Zimbabwe releases men linked to coup plot Sun May 15, 2005 04:24 PM
BEITBRIDGE BORDER POST, South Africa (Reuters) - Zimbabwe
has freed 62 men linked to a plot to overthrow the government of oil-rich
Equatorial Guinea that also implicated the son of former Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher. The group was released late on Saturday after serving
sentences for weapons and immigration offences. The men, who were arrested
after their plane was impounded in Harare in March 2004, were not directly
charged with the coup conspiracy.
All 62 were travelling on South
African passports when they were detained, although many were originally
from Namibia and Angola.
Three crossed the border into South Africa
earlier on Sunday, but the group's lawyer said the rest were held for
questioning by immigration officials.
The South African Broadcasting
Corporation reported that all were eventually allowed to cross after proving
they had valid South African passports. Two were taken to hospital, but it
was not clear why.
"Prison conditions were very bad but I have no regrets
about what I did," said one of the men, Bruce Du Preez, looking tired and
dishevelled. He did not elaborate.
The men could face an uncertain
future in South Africa, which has strict laws against mercenary
Their sentences expired last week but their release was delayed
because of security issues surrounding their deportation.
son Mark pleaded guilty in South Africa earlier this year to violating
anti-mercenary laws under a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail. But he
denied financing a coup plot.
The leader of the group arrested in
Zimbabwe, Briton Simon Mann, was jailed for four years on weapons charges.
Two South African pilots are serving out the last two months of their
When arrested the men said they had been heading to the
Democratic Republic of Congo to provide mine security services and denied
involvement in any conspiracy.
Equatorial Guinea sentenced 11
foreigners in November to between 14 and 34 years on charges of trying to
overthrow the country's president. Prosecutors linked the charges to the
'Mercenary' too ill to travel 15/05/2005 16:14 -
Johannesburg - Only 61 of the 62 alleged SA mercenaries released
from prison in Zimbabwe are back in South Africa, AFP reports.
men arrived back in the country on Sunday.
The agency said one man,
Malani Moyo, was kept behind in Zimbabwe "for unknown reasons".
Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jerry Ndou, told Sapa that Moyo may have
been left behind due to ill health.
"All the men who finished their
one-year sentence were released. The one left behind may be the one who was
just too sick to travel.
"He couldn't even sit. It might be that they are
looking at alternative ways of transporting him back home," said
The men arrived at the Beit Bridge Border post on Sunday morning by
truck after travelling from Harare for about nine hours.
released from the Chikurubi maximum security prison on Saturday night, where
they spent a year after being convicted of plotting to unseat the government
of the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in March last year.
They were kept at
Chikurubi for a few more days after their sentences expired on
Ken Pain's wife, Marge, said she never thought there would be an
end to the ordeal.
"The family is obviously very happy to have him
back. My husband is very tired right now and so am I.
He has been
travelling for nine hours and I have had to wait here since last night,"
She said there would be no welcome home party for the man just
"He needs to rest, so I think we will leave this for a couple of
days and maybe do it a bit later," she said.
Pain was among a large
group of family members who had been waiting at the border post since on
The men, who were travelling under "heavy police escort"
only reached the border shortly after 10:00 on Sunday.
One of the men
was taken to a nearby clinic upon his arrival, and SABC radio news reported
that a second man was also taken to hospital.
Attempts on Sunday
afternoon to contact a department of home affairs representative were
Harare holds on to one suspected mercenary Mon 16 May
HARARE - Authorities in Harare are holding on to one of the 62
suspected South African mercenaries who they insist is a Zimbabwean
The other 61 alleged "dogs of war" were released from the
notorious Chikurubi maximum prison near Harare late on Saturday night almost
four days after they were supposed to have been freed from jail
Zimbabwean authorities had given a variety of reasons why they could not let
go the men including the need to ensure the South Africans, rated a high
security risk by Harare, would be securely and safely deported out of the
country once they were freed from jail.
The alleged mercenaries'
Zimbabwe lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, told ZimOnline yesterday that one of the
men, whom he only identified as Moyo, was still being held by the Harare
SIXTY-ONE South African mercenaries were finally
released on Saturday night but the authorities in Harare held on to one,
insisting he is a Zimbabwean
Samkange said: "The rest
of the guys were formally released from the prison premises where they had
been held up except for one of the guys, a Moyo . . . they refused to give
me an explanation but what is surprising is that he insists that he is a
South African and his family is in that country but the Zimbabweans are
saying he is theirs.
"I do not know why they want him (Moyo) but he
says he is a South African. Even the embassy (of South Africa in Harare)
says he is a South African."
Neither Chief Immigration Officer
Elasto Mugwadi, who had personally supervised the deportation of the
mercenaries, nor Zimbabwe Prison Service Commissioner, Paradzai Zimondi
could be reached for comment on the matter yesterday.
South African Press Association (SAPA) yesterday quoted Pretoria's envoy in
Harare, Jerry Ndou, as having said that Moyo was still being held in
Zimbabwe probably because he was "too sick to travel" with rest of his
The alleged mercenaries, all travelling on South
African passports, were arrested at the Harare International Airport last
year allegedly on their way to topple the government of Equatorial
Zimbabwean authorities said the men had touched down at the
airport to refuel and illegally pick up weapons from state arms maker, the
Zimbabwe Defence Industries. The men were found guilty of breaching
Zimbabwe's immigration and aviation laws and were sentenced to one in jail
The suspected mercenaries' leader, Briton, Simon Mann, was
sentenced to seven years, which was later reduced to four years and under
Zimbabwe's Prisons Act, Mann will be released towards the end of next
Meanwhile, a spokesperson of South Africa's Scorpions police
yesterday told the Press that the police were going to investigate the men
under that country's anti-mercenary laws but said "there were no immediate
plans to arrest anybody." - ZimOnline
Mugabe plans changes to the constitution Basildon
Peta May 15 2005 at 11:37AM
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF
party is set to amend the constitution to nationalise all land,
automatically nullifying court petitions by thousands of white farmers
hoping to reclaim their confiscated property.
Many of the farmers
have refused to surrender their title deeds, arguing they are still the
rightful owners of the farms from which they have been forcibly evicted by
ruling party militants since 2000. Some of them have won court battles, but
most of their applications are still pending in the administrative
Welshman Ncube, a professor in constitutional law and
chairperson of the Zimbabwean parliament's legal committee, said this week
that Zanu-PF members had signalled to him that as soon as parliament opens
next month, they will introduce three constitutional amendments urgently
wanted by President Robert Mugabe.
will declare all land to be state owned; abolish the Electoral Supervisory
Commission, leaving the recently established Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
as the sole body tasked with running elections; and introduce a 40-member
upper house, the senate, whose members would be chosen on the basis of the
results of last month's disputed elections for parliament, which would
remain as the lower house.
Ncube, who is also secretary-general of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said: "Mugabe has
indicated that the senate issue is particularly urgent and he wants to see
the body fully established within three months of parliament's opening next
He said that Zanu-PF proposed to establish four senate
seats for each of the 10 provinces, allocated on the basis of the outcome of
the March 31 elections. This would give the MDC just 12 seats in the senate
and Zanu-PF the rest.
Mugabe has already assured some of his
supporters who were defeated in the elections that he would find seats for
them in the senate. This should help him heal cracks in the
Mugabe will have no trouble passing his proposed changes as
he has the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to amend the
constitution. Zanu-PF insiders confirmed that the three amendments mentioned
by Ncube had been agreed on by the Zanu-PF politburo as the most urgent
They said another amendment to hold the parliamentary and
presidential elections at the same time would be introduced later. The
effect is likely to extend Mugabe's current term from 2008 when the next
presidential elections are due, to 2010 when the next parliamentary
elections are due.
If the constitutional amendment sails through as
expected, it would be the final nail in the coffin of the white
Zim govt sets new food prices 15/05/2005 18:35 -
Harare - Plagued by shortages of basic goods, the Zimbabwe
government has fixed new prices on many commodities in a bid to bring the
goods back to supermarket shelves, the state-controlled Sunday Mail reported
New prices have been set for cooking oil, sugar, milk, soft drinks,
maize seed and cement, the paper said.
"It is also expected their
availability on the formal market will improve following the conclusion of
the new prices," the Sunday Mail said.
But in several cases the price
hikes are minimal, and do not match most of the hikes sought by
manufacturers and traders.
Many traders had last month increased their
prices by much more than what has been granted, resulting in some of them
being arrested and fined for overcharging and stashing away goods in
anticipation of the price rises approval.
Supermarket shelves in
Zimbabwe have been empty of many essential goods following parliamentary
elections at the end of March, which were won by President Robert Mugabe's
The goods have been readily available on the informal
market - but at prices up to three times those set by the
Retailers are not allowed to increase prices on goods like
sugar and cooking oil without approval from the government.
government-approved increases which range between 5 and 58 percent are set
to exert more pressure on the three-digit rate of inflation which the
southern African country has been grappling with in recent years.
new price for sugar is Zim$4 000 (US65c) per kilogram, up from Zim$3
Supermarkets are now allowed to charge Zim$2 500 (US40c) for a
small bottle of soft drink, up from Zim$2 000.
Inspectors are to be
deployed throughout Zimbabwe to enforce the new prices, Christian Katsande,
an official from the industry ministry, told the paper.
The Sunday Mail
said new prices for bread and flour will be announced soon.
recent hikes, although controlled and still less than what producers had
sought, come just days ahead of the announcement of the central bank's much
awaited "post-elections and drought mitigating monetary policy" set for
Central bank governor Gideon Gono had set his eyes on bringing
down inflation which is at just over 129 percent to around 20 percent by
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the last five
years characterised by runaway inflation and perennial shortages of basic
Critics partly blame the crisis on controversial land
reforms that have compromised food production and the country's isolation
from its traditional trading partners in Europe following the 2002
presidential elections which western observers charged were rigged. -
Harare - The Zimbabwean government has started moving food
relief to hungry Zimbabweans amid reports of widespread shortages, it was
reported on Sunday.
About 3nbsp;100 tons of maize were being transported
per day to drought-stricken areas, Samuel Muvuti, the head of the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB), told the state-run Sunday Mail
Fifty trucks were being sent to centres in Mutare, Masvingo
and Gwanda while a train was being used to ferry grain to Bulawayo and
Gwanda, he was quoted a saying.
Zimbabwe needs 1.8 million tons of
maize per year, but this year's crop will not meet the country's
requirements. Last month the government said it was preparing to import 1.2
million tons of grain.
President Robert Mugabe's government blames this
year's crop failure on drought, but the opposition and government critics
blame a controversial land reform programme launched five years ago, which
has seen thousands of white-owned farms transferred to new black
Aid agencies say up to 6 million Zimbabweans - around half the
population - could need food aid in the coming months, but this has not been
confirmed by the government.
Zim food crisis a boon for some 15/05/2005 17:31 -
Harare - For Harare hawker Kimpton Chimwasa, the shortages that
have left many of Zimbabwe's supermarket shelves bare in recent weeks are a
Chimwasa, 43, is one of thousands of vendors behind a burgeoning
black market - the last port of call for desperate Zimbabweans looking for
scarce commodities such as sugar, cornmeal, and cooking oil that have
disappeared from stores.
"It may sound cruel saying this when things
are so tough for many, but this is the best chance for some of us to earn a
bit of money to fend for our families," Chimwasa says standing behind a
stack of cornmeal bags at a Harare market.
The vendors hoard scarce
goods when supermarkets get rare deliveries and resell the goods for as much
as three times the official prices at open-air stalls and along pavements
referred to as "emergency markets".
In a car park adjacent to the
headquarters of the country's oil procurer, the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, business is brisk for touts who run after passing cars selling
petrol (gasoline) and diesel.
When fuel stations are dry the touts make a
killing selling a litre of petrol which costs 3 600 Zimbabwean dollars (58
US cents) for as much as Zim$12 000 dollars (US$1.94).
"We can no
longer call this a black market," says a passerby chuckling at a group of
touts scrambling to get the attention of a potential buyer.
"This is more
like the official market because the police know about this and they are not
doing anything about it."
However, police last week arrested 400 vendors
and fined 28 supermarkets in Harare in a crackdown - code-named Operation
Chipfukuto - to snuff out the black market.
The vendors were arrested
for selling scarce commodities such as maize meal and cooking oil and sugar
at inflated prices, with a 2kg packet of sugar which normally costs Zim$7
500 (US$1.20) being sold for Zim$20 000 (US$3.22) on the black
The supermarkets were fined for hoarding and overcharging their
The ministry of industry and international trade said last month
it would introduce tougher penalties for those flouting price controls on
basic commodities, in a bid to snuff out a flourishing black
Zimbabwe's economy has been in a downturn for the last five years
characterised by runaway inflation and perennial shortages of foreign
currency and basic commodities.
The situation has been blamed partly
on controversial land reforms that have compromised food production and the
country's isolation from its traditional trading partners in Europe, which
followed the 2002 presidential election that western observers charged was
The government introduced price controls to fight a flourishing
black market for staples three years ago and instituted a fine of Zim$1m
(US$161) for violators.
THE much-maligned National Youth
Service (NYS) graduates will all get jobs under a new programme which seeks
to find jobs for all youths who underwent NYS training. In an interview
with The Daily Mirror on Friday, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of
Youth and Employment Creation, Thompson Tsodzo said the youths should report
to their provincial offices for recruitment into different departments of
the ministry. Tsodzo admitted that despite arrangements by the government to
facilitate opportunities for training in different sectors, most of the
youths had failed to get jobs. "We are calling back our youths whom we
trained through the National Youth Service and vocational training to report
as soon as possible to their provincial offices. Most of these youths are
not employed," he said. Tsodzo said some of the youths had managed to sail
through teaching and nursing training programmes at various government
institutions, while others had been assisting the government in "maintaining
law and order in the country."
However, some of the youths clashed
with members of the public as they sought to "enforce" law and order. "We
did not consider educational qualifications when these youths were enrolled
for national youth training service, hence the problems in getting
employment," Tsodzo added. He said the government had so far trained
approximately 25 000 youths under the NYS programme. Tsodzo added that
his ministry was also in the process of expanding into communities - both
rural and urban - where various projects would be initiated to address
unemployment problems. These projects included vegetable gardening and
poultry, which the government would fund to ensure that all youths were
equipped with skills. "The government is going to make available a grant for
those projects," said Tsodzo. Current statistics peg Zimbabwe's
unemployment rate at 70 percent. Most university graduates and school
leavers usually fail to find jobs and end up engaging in criminal
activities. NYS has generally been regarded by members of the public as a
Zanu PF baby. The opposition MDC has also criticised the programme and called
for its abandonment, calling the graduates "militias".
THE high-profile trial of
former Minister of Finance and Economic Development Christopher Kuruneri
starts at the High Court today, slightly over a year after his arrest on
charges of externalising foreign currency. The former legislator for Mazowe,
who also faces charges of flouting the country's citizenship laws, was
arrested on April 24 2004 and made his first court appearance two days
later. Kuruneri allegedly holds a Canadian passport and it is illegal under
Zimbabwean laws to hold dual citizenship. He became the second minister
to be arrested since 2000 following the arrest of former agriculture
minister Kumbirai Kangai on corruption charges at the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB). Kangai was later found not guilty of the charges. Kuruneri was
nabbed on the heels of a media expose on a mansion he was building in Cape
Town at a reported cost of 30 million rands although he put the cost at a
conservative 7 million rands. The former Mazowe West MP denies the charges of
externalisation arguing he was building the mansion from funds he earned
abroad as a consultant and had no obligation to repatriate. When he first
appeared in court on April 26 last year, Magistrate Judith Tsamba dismissed
an application made by his lawyers to have him placed on remand in a
government hospital because of chronic back problems. On May 11 2004, Justice
Ben Hlatswayo denied him bail saying he would evade trial and Justice
Elizabeth Gwaunza also dismissed his appeal to the Supreme Court on June 17
on grounds that he could abscond if freed In June the magistrate's court
rejected a fresh application by Kuruneri to have charges against him
dropped. His quest for freedom has also seen him ditching his lawyer David
Drury for George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike and Associates. High Court
judge Chinembiri Bhunu then threw out his bail application on November 8
saying he could not be trusted due to his acquisition of a foreign passport
even though he had taken an oath of allegiance and loyalty to
Zimbabwe. This year, Kuruneri has also made a number of futile attempts to
have his freedom. On February 18, Justice Charles Hungwe dismissed his
application for bail. Kuruneri, who was born in Mbare 55 years ago was
educated at Goromonzi High School, the then Salisbury Polytechnic and later
at the University of Zimbabwe. The Supreme Court also dismissed his
appeal that had been premised on the grounds that he should be released from
prison unconditionally in terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe as
"reasonable" time had lapsed without having been brought for trial. The
court, however, found that the lower court had misdirected itself by
dwelling on the passport issue in denying him bail, although that was not
the issue at hand. This saw Kuruneri going back to the court, but his
application suffered the same fate as all the others. When his trial
opens, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr Gono is expected to
testify. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa, would not
disclose the names of other witnesses the State would call.
government has granted permission the San clan in Tsholotsho South, which
borders Hwange National Park to the north and Botswana to the east, to kill
at least two elephants each month. The move was taken so that the clan, which
still leads a very traditional way of life, could supplement their diet with
game meat. Vice-President Joyce Mujuru delivered the news during a tour of a
medical camp at Tsholotsho District Hospital last week. She said during
her visit to this drought prone-area towards the March parliamentary
elections, Sans had complained to her about hunger. "When I visited the area
these people were saying to me 'we are asking for game meat' and as
government we have decided that something should be done," she
said. Mujuru, who was accompanied by the Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and
Matabeleland North provincial governor Thoko Mathuthu, said the procedures
and formalities of slaughtering the elephants would be soon communicated to
the governor. She asked the governor to make sure that the facility would
not be abused. Attempts have also been made by the villagers to poach the
elephants, which they accuse of destroying their crops.
A CRITICAL shortage of soft drinks is looming in the country
with reports alleging that the sole supplier, Delta Beverages, has scaled
down production, allegedly in an effort to force the government to review
The price of soft drinks is controlled by the State and
manufacturers have to first negotiate with the government before effecting
price increases. The state controlled retail price of a 300ml of a soft drink
is $2 000 while that of litre is $5 000 but the little that is found on the
market from vendors is going for $6 000 for a 300ml while a 500ml pet drink
is being sold for $12 000. However, New Ziana is reliably informed that the
company has vowed to keep production low until the government reviews the
price of the commodity. Some retailers who spoke to New Ziana said they
last received supplies some three weeks ago as Delta officially notified
them that it was having difficulties in sourcing foreign currency to buy
inputs. "Their official position to us was that they are facing foreign
currency problems to import important chemicals that are used to manufacture
soft drinks," said an official from a leading supermarket. - New
Ziana "We last got supplies some three weeks ago and we are reliably
informed that Delta vowed not to manufacture soft drinks until a review of
the price is effected." Delta was the first manufacturer to notify the
government and the nation that it was reversing its prices to the gazetted
ones. The Ministry of Industry and International ordered a reversal of
prices after manufacturers and retailers hiked prices of most basic
commodities immediately after the March 31 parliamentary election. The
move caused an outcry from the public as it was viewed as a way of
protesting against the outcome of the poll, which the ruling Zanu PF won
with an overwhelming majority. Most basic commodities like sugar, cooking
oil, toothpaste, mealie-meal, milk and a host of other essential products
vanished from the market immediately after the election.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has sat June
18 as the polling date for the Mudzi east by-election. The seat fell
vacant after the appointment of its holder, Ray Kaukonde to the governorship
of Mashonaland East. The date was set in a proclamation by the President in
the Government Gazette of May 13. In an interview yesterday, Kaukonde in
his capacity as Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, said the
party had not yet started discussing the issue of who would represent it in
the by-election. The MDC has indicated that it will retain Essel Machemedze
as its candidate. Machemedze was beaten by Kaukonde during the last general
elections on March 31.
FEATURE: In search of a different type of salvation Mon 16
May 2005 MANICALAND - Sixty-four year old Mavis Matunge of Nyafaro village
in Zimbabwe's eastern Manicaland province is not the typical devout
But for the last two months, Matunge has attended every
Sunday service at the small church near her home - to seek a different type
With hunger deepening across Zimbabwe and
international food agencies still prohibited by the government from
distributing food aid, the church has become the only source of help for
Matunge and her fellow villagers here at Nyafaro.
priest, who comes down from Mutare city, 140 km away, every Sunday to
minister to the flock here, regularly brings food supplements which he
freely distributes to the most needy such as Matunge, who is a widow and
looks after four orphaned grandchildren.
"The white missionary
routinely comes here and when he comes he brings packets of food for his
congregation," Matunge told a ZimOnline news crew that toured Manicaland
province last week.
She added: "Our fear now is that the priest has
not been here for the past three weeks. If he doesn't come with more food,
we will die because the government is not giving us anything while the NGOs
(non-governmental organisations) that used to give us food went away a long
Matunge and her fellow villagers here at Nyafaro are not
alone in their plight. International and local food relief agencies estimate
that four million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country's total population
could starve unless President Robert Mugabe lifts a ban on donor groups and
allows unfettered delivery of food aid to his country.
Malnutrition-related illnesses are rising sharply across the country as
families cut on consumption to save on little food reserves. In Zimbabwe's
second largest city of Bulawayo, at least 20 deaths from
malnutrition-related illnesses have been recorded since the beginning of the
Mugabe, who last August told donor groups to take their
help elsewhere claiming Zimbabwe had enough food, only admitted five weeks
ago that his country was facing serious food shortages. But then he vowed he
was not going to go around with a begging bowl insisting his hard
cash-strapped government had enough resources to ensure no one
But the government last week appeared to have changed its
stance on appealing for food aid with Social Welfare Ministry permanent
secretary Lancaster Museka telling the state-owned Herald newspaper that the
government will ask for help once it finished assessing the numbers of
people in need of assistance across the country.
Museka did not
say when exactly the government was going to finish the hunger assessment
and send an SOS for food aid. But whenever that is, in the meanwhile,
Matunge and her fellow villagers here at Nyafaro will have to resort to the
only alternative they have if the white priest does not pitch up again with
food by the end of next week.
"We will go up the mountain to pick
up some wild leaves. In the old days, people used to eat them during times
of famine, they are bitter but edible and not poisonous," Matunge explained,
as seven-year old Chipo, the youngest of her grandchildren, thirstfully
drank from a soft drink bottle one of our crew members had given her. -
FEATURE: Buried in piles of own garbage Mon 16 May
2005 HARARE - Fifty-two-year old Zorodzai Chokudisa of Glen View, a poor
working class suburb of Harare, turns the half-burnt heap of garbage with a
long handled garden fork.
She can hardly bear the pungent smell
from the rubbish heap, but she has no option. Slowly, she stokes the
smoldering fire in one last attempt to torch the heaps of uncollected
garbage which have piled at a small open space near her home.
"It has been weeks since we last saw a municipal truck carting away garbage
along this street. Things cannot be worse than this. It is a shame on those
running the city," lamented Chokudisa.
"Soon residents might
boycott paying rates if the situation continues like this," she adds,
fanning smoke from the smoldering rubbish pile with her hand.
Sadly, the uncollected garbage is having an unfortunate knock-on effect down
the chain. For 40-year old Tinodaishe Munatsi, also of Glen View, living off
the city dumpsite has never been as difficult as it is today.
Munatsi is among hundreds of Zimbabweans who eke a living at the dumpsite.
The 40-year old father of four re-fashions the plastic and other waste
materials he collects at the site into decorative artifacts and hand-made
toys for resale in the city.
But life is no longer that easy
"Business is bad. We cannot get material for use in our
trade. We are lucky to get a truck coming here once a week," he says,
throwing his hands in despair.
Harare, a great city which
glittered like a jewel in the jungles of Africa, has fallen to great depths.
It is a city in a state of advanced decay. Residents say the "revolution",
with its promises of political regeneration, appears to be off the rails in
Fuel pumps are dry. The water taps are also dry. Residents
of the city have now resorted to digging unprotected wells for their water
needs, exposing themselves to disease. Power cuts, due to lack of hard cash
to pay foreign suppliers are also a common occurrence here.
much more distressing to the residents are piles of uncollected garbage that
lie on the streets for weeks on end without anybody in position of authority
raising a finger!
With things appearing to veer wickedly out of
control in the capital city, residents have now been forced to burn their
dirt or dig pits to dispose their garbage.
"We have to do it
ourselves to save our children from contracting diseases. These rubbish
piles are a hazard to our families' health. They breed mosquitoes and
flies," says Ishamel Njodzi of Mufakose suburb, one of the oldest in
The crisis facing the city is emblematic of the general
decay of Zimbabwe's economy after five years of a severe recession many
blame on President Robert Mugabe's wrong policies and downright
But Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever
known since independence 25 years ago, denies mismanaging the economy,
instead blaming the country's economic crisis on sabotage by Britain and
other Western governments to punish his government for expropriating land
Five years ago, Mugabe presided over the violent
seizure of farmland from mostly British-descendent white farmers for
redistribution to landless blacks.
The chaotic land reform
exercise, which Mugabe says was necessary to correct historical imbalances
in land ownership, resulted in the ostracisation of Zimbabwe from the
international community besides triggering off food shortages in the country
as the land seizures disrupted the key agriculture sector.
are being made to suffer for the ineptness of those at Town House (council
offices) who seem to have no clue whatsoever on what to do with the
collapsing services," says Caswell Ndira of Warren Park suburb, standing
shoulder-deep in a pit he and 15 other men were digging.
Davies, the chairman of Combined Harare Ratepayers Association (CHRA), a
civic organisation fighting for better governance, says residents are fed up
with the city administrators.
"We want an elected council that will
engage us in plans to turn around the fortunes of this city. The commission
is an illegal entity running the city on political patronage," Davies
The government fired the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party led council in 2003 allegedly for inefficiency and
appointed a commission to replace the elected council in what analysts said
was an attempt to regain control of the politically vital capital city
through the backdoor.
The commission dominated by ZANU PF
activists is led by Sekesai Makwavarara who defected from the MDC last year
to join the ruling party.
But the frequent water shortages,
mounting refuse, collapsing council infrastructure and facilities eloquently
testify how the Makwavarara commission has failed dismally to run the
capital and let alone restore Harare residents' faith in ZANU PF and the
Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2005 9:49 PM Subject: CHRA STATEMENT Service Delivery
Protests by Residents on 10th & 11th May 2005
Harare Residents Association
Press Release 15 May 2005
Delivery Protests by Residents on 10th & 11th May 2005
spontaneous protests in Harare's eastern suburbs of Tafara and Mabvuku on
Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 May included residents of all
political persuasions and members of both the MDC and Zanu-PF. The
demonstrations were not primarily political but were an expression of the
anger and frustration of residents who have suffered from a lack of service
delivery for many months.
The heavy handed response of the police to
their legitimate grievances was excessive and unprovoked. The alleged looting
and destruction of property that allegedly occurred after the demonstration
was a direct consequence of the authorities' refusal to engage in dialogue
with residents. As such, it is the police and the regime who must bear
responsibility for any anarchic acts by undisciplined residents. The physical
assaults upon citizens were brutal and intimidatory. The charges laid under
Section 17(1)a of the POSA against those arrested carry a prison sentence of
up to 10 years and are blatantly at odds with the gravity of the alleged
offences. The imprisonment of those detained extended beyond the 48 hour
For a modern city like Harare to be unable to provide
essential services such as potable water and waste removal to its inhabitants
is an indictment of both the political appointees currently occupying Town
House and their political masters. To add to the woes of residents, they have
been informed by ZESA that there will be no electricity supplies until July
following damage to a local transformer. It is intolerable that residents of
the city are forced to live like this, fetching water from contaminated
streams, burning firewood for heating and cooking and using candles for
lighting. If this is the only existence that this regime can offer our
citizens, it should step aside and allow others to tackle these crippling
If citizens continue to be abused by the who are responsible for
the delivery of essential services, if residents continue to be marginalized
and denied their democratic rights to elect representatives of their choosing
to run the City of Harare, if the human beings living in Zimbabwe continue
to be treated with the utmost contempt, the future of our country can only
be one of continuing violence and misery.
CHRA calls for * the
suspension of increased rates and charges * an end to the imposed
Makwavarara Commission * the restoration of a
democratically-elected Executive Mayor and Council, * dialogue between
residents and Municipal officials to seek a way forward
CHRA did not
organize the demonstrations or participate in any way but we recognize and
support the inalienable right of citizens to protest against injustice. CHRA
salutes those residents who have the courage to stand up to this brutal and
repressive regime. Their example should encourage residents in other areas to
take action to demand acceptable service delivery.
(1) Any person who, acting in
concert with one or more other persons, forcibly-
(a) disturbs the
peace, security or order of the public or any section of the public;
or (b) invades the rights of other people;
intending such disturbance
or invasion or realising that there is a risk or possibility that such
disturbance or invasion may occur, shall be guilty of public violence and
liable to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or imprisonment for a period not
exceeding 10 years or both.
Arafat Inc. The search for money once
controlled by the dead Palestinian leader leads to a Manhattan bowling
alley, an African coffee plantation - and possibly to terrorist
accounts By DAVID BALLINGRUD, Times Staff Writer Published May 15,
he the visionary father of a new nation? Or was he the Palestinian
godfather, boss of bosses over terrorists and thieves, a corrupter who stole
billions and used the money to buy the loyalty of his supporters and line
his own pockets while his people suffered?
Or was he some of
Yasser Arafat is dead, and the Middle East peace process has made
headway in his absence. For a man whose name dominated headlines for as long
as his did, Arafat disappeared without a trace, leaving most of the world
guessing at what caused his death in a Paris hospital last
But some people are trying to answer what may be an even more
important question: What became of his money?
Near the end of his
life, Arafat controlled an estimated billion dollars, at least, in a tangle
of secret accounts around the world. He used a holding company called PCSC,
the Palestine Commercial Services Co., to buy interests in profit-seeking
endeavors - from almost $300-million in the Egyptian mobile phone company
Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, to almost $30-million in private holdings in
the United States.
According to Bloomberg News, Arafat's U.S. holdings
included $3.2-million in Virginia-based Simplexity Inc., which makes
electronic commerce software, $2.1-million in New York- and Boston-based
Vaultus Inc., which makes software for wireless computers, and $1.3-million
in New York-based Strike Holdings LLC, which owns the Bowlmor Lanes bowling
alley in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.
Arafat was 75 when he died
Nov. 11, surrounded by aides, government officials and his wife, Suha, who
did her best to keep the others at a distance. Suha, who lived comfortably
in Paris with the couple's daughter, accused the official Palestinian
entourage of trying to gain control of money that belonged to her husband,
and therefore to her, when he died. After Arafat died, it was widely rumored
that Suha was paid to keep quiet and disappear.
So what did happen to
the money? Has it been returned to the Palestinian people, many of whom have
lived for years in the squalor of refugee camps? Or is much of it still
hidden in secret accounts throughout the world, controlled by militants in
Arafat's inner circle, available to buy guns and bombs?
hunt With the Palestinian people badly in need of housing, schools and
hospitals, and with money available from donor governments around the world,
Arafat and his money men instead rolled the dice on a long list of venture
capital gambits. They invested mostly through Ramallah-based PCSC, which
Arafat controlled through his financial adviser, Mohamed Rashid.
investments were made with tax money diverted from the Palestinian Finance
Ministry, according to auditors and a report by the International Monetary
U.S. auditors, hired by the Palestinian Authority, have located and
returned to the government the money in about 200 of Arafat's secret
accounts. "That's about 90 percent of them," said Jim Prince of the
Democracy Council, the California nonprofit hired by the PA to track down
the money. Prince is president and founder of the Democracy Council and
serves as director of the council's financial "transparency" project in the
So far, so good. But the auditors have not been able to
examine the accounts of the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, the
political organization that was, until the 1993 Oslo accords, the
Palestinians' de facto government. That's important because Arafat was the
head of both bodies and maintained tightfisted control over the funds of
When Prince and his team got inside the PA books, they found they
could separate the 200 or so accounts into categories. "Many were carryovers
from the old PLO days, when they were a subnational (quasi-governmental)
organization and there was a reason for secrecy," he said.
group of accounts were plainly corrupt, or were used to support militant
activities," he said. "And the last group was personal money for Arafat, his
friends and his wife."
How detailed were the books? Not
Until 2002, when donors began demanding more accountability, the
Palestinian Authority's budget just referred to "outside accounts," said
Prince. "The people who were responsible for them said to us "we told the
head guy (Arafat) everything.' I blame the (international) donors for giving
money when there wasn't even a treasury to put the money
Prince said about 90 percent of the PA's commercial assets "have
been "captured.' That means located, identified and legally taken
But there remain the assets controlled by the PLO. Its accounts
have not been examined. "I'd love to go look at the PLO accounts," Prince
said, "but I doubt there is very much interest on their part to have us do
Despite his curiosity about PLO finances, Prince said he thinks it
is probably a "threadbare" organization these days. "It still has so-called
embassies around the world, and it still owns businesses and charges
membership dues," he said, "but I'd be surprised if their assets were
But not everyone agrees. "I know well-informed people who
still believe the PLO has billions hidden around the world," Prince said. He
identified Dennis Ross, former special Middle East coordinator and now
director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as one of those
people. Ross declined to comment.
Is the money in the right
pockets? For years, the world's donor nations - including the United States
and the European Union - have given much to ease the difficult conditions of
the Palestinian people. But they fretted about Arafat's secretive handling
of the money. In 2002, to ensure the money would not be used to fund
terrorism, the donors finally demanded more accountability. The result was
the Palestinian Investment Fund, set up to take money from the frequently
corrupt government ministries and use it to stimulate economic
It made Palestinian finances more transparent. It did not
outflank Arafat, however.
DEBKAfile, an Internet publication devoted
to analysis of Middle East political and military issues, reports that
Arafat soon maneuvered around this little obstacle by appointing two chums
to important PIF committees. Investments thus remained largely in the hands
of this group of three.
The French government recently opened a tax and
money-laundering investigation into the deposit of about 11.5-million euros
(about $15-million) into the accounts of Mrs. Arafat between July 2002 and
July 2003 - about the time the PIF was getting off the
Auditors later found PIF money in companies in Guinea-Bissau's
national airline and a coffee plantation in Zimbabwe, to name just two
investments. The PIF, however, gradually has come more and more under the
steady hand of Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, a respected former
official of the International Monetary Fund, chosen under pressure from the
United States and EU.
That did not end the worry over missing money,
Edward S. Walker Jr. is president of the Middle East Institute.
He previously served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern
affairs, as U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt and as deputy permanent U.S.
representative to the United Nations.
Last November, Walker warned
there was a struggle being played out behind the scenes to control billions
of dollars Arafat had stashed away in private accounts.
the finances of his main political faction, Fatah, as a personal bank
account. . . . (He) rewarded his allies and bought the loyalty of his
opponents," Walker wrote on the Middle East Institute's Web site.
the mid 1980s, Arafat was estimated to control some $7-billion in numerous
secret bank accounts and in widespread commercial investments. By 2003, the
estimate had been lowered to about $1.3-billion. Even at that level, the
funds could feed the Palestinian population for over a year and leave a
considerable amount left over for social welfare projects.
that was used by Arafat to corrupt and bypass the system and to sustain the
conflict is now up for grabs. In the wrong hands, these secret funds will
continue to support terrorism and will be used to undercut any effort to
moderate the Palestinian position."
In an interview with the St.
Petersburg Times a few months later, Walker said his concern has eased
somewhat. "It would be very surprising to me if the PLO did not have some
resources we don't know about," he said, "but it would also surprise me if
they had been able to hide a lot. A lot of the new, younger members are
insisting on more transparency in the organization's finances.
a new game there. Abu Mazen (Arafat's replacement as PA chairman, also known
as Mahmoud Abbas) can't afford to have a lot of secret accounts, or anything
that could be used to accuse him of corruption. I'm feeling pretty positive.
There is nobody in the position that Arafat was in - able to manipulate both
people and money."
A would-be godfather Arafat may have controlled
more than $1-billion, but he didn't use it to live well. In his final years,
he remained holed up in his bombed-out compound in Ramallah, his life
frequently threatened by his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon.
was not about personal greed," said Nathan Brown, an expert on Palestinian
politics at the Carnegie Endowment. "He did not live in comfortable
settings, he did not frequent the haberdasher."
Arafat's interest was in
power more than money, Brown said. "He was the Palestinian godfather," he
said. "If you needed medical treatment, or housing or whatever, you went to
PLO headquarters and asked for help. Most often you would get help. Maybe it
wouldn't be as much as you hoped for, but you got something. He also loved
to give expensive gifts to friends and their families."
Suha, was another story, Brown said. "She lived in Paris until recently and
did have interest in the finer things in life. There have been a lot of
rumors, but rumors with firm foundations, that she has been given a handsome
allowance so she would go away." Israeli officials have said Suha received
$100,000 a month before her husband's death.
Nadim Shehadi, a Middle East
scholar from the London-based Chatham House, formerly the Royal Institute of
International Affairs, likened Arafat's survival skills to the winner of a
children's game. "In England we call it "pass the parcel,' " he said. "I
believe it is called "hot potato' in the U.S.
"The parcel is passed
from one to the other, and the one who gets it when the music stops loses.
This was the case in Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunis and finally
Palestine. Wherever Arafat went, there was trouble. He had to be devious to
survive having so many enemies. I think money was an instrument for him, not
"Was Arafat a thief? Absolutely," said Prince, who audited
the Arafat accounts. "But not in the manner of other despots like Saddam
Hussein, who had palaces built for himself and set up personal bank
accounts. People who say Arafat did that kind of thing are simply wrong. He
stole, but not for his personal benefit."
What killed the Palestinian
leader may remain a secret for a long time. French doctors have said he was
not poisoned, at least by any poison they are aware of. Meanwhile, Suha has
reportedly taken the 558-page medical file with her to Tunis.
many things in the Middle East, the issue is clouded by "thousands of
rumors, dozens of facts," said Brown.
Times staff writer David Adams
contributed to this report, which includes information from Times wires.