Wed 9 Nov 2005 12:31 PM ET
HARARE, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police charged more than 100 trade
unionists with public disorder on Wednesday, one day after arresting them as
they tried to march against worsening poverty in the country crippled by
shortages, their lawyer said.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said police had charged the 119 members of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) under security laws critics say are
aimed at stifling opposition to President Robert Mugabe's government. "They
have been charged under POSA (Public Order and Security Act) for a gathering
conducive to riot and public disorder. They are strongly denying the
charges," Muchadehama told Reuters. The group was being held in Chitungwiza,
some 30 km (19 miles) southwest of the capital Harare, he added.
The ZCTU, a key ally of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), had called for countrywide lunchtime protests on Tuesday "to remind
government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired".
The government dismissed the demonstrations as a political gimmick.
Urban workers have borne the brunt of Zimbabwe's economic crisis, marked by
chronic shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency as well as rising
In a statement on Wednesday, the ZCTU said it deplored what it called the
arrogant manner in which authorities were treating those arrested, including
federation President Lovemore Matombo, saying they still had not appeared in
court more than 24 hours after their arrest.
"It is our belief that there is a deliberate move to delay the court
proceeding in order to break down the spirit of the unionists," it said.
Police chief spokesman Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said
the force was still carrying out investigations on the group, adding that
the unionists might appear in court on Thursday.
The quashed protest was yet another setback for Zimbabwe's opposition,
coming just a few weeks after deep divisions emerged within the MDC over
whether to contest Nov. 26 senate elections which it says are designed to
strengthen Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies his party
has fraudulently won elections over the last five years, and also rejects
charges that he has run down a once-thriving economy through mismanagement.
The veteran leader blames sabotage by foreign and domestic opponents of his
land reforms, under which white-owned farms have been seized for
reallocation to landless blacks.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 9 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - The top leadership of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were still in prison on Wednesday after
being arrested ahead of an anti-poverty march in the capital, Harare.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, secretary-general Wellington Chibebe and
some 100 members were arrested on Tuesday as they were preparing to take
part in what the police deemed an illegal demonstration to highlight growing
unemployment and the rocketing cost of living.
Lucia Matibenga, a senior ZCTU official, told IRIN she was unable to comment
on the labour federation's next move, as it was "operating in an uncertain
The ZCTU march followed protests at the weekend by the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a pro-democracy civic alliance.
The official Herald newspaper on Wednesday described the series of
demonstrations as an attempt by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), the NCA and the ZCTU to incite "people to go into the streets
to kick-start a Ukrainian-style 'Orange Revolution'".
Munyaradzi Bidi, executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association, commented that against the backdrop of "an economic meltdown,
the government's decision to call for the election of a senate on November
26 has angered the people - they feel they have not been adequately
"People have also not recovered from the impact of Operation Murambatsvina,
in which flea markets were destroyed and thousands of people lost employment
in the informal sector," he pointed out.
A UN report estimated that Operation Murambatsvina - which the government
said was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals - had left more
than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood after it began in
According to the Herald, the ZCTU unionists were charged with participating
in an illegal demonstration "or, alternatively, under the Miscellaneous
Offences Act for obstructing movement of traffic".
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis and facing serious food
shortages due to recurring droughts and the government's fast-track land
redistribution programme, which disrupted agricultural production and
slashed export earnings.
The country has been described as having one of the fastest-shrinking
economies in the world, with unemployment at 80 percent.
09 November 2005
Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi summoned U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell to his office early Wednesday and handed him a diplomatic note of protest. The diplomatic tension between the two countries follows Mr. Dell's statement last week that Zimbabwe's economic and social crisis is caused by government mismanagement.
|Christopher Dell leaves the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Harare, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005|
The U.S. embassy responded by saying that the ambassador reserved his right to make an appropriate reply to the diplomatic note after he has had consultations with the U.S. State Department in Washington.
Mr. Dell has attracted unprecedented criticism, personal attacks and threats by the government since he made a speech last week at a U.S.-backed university in eastern Zimbabwe. In his remarks, Mr. Dell said Zimbabwe's economic and humanitarian crisis was self-inflicted.
He told students and staff at the public lecture that, "The Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis."
The state controlled media, which largely reflects Zimbabwe government thinking has speculated that the U.S. ambassador would be expelled.
On Tuesday, president Robert Mugabe told state journalists that Mr. Dell "could go to hell."
Zimbabwe's foreign minister has accused Mr. Dell of "undiplomatic behavior," and expressed the government's extreme displeasure over his activities in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Mumbengegwi accused the U.S. ambassador of seeking confrontation with Zimbabwe. He said the Zimbabwe government was left with what he called, "no other conclusion except that the ambassador has deliberately decided to go on a confrontational course which the government takes seriously and will not tolerate."
Last month Ambassador Dell was detained by the presidential guard while he was walking his dog in the National Botanical Gardens which is close to Mr. Mugabe's official residence.
Zimbabwe accused Mr. Dell of provoking an unwarranted diplomatic incident.
Since 2002, the United States has provided more than $300 million of food aid to Zimbabwe and is the biggest bilateral donor of HIV AIDS assistance.
Zimbabwe's agriculture based economy has crashed over the last six years since Mr. Mugabe began expelling white commercial farmers from land that once produced 40 percent of the country's annual foreign exchange.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 9 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - A recent spate of armed robberies by soldiers
and security officers is an indication all Zimbabweans are feeling the
impact of the country's shrinking economy, analysts told IRIN.
Two soldiers in the southeastern town of Masvingo recently went on a robbery
spree while in uniform, brandishing AK-47 rifles they had stolen from their
They reportedly targeted official fuel dealers, snatching their valuable
supplies for resale on the parallel market, where fuel shortages have
guaranteed soaring prices.
Last week a magistrate's court in the southern city of Bulawayo convicted
two soldiers of house breaking and theft.
In another reported case, three members of the Central Intelligence
Organisation were arraigned before a magistrate on allegations they used
their government-issued pistols to rob fuel dealers before reselling the
petrol on the illegal market.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena acknowledged the
police had this year fired 24 officers, mainly for corruption.
But, he insisted, that "alone is an indication that we are eager to weed out
unsuitable officers", he told IRIN.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, an average urban family now
needs about Zim $11 million (US $183) a month to make ends meet.
The salary of junior army and police officers is just over Zim $2 million
(US $33) - equivalent to 25 litres of petrol.
"Members of the security agencies are not islands, they are part of society
and they are affected by economic decline," said University of Zimbabwe
lecturer, Eldred Masunungure.
However, he warned, that the phenomenon of lawless security personnel was a
threat to stability. "The security arms are operating under stress and that
poses a great threat to the general populace. Who will guarantee the safety
of civilians if armed security officers are now running around staging
In its 2005 review, the International Monetary Fund said GDP would fall 7
percent this year as a result of rocketing inflation, foreign exchange
shortages and low farm output. The government, however, insists the economy
will grow, but has blamed "sanctions" by western governments opposed to its
land reform programme for the present difficulties.
According to some estimates, since 1997 the economy has shrunk by over 50
percent, exports by two-thirds and living standards have retreated to levels
last seen in the mid-fifties.
Sociologist and former vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe,
Professor Gordon Chavunduka, said lawlessness in the armed forces mirrored
what was happening in the rest of the country.
"There is a general breakdown in the rule of law in the country and what is
happening in the army is not an isolated incident, the rest of the civil
service is now rotten to the core," Chavunduka commented.
But army spokesman Lt-Col Aggrey Wushe denied that the recent spate of
robberies represented a wider problem. "Those robberies were just isolated
cases of indiscipline and you cannot draw any other conclusion except that
the culprits were just bad apples."
Students at Edinburgh University are calling for Robert Mugabe to be
stripped of an honorary degree.
The Zimbabwean president received the accolade in 1984 for his role in
reviving the nation's fortunes.
But members of Edinburgh University Students' Association argue it
helps give legitimacy to his regime, which is linked with corruption and
The university's rules would have to be changed as it can remove
ordinary degrees, but not honorary ones.
The motion was proposed by Tim Cobbett, the students' association's
vice president of academic affairs.
He said: "There are two key things at stake here.
"One is the message that is sends out when a prestigious institution
is seen to be giving legitimacy to a dictator, and the other is about
opening up the honorary degree process.
"There is something fundamentally wrong with the fact that an ordinary
degree can be removed if you are found to have cheated, yet an honorary
degree can't be removed, no matter how despicable the person in question
The motion will be debated at the association's annual meeting on
If it receives enough support, students will lobby the university to
withdraw the degree and change its rules for the future.
Students' association president Ruth Cameron said: "I think it is
inappropriate for the university to remain associated with a figure who is
responsible for widespread massacre, torture and oppression, regardless of
what good work he has done in the past.
"While there is currently no procedure for withdrawing an honorary
degree, I will be more than happy to put the case to the university and
argue that it is something they should consider developing."
Wed 9 November 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government has suspended
major capital projects and is considering retrenching up to 60 000 of its
more than 160 000 workers as it sinks deeper into bankruptcy, authoritative
sources told ZimOnline.
Hundreds of soldiers have already been told to stay at home because
there is no money to pay for their upkeep in barracks while the cash crunch
had also seen the government stopping new recruitments at its national youth
training centres, whose graduates are accused of terrorising opposition
The sources at the Ministries of Labour and Finance said the situation
was so bad that some government departments could not even afford to buy
basic stationery, adding that Finance Minister Hebert Murerwa had told a
recent Cabinet meeting that an immediate injection of cash was needed to
avoid a collapse of government operations.
"There is no money to buy simple things like bond paper, pay for
travel allowances or any other basics. Things are falling apart and there is
panic," said a senior Finance Ministry official, who declined to be named.
Murerwa, who in August got Parliament to approve a six trillion-dollar
supplementary budget, would neither deny nor confirm that the government was
virtually broke. Instead he told ZimOnline to wait for December when he
presents next year's budget saying: "All these issues (about the government
being broke) will be dealt with therein."
Labour Minister Nicholas Goche confirmed that the government - which
in the past has steadfastly resisted International Monetary Fund (IMF)
pressure to downsize its bloated civil service - was now considering job
cuts but said this was more in order to improve efficiency.
"Streamlining will make government operations more efficient and
effective," Goche said.
The Harare administration is grappling its worst ever economic crisis
which began almost immediately after the IMF withdrew assistance in 1999
after disagreeing with Mugabe over fiscal policy, land reform and other
The crisis has seen inflation shooting to beyond 300 percent while
food, fuel, electricity, essential medical drugs and nearly every other
basic survival commodity is in critical short supply because there is no
hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.
An estimated quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans face starvation
unless more than one million tonnes of food aid are urgently provided
between now and the next harvest around March/April 2006.
Mugabe's government, which escaped expulsion from the IMF for
nonpayment of debt by making a surprise US$120 million repayment last
August, is in advanced talks with neighbouring South Africa for a US$500
million bail-out loan.
Harare, which has refused aid from international food agencies, had
initially appeared unwilling to take up the loan offer after South Africa
demanded political and economic reforms before any money could be released.
Diplomatic sources however said the Mugabe government was now more
than keen to compromise on the issue of reforms in order to get money from
Pretoria to pay a remaining US$160 million to the IMF, buy food and fuel
among other key requirements.
But in the meanwhile, the financial noose appears to be tightening
faster on the Harare authorities.
For example, thousands of civil servants involved in the registration
of voters for the November 26 senate election have not been paid because
there is no money. Civil servants are also unlikely to get their traditional
end of year bonuses for the same reason that state coffers are dry.
A source at the government's Salary Services Bureau (SSB) said: "The
SSB is closing the processing of salaries on Thursday (tomorrow) and they
are not processing any bonuses. The instruction is that bonuses shall be
paid when the government gets the money but it is not clear when this will
Zimbabwe's economy has shown almost unequalled resilience after six
years of incessant hemorrhaging but World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz last
month said the southern African nation's economy could be damaged beyond
repair if nothing was done soon to arrest its continued decline. - ZimOnline
Wed 9 November 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders arrested on
Tuesday for organising street protests against worsening economic hardships
in the country were last night still being held by the police, who also
maintained a heavy presence in Harare.
The ZCTU leaders, including president Lovemore Matombo and secretary
general Wellington Chibhebhe, were arrested together with about 200 workers
who heeded the union's call to take to the streets to protest deepening
hunger and poverty among the country's labour force.
Last night, armed police patrolled the streets of Harare and
maintained tight roadblocks on all roads leading into the city centre. The
police were searching all vehicles saying they were looking for weapons that
could be used to commit public violence.
In Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo, four ZCTU officials who
had been arrested by soldiers earlier on Tuesday were last night released
from police custody. The four, ZCTU spokesman Mlamleli Sibanda, Last
Tarabuku, secretary for women's advisory council, Thabitha Khumalo, and
Leonard Gwenzi, were arrested for taking photos of an army truck which was
patrolling the streets ahead of the protests.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment
last night on the arrest of the labour leaders and workers or what charges
the police would prefer against them.
The ZCTU said the demonstrations were meant to register their anger to
the government over the worsening economic situation in the country.
In a statement released late on Tuesday, the ZCTU said: "The ZCTU has
organised this demonstration to remind government and employers that workers
in Zimbabwe including civil servants can no longer make ends meet.
"The ZCTU appreciates the solidarity it has received so far and hopes
we will put more pressure on the government for the release of the trade
Under Zimbabwe's tough security laws, it is illegal to hold political
meetings or public demonstrations without first seeking permission from the
Zimbabwe is grappling its worst ever economic crisis that has seen
inflation hitting 359.8 percent while food, fuel, electricity, clean water,
essential medical drugs and just about every other basic survival commodity
is in critical short supply.
The ZCTU and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
blame Zimbabwe' economic ruin on mismanagement and repression by President
Robert Mugabe's government.
Mugabe denies mismanaging the country's once vibrant economy blaming
Zimbabwe's problems on economic sabotage by Britain and its Western allies
out to punish his government for seizing land from whites and giving it over
to landless blacks. - ZimOnline
If you are not confused by what is going on in Zimbabwe then you simply have
not heard enough of all that is happening. It is astonishing that this small
central African State should be in such turmoil - just short of a civil war
situation - the only plus is that we are not killing each other.
We have the fastest shrinking economy in the world - perhaps even an
historical record in that respect. We have a population that is experiencing
enormous shifts - shrinking by at least 3 or 4 per cent per annum, with
thousands leaving the country every week and hundreds of thousands dying
quietly in their homes each year from every disease and malady imaginable.
Half our population is starving and the other half is walking to work.
The ruling Party, Zanu PF, has been in power for 26 years, has no idea of
what to do to halt the collapse and turn things around. They are deeply
divided into three camps - one centered on the old "liberation heroes"
around Mugabe, all in their late 70's and early 80's. Another centered
around General Mujuru, who is trying to be king maker in the race to succeed
Mugabe and perhaps a third group centered on Munangagwa who are trying to
set up a succession strategy that will take their particular interests into
The MDC now seems to be split down the middle on the Senate issue - there
are other issues behind the scenes in this conflict, but it is the Senate
issue that has caused the divide. It's not ethnic in character - there are
both Shona and Ndebele and white leaders involved on both sides. It does not
involve any real dispute about leadership in that Morgan Tsvangirai is
unchallenged as President of the Party. But both sides are slugging it out
and the media loves it, as do the hyenas in Zanu PF.
The international community is divided on the issue of what to do in
Zimbabwe. Regional leaders want a reformed Zanu PF government with new
policies that will stop the internal hemorrhaging in Zimbabwe and reverse
the flood of economic refugees into their countries. The major democratic
States want action by the UN and by the region to curb the excesses of the
Mugabe regime. China, Malaysia, Libya and Cuba - virtually the only friends
Mugabe has left in the world are just hoping the local nutters will not
further embarrass them.
Then if you live here you can be justified in being even more confused
because of the constant propaganda that pours out of every pore in the skin
of government. Radio, television, the print media are all controlled by the
State. It is only when you go into the electronic media that you can get
anything like a balanced view on what is happening on the ground and where
things are going. Zanu PF has been at this game for 45 years - they know how
to handle the media and how to put a spin on a story that will resonate with
Even the administration of Government is in a shambles - the Governor of the
Reserve Bank and the Vice President (Msika) say that the invasions of farms
must stop, that they are "criminal in character" and are damaging the
national interest (all true). The regime in some areas is quietly trying to
allow certain farmers back onto their land and to restart productive
activity. At the same time the Minister responsible for the land issue and
for security - Mutasa, says that all white farmers are to be dispossessed
and driven off the land. Dozens of commercial farmers who have survived the
past 6 years are now being forced off their farms. While in other areas
farms are being quietly re-occupied by original farmers and farming is
The net result is that there is very little land preparation. Many small
farmers who started farming on land that had been given to them have
abandoned their holdings in frustration and we are going to produce the
smallest summer crop on record this year - whatever happens to the rain.
One Minister says this, another disputes the story, negotiations are on in
South Africa for the mysterious loan, progress is being made - but no
substantive developments are in sight. The platinum miners get a great deal
from the State; invest, only to be told that all the rules are changed.
Zimbabwe negotiates a bilateral protection of investment agreement with
South Africa and then simply does not sign it. It signs investment
protection agreements with France, Holland, Germany and the World Bank and
then simply ignores them or violates them at will.
In the midst of all this Mugabe declares 2005 as the "Year of Investment" -
bizarre in any circumstances, but laughable in Zimbabwe. Who in his right
mind would invest here at present and under these conditions?
The disease of "confuse and divide" seems to have even invaded the cricket
pitch with radical elements and the CIO intruding into meetings of cricket
officials and trying to overturn an administration that has created the only
internationally competitive sport regime in the country. Even violence is
being used to achieve certain ends - violence in that most hallowed
gentleman's game! Perhaps this is also because cricket just generates too
So wither Zimbabwe? I think we are in a most interesting situation. It is
clear that the reformist elements in Zanu PF are slowly winning the struggle
for more rational policies in government. This was evident in the recent
monetary policy statement by Gideon Gono and subsequent events. It is also
evident in the quiet negotiations going on for that illusive loan from South
Africa - there seems to have been a welcome shift in the conditions attached
to it - a new constitution, more rational and legitimate land policies, a
return to the rule of law and the re-establishment of all human and
Maybe, just maybe, quiet diplomacy is working - accompanied by more strident
statements by the UN and the major powers - especially the USA and Europe.
It is long overdue and we must watch for signs of a break through in these
areas rather than simply worry about the shambles all around us. In fact the
situation in the MDC and the almost certain humiliation that Zanu PF is
expected to inflict on the MDC rebels who are standing as candidates may in
fact encourage the process of reform and concession that is already underway
in the ruling Party. Then watch out for the unintended consequences.
Bulawayo, 8th November 2005.
9 November 2005
I wish to register our dismay with Tuesday's arrest and harassment of
leaders of Zimbabwe's civil society and hundreds of pro-democracy activists
from the Constitutional movement, the labour movement and other advocacy
sections of our society.
Let me warn the Mugabe regime that targeting civil society for regular
attacks means declaring a war against the people and the people shall
respond. We cannot let the situation continue to worsen at a time when all
forms of relief have vanished; when our entire coping mechanisms have been
The actions of the Mugabe regime vindicate our calls for a new Zimbabwe, a
new beginning and a new Constitution. Zimbabwe stands on the precipice of a
full-scale national conflict, arising from an unattended crisis of
governance that has reduced the populace to desperation.
With serious food shortages and a looming famine, Zimbabwe is now at the
bottom of the league of failed states. We are confronted with an agriculture
season few are prepared for; we possess neither the wherewithal nor capacity
to turn around the economy; our children roam the streets in search for
non-existent jobs; and the HIV/Aids pandemic is driving us to more funerals
To show one's displeasure, anger and disgust over this state of affairs has
been criminalized by the rogue regime in Harare. To demonstrate for a life
beyond the current forms of existence where millions subsist and scrap
around to keep human beings afloat attracts the full wrath of the
dictatorship. What an irony in today's international political culture?
Arresting ZCTU and NCA leaders or the Executive Mayor of Chitungwiza for
claiming their universal rights by showing anger when necessary, does not
solve the national crisis. Harassing students, workers and unemployed
graduates and school leavers who are merely seeking relief does not
strengthen Zanu PF rule. The regime is at its weakest level, totally
dependant on a parasitic bureaucracy for sustenance and survival.
The challenge facing the democratic movement requires a determination to
rally the nation, rally the people and rally the international community to
confront, once and for all, the illegitimacy of a criminal state in our
Gone are the days when we thought Zanu PF-organized elections, litigation,
insincere dialogue and tiny receptacles of resistance could deliver a
meaningful result. What is needed is a sustainable and comprehensive
people-power drive to upset the regime's pillars of support and rescue a
The MDC has already turned the corner and adopted a detailed paradigm shift
to tackle tyranny head-on. We are not going to compromise with a dictator.
Our structures accept the demands from the people for an onslaught that
shall deliver a result necessary for the introduction of democracy and good
governance on our land.
Preparations for our peaceful democratic resistance programme are at an
advanced stage. The eye of the storm is now on the horizon. The power of the
people is strengthening and soon every village, growth point, hamlet, town
and city shall register the national sentiment on a scale never seen this
The regime must release the more than 200 activists and their leaders who
were arrested on Tuesday to enable them to continue with their legitimate
business? Our desire to negotiate the nation out of the mess remains on the
We are determined to search for ways that mitigate against the
life-threatening danger ahead of us as a nation because of Zanu PF's failed
and corrupt policies.
09/11/2005 20:16 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwean police warned on Wednesday that any electoral violence
during senate polls later this month would be dealt with decisively and
rebuffed criticism of alleged bias.
Police chief Augustine Chihuri said in Harare: "In pursuit of a peaceful
election, let me hasten to say the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) will not
tolerate any violence from whatever quarter."
He said the police were "targeting all its efforts towards peaceful polls".
The senate elections on November 26 will elect the 66-member upper house of
parliament, comprising 10 traditional chiefs, 50 elected senators and six
senators appointed by President Robert Mugabe.
Elections held in 2000 and 2002 were tainted by violence which critics
blamed on pro-government supporters.
Chihuri warned: "Political violence will be dealt with immediately and
decisively without fear or favour."
Critics have accused police of selectively applying the law when it comes to
political violence, allegations which police have rebuffed.
Stung by criticism of electoral violence in previous balloting, Mugabe
declared "zero tolerance" to political violence during elections in March
this year as his country came under scrutiny by its neighbours in southern
International Confederation of Trade Unions
Brussels, November 9, 2005 (ICFTU OnLine):: The International Confedartion
of Trade Unions received further disturbing news today concerning the fate
of nearly 200 trade unionists arrested by the Mugabe regime for protesting
Leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were amongst 118
people arrested in the capital Harare. The ICFTU has received reports that
Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU General Secretary, has been tortured whilst in
detention. Fifty other trade unoinists were arrested around the rest of the
country. All the prisoners have been transferred to Chitunwiza, twenty-five
kilometers outside of Harare.
Amongst those still imprisoned are twenty people living with HIV/AIDS who
have been denied access to medication. The ICFTU also received reports that
amongst those held are five women with babies. None of those imprisoned have
"We hold grave concerns for the well being of those arrested, in particular
Chibebe and the prisoners living with HIV/AIDS. This latest escalation in
the persecution of trade unionists in Zimbabwe has become a life and death
situation, " Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ICFTU commented today.
"President Mugabe must immediately release the prisoners and give a clear
guarantee that neither Chibebe, nor any of the other trade unionists will be
tortured again. It is unacceptable to the international trade union movement
or to his own people that they be treated in this manner," Ryder added.
The ZCTU also reported that one of its' regional officers, Tambaoga Nyazika
was today threatened at gunpoint by a person identifying himself to be a
The ICFTU also wrote to President Mugabe today calling for the Public Order
Security Act, which severely limits freedom of expression through heavy
fines and imprisonment of up to ten years against people found guilty of
disturbing the peace, security and public order to be abolished.
The ICFTU represents 145 million workers through its 234 affiliated
organisations in 154 countries and territories. The ICFTU is also a member
of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224
0210 or +32 477 580 486.
The Herald (Harare)
November 9, 2005
Posted to the web November 9, 2005
AFTER pulling the plug off the lifeline of tens of thousands of fish at a
dam in Shamva last week poachers literally got away with "murder".
For draining a water reservoir dry to catch fish in the dam, more than 20
fish poachers were given an option of paying a $150 000 admission of guilt
fine or go to court.
Ironically, the fine is worth just about a kilogramme of fish that could be
easily poached from yet another dam or stream.
It seems the paltry fine was the best option they all took and are now on
the prowl again ready to cause more ecological damage.
While the problem of poaching has been highlighted over and over again, the
Shamva case crudely exposed how casually crimes against the environment are
sometimes treated to a point that penalties never really deter the practice.
This year alone, more than 150 poachers have been arrested although their
real fate at the hands of the law is largely unclear.
Also recovered were over 500 snares, ivory, tonnes of fresh and dried fish
and game meat.
The medium to long-term effects of poaching may appear vague but the
repercussions of past poaching crimes against nature abound today.
Once upon a time forests teeming with wildlife surrounded most, if not all
of Zimbabwe's communal land area.
Hunted for the pot, their skins, horns or simply because the people despised
some of the animals, much of the game has since disappeared.
Forests have been decimated and some dams and natural river pools that
teemed with fish are now silted.
But sometimes nature fights back, albeit in subtle ways.
One classic example of how nature sometimes effects its own form of justice,
is from one corner of Zimbabwe - a common forested area bounding Mashonaland
East's Mudzi, Mutoko, and Nyanga districts.
Nearly two decades ago the three districts of Mudzi, Mutoko and Nyanga on
Zimbabwe's eastern border zone with Mozambique formulated a brilliant plan
to turn a huge shared idle piece of territory into a massive game park.
But an equal number of years of bureaucracy, misplaced villagers' fear of
wildlife attacks and crop destruction effectively condemned the project to
the archives to gather dust.
However, the biggest motive behind the villagers' refusal to have the game
park created was a complex hidden agenda hatched by poaching and alluvial
gold panning syndicates.
In retrospect, if the idea had been implemented, the wildlife sanctuary
would have been a springboard to yet another transfrontier park with
neighbouring Mozambique, similar to the one already initiated between
Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe - the Great Limpopo Transfrontier
The park could have also launched the three districts into the lucrative
wildlife management and environmental conservation orbit that has helped
raise the living standards for many of the villagers living in wildlife
Besides benefiting from trophy hunting, villagers could also have a ready
source of protein through such conservation methods as culling conducted
when populations of herbivores like impala grow to environmentally
The three districts missed the opportunity to achieve sustainable
development for their unique territory.
An unprecedented rise in attacks on livestock by packs of hyenas is forcing
many villagers bordering the shelved game park to spend sleepless nights
guarding their goats, sheep and cattle.
"All our life we have known that hyenas occasionally attack and kill our
livestock but this is now becoming very strange because there are just too
many attacks that have occurred so far," said one villager from Mudzi's
Chikwizo A Ward.
At face value there could be nothing to it because the spotted hyena
(Crocuta crocuta) or laughing hyena, is known to live comfortably well in
areas of human habitation to a point that in most parts of southern Africa
people associate it with witchcraft activities.
But with its prime food sources effectively slaughtered by poachers, it
appears the hyena now has very little option but to turn to the villagers'
livestock for survival.
While most of the wildlife the hyena depended on for survival has
disappeared the animal has, however, continued to breed and grow in number
to a point that it now freely roams the countryside. Villagers confirmed
spotting the brownish creatures in broad daylight.
The hyena, a cunning predator, has survived years of human activity and
settlement that resulted in the decimation of other animals such as lions
and elephants that last wandered the area as late as the early 1960s.
Although the spotted hyena is not really an endangered species, some animal
rights groups are campaigning hard to have it placed on the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
They are arguing that the animal has lost most of its range through
undeserved persecution and trophy hunting. The hyena once inhabited parts of
Asia and Europe but is now confined to southern Africa and has almost
disappeared from South Africa and Swaziland.
The unprecedented rise in attacks on livestock by hyenas in the Mudzi,
Mutoko and Nyanga former game corridor point to a deeply disturbed
By nature hyenas are scavenging predators although 95 percent of their food
is hunted and eaten fresh.
Standing on short hind legs and raised front quarters the weird-looking
carnivore, affectionately referred to as the "super predator" can also
shatter any bone with the ease of a sledge hammer crushing a peanut.
Research shows that although a hyena can go for several days without eating
it can, however, eat up to 15kg at one sitting and is not dependent on water
as enough moisture is obtained from the prey.
The hyena, however, does not just feed on meat for the sake of survival. Its
hunting and eating habits play a very crucial role in the ecological balance
of Africa's savannah wildlife territories.
Ecologists say without the work done by hyenas the ecosystem will be
severely disrupted and diseases would abound.
By scavenging the countryside for decayed carcasses hyenas prevent the
spread of diseases and by munching bones to smaller particles they help
return minerals to the soil.
The fearsome animal is a highly skilled hunter. It first scatters its prey
to identify the weakest among the targeted herbivores.
And using the supreme law of the jungle that allows only the fittest to
survive, the hyena then pounces on the weakest, which naturally means that
the general health of the hunted species greatly improves as the sickly are
removed over time.
And walking about the huge savannah bush countryside bounding Mudzi, Mutoko,
and Nyanga and neighbouring Mozambique it is obvious that something is
The area's natural cycle is definitely out of sync.
Nothing but lizards and mice occasionally break the eerie day and nighttime
On very rare occasions a rabbit or a clipspringer dashes from the bushes at
lightning speed and quickly disappears deep into the backwoods.
After most of the area's plains game that included kudu, impala,
clipspringer and warthog were snared, trapped by nets, shot and/or speared
to death for food, the silence of the bush so deafening, it is unnatural.
Evidently, the poachers left nothing for hyenas. They disappeared with
everything leaving not even the hides or bones for the scavenger to chew.
Although the hyena has a powerful sense of smell and very sharp eyesight the
woods are almost empty of wildlife except for the herds of cattle and goats
that now graze there.
At dawn and dusk crazy baboon calls reverberate across the countryside as a
last reminder of a lost wildlife sanctuary.
Although they are also hunted for meat by some of the villagers, baboons are
the only other species apart from hyenas that have managed to survive
poaching. Large baboon troops still freely roam the ecologically unhinged
However, it is not only the people of Mudzi, Mutoko and Nyanga who are
having a torrid time protecting their domestic animals from marauding
Nightmarish incidents of hyena attacks are frequently reported across the
countryside and setting up traps as well as poisoning the scavengers has
failed to destroy them.
The hyena, a relative of the cat family, could be close to exhausting its
nine lives but is still a reminder of what poaching can do to our lives and
Southern African News Features (Harare)
November 9, 2005
Posted to the web November 9, 2005
The dream of establishing a southern African stand-by army is slowly
becoming a reality amid indications that SADC could beat the target of
having a 4,000-strong peace-keeping force before the 2010 deadline.
The Harare-based SADC Regional Peace-keeping Training Centre has so far
trained 1,300 troops drawn from all member countries of the regional body.
The target is to have a force comprising 4,000 soldiers by 2010. Another
group of 70 troops and civilians is expected to undergo training in Human
Rights in Peace-Keeping Organisations from 16-26 January 2006.
The idea of coming up with a regional stand-by force was first mooted in
1996 in response to the challenges faced by African countries in the event
of military or civil strife in member countries. The final green light to
form the force came from the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security
Cooperation after a meeting held in Tshwane (Pretoria) in December 2004. The
leaders agreed to appoint a planning team to establish the modalities of the
The training being undertaken by the SADC Regional Peacekeeping Training
Centre (RPTC) is aimed at implementing the Protocol on Politics, Defence and
The training centre was set up following a resolution by the Inter-state
Defence and Security Committee held in Lilongwe in 1996 at which Zimbabwe
was mandated to host and coordinate the training programme.
The peacekeeping brigade will however not be stationed at any one place but
will be called when needed. Its operations falls within the arm of the SADC
The training centre, which has been under Zimbabwe's charge since its
inception, is now being administered by the SADC Secretariat, which has
seconded Colonel Joe Muzvidziwa and Lieutenant-Colonel Gaudence Milanzi as
director and deputy director, respectively.
Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, handed over
the training centre to former SADC deputy executive secretary, Albert
Muchanga, in August.
Zimbabwe has been offering training to the region on peacekeeping duties
since 1995. Previously, the centre was a facility for the Zimbabwean
government and was transformed into a regional training centre when the
Danish government constructed a structure to help SADC train its own troops
following the 1996 resolution among the member countries.
The formation of a stand-by force is in line with the African Union
Commission's Article 13 on stand-by armies, which requires that each of the
five African regions should have a minimum of 4,000 troops.
"The troops are ready to take up any assignment including enforcement or
mere peacekeeping missions," said Col Muzvidziwa.
"From the reports we have got on their performance in the UN peacekeeping
missions, we are convinced that our model is working," he added.
The training centre was honoured with the status of Excellency in
peacekeeping training for the SADC region in 1999 following a visit by the
UN inspection team.
Apart from their role as stand-by forces, the SADC troops have, over time,
become active contributors to the UN peacekeeping missions.
Since 1991, SADC troops have contributed to more than 15 peacekeeping
missions within and outside Africa.
Mail and Guardian
09 November 2005 09:11
Mirriam Namushi comes from a dirt-poor family in rural Zambia
kept alive by women. She knows the meaning of relying on natural resources
How, at the age of 38 and with four young children of her own,
did she come to be a prosecutor of environmental crimes and the abuse of
natural resources? Namushi was one of 42 students who graduated recently
after spending a year honing their skills at the Southern African Wildlife
College in Limpopo.
"As a woman, I am fighting to keep the wild animals for future
generations. People say environmental crimes are not like stealing or
murdering, but I am trying to show them the environment matters," she told
the Mail & Guardian.
Namushi prosecutes between 12 and 15 cases a month in western
Zambia. Offenders found with "proscribed trophies" such as ivory or a lion
skin can receive jail sentences of five years or more.
A big part of her job is getting community buy-in for
conservation. Some weeks she joins her investigators on anti-poaching
operations in the bush, where they rely on intelligence from rural
Like the eight other women who graduated with her, Namushi
believes getting more women involved in environmental matters is imperative
for the future of the planet.
"Women will make things work well and there will be less
corruption," she said. "As mothers, they have a feeling for nature and they
want their children to see lions for real, not just in the movies."
The Zambia Wildlife Authority nominated Namushi for training at
the college, which borders the northern Kruger National Park. She won a
bursary from the Southern African Conservation Education Trust to do a
diploma this year.
Most of the graduates, like Namushi, were separated from their
children for a year to study. Few of their families, based in seven Southern
and East African countries, could afford to attend the ceremony last
Iracema Maiopue, from Maputo, was fortunate to have not only her
three-year-old daughter and her husband present, but also her bosses from
Mozambique's ministry of tourism. Maiopue (27) has a degree in forestry
engineering from the University of Mondlane, and after getting her college
diploma plans to join the ministry's directorate of conservation.
"Animals have to be respected; we have to provide the right
environment for them to grow and develop," she said. "Women are good in this
role because they are sensitive."
Her mentor is the deputy director of conservation areas, Isabel
Macie, one of a growing number of women leading the reconstruction of
environment and tourism in post-civil war Mozambique.
Delivering the keynote address at the ceremony, Macie said the
world faced mass species extinction because of human beings. "As the
population grows, the situation will get more serious. We've seen human
populations grow from 2,5-billion to 5,7-billion in just 20 years.
"We can have a disastrous impact on the planet -- but we also
have the ability to save other species. This is our challenge."
Since opening its doors in 1997, the wildlife college has
trained more than 2 000 students from 20 African countries, mostly in the
Southern African Development Community, in everything from computer skills
and communication strategies to overhauling a 4X4 and dissecting an impala.
Maisa Chulu, a 26-year-old ranger from the Lake Malawi National
Park, became interested in conservation when she joined an environmental
club at school. Her family and friends expected her to become a nursery
school teacher or secretary.
"I had this concept that if we destroy the animals and trees, we
destroy the key to life. We had better use them wisely so others can use
Chulu joined Malawi National Parks after school and was in
charge of environmental education and community involvement at Lake Malawi
before starting her diploma at the college. Her husband is the park's
assistant manager, and their son will be two when she gets home.
With her new skills, she will be promoted to assistant parks and
wildlife officer for national parks. One of few, and sometimes the only
woman during her training, she is determined to make a difference in her
"Conservation is becoming more important [in Malawi] because
there are more people, and they rely more and more on our natural
resources," she said.
The promise of peace parks
"Elephants need big home ranges," says Stephen Malungo. "The
moment you put up fences, you restrict their natural movements and this
affects the entire ecosystem. Transfrontier conservation offers a way of
cooperating by extending areas for animals -- with benefits for people."
For Malungo, an operations ranger in Zambia's Lower Zambezi
National Park, cross-border conservation areas -- or "peace parks" -- hold
promise for Africa's reserves. The Lower Zambezi is part of an initiative
involving Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Malungo (38) acquired his diploma in natural resource management
at the Southern African Wildlife College with flying colours last week. He
received two awards as best student, after spending the year as student
representative council president.
Managed by the Peace Parks Foundation, one of the college's main
focus areas is the training of staff working in transfrontier conservation.
The foundation is helping set up at least 14 peace parks in the Southern
African Development Community region, and wants many to be sustainable by
The peace parks are massive undertakings, involving buy-in from
governments and communities and cooperation among bureaucracies. Five
countries are involved in setting up the Kavango-Zambezi peace park.
Malungo said the diverse views of his fellow students were a key
element of his course at the wildlife college. "These are the networks that
will drive and shape the future of conservation in Africa," he said. --