By Peta Thornycroft
13 May 2007
Prices of consumer goods, particularly groceries, have doubled in a month in
Zimbabwe. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA that Zimbabwe shopkeepers and
consumers are shock at the sudden leap in prices of food saying that the
rate of inflation, already the highest in the world, is now leaping ahead so
fast that no one can predict the consequences.
A housewife shopping at a Harare supermarket Saturday said the price of the
staple food maize meal was now 22 times higher than it was in December, a
product still subsidized by the government.
The controlled price of bread, she said, was ten times higher than three
She said one small shopping bag of essential goods on Saturday had cost her
nearly one million Zimbabwe dollars, or $33 U.S. on the black market, or
$4,000 U.S. at the official rate of exchange.
Officially Zimbabwe's inflation is 2,200 percent. That number comes from the
government's Central Statistical office in Harare.
The International Monetary Fund this month said that Zimbabwe reached the
hyper inflation rate in the month of March. Economists define hyper
inflation as growth in inflation of over 50 percent month on month. Though
official inflation numbers for April have not been officially released, some
economists say there was a 160 percent gain on the month leading to a 6,300
percent increase on the year, far above the IMF prediction of 5,000 percent
The official rate of inflation, according to international accountants in
Harare, is far lower than the real rate. That is because the Central
Statistical Office calculates some essential goods according to official
prices, and not street prices.
The four main supermarket chains in Zimbabwe, which keep their own
statistics for their range of groceries and food say that the rate of
inflation is presently around 11,000 percent.
Economist John Robertson said the official rate of inflation for April would
probably be about 3,000 percent for all goods and services but he
anticipates the real figure could be twice that amount.
When inflation hits that figure shortly of 6,000 percent per year, Robertson
anticipates prices could double weekly.
He said retailers are unsure of how much to mark up their goods because they
can no longer anticipate what new prices from wholesalers will be.
He said inflation could soon reach the point where Zimbabweans no longer
trust their own currency, and when that happens, he says, they might seek to
trade in foreign money.
Making sense of the value of Zimbabwe dollar is difficult as there are two
rates of exchange. Most calculations are done by using the black market rate
which is based on demand for those with access to foreign money.
It is more than 100 times higher the official rate of exchange. Most
consumer goods are calculated using the black market rate of exchange, which
is 25,000 Zimbabwe dollar to one U.S. dollar.
Most Zimbabweans have no access to foreign currency and so the present
prices of basic essentials in Zimbabwe dollars are beyond the reach of the
majority of people.
May 14, 2007
The cosseting of Zimbabwe brands Africa as an unregenerate dictators' club
John Howard's decision to ban a tour to Zimbabwe by Australia's cricketers
stands in salutary contrast to the craven complicity of African governments
in the iniquities of Robert Mugabe's regime. Governments are rightly
reluctant to intervene in decisions by sporting bodies, but as the
Australian Prime Minister observed, this event would have been remorselessly
used by "this grubby dictator" for noisome propaganda.
Any doubts on that score should be dispelled by the Mugabe Government's
triumphalist reaction last Friday, when the combined votes of Africa and
most of Latin America, against strong opposition from the EU, installed
Francis Zhema, Zimbabwe's Environment and Tourism Minister, in the chair of
the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.
This is the only forum where Africans can bring their concerns about the
environment to international attention. Zimbabwe's UN Ambassador accused the
EU of playing politics, asking: "What has sustainable development got to do
with human rights?" To that specious question, Zimbabwe's plight gives a
Sustainable development is an opaque coinage, but essentially it means
ensuring that economic growth meets present needs without compromising the
prospects of future generations. Mr Mugabe's oppressive and corrupt reign
has turned Zimbabwe into the world's fastest-shrinking economy. This is a
disaster almost entirely man-made. In the name of land reform, Mr Mugabe has
recklessly destroyed its once-thriving agricultural sector, forcing out not
only white farm owners but also 350,000 of their black farm-workers and
handing much of the land not to the landless, but to cronies who have let it
go to waste.
Millions of malnourished families now rely on food aid - aid that the regime
uses as a weapon of political intimidation. As officially measured by the
prices of controlled goods, inflation is 2,200 per cent; the real rate is
double that appalling figure. The environmental consequences of misrule are
acute. With electricity now rationed to four hours a day and cooking fuel
unaffordable, even where it is available, people are raiding forests for
firewood. Wildlife poaching is rampant in the national parks that are the
mainstay of Zimbabwe's tourism. Unemployment is 80 per cent and life
expectancy is down from 60 in 1990 to 35. Talent has fled the country and
few but the Chinese are prepared to invest there.
African governments have often been their own worst enemies at the UN,
uniting to block reforms that would enable the UN to serve their peoples
better. For the past year, they have used their votes on the UN Human Rights
Council to shield Zimbabwe from condemnation.
On the environment, where geography, poverty, weak government and rapid
population growth make Africa extremely vulnerable, the continent needed a
respected, knowledgeable advocate at the UN. Mr Zhema is under an EU ban on
contacts with Mugabe ministers that makes it impossible for him to function.
His election will paralyse the commission. That Zimbabwe insisted on its
"right" to the post is no surprise; but for the 12 other African governments
on the Commission to have chosen Zimbabwe to take Africa's "turn" for the
rotating chairmanship is a disgrace for which each one of them must be held
to account. They have failed Africa.
Monday 14 May 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's main opposition party at the weekend accused President
Robert Mugabe's government of stepping up a campaign of terror against the
opposition ahead of next year's key parliamentary and presidential
Both factions of the splintered Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
said Mugabe had deployed feared state security agents in rural areas to
terrorise and intimidate villagers ahead of elections political analysts say
he could lose.
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the main faction of the MDC led by
Morgan Tsvangirai said that his party had received numerous reports of
intimidation and harassment of their supporters over the past three months.
"There has been a calculated and sustained assault on the party's leadership
and structures in what we believe is an attempt to weaken the MDC ahead of
next year's elections.
"All our supporters and provincial leaders throughout the country are under
siege from ZANU PF. Anyone who is not ZANU PF is being targeted under this
terror campaign," said Chamisa.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson of the smaller MDC faction led by Arthur
Mutambara, also confirmed that their party had received similar reports of
terror and intimidation directed at the party's supporters.
Mugabe is facing unprecedented opposition to his rule because of a severe
economic crisis that has left the majority of Zimbabwe's 12 million people
mired in poverty.
The MDC blames the crisis on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe,
charges he denies.
The crackdown on the resurgent MDC comes amid reports that Mugabe had
deployed his feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents in the
southern parts of Zimbabwe, a stronghold of the MDC, to harass and disrupt
the opposition ahead of the elections.
The MDC says at least 600 of its supporters have so far been arrested and
beaten up by state agents since March as part of Mugabe's tactics to ensure
electoral victory next year.
Villagers who spoke to ZimOnline in Matobo district, some 68km south of the
second city of Bulawayo, confirmed that state agents had been deployed in
the area saying traditional leaders in the area had been asked to compile
names of all known opposition supporters in the area.
"State agents ordered chiefs and headmen to compile names of villagers who
support and campaign for the opposition. The agents said we must stop
participating in MDC meetings and campaigns or else we would face death.
"The agents are even accusing us of trying to organise people to rebel
against Mugabe. Three of our youth members were abducted and tortured by the
agents last week and have since fled to Bulawayo," said Patrick Dube, a
former councillor for the MDC in Matobo.
A headman in one of the villages, Mkhululi Moyo, also confirmed that state
agents were moving in the area harassing suspected opposition supporters.
"They move around with the chief's aides threatening that we would face a
situation worse than Gukurahundi (early 1980s massacres carried out by
government soldiers that left about 20 000 Ndebeles dead) if we backed
"There is an element of fear among all villagers here as any mention of
Gukurahundi is enough to send shivers down their spines," said Moyo.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is in charge of the CIO, refused
to comment on the matter saying he does not discuss security matters with
"Write what you want to write. It will not change us," said Mutasa.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said he was not aware of the issue saying
it was illegal for state agents to threaten and harass ordinary villagers.
"I have not heard about that but I will make sure that the police
investigate the claims. If these people are being threatened as you say,
they should report to the police. No one is above the law in this country,"
said Mohadi. - ZimOnline
Monday 14 May 2007
By Edith Kaseke
HARARE - An unprecedented vote by the Pan African Parliament to send a
mission to probe allegations of human rights violations in Zimbabwe has
ratcheted up pressure on President Robert Mugabe but analysts were cautious
on whether the African Union (AU) was hardening its stance or whether Harare
would abandon its ruinous policies.
Several international missions have come to Zimbabwe in the past and despite
producing reports critical of Mugabe's governance style, the veteran leader,
who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has remained
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) on Friday voted overwhelmingly to send a
fact-finding team to Zimbabwe to investigate allegations of the arrests and
murders of opposition figures, detention of journalists and violations of
freedom of speech.
This is the first time the PAP has passed a motion to send a team to any
"It seems Mugabe can no longer count on the full support of the African
brotherhood and I can imagine there are many who are deeply embarrassed by
his actions," University of Zimbabwe political lecturer John Makumbe said.
"Certainly the heat is on and this would be the first time the Pan African
Parliament has done this. So yes, pressure is rising and I think we could
see more of these developments if not just to express concern on the manner
in which Mugabe is ruling this country," Makumbe, who is critical of Mugabe's
Mugabe's government has been indifferent to the idea of fact finding
missions, and insists that the country's political and economic crises are
an internal problem and that foreigners can only help at the invitation of
In 2005 Harare refused to entertain an AU Commission special envoy Tom
Nyanduga who had come to investigate the conditions of thousands of people
displaced by the government's widely condemned slum clearance operation.
Last year Mugabe refused the services of AU appointed envoy, former
Mozambican President Joaquim Chisano while his government has in the past
deported the South African Congress of Trade Unions missions.
Analysts warned that with Mugabe seeking what could be his last term next
year, he would not be keen on allowing foreign missions into the country to
investigate flagrant charges of rights abuses, which have lately affected
the legal profession.
Critics say Mugabe has stepped up a crackdown on opponents this year,
including against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
and civic groups fighting his rule, in a bid to stifle dissent as anger
rises over a severe economic crisis.
In March, armed police badly injured MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
several opposition figures who tried to take part in a prayer rally in
Highfield in defiance of a ban on rallies.
The police said the prayer rally was an attempt to stage protests to remove
Mugabe from power.
"The government is not amenable to the idea of foreign missions and I
suspect they would do everything to prevent that from happening. But if it
is to go ahead it could be with conditions and they (PAP) might go away with
a totally different picture from what is on the ground," Eldred Masunungure,
a leading political commentator said.
The government seemed to suggest that it would not allow the PAP mission
when Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was quoted as
saying "the guiding principle is that we are a sovereign state and no one
can invite themselves like that".
Although Zimbabwe has members in the PAP, ruling ZANU PF chief whip
yesterday dismissed the PAP as a "noise-making" organisation" and that
Harare could bar the mission.
"It would be ordinarily difficult for the government to stop such a mission
because it is an arm of the African Union and Zimbabwe has members in that
parliament but then the government's mentality is that it is under siege and
will view such a mission with the utmost suspicion," said Masunungure.
The MDC has urged the AU to convene a special summit on Zimbabwe, which is
grappling with a severe economic crisis that has pushed inflation to the
highest rate in the world at 2 200 percent and unemployment above 80
Tsvangirai is scheduled to brief John Kufour, the AU chairman on the
political developments in Harare soon. Kufour has previously said Africa was
worried with the turn of events in the southern African country.
"Africa is now indicating in the right direction and this vote comes at a
time when the African voice is desperately needed on the Zimbabwe crisis,"
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for the Tsvangirai-led MDC said. -
Monday 14 May 2007
By Brian Ncube
BULAWAYO - Two more illegal gold miners have died at Hope Fountain, 30km
south-east of Bulawayo after they were trapped in a disused mine shaft while
trying to evade arrest by the police, ZimOnline has learnt.
Villagers at Hope Fountain said the two miners died last Monday during a
stampede after the police fired tear gas in a bid to force them out from a
mine shaft where they were hiding.
The two have since been identified as Khumbulani Dube, 17, and Thabano Moyo,
"The two were part of a group of about 10 illegal gold panners at Bonzo
Mine. The police called out the illegal panners to come out but only four
miners obeyed the order," said a villager who witnessed the incident.
In an attempt to force the remaining miners to come out and hand themselves
over, the police fired some tear gas into the mine shaft resulting in a
collapse of the mine shaft as the miners stampeded to come out.
Villagers in Hope Fountain who spoke to ZimOnline at the weekend blamed the
police for the tragedy saying the police should not have fired tear gas into
the disused mine.
"Although gold panning is illegal, these young men did not deserve this
painful death. The young men did not have any other source of livelihood,"
said Petros Khumalo, a local headman.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the death of the two miners
but declined to comment further.
"Yes I can confirm the death of the two men but I cannot say out more
because we are still investigating the main cause of death," said
At least 10 illegal gold miners have so far died during the police crackdown
on illegal mining activities in Zimbabwe while more than 26 000 people have
also been arrested during the operation.
The Zimbabwean government last year launched a major crackdown against
illegal mining activities code-named Operation Chikorokoza Chapera in a bid
to stop illegal mining activities in the country.
Human rights groups have however accused the police of using excessive force
in dealing with the illegal miners. - ZimOnline
Monday 14 May 2007
By Regerai Marwezu
MASVINGO - Hundreds of schools in southern Zimbabwe failed to open for
the second term last Tuesday as most teachers sought transfers to schools
near their homes because of high transport costs, ZimOnline has learnt.
Zimbabwean teachers are among the lowest paid civil servants taking
home salaries as little as Z$350 000 a month, enough to buy only five litres
of petrol on the parallel market.
In Masvingo, hordes of teachers gathered at Ministry of Education
regional offices at Wigley House demanding transfers to nearby schools.
The teachers said they could no longer afford to commute to far away
schools because of high transport costs.
Masvingo regional education director, Obert Mujuru confirmed to
ZimOnline at the weekend that there was a low turn-out of teachers in most
schools in the province forcing some schools to remain closed.
"We have a few schools which did not open since Tuesday because
teachers did not turn," said Mujuru. "We are studying the situation to see
if we can hire temporary teachers to feel the void."
Teachers in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces were also said to
have refused to go back to work citing poor salaries.
In Gwanda, Matabeleland South, scores of teachers were also seen
milling around Ministry of Education offices seeking transfers to schools
near their homes.
An official with the education ministry in Gwanda confirmed that all
was not well at some schools in the area as teachers were refusing to report
for duty demanding transfers.
"We are still trying to find the extent of the problem but it appears
that a number of schools are still closed three days after the opening day,"
said the official who refused to be named because he is not authorised to
speak to the Press.
Education Minister Aenias Chigwedere said he was not aware of the
problem but urged the teachers to immediately report for work.
"I am not aware of the problem you are talking about but I urge all
teachers who have not reported for work to do so or risk being fired," said
Strikes by teachers demanding better pay and improved working
conditions are common in Zimbabwe.
The militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which led
a series of crippling strikes earlier this year, says the government must
award teachers a new round of salary increments in line with the country's
run away inflation which stands at 2 200 percent.
The union is demanding salaries of around Z$3 million a month for
teachers. - ZimOnline
May 13 2007 at 02:40PM
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party in Zimbabwe on Sunday reacted
angrily to a resolution passed by African lawmakers last week to send a
delegation to probe rights abuses in the country.
Joram Gumbo, a ZANU-PF delegate to the Pan African Parliament in South
Africa, said he and other ruling party delegates had tried but failed to
block a resolution passed on Friday to send a fact-finding mission to
But he dismissed the body as just a noise-making organisation and said
Harare still had the power to prevent it from coming to the country.
"We tried our best (to block the motion) but there were many odds
against us," Gumbo said in comments carried by the Sunday Mail, a government
"Long before we arrived here (in South Africa), the (opposition) MDC
had already sent its team to lobby against the government," said Gumbo, who
is also the ruling party's chief whip in the 150-seat lower house of
The Pan African Parliament, a largely ceremonial institution, voted on
Friday by 149 to 20 to send a fact-finding team to Zimbabwe to probe recent
rights abuses by the police and state agents.
But Gumbo said the members of parliament would not necessarily be
welcomed by Harare.
"Zimbabwe could still block the mission if it so wishes as the (Pan
African) parliament will have to write a letter to the government informing
it of the intention to visit," the paper reported him as saying.
Zimbabwe has been under intense international scrutiny since March 11,
when police arrested and severely assaulted dozens of opposition activists
and leaders while in custody.
The MDC said at least 600 of its members were abducted and tortured
between February and April.
The ruling party's Gumbo said he and others who opposed Friday's
motion to send the delegation did so on the basis that the regional SADC
bloc recently appointed President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to mediate in
Zimbabwe's political crisis.
A visit by the parliamentary delegation might disrupt his work, he
said. "Our position is that too many cooks spoil the broth," Gumbo was
quoted as saying. - Sapa-dpa
Sun 13 May 2007, 14:24 GMT
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa has granted political asylum to
Zimbabwean former opposition legislator Roy Bennett, who fled into exile
last year after being accused of involvement in a plot to kill President
Bennett, a former legislator for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
was denied asylum in South Africa in May 2006 but has been in the country
"I am very happy that it is finally over and I have been granted the
(asylum) status," Bennett was quoted as saying by the South African Press
"I was very disturbed in the beginning when my application was refused even
though it was very clear-cut and evident that my life was in danger because
of my political beliefs," he said.
Bennett, a former farmer who was jailed for eight months in 2004 for
assaulting a cabinet minister during parliamentary debate, was one of the
few white Zimbabweans to remain active in politics after Mugabe's decision
in 2000 to seize white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.
He was barred from standing in parliamentary elections held while he was
serving his sentence in March 2005.
Bennett was among eight people, including a sitting MDC legislator, accused
of plotting to topple the government and assassinate Mugabe after security
forces found what they said was an arms cache in the eastern border city of
The MDC has denied involvement in any such plot against the government, and
the opposition and rights groups say the charges were part of Mugabe's
campaign to silence his critics.
From correspondents in Africa
May 13, 2007 09:52pm
AFRICAN human rights organisations have hailed Australian Prime Minister
John Howard's decision to ban the country's cricket team from a planned tour
of Zimbabwe later this year.
Newspapers and radio stations in Africa today broadcast Mr Howard's
announcement that the Government would block the Australian team's Zimbabwe
tour to avoid "an enormous propaganda boost to the Mugabe regime".
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has recently stepped up brutal treatment
of opposition politicians in his country, leading of police beatings and
Pascal Mabali, coordinator of the DRC Human Rights Initiative, a
non-governmental organisation based in Democratic Republic of Congo, said Mr
Howard's stance was right and should be emulated by all leaders, especially
those of developed countries.
"We thank Howard for stopping his national cricket team from visting
Zimbabwe," Mr Mabali said.
"That is a good lesson to all dictators in Africa.
"They should know that they can be isolated if they misbehave by harassing
Australia's decision also won support from the East and Horn of Africa Human
Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRDN), which groups human rights activists from
more than 10 countries including Somalia, Ethopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
An EHAHRDN official, Dennis Shabarani, said it would have been a big mistake
for Australia to permit the cricket tour given the poor state of human
rights in Zimbabwe.
"Howard's action will make Mugabe know that whatever he does in his country
is known and the world is not happy with him," he said.
Burundi Human Rights Forum chairperson Michelle Mbuguza added: "Australia's
cancelling the trip should open Mugabe's eyes to see that his days are
"You cannot be isolated by the whole world and you survive for a long time."
New Zealand Herald
5:00AM Monday May 14, 2007
By Richard Boock
It was in 1977 that the Commonwealth of Nations, at a meeting at Gleneagles,
Scotland, agreed to discourage sporting ties with South Africa as part of
their support for an international campaign against racism.
You would've thought that such an extraordinary step, and certainly its
resounding success in hastening change in South Africa, might have served as
a lesson for future generations - but apparently not.
Just 30 years on, as South Africa's new leaders speak of the influence of
the Gleneagles sporting boycott, today's generation prefer to embrace
deception and farce to avoid the hard decisions over Zimbabwe.
The whole sorry business plunged to new depths yesterday when the Australian
Government were effectively forced to ban their national body from sending a
team to Zimbabwe in September, in order to save it from millions of dollars
As the International Cricket Council rules stands, a national board is
liable for fines totalling more than US$2 million ($2.72 million) as well as
lost financial opportunities (such as television revenue), if it bails out
of a tour for reasons other than safety and security. However, one of the
few loopholes in the process allows an exemption for any team banned from
touring by their sovereign government, a clause that was necessitated by
India and Pakistan's stand-off during the 1980s and 1990s.
Hence John Howard's expedient collusion with Cricket Australia yesterday, an
effort that mimicked Helen Clark's decision to ban the incoming Zimbabwe
tour of 2005-06, and continued one of international cricket's most shameful
Neither Prime Minister wanted to take such a cavalier approach to their
citizens' freedom of movement but eventually succumbed, reasoning that
separation with Zimbabwe was more important than the semantics; that the end
justified the means.
And this is where the ICC's stance of not wanting to interfere in member
countries' political and domestic matters starts to wear a bit thin.
Rather than not being an influence, the world body is forcing freedom-loving
countries such as New Zealand and Australia to take draconian steps to save
their cricket administrations from significant losses.
True, the ICC's task is nothing to envy. Its attempt to remain
non-judgmental about international politics is utterly understandable,
albeit a tad futile.
Where is it expected to draw the line? Should it stop at Zimbabwe, or should
it also apply sanctions against Pakistan which, after all, is run by the
champion of a military coup? And what about Sri Lanka's human rights' record
against the Tamils?
But Zimbabwe is now beyond the pale, just as South Africa became an
unacceptable companion of all freedom-loving countries in the late 1970s and
When the horrifically oppressed Zimbabweans can't access electricity let
alone pay for it, the idea of playing sport there is an obscenity; a blatant
display of apathy in the face of some of the world's most desperate souls.
It's now beyond the reach of cricket authorities, it's a matter for
international leaders - and the sooner they can agree on something that
sidelines Mugabe on a sporting level until his people are freed, the better.
This is no time for games.
Why can't we have an international sports-wide boycott of Zimbabwe? Why
should we allow a tyrant to play us off, country against country, culture
against culture, until the core of the issue - Mugabe's sickening regime -
is lost in the bickering?
Hopefully someone will soon take a stand and get organised, so that sporting
organisations around the world don't have to, in an effort to avoid
international condemnation, ask their own governments to cancel their tours.
If we could be so up front about it 30 years ago, you'd think we could find
a way to stand together once more.
May 13, 2007
Kate Hoey, the former UK sports minister who is chairman of the all-party
parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, welcomed the news that John Howard had
barred the Australian side from touring Zimbabwe in September.
"It's very good to hear the Australian government has given a clear moral
lead and shown solidarity with those brave Zimbabweans who daily risk life
and limb to free their country from the brutal dictatorship of Robert
Mugabe," Hoey said. "I was approached this week by cricket fans in Zimbabwe
who asked me to help get the tour called off. They told me that they love
their cricket and they love their country and were determined not to allow
Mugabe to use the Australia tour to camouflage his oppression.
"Mugabe has installed political commissars Peter Chingoka and Ozias Bvute to
run the game; sport in Zimbabwe has been taken over by his regime for
propaganda purposes to give a gloss of normality and divert attention from
his murderous political oppression.
"Cricket fans in Zimbabwe despair at the supine complicity of ICC officials
who allow themselves to be used as stooges for Mugabe's grandstanding to the
world. The rising generation who are Africa's future feel utterly betrayed
and disgusted by the short-sighted self-serving stupidity of these sports
Hoey, who has been a vocal critic of the ICC's treatment of the Zimbabwe
situation, accused it of giving a message that "it couldn't care less about
dying Zimbabweans." She continued: "It just wants to make sure it gets a few
million dollars out of the tour to divvy up with Mugabe's murderers - it is
"I share the view of Mary Robinson, the president of Oxfam and former UN
high commissioner for human rights, that there should be a sporting boycott
of Zimbabwe to bring an end to Mugabe's reign of terror. I want the ICC to
suspend Zimbabwe Cricket and to cancel all planned matches involving
Hoey has secretly visited Zimbabwe three times in the last four years and
has seen first hand the problems facing the country.
Sunday Express, UK
Sunday May 13,2007
By Geraint Jones
BRITISH mercenary Simon Mann, jailed for allegedly plotting to overthrow an
African despot, may still be able to strike back at those he believes
Old Etonian Mann, 53, has been writing his memoirs in Zimbabwe's Chikurubi
maximum security prison and has promised to lift the lid on the conduct of
his former associates.
The revelations could send tremors through the upper echelons of the British
Establishment and embarrass a number of politicians and businessmen,
including Sir Mark Thatcher.
The son of former England cricket captain and brewing magnate George Mann,
he has vowed to finish the work despite the news that he will be extradited
to Equatorial Guinea, the country at the centre of the alleged coup plot, a
decision he says is a virtual death sentence.
Among those who might fear the ex-SAS officer's pen is his former close
friend Sir Mark, son of Baroness Thatcher.
Sir Mark's decision to admit two years ago in a South African court that he
was guilty of providing finance - albeit unwittingly - for the plotters
angered Mann. Sir Mark was fined £265,000 and given a suspended four-year
Mann, who was arrested in Zimbabwe on arms charges, was jailed for four
The two men have not been in touch since.
Other names that have been linked to the so-called "Wonga Coup" include
former Tory politician Lord Archer, London-based Lebanese millionaire oil
trader Ely Calil - both of whom have denied any involvement in helping to
organise the coup - and Severo Moto, the exiled politician who, allegedly,
would have been installed as president by the coup.
Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has also faced accusations that the
British Government was given advance warning of a coup plot from
intelligence sources but apparently did nothing to warn Equatorial Guinea.
Mann's lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, said that a number of publishers are vying
for the rights for the potentially explosive memoirs.
"Simon Mann is writing a book covering his life, his career, his prison
experience, his friends and those who betrayed him," he said.
"I have been approached by a number of publishers who want to buy the
rights. I have passed on the information to him and he will decide who
should get the rights. He wants to sell his story and make money out of it."
Mann was due for release from prison two days ago after serving three years
of his sentence. But last week a court in Harare ordered his deportation to
There he would face the wrath of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, whose
regime he allegedly tried to topple.
Nguema has promised not to impose a death sentence if Mann is convicted. But
Mann, who as the Sunday Express previously revealed is in poor health, is
likely to face a long spell in one of the world's most grisly prisons.
The oil-rich West African country has one of the worst human rights records
in the world. Inmates at its notorious Black Beach Prison are routinely
beaten, tortured and starved, according to Amnesty International,
whose officials were refused entry to Zimbabwe to give evidence at Mann's
Fourteen men - said to be the advance party of the plotters - were arrested
in Equatorial Guinea and were imprisoned at Black Beach.
One of the group has already died. Gerhard Eugen Nershz succumbed to what
the authorities described as "cerebral malaria with complications". But
when he was taken to hospital shortly before his death, witnesses reported
that he appeared to have severe injuries to his hands and feet consistent
Mann's wife Amanda was said to be devastated last night by the decision to
hand him over to Equatorial Guinea. Mr Samkange has lodged an appeal but an
application for bail was refused.
National Post, Canada
January 20, 2003 was a day of shame for the United Nations. That was
the date when Libya, a North African dictatorship with an appalling human
rights record, was picked to chair the United Nations Human Rights
Commission. For the UN's critics, Libya's selection symbolized the utterly
amoral nature of the world body.
May 11, 2007 was another such day of infamy for the United Nations.
On that day - last Friday - it was announced that Zimbabwe had been picked
to head the UN's commission on Sustainable Development.
Like many UN posts, this one is selected on a regional basis. This
year was Africa's turn, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe apparently
still enjoys a measure of respect among his African peers. Zimbabwe's
Environment Minister Francis Nheme will now become the commission's
It goes without saying that the mere mention of Zimbabwe and
"sustainable development" in the same sentence constitutes a grim joke. The
country features some of Africa's most fertile soil, and was once home to
thousands of productive white-owned farms. As recently as 2000, it was
wealthy and stable by sub-Sahran standards. But when Mr. Mugabe began
seizing white-owned farms and distributing the land to his cronies seven
years ago, the economy collapsed - a trend that was only exacerbated when
the paranoid old tyrant demolished tens of thousands of homes and small
businesses in "Operation Murambatsvina," a 2005 campaign against political
opponents in the country's shantytowns. The country's currency is now
virtually worthless (trading at 20,000 Zimbabwean dollars per greenback).
Unemployment is at 80%. And Mozambique has threatened to cut electricity to
Zimbabwe because the country can't pay its debts.
Only at the United Nations could a bankrupt dictatorship that's
squandered its God-given bounty be picked as the leader of a group mandated
with the promotion of sustainable development. Farces like this explain why
the body has such little moral authority.
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 12:23 AM by Jonathan Kay
– 12th May 2007
Hilary Fitzpatrick with Vigil Supporters Vigil supporters learning Morris dancing
Group photo of Morris Men and Vigil supporters Peter Tatchell being interviewed by the BBC with Addley & Chipo
Fortunately the heavy rain and blustery wind which nearly tore our tarpaulin away had died down by the time we were joined by three groups from the Westminster Morris Men: the Headington Quarry, East Suffolk and East Saxon. Every second Saturday in May they dance at various spots around Trafalgar Square and we always look forward to them coming (this is our fifth meeting with them). Again we were invited to dance with them and various combinations of Vigil supporters and Morris Men clashed sticks in the traditional dance. The Morris Men’s accompaniment of violin and accordion was joined by Julius on the drum. Even with our Vigil t-shirts we looked dowdy compared to our English friends with their traditional floral hats and bells around their ankles. Must do something about that – though now Zimbabwe is Chair of the UN Sustainability Development Commission it will have to be something really sustainable, like massive begging bowls around our ankles. The clashing of sticks in the Morris dancing was a welcome reminder of how the debate should be conducted – rather than the clashing of sticks on bare flesh we see in the “grubby dictator’s” Zimbabwe.
We had with us Hilary FitzPatrick who spoke about this clashing of sticks in Zimbabwe this week: “On Tuesday, 8th May 2007, my 70 year old husband was beaten by riot police in Harare. My husband together with many other lawyers had responded to Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa’s (President of the Law Society) appeal to the legal community to congregate at the High Court of Harare with the intention of a peaceful march to Parliament to protest at the earlier arrest of two human rights lawyers, namely Mr Muchhadeha and Mr Makoni. My husband together with many other lawyers responded to Mrs Mtetwa’s call. Zimbabwe’s riot police also responded and descended on the High Court. Mrs Mtetwa, Mr Micah, another law councillor whose name is not known to me and my husband were assaulted at the High Court, thrown into a pick-up and dragged to a vlei area near the Harare prison. Dragged out of the pick-up and ordered to lie down, my husband refused to do so. Accordingly he was beaten to the ground. During the commotion, Mr Micah made a run for it and leaped onto the bonnet of a passing vehicle. The result was that a growing number of vehicles stopped and observed the activities of the riot police with horror. Ultimately the riot police made off leaving their victims behind. I salute the courage of my husband and all those showing the courage to resist the human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime.” We were so pleased to have Mrs FitzPatrick with us for the whole afternoon.
Another visitor from Zimbabwe was Cecilie who had just been to see her very elderly mother in Scandinavia but said she had made her travel plans so that she could be at a Vigil. Cecilie said she had been following what we were doing in the Zimbabwean newspaper. We are glad she will be able to give our greetings to friends when she returns home. Our supporter Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, also came by with a BBC camera crew in tow. They were filming his campaigning activities for a film for BBC Education. The Vigil always provides lively footage for film crews.
For this week’s Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. FOR THE RECORD: 91 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 14th May, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum. Another action planning forum. For discussion: the anniversary of Murumbatsvina, prevention of Mugabe's trip to the EU meeting in Portugal and challenging South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup in 2010. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).