|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
MUGABE'S terror mobs are drawing up secret plans to assassinate Western
diplomats as part of a drive to force all whites out of Zimbabwe, according to
the country's opposition leaders.
David Coltart, a spokesman on legal affairs for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said: "Everyone, including Western governments, is making a serious miscalculation. Each time a hospital or charity is attacked they say it can't get any worse. They just don't appreciate how far Mugabe and his Zanu-PF are prepared to go."
Many whites are terrified to return to work tomorrow after weeks of anarchy in which mobs loyal to Mr Mugabe have rampaged through Harare, attacking 200 white-owned businesses, destroying equipment, threatening the lives of employees and demanding money.
In the past two weeks the target has widened to charities, hospitals, dentists and the British Council. Anything with the faintest link to a white person is in peril; one orphanage has been "invaded" three times.
MDC members have been meeting officials in Washington and London, desperately warning them that this could be just the start. "They need to realise that Mugabe will do anything and that's a horrifying prospect," said Mr Coltart. "I'm sure he'll assassinate diplomats if he needs to get the embassies out."
Last week's attacks on the British Council and the manhandling of the Canadian High Commissioner were believed to be just the prelude to attacks on Western diplomats to force them to close embassies before presidential elections that must be held by next April. Hundreds of businessmen have been forced to take refuge abroad and most white families have made emergency escape plans.
While Mr Mugabe will not emulate Idi Amin's mass expulsion of Ugandan Asians in 1972, he aims to break the white community's resolve by creating a climate of fear. The President is convinced that the 60,000 remaining whites created the opposition MDC as a front for the restoration of colonial rule.
The shock troops of his regime, who claim to be veterans of the war against white rule, are turning the terror tactics used against white farmers on their urban counterparts. Joseph Chinotimba and Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, the prime movers behind the violent occupation of white-owned farms last year, are leading the campaign in Harare.
During his most recent public address, at the funeral of a cabinet minister a fortnight ago, Mr Mugabe referred to the new offensive as the "Third Chimurenga" - a phrase filled with historical resonance. "Chimurenga", meaning revolution, first occurred in 1896, when blacks rose in revolt against white rule; the second instance was the guerrilla war of the 1970s against Ian Smith's Rhodesian regime.
Whites fear that if a Chimurenga were to be waged against them all restraint would be abandoned. They believe that the trail of economic destruction has a political purpose. Clive Puzey, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers' Association, said: "I do think they are prepared to force the collapse of the entire economy. That will mean white people leaving the country and their businesses being run by indigenous people. That is the whole point of this campaign."
Many companies have already been forced out of business. The Ruenya Granite Mine closed last month, placing 140 jobs and £12 million of annual export earnings at risk. Typically, the mine had been blockaded by the gangs, who used the sacking of eight workers as an excuse for intervention. Directors received a letter ordering them to sack MDC supporters and employ only Zanu-PF workers, or else "go back to Britain".
Among the whites to leave is Marco Garizio, the managing director of Zimbabwe Spring Steel, who fled after three visits from the gangs. Mr Garizio was ordered to pay £75,000 to 39 workers sacked last year. He evacuated his family after the first visit and has no doubt about the goal of the campaign. Mr Garizio said: "Mugabe is convinced that the MDC would not exist without the whites. He believes that if you get rid of the whites, you get rid of the opposition."
International condemnation has been restricted so far to the suspension of aid, but the MDC is lobbying to get targeted sanctions such as travel bans imposed on the administration, as they were on Nigeria's generals. Mr Coltart said: "There's no point imposing general sanctions as Mugabe doesn't care about the economy. But many of his ministers have children at school in America or Britain and would be very upset if they could no longer travel there."
OTTAWA: Canada slapped sweeping sanctions against Zimbabwe on Friday for what it described as "mistreatment" of its ambassador and other Canadian citizens working in the southern African country.
In a written statement released here, Foreign Minister John Manley said he was "very concerned at the mistreatment of our High Commissioner in Zimbabwe and the harassment and confinement of Canadian citizens in that country."
The measures, announced in the House of Commons by Secretary of State David Kilgour, include a suspension of Zimbabwe's eligibility for assistance under Canada's Export Development Corporation's export financing programmes.
The Zimbabwean government has been barred from seeking any new assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency that administers aid projects.
Canada's assistance to a Zimbabwe environmental programme, known as the Mining Titles and Environment Project has also been put on hold.
Military-to-military contacts have been further curtailed, as has Zimbabwe's participation in Canadian peacekeeping training courses.
And an existing ban on sales of military equipment to Zimbabwe has been reconfirmed.
In his statement, Manley also noted the mistreatment of Canada's manager of the non-governmental organization CARE International, Dennis O'Brien.
According to the statement, O'Brien, on May 4 was "forcibly removed from his offices in Harare and taken by a group of 'war veterans' to the headquarters of the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front."
Efforts by Canadian High Commissioner (ambassador) James Wall to get assistance from Zimbabwe's foreign ministry were "in vain," the statement added.
The statement did not elaborate about Wall's alleged mistreatment.
The Canadian measures came amid rising tensions between Zimbabwean veterans of the 1970s war for independence and foreign missions accredited in the country.
Veteran movement leader Chenjerai Hunzvi was quoted as saying last month that his organization would not tolerate attempts by foreign embassies to provide support to Zimbabwean opposition figures.
War veterans have recently attacked or threatened three German groups, prompting appeals by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to the Zimbabwean government, asking it to protect German nationals and organizations, the official ZIANA news agency reported.
War veteran leaders have issued warnings of attacks on diplomatic missions and aid agencies, sparking an international outcry.
The veterans' latest campaign is widely viewed as an attempt by President Robert Mugabe to shore up his support in urban areas ahead of next year's presidential polls.
Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Frontlost every urban constituency in last year's parliamentary elections, despite a campaign of violent intimidation that left at least 34 people dead and thousands more beaten or raped. (AFP)
May 11 2001 at 09:10PM South Africa's world-famous, luxury Blue Train was derailed at Bulawayo
station in Zimbabwe on Friday, when four coaches left the tracks. No one was
South Africa's world-famous, luxury Blue Train was derailed at Bulawayo
station in Zimbabwe on Friday, when four coaches left the tracks. No one was
February 07 2000 at 09:22AM
|By Murray Williams|
South Africa's ultimate symbol of luxury, the Blue Train, could soon be seen
gliding between Cape Town and Victoria Falls in Virgin red.
This is because what is one of world's best-known trains could be snapped up by one of the world's most legendary entrepreneurs, the flamboyant Brit, Richard Branson.
"The Virgin group is interested," Virgin Atlantic's southern African head, Mackenzie Grant, confirmed on Monday.
Virgin had been waiting for final news on the structure of the sale since discussions on the matter began a year ago, he said.
Spoornet announced the two Blue Trains were to be sold as part of the company's split into six new business units.
It was argued the trains required international management expertise.
From The Times (UK), 12 May
Canada cuts aid to Harare after attack
Harare - Canada has suspended new development aid and imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in protest at the harassment of its citizens in the increasingly lawless country. John Manley, the Foreign Minister, said that Canada was particularly unhappy about an incident last week when its top diplomat and an international aid group director were assaulted by self-styled war veterans. Canada will suspend development aid to the Zimbabwean Government, cut export financing and ban the country’s participation in Canadian peacekeeping training. Britain, South Africa and Germany have also complained to Zimbabwe after attacks by the militants, who accuse aid organisations and some diplomatic missions of opposing President Mugabe. The funding of a new "children’s village" and two schools worth £2.8 million is also under threat after the "war veterans" threatened officers of the Austrian-based SOS Children’s Villages charity. The Government’s takeover of land took a new turn yesterday, with reports that 760 peasants were being "resettled" on 27,500 acres in the Gonarezhou National Park, which is home to some of the world’s most endangered species.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 12 May
Harare children's charity shuts
Harare - A German charity caring for destitute children was forced to close its head office in Zimbabwe yesterday after being threatened by the shock troops of President Robert Mugabe's regime. SOS Kinderdorf, one of the largest children's charities, locked its office in Harare and sent staff home. Plans to build schools costing more than £3 million may now be cancelled. SOS Kinderdorf sacked an employee for theft a few months ago. His case has been seized on by the mobs. On Thursday, the former worker visited the charity's office and demanded to see Ian Kluckow, the white director. Three "war veterans" accompanied him. When they found that Mr Kluckow was not there, the men became threatening and abusive. One said: "We want to see Kluckow now." He said: "You know who we are. We can see the president if we want to." Mr Kluckow decided to close the office as a precaution. After repeated threats, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a German educational charity, has decided to move its Southern Africa office out of Harare.
From The Star (SA), 11 May
Zim tells media watchdogs to expect violence
Harare - Representatives of eight powerful international media associations were told by top government officials on Thursday that Zimbabwe's independent media must expect violence for "provoking" supporters of President Robert Mugabe's regime. The five members of the delegation to Harare of the Co-ordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organisations said that the chiefs of Mugabe's information ministry warned that it was "understandable" that journalists who were seen as supporting an anti-ruling party agenda would be threatened with violence.
The officials told the group in a meeting this week that "those who provoke should accept they would get a violent response", according to David Dadge of the Vienna-based International Press Institute. Joe Mdhlela, of the Media Workers' Association of South Africa, said controversial information minister Jonathan Moyo accused the country's main independent newspapers of "pushing a political agenda for the opposition". Dadge said that Moyo, also Mugabe's propaganda czar, "expressed pride" in the lawless movement of so-called guerrilla war veterans, which has been held responsible for the campaign of bloody intimidation and violence around the country since February last year. Moyo said the militias were "very much an important core" of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
Violence against journalists had increased in recent months, which the government appeared to condone, the group said in a preliminary report on its four-day visit here. It cited the bombings of the offices and printing presses of the independent Daily News, the country's most popular daily newspaper, threats by cabinet ministers to single out individual journalists for attack and the expulsion of foreign journalists. It said that the government was drafting laws to control the media by "licensing" journalists and by establishing a state-controlled press council. Independent television and radio coverage of next year's presidential elections had been blocked by the passing of legislation to enforce the continuation of a 40-year monopoly by the state-controlled electronic media. The government was also using archaic laws of "criminal defamation" to silence the critical media. They said Moyo accused the panel of "bias" and became "very angry" when he was asked why there had been no progress in police investigations into the massive explosions that destroyed the Daily News' printing press in January.
The group represents the American-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Commonwealth Press Union, the Inter-American Press Association, the International Association of Broadcasting, the International Federation of the Periodical Press and the World Association of Newspapers. The group was in Harare to be with Geoff Nyarota, editor of the Daily News, when he was summoned in Harare on Wednesday for questioning by police on allegations he had criminally defamed" Mugabe in its reports on attempts by victims of state violence to sue him in the United States for US$400-million damages. It is the second set of "criminal defamation" charges brought against Nyarota in a month. "To journalists trying to do their job, we say you are not alone, the world is watching," said Ronald Koven of the Paris-based World Press Freedom Committee. Observers say that Mugabe has launched a comprehensive strategy of intimidation of voters and repression of all possible sources of dissent to ensure he wins presidential elections next year. The media is regarded as a major component of Mugabe's plans, which aim at silencing the independent media and saturating the state-controlled press with pro-Mugabe propaganda.From ZWNEWS, 12 May
From The Daily News, 11 May
Zanu PF shuts down Masvingo
Masvingo - Business came to a virtual standstill here yesterday afternoon after Zanu PF supporters ordered the closure of the town to force residents to attend mayoral campaign rallies addressed by Vice-Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika. War veterans drove around the town in trucks ordering business to shut down so workers could attend the meetings. People started streaming out of the town for their homes at around 4pm after Zanu PF supporters threatened to beat up those defying the order.
"It is irrational for a party to order the closure of all businesses when the economy of the country is ailing," said a businessman after closing his shop. "We are in business and we need money. I was personally threatened with death for failing to heed the war veterans’ demands and I later succumbed to pressure and released all my workers." Shaky Matake, the MDC Masvingo provincial chairman, said: "We are struggling to build the economy. It is improper to close businesses." Also in town is Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. Muzenda, Msika and Chombo were expected to push the tiny business community here into line last night at a dinner party scheduled for after the rallies.
Meanwhile, 18 supporters of the MDC yesterday appeared in court on charges of public violence. Fourteen were granted $500 bail each. Four were denied bail because they had breached previous bail restrictions. By yesterday, no Zanu PF member had been arrested or appeared in court in connection with the political violence which has rocked the town for the past two weeks. On Wednesday, Masvingo police ransacked MDC Masvingo Central MP Silas Mangono’s house before arresting 15 youths in Mucheke in a pre-dawn raid. That brought to 28 the number of MDC supporters who have been arrested since the mayoral campaign got into full swing last week. Mangono said he had lodged a complaint with the police following the raid on his house. Said Mangono: "Six police officers jumped over the fence and surrounded my house at about 3am. They started knocking at the doors but I refused to open. They then threatened to throw tear-gas into the house and later forced their way in. They accused me of harbouring criminals in my house. They ransacked the house before driving off in two police trucks."
A senior police officer at Masvingo Central police station yesterday said some members of the police force were engaging in violent activities at night campaigning for Zanu PF. "It has come to our attention that some members of the force, especially war veterans, are part of Zanu PF campaign teams. We have launched investigations since members of the force are supposed to protect citizens irrespective of their political affiliation," said the officer. In Mucheke, armed police raided Matake’s home at around 4am and arrested about 12 MDC youths. They locked his house and confiscated the keys after ordering everyone out. Said Matake: "Police arrested 12 youths who had come to seek refuge at my house following violent clashes between Zanu PF supporters and our supporters. What is of concern is that some police officers have joined hands with war veterans in attacking MDC supporters."
Chenjerai Hunzvi, the MP for Chikomba, is leading the Zanu PF onslaught on the opposition. The war veterans' leader is moving around the town armed with an AK47 rifle, flanked by other armed war veterans. Contacted for comment, Hunzvi said: "You are a dog. That is rubbish. You are stupid. You people at The Daily News are dogs." Police have banned catapults in the town following reports that MDC youths were using them to attack Zanu PF supporters. Tomorrow’s election will be fought by Alois Chaimiti of the MDC, Jacob Chademana of Zanu PF and independent candidates Alois Chidoda, Femias Chakabuda and Genius Mupa. The post fell vacant after the death of Alderman Francis Aphiri last year.
From IRIN (UN), 11 May
Zimbabwe's roadside fuel sales
A 44-gallon drum of fuel and a funnel is the roadside symbol of the government's deregulation of Zimbabwe's fuel supply industry
The government's deregulation of Zimbabwe's fuel supply industry has not resulted in chains of new service stations criss-crossing the country, but rather illicit boot sales of fuel that has raised serious safety and environmental concerns, industry sources told IRIN. They allege the government has championed the entrance of politically-connected black entrepreneurs into the industry in a deliberate attempt to end the monopoly of the major multinational oil companies. Despite a crippling fuel shortage, over the past six months the original big five oil operators in Zimbabwe have been joined by an additional eight firms competing for haphazard supplies from the state-owned National Oil Company (NOCZIM). "Rogue sellers are appearing on the roadside and somebody has dropped them. It's totally blatant but its being ignored by the law and order agencies," one oil industry source who asked for anonymity told IRIN. By offering an alternative to the interminable fuel queues at orthodox service stations, "immense profits are being generated because there are no overheads."
According to economist John Robertson, the government is "deregulating an industry that seriously needs regulation, just for safety reasons." He said there were "at least 50 regulations" being broken by the fuel hawkers, but the police were turning a blind eye. "These are bombs waiting to go off, let alone the problems of fuel contamination," added Robertson. "The government appears to be trying very hard to give an inside track to people to indigenise the industry at the expense of the old majors, which mainly means a lot more uncertainty," Robertson said. But, "at a much more sinister level, without the backing of the party you do not get an allocation."
The newly-emergent fuel suppliers do not have the station networks, so are forced into roadside sales or bulk consignments to heavy users. Despite allegations of "favouritism" in NOCZIM's allocations, the new companies are forced to struggle - rather than being empowered - as a consequence of Zimbabwe's long-running foreign currency shortage. "Under these conditions it is very difficult for the newly-emergent businesses to get off the ground. It (the fuel shortage) is a chaotic mess that is not going to come right until we get an influx of foreign exchange," said Robertson. And with IMF and World Bank lending suspended, and investors shying away, "that is not even on the horizon."
From BBC News, 11 May
Powell's first African trip
Officials in Washington say the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is to make his first official visit to Africa later this month. Mr Powell, who has made it clear he expects the Bush administration to take a strong interest in Africa, is expected to visit Mali, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. He has already said be believes the United States has a historical obligation to the people of the continent.
From News24 (SA), 12 May
'Friends of Zim' march in CT
Cape Town - About 200 demonstrators under the banner of Friends of Zimbabwe took to the streets of Cape Town on Friday to protest against what they said was the "lawlessness and brutality" of the Mugabe regime. The protesters, most of them University of Cape Town students, planned to march to Parliament. Director of FOZ Paul Carter told them before they set out that they were marching to show solidarity for the suffering of the Zimbabwean people at the hands of their own leaders. He said the South African government was not standing by its honour to uphold the principles of its own Constitution. "To condemn the injustices perpetrated by its neighbour is not a choice but a responsibility. This must be done clearly and steadfastly," he said.
From The Star (SA), 11 May
DRC rebels accuse state, Zimbabwe of attack
Kigali - Ugandan-backed rebels in the DRC have accused government troops and their Zimbabwean allies of attacking a rebel position in the north-west of the country. The attack took place Tuesday on "our defensive position in Lusombo," Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Congo Liberation Front (FLC) said late on Thursday. "Our forces repelled the attack, which was backed by 120mm mortars. Fighting lasted all day, then they left," said Bemba. His allegation could not be independently confirmed. Bemba said the incident "clearly showed Kinshasa's intention to resume fighting" in a civil war that first broke out in 1998. "The next time were are provoked like this, we will be forced to react violently," warned the rebel leader. Bemba said he had given a report of the attack to the United Nations peacekeeping force in DRC, known as Monuc. His accusation comes amid progress in the DRC's hitherto moribund peace process. All players in the war except the FLC have pulled back from frontlines and MONUC troops have deployed in several parts of the country.