimbabwe as the government bulldozes
thousands of homes.
"The United Nations should arrest Mugabe, bring him
to trial, insist on free and fair elections," he told Britain's Channel 4
News from the Vatican. "There's a peasant-ification drive here, something
like Pol Pot did."
"These people, they are being kind of forced to go to
the country but in the country there was a drought this year and there isn't
enough food -- Zimbabwe only produced a quarter of the food they produced
formerly, five years ago," he added.
Inflation in the former
breadbasket of Africa is more than 500 percent, unemployment is over 80
percent and starvation is rife as white-owned commercial farms that formed
the backbone of the agrarian economy are seized by the state and broken
Ncube, a defiant critic of Mugabe who has been in power since the
former Rhodesia won independence from Britain in 1980, said 1.5 million poor
Zimbabweans were being forced from their city homes as they were razed to
The government says they are all illegal buildings and it
is simply reasserting the rule of law.
However, analysts note that
urban Zimbabweans voted for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in elections earlier this year that returned Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
party to power but which were widely regarded as rigged.
revenging, going against the MDC which has won the relations in the town,"
He accused African leaders of standing idly by while Mugabe
destroyed his country and millions faced poverty and starvation.
must understand there is an African club here. They will support one another
come what may because they feel that the western world is at an advantageous
position economically," he said.
"They feel that we Africans we must
support one another, not embarrass one another by criticising one another,"
Ncube said South African President Thabo Mbeki was the worst
"The South African government...have done nothing but support
Mugabe...Mbeki has lost all reputation in Zimbabwe for supporting a dictator
who is killing his own people," he said.
Ncube raised the spectre of
the 1994 massacre in Rwanda when the outside world did nothing to prevent
the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in just 100 days in spite
of clear signs it was brewing.
"We've seen what happened in Rwanda.
People are standing around, the UN standing around, the African countries
did nothing about it," he said. "We want another Rwanda to take place due to
a mad man who's just after power?"
Ncube, who said his telephone was
bugged and he was often followed by Zimbabwe's intelligence service, said he
had no choice but to speak out.
"I am aware of the dangerous situation of
speaking up but that is the only thing I can do to speak up for the people.
I'll go back there. I am so angry. I am ready to stand before and gun and be
shot," he added.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe
news By Lance Guma 24 June 2005
they did not see eye to eye but this weekend Zimbabwe's rival war veterans
associations will meet to discuss strategies to counter the current police
operation 'clean up'. Max Mkandla, President of the Zimbabwe Liberators
Peace initiative, is meeting the usually pro-Zanu PF Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) in Bulawayo on Saturday. The
only difference between the two groups he says was Zanu PF, but now that
their colleagues had realized they were being exploited the two groups would
be joining forces to confront Mugabe.
Mkandla said: There is
something that should be done in this country and tomorrows meeting
(Saturday) will determine who is the number one enemy in the country.'He
bemoaned the fact that Zimbabweans are being made refugees in their own
motherland and he said that people had to unite and stop the madness. Asked
whether the police might use the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to
block the meeting, he said they will not be intimidated by 'stupid laws'.
They had fought laws like POSA in the 70's under Ian Smith's Rhodesia and
this was nothing new.
The Chairman of the ZNLWVA, Jabulani
Sibanda, has also endorsed the meeting. Although the Zanu PF hierarchy has
tried to sideline him from the leadership of the association, the bulk of
the war veterans have stood by him, thus further widening the rift between
the former fighters and Mugabe's regime. A number of housing schemes
belonging to war veterans have been destroyed in the ongoing 'Tsunami' raids
by the police.
This has forced the war veterans to wake up and
smell the political coffee.
In a bizarre incident that angered many women in Bulawayo, police
confiscated all the mealie meal that was about to be sold at Sauerstown
Supermarket, because the prices had been written by hand using a felt pen.
The police told the owner that this is illegal, even though this is standard
practice these days.
Tabitha Khumalo of The Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions said there is no foreign currency to buy the ink
and tapes used in price guns. She said in fact no law exists that says
prices and ingredients cannot be handwritten. Furrthermore, it is not known
where the mealie meal was taken by the police. Khumalo said the police have
also been confiscating food items from women who were encouraged to form
clubs and buy in bulk.
This incident happened a day after
police took 4 loaves of bread and 15,000 dollars from a woman at Hippo
valley estates. They never reported the case officially and witnesses in the
area said this was police theft.
Similar stories are being reported
as the so-called Tsunami raids continue. There have been many reports of
police taking furniture from buses bringing displaced families to rural
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news By
Tererai Karimakwenda 24 June 2005
police raids have destroyed the lives of many Zimbabweans, killing them
literally, and also killing them spiritually. ZimOnline reports that
one of the two toddlers who died during the government's ongoing clean-up
campaign was crushed to death when his family's makeshift home was pulled
down by police bulldozers. The state paper the Herald had blamed the parents
for pulling the wall down.
The Member of Parliament for St
Mary's also told Parliament during debate that a high school student was
crushed to death when police used bulldozers to pull down a house last
The student's death brings to three the number of known
cases of children who have died during the controversial clean-up exercise.
But the Herald newspaper has attempted to paint a different picture
regarding any raid related deaths. Many others have died of exposure and the
state paper also never covers how these raids are killing people
Tabitha Khumalo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions Women's Assembly said she condemns the victimisation of children and
women. She said the freedom charter grants individuals the right to housing,
health and shelter. Because they cannot abandon their children, women are
the ones burdened with taking care of the young ones.
went further to blame the government for depriving the women of their
livelihood and homes, and putting them in a position to resort to the only
option left, prostitution. The final result of this increased sexual
activity for money is an increase in HIV and AIDS cases. Khumalo said she
asked a young woman in a nightclub if she wasn't afraid of AIDs and her
response was " I am already dead".
We have also reported how
several people committed suicide after losing everything they had worked
hard for. The government says this is a cleanup operation, but it appears
the operation has brought nothing but absolute misery and
FOUR land allocation officers have been arrested for
allegedly demanding bribes from aspiring farmers applying for land under the
model A2 resettlement scheme in Mazowe Valley, as the Government intensifies
its fight against corruption.
The officers reportedly demanded $15
million from each applicant in return for land in the much-sought-after
Before their arrest on Wednesday, the officers are understood to
have allocated prospective farmers A2 model plots at Mondynes and Kuvina
They had also issued the applicants with letters of provisional
allocation of A2 farms, allocation resettlement forms and land registration
certificates indicating that they were the legal settlers of the
All the shoddy deals were being done at the expense of other
land-hungry applicants awaiting resettlement in Mashonaland Central
The officers' arrest followed a joint trap by police and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) after it was discovered that some Government
officials were corruptly distributing land countrywide.
Of late, RBZ
and the police have been exposing illegal foreign currency and fuel deals.
The Government does not charge anything to beneficiaries under its land
reforms, but corrupt land officers were accepting bribes from wealthy
applicants to speed up the process.
Consistent and reliable rainfall
patterns, fertile red soils and proximity to Harare make Mazowe Valley the
most sought after farming area.
At the time of the officers' arrest, it
is believed that hundreds of prospective farmers had
Police chief spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
yesterday confirmed the arrest of the Ministry of Local Government, Public
Works and Urban Development officials and said they were expected to appear
in court soon.
"This could be an isolated case but we are appealing
for information that could help us unearth all cases of corruption in land
allocations around the country.
"We believe these things have been
going on for sometime unnoticed."
"We are also wary of people who may
resort to name-calling just for the sake of it. We need information of
substance that will help us prosecute and possibly reduce cases of
corruption in the public sector," said Asst Comm Bvudzijena.
Herald understands that two officials at the District Administrator's office
in Mazowe connived with two others, who acted as fronts, to recruit people
who wanted to be allocated land in the prime farming area.
trap was set up by police officers who pretended to be prospective new
farmers looking for land.
At least $16 million, whose serial numbers were
recorded, was "paid" to the unsuspecting land officers.
the deal, which involved the issuance of offer letters, the officials were
paid but were arrested while counting the money.
President Mugabe has
called for zero-tolerance to corruption which has seen high-profile
businessmen and politicians being arrested as Government intensified its
fight against corruption in all sectors of the economy.
Anti-Corruption Commission will soon be appointed to make recommendations to
Government and organisations in the private sector on measures to enhance
integrity and accountability in the country.
The commission will work
closely with the RBZ, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate and the police in combating corruption, theft,
misappropriation, abuse of power and other improprieties in the conduct of
business in both the private and public sectors
president, Robert Mugabe, today congratulated police on their role in a
campaign against slum-dwellers that has left 1.5 million people
homeless. The campaign has triggered a wave of international condemnation
and seen thousands of homes bulldozed and torched over the past
Although it has targeted opponents of Mr Mugabe's regime, it is
officially described as an urban renewal campaign.
Murambatsvina - a word meaning 'drive out trash' - has resulted in the
destruction of shantytowns, street markets and even vegetable gardens set up
by many city dwellers facing acute food shortages.
Addressing a police
graduation ceremony on Thursday, Mr Mugabe said the campaign was wiping out
havens for criminals and black market profiteers. Last week, state radio
quoted him as saying he was "happy that a new breed of organised
entrepreneurs will emerge".
"The government is fully behind the clean up
and applauded the police for ensuring the success of the operation," he
said. Zimbabwe's opposition, much of whose support is among the urban poor,
says the campaign is aimed at punishing people for voting against the ruling
Zanu-PF party in the country's recent elections.
At the G8 foreign
ministers' summit in London today, a closing statement reserved its
strongest language for condemnation of the campaign, calling on the African
Union to speak out against the situation.
"We believe that there really
is a high responsibility placed on African leaders not to continue to turn a
blind eye to what is going on in Zimbabwe," the British foreign secretary,
Jack Straw, said.
"If the reports are simply half true - and we believe
them to be much more than half true - this is a situation of serious
The Conservative foreign affairs spokeswoman,
Anne McIntosh, said the government should appeal to the UN to take
international action on the issue. "These crimes against humanity cannot be
allowed to continue," she said.
More than 200 international human
rights and civic groups demanded today that Zimbabwe stop the campaign,
releasing smuggled videos of families forced to sleep in the open in the
Police prevented journalists from filming the demolition
campaign, and footage was secretly collected by the church-based Solidarity
At Hatcliffe Extension, a Harare township, residents said
those who did not leave on their own were driven in trucks to the outskirts
of the capital.
"We were dumped here by people with whips," one young man
- whose name was not released for fear of retribution - said. "We don't know
what went wrong. We were given these stands by the government."
Ncube, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo - a sharp critic of the
evictions - said he was so angered by the campaign he was "ready to stand
before a gun and be shot."
Answering questions during a stormy
parliamentary session yesterday, the Zimbabwean justice minister, Patrick
Chinamasa, conceded that harm had been done to legitimate housing by what he
called a "clean-up" operation he said was intended to flush out
"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."
Zimbabwean government has pledged to build new houses for those it has made
Since police launched the operation in Harare on May 19, it has
been extended throughout the country, resulting in sporadic rioting as
impoverished residents tried to resist the destruction of their homes and
International rights groups say at least 300,000 people
have lost their homes, and the UN has put the total as high as 1.5 million.
Zimbabwe police acknowledge only around 120,000.
Europe must not give lessons on Zimbabwe says EU's
Barrosso 06.24.2005, 11:29 AM
JOHANNESBURG (AFX) - Europe must not
give lessons to African governments on how to deal with Zimbabwe, European
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said, on the eve of talks with
South African president Thabo Mbeki.
Making his first trip to South
Africa as the head of the EU's executive, Barroso shied away from any direct
criticism of the situation in Zimbabwe, where hundreds of thousands of
people have been left homeless in past weeks in a demolition drive, aimed at
wiping out 'illegal structures' such as shacks and buildings.
action has been taken as part of Operation Murambatsvina, which means 'Drive
out the rubbish'.
'We should not be giving lessons,' Barroso said, but he
added: 'Let's be frank. It is very delicate for a foreign group of countries
to intervene if the countries in the region do not take themselves the
'I hope that Africans themselves can decide the way to
go in terms of freedom and can see that freedom is not a foreign value,' he
No African countries, including neighbouring South Africa, have
spoken out on the demolition operations.
Meanwhile, the African Union
has said the demolition campaign is an internal matter.
Barroso will raise Zimbabwe in his talks with Mbeki tomorrow in Pretoria,
which will also touch on trade and assistance as the European Union is South
Africa's largest trade partner and donor.
Yesterday, G8 ministers called
on Zimbabwe to 'abide by the rule of law and respect human rights' at a
meeting in London that set the tone for next month's G8 summit in
The European Union is due to review its policy on Zimbabwe next
The EU imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe following its last
presidential poll, in 2002, won by President Robert Mugabe who has been in
power since 1980, when the country successfully gEurope must not give
lessons on Zimbabwe says EU's Barrosso 06.24.2005, 11:29
JOHANNESBURG (AFX) - Europe must not give lessons to African
governments on how to deal with Zimbabwe, European Commission president Jose
Manuel Barroso said, on the eve of talks with South African president Thabo
Making his first trip to South Africa as the head of the EU's
executive, Barroso shied away from any direct criticism of the situation in
Zimbabwe, where hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless in
past weeks in a demolition drive, aimed at wiping out 'illegal structures'
such as shacks and buildings.
The action has been taken as part of
Operation Murambatsvina, which means 'Drive out the rubbish'.
should not be giving lessons,' Barroso said, but he added: 'Let's be frank.
It is very delicate for a foreign group of countries to intervene if the
countries in the region do not take themselves the initiative first.'
hope that Africans themselves can decide the way to go in terms of freedom
and can see that freedom is not a foreign value,' he said.
countries, including neighbouring South Africa, have spoken out on the
Meanwhile, the African Union has said the
demolition campaign is an internal matter.
However, Barroso will
raise Zimbabwe in his talks with Mbeki tomorrow in Pretoria, which will also
touch on trade and assistance as the European Union is South Africa's
largest trade partner and donor.
Yesterday, G8 ministers called on
Zimbabwe to 'abide by the rule of law and respect human rights' at a meeting
in London that set the tone for next month's G8 summit in
The European Union is due to review its policy on Zimbabwe next
The EU imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe following its last
presidential poll, in 2002, won by President Robert Mugabe who has been in
power since 1980, when the country successfully gained independence from
The sanctions include an arms embargo, a travel ban and a freeze on
funds of people suspected to have committed human rights violations in the
A UN envoy is due to travel to Zimbabwe next week to report on
the humanitarian situation in the wake of the demolitions carried out
. ained independence from UK.
The sanctions include an arms embargo, a
travel ban and a freeze on funds of people suspected to have committed human
rights violations in the country.
A UN envoy is due to travel to Zimbabwe
next week to report on the humanitarian situation in the wake of the
demolitions carried out .
'EU sanctions likely to isolate Zim's weak
Economists have warned that the recent
extension of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe by the European Union (EU)
is likely to further isolate an already weak
The EU bloc renewed its travel ban on ruling
Zanu-PF party officials last week and extended it to senior executives
appointed by President Robert Mugabe after his party's disputed victory in
the March parliamentary polls.
minister Bright Matonga said that the government was unperturbed by the EU
decision, as the country had successfully penetrated Asian
"In our view, the sanctions are
inconsequential: they have never worked. We have established business
contacts with Asian countries through our 'Look East' policy, and if they
[EU] think they can make us dance to their tune they are certainly
mistaken," said Matonga.
He accused the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of lobbying the EU to impose sanctions
on Zimbabwe after losing in the March poll. The MDC denied the charge, but
has said it supports targeted sanctions against Zanu-PF
MDC economic advisor Eddie Cross said
extending the travel ban could mean a protracted economic crisis, and
expressed scepticism about the so-called "Look East" policy as a means of
reviving the economy.
"For as long as there is no
political will by Zanu-PF to correct its political mistakes, the sanctions
will always matter, and our economy will plunge further," commented
His sentiments were reiterated by a Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) official, who said: "Government
officials are the ones who are supposed to be in the forefront of the
struggle to resuscitate the economy, and this they have to achieve through
travelling and dialoguing with their counterparts around the globe. Now, if
they can no longer travel and strike deals on behalf of the business
community, then there is a problem,"
conducts most of its trade with Asian countries such as
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
World Bank cut their balance of payment support to the country a few years
ago, alleging bad corporate governance, while the EU imposed targeted
sanctions on Zimbabwe in February 2002 after Harare expelled its election
observer team. -Irin
Why Africa won't condemn Zimbabwe blitz By
Elizabeth Blunt BBC News
Foreign ministers from
the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have
called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are
causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.
Yet many of those other
African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own
countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.
The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at
From one end of Africa to the other, governments have
set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people
who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them
Nigeria, the current chair of
the African Union, was the scene of a huge mass eviction in 1990, when
around 300,000 people were bulldozed out of the Maroko neighbourhood in
Lagos in a single week to make way for corporate office buildings and
Soldiers cleared the Washington area of Abidjan
in Ivory Coast at gunpoint in 2002, turning people out of their homes,
sometimes with less than an hour's notice.
Hundreds of families
in Bonaberi area of Douala in Cameroon, lost their homes in similar
In every case it was absolutely true that the areas were
unsanitary, and the houses built without permission, yet there was never any
sense that these exercises were being carried out to give residents a better
place to live.
The evicted families inevitably were driven
further to the margins and ended up living in even worse
The victims of the Zimbabwe eviction are lucky that
because of the political campaign being run against President Robert Mugabe,
both inside and outside the country, there are well-organised and
well-funded people calling attention to their plight.
seems unlikely that Africa's other leaders will sympathise with the
displaced rather than with a fellow president cleaning up his country's
city, and will speak out on their behalf.
Zimbabwe: Statement on forced evictions Noting with grave concern
the deepening humanitarian and human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, the
International Crisis Group and over 200 other African and international
human rights and civic groups have come together to call on the African
Union and the United Nations to take action:
Over the past four weeks the
Government of Zimbabwe has orchestrated the widespread forced eviction of
tens of thousands of informal traders and families living in informal
settlements. During these forced evictions homes have been burnt and
property destroyed. Many individuals have been arbitrarily arrested,
detained, fined, abducted and/or beaten. Such actions continue unabated, and
Tens of thousands of people are now living in the open --
during winter -- without access to adequate shelter, food or clean water.
No care has been shown for these people, many of whom are vulnerable.
Thousands of children, the elderly and the ill face the prospect of disease
and in some cases death from hunger, exposure and drinking unsafe water.
Some of the most vulnerable are dying already.
The complete and
wholesale destruction of people's homes and livelihoods -- estimated to
have affected some 200,000 people so far -- constitutes a grave violation of
international human rights law, and a disturbing affront to human dignity.
There can be no justification for the Government of Zimbabwe's actions which
have been carried out without prior notice, due process of the law or
assurance of adequate alternative accommodation. We condemn it in the
The African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) must
not remain silent in the face of such gross and widespread human rights
violations and appalling human misery. We urge the Chair of the AU and all
member states to address the situation in Zimbabwe as an urgent matter at
the forthcoming AU Assembly in Libya from 4 to 5 July. Similarly, the
relevant bodies of the UN, including the Security Council and the
Secretary-General, must act on the serious concerns raised by the UN Special
Rapporteur on Adequate Housing in respect of the ongoing and massive
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe.
The AU and the UN can no longer
abdicate responsibility for the lives of people in Zimbabwe.
all member states of the AU and UN to ensure that the relevant bodies of the
Take immediate and effective action -- consistent with
their mandates -- to ensure an end to the mass forced evictions and
destruction of livelihoods in Zimbabwe, including by publicly condemning
Call for the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that all
those who are currently homeless as a result of the mass forced evictions
have immediate access to emergency relief.
Call for the Government of
Zimbabwe to respect the right to a remedy for all victims including access
to justice, and reparations including restitution, rehabilitation,
compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.
The frustration and anger over
Zimbabwe's "Operation Drive out the Filth" has been felt hundreds of
kilometres away in Johannesburg. More than 150 NGOs across the continent
were linked together yesterday to join Amnesty International in appealing to
the African Union and the United Nations "to help the people of Zimbabwe".
The frustration and anger over Zimbabwe's "Operation Drive out the Filth"
has been felt hundreds of kilometres away in Johannesburg. More than 150
NGOs across the continent were linked together yesterday to join Amnesty
International in appealing to the African Union and the United Nations "to
help the people of Zimbabwe". Similar events were held in Cairo, Windhoek,
Harare and Gaborone. The Namibian government asked organisers to scrap the
Windhoek leg, but it went ahead regardless. In Johannesburg, a harrowing
video was shown of shacks being burnt down in President Robert Mugabe's
latest attack on his own people. The frustration was evident. "What are you
saying - there is no war?" South African activist Hassan Lorgat hotly
responded to one question. Dreadlocks bounced as Zimbabweans in the audience
nodded vigorously when Lorgat accused South African weapons maker Armscor of
being part of the war against Zimbabwe's citizens. Arnold Tsunga, of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, then tactfully took over to put the case
more convincingly. After they had taken part in the war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo in 1998, he explained, Zimbabwe's helicopters and jet
fighters could not fly any more - the European Union's arms embargo saw to
But then Armscor came to the rescue by supplying parts and
maintenance, Tsunga added. Now the repaired helicopters and planes were
being used to intimidate the population. He said Armscor had helped Zimbabwe
to circumvent the EU embargo, which in itself helped to persuade Zimbabweans
that they had no chance against Mugabe's government. There was also no
resistance because soldiers and police did the burning down while
riot-helmeted colleagues, heavily armed with Armscor-maintained weapons,
kept cover. "No human being deserves to be treated in this degrading manner,
especially by their own government," Tsunga said. The video footage made
several telling points: not all the structures being targeted were illegal -
many ruins had electrical pipes sticking out from all angles, and entire
markets installed by the government itself were demolished. Several
buildings, like the Hatcliffe Aids orphan shelter, had been well-functioning
facilities, supported by the government. A wide-eyed nun said the demolition
of Hatcliffe township had been the most traumatic experience of her life. An
elderly woman was shown sitting among bowls and appliances in her unwalled
kitchen, refusing to move. "They put in a polling station here before the
election, so why are they now burning down everything?" asked one puzzled
and angry victim. Jean du Plessis, of an international housing NGO, said
Mugabe's campaign could be construed as a crime against humanity and that
his organisation would pursue the possibility of charges against Mugabe.