by Own Correspondent Friday 23 November 2007
JOHANNESBURG - An international human rights body has warned that deepening
economic problems could drive Zimbabwe's beleaguered health sector deeper
into the ground unless there is drastic action to stem the decline and own
up to the government's international commitments.
The International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations
(IFHHRO), a worldwide body focusing on health-related human rights issues,
said the combined effects of the economic crisis and compromised
infrastructure express themselves throughout a health system that was once a
model for southern Africa.
It said the eight-year economic crisis has hastened the deterioration of key
infrastructure needed for economic activity and public health such as
adequate power and water supplies.
"Although no data is currently available, the risk of increase of diarrhoeal
diseases, and even cholera, is evident as individuals dig shallow wells and
are also forced to defecate outside when there is no water," IFHHRO said on
Tuesday this week.
The country's second largest city Bulawayo has recorded at least 3 600 new
cases of diarrhoea since August due to a water crisis that also threatens to
decimate the city's industry.
Bulawayo, with more than one million residents, is facing a serious water
crisis after three of its five supply dams were decommissioned due to low
water levels, resulting in some suburbs going for up to three weeks without
Residents have resorted to using water from unprotected sources or buying
water in order to beat the shortages.
The IFHHRO said rolling power blackouts were having a telling effect on the
"IFHHRO learned, for example that the blood bank in Harare had to destroy
its entire supply of blood when power outages prevented refrigeration of
blood," said the body that draws its membership from doctors, nurses and
The IFHHRO saluted the dedication to service of Zimbabwe health
professionals under difficult economic conditions.
"But that dedication and courage is no substitute for action by the
government of Zimbabwe to comply with its obligations under human rights
principles and law," it said.
The public health sector that caters for the majority of Zimbabweans has
been rocked by strikes as state doctors and other health professionals
regularly down tools to demand more pay and better working conditions to
cushion them from the country's world record inflation estimated at more
than 14 000 percent.
The government admits health workers deserve more money but says it does not
have enough in its coffers to bankroll the usually high salary hikes
demanded. - ZimOnline
By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent
Published: November 22 2007 20:04 | Last updated: November 22 2007 20:04
Thabo Mbeki, South African president, held talks with Robert Mugabe, his
Zimbabwean counterpart, on Thursday amid signs that the former's efforts to
mediate in his neighbour's political crisis are nearing a climax.
It was the first time the two had met outside multinational summits since
regional leaders asked Mr Mbeki to mediate between Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF
party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change seven months ago.
While Mr Mbeki was also to see MDC leaders, the centrepiece of his fleeting
trip to Harare was his encounter with the president, with whom he has an
Despite initial scepticism about the talks, the MDC has recently become more
optimistic following a series of provisional agreements with Zanu-PF
designed to pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections
planned for March.
Diplomats believe that Mr Mbeki is hoping to unveil a fledgling accord
before the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon next month, although they point out
that it is one thing for Mr Mugabe to agree to reforms - and quite another
for him to implement them.
In Pretoria last week, the two leaders of the MDC's rival factions told Mr
Mbeki of their fear that Zanu-PF was merely playing along with the talks.
They said Mr Mugabe's supporters were intimidating the MDC and making the
chances of free and fair elections impossible.
Mr Mbeki has been heavily criticised in the west over his "quiet diplomacy"
policy towards his northern neighbour, which has to date yielded little,
while Zimbabwe's economy has imploded and state repression of opponents has
Mediation talks initially faltered after Zanu-PF delegates failed to attend
early sessions. But last month the two parties secured their first accord.
They agreed to a constitutional amendment on poll procedures, the
composition of parliament, and the way a presidential successor is to be
This prompted outrage from many critics of Mr Mugabe who said several of the
reforms bolstered his position, and that the MDC had merely given the ruling
regime some threadbare legitimacy. MDC officials countered that it was a
confidence-building step which could lead to more reforms.
MDC sources and diplomats close to the talks on Thrusday suggested the South
African president would put pressure on Mr Mugabe to agree to changes to
notorious security and media laws that have in the past given the ruling
party huge advantages in election campaigns.
Diplomats believe that Mr Mugabe is keen to go to the Lisbon summit
clutching some form of deal enabling him to argue that Zimbabweans are
addressing the crisis.
Further sticking points include the MDC's wish to postpone the elections
until June and to allow for the return of the several million Zimbabweans
who are estimated to have fled the deep economic crisis.
After his meetings, Mr Mbeki was to fly to the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting in Kampala, where Zimbabwe was expected to be discussed.
Zimbabwe's membership was suspended in 2002 amid charges of election-rigging
and human rights abuses.
November 23, 2007, 05:45
President Thabo Mbeki is expected to give a report-back to the Commonwealth
about the Zimbabwean negotiations when he leads a delegation to the
Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting starting in Kampala, Uganda, today.
The meeting will be held under the banner "Transforming Commonwealth
Societies to Achieve Political, Economic and Human Development". On his way
to Uganda, President Mbeki stopped over in Harare for talks with President
Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mbeki said he was confident that the political stand-off in Zimbabwe could
be resolved through dialogue. The talks culminated in an agreement by both
parties to amend the constitution and harmonise presidential and
parliamentary elections next year.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said there is
optimism that mediation in Zimbabwe will bring positive results.
She was speaking during a visit to Luanda, Angola.
By Blessing Zulu
22 November 2007
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki met on Thursday in Harare with President
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and leaders of both factions of the political
opposition, pressing the parties to crisis talks he is mediating to wrap
them up in the next two weeks.
Sources close to the Pretoria negotiations said they have bogged down in the
details of Zimbabwean electoral reform and the repeal or redrafting of
But Mr. Mbeki told reporters at State House in Harare after meeting with Mr.
Mugabe that the talks have gone well so far and that he is confident a
solution is in reach.
"They (the talks) have gone very well. I came to Harare today to see the
president and the leadership of the MDC so we can reflect on where we are
and to report to them as facilitator how the talks have gone," Mr Mbeki told
the news conference
Mr. Mbeki was to continue on to Kampala for a weekend summit of the
Commonwealth heads of state, whom he was to brief on his Zimbabwe mediation
efforts. A European-African summit looms in early December in Lisbon, at
which, no doubt, Mr. Mbeki will be called upon to deliver an account of his
efforts to bring peace to Zimbabwe.
But opposition officials said they won't sign an agreement without a firm
commitment to serious democratic reforms by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. They
said the talks are at a strategic turning point and further delay will
jeopardize the March 2008 date set by the Harare government for
parliamentary and presidential elections.
Sources in the ruling party said Mr. Mbeki related opposition concerns to
President Mugabe, who promise to consult his party on how to move things
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change faction led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters that his
party remains fully committed to the talks despite the "process's challenges
and its slowness."
Biti said the opposition raised its concerns about political violence
against its members with Mr. Mbeki, reported Harare correspondent Thomas
But Mr. Mugabe in his meeting with Mr. Mbeki dismissed charges of a state
crackdown on the opposition and obliquely accused Mr. Tsvangirai of playing
to the gallery.
"It's the usual accusation which the MDC makes," President Mugabe told
reporters. "It is one basis they have for raising allegations against us,"
he said, adding, "I wonder if he also raised the matter of the violence in
his party." The Tsvangirai faction of the opposition has seen considerable
internal turmoil since last month in reaction to a reshuffle of the
leadership of its women's wing, including internecine violence.
Deputy Secretary General Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga of the MDC faction
led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Blessing Zulu that President Mbeki in
discussions with the opposition voiced concerned about the pace of the
Meanwhile, some 400 members of the National Constitutional Assembly, a
pressure group, staged a demonstration on Julius Nyerere Avenue in Harare
along Mr. Mbeki's travel route to express opposition to a constitutional
amendment agreed upon in the Pretoria talks. They were dispersed by riot
police who arrested 10 protesters.
NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, who led the demonstration, said his
organization wanted to express displeasure with how Mr. Mbeki has handled
the crisis talks.
Click here to read press release of EU delegation to Harare
By Carole Gombakomba
22 November 2007
Both factions of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change have
taken issue with a report from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network saying
that they were "barely visible" over the past several weeks in terms of
their mobilization of potential voters to register during a recently ended
official mobile registration drive.
ZESN said the important registration exercise failed to draw as many people
in rural areas and similarly marginalized exurban districts who are likely
to find it difficult to obtain transportation permanent registration offices
in their districts.
ZESN said only the ruling ZANU-PF was visible to its monitors and even then
only in a few districts like rural Masvingo and Kariba, on the northern
border with Zambia.
But Elections Director Ian Makone of the MDC faction led by Morgan
Tsvangirai told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that while his formation agrees with ZESN that the mobile registration
exercise was not well conducted, his formation did what it could given
logistical challenges and election uncertainties.
Elections Director Paul Themba Nyathi of the rival MDC faction of Arthur
Mutambara said his formation is doing its best under difficult conditions to
The Zimbabwean government has called local elections in January 2008 and
general and presidential elections in March 2008. But some have urged the
ballots be put off in view of the ongoing crisis talks between the ruling
party and opposition, and the logistical challenge of implementing recently
legislated electoral changes.
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
22 November 2007
Incoming U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee on Thursday presented his
credentials to President Robert Mugabe, later saying in an interview that he
intends to re-engage the Harare government while seeking to promote free and
"I expect to come in and hopefully build bridges with the government of
Zimbabwe," he told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe shortly after fulfilling the diplomatic formality at State House in
"I hope to open a dialogue at the uppermost levels of this government all
the way up to and including President Mugabe," said McGee, who before being
posted to Harare served as ambassador to Swaziland, Madagascar and Comoros.
McGee told VOA that after he presented his credentials to Mr. Mugabe, the
president "gave us a long history of the relationship between the United
States and Zimbabwe, one that he, correctly I believe, characterized as not
very good at the present time."
Most observers agree that U.S.-Zimbabwean relations hit a historical low
during the tenure of McGee's predecessor, Christopher Dell, who infuriated
the government and Mr. Mugabe with unsparing criticism of Harare's policies
and human rights record.
But McGee on Thursday defended Dell's confrontational style. "My predecessor
I think did a wonderful job of making certain that everyone knew what was
happening here in Zimbabwe," he said in an interview. "And the government
did not appreciate that."
McGee said the U.S. government would look to Zimbabwe's national elections
set for March 2008 as a litmus test of how serious Harare is about
He said the U.S. fully supports the South African-led crisis resolution
process and will work with the Southern African Development Community to
promote fair elections.
But for now, he said,"U.S. policy on Zimbabwe is not going to change -
everyone knows what the United States stands for as far as human rights are
concerned, and we expect to continue that exact same stance in Zimbabwe,
unless we see a substantial change on the ground."
A top priority for him will be to oversee US$200 million a year in aid to
Zimbabwe for humanitarian food assistance and antiretroviral drugs to fight
HIV/AIDS, he said.
by Nqobizitha Khumalo Friday 23 November 2007
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
is dehorning the country's black rhino population in a desperate bid to
discourage the poaching of the endangered species.
The exercise, that began last month, has seen 29 rhinos in the
Sinamatella Game Park in north-western Zimbabwe being dehorned.
Department spokesman Edward Mbewe yesterday told ZimOnline that the
wildlife authority planned to dehorn the country's entire rhino population.
"Our target is to have all the black rhinos in the country de-horned
in the coming few years. We have already de-horned 29 rhinos in the
Sinamatela game park over the past few weeks," said Mbewe.
The rhino horn is a highly coveted item in the Far East where it is
traditionally regarded as having potent aphrodisiac qualities.
Zimbabwe is among four countries in the world still carrying
significant numbers of rhinos. The other countries with large rhino
populations are South Africa, Namibia and Kenya.
However, the southern African nation has seen its rhino stock
dwindling since the 1990s owing to increased poaching by armed gangs mostly
from neighbouring countries. - ZimOnline
Published: 23 Nov 07 - 0:00
Mining company Falcon Gold Zimbabwe says the nonpayment of outstanding
foreign currency earnings amounting to US$509 590 by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe has forced it to limit expansion and exploration programmes, as its
resources have been diverted to the sustenance of daily operations.
In an unaudited statement covering its operations during the nine-month
period ended June 3, 2007, the company notes that operations have also been
severely affected by power outages and frequent machinery breakdowns owing
to a shortage of spares.
"The continued spares shortages and interruptions in power, fuel and other
supplies have affected, and are continuing to adversely affect, mining
"The company's poor US dollar generation capacity has placed immense strain
on its ability to maintain plant and equipment, to secure essential stores
and to honour payments to contractors and creditors," reads the financial
statement. The company says that power outages during the nine-month period
totalled 763 hours.
It notes that operations have continued at all its mines - Dalny, Venice,
Golden and Camperdown - largely thanks to a US$1-million loan from Central
Africa Gold, which now owns 85% of its shareholding.
During the period under review, the Dalny mine produced 4 308 oz of gold
from 569 442 t processed, while dump retreatment operations yielded 2 245
oz, from 548 167 t processed. The Venice mine is currently under care and
The Camperdown mine produced 5 052 oz of gold from 101 091 t it processed,
giving an average yield of 1,55 gr from each ton processed, while Golden
Quarry produced 2 403 oz.