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

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Zim Online

Army major to vet journalists
Fri 11 March 2005
      HARARE - A serving Zimbabwe army major has been tasked to vet foreign
journalists wishing to cover the country's March 31 general election,
ZimOnline has established.

      Major Anyway Mutambudzi, who is operating from the first floor of
President Robert Mugabe's Munhumutapa Building offices, is being assisted by
three other soldiers whose names could not be immediately established.

      Mutambudzi confirmed yesterday that he was handling accreditation of
foreign journalists wanting to report on the parliamentary election and said
his team will be issuing a "statement soon" regarding the registration of
foreign correspondents for the poll.

      "I am handling the matter (accreditation of foreign journalists) but
my team is not yet in a position to tell you who has been accredited and who
has not. But we will be issuing out a statement regarding accreditation of
foreign journalists soon," Mutambudzi said.

      The soldier however refused to discuss further details about his new
assignment or whether he was on leave from the army or he had left it to
join the Ministry of Information and Publicity.

      "Are you a foreign journalist, why should I talk to you?" Mutambudzi
angrily retorted to further questions over the phone.

      Information and Publicity permanent secretary and Mugabe's spokesman,
George Charamba, could not be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.

      Foreign journalists were last month told to direct applications for
accreditation to Charamba who has taken over control of the media since
former state propaganda chief Jonathan Moyo was fired last month.

      Mutambudzi is however not new at the information ministry. He was
involved in the clearing of foreign journalists to cover the England cricket
team's tour of Zimbabwe last November and he spent most of last month
working with the ruling ZANU PF party's publicity office.

      Sources at the ministry, which is also housed at Munhumutapa, said
Mutambudzi and his soldier assistants took over accreditation of foreign
journalists last week.

      "The soldiers have been vetting foreign journalists since last week,"
said one source, who spoke anonymously for fear of victimisation. He added:
"In fact, as of now only Charamba, and the soldiers, are privy to the
requirements for foreign journalists to be accredited and on what grounds
such accreditation might be refused."

      According to the sources, the accreditation of local journalists will
however remain in the hands of the state's Media and Information Commission.

      Mutambudzi is among a long list of other serving and former members of
Zimbabwe's armed forces appointed to take charge of electoral bodies and
institutions of government directly or indirectly involved in the running of
elections in the country.

      Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) established
earlier this year to take overall charge of all elections in the country,
George Chiweshe, is a former senior army officer.

      Before his appointment to the ZEC, he headed the Delimitation
Commission that redrew the country's voting constituencies, chopping off
three constituencies from opposition strongholds and awarding them to areas
where the government enjoys
      more support.

      Chiweshe was appointed to the High Court bench after the government
purged independent judges.

      Attorney-General Sobuza Gula Ndebele, who among other key functions is
critical in ensuring cases of political violence are dealt with, is a former
army intelligence officer.

      A former army brigadier Kennedy Zimondi, is the chief elections
officer of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, which monitors the ZEC to
ensure the body conducts elections in a free and fair manner.

      The chief executive officer of the state's Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
Samuel Muvhuti is a former army colonel. The GMB, which handles food relief,
is accused of denying Movement for Democratic Change party supporters food
as punishment for supporting the opposition party. The parastatal denies the
charge. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

SADC Forum has no right to observe poll: South Africa
Fri 11 March 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - The Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Parliamentary Forum is not an official structure and has no standing to
observe elections, the South African government has said.

      South Africa's foreign affairs department (DFA) said it wished to
place it on record that the forum was not an official structure of the SADC.
The DFA was reacting to media inquiries about Zimbabwe's refusal to invite
the forum.

      DFA director general Ayanda Ntsaluba had earlier said the refusal to
allow the Forum put South Africa in a difficult position.

      But DFA spokesman, Ronnie Mamoepa said yesterday that: "The SADC
Parliamentary Forum therefore has no locus standi (legal standing) in terms
of official SADC structures.

      "As far as the (SA) government is concerned, Zimbabwe has invited the
national parliaments of SADC member states, which will allow for report
backs to sovereign national parliaments post (after) the elections.

      "On the other hand, the SADC parliamentary forum would have no fora to
report back on its findings to."

      Mamoepa said the official SADC observer mission, led by South Africa's
home affairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was due to leave for Harare
next Tuesday.

      "The primary responsibility for the creation of a climate for free and
fair elections rests with the people of Zimbabwe, acting through their
independent electoral commission," he added.

      "As SADC, our responsibility is to assist the people of Zimbabwe in
their endeavour to create a climate for free and fair elections."

      Mamoepa's statements seemed to be major backtracking from Ntsaluba's
earlier stance after the latter had described the refusal to invite the
forum as a "difficult situation".

      The SADC parliamentary forum was the only African observer mission not
to declare Zimbabwe's March 2002 presidential poll free and fair. Ntsaluba
had said he could see why Zimbabwe's latest decision would be greeted with
"cynicism" because of the stance taken by the Forum in 2002.

      But Mamoepa's statement seems to have dealt a heavy blow to any
anticipation that the South African government might intervene and have the
Forum invited.

      President Thabo Mbeki has already said Zimbabwe's election will be
free and fair to the chagrin and disappointment of Zimbabwe's opposition and
its South African sympathisers. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

ZANU PF candidate threatens voters with starvation
Fri 11 March 2005
  BULAWAYO - A ruling ZANU PF candidate, Sihle Thebe, yesterday told
residents in Makokoba constituency here that they would be denied food if
they voted for the opposition in the upcoming general election.

      Thebe told the residents in the presence of ZANU PF and state second
Vice-President Joyce Mujuru that the ruling party controls the government's
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and will order the food utility to freeze
supplies to them if they backed the opposition.

      Speaking in the vernacular Ndebele language, Thebe, who battles it out
for the Makokoba seat against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)'s Thokozani Khupe, said: "The ruling party is in charge and you should
be warned that you will not receive any grain from the GMB if you vote for
the MDC.

      "They are a puppet party that has no people of Zimbabwe at heart and
surely they don't deserve your vote. Please . . . please never vote for the

      Mujuru, who also spoke at the meeting attended by about 200 people,
did not order Thebe to withdraw her open threats to voters. But the
vice-president herself did not threaten the residents and instead attempted
to win them over by flaunting ZANU PF's policy to empower women which saw
her being appointed to the third most powerful post in the party and

      The GMB is the only entity permitted by law to buy maize from farmers
for re-sale and is also in charge of state food relief operations.

      The MDC accuses ZANU PF and the government of denying food to its
supporters as punishment for backing the opposition party. The ruling party
and the government deny the charge. - ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Zimbabwe's health crisis to affect region: report
Fri 11 March 2005
  JOHANNESBURG - Regional efforts to control diseases could fall flat as
more Zimbabweans flee hunger and political strife in their country and in
the process facilitating the spread of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, an
international health advocacy group has said.

      In a report released today, the Johannesburg-based Africa Fighting
Malaria said Zimbabwe was one of the epicentres of HIV/AIDS in the region
and warned that malnutrition-related diseases could also rise because of
falling food production.

      But the group warned that the looming health crisis in Zimbabwe, which
is tucked at the centre of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC), would balloon into neighbouring states.

      "Zimbabwe's health care problems cannot be dismissed as a domestic
issue . . . health problems could easily spread all over the region as
Zimbabweans flee the political violence and poverty for a perceived safer
and better life elsewhere," the report reads in part.

      The report entitled "Despotism and Disease - Collapsing Health in
(President Robert) Mugabe's Zimbabwe" was co-authored by the group's
director at its Johannesburg office, Richard Trent and Roger Bate, its
United States office director.

      The two authors, who are both experts on health and disease control,
acknowledge progress in the health sector in the early years of Zimbabwe's
independence. But they point out that despotic rule and economic
mismanagement in later years has undone all the progress with life
expectancy in the southern African nation now 33 years, down from 63 years
in 1988.

      The public health sector has virtually collapsed due to years of
under-funding and downright mismanagement. An alarming increase of
infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria has
only helped compound the situation, the two experts reported.

      "In recent years, the regime's despotic rule has all but destroyed
Zimbabwe's once highly acclaimed health care system. Zimbabweans can now
expect to live up to 33 years, 30 years less than in 1988. Their lives today
are not only short, but likely to be diseased and brutal," reads the report.

      Harare's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been slow and
inadequate while "the widespread use of rape as a tool of political
oppression and torture to subjugate men and women . . . has worsened the
epidemic," according to the report.

      Exacerbating the health crisis was burgeoning food shortages largely
caused by Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land reforms which the authors
describe as, "a catastrophic mechanism of retaining power in the face of
growing unpopularity."

      Calling on other SADC states to press hard for a resolution of
Zimbabwe's crisis, the authors note that efforts to revive the country's
health sector without restoring peace and democracy first were likely to
fail. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Jailed MP's bid for early release fails
Fri 11 March 2005
  HARARE - A High Court judge yesterday dismissed an application by jailed
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party legislator, Roy Bennett, for
early release from prison.

      Justice Yunus Omerjee ruled that although Bennett was put in prison by
Parliament, the duration of his stay in jail was not dependent on the
lifespan of the particular Parliament that imprisoned him.

      Bennett had argued that in terms of the Privileges, Immunities and
Powers of Parliament Act, under which he was jailed, his term should lapse
on March 30 when the fifth Parliament expires.

      The Chimanimani constituency parliamentarian, jailed last October, had
also argued that in addition to his 12-month jail term automatically lapsing
with the life of Parliament in March instead of September, he was also
entitled to remission of one third of his sentence for good behaviour.

      Under the Prisons Act, inmates have sentences reduced by one third for
good behavior. But Omerjee ruled that while Bennett might deserve to have
his sentence reduced for good behaviour, he was not legally entitled to
sentence remission because the legislator was in the first place contending
that he was not a prisoner as defined by the Prisons Act.

      The judge also queried why Bennett took two weeks after February 7,
the date the parliamentarian says he should have been released, to file his

      Bennett was jailed when ruling ZANU PF party parliamentarians used
their majority to imprison him for violently pushing Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa during debate in the House last year. - ZimOnline
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Independent (UK)

The burning issue that needs to be addressed: corruption
By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
11 March 2005

I entertain no doubts about Tony Blair's sincere desire to help cut poverty
in Africa through his grand Commission for Africa project. But if African
countries are to make the great leap forward, one burning issue needs to be
addressed: the manner in which bureaucrats and officials across the
continent line their pockets on a daily basis.

My blood ran cold last week when relatives told me they had to bribe nurses
at a state hospital in Zimbabwe so they could administer anti-Aids drugs,
provided free by European donors, to my niece.

An earlier bribe had enabled her to get access to the sole ambulance at the

Yet another bribe was to be paid to hospital staff to ensure the niece was
favoured with a hospital bed instead of sleeping on the floor like other

Prior to the ordeal with my niece, they had to pay a bribe to get the body
of another dead relative from a state mortuary after being told for several
days the body could not be found.

Because corruption in Africa is actively entrenched at the top, it easily
filters to the shop floor.

By the African Union's own admission, it is widely accepted that no business
ever gets done in Africa without a present changing hands - from a bottle of
Vodka slipped under the desk to facilitate a traveller's speedier entry
through customs. Then ther are the bigger "cuts" made to state officials by
conniving Western multi-nationals in exchange for lucrative state tenders in
countries such as Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Swaziland,
Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Kenya and many others.

Not to mention the even bigger "cuts" paid in exchange for lucrative oil
contracts in Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Nigeria and Gabon. In all these
countries, political elites live well beyond their declared means at the
expense of the poor.

In Angola, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains at loggerheads with
the government over the disappearance of $4bn (£2.2bn) in oil revenues in a
country where 90 per cent of the 14 million people live in abject poverty.

To Europeans, fixed telephone lines are perhaps a right, needed for children
to research on the internet, pass examinations and prepare for poverty-free
lives with better education.

In African countries such as Angola, Congo and Zimbabwe, fixed telephone
lines are more of a status symbol. I personally paid bribes worth £200 to
finally get a fixed telephone line in my family home in Harare after six
years on the state telecommunication monopoly's waiting list.

But I was told that one senior state official had 14 fixed lines installed
at his home over the years. The official ran up a huge bill because the
lines were used for private business but he never paid a cent to the state
company. Discontinuing service to him over non-payment would be
"discourteous and disrespectful of a powerful man", I was told.

According to the African Union's own estimates, corruption is costing Africa
at least $150bn annually. The poor have to bear all the consequences of

It is almost routine for the poor to bribe state officials to gain access to
what would be considered basic services in other parts of the world.

In Kenya, some corrupt judges of the High Court first demanded to visit a
litigant's home to measure his wealth by assessing his household property
before settling for a rate in bribes to rule in the litigant's favour.

The late Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, who
salted away an estimated $10bn in aid and bankrupted his country, used to
openly encourage his colleagues and lower ranking officials to steal from
the state. But he had only one word of advice for them: "steal wisely".

Several years after his death, Mobutu's legacy continues.

Self-serving declarations by Africa's post-colonial political elites to
fight corruption have not been backed by any action. Kenya's chief
anti-corruption official, John Githongo, resigned recently because of lack
of political backing in his anti-corruption effort.

While on a visit to South Africa recently, Nuhu Ribadu, the head of
Nigeria's anti-corruption watchdog, expressed his determination to stamp out
corruption in Africa's most corrupt country. He told reporters he would even
bar the former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, from his bid to succeed
President Olusegun Obasanjo because the former allegedly salted away
billions while in power. But, on getting back home, Mr Ribadu was summoned
by Mr Obasanjo, a close friend of Mr Babangida, and ordered to apologise for
his remarks, which had received wide media publicity. So much for Africa's
commitment to "fight corruption".

Africa's people are poorer today than they were 40 years ago, despite a
trillion dollars worth of aid made available in the past 50 years, according
to development experts.

So much for Mr Blair's hopes to make more resources available to help
Africa's poor. So much for making it easier to get my niece a hospital bed.
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Cosatu may picket, but there are conditions: SAPS

March 10, 2005, 23:15

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) was granted permission
by the SA Police Service tonight to hold a picket at the Beit Bridge post on
the border with Zimbabwe tomorrow. Patrick Craven, the Cosatu spokesperson,
said permission to picket was granted just before 9pm today, but under a
number of conditions.

Not more than 200 people may take part in the picket and it must be held at
least 200m from the border post. "This is not acceptable to Cosatu and we
are consulting our lawyers," he said. "We will reconvene on Friday morning
to discuss the matter further."

Earlier Limpopo police said Cosatu had only applied for permission to picket
and had later changed their application to include a march as well. "They
were given permission to picket, but not to march," said Mohale Ramatseba, a
police spokesperson. "We can't allow them to march when they've applied at
such a late stage."

One of the reasons Ramatseba gave was that traffic on the N1 highway through
the border post would be disrupted by the march. Craven said most of the
people expected to take part in the picket would be from the local areas
around Musina. Only a few would be from outside the area. He did not want to
speculate on how many people would show up to take part in the picket. "It
is always hard to say with such events. But we don't want to be restricted
to a certain number."

Earlier Cosatu expressed its dissatisfaction with the decision to withhold
permission for the march. "The Congress of SA Trade Unions is deeply
disturbed at a new attempt to deny workers the right to free assembly,
following a police decision today (Thursday) to refuse permission to allow
the Cosatu picket," the federation said. - Sapa
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Tech Central Station

            'Life Is Too Short Here to Worry About HIV'

                  By Roger Bate  Published   03/11/2005

            Zimbabwe's rapidly escalating humanitarian disaster, which has
manifested itself in chronic shortages of food, medicine, fuel, electricity
and hard cash, has driven over three million Zimbabweans into South Africa,
Botswana and other neighbouring states.   Prior to the crisis, Zimbabwe's
population estimate was 12 million, which means that over 25 percent of the
population is now living elsewhere.

            The diaspora of Zimbabweans into neighbouring countries either
to escape political victimisation by President Mugabe's regime or to find
work is substantially worsening the AIDS problem in southern Africa. Many
refugees report being assaulted or raped on arrival and destitute young
women frequently end up as prostitutes.

            African leaders have been reluctant to address this politically
induced humanitarian disaster, but their own populations are now further
threatened with disease. To act, regional leaders need support from the
international community, which is trying to combat the AIDS pandemic. Unless
political stability is restored in Zimbabwe and the refugees go home, all
efforts to control the AIDS epidemic in the region may be worthless. And
with an election at the end of March, now is the time to step up the

            Mugabe the Despot

            Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever known, is the
last "hero" of the African struggle for independence still clinging to
power. From the mid 1980s he was hailed internationally for improving health
and education. But latterly and especially since 2000, he has thrown nearly
every white farmer off the land, politicized the distribution of food,
banned independent media and established a Hitler youth movement known as
the Green Bombers. The fledgling opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change, probably would have won the 2002 election had it been
fair; instead the opposition has been intimidated into virtual silence.

            After Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party claimed victory, officials
spoke openly of "taking the system back to zero" and halving the country's
population in a chilling echo of what the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia in the
1970s.  Didymus Mutasa, the organisation secretary of President Mugabe's
Zanu PF government, said: "We would be better off with only six million
people, with our own people who support the liberation struggle."

            As a result of the turmoil, the economy has halved in value over
the past five years. With inflation rampant, bank notes are printed on only
one side and carry an expiry date. Unemployment is over 80 percent. Food
production in 2004 was less than half that of 2000 when the land invasions
began; it is forecast to be 15 percent of normal this year. President Mugabe
says that everything is fine, claiming that the country had a record maize
crop of 2.4 million tons in 2004 and does not need food aid. However, a
report released by the parliamentary portfolio committee on lands and
agriculture admitted that by October last year the Grain Marketing Board had
only received 388,558 tons.

            The US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)
released an "emergency" status report on 6 January which predicts that
malnutrition and related diseases are expected to rise, peaking in March.
Their November report estimated that the food insecure rural population
alone was higher than 3.3 million people.  The World Food Program estimates
that the total number of Zimbabweans short of food is over 5 million.

            According to FEWS NET, neither the social protection nor
targeted feeding programs established to address the food needs of the aged,
orphans, chronically ill and other welfare cases can adequately address the
food insecurity problem facing both urban and rural communities. The
humanitarian community faces a difficult working environment, with relations
between western donors and the government severely strained.  Recently
passed legislation confirms that the government wants food aid groups out of
the country so that it can continue to manipulate food relief for political
benefit ahead of the crucial election in March.

            Much media coverage has focused on the 4,500 white farmers and
their families who have fled Mugabe's reign of terror. While the collapse of
the commercial farming sector has probably cost the country 25 percent of
its foreign exchange earnings, an even greater danger to the region is the
ill health of the black diaspora.

            Zimbabwean HIV - probably the worst in the world

            Twenty years ago, life expectancy in Zimbabwe was 58; in 2002 it
was 33 and dropping. The official HIV/AIDS rate in 2002 was about 27 percent
(the third highest in the world), but the real rate is probably much higher.
With no hope for treatment, and little for long term survival, behaviour
rapidly worsens. According to one survey, over a third of Zimbabwean men who
are aware they are HIV positive do not tell their partners they have the
disease. And astonishingly 79% of women surveyed said they would not tell
their partner if they had HIV. As one put it to me -- 'life is too short
here to worry about HIV'.

            Dr. Mark Dixon from Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo says that 70
percent of the patients he treats for any reason carry the HIV virus. A
possible explanation for this extraordinary number is the high incidence of
unprotected sex (usually rape) in Mugabe's youth camps. The president
established these camps ostensibly to reorient the education sector, but
according to all the Zimbabweans I spoke with during a week in the country
last fall, including a couple who had escaped from the camps, their real
purpose is to indoctrinate young men and women against the opposition party
and white people.

            Over 250,000 Zimbabweans now die from AIDS annually. The worst
cases are tragic; the sufferers have no drugs and no future. Many are too
sick to travel and seek treatment abroad. The only good thing about this is
that they won't carry the virus elsewhere. Younger Zimbabweans, who are
generally healthy though malnourished, leave if they possibly can. This is
exactly the age group that carries the highest HIV burden -- estimated to be
as high as 40 percent -- and they take the virus with them wherever they go.
According to Amnesty International, Zimbabwean refugees are constantly
abused in transit and where they end up. Since they are not recognized as
legitimate asylum-seekers, they live precarious lives on the edge. No
neighboring state acknowledges the despotism of the Mugabe regime, so none
accepts these migrants as political refugees. Peril awaits the majority,
with many women lured into prostitution.

            A few are lucky enough to reach safe havens, places like Bishop
Paul Verryn's church in downtown Johannesburg, where I met some of the 55
refugees who live there and sell wares to parishioners and passersby. But
most of the Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa lead an existence that is
nasty and brutish, though not short enough to prevent transmission of HIV.
To make matters worse, some of the Zimbabwean strains of HIV are probably
resistant to drugs that were used in frequently interrupted trials in

            Even so, South Africa, with its 42 million people, is perhaps
big enough and rich enough to accommodate these Zimbabwean neighbors. Other
countries are not so well placed. According to figures from nongovernmental
organizations working in the region, Botswana, with just over a million
people, now probably hosts more than 200,000 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants.
And that allows for the thousands of Zimbabweans who are unofficially
deported from Botswana back to Zimbabwe every week (official figures talk of
only 1,600 per month, but NGOs say it's far higher).The permanent and
temporary influx has caused terrible strains, leading to conflict, rape, and
the possibility of increasing the HIV rate from an already staggering 38
percent.  As a result, President Festus Mogae of Botswana has been the most
outspoken southern African critic of the Mugabe regime. The AIDS situation
in other nearby countries is becoming clearer. The HIV infection rate in
Zambia and Mozambique is worsening. Currently at 16.5% and 12.2%
respectively, neither country has the level of border control enjoyed by
Botswana and hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive Zimbabweans may well be
entering both countries. Given the time lag for HIV to take its fatal toll,
the Zimbabwean influx into neighboring states will take time to really show
its worst effects, but the worst is what we should expect.

            Despite the impact on the region, few non-Zimbabweans,
especially political leaders, will openly criticize Mugabe.   This vacuum
leaves it to the international community to act on the Zimbabwean
catastrophe, as it has acted in Darfur. It's not too late -- the refugees I
spoke with would like to return home, but given the beatings and torture,
they never will while Mugabe is president.

            An African solution is needed. Only South African president
Thabo Mbeki has the clout to provide it.  And, while Mbeki continues with
his strategy of "quiet diplomacy", the corpses of those who die of AIDS
related diseases and kwashiorkor -- caused by acute malnutrition -- continue
to pile up in Zimbabwe's mortuaries.  Also piling up are the bodies of
murder victims since there are no longer any qualified personnel left in the
country to conduct forensic post mortem examinations.   Until the pathology
tests are done, relatives of the victims cannot bury their dead.

            With Western help, an exit strategy for Mugabe could be devised.
And with Western pressure, a message could be driven home: that all of
Mbeki's talk of an African Renaissance of democracy is worthless if South
Africa tolerates the dictatorship on its northern doorstep.

            Roger Bate, a health economist, is a fellow at AEI and a
director of Africa Fighting Malaria. AFM releases its paper 'Despotism and
Disease: The danger to Southern Africa of Zimbabwe's HIV Positive Diaspora'
in early March.

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The Telegraph

                  We need good governors, not aid
                  By David Blair
                  (Filed: 11/03/2005)

                  Africa is short of everything except good intentions,
platitudes and promises of money from Western taxpayers. Yet it will be
showered with all three today when Tony Blair's Commission for Africa
unveils its report on the world's poorest continent.

                  Thanks to advance leaks of the contents of this 400-page
tome, we know exactly what the 17 international luminaries, ranging from the
Prime Minister to Bob Geldof, who sit on this august body think is needed
for a "strong and prosperous Africa".

                  Many of their ideas are sensible and necessary. And yet
the report has one glaring flaw: it is passionate and detailed on what the
West should do for Africa, but silent or vacuous on what Africa should do
for itself.

                  Its main remedy for the continent's ills is thus a
depressing throwback to the 1960s school of aid and development - that
Africa should get an extra £13 billion of aid by 2010 and another £13
billion after that.

                  Bitter experience suggests that even if these huge sums
were multiplied tenfold, they would do little good. For Africa received £220
billion of aid between 1960 and 1997, the equivalent of six Marshall Plans,
and finished up even poorer than before.

                  With the possible exception of President Robert Mugabe,
everyone now accepts that Africa's central problem is not a shortage of aid
but "bad governance". Put simply, the continent is filled with repressive
and incompetent regimes whose chief pastime is grand larceny.

                  The onus to revive their own continent must be on Africans
themselves. Indeed the report pays lip service to this notion, declaring:
"Africa must take the lead in this partnership, take on responsibility for
its problems and take ownership of the solutions."

                  Hilary Benn, the international development secretary and a
commission member, has even claimed that the report was not just about "what
we need to do" but also "the things Africa needs to do to help itself".

                  In fact, more than two thirds of the report's
recommendations are directed at the rich world. "Governance" is rightly
identified as Africa's "core problem". But, astonishingly, the report
proceeds to give eight recommendations to the West on how to fix African
governments and only one to those administrations themselves.

                  This lonely prescription calls for Africa to "draw-up
comprehensive capacity-building strategies" - whatever that may mean. Even
more remarkable is the failure of the recommendations on "governance" to
include the word "democracy".

                  Decades of bitter experience have shown that
authoritarianism is the enemy of development. But a British-sponsored
commission has dodged an unambiguous demand for every African regime to
embrace democracy. It is little short of incredible that this vital issue
can still be skirted.

                  Still more depressing is the report's coverage of
corruption. This, we are told, is a "systemic challenge facing African
leaders". In a continent where Gen Sani Abacha, the late Nigerian dictator,
was able to steal between £1 billion and £3 billion in less five years, this
is no exaggeration.

                  Yet, by some warped logic, all three of the report's
recommendations for fighting corruption in Africa are directed not at
Africans but at Western nations.

                  They are urged to take "all necessary" measures to
"repatriate illicitly acquired funds and assets held in the financial
systems of their countries". What about insisting that African governments
stop those "illicitly acquired funds" from being looted in the first place?

                  Mr Blair's passion for Africa is undoubtedly genuine. But
his liking for grandiose schemes does the continent no service. A commission
that would genuinely help Africa would focus on three simple themes.

                  First, the West must stop acting in ways that damage
Africa. This is the one area where the report's ideas are spot-on. Debts
that can never be repaid and barriers to trade in agriculture impose
crippling burdens on Africa.

                  It bears repeating that trade barriers cost poor countries
£55 billion every year, about twice what they receive in aid. Lifting them
should be the highest priority.

                  Second, African regime should never again be allowed to
excuse their monumental failings behind rhetoric about the evils of
colonialism. If they fall short of the standards that western citizens
demand of their own governments, they must be condemned and isolated.

                  Both African leaders chosen by Mr Blair to serve on his
Commission are unfit to represent their continent. Meles Zenawi, the
Ethiopian prime minister, fought a pointless border war with neighbouring
Eritrea that claimed 70,000 lives, cost billions and set back the
development of the Horn of Africa by years, if not decades.

                  President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania is an outspoken fan
of Mr Mugabe and entertains the curious belief that this dictator is a
"champion of democracy". In fact, if he is a "champion" of anything, it is
misery, as illustrated by yesterday's figures showing that life expectancy
in Zimbabwe has fallen to just 33, compared with 63 in 1988.

                  There are African leaders who preside over democratic,
relatively clean governments - President John Kufuor of Ghana or President
Festus Mogae of Botswana come to mind. It is scandalous that only Mr Zenawi
and Mr Mkapa found themselves on the Commission.

                  Thirdly, but most of all, the West must only offer more
aid if African governments reform and improve. Aid must be an incentive for
better behaviour, not an unconditional handout.

                  A pledge that apparently binds the West to give Africa £26
billion over the next 10 years, based on a report that cannot even bring
itself to recommend democracy for the continent, does no one any good.
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RSF Condemns Restricted Access to Media for Opposition MDC Party; Threats to
New Weekly

Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)

March 10, 2005
Posted to the web March 10, 2005

RSF has condemned the state-owned media's coverage of the Movement for
Democratic (MDC) opposition party's campaign in the run-up to 31 March 2005
parliamentary elections as "clearly unfair". The organisation also
criticised recent threats by the head of the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) to impose sanctions on "The Zimbabwean" newspaper, on the
grounds that it is a "propaganda tool."

"It is now evident that the 31 March legislative elections will take place
in a climate of intimidation and censorship," RSF said. "There will clearly
be no compliance with the democratic criteria established by the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union's treaties. Robert
Mugabe's government is violating the principles of free expression with
impunity and Zimbabweans will pay the price. It is time the countries of
southern Africa stopped looking passively on while one of their own slips
into the shadows."

Media bias

With the election campaign already officially under way, the MDC, which
currently has 50 representatives in Parliament, is extremely handicapped by
the lack of coverage it is getting from the state media, when it is not
actually disparaged by it.

In a letter to MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, Pikirayi Deketeke,
editor-in-chief of the state-owned daily "The Herald", said it "would offer
no political party special access" to the newspaper. The letter was in
response to an MDC request that the state media cover its activities.
Deketeke asserted that the request had nothing to do with the traditional
state media policy of offering special, free political broadcasts during
general elections.

The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), an independent Harare-based
watchdog, reported that, during the week of 14 to 20 February, 19 of the 28
articles about the election campaign in the state press defended the ruling
Zanu-PF party and the other nine disparaged the MDC. During the week of 21
to 27 February, 58 of the 66 articles about the election campaign were
devoted to Zanu-PF.

The editor-in-chief of Newsnet, a propaganda branch of the state-owned
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holding (ZBH), told the MDC in a letter that it would
be granted two interviews, on 7 and 18 March, that it could take part in a
debate on 14 March, and that there would be coverage of an MDC meeting on 25
March. ZBH also offered the MDC a total of 91 minutes of air time for the
broadcasting of spots lasting no more than 60 seconds each, but the MDC
would have to pay for these in cash. The privately-owned weekly "The
Zimbabwe Independent" calculated that an electoral spot during prime time
would cost 3.7 million dollars (approx. $US615; 460 euros) each time it
aired, a sizeable sum in Zimbabwe.

On 3 October 2004, then information minister Jonathan Moyo said the MDC
would be refused access to the state media during the election campaign.
"Until we have a loyal opposition, it will be impossible for it to access
the public media," Moyo said (see IFEX alerts of 18 and 8 October 2004).

Threats against "The Zimbabwean"

Tafataona Mahoso, chairman of the government-controlled MIC, the press
regulatory body, has meanwhile threatened to sanction "The Zimbabwean", a
new, privately-owned weekly published in London and distributed in Zimbabwe
and South Africa. The state-owned "The Herald" quoted Mahoso on 7 March as
saying "The Zimbabwean" was a "propaganda tool" supported by "secret funds
in Europe and North America." "The Zimbabwean" was created by Wilf Mbanga,
the exiled founder of the leading independent "The Daily News".

In "The Herald" article, Mahoso and the article's author took particular
issue with the fact that the most recent issue of "The Zimbabwean" included
a promotional insert paid for by Britain's House of Commons, praising the
newspaper's management. "The Herald" quoted Mahoso describing this as
"unprecedented" and likening the British parliamentarians to South Africa's
former Apartheid regime.

The article did not specify what sanctions might be imposed against "The
Zimbabwean". "The Herald" simply noted that the MIC had said last month that
it "would not hesitate to take the necessary steps to stop those who abuse
journalism by using secret funding to produce products intended to undermine
national and sovereign publishers who are making an honest living by
informing their readers."

In January, Mahoso threatened to close the privately-owned "Weekly Times"
newspaper just one week after it published its first issue. The newspaper's
licence was withdrawn just a few weeks later, on 25 February, on the grounds
that its owners had made a "false statement" and "failed to disclose certain
facts". Mahoso claimed that the newspaper tricked him when it registered its
licence by hiding certain aspects of its editorial line. According to its
statutes, the "Weekly Times" is a privately-owned news weekly focussing on
development issues (see IFEX alerts of 1 March and 12 January 2005).


For further information, contact Léonard Vincent at RSF, 5, rue Geoffroy
Marie, Paris 75009, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 84, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51,

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Business Day

Post to the web on: 11 March 2005
No place for minority views in MPs' report on Zimbabwe poll
Wyndham Hartley

Parliamentary Editor

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) has broadly indicated that
minority views will not be included in the report of the parliamentary
observer mission leaving for Zimbabwe on Monday.

Mbulelo Goniwe, ANC chief whip in the National Assembly, said yesterday
views not backed by the majority would be left out of the report.

Goniwe was briefing the media on the 20-member observer mission that will
monitor Zimbabwe's elections on March 31.

The mission is dominated by the ANC, which has 12 members, with the other
eight spread among opposition parties.

Previous observer missions to Zimbabwe by South African MPs were split down
the middle. The Democratic Alliance (DA) complained of widespread electoral
abuses while the ANC did not.

Goniwe said: "There is a mission out there. It is a parliamentary mission
and we will by consensus arrive at the conclusion.

"Of course, this thing has plagued us in the past and we have to confront
it. You may have a view but if that view is not supported by the majority
then it should fall off."

Goniwe insisted, however, that the ANC component of the mission had not
prejudged the Zimbabwean election in favour of the ruling Zanu (PF).

He said he hoped that none of the observers would go to Zimbabwe determined
to prove that the election would be flawed.

"We are going as a parliamentary delegation. People have certain perceptions
and biases and, I think, we appreciate the principle of democracy.

"The essence of a free and fair election should not be subjugated to
personal bias. The mission by this institution is a mission that must
pronounce in line with the integrity of this institution, which is a
democratic one."

Goniwe said President Thabo Mbeki had not prejudged the outcome of the

He said: "The president is not suggesting that the outcome is already free
and fair. He is referring to the work the government (of Zimbabwe) has done.

"He is saying that he is confident that the contribution made can help."
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MPs 'must try to be neutral' on Zimbabwe    Jeremy Michaels
          March 11 2005 at 08:58AM

      It will be difficult for South African MPs not to take party-political
positions while observing the Zimbabwean elections, but they will have to
try to be neutral, says mission leader Mbulelo Goniwe.

      "It won't be easy, it will be difficult, but I think we will go out of
our way as a mission and as a collective to constantly nudge each other not
to fall into the trap of pursuing party-political lines in the parliamentary
mission," Goniwe told a media briefing in parliament on Thursday.

      "It's something we need to learn to do, something that we must be very
conscious of - it's important sometimes to rise above party-politics," said
Goniwe, the chief whip of the African National Congress.

      When MPs took the oath at parliament's swearing-in ceremony, they
swore allegiance to the constitution and not a political party, he said.

            'Not to fall into the trap of pursuing party-political lines'
      In the same way, members of the parliamentary observer mission would
have to suppress their party-political approaches as far as possible.

      Goniwe was speaking ahead of the departure of a 20-member
parliamentary delegation, which was invited by the Zimbabwean government to
observe the March 31 election despite its refusal to allow the Parliamentary
Forum team from the Southern African Development Community, the only African
delegation which found that the 2000 election was not free and fair.

      The parliamentary mission would be made up of 12 ANC MPs, two from the
Democratic Alliance, and one each from the African Christian Democratic
Party, Freedom Front Plus, Independent Democrats, Inkatha Freedom Party,
United Christian Democratic Party and the United Democratic Movement.

      Its mandate is to observe the election campaign in the run-up, voting,
and counting, and to present a full report to parliament after the mission.

      In executing its mandate, the mission would have to consider:

      a.. freeness and fairness of the political environment;

      a.. whether political parties had unrestrained access to voters;

      a.. the role of the media;

      a.. whether the rules regulating campaigning were adhered to by
parties and enforced by Zimbabwe's electoral body;

      a.. whether there had been incidents of electoral conflict, and how
they had been dealt with.

      Goniwe faced several questions about how the mission would compile its
report, given the furore about the last parliamentary mission's report, over
which there was disagreement between opposition parties and the ANC.

      Goniwe said the mission would try to draft its report by consensus and
steer clear of "the thing that has plagued us in the past".

          .. This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Times
on March 11, 2005

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      COSATU says denied permission for Zimbabwe demos

      Fri March 11, 2005 8:31 AM GMT+02:00
      JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's trade union federation COSATU
has been refused permission by police demonstrate at the border with
Zimbabwe as part of its campaign to force political reforms in that country,
it said Thursday.

      The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a key ally of the
ruling African National Congress, had planned to picket at the Beit Bridge
border on Friday in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

      COSATU is stepping up its campaign against President Robert Mugabe's
government ahead of the March 31 parliamentary elections. It accuses the
Zimbabwean government of human rights abuses and charges that the poll will
not be free and fair.

      "The police are refusing to allow the picket at all, on the grounds
that it could cause a blockade of the border," COSATU said in a statement.

      COSATU said customs authorities also wanted the demonstrators 100
metres away from the border, which it said was unacceptable.

      COSATU, whose leaders were twice thrown out of Zimbabwe over charges
of having a hostile agenda, has previously indicated that it would lobby its
regional counterparts for a blockade of the Zimbabwean borders.

      South Africa is Zimbabwe's main trading partner and a blockade of its
commercial routes would compound its deep political and economic crisis.

      "If police still insist on unreasonable conditions, we shall seek a
court order to establish our right to demonstrate," COSATU said.

      The union federation has taken a much tougher line on Zimbabwe than
the South African government.

      The South African Communist Party, the third element of the ANC's
official ruling alliance, has called on the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to ensure regionally-agreed electoral guidelines are
strictly adhered to in the March polls.

      Mugabe's government has dismissed COSATU as a conduit in efforts by
Western countries led by former colonial ruler Britain to interfere in
Zimbabwe's internal affairs.

      Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, accuses Britain and other
Western powers of trying to topple him over his seizures of white-owned
farms for blacks, and says they are sponsoring the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.
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Business Day

Business is silent on Zimbabwe in this age of universal deceit
Tim Cohen

WHY, oh why, is there no leadership on the Zimbabwe issue? Why is the issue
parked under the table with such resolution? Here we are, supposedly a
regional power, and we seemingly find it impossible to elicit the most basic
democratic norms from our neighbour, for heaven's sake.

Hands up those who thought I was talking about the position of government.
Actually, I'm pointing a finger at business.

It's a truism to say that the "Zimbabwe issue" has turned into one of the
most divisive in South African politics. President Thabo Mbeki has somehow
convinced himself that anyone, particularly that elusive group of "some
among us", who call for an activist stance on Zimbabwe, are somehow crypto
Ian Smith supporters.

One of Mbeki's recent treatises on the sociology of public discourse quotes
approvingly IBM executive Mteto Nyati, who wrote that, "what being
intolerant of criticism (and therefore inimical to free democratic debate),
really means . (is) that the ANC leadership refuses to prioritise the
interests of the white elite".

So, on the basis that the African National Congress should not become victim
to the "agenda setting" of the other side, Mbeki continues to soldier on
with something called "quiet diplomacy" - actually it is supportive
diplomacy - of a country whose policies have resulted in hyperinflation,
mass emigration and food shortages.

But this is not the weird part. The logical twist is that in terms of this
train of thought, Congress of South African Trade Unions members, for
example, who think SA should do more about Zimbabwe, are brushed aside as
victims of the "agenda setting" of the other side.

This wonderful inversion of logic means the detractors, even members of
Mbeki's own party, oddly reinforce "supportive diplomacy" because it
demonstrates how powerful the other side's ideology is, and consequently how
powerfully it must be resisted.

The situation, not to mention the logic, is Orwellian, making fellow column
writer Dumisani Muleya's selection of the Orwell quote, "in a time of
universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act", unusually
apposite in the Zimbabwean context.

I think there is another Orwell quote equally telling: "Political language .
is designed to make lies sound truthful . and to give an appearance of
solidity to pure wind."

But it is not my intention here to replough this well-tilled land. What
interests me is that the same people, those same "some among us", who
complain bitterly about the lack of political leadership on the Zimbabwean
issue, do not complain with equal venom about the lack of leadership on the
issue by business.

They seem to consider business's approach to Zimbabwe in a detached,
tolerant sort of way. It seems quite acceptable, even logical, that business
should be piling into Zimbabwe even as its citizens pile out.

It is often said that business lacks soul. The point of business is to
maximise profits, and it begins and ends there. Therefore, it makes sense
for business to take advantage of the way the political situation has
depressed the value of Zimbabwean businesses, allowing them to be scooped up
on the cheap. The political situation will eventually fix itself, and then
the investments will look astute.

But, surely there are some circumstances in which a pact made with the devil
comes back to haunt you? If so, shrewd businessmen will avoid being tarred
by complicity in injustice.

Organised business has made attempts to ensure that the Zimbabwe issue is
placed higher on the national agenda. Businessmen in Mbeki's international
advisory group once considered the issue a priority. But after meeting Mbeki
and probably sensing his hostility, it was dropped.

The issue is complex for business. I remember talking to a Unilever
executive who was explaining why the company never left SA during apartheid
and would not leave Nigeria during military rule. He said the issue was more
than the company's responsibility to its employees. Unilever products, such
as soap and washing powder, were too important to national hygiene. It's
hard not to have at least some sympathy for this argument, convenient as it
may be.

Business's main argument for not getting involved is that it is literally
not its business. But this is convenient. In the sanctions era, businesses
had to be dragged kicking and screaming from SA until the dam burst after PW
Botha's Rubicon speech.

Mbeki loves to talk about "interests" as though "sectional interests" are
somehow inimical to the national interest or even ordinary human interests.
But here I agree. I can't help feeling business's silence on Zimbabwe
reflects a short-term view of its interests, both moral and financial.

- Cohen is editor at large.

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Business Day

Harare shuts out another regional poll observer group
Dumisani Muleya

Harare Correspondent

ANOTHER international election body, the Electoral Institute of Southern
Africa, has been excluded from observing Zimbabwe's general election at the
end of this month.

The institute said this week it had 40 observers ready to travel to
Zimbabwe, but had not received an invitation. The institute declared the
hotly disputed 2002 presidential election not free and fair.

Institute executive director Denis Kadima, speaking in Maputo, Mozambique,
this week, expressed surprise at the Zimbabwean government's attempt to make
money out of the election. He said it was charging observers $100 each and
journalists $150.

On Wednesday Zimbabwe moved to clear up the controversy surrounding the
apparent exclusion of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Parliamentary Forum. It said confusion had arisen because the forum's
invitation was included in a general invitation to SADC observers, and
implied the group did not deserve a separate invitation.

By yesterday the forum had not received official documents allowing it to
enter Zimbabwe.

Kadima was quoted in reports yesterday as saying that it was not likely the
institute would get a late invitation from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has angrily rejected accusations that it is limiting observers,
saying the allegations are nonsensical.

President Robert Mugabe has invited observers from 23 African countries,
five countries in Asia, three from the Americas, and only Russia from
Europe. Russia endorsed Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002.

The European Union, US and Japan, which rejected Mugabe's election, have not
been invited. However, diplomats from those countries will be allowed to
observe the election, but with no say in the official outcome.

Mugabe is expecting "friendly" observer groups such as the SADC observer
mission, the official South African mission, an African National Congress
team and the South African parliamentary group.

The European Commission approved à15m in aid for Zimbabwe yesterday. This
money will be used to provide food, water and sanitation, in particular for
displaced people, those suffering from HIV/AIDS, orphans and other
vulnerable children.

"The European Commission is committed to providing humanitarian aid to the
most vulnerable Zimbabweans, regardless of the situation there," said EU
development commissioner Louis Michel.

The EU last month extended sanctions to 2006, including the ban on the
supply of arms to Zimbabwe and any other military assistance. It said it
would review its decision after the elections. With Reuters
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Business Day

UK's Lords take Mbeki to task on Zimbabwe

THE British House of Lords yesterday questioned President Thabo Mbeki's
commitment to resolve Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis, writes
Dumisani Muleya.

It said Mbeki was softer in his approach in dealing with President Robert
Mugabe than he had been with other dictators and flashpoints in Africa.

"One African leader could resolve the problem in a short time: President
Mbeki of SA, one of Africa's most important leaders .. Sadly it seems he has
not been giving much of a lead.

"Over the years he seems to have changed his attitude.

"Before the Zimbabwe elections in 2000 he called for as many observers as

The lords' concerns came as SA made yet another a dramatic climb-down on the
Zimbabwean poll issue, saying that the Southern African Development
Community Parliamentary Forum had no legal standing to observe the election.
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