paradise in freefall
The Scotsman: Sat 1 Jun 2002
‘By this time next year we might all be
dead," Tuesday Nkhoma, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, tells me at the entrance
of the Kingdom Hotel, his country’s biggest tourism development since
independence at its main resort - Victoria Falls, one of the UN’s Seven Natural
Wonders of the World, straddling a mile-wide stretch of the mighty Zambezi
At this time of year - southern Africa’s mid-winter - the
brilliant Vic Falls days are the kind that any Scot would kill for: cloudless,
the sun hot, the air clear and as fresh as chilled Champagne, the evenings so
cool and invigorating that every mosquito is hibernating.
In a normal
year there would be many tens of thousands of tourists milling around the tiny
town of Victoria Falls, just a short walk away from the Falls themselves. But
this month as a tourist in the Kingdom - foreign journalists are banned from
Zimbabwe and have to enter Robert Mugabe’s de facto dictatorship clandestinely -
I see only two diners in the hotel’s 370-seat main restaurant overlooking lakes
lined by baobabs, bougainvillea, flame lilies and fig trees. No-one sits around
the circular lakeside bar. The two diners are outnumbered by smartly clad chefs
tending the buffet, the maître de maison and a dozen or so waiters straightening
the cutlery and unfolding and folding napkins and surely hoping their jobs would
survive, unlike those of countless thousands of other tourism workers who have
been laid off in the past two years.
My new friend Tuesday Nkhoma is
chairman of the local Youth League of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
which claims, almost certainly correctly, that it was cheated of victory in the
March presidential election because of massive rigging by Robert Mugabe’s ruling
ZANU party. MDC graffiti plaster the walls of the poverty-stricken black
township of Chinotimba, a short walk from Victoria Falls town but where no
genuine tourists dare to venture - which is a pity, because I am treated like a
long-lost pal by the residents who, like most ordinary Zimbabweans, remain some
of the nicest people on the African continent, despite the cruelties and
rapacity of Mugabe and his henchmen.
The people, who two years ago voted
in an MDC MP for Victoria Falls by 14,000 votes to 4,000, proudly wear T-shirts
that proclaim "The Power is in Our Hands."
Actually not, says Nkhoma:
"We’ve got a big, big problem. We’ve got no maize coming from the farms, because
the white farmers are not ploughing. People are already starving, and the
government has no foreign exchange to import maize.
"It’s got worse
since the presidential election. Look at your hotel. It should be full, but it’s
empty. It won’t go much longer. It’s only surviving using money it banked a long
time ago. There are no tourists, and no tourists mean no jobs. And it’s all
because of Mugabe."
Nkhoma has a small open-air patch in the centre of
Victoria Falls town where he sells stone carvings spread out on a canvas on the
ground, alongside many hundreds of other crafts sellers. Or at least he tries to
sell things. His last sale was many weeks ago. And to make life worse he was
evicted after the presidential election from his township house by local
government officials dependent for their jobs on Mugabe’s ZANU. Nkhoma, his wife
Beauty and their seven-year-old daughter, Future, now live in a 40sq ft,
one-room shack made of asbestos and black plastic with no water or electricity,
along with thousands of other internal refugees who share three repellent
"Because I was a senior MDC official I was refused
credit to pay for my rent, water and electricity," he says. "To get credit you
have to produce a ZANU membership card. I’m frightened. I’m not free. We live in
a police state where hospitals have no supplies and shops have no basic foods.
But I’ll never support ZANU until I die."
Nearby, another MDC official
expelled from his home is digging a deep trench in which to bury rubbish. "We’re
going to put Mugabe in here," he laughs.
Nkhoma smiles weakly, with good
reason. "Even criticising President Mugabe and his appalling wife, who we call
the First Shopper, now carries a jail sentence," he says. Then he recalls how
his grandmother, sister and a cousin were killed by Mugabe’s North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, which in 1983 slaughtered some 30,000 "dissidents"
in Matabeleland, of which Chinotimba and Victoria Falls are part. "They were
forced to dig their own graves and then they were shot on the edge of them,"
says Nkhoma. "People here have never forgotten. It is still in their hearts.
ZANU’s spirit is just for killing."
May-August is normally the height of
the tourist season in Zimbabwe, with Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural
Wonders of the World, the main drawing card. Overlooking the Falls is the
magnificent Kingdom. Opened by Mugabe in 1999 and built at a cost of nearly £20
million, it’s Zimbabwe’s biggest tourism investment since independence 22 years
ago. Elephant herds nudge against it perimeter fence directly beneath bedroom
balconies and kingfishers, coloured like magnificent jewels, skim across the
lakes in the Kingdom’s spacious grounds. Warning notices tell of small
crocodiles who might just nip off small children’s fingers if they dabble in the
water. Mongooses scurry through the grounds and monkeys and baboons chatter in
the baobabs and figs.
Cleverly modelled on buildings of ancient central
African empires, the Kingdom’s decor is superb, consisting of natural woods,
local stone and thatch. At the entrance stands a 15ft metal sculpture of
feathered Ndebele-Zulu warriors clad only in skimpy skins, spears and shields
raised. Waterfalls tumble throughout the hotel grounds.
disastrous land invasion policy, the massive slaughter of the country’s once
magnificent wildlife and his crackdown on political opponents have made it a
paradise lost. The past two years of political and social turmoil have scared
visitors off. The British Foreign Office, most other EU countries, the US State
Department, Canada, Australia and New Zealand warn their nationals not to travel
to Zimbabwe. The official British Foreign Office advice is: "The leaders of the
ruling ZANU party regularly single out Britain for fierce criticism, alleging
British interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. British travellers may
therefore be exposed to particular risk." Also, companies have stopped selling
travel insurance for Zimbabwe.
Following the government-sponsored farm
invasions and violence, tourist bookings to Zimbabwe dropped dramatically and
foreign airlines, including Qantas, Lufthansa and Australian Airlines, cancelled
services to the country. The Air Zimbabwe Boeing-737 that once shuttled 120
passengers several times between Harare and Victoria Falls has been taken off
the route and replaced by a 14-seater plane, says the airline’s spokesman, David
Mwenga. British Airways still flies into the country, although it refuses to
accept Zimbabwe’s now worthless and unchangeable currency as payment.
The 700-bed Kingdom was designed to build upon a thriving tourist
industry that drew nearly 2 million visitors in 1999 and generated some £300
million in foreign currency earnings. But the Kingdom this month, at the height
of what should be the tourist season, is a symbol of an industry and national
economy in freefall as dramatic as the thundering cataract stretching across the
Zambezi’s myriad rainbows and spray rising 500 feet.
My attempt to book
a Zambezi sunset cruise on a 60-seat boat in midweek is unsuccessful. "You’re
the only client, it’s not really worthwhile," says Heavenly Tshuma, a local tour
guide. "Zimbabwe has become a no-go place. We can thank Mugabe for that."
One morning at breakfast a chef asks, "Is it a nice day?" It is, of
course. Then the chef confides: "Ah, we are suffering," leaving much unsaid.
When I suggest he at least has the comfort of a job, he grimaces and says: "But
80 per cent, they have no jobs."
"We are suffering," has become the
people’s slogan in Victoria Falls and elsewhere in Zimbabwe. I hear it every
time I step outside the Kingdom to be importuned by legions of street-traders,
saying they are hungry and offering to exchange money at several times the
official rate. An absolute, determined refusal to do business inevitably brings
the plea: "OK, then give me one dollar US or one euro for good luck."
"We are suffering," has become the familiar cry of people in Chinotimba,
laid off in their thousands from the game lodges and hotels that once thrived
around Victoria Falls. Their money has either run out or is running out, and the
shops have no staple supplies such as mealie maize, sugar, cooking oil and soap.
At the Victoria Falls Hospital, in Chinotimba, the district medical officer
laments that five of his nursing staff have left recently to take jobs in the
UK. In outpatients a big notice warns: "Due to nursing shortages, the hospital
will not be able to attend to all cases except emergencies."
officer, who says only five of his fellow 90 graduates from the School of
Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe remain in the country, says: "People are
suffering. They have no jobs and there is little food. And 90 per cent of the
people we admit test HIV-positive."
So much for the warning sign in
outpatients, warning: "Casual Sex Means Formal Death."
The local monthly
newspaper, Vic-Falls News, reports that counsellors at an AIDS workshop have
agreed that evil spirits called "tokoloshes" probably spread the HIV virus by
sexually abusing women during the night. Tokoloshes exist, in one guise or
another, in the minds of the people throughout Africa. Africans raise their beds
on bricks to prevent tokoloshes, tiny spirits less than three feet tall with
only one buttock and an extraordinarily long penis slung over the shoulder,
climbing up and getting under the sheets beside them. Frigidity in a woman is
claimed to be the work of a tokoloshe lover. As an explanation for the 4 million
Zimbabweans who are HIV-positive, it takes some beating.
tourist industry is taking a severe beating. The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching
Unit - which patrolled the game reserves surrounding Victoria Falls and which
include the town itself, where elephant and lion roam at quiet times - is
disbanded during my visit because of lack of funds. The unit had been very
successful in deterring poachers in the four years of its existence. It had
removed 4,620 snares and captured 60 poachers, including four illegal
elephant-hunters. It also removed dozens of landmines planted by the white
Rhodesian Army during the 1970s war of independence.
Ceiling fans still
revolve at the elegant Edwardian-era Victoria Falls Hotel - along with the
Kingdom, one of only two big hotels still trying to operate. The Falls Hotel is
as empty as the Kingdom, but courtly waiters in tuxedos still hover and serve me
tea and scones one sunny afternoon, as I watch the Zambezi surge down the deep
gorges below the Victoria Falls. Local safari guide Breeze Dlhamini joins me,
the lone scone-eater, and shares my pots of tea. "There are not many who come to
look any more," says Breeze. He confides that he voted for Morgan Tsvangirai,
the MDC leader, in the presidential election. "We all did. We can’t go on like
this. Soon this place will just close down."
At the Victoria Falls
Safari Lodge, outside town, general manager Andy Conn says: "We are only just
surviving. We’ve cut prices to rock-bottom to maintain some kind of cash flow
and keep a few jobs. We are just keeping things ticking over. There are no
profits. I’ve retrenched several staff, put the rest on short time, and we have
all - starting with me - taken a 30 per cent pay cut. I hope eventually we’ll
get back to normal, but I’m not terribly optimistic."
Back in town, soft
drink seller Oi-Oi complains: "I have been here since dawn. No-one has bought
anything. It has been like this all year."
And before I leave at the end
of my clandestine visit, I browse in an upmarket curio shop in the small
Elephants Walk shopping mall. "We have invented a game," says owner Jeanette
Taylor. "It’s called spot the tourist." She says that until two years ago her
business had been increasing annually by 600 per cent. Since then it has been in
freefall. "Now it’s about survival, pure and simple," says Jeanette. "I just
hope we can hang on."
Feature: Biting Economy Hardships Force Children to Beg in Zimbabwe
Xinhuanet 2002-06-01 16:09:25
HARARE, June 1
(Xinhuanet) -- The number of child beggars is
increasing on the
streets of Zimbabwe's capital Harare as biting
force parents to send their children to go on
the streets to beg for
money and food.
The main reasons for the children to go on the
streets to beg
are orphaned, supplementing family income, neglect by
peer pressure to join them in the streets.
Efforts to take some of the children off the streets and put
under the care of children's homes where they have been
and sent to school have helped very little in
reducing the number of
children on the streets.
In Harare, the children position
themselves at strategic places
such as busy traffic intersections, the
First Street Mail and
parking bays where they beg from motorists.
The child beggars are also found along the Fourth Street and
they beg for money from drivers who are stopping at the
during the lights of the traffic red signal.
Three children interviewed by Xinhua this week, 12-year-old
and his friend, 10-year-old Mal Benita, said they come
everyday to beg for money while their mother wait for them
shade along the Fourth Street.
"We come here to beg and when we get
money from well-wishers we
buy food and go back home. Both of us
usually get about 500
Zimbabwean dollars (about 9.1 U.S. dollars) a
day," said Muswe.
Another child beggar Chiwda Tembo, 10, said his
away and his mother forced him to beg on the streets to
food and money. He also has two young sisters.
get about 420 Zimbabwean dollars (about 7.6 dollars) a day.
does not want me to go to school, so I come here to look
for some money
to buy food. If I fail to get the money it means my
mother and sisters
will have nothing to eat. That is why at times
I end up harassing
people to get money although I know that it is
not good," said Tembo.
At the East Gate, two other children said their parents send
them to town everyday to beg in the streets. They normally get
Zimbabwean dollars (about 5.5 dollars) a day and they use the
money to buy food.
They said that at times they would not
go back home if they
fail to raise any money and would have to spend
the night on the
The Department of
Social Welfare (DSW) said that there were now
more children on the
streets of Harare. The department had a
program called Children in
Difficult Circumstances, whose aim was
to address the problem of
children on the streets.
DSW Secretary Lancester Museka claimed
that the department had
identified categories of vulnerable children
make them unable to survive without outside
Most of the children said they now enjoy begging on
rather than going to schools as they can not get money
However, others said they are willing
to go to school if they
got someone to pay for their fees.
"We would really like to go to school one day and stop roaming
around the streets begging for money but then if we do not do
where will we get the money? We have to beg so that we get money
for food for ourselves and the rest of the families otherwise we
will all starve," they said.
But Museka said the DSW
provided school fees for children in
difficult circumstances and all
they needed was to contact the
A woman on the
Fourth Street said she sent her son to beg for
money because he
enjoyed more public sympathy than her.
"I used to beg in the
streets so that I could look after my
child after his father passed
away. But then people were not
helping me as much as they did to my
child," said the woman who
refused to be named.
that at first the child refused to go on the streets
to beg but when
he went for days without food he agreed.
However, Museka said that
the DSW offered counseling services
to families in difficult
circumstances. He also warned that
parents who continue to force
children to beg could end up being
Some of the
children said they were not forced onto the streets
but the situation
at their homes forced them to do so. Some of the
street kids have been
caught after stealing cell phones, handbags
and other goods from
motorists and pedestrians.
At the recent United Nations General
Assembly on Children,
President Robert Mugabe also highlighted the
Child beggars have been
increasing in the last decade in
Zimbabwe due to the HIV/AIDS scourge
and a sharp decline in the
country's economic performance.
It is said that more than 360,000 children have been orphaned
and are being forced to work or to beg under difficult
by Gao Shixing
June 1, 2002
A world in need of trade more than aid
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, on a fact-finding tour of Africa,found
himself under attack this week by traveling companion Bono for daring to
question the need for large increases in foreign aid to poor countries."You need
big money for development," declared the Irish rock star. "If the secretary
can't see that, we are going to have to get him a new pair ofglasses and a new
set of ears.
"There is a critical flaw in Mr. O'Neill's corrective: They aren't
rose-colored. Western nations, it's true, deserve some of the blame for the
Third World's economic troubles. But the problem is not so much what the
advanced democracies refuse to do for Africa and other poor areas. It's more
what we prevent them from doing for themselves." Mr. O'Neill has not ruled out
additional Western funding, but he thinks the burden should be on recipient
countries to prove a given expenditure will actually do any good. His skepticism
is based on the long record of development assistance, which can be summarized
by a look around Africa. If foreign aid were the solution, Africa would have few
problems. The continent that Bono thinks is crying out for new help is in that
position only because most of its governments have failed to make good use of
past help. Bono talks of all the valuable and inspiring efforts being made in
Africa. Maybe if he were personally supervising each disbursement, Western
taxpayers could count on getting positive results for their money. In the
realworld, however, dollars shipped overseas to finance good works often end up
being wasted or stolen.The World Bank, which administers billions of dollars in
such assistance, acknowledges that particularly in Africa, such efforts have
often been "an unmitigated failure," facilitating "incompetence, corruption and
misguided policies." Ian Vasquez, a scholar at the Cato Institute, looked at 73
nations that got development assistance between 1971 and 1995, and found that
neither aid per capita nor aid as a percentage of GDP was positively correlated
with economic growth. "How much aid a country got had absolutely nothing to do
with its overall prosperity. Aid can help countries that do the right things.
Elsewhere, it's about as helpful as an umbrella in a hurricane. If countries
want to escape poverty, they need to protect property rights,establish the rule
of law and promote free markets, as well as deliver public services in an
honest, efficient manner. Unfortunately, even if they do all these things, they
may find their way blocked" by the same countries that have furnished so much
development assistance. International trade has the potential to do wonders in
Africa and other stagnant areas of the globe. The international humanitarian
group Oxfam says that if the developing countries increased their share of world
exports by 5 percent, this would generate $350 billion 7 times as much as they
receive in aid." If sub-Saharan Africa had done nothing more than maintain the
share ofworld exports it possessed in 1980, the average African's income would
be double what it is today. Americans want Third World countries to do all they
can to lift themselves up. But when they try, they find Westerners scrambling to
push them backdown. Affluent nations often make it impossible for Third World
exporters to participate in the world economy. Third World producers trying to
export to rich countries face tariffs averaging nearly 13 percent, nearly
fourfold the duties encountered by producers from rich countries. Poor countries
that might sell agricultural commodities in the West also face another hurdle -
government subsidies to farmers in rich countries,which amount to $1 billion a
day and serve to discourage imports.Textiles and apparel, where poor countries
often excel, are still tightly restricted in theUnited States and other advanced
economies. We want developing nations to compete in the world economy but
without inconveniencing our own producers,thank you. All these barriers cost
poor countries about $100 billion a year,which is twice as much as they get in
assistance. "The biggest request we are making of Western countries is to open
their markets," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said recently. "Debt relief
has saved us some money, but the real money will come from trade. Give us the
opportunities, and we will compete."Isn't that the kind of talk we've been
yearning to hear from Africa?If we opened our markets, a lot of poor nations
would be able to build vibrant economies and stand on their own two feet. They
would also speed the day when rich and poor alike can celebrate the obsolescence
of foreign aid.
(On behalf of the Commercial Farmers' Union) (Available
on Power Point as
Herewith an update as at 17 April 2002 of
the current status as regards
listing of farms prepared as a community
ZIMBABWE LAND DISTRIBUTION BY SECTOR AS AT SEPT 2001
Scale Commercial Sector (6 000 farms) on 11 020 000 hectares which
2. Small Scale Commercial Sector 1 380 000 hectares, which is 3.15
3. The Communal Area is 16 350 000 hectares, which is 41.8
4. Resettlement Area is 3 540 000 hectares, representing 9.1
5. Parks/Forest Land is 6 339 000 hectares in extent, 16.2
6. ARDA (State Farming) comprised 250 000 hectares, which is 0.6
7. Urban Area is 200 000 hectares, which is 0.5 percent
represent a total of 39 079 000 hectares of land, bringing the
1. The Large Scale Commercial Sector, totaling 11 020 000 hectares
6000 farms) is divided up into hectares as follows :
Farmers' Union Members - 8 595 000 hectares.
1b Indigenous Commercial Farmers
Union - 700 000 hectares (approx).
1c Non Members (either Union)- 600 000
1d Development Trust of Zimbabwe (Govt of Zim GoZ) - 332
1e Indigenous/Tenant Schemes/Leases (GoZ) - 470 000
1f Cold Storage Company (GoZ)- 211 000 hectares.
Commission (GoZ)- 112 000 hectares.
It is of interest to note that
calculations to hand as at September 2001
indicate the following
STATE LAND is 27 604 000 hectares, 70.6 percent; PRIVATE LAND is
11 275 000
hectares, 28.9 percent and URBAN LAND is 200 000 hectares, 0.5
total of 39 079 000 hectares.
The Government of Zimbabwe
Land Reform programme has resulted in changes to
the above picture. Land has
been acquired through notices of acquisition and
in some instances, invaders
have first arrived on farms, under the 'Fast
track' programme and then steps
have been taken to acquire the farms through
Some farms were deemed unsuitable and were then delisted from
however in November 2001, the Government of Zimbabwe announced
to implement Maximum Farm Size regulations and this resulted in
relisting of farms. The results below indicate this shift in
Lising refers to the naming of the farm in Government Gazette
notices - it
is a preliminary notice, Section 5. The following are compulsory
statistics, they represent the changing picture of occupation of
As at 01 March 2002, there were 5 648 farms
measuring 10 231 950 hectares of
land listed for acquisition. On this date
there were 706 farms measuring 1
475 378 hectares delisted from acquisition.
There were 51 farms, 90 698
hectares that had previously been delisted,
relisted for acquisition. This
brought the nett figure to 4 526 farms on 8
847 270 hectares of land.
The statistics on compulsory acquisition as at
5 April 2002 are:
5 835 farms listed for acquisition, measuring 10 442 612
were 706 farms on
1 475 378 hectares delisted. There were
51 farms, 90 698 hectares that had
previously been delisted, relisted for
acquisition, bringing the nett listed
to 5 180 farms on 9 057 932
Statistics on compulsory acquisition as at 17 April 2002 are:
5 849 farms on 10 452 519 hectares. Delisted dropped to
449 farms on
853 900 hectares and the number relisted rocketed up to 343
773 028 hectares. This brings the nett listed to 5 743 farms
on 10 371 647
Of the 6 000 large scale commercial farms
comprising 11 020 000 hectares
(28.2% of Zimbabwean land) under threat of
acquisition, there remains 151
farms on 567 481 hectares of land not affected
by legal notice. To this we
could add the delisted land of 449 farms on 853
900 hectares, which still
remains in the hands of the original large scale
commercial farmer. This
brings the percentage of commercial land taken as at
17th April 2002 to 87,1
We are yet to input figures from
Government Gazette weekly issues 26 April
to 31st May 2002.
Commercial Farmers Union reserves the right to check copy for accuracy
you wish to use this information for publication
31st May 2002
Further updates will be made
available as they are completed. This overview
is available as a Microsoft
Power point presentation. CLICK HERE
For more information, please contact Jenni
Mobile 263 - 91 300 456 or 263 - 11 213 885
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
African regimes share blame for food shortages
Butcher, Africa Correspondent
Zambia led calls
yesterday for international aid to help up to 10 million
starving people in
southern Africa, declaring its own crisis a "national
governments of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and Zambia all blame food
on rain patterns that have caused flooding in some parts and
But while this has undoubtedly contributed to serious crop
observers believe that the regional shortages are largely the
government corruption and mismanagement.
Mugabe's land-grab policy in Zimbabwe has crippled a
agricultural sector. In Malawi the government has been accused
of selling off
the grain reserve cheaply.
In Angola the government has used the excuse
of 25 years of civil war to
justify not spending the billions it receives
each year in oil revenues on
efficient commercial farms. Instead the money
disappears into secret
Serious doubts remain in Zambia over
the legality of the government of
President Levy Mwanawasa after the
legitimacy of last December's election
was challenged by European Union
The situation is complicated by the international aid
agencies, which have
been painting an increasingly dire picture of the
In the past some aid agencies have been accused of
problems as a means of increasing
The United Nations World Food Programme estimated last month
million people across southern Africa were suffering from food
This week it raised its estimate to 10 million, with more expected
Zambia when field work is completed.
It led Mr Mwanawasa to
declare a state of emergency yesterday in Zambia,
during a television
address, and to request millions in international help
to help up to four
In Zimbabwe the predictions of economists who gave
warning of the folly of
Mr Mugabe's land-grab policies have come true with
around half the
population, more than six million, in need of food
The WFP said the land reform programme, implemented on many farms
"caused serious disruption of normal farming practices".
Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Long hours in a Harare jail
Meldrum (left): Jailed for factual
My stomach lurched as I descended the stairs to the Harare jail cells. It was
dark and cold.
"Take off your shoes and socks, your belt and watch," ordered the guard.
He told me I was only allowed one top item of clothing so I would have to
choose between my shirt and sweater.
All prisoners must be barefoot in the cells of Harare Central Charge Office
where I was held.
For the next 33 hours the world was divided into two
categories - those with shoes walked with confidence and could come and go as
they pleased; those without shoes were locked in jail and could not go anywhere.
The independent press has been a target in
I was barefoot and in jail.
I was arrested for writing an article in the UK's Guardian newspaper on
political violence against Zimbabwe's opposition, after Robert Mugabe's disputed
re-election as president in March.
I wrote that one of those opposition supporters killed in the wave of
retribution was a woman who had been beheaded.
It turned out that the woman had not been beheaded.
Zimbabwe's new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to make a
factual error is to commit a crime, punishable by a fine of up to 100,000
Zimbabwe dollars ($1,830) or up to two years in jail.
I went to the toilet and cringed as my feet stuck to the
Even though I had signed a "warned and cautioned" statement, police decided
that I should be held in jail.
Because I was arrested on a holiday, Workers' Day, I was incarcerated
overnight until I could appear in court.
My lawyer tried valiantly to get me freed, but as it was a holiday all the
officials who could order my release were unavailable.
As I entered the dank cells - barefoot and discouraged - I heard "Psst.
Pssst. Come over here!"
It was Collin
Chiwanza, one of two Zimbabwean journalists who had been arrested the day
We became giddy when we climbed the stairs and saw blue sky
through a window.
Collin and Lloyd Mudiwa, reporters for the Daily News, showed me the ropes in
jail and we became fast friends.
They had a blanket to keep them warm and offered to share it. It was a filthy
rag that reeked of urine.
Lloyd showed me bites he got from bugs in the blanket. I vowed NEVER to get
But within about 15 minutes I stuck my cold feet into the blanket.
By that night I was snuggling under it for warmth.
'Let me out!'
Outgoing and bubbly by nature, Collin kept us entertained by telling us
stories about his childhood and school days.
He told us about his first girlfriend and his second, his first job as a
schoolteacher and how he became a journalist.
He told us about his wife and his baby daughter. Lloyd and I also told
stories and we made silly jokes. Our camaraderie really helped to pass the time
and lifted our spirits.
Night was the most difficult time. It was cold and I
could not sleep.
Andrew Meldrum: One of 12 journalists arrested in 10
I went to the toilet and cringed as my feet stuck to the sticky floor.
The walls, the dark and the stench made me claustrophobic. I wanted to shout:
"Let me out!"
But I pulled myself together, realising I could easily drive myself crazy,
but it would not help the situation.
I just had to endure it. I clambered back under the blanket next to Collin
and Lloyd and tried to sleep.
In the morning the guards told us to come with them.
We excitedly pulled on our socks, shoes and clothes.
We became giddy when we climbed the stairs and saw blue sky through a window.
But our happiness was dashed when we arrived at the magistrates' court and
were taken to the basement cells.
We each had to wear a single handcuff and with nearly 30 other prisoners we
were ordered on to a narrow, steep staircase.
The door behind us was locked and so was the door at the bottom of the
stairs, which led to the courtroom.
We waited there for two hours.
Eventually we appeared in court. The charges against Collin were dropped
as he had not written a single word of the story in question.
Mr Mugabe signed a new media law in March
Lloyd and I were released on free bail pending trial.
Since then I have appeared in court twice for remand hearings.
Each time I am thankful to be able to walk into the courtroom freely, through
the front door and in clean clothes.
I look at the door leading back to the cramped, filthy prisoners' staircase
and I pray I never have to go back there.
I do not feel alone. In the 10 weeks since the Mugabe government's new press
act became law, 12 journalists have been arrested.
It is a crackdown on the independent and critical press.
Andrew Meldrum is the UK Guardian newspaper's correspondent in
Zimbabwe appoints media-information control
HARARE, June 1 - Zimbabwe appointed a media and information
Saturday to implement a tough media law approved by President
Mugabe's government earlier this year.
information and publicity department said
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
had picked the journalism school's head
at Harare Polytechnic, Tafataona
Mahoso, as executive chairman of the panel.
Mahoso is a strong
supporter of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
Moyo also named two former
editors of government-run newspapers, two
other university academics and a
retired civil servant to the commission.
The panel was expected to
have up to a dozen members and will license
media houses and accredit
journalists. The members were appointed for three
his much-criticised re-election in March, Mugabe approved
the law, which
critics have said is aimed at curbing freedom of information.
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act imposes heavy
jail terms of up to two years for ''abuse of journalistic
privilege'' such as
The government argued the law was needed to
regulate an industry rife
with unprofessionalism. Mugabe has accused foreign
journalists and some
Zimbabwean private media of pursuing a hate campaign
against his party, in
power since the former Rhodesia gained independence
from Britain in 1980.
The government has arrested 11 local and foreign
the law in the last two months, in what critics see as a
intimidate those critical of its policies.
working for foreign media in Zimbabwe have gone to its
highest court to
challenge the law.
The Zimbabwe Foreign Correspondents Association
wants the Supreme
Court to declare unconstitutional the law's sections on
media houses, accreditation of journalists and bars on
working as correspondents.
In its statement on
Saturday, the government said the commission
would ensure that ''all
Zimbabweans enjoy improved access to information and
ownership and control of mass media services in the
commission would also ''enforce professional and ethical
standards in the
media industry, as well as mount investigations and
inquiries on media
Dear Family and Friends,
This week the UN World Food Programme and the F.A.
O. said that 6 million Zimbabweans in both urban and rural areas need emergency
food aid. They said that even after pledged aid had been given and government
food imports had been made, the country would still have a shortfall of 1.5
million tonnes of cereals. The statement acknowledged that 2 years of farm
invasions had compounded this massive food
shortage and said that unless international food assistance was given urgently:
"there will be a serious famine and loss of life in the coming months." The UN
also spoke of the effects of drought saying Zimbabwe had just experienced the
longest dry spell in 20 years. What they did not say however was that most of
Zimbabwe's dams are full. In fact, for anyone that has lived in Zimbabwe, the
dam percentages are completely beyond belief. (Masvingo 91%, Matabeleland 79%,
Mashonaland 89%, Midlands 88% and Manicaland 100% full) I don't know how many
droughts I've lived through in my 44 years in Zimbabwe but there have been a lot
both as a town and a country girl. Living through a drought in a Zimbabwean town
is horrible - water is rationed, you may not water gardens or cars, baths are
shared, laundry is done in the same water and then it's carried out to water the
most treasured plants; the toilet is flushed once a day after a brick is put in
the cistern to lower the water level and huge penalties are imposed for
exceeding the number of cubic metres you are allowed. Living through a drought
in the country is a nightmare. There were two bad ones in my ten years on our
farm and every day was horrific. The borehole pumped air and watering 100
cattle, 120 sheep and 100 chickens was utterly exhausting. We spent our days
from dawn to dusk bumping down the dusty, rutted farm roads to a little spring
with buckets and drums. Every drop of water the animals and people on the farm
needed had to be carried from a spring 2 kilometres from the house. It was back
breaking work, bending over, filling the bucket, lifting it over your head to
fill the drum - again and again and again. The cattle and sheep would wait at
the gate and literally stampede when they saw the water coming. The hens would
peck incessantly at the empty drinking troughs and then when you tipped the
water in, they would drink deeply, tipping their heads back to get every drop
into their parched bodies. By the end of the day, with your back breaking and
covered in dust from head to foot you could lower yourself into 3 inches of bath
water before collapsing into bed. So, the UN says this is our longest dry spell
in 20 years and yet all our dams are almost 80% full . Our dams are so
full because the water has not been used to
irrigate crops. There are no crops in the ground
because government supporters stopped farmers from growing food because they
wanted the land for their masters and now 6 million people face starvation. What
a sickening irony.
This week our agriculture minister Dr Joseph Made
said that any white farmer who did not put a crop of wheat into the ground would
have his farm listed for seizure. I'm not sure where the Minister has been these
last two years because he has already listed 95% of Zimbabwe's
farms for government take over. There are now only 308 farms in the entire
country not listed for state seizure. Neither Dr Made nor any of his officials
are prepared to offer any written guarantees to a farmer that he will be able to
grow, reap and sell his wheat before the government moves in and takes the farm
over. 6 million starving Zimbabweans have Dr Made and his government to thank
for their plight. We have become like Somalia and Ethiopia and are holding out
our begging bowls to the world. A world who would rather feed us than help us to
get a democratic government who care for their people. Until next week, with
love, cathy. http://africantears.netfirms.com
Obasanjo's emissary has talks with
Zimbabwean state media says envoy upbeat about unity
HARARE Nigerian foreign minister Sule Lamido said he had an
discussion with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe after
special message from Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, state
Independent and international media were not
permitted to interview Lamido
after his meeting with Mugabe in Harare on
Wednesday, but the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said Lamido
expressed confidence in a
resumption of talks on a government of national
unity between Mugabe's Zanu
(PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement
for Democratic Change
The ZBC and the semi-official daily, The
Herald, said the contents of
Obasanjo's message to Mugabe were "not made
However, the ZBC said "observers at the talks" a term used to
members of the government urged Nigeria "not to sacrifice Zimbabwe
Western support of Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's
Obasanjo and SA President Thabo Mbeki are seeking billions of
international assistance Nepad, a plan aimed at rescuing the
continent from poverty.
The European Union and the US say Africa
must address good governance issues
in rogue states, such as Zimbabwe, to
The Herald said Lamido dismissed concerns about last year's
brokered by Obasanjo, under which donors agreed to resume
reform in return for the restoration of legality and democratic
May 31 2002 12:00:00:000AM Business Day 1st
01 June 2002