Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005
AIR Zimbabwe grounded its entire fleet yesterday after running out of fuel,
forcing the board to suspend chief executive Dr Tendai Mahachi and another
senior official pending investigations into flight disruptions.
All flights were cancelled until further notice owing to a dearth of Jet A1
fuel, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers.
The board moved swiftly and suspended, with immediate effect, Dr Mahachi and
the divisional director for finance and company secretary — Mrs Tendai
The suspensions were also "pending investigations into the serious
disruptions of the national airliner’s operations and services to
customers," board vice chairman Mr Jonathan Kadzura said in a statement.
Captain Oscar Madombwe was appointed the acting group chief executive
officer until further notice.
Passengers were left stranded at the Harare International Airport after Air
Zimbabwe abruptly suspended all flights — including those to Johannesburg,
Singapore, Entebbe, Lilongwe, Lusaka, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
"The board would like to sincerely apologise to all its valued customers for
the inconveniences and disruptions caused by the cancellation of flights and
would like to assure the public of its full commitment to address the
critical operational issues affecting service delivery of the national
airline," Mr Kadzura said.
The Harare International Airport yesterday morning was host to irate
passengers milling around while others crowded Air Zimbabwe counters trying
to get help from booking officers.
An official, who declined to be named, said the airline would make other
arrangements for its passengers.
A frustrated passenger, Mr Ivan Jaji, said the airline did not even have the
courtesy to inform them of the cancellation of flights.
Mr Jaji wanted to fly to Johannesburg on business.
Mr Samuel William was angry saying he had lost quite a substantial amount of
money due to the cancellation of the flight to Lilongwe.
"I have actually lost business today. They did not inform us in time. I was
supposed to be doing something profitable but I’m stranded here and I am
going to incur a lot of costs. I have to phone people who were waiting for
me that I am no longer coming," he said.
Mr William, who was scheduled to travel on the 1pm flight to Lilongwe, added
that last week he had a similar experience after Air Zimbabwe delayed his
flight to Zambia.
"They took us to Victoria Falls and dropped passengers there before we
proceeded to Lusaka. It took us two hours for a one-hour journey. You can’t
even plan when flying on Air Zimbabwe," he said.
Air Zimbabwe has over the years been dogged by mismanagement, losing its
reputation of being one of the best airlines in Africa.
Early this year, the airline flew one passenger from Dubai to Harare on a
plane that carries more than 200 passengers. Boards, chief executives and
other top managers have constantly been changed without results.
Numerous turnaround strategies have also bore no fruit.
Appointed in December last year, Dr Mahachi replaced Mr Rambai Chingwena,
who resigned in May last year after a short stint as managing director with
Recently, the Government bought the airline two small planes for regional
and domestic routes in a bid to revive its fortunes.
November 22 2005 at 08:36AM
Zimbabwe's financially troubled national airline has resumed flights
after the company's entire fleet was temporarily grounded due to lack of
fuel, state radio reported Tuesday.
Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at Harare International
Airport on Monday after Air Zimbabwe cancelled all local and international
flights due to a shortage of Jet A1 fuel, the official Herald newspaper
In an interview with state radio Tuesday, the airline's vice
president, Jonathan Kadzura said authorities were working to normalise the
situation at the beleaguered airline.
"We got into a situation where fuel was simply not available," he
said. "We know that the immediate thing to be done is to ensure that the
airlines get sufficient fuel, which we are moving to normalise.
"We can assure our travelling public that the position in Zimbabwe
will change and flights will be maintained and flights will take off on
time, with no disruptions whatsoever," Kadzura added.
A reservations clerk with Air Zimbabwe said flights "are normal now.
We resumed flying yesterday (Monday)".
Zimbabwe has been dogged by erratic fuel supplies for the past six
years but the shortages became acute starting last March. The country does
not have the hard currency needed to pay for fuel and other imports, such as
medicines and electrical power.
Air Zimbabwe has also been struggling to maintain its small fleet of
Boeing aircraft. Several flights were cancelled in July, partly because of a
lack of spare parts for the planes. - Sapa-dpa
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 22 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - NGOs in Southern Africa say they can
contribute to strengthening food security but have been ignored by regional
"Civil society organisations have an advantage over government bodies, as
they are based within communities, they work closely with the people and are
often the first to access information on [impending] food security
disasters," said Tobias Takavarasha, a Zimbabwe-based agricultural
Churches, in particular, have played a key role in providing relief to
communities in the region struggling with four years of successive droughts
and poor harvests.
Lack of NGO participation was identified as one of the major weaknesses in
food security policies at a Southern African Development Community (SADC)
workshop last week on 'Enhancing Civil Society Participation in SADC Food
The discussion was organised by the Southern African Regional Poverty
Network (SARPN) in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute and
the SADC's Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network.
An estimated 12 million people in six countries will be food insecure until
early next year, and SARPN has argued that a more coordinated civil society
role and greater cooperation with national and regional governments was long
"When policies around food security issues are debated at SADC, NGOs often
do not know who to approach - there is lack of coordination," explained
Alfred Hamadziripi of SARPN.
Civil society could play "a very important role in evidence collection on
issues such food insecurity, and influence and lobby policies on access to
safe food, and nutritional value of food available on the ground," he noted.
"It is for governments to appreciate the gap NGOs fill between policy
development and implementation," Hamadziripi pointed out.
Acknowledging their potential role, Zambia's Agriculture Minister, Mundia
Sikatana said Southern African NGOs should become more proactive to ensure
that their voices were heard on food security policy issues in the region.
"NGOs should organise themselves into a single body on food security issues,
because now we often don't know who to get in touch with," he commented.
"Civil society can make a tremendous contribution, whether it is in an
advisory capacity, or with research or sensitising the government or
community on issues."
According to Takavarasha, SADC was currently debating a proposal to create a
permanent desk for a civil society representative in its secretariat.
22 November 2005
By Violet Gonda
The rancour within the MDC reached new heights on Sunday, when leaders
from the pro-senate camp launched a scathing attack on opposition leader
Four MDC leaders, vice president Gibson Sibanda, secretary general
Welshman Ncube, his deputy Gift Chimanikira and St Mary's Member of
Parliament Job Sikhala told the gathering that Tsvangirai was now
campaigning for ZANU-PF to win the senate elections, by campaigning for a
Sikhala claimed at the rally that Tsvangirai hadunsuccessfully tried
to enlist the support of African leaders and a senior Zimbabwe National Army
officer to convince Robert Mugabe to appoint him Vice President of Zimbabwe.
Sikhala claimed Tsvangirai has proved to be worse than Mugabe. He said
Tsvangirai sent him and former MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa to go and speak to
Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshal Perence Shiri and assure
him that he would not be tried for the Gukurahundi massacres should he win
the presidential election in 2002.
On the programme Hot Seat, Sikhala reiterated the same accusations and
claims that it is in retaliation to statements made by his President that
some people in the pro-senate camp had been bought by ZANU PF. The MP said
the gloves are now off and it's time to tell the world who Tsvangirai really
is, ". a hypocritical power hungry dictator who sent us to negotiate for him
to be part and parcel of the current government."
Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango, described Sikhala's allegation
as nonsense and said the MP has lost credibility as a politician and anyone
who took him seriously does so at their peril. He said the verbal attacks
were consistent with a Zanu PF strategy to demonize Morgan Tsvangirai.
Undeterred, Sikhala warned Bango to tell his boss that he was going to
expose more "truths" saying, " We have tried to make him see sense
(Tsvangirai) and failed. If Jesus Christ was alive today we could have asked
him to come and exorcise our president of the demon that is causing him into
The leaders at the Bulawayo rally said they would take disciplinary
action against their president soon after the Senate elections for violating
the party's constitution. They urged party supporters to go out in their
thousands to vote for the MDC senate candidates on November 26.
Gift Chimanikire also took the opportunity to lash out at the MDC
leader, saying he was promoting tribalism in the MDC.
Gibson Sibanda told the rally that the MDC has participated in three
previous elections and there was no reason to boycott the senate elections.
Welshman Ncube compared Tsvangirai to a general who led his troops to
capture a large territory and then decides one day to surrender it to the
Among the MDC leaders present were Paul Themba Nyathi, Fletcher Dulini
Ncube, Renson Gasela, Trudy Stevenson, Bulawayo city councilors, the
provincial leadership of Matabeleland and senatorial candidates from
Masvingo, Midlands and Harare.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
This Day (Lagos)
November 21, 2005
Posted to the web November 22, 2005
In its determined efforts to ensure that the hosting community of its pet
agricultural project, the New Nigerian Farmers, Tsonga reaped the benefit of
its august visitors, the Kwara State government has assured that the
community electrification project would be connected to the national grid
It would be recalled that the emigrant farmers from Zimbabwe tagged the
White Farmers were relocated in the community and has since become the toast
of both national and international attention.
The Commissioner for Rural Development, Alhaji Issa Bawa who gave the
assurance hinted that the Tsonga community was among the 50 rural
communities electrification that would be connected to the national grid as
soon as the government takes full delivery of the 150 transformers.
Bawa while inspecting the first batch of the 200 KVA 11,415transformers at
the state rural electrification board assured rural communities in the state
of the good intention of the government to ensure that they benefit from the
rural development focus of the administration.
The commissioner said that the government has committed about N275million
for the purchase of 150 units of different types of transformers as part of
efforts towards the provision of rural electrification in the state.
According to him, the state government was expecting different types of KVA
transformers and added that the 23 units of 200KVA transformers just
delivered was being tested by the board engineers and the contractor to
guarantee the quality of the transformers.
He stressed that the state government was determined to complete the
project. He advised the staff of the board to be prepared to meet up the
challenges ahead, stressing that all would-be benefiting communities of the
government transformers should also be prepared to guide against its
Conducting the commissioner round the board, the General Manager of the
Rural Electrification Board, Alhaji Sulaiman Ilobu expressed satisfaction
with the pace of activities by the board since the advent of the
administration and told the commissioner that the new transformers were
being tested to ensure that they are in good condition at the point of
delivery to benefiting communities.
Daily Trust (Abuja)
November 22, 2005
Posted to the web November 22, 2005
Just like the famous poem "London Bridge is falling down", Zimbabwe's
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), may be falling as it
has entered a dilemma that might change the politics of opposition in the
The dilemma arose from a split which was reported last week over the party's
participation in the senatorial elections scheduled to take place on the
26th of November, this year.
Morgan Tsvangirai accused some members of supporting the party's
participation in the senate elections and went further to say that members
were working in cohorts with the ruling ZANU-PF to destroy the party. The
crisis in the MDC followed Tsvangirai's overruling in a national council
decision in October to participate in the senate elections.
Tsvangirai wanted the MDC's to ignore the poll on the grounds that it would
be a waste of tax-payers money, and that the senior chamber would be
dominated by the ruling party.
From there on, the party cleaved with the Morgan Tsvangirai faction
emerging, backed by the party's vice-president, Gibson Sibanda, and the
party's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, controlling the other half of the
Mr. Tsvangirai sought to convince party leaders to boycott the senate
election and on Oct. 12, overrode a close vote by the MDC Nat-ional
Committee for partici-pation in the election of a rec-onstituted upper
house. But the faction led by Mr. Ncube objected to Mr. Tsvangirai's
effective nullification of the vote, calling it a violation of the party's
constitution, and the pro-election side has fielded 26 senate candidates.
While the pro-election faction moves ahead with senate campaigns,
particularly in the southern Matabeleland region which is a traditional MDC
stronghold - and ther-efore has a good chance of electing some MDC
senators - the anti-election faction has been urging rank-and-file
opposition members to stay away from the polls.
Mr. Tsvangirai told a rally in Bulawayo, the capital of Matabeleland, that
the pro-election faction was serving the interests of President Robert
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party. The MDC's nominal spokesman, Paul
Themba Nyathi, who has joined the pro-election fact-ion, responded that Mr.
Tsva-ngirai was unfit to lead.
In another twist to the debacle, the party expelled the 26 aspiring Senate
candidates who ignored the party's directive to withdraw their candidature
in the forthco-ming senatorial elections set for November 26.
The MDC candidates were given seven days to wit-hdraw their candidature from
the senate polls. The ultima-tum expired last Saturday.
The MDC President Mor-gan Tsvangirai was quoted by a newspaper that
accor-ding to the party's constitu-tion, the members had "auto-matically
expelled themselves from the party."
He said standing regula-tions stipulate that any mem-ber who goes against
the deci-sion of the party's national council on elections ceased to be a
party member forthwith and would stand as an inde-pendent candidate.
The pro-Senate faction led by Professor Welshman Ncube has, however, refused
to recognize this council mee-ting that Tsvangirai conve-ned, saying it was
an illegal gathering that could only be described as a "kangaroo council."
MDC Deputy Secretary-General Gift Chimanikire said last Saturday that none
of the aspiring MDC Senate candi-dates would heed the directive to withdraw
their candid-ature from the polls because the solution passed by the
"kangaroo council last week" was "a non-event."
He said the meeting was improperly constituted, as other members of the
national council that had on October 12 voted in favour of participating in
the polls were not present.
In fact, he said, candidates in different provinces were already campaigning
and were going to stand in the elections "as MDC candidates and under an MDC
He, however, pointed out that the MDC leadership was still discussing this
conten-tious issue with a view to reaching a common underst-anding on the
route the party should take.
The crisis within the opposition has been festering since mid-October but
has grown deeper in recent days with reports of violent clashes between
supporters of the two factions.
According to a report by an insider close to mediation efforts to resolve
the differe-nces, "A split is inevitable. It will considerably weaken both
sides both factions are going to lose out." Tsvangirai is seen as a man with
mass sup-port and national profile, while Sibanda and Ncube, who are elected
members of parlia-ment, also represent MDC's. The MDC is the most serious
opposition ZANU-PF has faced since independence in 1980. But the party is
seen as supported by western world to overcome President Robert Mugabe, who
they call as a dictator or tyranny and who has allegedly infringed on the
rights of Zimbabwe citizens.
Some efforts had followed an unsuccessful attempt to organize a parley
between the two sides on November 5, which failed to bring the pro-election
Ncube faction to the table.
The party has repeatedly challenged President Mug-abe's longevity in power
and every policy that the adminis-tration has made. It is believed that the
West is backing the party to disconcert Mugabe's government and so far, it
has done so through the interna-tional media.
The MDC has criticized the land reforms which saw the exit of white farmers
in Zimbabwe and the ongoing demolition exercise which reports have claimed
to have rendered 700, 000 people homeless.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Trust, the Zimbabwean ambassador to Nigeria,
John Mvundura, lambasted the oppositions, especially the MDC, that they were
puppets that are remote-driven by the western world to effect regime change.
Now, what becomes of the MDC and how does this tran-slate to Mugabe's
continued grip on the reigns of power? With the statement that Mug-abe's
party has infiltrated the MDC party, the future of the party looks bleak for
the opp-osition party. With the deter-mination on both sides to mai-ntain
their position, the party might lose out in the Senatorial elections,
thereby reinforcing and consolidating the ruling party's domination in the
parl-iament. This trend could be the last time in many years to come for the
opposition to gain ground in any arms of the government.
Going by allegations that the party is West-sponsored, the party's split
could ruin consistent pressure from the international community on Mugabe's
government to revert on the land reforms or step down from the pinnacle of
Zimbabwean affairs. Already, the US and British governments have already
branded the country as one of the 'undemocratic' regimes in the world that
needs cha-nge. There has not been any reaction from the West on the MDC
problem yet. The que-stion that springs up, putting this alleged western
support in context is, will the West strengthen one of the factions to
channel its distaste about the government or are they going to pick another
party for that purpose?
Other than the political crisis in Zimbabwe, the cou-ntry is also battling
with a food shortage problem and a chronic budget deficit which has spurred
Mugabe going to China and South Africa for aid. Zimbabwe is also striving
under sanctions from the Commonwealth and the US.
Comment from cricinfo, 22 November
It's uncanny how what is happening in Zimbabwe cricket so closely mirrors
what is also happening in the political arena there. I won't dwell on this
but the signs are plain to see. Deadwood, who have nothing communally
constructive or beneficial to offer. Lives bent on furthering personal
agendas and empires, desperate to cling on using increasingly desperate
methods. It defies belief how far Zimabwe cricket is falling in sight of the
world. Even more surprising is the international community's silence - to be
fair, it is also predictable. The odd murmur here and there about it being
an appalling situation, a disgrace, a tragedy, a fall from grace etc. I'm
sure we've heard it all before. The world stands aside, getting involved
everywhere else, it seems, but there. Afraid, I guess, of being labelled
meddlers. The all-too-familiar guilt trip about race.
The most painful thing for me as a Zimbabwean watching at a distance is that
the greed of a few individuals bent on self-serving interests has left
nothing for future generations, in cricket and outside it. An analogy, if I
may - cricket is a team game played by individual players, yet no team can
succeed if they don't pull together as one. Even when the Zimbabwe team
pulled together in the past it was always going to be difficult for them to
beat the best. Team spirit was key when things went well, but was even more
crucial when things went badly. Now I think that the worst place to be in
any team sport is to be hung out to dry on one's own. When no one looks one
in the eye due to bad performance or gives one as much as a pat on the back
to encourage when things go pear-shaped. Many cricketers have been there. Or
to have a coach who reigns in some waywardness and keeps one honest. To feel
uncomfortably unwelcome yet tolerated.
Zimbabwe has become that underperforming team-mate on the world stage, and
world cricket has become the silent team, creating an uneasy atmosphere by
not saying a word for fear of offending. Nothing said, negative or positive.
At some stage a team member who isn't performing gets dropped as his poor
form may affect the team's morale. There is always a place to maintain
confidence in a player who is struggling, and some players who are
struggling bring a lot to a team in other ways, but poor form has limits.
That's just the way the game works - or should. Perform or, soon enough, one
gets dropped. The way the Zimbabwe issue has been dealt with has set a
dangerous precedent. How can world cricket turn a blind eye when all that
has happened in Zimbabwe goes against the core values that make this game so
credible? This great game which has a unique spirit has shown it has an
undesirable side to it - at least, as far as administration goes.
When people turn a blind eye to corruption, mismanagement, rights abuses,
unfair play, bullying tactics, threats of violence or poor form in full view
of the world, and then go on to enforce the opposite noble values in a rule
book, then most people look past the rule book. They look instead at the
actions of those who enforce the rules. I am afraid that the ICC has shown
us the face of cricket that makes lesser mortals, with no influence, wealth
or power, ask a pertinent question. What about the Spirit of Cricket. What
if they cannot uphold the very values they attempt to instill? A player
hesitates over a decision on TV and gets fined, or has a bat logo too large
and gets the same treatment. A whole nation's cricket fraternity is about to
collapse, and because of some weird rule in the constitution, it cannot get
involved. Could someone help me out here. I am a little confused. It seems
the rule book only applies to players. Maybe money has the power to blind
judgement. I hope for cricket's sake we will see some action now, maybe this
is a step too far by the powers in Zimbabwe and the ICC's hand has been
forced. But it didn't have to come to this.
Henry Olonga is a former Zimbabwe international. His cricket career ended
with the famous black-armband protest during the 2003 World Cup. He now
lives in England and works as a broadcaster, musician and artist
11/22/2005 3:44:23 PM (GMT +2)
The Republic of Zimbabwe is under the spotlight. Not because uncle Bob
recently told the American ambassador, Christopher Dell to go to hell. No.
Aster all comrade Bob has not minced words in the past, to imply that
President Bush himself only short of a tail and horns to stoke the
everlasting furnace! Since the year 2000, Robert Gabriel Mugabe the
President has been ruffling feathers left and right, at home, in the
continent and abroad by his redistribution programme. As a result, the whole
wor1d knows who Robert Gabriel Mugabe is. The hard-talking, charismatic
leader of the Chimurenga for change in Zimbabwe, is a self-made man, revered
and feared by colleague and adversaries, near and far. 'His controversial
programme of land distribution has divided opinion at home and abroad as to
where he stands on the most important question of democracy. Is he a
democrat, is he not? He argues that without equitable land redistribution in
Zimbabwe, Chimurenga cannot be said to be over..
Very few observers will criticise uncle Bob for the principle of
redistribution of the land to the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. Even Blair
and Bush, his whipping boys for all the country's woes, have yet to express
themselves in opposition to the principle of the distribution of land as
advocated by uncle Bob and his Zanu-PF cronies. What the two gentlemen
criticise and many agree with them, is the way it is done. The violence that
has accompanied the exercise and the expropriation of land, not based on any
legal instrument as should be the case in a democratic state, is and has
been the primary objection in the otherwise politically correct programme.
Both the Presidential and the Parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe since the
year 2000 have been violent and in violation of human rights. There have
been disagreement by observer missions on whether the elections have been
free and fair. But few will dispute that these elections were run on
multipartism and majority principle. That is why both Zanu-PF and MDC could
capture some constituencies and lose others in a First Past the Post
contest. In this situation, it is not surprising that uncle Bob is seen as a
democrat by some and dictator by others.
What about Tsvangarai? Until a couple weeks back, the world and many
Zimbabweans pinned their hopes on him and his party, as someone who was the
exact opposite of comrade Bob. He promised to restore true democracy to
Zimbabwe through his party, the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC). The
entire democratic world looked up to him, sympathised with him when he was
arraigned before the courts to answer allegations of conspiracy to depose
Mugabe by unlawful means. Sympathisers believed, the charges against him
were a fabrication by Zanu-PF. Some of us suspected though that there was a
bit of fabrication in the charges as well as political immaturity in the way
the MDC leader comported himself among new acquaintances in foreign places.
Give every man thine ear but few thy voice. This elementary
self-preservation rule by all street-wise politicians, was unknown to Morgan
Tsvangarai who blurted his feelings against Mugabe to any new acquaintance
he happened to have tea with.
Morgan, frustrated by the futility of all his actions against the
government of uncle Bob, is now resigned to inaction. He has tried
participation in the Presidential/general elections in the past and watched
his support, decline fast; intermittent mass action has not been successful
either. Small wonder that Tsvangarai now faced with the latest of Mugabe's
political gimmicks, in the form of the new Senate elections sees only one
option to save himself from further humiliation. In his mind, the coming
Senate elections have been rigged even before they are held. He sees only
one option, boycott! Boycott of course is always a legitimate option in
anything one is asked to participate in. One can choose to participate or
not to participate. Tsvangarai or anybody for that matter, can do either.
What has shocked and disappointed many, is that Tsvangarai, the democratic
hope for Zimbabwe, the leader of the Movement of Democratic Change is
prepared to subvert an important principle of the democratic process, by
overturning the decision of his council which by a majority of 2 has opted
for participation in the Senate elections. Democracy rests on 3 pillars: the
rule of law, democratic elections and human rights. In any election any
majority; including a majority of 1 (one) is binding!
Tsvangarai to make matters worse, was even prepared to lie, by
distorting the results as a tie, and that he had used his casting vote as
the leader of the MDC to support a boycott decision! The national council of
MDC had decided to intervene in the decision to participate or not to
participate, after 6 of the 12 provincial structure had expressed themselves
in favour of participation against 2 undecided. The results in the council
was 33 - 31 in favour of participation. One of Tsvangarai's grounds for
boycotting Senatorial elections was that "the MDC had been infiltrated by
Zanu-PF to blunt an opposition campaign to oust Mugabe over a deepening
economic and political crisis.." Opposition campaign, indeed!
Once Tsvangarai's lie was exposed by his colleagues, he came out to
tell the world who he is. According to reports from the state-owned Herald,
Tsvangarai was quoted as saying, "I am giving all the MDC members who choose
to go against my will and contest the elections seven days to withdraw or be
fired from the party." And again, "VP (Sibanda), secretary-general (Welshman
Ncube) and their supporters should know that I hold the keys of the party.
As long as I am still the leader, they have to do what I want, since they
are my juniors." Has he ever heard of inner party democracy?
If the above utterances attributed to Tsvangarai by a state-owned
newspaper, (which necessarily evokes precautions before jumping to final
conclusion), is to be believed, we can only say, "cry the beloved Zimbabwe."
For who is left in the ongoing socio-political and economic crisis in that
country to bring hope to the Zimbabweans? Tsvangarai seems poised to better
Mugabe on the dictatorial scale!
Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:41 PM GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is dangling offers of
uranium deposits as part of a strategy to ease Western pressure on his
government, foreign diplomats and analysts said on Tuesday.
In power since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe has been isolated
by Western countries who back opposition charges that he has rigged polls in
the last five years to hold on to power.
Mugabe announced at the weekend that Zimbabwe had recently found deposits of
uranium but would only use the mineral for electricity generation, not to
supply nuclear weapons programmes.
Analysts said Mugabe's statement -- delivered without details at a routine
function in his home village -- was designed to draw attention to Zimbabwe's
vast mineral wealth, including uranium.
"What Mugabe was saying ...(is) that he has things the West would want and
does not want to fall into enemy hands," one senior Western diplomat in
"Mugabe is indirectly saying to the West: you guys will have to go easy on
me if we have to work out some deals for mutual benefit," he said.
Mining industry experts say there are sizeable uranium deposits in Kanyemba
district in Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley, and several companies from Western
countries, including Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States, are
But whether the country possesses enough of the metal in sufficient grade to
be economically viable remains unclear.
A major uranium find in Zimbabwe would be a boost for Mugabe's beleaguered
government, which has seen its economy all but collapse following the
seizure of white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.
World uranium demand is expected to grow partly because of plans by China --
a close Mugabe ally -- to build nuclear power plants. Spot prices for
uranium are at record highs above $30 per pound, against $20 per pound last
Zimbabwe mining officials say foreign firms have approached the government
for rights to exploit uranium deposits that were found two decades ago,
although it is not known if these are the same deposits that Mugabe was
Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants or, in a more
enriched state, to produce a nuclear weapon, although Mugabe said Zimbabwe
had no plans to provide uranium for "bomb making".
But western diplomats note that, along with China, Mugabe's government is
drawing closer to Iran and North Korea, both of which are at loggerheads
with the international community over their nuclear programmes.
Zimbabwean political commentator Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe was using
Zimbabwe's economic promise to remind the West that he was not to be trifled
"Almost all the big mining companies here are from Western countries, and if
Zimbabwe has uranium Mugabe will certainly try to use that too as a
bargaining chip," said Masunungure, chairman of the political science
department at the University of Zimbabwe.
By Sean Yoong/AP Writer/Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November 22, 2005
Governments across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America agreed
Tuesday to launch their own Internet-based news network to counter what they
called prejudiced reporting by the Western media.
Plans to create the Nonaligned Movement News Network were endorsed by
information ministers and senior officials from more than 80 mainly
developing nations such as Cuba, Iran, Syria, Myanmar [Burma], North Korea,
Sudan and Zimbabwe, many of which claimed their reputations have suffered
because of foreign media coverage.
Countries will start using the network in early 2006 to supply news on
domestic events to each other and to rebut "smear campaigns which developing
nations have suffered from biased and distorted Western media reports," the
ministers said in a joint statement after a two-day conference in Malaysia.
"The ministers opposed the use of the media as a tool for hostile propaganda
against developing countries," the statement added. "They also regretted the
continued tendency of the Western media in stereotyping and profiling
perpetrators of terrorist acts as Muslims."
The Nonaligned Movement comprises 114 mostly developing nations that tried
to stay neutral during the Cold War. Not all sent representatives to the
Kuala Lumpur meeting.
Malaysian Information Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said newspapers and
news agencies from the movement's member countries plan to share stories and
photographs on a Web site that will help them reduce their reliance on the
Western media for international news.
"The Western press has been very nasty to us," said Abdul Kadir, whose
country currently chairs the movement. "If we keep on receiving bad
coverage, no one will want to invest in us or visit our countries."
Malaysia's state-owned news agency, Bernama, will oversee the network and
coordinate efforts to help poorer nations boost their technical
infrastructure and expertise to contribute to the initiative, Abdul Kadir
"We're determined to do all that it takes to ensure this becomes a credible
network to represent our voice," he said, adding that Malaysia's Cabinet has
approved an unspecified financial allocation to set up the network.
HARARE - Four people have died of dysentery in northern Zimbabwe in
what appears to be the first outbreak of the disease outside the capital, a
newspaper reported Tuesday.
The four victims, all elderly people from a home for the aged in
Zimbabwe's northwestern farming town of Karoi, died in the past week from
the disease, the state-controlled Herald said.
"Several other people... were reported to be also suffering from a
similar disease in Chikangwe Township" in Karoi, the paper said.
Although there does not appear to be laboratory confirmation yet that
this is dysentery, the paper said the victims had blood in their faeces, one
of the key symptoms of the disease.
An outbreak of the highly contagious diarrhoeal disease was reported
earlier this month in the capital Harare and its satellite town of
Chitungwiza. Two hundred people were hospitalised.
Most of Zimbabwe's municipalities have been hard-hit by the country's
economic crisis, marked by triple digit inflation and acute fuel and foreign
As a result, conditions for healthy living have deteriorated, with
refuse piling up in many poorer suburbs of towns and cities. Burst sewage
and water pipes go unrepaired.
Earlier this month 14 children below the age of five were reported to
have died recently in some of Harare's poorer suburbs from food poisoning. -
November 22, 2005 14:16 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- Over the past four years, Zimbabwe has
witnessed the creation of hostile broadcasting stations by powerful nations
that churn out hostile propaganda aimed at subverting its people, said its
Ambassador to Malaysia Lucas Pande Tavaya.
He said that newspapers were also being printed outside Zimbabwe and
distributed clandestinely in the African country in open defiance to the
country's national laws.
The same detractors have also gone to establish dedicated websites that also
churn out hostile propaganda, he said during a debate on the final day of
the Sixth Conference of the Ministers of Information of Non-Aligned
Countries (Cominac VI) here, Tuesday.
He said that these websites were western-media online creations which were
specifically designed to portray Zimbabwe in a bad light.
"In an apparent adherence to the concept of `towing the flag', the current
policy of the Western media is that no journalist from their newspapers
should ever report on anything good that comes from Zimbabwe.
"Any event in the country, no matter how positive it may be, is deliberately
recast to convey a negative picture that must be consistent with the above
policy," said Tavaya who led his country's delegation to the conference
which ended here today.
Tavaya said these developments should stand up as a constant reminder that
anyone among the NAM countries could be victimised in the same way.
"At this juncture, I wish to express Zimbabwe's deep gratitude to all the
NAM countries for their unwavering support in many international fora where
our detractors were prevented from isolating us from the international
community," he said.
He said it was against this background that Zimbabwe welcomed Malaysia's
proposal to invigorate the concept of a news pool in the form of NAM News
He said Zimbabwe feels that the ownership, institutional and legal framework
for the creation of NNN should guarantee viability and sustainability as
well as conformity with "our NAM objectives with a vision that projects
beyond the current chairmanship."
He said the relevance and effectiveness of the NNN proposal would depend on
the good qualities of news agencies in member countries.
"I implore this conference to seek and implement measures that will
strengthen our national, sub-regional and regional news agencies in the
areas of personnel training, news gathering and dissemination," Tavaya