|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Enough is Enough
We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!
09 March 2004
Yesterday, true to form, Zimbabwean police arrested Jenni Williams, member of the executive of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), and two colleagues under Section 15 of the repressive Public Order and Security Act, which declares illegal the utterance of statements that could lead to public unrest.
WOZA women have been arrested several times in the past, at times in a violent fashion, for attempting to demonstrate against violence. This group of women from civil society are committed to ending violence and repression in Zimbabwe in a peaceful manner. They are women who come from all walks of life, the majority of them poverty stricken victims of Mugabe’s despotic regime.
Despite the arrest of Williams and the imminent threat of further arrests, around 80 women gathered at the St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral on Monday morning (8th March) in honour of International Women’s Day. Several riot vehicles circled the church, and the police maintained a watchful vigil from a distance. The women sang hymns and prayed for peace in a rather confused fashion without any leadership present. The WOZA executive knew if they showed up they too would be incarcerated.
At the end of their mournful session, the women were at a loss for direction, when finally one old “gogo” (granny) still in mourning over the recent death of her husband, stood up and declared they had to do something. They agreed they should carry out the planned march, but to avoid police interference decided they would move in small groups to a destination several blocks away.
Once in the center of town they raised their placards, proclaiming “Stop violence against women” and “Say no to violence”. The small demonstration ended without incident, perhaps because it was so small and peaceful or perhaps because the police were being monitored for any heavy handedness by the South African media.
This event highlights the sad and sorry state of the nation. These women live in terror, constantly aware of their vulnerability, consumed by the fear of the very authorities who are meant to protect them. The very real threat of violence through the presence of riot police is as frightening as actual violence. State agents tasked with enforcing the law have been reduced to state-sponsored thugs, who are obviously willing if necessary to oppress their mothers, sisters and daughters whose only desire is to nurture their families.
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe says its row with Britain is poisoning links
with the West as officials step up attacks on "lies" in the foreign media.
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told diplomats that British opposition to
Zimbabwe's controversial seizure of white-owned farms had driven a wedge in
relations that was exacerbated by Western media reports on the country.
"The problem of Zimbabwe arose as a bilateral issue between Zimbabwe and the
United Kingdom over land. That continues to poison our relations with your
countries," Mudenge said.
"Unless that is resolved...the poison will continue; to have the lies being
made in (British newspaper) The Sun and the BBC influence your own
President Robert Mugabe's government has seen relations with Western
countries deteriorate in recent months amid opposition accusations of a
political crackdown following his controversial 2002 re-election.
Opposition and Western observers said the election was flawed, although
Mugabe said he won fairly.
Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth last year after the group of mainly
former British colonies renewed its suspension, and both the European Union
and the United States recently renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe's ruling elite.
Britain, Zimbabwe's colonial ruler until 1980, has been among the most
vociferous of Mugabe's critics -- leading Zimbabwe officials to accuse
London of deliberately promoting opposition to Mugabe's rule.
This week Zimbabwe announced it had seized some 67 foreigners accused of
acting as foreign mercenaries, and said one of the suspects used to be a
member of Britain's elite Special Air Service (SAS) commando unit.
Mudenge echoed official statements which have blamed the foreign -- and
particularly British -- media for spreading unfounded reports about the
political situation in the country.
"The public is told so many lies by the British media. I know we have
differences with the UK but to go and lie as the BBC did is unworthy,"
Mudenge said, referring to a recent BBC documentary which charged that young
Zimbabweans were forced into camps and taught to beat and kill opposition
Mudenge said Western travel and business sanctions slapped on Mugabe and his
lieutenants were hitting ordinary Zimbabweans already hurt by the country's
acute economic crisis.
"These sanctions are meant to hurt and they are hurting the people of
Zimbabwe," Mudenge said.
Mugabe, who turned 80 last month and has been in power since independence in
1980, says sabotage by his opponents, rather than his mismanagement, have
brought what was once one of Africa's most promising economies to its knees.
SADC Plans to Create Common Market By 2012
March 10, 2004
Posted to the web March 10, 2004
DAR ES SALAAM
Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries intend to
create a common market in the region in 2012, a top SADC official said
yesterday. "The plan is to have member states sign a free trade agreement by
2008, customs union protocol in 2010 and a common market pact in 2012," SADC
Executive Secretary Prega Ramsamy said in a statement ahead of SADC's
ministerial council meeting at Arusha in northern Tanzania on Friday.
Ramsamy said Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa will on Friday officially
launch SADC's Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), a
comprehensive programme on development and economic reform in the area.
Mkapa is the chairman of the 14-member SADC, which also include Angola,
Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius,
Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and
Zimbabwe, but Seychelles has officially asked to pull out of the grouping.
Ramsamy said the ministerial council would also approve SADC's 2004-2005
budget and draw the agenda for its extra-ordinary summit scheduled for
Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, on May 14. South Africa called
on African countries to boost trade with each other on Tuesday as a way of
overcoming high import tariffs charged by major economies such as Europe and
the United States. Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin, speaking at
launch of Ugandan coffee brand in Cape Town, said high import tariffs
charged by Europe and United States on Africa's agricultural products were a
drag on development on the continent.
He said one of the best ways to beat the problem was for countries to
increase trade with each other. "At the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
meeting in Cancun last year, we were pushing strongly to deal with tariff
escalation, which affects all agricultural products," Erwin said.
"We have to open our economies to each other, we only need to look at Europe
to see how they have benefited.
The effort to reduce global trade barriers, launched in November 2001 in the
Qatari capital Doha, ran aground last September with the collapse of a WTO
ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico.
The meeting ended in bitter acrimony between developed and developing
nations, with Brazil and China leading the poorer nations in a push for a
fairer deal on world trade, especially in the agricultural sector. Erwin
said African countries needed to set out rules and regulations on customs
clearances and visa requirements. "It has always been bizarre that we have a
sophisticated set of regulations with Europe, but we have no single
recognising standard with anyone in Africa," he said.
Zimbabwe's Small Farmers Expecting Record Harvests
10 Mar 2004, 16:51 UTC
production and distribution system, in crisis for more than
two years, is set to ease this harvest season following handouts of seed and
fertilizer. Small farmers, who have been encouraged to grow cereal crops
other than corn, are expected to have record harvests.
International donations, good rains, and the skills and determination of
small-scale communal farmers have combined to provide good news out of
The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning System, or Fewsnet, said in its latest
report that small farmers have grown more non-traditional cereals than in
previous years, and are going to harvest good yields.
This, the group says, will ease Zimbabwe's food crisis in some crops,
although the shortfall in corn, the preferred staple food, will remain
unchanged. Fewsnet says the planting area for sorghum has more than doubled
from last year, and is 70 percent up from the 1990s average of 146,000
hectares. The planting of non-traditional millet is also up.
A United Nations office in Zimbabwe said much of the seed and fertilizer for
these crops was given to small farmers by various donors in order to rebuild
food security and encourage production of crops that do better in many drier
areas than corn. U.N. crop experts say recent rains have improved the yield
The U.N. World Food Program has fed up to 5.5 million Zimbabweans, or nearly
half the population, since the crisis in agricultural production began four
While commercial agriculture shows little sign of improvement, tens of
thousands of small farmers are going to have a much better season, and
donors say they hope the need for emergency food assistance will be
dramatically reduced during 2004.
Ambitious plans to roll out ARVs
JOHANNESBURG, 10 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe plans to roll out antiretroviral
(ARV) treatment this month at five pilot centres across the country, and
expects to have 260,000 of an estimated 520,000 HIV-positive people on the
programme by the end of next year.
Given the country's current health crisis the task appears formidable, but
health officials are optimistic, despite overwhelming obstacles,
particularly the acute shortage of foreign currency.
The ministry of health said the government's rollout programme would benefit
from the experience gained by local NGOs, faith-based organisations and the
private sector, all of whom have already implemented drug distribution,
albeit to a limited number of people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is
also providing technical support and has encouraged the development of tools
for delivering the ARVs.
The authorities point to existing laboratories at most hospitals, a strong
medicines regulatory authority and the availability of cheaper generic drugs
as positive signs for success ofthe programme.
The triple generic drug treatment is expected to cost less than Zim $100,000
(US $25) per month thanks to partnerships with local manufacturers, such as
"Our major problem is to make sure that we have a reliable and adequate
supply of drugs," the coordinator of AIDS and TB programmes in the ministry
of health and child welfare, Dr Owen Mugurungu, told IRIN.
"Zim $2 billion [US $474,608] is coming from the AIDS levy and Zim $10
billion [US $2.4 million] from the Ministry of Finance, so we have Zim $12
billion [US $2.8 million] available to us," he explained.
The five pilot sites for the programme have been chosen because of their
location and existing infrastructure, and include the two largest referral
hospitals in the country, Harare hospital in the capital, and Mpilo hospital
in second city, Bulawayo.
"Between the two of them, Harare and Mpilo will take about 1,000 patients
each and the other three centres about 500 to 600 each. Of the 4,000
[initially] patients we aim to treat, at least 800 are children," Muruguni
The pilot hospitals all have Opportunistic Infections Clinics (OIs) and will
also be able to carry out CD4 counts which measure the strength of the
body's immune system. At present, CD4 testing facilities are only available
at the Harare and Mpilo hospitals. Patients would qualify for treatment if
the results of the CD4 count was below 200.
The OI clinic at Harare Hospital currently has a modest staff complement of
one medical officer and one physician, two nurse counsellors and two trainee
nurses. It is housed in cramped quarters in the outpatient building, but
plans are underway to move to bigger premises to cater for the anticipated
increase in patient load.
"The clinic has been running since October 2003 and we have been treating
people with drugs, although not with the ARVs. We have people waiting
already, although they are less than 100," the head of the clinic, Dr Paul
Chimedza, told IRIN.
He added that the CD4 count would help to monitor the effectiveness and
possible side-effects of the drugs.
There were also moves to approach the Department of Social Welfare and the
UN's World Food Programme to step up aid to food-insecure people identified
It is likely that around 7.5 million of the country's estimated 11.65
million population will require food aid through the next few months.
Zimbabwe:Reporters For Foreign Media Violate Currency Law
Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires
(AP)--The government stepped up pressure Wednesday on
Zimbabwean journalists working for foreign media, describing some as
mercenaries tempted by "dirty American money" to undermine their country.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo claimed journalists reporting for
U.S., U.K. and South African news organizations were violating the country's
currency exchange laws by holding money earned locally in foreign accounts.
"As nobody is above the law...appropriate legal action will be taken,"
Moyo said in a statement repeated on hourly state radio news bulletins
Among the organizations cited by Moyo were The Associated Press,
Reuters and Agence France-Presse news agencies; CNN, the U.K. and South
African broadcasting corporations; and newspapers from both countries.
Under a presidential decree issued last month, suspects can be
detained for up to a month without bail for alleged economic and political
President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly accused the U.S. and former
colonial ruler U.K. of plotting to overthrow his regime.
Moyo claimed Walter Kansteiner, former U.S. assistant secretary of
state for African affairs, had started using Western media organizations in
its alleged campaign against the Zimbabwean government four years ago.
"A number of journalists have found the promise of dirty American
money too tempting and irresistible at the expense of their own country," he
"Mercenaries of any kind, whether carrying the sword or the pen, must
and will be exposed, and they will suffer the full consequences of the law."
The state-run Herald newspaper also accused three Zimbabwean
journalists of helping produce a BBC documentary on secret camps allegedly
set up by the government to train youths to kill, rape and torture political
The three journalists, including a television cameraman working for
one of BBC's main competitors, have denied any involvement in the
The government dismissed the BBC's allegations, saying youth centers
have trained some 20,000 volunteers in self-help, entrepreneurial and
technical skills, health and "national orientation."
It said the training focused on what it called mental decolonization
and instilled in youths a sense of belonging to the country.
Mugabe's government has sought to crack down on dissent since his
disputed re-election in 2002 amid reports of vote rigging and intimidation.
Opposition leaders, trade unionists and independent journalists have
been arrested, and the country's only independent daily newspaper was shut
down last month under tough new media laws. Mugabe has also been accused of
packing the courts with sympathetic judges.
Four foreign journalists have been deported since 2001, leaving only a
handful of Zimbabwe nationals working for foreign media. Few foreign
reporters have been granted visas to work in Zimbabwe in the past three
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 10, 2004 07:38 ET (12:38 GMT)
Mail and Guardian
Moyo threatens SA media with legal action
10 March 2004 14:46
Zimbabwe has threatened legal
action against foreign media organisations and
their local correspondents -- including Mail & Guardian -- saying some of
them are "mercenaries" working to topple the regime of President Robert
"Mercenaries of any kind, whether carrying the sword or the pen, must and
will be exposed, and they will suffer the full consequences of the law,"
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a statement released late on
"Over the last four years or so ... a number of [local] journalists have
found the promise of dirty American money too tempting and irresistible, at
the expense of their own country," it said.
"Concrete evidence in this regard has been coming up in recent months and it
is mounting," the statement said.
It added that "no media organisation, certainly not Zimpapers [a state-owned
media group], will be forced to employ [United States President George]
Bush's or [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair's media mercenaries whose
mission is to destroy Zimbabwe from within. That will just not happen."
Moyo also accused some journalists and their foreign employers of "flagrant
violation of exchange control law and regulations", alleging they are
keeping foreign currency outside the country for work done in Zimbabwe.
"Some of the journalists involved are foreign correspondents who regularly
report for news organisations such as CNN, the BBC, SABC, Daily Telegraph,
The Times of London, Guardian, among many more, while others are stringers
for or regular contributors to newspapers such as Sunday Times, the Mail and
Guardian, The Star and the Business Day in South Africa. And yet others work
for wire services such as Reuters, Agence France [Presse].
"As nobody is above the law, and given the serious implications of this
widespread and continuing illegal practice on the country's economy, the
department [of information] has brought the matter to the attention of the
relevant authorities and agencies ... for appropriate legal action will be
taken," he said. -- Sapa-AFP
MOZAMBIQUE: Thousands stranded after river bursts its banks
JOHANNESBURG, 10 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - The authorities in Mozambique said on
Wednesday they were prepared to assist thousands of families left stranded
by flood waters after the Pungue river in the central province of Sofala
burst its banks last week.
"Many of the families in the surrounding areas are dependent on the river
for farming and, therefore, live in areas which are close to the river - so
it is very serious when water levels rise to such a high degree. In recent
years, when the river burst its banks fields were flooded and houses
destroyed. But we have yet to make a proper assessment to judge the damage,"
a spokesman for Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Management
(INGC), Rogerio Manguele, told IRIN.
Manguele dismissed claims reported by local media that the delay by
provincial authorities in responding to the situation had exacerbated the
plight of people in need of assistance.
"Provincial authorities have sent out tow boats to rescue those who are
stranded. It is false to say that provincial government had not contributed
to the rescue mission," he said.
Meanwhile, the Mozambican Red Cross (MRC) said one of the main concerns was
finding a suitable area for relocating the flood victims.
MRC secretary-general Fernanda Teixeira told IRIN: "There will of course be
the usual requirements, such as tents and emergency food supplies, but
people would need an adequate place to live in before they decide to return
to their homes."
There were also concerns that the rising water could flood the main road
from the port of Beira to landlocked Zimbabwe, forcing an interruption in
"We are monitoring the situation very carefully and the a Red Cross team has
also been positioned in the area," Teixeira added.
Zimbabwe Says Suspected Mercenaries May Get Death Penalty
Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires
(AP)--The government warned Wednesday that 64
suspected mercenaries who were aboard a jet seized at the country's main
airport could face the death penalty.
"They are going to face the severest punishment on our statutes
including capital punishment," Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said after a
routine briefing for diplomats in the capital, Harare.
He didn't specify what charges could be brought against the men or
when they might appear in court.
It remained unclear where the men had been going and what their
purpose had been.
The crew of the aging Boeing 727-L100 impounded late Sunday at Harare
International Airport told authorities the plane was carrying mining
personnel headed for the central African nations of Congo and Burundi, state
television reported Tuesday.
But Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the plane was believed to
have been hired by South African mercenaries with the assistance of British
The small west African state of Equatorial Guinea said Tuesday it had
arrested an advance group of 15 alleged mercenaries believed to be plotting
a coup in the oil-rich country.
The U.K.'s Foreign Office said Wednesday it was aware of the
allegation that British SAS forces were involved with the plane. British
officials in Harare attended Wednesday's briefing with Zimbabwe's foreign
minister, a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity. She had no further
South Africa's Foreign Ministry confirmed that 20 of its nationals
were among those arrested.
"The South African government reiterates the view that should the
allegations that these South Africans were implicated in mercenary
activities prove true, it would amount to a breach of the Foreign Military
Assistance Act, which expressly prohibits the involvement of South Africans
in such activities abroad without due authorization," the ministry said in a
statement late Tuesday.
Zimbabwean authorities have also indicated that there are 18
Namibians, 23 Angolans, two Congolese and one Zimbabwean carrying a South
African passport among those arrested.
Angolan Foreign Minister Joao Miranda said his government believed the
men once belonged to the Buffalo Battalion, a disbanded South African army
unit composed of foreign soldiers, many of them from Portuguese-speaking
countries. The unit fought in Namibia and Angola in the 1970s and 1980s.
Angolan officials were cooperating with Harare, Miranda said on state
Along with the plane, Zimbabwe authorities seized what they called
"military materials" -including satellite telephones, radios, backpacks,
hiking boots, bolt cutters and an inflatable raft. There were no reports of
weapons on plane.
The plane and its passengers -described by state television as mostly
white -were initially taken to a nearby military airfield.
The suspects were later moved to the Chikurubi maximum security prison
near Harare, according to a civil aviation official, who spoke on condition
He said the plane had landed in Harare to load additional fuel, for
which the crew paid about $30,000 in cash.
Airport authorities became suspicious when the plane's interior lights
were extinguished after the pilot declare there were only three crew and
four cargo loaders aboard, state television reported.
The plane's registration number, N4610, is assigned to Dodson Aviation
Inc. of Ottawa, Kansas, in the U.S. However, the company said it had sold
the aircraft about a week ago.
Investigators in Harare said Dodson Aviation originally purchased the
plane from the U.S. Air Force.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 10, 2004 11:48 ET (16:48 GMT)
Alleged mercenaries may have been SADF men
March 10 2004 at 03:51PM
The men arrested aboard a captured plane in Zimbabwe are
all former South African Defence Force (SADF) soldiers from Unit 32, based
in Namibia, a South African diplomatic source said on Wednesday.
The source told Sapa that the plane had indeed been transporting
mercenaries to Equatorial Guinea, and it stopped over in Zimbabwe to pick up
weapons from a military depot.
Beeld alleges that the weapons were manufactured by Zimbabwe Defence
Industries (ZDI), which it alleges was paid $180 000 (about R1,2-million)
for the weapons.
"So I suppose you could say there were no weapons on the plane before
it got to Zimbabwe," the source said.
'We don't like the idea that South Africa has become a cesspool'
Sixty-four men, including 20 South Africans, 18 Namibians, 23
Angolans, two DRC citizens and a Zimbabwean travelling on a South African
passport have been arrested and are in prison in Zimbabwe.
The Boeing 727-100 was detained by Harare on Sunday after airport
authorities became suspicious of the pilot's reported claim that the plane
was only carrying three crew and four cargo handlers.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma said on
her arrival back from India that her department was in no rush to assist the
South Africans in Zimbabwe, or another group which is under house arrest in
"They are not exactly innocent travellers finding themselves in a
difficult situation," she said.
However foreign affairs officials would find out what extradition
treaties, if any, were in place.
She said the department was still trying to establish what was going
on but that "indeed there was a link between the plane and Equatorial
She confirmed there were at least seven South Africans who had been
arrested in Equatorial Guinea and that one had "spilled the beans".
"I know one man has addressed the diplomatic corps and explained what
funny things they were doing up there," she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said government was concerned that South Africans were
involved in mercenary activities.
"We don't like the idea that South Africa has become a cesspool of
mercenaries," she said.
Equatorial Guinea's Information Minister Agustin Nse Nfumu said on
Tuesday his government had detained 15 suspected mercenaries, and declared
they were an "advance party" for the group of 64 on board the impounded
He said the leader of the group, a white South African called "Mick",
had confessed to a plot to kill the president.
But Charles Burrow, a senior executive at Logo logistics - the plane's
owner - maintains its all a "dreadful misunderstanding".
Burrow insists the alleged mercenaries were security guards en route
to various mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the
alleged weapons were bits of mining equipment. - Sapa
"MERCENARIES": MALABO, DECLARATION BY COMMANDER OF OPERATION TO
The 15 mercenaries arrested in Malabo, capital of
at the weekend - the 'advance party' of a group also including the 65
presumed "mercenaries" found on board the Boeing 727 cargo plane seized in
the Zimbabwean capital on Sunday, according to the Guinean government -
aimed to kidnap the Guinean President, Theodore Obiang Nguema, take him to
Spain and force him into exile before replacing him with the opposition
leader Severo Moto Nsa, himself in exile in Spain, Nick Dutoit told Guinean
television today. Dutoit is the man believed by the Malabo authorities to
have been in charge of the mercenary operation intended to overthrow Obiang,
who has led the country since 1968. Dutoit, white with European features,
spoke in English, and he was sitting at a table to which all the accredited
ambassadors in Equatorial Guinea were invited. A few hours earlier the
official radio in the tiny former Spanish colony - currently the third
producer of crude oil in Sub-Saharan Africa - described Dutoit as "a
48-year-old South African arms and diamonds trafficker" who has been in
Malabo since July 2003. According to the radio, the mercenaries in Guinea
were already in the possession of arms and were awaiting the arrival of the
remaining material that they needed. "The first objective was the presidency
of the republic, followed by a few military barracks, then the murder of a
few selected members of the government would have signalled the end of the
mission," said the national broadcaster of Malabo, specifying that Dutoit
had admitted recruiting around 60 mercenaries in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. Yesterday, the Guinean government implicated Severo Moto, leader of
the main opposition group 'Partido del Progresso', in the affair, which is
getting more complicated by the hour. Malabo has asked Madrid to extradite
Moto, who continues to deny any involvement in the affair, instead claiming
that the presumed coup was staged on purpose to prevent his return to the
country (scheduled for the coming weeks) in view of the impending
presidential elections. Speaking on the radio yesterday, President Obiang
alleged that the "mercenaries" were financed by "enemy powers, multinational
corporations and countries that do not like Guinea".[LC]
Pretoria confirms link between plane and coup plot
JOHANNESBURG, 10 Mar 2004 (IRIN) - South African Foreign Affairs Minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirmed on Wednesday that the plane held by
Zimbabwean authorities and an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea were
"Indeed there was a link between the plane and Equatorial Guinea,"
Dlamini-Zuma was quoted as saying by the South African news agency (SAPA).
Zimbabwean authorities on Sunday detained a Boeing 727 carrying 20 South
Africans, 18 Namibians, 23 Angolans, two Democratic Republic of Congo
citizens and one Zimbabwean with a South African passport, Zimbabwean police
spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, told IRIN on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea announced on Tuesday that it had arrested 15
alleged mercenaries, including several South Africans, who, it claimed, were
an advance party for the 64 men being held in Zimbabwe.
Dlamini-Zuma confirmed on Wednesday that at least seven South Africans had
been arrested in Equatorial Guinea, and one had "spilt the beans".
"I know one man has addressed the diplomatic corps and explained what funny
things they were doing up there," she said. News agencies on Tuesday quoted
Equatorial Guinea's Minister of Information, Agustin Nse Nfumu, as saying
that the leader of the group, a South African called "Mick", had allegedly
confessed to a plot to kill President Obiang Mbasogo.
The South African Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that any
South African found to be involved in mercenary activities was in "serious
breach" of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, which prohibits the
involvement of South Africans in military activities outside the country
without due authorisation of the National Conventional Arms Control
At least two of the alleged foreign merecenaries held by Zimbabwean
authorities have been linked to the security firm Executive Outcomes (EO),
which folded in 1999.
Bvudzijena said the plane was met at the airport by Simon Mann, one of the
founders of EO, and two other men who had entered the country on 5 March
"Another known mercenary, Simon Witherspoon, who is also a former member of
Executive Outcomes, is among those arrested and is acting as a spokesperson
for the group," he added.
Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told a news briefing in the
capital, Harare, on Wednesday that the alleged mercenaries could face the
EO shot to fame during the 1990s when it assisted the Angolan government in
fighting the rebel movement UNITA, and helped the Sierra Leone authorities
deal with the Revolutionary United Front. The firm included former personnel
of the notorious 32 Buffalo Battalion of the South African special forces
and Civil Cooperation Bureau, which was responsible for the death of several
EO closed shop when South Africa's Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance
Act came into effect in 1999.
The Zimbabwean authorities said the impounded plane, allegedly a former
United States Airforce aircraft, had been sold to an American concern,
Dodson Aviation, which had leased it out to Logo Logistics Limited.
Zimbabwe state television broadcast footage of what it called "military
material" aboard the plane, including camouflage uniforms, sleeping bags,
compasses and wire cutters - but no guns.
In a statement sent to SAPA, Logo Logistics said that "contrary to some
reports they (the people on board the aeroplane) are contracted to provide a
range of services to mining clients, including logistics, support services,
asset and human security, and communications".
The statement was not sourced to an individual, and a telephone contact
number in the United Kingdom was answered by an electronic message, the news
"MERCENARIES": HARARE ACCUSES SPANISH, US AND BRITISH INTELLIGENCE
The government of
Zimbabwe has accused the secret services of the
United States, Great Britain and Spain of assisting the presumed mercenaries
detained in Harare in organising a plot aimed at overthrowing the President
of Equatorial Guinea, Theodor Obiang Nguema. During a press conference, the
Zimbabwean interior minister Kembo Mohadi read out a prepared statement
claiming that the presumed "mercenaries" were "aided by the British secret
service, that is MI6, .... American Central Intelligence Agency and the
Spanish secret service". According to Mohadi, the western secret services
persuaded "Equatorial Guinea's service chiefs not to put up any resistance,
but to cooperate with the coup plotters", promising them government posts in
the post-coup administration. The reconstruction provided by the minister is
based on information obtained from Simon Mann, who was arrested in Harare
last Sunday while waiting for the Boeing 727, which was blocked and
impounded in the international airport in the Zimbabwean capital together
with its cargo of "military material" and 65 presumed mercenaries of
different nationalities. Mann, a former member of the British Special Air
Service (SAS), is thought to be one of the managers of Executive Outcomes
(EO), the most important mercenary company in the world, although it has
been inactive for some time, and one of the founders of Sandline
International, the Private Military Company that grew out of the ashes of
Alleged mercenary leader unveils coup plot
March 10 2004 at 06:24PM
Malabo - The leader of a group of suspected
mercenaries arrested in
Equatorial Guinea said on national television on Wednesday that their
mission was to abduct President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and force him into
"It wasn't a question of taking the life of the head of state, but of
spiriting him away, taking him to Spain and forcing him into exile and then
installing the government in exile of Severo Moto Nsa," said the man,
presented under the name of Nick du Toit.
Obiang, who came to power in the small, oil-rich West African nation in a
1979 coup, on Tuesday announced the arrest of a group of 15 mercenaries he
said wanted to overthrow his regime.
"A group of mercenaries entered the country and was studying plans to carry
out a coup d'etat in Equatorial Guinea," he said, quoted by national radio.
The 15 were found to be in possession of maps of the capital, Malabo, and
satellite telephones, Obiang said, adding they were linked to the planeload
of suspected mercenaries who have been detained since the weekend in
Obiang pointed the finger at Moto, the leader of the country's government in
exile, who is based in former colonial power Spain. But Moto on Wednesday
denied any involvement in the alleged plot.
The man, who appeared on national television looked European and was talking
in English with his words dubbed into Spanish. He faced the camera and did
not appear to be frightened or tired.
Earlier national radio had identified the leader of the mercenaries as a
48-year-old South African, Nick du Toit. - Sapa-AFP
SA pilot on 'mercenary' plane
10/03/2004 11:44 - (SA)
Pretoria - Niel Steyl, the pilot of the
Boeing 727-100 that was impounded in
Zimbabwe, used to be a commercial pilot in Bethlehem, Free State.
Another pilot on board was Hendrik Hamman, a farmer from Namibia.
Both apparently flew similar Boeings for the now-defunct Executive Outcomes
company that provided military assistance in Angola and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo during the civil wars in those countries.
Steyl apparently hit the headlines two years ago when he was one of the two
captains of a Boeing 727 that took the enigmatic and controversial King Leka
I, self-proclaimed ruler of Albania, back to his homeland after years in
exile in South Africa.
The crew and the 64 others on board the controversial flight were arrested
in Harare on Sunday evening.
Sources indicate that they could be held under Zimbabwe' Public Order and
Security Act for at least seven days while the Zimbabwean authorities
question them under orders from the South African government.
They might then be extradited to South Africa.
Six people - J L Padilla, W L Stanton, M O Bainton, K D Savage, M P Sistok
and a McQuade apparently flew the plane from Sao Tome to Lanseria Airport at
A Mr Pienaar paid for fuel by credit card before the plane left for
Wonderboom Airport from where it travelled to Harare via Polokwane.
It is unclear where the crew who were arrested in Harare took over the
The 64 others on the plane had stayed in a prominent hotel in Pretoria for
the past week or so. They apparently underwent marksmanship training near
Johannesburg during this time.
Eighty percent of them are apparently from former specialist forces and some
are of Angolan descent.
Severo Moto, ousted opposition leader of Equatorial Guinea, has tried to
overthrow the government there twice before. Both coups failed.
President Thabo Mbeki recently visited Equatorial Guinea to renew diplomatic
ties between the two countries.
Equatorial Guinea also recently opened an embassy in South Africa.
All a dreadful misunderstanding: Logo
The detention of a plane, and its crew and passengers, in Harare, was all
part of a "dreadful misunderstanding," the plane's owner, Logo Logistics,
"It is all a dreadful misunderstanding. These things happen very often for
reasons that seem very plausible to the authorities at the time," Charles
Burrow, a senior executive at Logo told Sapa.
He was speaking by phone from London.
The Boeing 727-100 was detained by Harare on Sunday after airport
authorities became suspicious of the pilot's reported claim that the plane
was only carrying three crew and four cargo handlers.
Sixty-four men, including 20 South Africans, 18 Namibians, 23 Angolans, two
DRC citizens and a Zimbabwean travelling on a South African passport were
later escorted off the plane.
Burrow insists they are security guards en route to various mining
operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Zimbabwean government and media reports citing intelligence sources have
said they were mercenaries on their way to assist another group in
overthrowing the government of Equatorial Guinea, a small, oil-rich country
along central Africa's west coast.
Burrows said that what some have described as military items aboard is
Burrow said the aircraft had been scheduled to fly the men to the DRC with
stops at Polokwane, Harare and Bujumbura, in Burundi.
"At the time it had seemed a good idea and cheaper to put guys (and cargo)
for three or four projects on same plane."
Asked what the company was doing to secure the release of the men, he said
they were working closely with the South African Department of Foreign
Affairs and had provided them a list of passengers and crew on Monday.
"We are very much in touch with the South African government, he said. "I
can't praise them too highly. They are dealing with the matter with energy
and despatch. I'm very hopeful the matter will be dealt with very rapidly
and have every confidence we'll have the guys back at their homes soon."
However, earlier on Wednesday the department said its officials were still
awaiting details on the identity of the South Africans.
Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said once their names were known, consular services
would be offered and their families informed. The names would only then be
made available to the media.
Speaking to the media after arriving home from India, Foreign Affairs
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said she was in contact with the Zimbabwean
and Equatorial Guinea governments regarding the South Africans held in both
Equatorial Guinea's Information Minister Agustin Nse Nfumu said on Tuesday
his government had detained 15 suspected mercenaries, and declared they were
an "advance party" for the group of 64 on board the impounded aircraft.
He said the leader of the group, a white South African called "Mick", had
confessed to a plot to kill the president.
In Harare, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said the men could face
the death penalty.
"They are going to face the severest punishment available in our statutes,
including capital punishment," he said.
Civil Aviation Authority officials were also waiting for details from the SA
Revenue Service and Zimbabwe's aviation authority for their own
investigation before making any further comment.
'SA president tipped us off'
10/03/2004 14:09 - (SA)
Malabo - Equatorial Guinea's
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has
thanked South Africa and Angola for being "friendly" countries and tipping
him off to the impending arrival of a flight carrying susepcted mercenaries.
"We spoke with the South African president who warned us that a
group of mercenaries was heading towards Equatorial Guinea... Angola also
sent messages to tell us to be vigilant. That's what I expect of friendly
countries," said Obiang, calling on former colonial power Spain to behave
Meanwhile, the planeload of alleged soldiers of fortune detained
in Zimbabwe has been linked to a group of 15 suspected mercenaries arrested
in Equatorial Guinea as they allegedly hatched a coup plot last weekend,
national radio quoted Obiang saying.
"A group of mercenaries entered the country and was studying
plans to carry out a coup d'état in Equatorial Guinea," said Obiang late on
Tuesday, announcing the 15 coup plotters had been arrested.
They were found to be in possession of maps of the capital
Malabo, and satellite telephones, Obiang said, adding they were linked to
the planeload of suspected mercenaries who have been detained since the
weekend in Zimbabwe.
The authorities in Harare at the weekend impounded a
US-registered Boeing 727-100 with 64 passengers and three crew on board.
Although Harare claims those on board the impounded plane are
mercenaries, and is holding them in prison, a British company that said it
was operating the flight maintained that those on board were on their way to
work in the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Obiang said the suspected putschists "were funded by enemy
powers, by multi-national companies and also by countries that do not like
us," but did not name names.
He pointed the finger at opposition activist Severo Moto, who is
in exile in Spain, and who tried to mount a coup against Obiang in 1997 from
Moto, who recently set up a government in exile for the tiny,
oil-rich Gulf of Guinea country, was sentenced in absentia by a court in
Malabo to 100 years in jail for his role in the 1997 coup bid, and his Party
for Progress in Equatorial Guinea was banned.
The long-time president of Equatorial Guinea himself came to
power in a coup in 1979, in which he ousted his uncle, whom he later had