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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Times

            May 16, 2005

            We've got to talk to Mugabe
            Richard Dowden
            If the West wants to avoid a catastrophe, it has to change its
policy on Zimbabwe

            SIX WEEKS after the election victory of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party in Zimbabwe there is no sign that anyone has the slightest idea what
to do next. Mr Mugabe's Government is split over whether to return to Planet
Earth and seek a deal with the IMF or to enforce more state control over the
economy. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has missed its chance
to follow the example of the citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and Madagascar and
take to the streets to force out a tyrannical ruler. The South Africans are
putting more energy into protecting Mugabe than persuading him to save his
country. Britain still demands regime change and, with the Americans and the
European Union, maintains targeted soft sanctions on Zimbabwe's rulers.
            Everyone is posturing. No one is talking to anyone else.
Constitutionally, Mugabe is in power until 2008. His parliamentary majority,
however, allows him to change the constitution. He has seen off the
challenge of the MDC and the recent election, an improvement on 2002, has
given him some legitimacy. The Opposition is not calling for a rerun of the
election as it did in 2002 and challenges only 16 results. Even if it wins
them all in the courts, the MDC will not have a parliamentary majority. The
MDC's funders, the white farmers, have been driven out. So Mugabe and his
party have won what they describe as Zimbabwe's third war of resistance.
Like his predecessor, Ian Smith, Mugabe believes that this land was won by
force and no one is going to take it from him - certainly not through some
liberal Western construct such as a democratic election.

            But to win this latest war Mugabe sacrificed the economy.
Zimbabweans are falling back on subsistence farming to survive. This year
will be bad; the country needs to import 1.2 million tons of food for more
than two million people who face starvation.

            Until the late 1990s Zimbabwe's economy was one of the most
productive in Africa and the population one of the most highly educated and
skilled. Now the economy is melting down as agricultural production, the
economy's driver, shrivels up. Inflation has been at more than 200 per cent
for years and the street rate for foreign currency is between three and four
times the official rate. No new investment is coming in, infrastructure is
degenerating and skilled Zimbabweans are fleeing. The HIV infection rate is
one of the highest in Africa. If things continue as they are, by 2008
Zimbabwe will be a basket case.

            The usually decisive Mugabe and his Government are dithering,
caught up in power struggles within the party as the battle for succession
heats up. Their Marxist souls tell them that state control is the answer.
Their heads and most of their advisers tell them that Zimbabwe must come in
from the cold and seek a deal with the IMF. "We want to come," Nathan
Shamuyarira, Mugabe's long-standing colleague, told me, "but not on our
knees". Some talk of trade with India and China to revive the economy. All
they are likely to get is a flood of cheap imports which will undermine what
remains of Zimbabwe's industry. More likely it is a pathetic attempt to
catch the attention of the West by playing the old Cold War card,
threatening to "go over to the other side".

            It is not the only sign of desperation. The southern African
press carries tales of attempts by Zimbabwean officials to lure back
commercial farmers who have fled. Last week the technocratic Governor of the
Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, presented his economic revival plan to the
Cabinet. It urged a return to the IMF but it appears to have been rejected.
He has had to pay Zimbabwe's overdue electricity bill to the South African
supplier in gold bars. This presents the rest of the world with an old
dilemma. How do you punish a bad government without hurting the people?

            Britain's policy of isolation and regime change has failed. The
policy leaves no options apart from invading or putting something nasty in
Mugabe's tea. It is time to rethink policy: first, Zimbabwe's economy will
not last another three years and nobody wants a failed state in the centre
of southern Africa. Secondly, allowing things to get worse will not bring
about positive change. There is not going to be a popular uprising. People
are too busy looking for something to eat. Continuing economic decline will
weaken the Opposition, not the Government, because the backbone of MDC
support, young, educated, urban Zimbabweans, are voting with their feet and
leaving the country.

            Thirdly, the MDC does not want to humiliate Mugabe. There is a
chance of an internal deal that may involve immunity for past crimes.
Zimbabwe may be one of the places where justice has to be delayed - perhaps
until the next world - for the sake of peace.

            Fourthly, Mugabe's dictatorship is not like that of Sani Abacha
in Nigeria or Mobutu in Zaire, which collapsed when they died. Zanu-PF is a
real political organisation. Many outsiders sympathetic to the MDC believe
that, fraud and intimidation notwithstanding, Zanu-PF actually won a
majority of votes in the recent election.

            Fifthly - and this is a hard one for Westerners to understand -
Mugabe is widely popular in the rest of southern Africa.

            But think of Britain in 1945. Everyone venerated Churchill as a
great war leader, but that did not mean they would vote for him. If we want
Zimbabwe to survive there is no alternative: we have to talk to Mugabe.

            Richard Dowden is the Director of the Royal African Society but
writes in a personal capacity

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Freed coup plot men claim they were duped
By Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
(Filed: 16/05/2005)

Dozens of suspected mercenaries jailed by Zimbabwe over an abortive coup
against Equatorial Guinea straggled back to South Africa yesterday.

The 61 men, freed after a year in jail, protested their innocence and
claimed they had been duped by the coup leaders into believing their job was
to guard mining interests in Congo.

They were set free early yesterday after 12 months in the Chikurubi
high-security prison near Harare which they described as a "hell hole" of
infestation, disease and near-starvation.

Tearful and exhausted relatives had been waiting for nearly a week at the
Beit Bridge border post for their arrival - repeatedly delayed by Zimbabwean

One man with tuberculosis remained in Zimbabwe.

The mother of one of the men said they were "very, very angry" with the
coup's ringleaders who, she claimed, had fooled them. "They would not have
gone in the first place if they had been told they were to make war on
another country," she added.

She and other relatives spoke bitterly about the "big money men" behind the
conspiracy, mentioning in particular Sir Mark Thatcher, who was convicted in
South African of partly financing the coup attempt, fined, given a suspended
sentence and allowed to leave the country.

Simon Mann, the former SAS officer who was arrested with the men when their
plane landed at Harare, is serving four years in Chikurubi.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe ready to extradite Simon Mann

May 16, 2005, 07:30

Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, Zimbabwe's attorney-general, says they are ready to
extradite Simon Mann, the alleged coup plot leader, who is wanted in
Equatorial Guinea to face high treason charges. At least 61of the 62 alleged
mercenaries have been released and were re-united with family members at the
Beit Bridge border post yesterday.

Those still in jail include a Zimbabwean national, who is reportedly ill and
Simon Mann, the suspected coup leader. Mann is serving a four-year jail

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the alleged South African mercenaries released
from Zimbabwe's Chikuribi prison says his clients will be back in court
soon. Alwyn Griebenauw says the men will soon appear in court on charges of
contravening the South African Foreign Military Assistance Act.

Griebenauw says the men will phone him on Wednesday to discuss the details.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Herald

Hospitality sector plans to embark on campaign to rebrand Zim

Deputy Business Editor
THE hospitality industry plans to embark on an aggressive campaign to
rebrand and rebuild Zimbabwe as a national product for the revival of the
tourism industry.

This was one of the resolutions passed by players in the sector at last week's
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) 2005 annual congress held in
Bulawayo at which they pledged to work hand-in-glove with the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA) to map out strategies to rebuild the country's

Despite the numerous challenges that the industry players said they were
facing which include an unviable exchange rate which affected their pricing
and air access, they were looking forward to adding value to the national

Delegates at the congress also agreed to place the 2010 World Cup soccer
extravaganza in South Africa at the top of their priorities as the event has
a great potential to rake in millions in hard currency.

"We are going to be working closely with the ZTA as we seek to come up with
concrete plans to sell Zimbabwe to the international community as we
desperately try to bring in the much-needed foreign currency," said
president of HAZ Mr Francis Ngwenya, who was also re-elected for one more
year despite protests from other members who felt it was unconstitutional
for him to remain in office for another year.

"We are looking at capitalising at the 2010 soccer show that will be hosted
by our neighbours South Africa . . . as we feel we can rake in large sums of
revenue from the event.

"I feel it is quite possible for us to reap the maximum out of the
international sporting event because I have seen adverts like 'Come to South
Africa and see the mighty Victoria Falls' . . . and so this is our time to
capitalise on this as it is only some one and half hours flight to
Johannesburg which means tourists can be staying in Harare and fly every
morning to watch the matches in South Africa," added Mr Ngwenya.

The issue of funding was also at the top of the agenda at the congress with
delegates saying their sector was being neglected.

"We therefore urge the responsible people to take our industry seriously
given that it is a foreign currency earner," said one of the delegates.

Tourism has been showing signs of revival in the past two years particularly
boosted by the recently adopted "Look East" policy which has seen a
significant rise in tourists from the Asian market.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Hunger bites after hubris of Zimbabwe's election
Dianna Games


THE fact that Tony Blair won the British election just when the Zimbabwe
government and President Robert Mugabe declared they had buried the man in
the recent "Bury Blair" election clearly rattled them.

In fact, so outraged was Zimbabwe's government that it announced the British
poll had been marred by a lack of transparency, and fraud - and, after all,
that is something they do know something about.

Presumably the government's hot air and bluster about Blair's election was a
ruse to divert attention from the chaotic state of its own situation. It
managed to hold the line long enough to secure a victory in the March
election before, by all accounts, its food-for-votes stockpile diminished
and fuel supplies ran dry.

The maize harvest has been the worst in memory, according to the Famine
Early Warning Systems Network, which says that only a third of the
1,8-million tons consumed a year has been grown this year. There are also
concerns about the slow planting of winter wheat.

Over the past few weeks, maize shortages have been accompanied by widespread
shortages of other staple foods and commodities, largely due to the spin-off
effect of the government's price controls. Many of these are now available
only on the black market at three times the price. The government has
reacted by threatening to jail manufacturers and retailers not observing the
price controls.

The black market for foreign exchange, which had receded in the past few
months, is booming again with the parallel rate at a record high of more
than Z$20000 to one US dollar while the official auction rate straddles
Z$6000 to the dollar.

Power cuts have been more frequent than usual and municipal water supplies
are erratic.

As usual, the president seems hardly to have noticed. Instead, he has
expanded the already large cabinet with a number of vague new portfolios and
is clearly itching to change the constitution to introduce a second chamber
of parliament to accommodate those cronies he could not get into the

He spent $400m on fighter jets to cement the country's ties with Zimbabwe's
new best friend, China, presumably in the hope that it might get a slice of
the development funding windfalls extended to Angola and Nigeria by China in
the past year or so. There is certainly enough mutual back-slapping to think
something might be cooking.

The issue of concrete measures towards economic recovery seems to be low on
the radar.

Although Mugabe has euphemistically named his new cabinet (stuffed mostly
with old guard) the "development cabinet", there appear to be no new
policies on the table.

Even the reserve bank governor, who is spearheading what economic recovery
there has been, has delayed his monetary policy statement for several weeks.
He is now expected to deliver it this week.

The few measures that have been taken are piecemeal. For example, the
government has secured a loan from First National Bank to buy fuel. It has
also taken the rather radical step of inviting "specialised" white
commercial farmers (those involved in horticulture, dairy farming, game
conservancies and maize production) back on to the land - a move not likely
to be popular with those who loudly applauded the act of kicking them off in
the first place.

The frightening thing is that even with an election looming, the government
did little to spark sustainable economic recovery, preferring various means
of coercion to win the election.

With the election safely behind it, and no other possibility for change
until at least 2008, when the presidential election is due to be held, there
is even less motivation for it to take urgent steps to address the crisis.

The multilateral institutions might bite, but the compromises required by
the government to satisfy the likes of the International Monetary Fund may
doom such engagement to failure.

As usual, our foreign minister's response has been to accuse those
criticising the situation in Zimbabwe of racism.

The light at the end of the tunnel may be the visit of United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Zimbabwe at the end of the month in a bid to
address the political and economic problems.

At the end of the day, it is the government that must sort out the mess it
has got the country into, but it has shown no political will to do so. Maybe
it is time SA and the international community started to engage not just the
government, but the reformists in the ruling party. Exploiting divisions in
Zanu (PF) may be the only solution left for change.

Games is director of Africa @ Work, a publishing, research and events
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Govt backs Gono
Staff Writers

. . . exporters likely to get heavy incentives

CONTRARY to media reports suggesting a conflict between the Cabinet and
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono with respect to the latter's
monetary policy proposals to be revealed next Thursday, The Sunday Mirror
can reveal that the central bank chief has been given nothing less than the

Although Gono's proposals are still under wraps until Thursday, reliable
sources indicate that the monetary policy review will announce a possible
incentive for such exporters as tobacco growers, the mining sector and
manufacturing industry, in the form of an increased rate of exchange against
the US dollar.

Contrary to speculation that this might mean a devaluation of the Zim
dollar, the likely outcome of this move is that there will be two exchange
rates - one for exporters at an estimated rate of Z$20 000 to the US dollar,
and the other, the auction rate to remain at Z$6 000 to the greenback - said
a source who requested anonimity.

In principle, informed sources say, devaluation is not an option under the
current economic circumstances since it would only exacerbate the scourage
of soaring prices and fuel inflation.

The governor would adjust the carrot and stick initiative, designed to
encourage exporters to submit all of their foreign currency to the RBZ, in
an effort to boost overall foreign currency inflows.

Gono, sources privy goings-on say, has already been given the nod by
government, after it realised that making the changes would encourage more
sustainable inflows of foreign currency as exporters move a gear up. An
industrialist who spoke on condition of anonymity said industry would
welcome a two-fold adjustment should it be made, though it would still not
be enough to guarantee the viability of exporters.

"The unavailability of foreign currency on the official market means that we
can only buy from the black market where rates are hovering around $24 000
to the US dollar. On the other hand the adjustment would mean that exporters
would get significantly more than the average weighted exchange rate
currently being offered at the bi-weekly auctions.

"Even if we sell our foreign currency proceeds at the average auction rate
of around $6 000 to one US dollar we are still making a loss," the
industrialists said.

Under prevailing regulations, all exporters submitting their export proceeds
to the RBZ within 90 days of shipment are allowed to retain 70 percent of
these funds in their foreign currency accounts (FCAs), while the remaining
30 percent is sold to the currency auction at the ruling auction rate.

Those submitting their export proceeds after the 90 days would surrender 15
percent of their currency earnings at $824 to the greenback, retain 50
percent in their FCAs and sell the remaining 35 to the auction at the ruling

Efforts to get a comment from the Reserve Bank were fruitless at the time of
going to press. The revelations come amid concerns of current and likely
over-expenditure by government, with particular reference to the current
cabinet and a mooted Senate. Analysts say the intended re-introduction of
the Senate should be delayed or cancelled because it would worsen Zimbabwe's
economic problems.

No date has however been set, even though that could happen in the next few

The call to postpone the establishment of a bi-cameral parliament comes amid
speculation that the economy is soon bound to be further burdened by the
announcement of a massive supplementary budget, following the announcement
in early April of a bloated cabinet whose extra expenses were not provided
for in the fiscal budget announced late last year.

Prior to the March 2005 legislative elections won overwhelmingly by Zanu PF,
President Mugabe, during a campaign trip in Manicaland province, publicly
expressed the wish that his party should win a two-thirds parliamentary
majority in order to re-introduce the upper house. "This is clearly not the
time to re-introduce the Senate, considering that Zimbabwe is reeling under
an acute economic crisis. The best thing would be to delay it until there is
a meaningful turnaround to the economy, or better still, do away with the
idea totally," said an analyst who refused to be named.

Government has argued that the senate is necessary as a means of introducing
checks and balances in the legislature. The Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa has maintained that the current
uni-cameral legislative structure does not guarantee mature and productive
deliberations, saying that would be ensured through the complementary
participation of senators who would be chosen from a crop of seasoned

The senate was first introduced in 1969, during Ian Smith's colonial rule
and after the Lancaster House Constitution of December 1979, it was upheld,
with a legal provision that it should be kept intact for ten years, after
which it could be dumped or maintained.

The government in 1990 decided to do away with the upper house, arguing,
ironically, that it was a white elephant. The draft constitution of 2000 had
sought to bring back the senate, guiding that the upper house should be
composed of 60 senators, together with a president and a vice president.
However, the draft was rejected, with 55 percent of the electorate saying
"No" during a referendum.

The new cabinet saw the introduction of four new ministries-bringing cabinet
portfolios to a total of 59-that critics say would have adverse implications
on the economy. These are the Rural Housing and Social Amenities,
Interactive Affairs, Women and Gender and Economic development, led by
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Chenhamo Chimutengwende, Rugare Gumbo and Oppah
Muchinguri, respectively.

The new ministries bring with them secretariats and staff that are bound to
claim a huge chunk from national coffers in salaries and allowances.

The ministries are yet to be allocated their own offices, with analysts
saying that could indicate that the government is failing to source the
money to house them. An old ministry, the local government portfolio, is
also struggling to get office space. Economic analysts say a supplementary
budget could be announced as early as August, following reports on national
television last week that ministries were operating on a hand-to-mouth basis
by frequently asking the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to bail them out.

"But the government does not necessarily have to announce a supplementary
budget. It can quietly borrow from banks and one would be forgiven for
saying of trillions are needed to keep government departments going," said
one economic analyst.

Asked about the likely macro-scale ramifications of the enlarged cabinet on
the economy and the likelihood of a mammoth supplementary budget, the deputy
minister of Economic Development, Samuel Undenge declined to comment.

He said he was not in a position to furnish answers to questions from the
media because his ministry was still in the process of setting up

"We have no permanent secretary and are busy working on modalities to set up
structures, and this means that we are ill-prepared to give answers," said

The appointment of Gideon Gono as the central bank governor in 2003
coincided with refreshing developments in terms of fiscal policy, as the
following 2004 fiscal year saw for the first in many years, government not
pushing for a supplementary budget.

The budget out-turn for 2004 entailed government pursuing restrictive fiscal
policy measures that complemented the monetary policy in the latter's
endeavours to attain inflation reduction and improved supply response
Inflation outlooks for the rest of the year have pointed to a renewed
increase in the year-on-year inflation rate which last month rose 5.4
percent to 129.1 percent from last month's 123.7 percent.

Should prices continue to increase as some analysts predict, the battle for
government to raise funds to finance its activities would become harder, as
its budget would be heavily underfunded.

It is against the background of an escalating economic crisis that the
nation is eagerly looking forward to Gono's monetary review policy next
Thursday and hope that the latter will provide some immediate relief and
dove-tail with the economic review at macro-economic level.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

Mutasa for prime minister?
Political Editor

There is speculation that the latest development whereby the Minister of
State Security, Didymus Mutasa, was given the extra portfolio of Lands and
Resettlement could be an indicator that he is destined for a higher position
in government.

President Robert Mugabe last week announced that Mutasa, who is also ruling
Zanu PF's influential secretary of administration, was moving to the centre
of the ministry, with Flora Buka, who has been at the helm, coming in to
assist him.

As such, Mutasa takes over the key role previously held by Vice President
Joseph Msika.

More significantly, Mutasa's elevation in Cabinet appears to be a kind of
ethnic-balancing act already achieved in the Politburo where he is secretary
for administration As Minister of State Security, Mutasa's position was
somewhat incongruous with his high poistion in the party and therefore the
latest Cabinet "adjustment" appears to have rectified the situation.

While the general tone has been that the increased responsibilities placed
on the shoulders of Mutasa could over-stretch his capabilities, the
possibility is highthat he is being given more power in party and national
politics, observers have said.

"As President Mugabe and other top government officials have said, there
will be significant changes to the constitution. The way things are going,
the post of prime minister could be reintroduced, with Mutasa taking the
position. In fact, the fact that the president has trusted him with that
extra portfolio could mean that he is now a de facto prime minister," said
one Zanu PF insider who refused to be named.

The speculation that Mutasa is headed for the prime ministership rises out
of the talk about reviving the draft constitution of 2002 which had
provisions for the post of prime minister.

Mutasa had been in virtual political oblivion until early last year when he
was recalled to head the Anti-monopolies and Anti-corruption ministry. At
the Zanu PF congress in December, he was promoted to the influential
position of party secretary for administration, from that of external
affairs. Commentators say President Mugabe is increasingly empowering his
old time friend partly as an ethnic-balancing act, following years of
political marginalisation of Mutasa's Manicaland province. There has of late
been the relatively increased strength of Zanu PF legislators from
Manicaland Province in President Mugabe's new government.

Apart from Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Patrick Chinamasa, Christopher
Mushohwe, Michael Nyambuya and Joseph Made were appointed to full cabinet
status in what President Mugabe dubbed a 'Development Cabinet'.

This can be juxtaposed against the fact that the much larger province of
Masvingo, which is often regarded as the most powerful geo-political region
after the three Mashonaland provinces combined, only contributed three
legislators to the present Cabinet.

Following that, he was appointed minister for State security. In the
previous cabinet, he held the portfolio of minister of special affairs
responsible for anti-corruption and anti-monopolies.

His appointment to that ministry came largely as a shock to people who
thought his rise to secretary of administration was as much as he could hope
for apart from retaining one of the 'minor' cabinet posts.

The latest assignment from the President represents a dramatic resurgence of
a man many thought was in political decline and has had some people likening
him to the Biblical Lazarus.

Incidentally, some time back, minister Mutasa was quoted in the
State-controlled media saying he did not entertain any presidential
ambitions though he would not mind becoming the country's vice President one
day and working as an understudy of President Mugabe. The possibility that
the dark horse in the 'succession race' could be Zimbabwe's next resident
now looms larger than it has ever been before.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

'Nigeria tried to buy Makoni off'
Political Editor

FORMER finance minister Simba Makoni's bid to contest six other candidates
for the post of African Development Bank (ADB) president was almost
scuppered in its infancy amid allegations the Nigerian government tried to
buy off his bid.

The Nigerians then reportedly mounted a smear campaign against the man
considered the leading candidate for the job. A source in the ministry of
foreign affairs told the Sunday Mirror that Nigeria, whose relationship with
Harare has been controversial in recent years, tried to offer Makoni its
backing for the post of Economic Commission of Africa head if he withdrew
his candidature for the ADB job. The source said: "Meetings were carried out
at a very, very senior level between Zimbabwean and Nigerian officials. They
said 'something could be organised' for Makoni if he withdrew and Zimbabwe
supported Nigeria's candidate.

"Our officials refused but all the same went with the offer to Makoni so he
would have the last word. Of course, as we can all see, he declined the
offer." The official said the Nigerians were asked why they prized the ADB
post so much and where the guarantee was that Makoni would get the ECA job,
to which they replied that things "could be worked out".

Nigeria's candidate, Olabisi Ogunjobi, has so far won the backing of
Senegal, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Benin and Gambia. He is expected to
provide the stiffest challenge to Makoni on the strength of being the
current ADB vice president.

Nigerian officials were quick to dismiss the allegations saying there was
nothing to it.

A press official with the Nigerian Embassy in Harare, Umar Aba said: "I am
hearing of this for the first time. I am not aware of it. The whole event is
taking place in Nigeria as you know." Efforts to get former Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) executive secretary Makoni's side of the story
were fruitless as he was said to be out of the country on a final campaign
tour en route to Abuja, Nigeria, before the board of governors of the ADB
vote for the next president later this week. However, another government
official concurred adding it was not clear if the Nigerians had been acting
independently as a country that had its own candidate in the race or if they
had been co-opted into a strategy to block Makoni's bid by the United States
of America.

The USA has made it clear it regards Makoni as probably the best man for the
job but the fact that he is a Zimbabwean and a former government minister
made him "incorrect".The government source said: "The Nigerians changed
tactics and began actively de-campaigning Makoni on the basis of his being
on the list of people placed under an American and a European Union
travelling ban.

"They said he could not head the ADB because he would not be able to travel
to traditional investor and donor-based countries in Europe and America. At
one time they even hinted he had withdrawn his candidature." Other
candidates for the ADB presidency are Casimir Oyé Mba of Gabon who is backed
by Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau
and Congo (Brazzaville) and Kingsley Amoako of Ghana, who has the support of
Zambia, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Ismael Hassan of Egypt, Rwanda's Donald Kaberuka and Théodore Nkodo of
Cameroon round up the list of contestants.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe journalists go underground
afrol News, 13 May - In the past three months, independent news reports from
inside Zimbabwe have been reaching readers around the world through a
clandestine network of journalists. This is no small feat, considering the
independent press in the country is by now almost non-existent and most
foreign correspondents have been kicked out of the country.

Thanks to a group of Zimbabwean journalists who have been writing in secrecy
from inside the country, people outside of Zimbabwe are finally able to
receive uncensored information and read stories from local journalists,
reported today the African Press Network for the 21st Century (RAP 21). The
project has only been possible by working underground.

'The Zimbabwe Election Reports' is a project run by the Institute of War and
Peace Reporting (IWPR) that groups together 11 journalists and one
photographer, all of whom have been chronicling events leading up to and
following the controversial parliamentary elections that took place in

One article from the clandestine network documents the terror tactics used
to frighten citizens into supporting President Robert Mugabe's party, the
Zanu-PF. The journalist writes about an incident in which the Zanu-PF youth
militia - notoriously known as the "Green Bombers" - menaced opposition
supporters to the point that many fled their homes before election day.

In a 18 March article another journalist writes about claims made by a
opposition party spokesmen that President Mugabe's regime was only selling
scarce supplies of maize to people who could produce Zanu-PF membership
cards. The ruling party was reported to have stopped all foreign food aid in
the run-up to the election, despite the fact that villagers in the
countryside of Zimbabwe were beginning to die of starvation due to the
failed fall maize harvest.

So far, over 30 articles have been successfully dispatched from Zimbabwe,
RAP 21 reports. The artcles are then published on the IWPR website under
pseudonyms to protect the identity of the journalists. Fred Bridgeland,
author and foreign correspondent in Africa for over 25 years, edits and adds
political and historical background to the journalists' field reports, in
order to tailor them to an international audience. "The men and women
reporting from Zimbabwe are doing a fantastic job. They really tell the
truth," says Mr Brigdeland. "Indigenous reporters can give insights that
foreign correspondents often miss."

The photos and articles expose critical information and images the likes of
which have repeatedly gotten local editors, journalists and foreign
correspondents thrown in jail or exiled, in addition to shutting down the
independent newspapers they worked for. Working outside registration from
the Commission on Media and Information - a body controlled by the Mugabe
regime - if caught, these journalists would face serious penalisation for
their reporting.

- With the local independent press clamped down, and the international press
shut out, the IWPR reporters provide a unique window on a troubled country
at a critical moment, Director of the project, Anthony Borden, told RAP 21.

Launched in October 2004, the goal of IWPR Africa is twofold: to improve
press freedom on the continent, and to create news reports that combine
regional insight with international journalistic standards of accuracy and
professionalism. Following the election reports' success, IWPR will now
continue to publish stories from local African reporters about issues in
their regions.

- We have no illusions about the size of the challenge that faces African
journalists, but this is a positive start, says IWPR operations manager
Duncan Fuery. "There is an enormous hunger on behalf of African journalists
to be trained and little opportunity to do so," he told RAP 21.

By staff writer
Back to the Top
Back to Index