|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
In Zimbabwe, even the farmers are going hungry
By Michael Wines
Marondera - The
grasslands surrounding Harare, the capital, are blessed with
rich soil, good drainage and a temperate climate that comes from sitting a
half mile above sea level. Amon Zimbudzana raises corn on four acres of it.
Yet on a recent morning, he walked the mile from his thatched hut to a
clearing in the bush here to collect sacks of free corn for his family from
international relief workers. Mr. Zimbudzana is destitute - so destitute
that the family celebrated the New Year with a 20-cent pack of Zimbabwean
Kool Aid; so destitute that two children are unable to attend school for
lack of the $6 tuition; so destitute that he cannot buy food to tide his
family over until his own harvest, in April. Soon after the harvest, he will
be destitute again. He expects to harvest about 100 pounds of corn, enough
to last about two weeks. "This is prime farmland," one relief worker said as
Mr. Zimbudzana and 900 others waited to collect their sacks. "If people are
suffering here, imagine what it must be like in other parts of the country."
not imagine. As January ended, the United Nations and other relief
agencies here quietly raised their estimate of Zimbabwe's "food insecure"
population - essentially, those who have no ready access to a bare-bones
daily diet - from nearly half its 11.6 million citizens to two-thirds. No
other nation in Africa has such a high proportion of hungry citizens, the
officials say. It is one more testament to the three years of economic and
social disintegration here. Zimbabwe's farm output - and in particular, its
harvest of corn, the core of every diet - is plummeting. Last year's April
harvest totaled 900,000 tons, nearly a million tons short of what was
needed. This year, crippled by inflation and seed shortages, farmers planted
barely three-fourths of the corn sown in 2003. The Famine Early Warning
System, an American-financed hunger watchdog, said in mid-February that
recent heavier rains could erase some of that deficit. But even the most
sanguine harvest forecasts leave Zimbabwe 40 percent short of its needs.
"The harvest is causing us great concern," said Makena Walker, a spokeswoman
for the United Nations World Food Program in Harare. "The rains have been
very patchy," she added, and some of the areas that are worst off are those
that produce the food.
Two years of drought are partly to blame for the food
experts say, however, that more responsibility rests with President Robert
Mugabe's government, whose seizure of commercial farms in recent years has
destroyed large-scale agriculture, sent foreign investors fleeing and caused
economic panic. The resulting hyperinflation, pegged lately at 620 percent,
has savaged family food budgets. One unpublished survey by relief
organizations found that 9 in 10 urban households now survive on the
equivalent of less than a dollar per person per day. The effect is not the
kind of famine that Sudan and Ethiopia suffered in the 1980's. Rather,
Zimbabweans are slowly wasting away from chronic hunger and the diseases
that feed on it. Half the children under age 5 suffer from chronic
malnutrition, the United Nations Children's Fund says, double the percentage
of just five years ago. One in four children is stunted. At least 1 woman in
10 is malnourished. Zimbabwe's AIDS pandemic - at least one in four people
is H.I.V.-positive - works in synergy with such deprivation, for the weak
and underfed are often the first to fall ill. In interviews in Harare and
elsewhere, health experts said that as many as 8 in 10 malnourished children
brought to clinics and hospitals for emergency nutritional treatment were
"Normally," said one
expert, "if you're treating kids under 5 with a
therapeutic feeding program for malnutrition, your mortality is less than 5
percent. In theory, they should walk away with their parents after a couple
of weeks. Instead, we're getting mortality rates between 20 and 30 percent."
The need is evident in Marondera, with about 4,100 people, where Mr.
Zimbudzana lives, and its surrounding district 60 miles southeast of Harare.
By Zimbabwean standards it is relatively prosperous: fewer than one in three
is officially classified as scrambling for the next meal. But by 10 a.m. on
a Thursday morning in January, people were streaming to the
corn-distribution center, knots of donkey carts and barefoot pedestrians
following a yellow dirt road through the scrub to a grassy clearing where
hundreds already patiently waited. The reward for most, this month, was 10
kilograms - 22 pounds - per person of ground corn, to be boiled with water
and a few vegetables to make sadza, the national staple. The World Food
Program had halved that allotment for December, citing a slowdown in
donations from governments apparently wary of appearing to assist Zimbabwe's
government. The rations of ground nuts and vegetable oil the needy once also
received have been suspended for lack of stocks. The neediest of all get an
extra dollop of high-protein corn and soy flour. Mr. Zimbudzana and his
wife, Gertrude Chokurongwera, were among them.
Mr. Zimbudzana is unemployed - hobbled, he says, by a
cancer that he is too poor to treat. He and his wife nevertheless have taken
in four children, two from a relative's broken marriage; two orphaned by a
mother's AIDS. They live in three tiny huts next to his cornfields and a
handful of peach trees, surviving on donations from World Vision and the
World Food Program, the few bottlefish he catches in a nearby stream and
whatever they can earn from begging and selling possessions. "Sometimes,"
Ms. Chokurongwera said, "we sell our clothes." Sometimes neighbors give the
family food, Mr. Zimbudzana said, but not often. "We're all the same," he
said during a chat in the hut that serves as the family kitchen. "There's no
food." The last two harvests, like the forthcoming one, were tiny. Drought
was one problem, but Mr. Zimbudzana is also too poor to buy fertilizer,
which has skyrocketed in price as the country's ability to buy raw materials
for farming has imploded. He tills his plot with a hoe. The daily diet for
the household is sadza in the morning and again in the evening, mixed
occasionally with some okra or one of the 16 scrawny chickens he has raised.
There is tea in good times, but no sugar, and there is no cow, so no milk.
Ms. Chokurongwera said the family would be in dire straits without the
relief agencies. "Now, at least, the children's health is improving because
of the corn-soya blend." she said. "They were so lean before. Even my
husband and myself are gaining some weight now."
Mr. Mugabe's government blames a conspiracy of what he calls
governments for Zimbabwe's food woes. Yet today, all that separates this
nation from starvation is the donated corn, sorghum and high-protein soy
flour, 80 percent of it from Europe and the United States, funneled through
the United Nations and global charities. It is not enough. World Food
Program officials say their workers and global charities will be able to
feed only about 5.5 million Zimbabweans until the harvest comes in. That is
2 million fewer than the number in need. It was disclosed recently that
Zimbabwe, which had restricted those aid programs to the governing party's
rural strongholds, was holding more than 300,000 tons of grain. Most of it
had been seized from farmers trying to sell it on the black market because
government-set prices were too low to recover their costs. Under
international pressure, officials said they would release some of it to
address hunger in cities.
BBC says film exposes Zimbabwe militia camps
Sun 29 February, 2004 15:28
LONDON (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government has set up
youth militia training camps in which thousands have been brutalised to
ensure their loyalty, according to a BBC documentary to be screened today.
"In their training camps the Zimbabwean government is subjecting thousands
of innocent youths to rape, brainwashing and brutality," the BBC said in a
statement about the programme on Sunday. "It is all part of a horrific
process designed to mould youths loyal to Robert Mugabe and his ZANU party."
Mugabe's supporters and security forces have clashed in recent years with
opponents from the Movement for Democratic Change, which has emerged as the
most potent challenge to Mugabe in 24 years of rule.
The BBC's Africa reporter, Hilary Andersson, said the programme team and
human rights groups had interviewed almost 100 former camp youths for the
Panorama documentary, "Secrets of the Camps", due to be broadcast on Sunday
Around 50 percent of the girls said they were regularly raped in the camps.
One, Debbie, said she was raped nightly for six months after being forced
into a camp aged 20, and contracted HIV and fell pregnant before fleeing to
"Youths testified to being taught how to torture with electricity, or by
hanging victims upside down and lowering their heads into buckets of water
below until they nearly drown," Andersson wrote in Britain's Sunday
She said a former Youth Ministry official had confirmed that killings and
hit lists were discussed openly at ministry meetings, and a camp commander
interviewed said youths from his camp had been sent out to kill opponents of
Andersson said six large camps housed thousands of Zimbabweans aged 11 to
30. An estimated 50,000 youths had already passed through the camps, and
Mugabe wanted to make the training compulsory for all young Zimbabweans in a
bid to help him secure victory in parliamentary elections in 2005.
Mugabe, accused by the opposition and several Western countries of rigging
the 2002 presidential polls, rejects charges that his mismanagement is to
blame for Zimbabwe's critical shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange.
Instead, the former guerrilla leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence from Britain in 1980, accuses Western powers of seeking his
overthrow because of his seizure of white-owned commercial farms for
redistribution to landless blacks.
Zimbabwe Judge Suspended After Ruling Against Govt
Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--A Harare High
Court judge who repeatedly ruled
against the government has been suspended pending a judicial inquiry into
allegations of misconduct, news reports said Sunday.
Judge Benjamin Paradza, who was briefly detained last year, will be
investigated by a tribunal scheduled to convene in April, the state-run
Sunday Mail newspaper reported.
The tribunal will make a recommendation to President Robert Mugabe on
whether to dismiss Paradza, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the
Paradza was arrested in his chambers last February on allegations he
attempted to influence a case involving a business associate accused of
murder. He was held overnight in police cells he said were lice-infested.
Paradza denied the charge and filed a damages suit against police and
the justice ministry for wrongful arrest.
The business associate was convicted and will serve 15 years in
Zimbabwe has been wracked by political and economic turmoil since the
government began a program to seize white-owned farms for redistribution to
blacks in 2000.
The government has cracked down on the judiciary, human rights groups,
opposition leaders and the media. Eight judges have resigned and two retired
after coming under fire for ruling against the government, which has been
accused of packing the courts with judges loyal to Mugabe.
Paradza's arrest came after he ruled against the government in a
number of cases, including ordering police to release the head of the
opposition-controlled Harare municipal council when he was detained for
allegedly holding an illegal political meeting.
Paradza also struck down government eviction notices against 54 white
farmers on the grounds that they were improperly served. And he ordered the
government to issue a passport to a prominent human rights activist after
she was stripped of her Zimbabwean citizenship.
Paradza, who fought in Mugabe's guerrilla army during the bush war
that led to independence from Britain in 1980, has said he was warned not to
embarrass the government.
The judicial inquiry into his conduct will be only the second of its
kind since independence. A similar tribunal cleared Judge Feargus Blackie of
allegations he favored whites and held a secretive "night court" to hear a
case involving them.
Blackie was arrested on separate allegations in 2002 that he changed a
ruling in favor of a woman with whom the state claimed he had an affair.
Those charges were dropped on lack of evidence, and he retired from the High
Court soon afterward.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 29, 2004 07:15 ET (12:15 GMT)
Bad policy to support Zimbabwe
Kenya Times Tuesday, February 24, 2004
The whole Zimbabwe scenario - the arguments for and against President Robert
Mugabe - has corrupted and poisoned African politics.... South African
President Thabo Mbeki's support for Mugabe has swayed the bulk of black
opinion in his country in Mugabe's favor. It has been helped in large
measure by the impression that the United States and the United Kingdom are
vociferous in their criticism of Mugabe simply because it is white farmers
who are suffering. It may be white farmers who are making the headlines, but
the majority of Mugabe's victims are black. They are at the mercy of
unnecessary starvation, and that is if they survive Zanu-PF thuggery....
Supporting Mugabe is tantamount to betraying the interests of the region.
What is asked of Mbeki is not much. He is not asked to send troops across
the Limpopo. What people want is for him to express his and this country's
displeasure at what is happening in Zimbabwe. - Editorial comment
The Boston Globe
Zimbabwe's woes spill across border
S. African town, neighbor team up to handle influx
By John Donnelly, Globe Staff, 2/29/2004
MUSINA, South Africa -- Around southern Africa, many countries are working
hard to stop "border jumpers" -- Zimbabweans who illegally sneak into
surrounding nations to seek jobs or escape political persecution as their
nation slips further into chaos.
This border town has crafted some imaginative agreements with its Zimbabwean
counterpart, Beitbridge, across the bridge over the Limpopo River, to cope
with the impact of the worsening miseries in Zimbabwe since the government
began seizing land from white farmers in 2000.
Still, Zimbabwe's problems are literally spilling into South Africa.
Beitbridge's waste treatment plant's main pump is broken and the facility is
spewing sewage into the Limpopo, the source of water for both towns. During
the last six months, patient visits have doubled at Musina Hospital, and
half of those patients are from Zimbabwe. Its maternity ward is swamped with
Zimbabwean women, who deliver nearly 70 percent of the babies born at the
In communities around Musina, social workers are reporting a large increase
in orphans in recent months. Almost all the children are from outside South
Africa -- Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. Their parents have died
largely from AIDS-related diseases, and they have gravitated toward South
Africa's relative wealth. It means many orphans here are alone, with no
relatives to care for them.
And there are legions of Zimbabwean children who slip into South Africa to
earn money, some of them selling their bodies.
"Many children think of going to Musina to work," Alice Nsingo, a Zimbabwean
child protection officer based in Beitbridge, said in a telephone interview.
"We need to come up with strategies that combat the problem."
An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, or perhaps one-quarter of the
country's population, are living outside the country, according to a recent
study by an advisory board to Zimbabwe's Central Bank.
The group, which is trying to find ways to get those exiles to send hard
currency home, found that more than 1.2 million Zimbabweans were in South
Africa; another 1.1 million in Britain, the country's former colonial ruler;
and the rest scattered in southern Africa, the United States, Canada,
Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Some Zimbabweans in South Africa, such as Gabriel Shumba, 29, a human rights
lawyer, say they have fled President Robert Mugabe's regime because they
feared for their lives.
"I have scars on my head, on my chest, from the torture I received," said
Shumba one day recently, sitting on a bench at the University of Pretoria
and opening his shirt to show the marks. "I've been arrested 14 times since
1993 for protesting the regime's policies. I finally left seven months ago
after receiving death threats."
And because Zimbabwe's inflation rate has soared over 600 percent, making
basic goods unavailable to poor people, and there is little chance to find
work, many have fled their country as economic refugees.
In Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, recently, 11 young Zimbabwean women
allowed the founder of an HIV/AIDS support group, Helen Ditsebe Mhone, to
enter their shared hovel in a tiny concrete room.
The women were all prostitutes. The floor was covered with bare mattresses,
heaps of clothes and shoes, and small tanks of propane, used for cooking.
"I know you guys have a problem in Zimbabwe, but the thing is, you're taking
big risks with AIDS," Mhone said, sitting on the floor among them. Before
she could say more, several women spoke up.
"How can you get a job in Zimbabwe?" said one.
"How can we live?" said another.
"We get into a man's car, and we know we are risking our lives," said a
third, "but tell us, what is our choice?"
In Musina -- formerly known as Messina -- the stories are different, but
hardship remains the common theme.
At the town's vegetable market, Ishmael Moyo, 33, sells bags of South
African onions and tomatoes to local people. His wife and four children are
nearly 200 miles north in Zimbabwe, but he said he couldn't support them
there. Now he earns roughly $300 a month in the market among other
Zimbabwean sellers, some of them doctors and lawyers.
"I start work at 7 a.m., and I end at 5 p.m., and at night I read my Bible
and pray," he said. "I am grateful for my faith. It is very hard to be away
from my family. But there are more terrible sides of South Africa for us
Zimbabweans, especially on the farms. It is almost like slave labor. They
earn 150 or 200 rands ($22 to $30) a month from the farmers. It is nothing."
Musina officials confirmed his story. They say they have confronted farmers,
who have denied employing refugees.
"Some of us in South Africa are benefiting from this crisis," said David
Phologa, the mayor. "It's just like a war situation, where some people
benefit by selling weapons. We benefit from taking advantage of cheap labor.
It's not right."
In response to these problems, representatives from Musina and Beitbridge
have reached a series of agreements in quiet meetings over the last few
months. The accords call for easing cross-border travel for local residents
and jointly facing other problems stemming from Zimbabwe's troubles.
While the impact of two towns that combined have a population of 75,000
people may not be earth-shattering by itself, officials in both communities
hope their countries take notice and learn from their cooperation.
"The fact is even if you improve security on the borders, people from
Zimbabwe will still come and be with us," said Phologa. "The crisis there is
affecting us in every way -- the economy, the HIV rates, social matters,
The Musina and Beitbridge officials met under the approval of provincial and
national governments, which two years ago had encouraged communities to form
"twinning," or sister-city, relationships.
Phologa is hopeful that both national governments will approve the
recommendations from the towns' officials, including granting border passes
for residents to facilitate trade and approving initiatives aimed at
Still, he and others acknowledged, events in Zimbabwe are not predictable.
Earlier this month, for instance, Zimbabwe slapped a 500 percent increase on
duty charges at the border, which overnight stopped most of the imports.
But the joint effort by the two border towns reaches deeper than simply
improving trade. One great concern is the impact of so many Zimbabweans
seeking care at the Musina Hospital. "The systems have collapsed in
Zimbabwe," said David Mokobi, Musina's community liaison officer. "They have
no medicines, and so if they are sick, they come here."
Another initiative is building "safe houses" for children in Musina. One of
the most remarkable passages in the towns' draft agreement concerns the
protection of children, especially orphans.
It reads, in part, "We are saying if a child is seen in the street of Musina
or Beitbridge, we as the community will have failed and committed a crime."
The author of that passage is Nsingo, the Zimbabwean child protection
officer. "The words are very strong, I know," she said. "But if there are
orphaned children wandering in the streets, we will have failed as parents,
as a community, as two communities. We will have committed a crime. We now
agree to work together on this."
John Donnelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SACC urges action from Mbeki on Zimbabwe
The South African Council of Churches has written an urgent letter to the
presidency requesting President Thabo Mbeki send a delegation to Harare,
Zimbabwe to help restore talks between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
"It is our wish that President Mbeki makes a public statement to the South
African public as to whether or not it is true that President Robert Mugabe
is committed to the talks with leader of the MDC, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We are anxious to have the president help to restore the talks," SACC
general secretary Dr Molefe Tsele said in a statement.
The news that Mugabe had ruled out the possibility of talks taking place was
not only worrying, but seemed to be a grave setback and loss of opportunity
to normalise the boiling political and economic climate in Zimbabwe.
"As the Council of Churches, we have been listening to the cries and
prayers of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, placing their hope and
faith on the proposed talks and negotiations between Zanu-PF and MDC.
"We hear them tell us time and time again that the future hope for Zimbabwe
is in the commitment of the two parties talking to each other, and not in
any political stand-off.
"President Mbeki has publicly said he had been personally told by President
Mugabe that Zanu-PF is committed to the talks, and that, in fact, the talks
"The people of Zimbabwe, especially the churches, have repeatedly told us
that they are counting on us to assist them in finding a resolution to their
acute economic and political crisis.
"We will be failing in our moral obligation to be with them in their hour of
need," Tsele said.
In another statement, Democratic Alliance national chairman Joe Seremane
said Mbeki's policy of "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe had been exposed as an
embarrassing and costly disaster.
This was shown by Mugabe's statement that he would not hold talks with
Tsvangirai for as long as the MDC were "allies of the Western countries" -
along with his earlier statement that he would hold on to power for the next
Mbeki had developed a disconcerting tendency of making behind-the-scenes
assurances to Western leaders, which later turned out to be patently false,
Only last month, Mbeki told reporters in Pretoria, after meeting German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, that formal talks would soon begin between the
MDC and Zanu-PF in an effort to resolve thecrisis in Zimbabwe.
He also told said in an interview on February 8 that "formal negotiations"
between the two parties would begin soon.
"Mugabe's recent statement gives the lie to these claims," Seremane said.
Southern Africa Faces Famine, Warns UN
29 Feb 2004, 16:01 UTC
United Nations agencies are warning that southern Africa is again facing
famine because of drought and a lack of money from international donors. At
risk, say the aid agencies, are 6.5 million people in Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
U.N. aid agencies say they have received only half of what they need to
support critical food, health, water, sanitation, and education needs in the
six southern African countries. They say millions of people remain
vulnerable to the whims of nature and to the lack of interest from
Rashid Khalikov, deputy director of the Geneva office that coordinates U.N.
humanitarian assistance, says that there was some optimism that the
situation would improve when the United Nations launched its
multi-million-dollar appeal on behalf of these countries last year.
"However, this optimism is fading fast for two main reasons," said Mr.
Khalikov. "One is erratic rainfall that has negatively impacted on food
production resulting in a significant deterioration of the food security
situation. And second is lack of funding for critical assistance activities,
particularly in the social service sectors which continues to expose
millions of people, in particular children."
U.N. aid agencies say they need $318 million to provide critical services
for 6.5 million people until the end of the year. They warn they will be
forced to scale back crucial projects across the region if they do not get
Dermot Carty, senior program officer for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF)
says children - in particular, the three million AIDS orphans - will be the
main victims. He says urgent and massive action is needed immediately. If
this is not forthcoming, he warns, there will be a generation of lost
children, a legacy which the region cannot afford.
"Youth and early primary school age children, highly susceptible to
infection, and they are the futures of these countries," he explained.
"Young children not infected by HIV and AIDS, primarily age five to 13, are
the hope for the viability of countries devastated by HIV and AIDS. At
present, this has largely been an invisible group both in terms of their
needs and their vulnerability."
Mr. Carty says orphaned children face enormous hardships. He says many are
cared for by over-stretched relatives. Many, increasingly, are heading their
own households. He says the children frequently lack access to food and
health care and often are forced to drop out of school.
Stuff, New Zealand
Environment looms as major security threat
01 March 2004
JOHANNESBURG: US President George Bush may feel al Qaeda is the mother of
all threats but a growing number of analysts and policymakers say Mother
Nature could unleash bigger and scarier security concerns.
Ten years after Robert Kaplan wrote a seminal article
arguing that the
environment would emerge as the security threat of the 21st century, global
warming and a host of other green ills are seen as major destabilising
Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson said this month that global
warming posed a greater long-term threat to humanity than terrorism because
it could force hundreds of millions from their homes and trigger an economic
Natural disasters caused by extreme weather, including heat waves and
tornadoes, claimed more victims in 2003 than the previous year and the trend
is set to continue, the world's biggest reinsurance company Munich Re said
"The nature of changes now occurring simultaneously in the global
environment, their magnitudes and rates are unprecedented in human history,"
said Jenny Clover, a researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security
"We see these different stresses, poverty, diseases, water scarcity ... what
one needs to understand is how these stresses increase vulnerability to
Disruptive environmental changes include surging urban populations, wild
weather patterns and depleting fish stocks.
Environmental change is also seen as a trigger for conflict.
"All sorts of places with political unrest will be made worse if millions of
rural people are displaced or lose their livelihood because of climate
change or soil erosion," said Steve Sawyer, political director for the
environmental group Greenpeace.
Global warming, blamed widely on emissions of gases like carbon dioxide from
cars and factories, is expected to raise global average temperatures by
1.4-5.8C by 2100.
This could melt polar icecaps which would push sea levels higher, sparking a
mass exodus from areas vulnerable to flooding like Bangladesh. Such a
scenario would raise tensions on the heavily-populated Indian sub-continent.
Using West Africa as his launch pad, Kaplan painted a bleak picture of an
unravelling planet in The Coming Anarchy, published in the February 1994
edition of the Atlantic Monthly.
"For a while the media will continue to ascribe riots and other violent
upheavals ... mainly to ethnic and religious conflict. But as these
conflicts multiply, it will become apparent that something else is afoot,"
"It is time to understand the environment for what it is: the national
security issue of the 21st century."
To Kaplan, soaring populations, deforestation, soil erosion, rising sea
levels and the spread of diseases such as Aids would all conspire,
especially in parts of Africa, to destroy the fabric of society and make
many states ungovernable.
He said these developments "will prompt mass migrations and, in turn, incite
A number of African states have - to use the political science jargon -
"failed" since he wrote these words.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo - all scenes of
deforestation, unsustainable urban growth and other environmental problems -
have been ravaged by war and all but collapsed while Ivory Coast and
Zimbabwe are imploding.
Just months after Kaplan's piece appeared, densely populated and
ecologically stressed Rwanda exploded in an orgy of violence that saw
hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus slain by Hutu extremists.
But analysts also see positive developments - including the return of peace,
even if fragile - to countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone and the end
of Angola's long civil war.
"Kaplan is very provocative but if you follow his logic you have a dead end,
the coming anarchy," said John Stremlau, the head of the International
Relations department at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand.
"You have a lot of work being done in Africa to get away from the coming
anarchy," he said.
Still, many African countries and other developing nations are saddled with
the problems Kaplan highlighted, including eroding farmland and burgeoning
populations in urban areas which cannot provide basic services such as clean
Combined with demographic trends that are swelling the ranks of the young
and unemployed, such urban centres are feeding crime and instability and
becoming recruiting grounds for groups like al Qaeda.
The United Nations is now taking a closer look at possible environmental
causes of instability and conflict.
"We have been looking at gaps in our scientific knowledge and we have been
given the green light to do more research on the links between the
environment and conflict," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"There are some countries where the environment has gone to hell where they
don't have conflict. Then there are places like Haiti where land degradation
seems to have been a trigger."
Some analysts have speculated that the struggle for scarce water supplies
could become a major source of international tension this century but one
UNEP study found that 3600 water agreements had been recorded over the past
"It appears that water, far from being a source of conflict is a source of
cooperation," said Nuttall
Msika in grain scam allegations
Innocent Chofamba Sithole
ACTING President Joseph Msika and several prominent politicians named by a
South African television programme as having been involved in the scandalous
exportation of grain and externalisation of foreign currency have denied the
allegations and threatened legal action against the news channel.
M-net's Carte Blanche programme recently presented a story which claimed
that Msika, retired army commander Solomon Mujuru, local government, public
works and national housing minister Ignatius Chombo, former Mashonaland West
governor Peter Chanetsa, Chinhoyi MP Phillip Chiyangwa, and prominent farmer
Cyril Muderede exported grain at the height of Zimbabwe's food woes and
externalised the proceeds therefrom.
Quoting a former customs official and a serving Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operative, the programme claimed the six had allegedly
used their political clout to flout standing regulations barring exportation
of maize and wheat.
"The people . . . mentioned as being involved are Ignatius Chombo, minister
of local government; General Solomon Mujuru, the ex-commander of the
Zimbabwe National Army; Peter Chanetsa, the former governor of Mashonaland
West; Phillip Chiyangwa, MP for Chinhoyi; and the current vice president,
Joseph Msika," a transcript of the programme reads.
Responding to the allegations last night, acting president Joseph Msika said
the allegations were inspired by malice, as he had not engaged in any such
"I have not exported grain, it's all malicious, it's all intended for
malicious purposes, so I dismiss that story with the contempt it deserves,"
Mujuru and Chombo, in separate interviews, informed this newspaper last
night that they had begun consultations with their respective lawyers with a
view to suing Carte Blanche over the allegations, which they described as
"I have never exported grain since I was born, actually I intend to sue
Carte Blanche for defamation," Mujuru said.
Chombo, who confirmed that he had seen a transcript of the programme, also
categorically denied any involvement in the grain exportation scam. "I have
never exported grain nor imported anything, I have never done that
business," Chombo said. He argued that the reason why the programme had
included him on its list was probably to do with the programme producer's
assumption that since Muderede also hailed from Mashonaland West, he had
therefore received the blessings of senior political figures in the
province, Chombo included.
In the Carte Blanche transcript, whose contents were also published by the
Herald last Tuesday, a former customs official based at the Chirundu border
post claimed he had been pushed out of his job by his superiors who felt
they could not expose the graft in grain exportation fearing reprisals from
the named prominent politicians.
"At first you would be doing your job in a proper way, but unfortunately
there is too much political interference, especially for example,
politicians. They are the biggest smugglers at the (Chirundu) border.
"There was this guy, Muderede, he was one of the biggest smugglers, if not
the biggest at the border but he is politically connected, he is very
powerful. Those guys don't use papers, they bulldoze in. If you go in their
way that will be the end of you," said the customs official, who was not
When he wrote a report on the alleged smuggling activities he was
immediately summoned to Harare by his boss who advised him to resign with
immediate effect because something was going to happen to him if he did not
"I did exactly that," said the customs official.
The Carte Blanche article also mentions customs sources revealing massive
smuggling of grain across the Chirundu border. A customs official said seven
trucks laden with wheat passed through the border post and another four
trucks carrying sugar but purporting to be carrying cement were impounded on
22 May 2003. A customs official said she had witnessed more than 30 trucks
that had gone across the border laden with grain.
Basic foods like maize and wheat are subsidized and the Grain Marketing
Board has the monopoly to sell and move grain in the country.
Over five million people are in need of food aid in Zimbabwe.
The CIO operative said his team of private investigators had followed
several leads, finally pinning down the smugglers to a farm in Mashonaland
West. At the farm trucks were loaded with maize before heading for Chirundu
"I had received reports that Cyril Muderede was illegally exporting wheat
and maize to Zambia and Zaire, or now the DRC. Perhaps you might want to
know that Cyril Muderede is a former CIO bodygurad," the CIO source
Muderede's farm, Shankuru Estates, is well known and is often touted as a
successful model of the land reform programme. A Commonwealth team once
visited the farm on a guided tour which was addressed by Msika. The CIO
operative also alleged that Muderede and Msika have been working in cahoots
in the grain exportation scam.
"He then started doing things with Joseph Msika, the Vice President, who is
related to his wife, and Chanetsa, who was then governor of Mashonaland
West," he said.
But the Vice-President flatly denied the allegations.
"That's rubbish, I have never worked with anybody. I don't have that
culture," Msika said.
Muderede was arrested recently by police for illegally exporting maize and
depositing the proceeds into an account in Luxemborg.
A subsistence farmer interviewed by Carte Blanche claimed that the maize
being smuggled out of the country was sourced from communal farmers who sold
it for well over the price offered by the GMB. Carte Blanche also obtained
copies of three cheques made out to the communal farmers, which were signed
by Muderede on behalf of Shankuru Estates.
"He goes everywhere and collects. He does the weighing, bagging and sewing
of the bags at his farm, and it's been rumoured that that grain is exported
outside the country," revealed one communal farmer.
Efforts to get Muderede, Chanetsa and Chiyangwa to comment were fruitless
last night as their mobile phones were not reachable.
ANZ journalists stage demo against Nkomo
JOURNALISTS from the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of
The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, who on Friday staged a
demonstration against their chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo, have accused
him of being a key player in the closure of the paper.
The workers, numbering between 60 and 70, accused the paper's management of
refusing to adhere to the law, thereby punishing them in the process.
AIPPA was recently deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, forcing the
ANZ - which has secured a temporary relief after an appeal - to close shop.
After a turbulent five-year spell, the stable was shut down in the wake of
its failure to register with the government-appointed Media and Information
Commission (MIC) under the provisions of the controversial media law, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
A reporter who refused to be named saying he was not a member of the workers
' committee said the workers were going to stage another demonstration at
the Supreme Court which would coincide with Wednesday's hearing of the ANZ
appeal to have its scribes accredited.
He said in as much as Information and Publicity Minister in the President's
Office, Professor Jonathan Moyo was the force behind the stable's fate,
Nkomo was "the conspirator from within".
"Through this demonstration, we want everyone to know the true story behind
the closure of the ANZ. We want the public to know that in as much as Moyo
played a role in closing the paper, he found friends at The Daily News. We
want them to know that Nkomo is a charlatan and a crook that can't manage
anything," he said.
He dismissed Nkomo's allegations that the workers were demanding over 900
percent salary increments, saying it was management that had offered to give
them that raise.
"Nkomo does not cherish the charlatans of press freedom," said the reporter,
seething with anger.
Asked why the workers had to play along and continue working for ANZ without
registration, the workers' committee secretary general, Columbus Mavhunga
said they were waiting for all legal processes to take their course before
adopting a position.
"We did submit our registration as the journalists to the MIC, which refused
to register us because our organisation was not registered with them. So we
continued to work waiting for that clarification," he said.
He also said the journalists were yet to be advised on who would remain in
the "core group" of between 40 and 50, adding that management was yet to
make its proposals for their retrenchment packages.
"We have been told that the executive committee is meeting next week to
decide on the criterion of the retrenchment packages. But we haven't been
told as yet who is remaining and who is going and the criteria that would be
used. So at the moment it is difficult to map out a plan," he said. A former
reporter at The Daily News said as long as Nkomo remained in charge should
the paper re-emerge - then it would be doomed for failure. He accused the
stable's former corporate affairs director, Gugulethu Moyo, as another
conspirator in the plot to destroy the paper.
"She also played a crucial role in the destruction of The Daily News, a
paper for which we were tortured and suffered," he said.
Moyo has since relocated to Botswana where she has reportedly secured
employment with the Media Institute of Southern Africa(misa).
Nkomo himself had since dismissed allegations that he was a government
impostor who came to destroy the media house, saying those were baseless
rumours emanating from the paper's disgraced former editor-in-chief, Geoff
The two were alleged to have had a long-running vendetta, which was to
climax when they came to work under the same stable,the ANZ.
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo is believed to be a brother to John Nkomo, minister
responsible for land reform and resettlement.
Nam land grab 'like death'
29/02/2004 16:13 - (SA)
Windhoek - An umbrella group for Namibian commercial farmers,
Agricultural Union (NAU), says the announcement that farm expropriations
will take place in the country has sent has sent shock waves through its
"It is shocking, just like death which is always inevitable but people get
shocked, frustrated and disorientated when it occurs in a family. It is the
same (as) this news: it causes sorrow and disturbances in the farming
community," said the union's president, Jan de Wet.
On Wednesday last week, Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab said on state
television that a number of white-owned farms would be expropriated to
accelerate the process of land reform.
This was because the existing policy of "willing seller, willing buyer" was
not delivering results.
"The process has become too slow because of arbitrarily inflated land prices
and unavailability of productive land," observed Gurirab.
Namibia is saddled with racial imbalances in land ownership that date back
to the colonial era.
Fourteen years after independence, more than 240&NBSP;000 people are still
in need of land. The Namibian Parliament last year passed a land reform act
allowing government to acquire properties in the public interest, with the
payment of just compensation.
Although the Prime Minister did not say which land would be expropriated, it
is believed that farms belonging to absentee landlords are likely targets.
De Wet called on the government to make clear the criteria that would be
used to select properties, as the current situation was creating uncertainty
that could spill into unrest.
"The situation also affects the surety of the farms, because financial
institutions now regard them as risky investments, and farmers might in
future have to struggle to get loans from banks. The question is: are we
going the Zimbabwe way?"
Discontent over land ownership in Namibia has been stirred up in recent
months by the dismissal of certain farm workers who have stayed on the
properties concerned for decades.
The layoffs have led to clashes between farm owners and unions, and angered
The Secretary-General of the Namibia Farm Workers Union, Alfred Angula,
welcomed the government's announcement - and highlighted the need for
further reforms in the farming sector.
"Farmers need to realise that they do not pay pension or any other
compensation to their workers who sometimes work on such farms for decades,
and when they become old they want to evict them and make it the
government's problem," he said.
Late last year, Angula's union called for farm occupations in those areas
where the evictions were taking place.
Zimbabwe gangs target SA banks
MILLIONS of rands have been lost in South African bank robberies to highly
trained gangs from Zimbabwe, police said this week.
These gangs, which are responsible for about 80 percent of bank robberies in
the country, have been traced to Zimbabwe.
It is believed that in the past five years these gangs have targeted South
African banks in daring operations that have dented the banking industry.
Senior police intelligence officers within the serious crime units said
these organised syndicates were operating throughout the country.
Police say they are currently looking for more than 100 suspects, who they
believe are moving in and out of South Africa using fraudulently acquired
South African identification documents.
The suspects are wanted in connection with major bank robberies.
Police said some of the video recordings recovered after bank robberies
showed that most of the suspects entered the banks without concealing the
"Some of them even wave and smile to short-circuit cameras inside the banks,
but what must be remembered is that they are violent and will not hesitate
to kill," said police.
This week, City Press publishes pictures of some of the gang members wanted
One of those on the wanted list is suspected Zimbabwean national Reginald
who uses the surnames Msibi, Motloung and Mgwekaze. According to his crime
sheet he has been linked to three bank robberies, two murders and one
His accomplices include other Zimbabweans.
Gauteng provincial deputy commissioner Afrika Khumalo said a high-level
meeting of the crime intelligence units was scheduled for this week to
discuss, among other things, the involvement of foreigners in bank
He said there was clear evidence linking some of the highly trained gangs
from Zimbabwe to many bank robberies carried out in South Africa.
Khumalo, who revealed last week how police were cracking down on
cash-in-transit heists, said a number of meetings have taken place between
South African police and Zimbabwe's authorities.
The meetings concentrated on how to stop the movement of gangs from Harare
to South Africa.
"It has taken our units time and dedication to arrive at a conclusion that
gangs from Zimbabwe are behind some of the bank robberies.
"We believe they have military training . . . Through our intelligence and
contacts with the Zimbabwe police we have been able to get information,"said
He said that in the coming weeks police would launch a massive operation
against these Zimbabwean gang members.
Khumalo said police had established that most operations were planned
outside the country. Once in South Africa, the syndicates link up with other
Zimbabweans already in the country, who then supply them with firearms.
"What is evident from the intelligence we have gathered is that these
individuals do not even hide their faces once inside the banks. They think
that we cannot identify them. They are in for a shock - we have their names
and pictures," said Khumalo.
A suspect involved in a cash-in-transit heist was arrested this week by
police after four years on the run.
Lucky Cebekhulu was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2000 for his
involvement in cash-in-transit heists but he managed to escape while still
But his freedom ran out on Monday when police finally cornered him.
His arrest follows closely on heels of the arrest of other syndicate members
involved in cash-in-transit heists.
Meanwhile, Port Elizabeth magistrate S K Liebenberg this week refused bail
to the five suspects accused of the R12,4 million FNB burglary in January.