Nov. 8 - DURBAN, South
Africa (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is deliberately
starving opposition supporters to strengthen his grip on power, one of the
country's Catholic leaders said on Friday.
Pius Ncube, Archbishop
of Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, told church leaders in the South
African port city of Durban that he believed 160 people in his home province
of Matabeleland had already starved to death, and thousands more would die
"Men, women and children were, and still are, being
deliberately starved," he said, adding that Mugabe had embarked on a program
of retribution against his opponents after his plans to change the
country's constitution were defeated in 2000.
"Mugabe is using
the food crisis in Zimbabwe to force people to vote for his party," Ncube
said, adding that only those with ZANU-PF ruling party cards were able to buy
The European Union said on Thursday that Mugabe was using
food as a political weapon.
Half of Zimbabwe's 14 million people
are threatened with starvation, according to the United Nations World Food
Programme. However the WFP says it has not heard any reports of people
starving to death in Matabeleland.
ZANU-PF denies that it has
politicized food distribution, and in turn accuses some aid agencies of
sending more food relief to opposition strongholds.
won reelection to a fifth term in power in March this year, Zimbabwe has
spiraled deeper into its worst economic and political crisis in 22 years of
independence. Mugabe has held the reins of power for all that
"He (Mugabe) is clinging to power at the expense of people's
lives," Ncube told Reuters in a telephone interview after his breakfast
speech. "It is causing a lot of upset because there is no foreseeable end to
"All this is being done to destroy the
opposition and cling onto power, the arrests, the arson, torture and
selective distribution of food all serve to keep the population under
Ncube has spoken out against Mugabe before, most notably
since a 1980s army crackdown in Matabeleland which human rights groups say
left tens of thousands of civilians dead.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF says
the Archbishop sympathizes with the opposition MDC and should quit the
Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, has described as "mad" the archbishop who
on Thursday urged President Robert Mugabe to stand down.
should feel some sympathy for that bishop because he does not need our
criticism, he needs our prayers
Jonathan Moyo Mr Moyo
denied that the government distributed food aid to its supporters only, saying
that more than half of the supplies had been handed out fairly in opposition
The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, said Mr Mugabe's
controversial land reform programme was ruining the country's economy and
putting millions at risk of hunger.
He said black farm workers were the
real victims when white farms were handed over to government supporters.
Mr Moyo dismissed Mgr Ncube's criticisms, saying
he was not fit to pass judgement on the government's policy.
Archbishop Ncube is a long-time Mugabe critic
bishop is mad, he is mad, and I don't think it is fair for you to ask me to
comment on the utterings of a mad bishop," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa
"I think we should feel some sympathy for that bishop because
he does not need our criticism, he needs our prayers, and we want to assure him
he has our prayers. We are praying for him."
Mr Moyo said that the
government had distributed 569,000 tonnes of grain across Zimbabwe, at least 54%
of which had been given through private milling companies to Harare and
Bulawayo, where the opposition is strong.
He dismissed the suggestion
that the bishop was only expressing what the people had told him, saying that
they had been sent by "British intelligence operatives".
"He is not an
authority, Mr Moyo said of Archbishop Ncube, "he is a desperate, troubled soul."
Mr Moyo accuses the UK of stoking violence in Zimbabwe
The European Union on Thursday accused President Robert
Mugabe's government of channelling food aid to its own supporters and ignoring
opposition activists, as millions face starvation.
reports that foreign food aid was being diverted, a Danish minister said that
such behaviour was unacceptable.
Last weekend, a United States official
warned that the US may have to take "intrusive" measures to ensure that food aid
was properly distributed.
Zimbabwe denied the allegations and accused
the US of preparing to invade.
Friday, 8 November, 2002, 16:55 GMT Mugabe tightens the
Life for ordinary Zimbabweans is becoming more
By Mike Donkin BBC
Correspondent recently in Zimbabwe
These days there
is an unwritten rule in Zimbabwe - support the government or put yourself at
One victim of violence I met, said he was set upon by a gang of
ruling Zanu-PF party supporters. The reason?
We are unable
to report on a lot of things that are going on in this country
Trevor Ncube Zimbabwe Independent "I'm not interested in going to
the meetings of Zanu-PF," he tells me.
Stories of violence like this are
now common. So are stories of torture sessions in police stations.
official with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) describes the
long, long week he spent in custody.
"A group of officers took me from
the cell to a torture room, and dipped my head in a bucket of water.
"They had to handcuff me and they had to put electrical cords on my
fingers, toes and my private parts. I felt I could not stand it but there was
nothing I could do. "
Shoot the messenger
MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai says that people are being intimidated across the country, under
orders from President Robert Mugabe himself.
"He is using state
institutions to crush the opposition by whatever means at his disposal.
Morgan Tsvangirai warns of economic collapse
"Our leaders in some of the very strong provinces are being brutalised
on a daily basis. The judiciary, the press, everyone is under attack."
The press in Zimbabwe feels the noose on them is tightening daily. The
government is clearly determined to shoot the messenger.
editor of the Independent in Harare, explains:
"We are unable to report
on a lot of things that are going on in this country.
"The story of
hunger, the story of destitution, the story of the violence, the story of
lawlessness - the independent media in this country, and the foreign media, is
unable to get into those areas where the state and the lawless party thugs do as
they please. "
In other nations, those who feel
disenfranchised can turn to the law. Not much use here.
helps run a legal aid group, Crisis in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe, he says, has
made sure that the law works for him.
There is no way you
can pretend that you are in control when six to seven million people are hungry
Morgan Tsvangirai "We've seen the tinkering with the
composition of the judiciary. Clearly I think the appointments are meant to deal
with specific interests - which are ruling party interests - dilute the
composition of the bench to such an extent that it will not be possible to have
Also under pressure are the non-governmental
organisations. They are trying to help millions of Zimbabweans who face hunger
because of drought.
But the government accuses some NGOs of being
foreign agents and thus a threat to national security.
Canon Tim Neil is a Zimbabwean who runs a local NGO that's trying to
feed displaced farm workers. He says it is the government which is threatening
the vital work of the NGOs:
"The World Food Programme has suspended food
relief in one district because of the politicisation of the relief.
Praying for better times
Children have been closed from distribution.
"An organisation that was
distributing through the Catholic Church in Gwanda, they have been closed.
"Oxfam has been shut down in, I believe, the Binga area. And so even the
implementing partners are being viewed by government as enemies and are not
being able to distribute."
These allegations of repression are serious
ones. So we tried to call Zimbabwe's information minister to answer them.
He was not available. For now, all these measures seem to have
strengthened Robert Mugabe's hand.
Tsvangirai warns him people can only take so much:
"There is no way you
can pretend that you are in control when six to seven million people are hungry.
"We're near collapsing the whole economic fabric of this society. So it
may be a bravado that he's displaying but he knows certainly that he's sitting
on a very serious time bomb."
As economic crisis grows in Zimbabwe
though, its president shows no sign of relenting.
Most people here feel
that things will get much worse, before they get better.
yesterday accused the Bush administration of using the famine threatening
southern Africa as a pretext to invade or undermine the government of
President Robert Mugabe.
"The United States is planning to invade
Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing relief aid
to people who were allegedly being denied food on political grounds," the
state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, considered an accurate mirror of government
opinion, said in a front-page story yesterday.
The U.S. Embassy in
Harare issued a statement denying the accusations, but Zimbabwe army Chief of
Staff Gen. Vitalis Zvinavashe told the newspaper the U.S. government was
trying to control private relief groups distributing food and aid in the
country "and disregard the laws of Zimbabwe."
The comments were the first
extended reaction by the Mugabe regime to remarks late last week from a
senior State Department official, first reported in The Washington
Times and Bloomberg News, that the U.S. government was
considering "intrusive, interventionist measures" to ensure the
delivery of international aid in the country.
With the Mugabe
government accused of channeling food aid away from regions where political
opposition is strongest, "the dilemmas of the next six months may bring us
face to face with Zimbabwe's sovereignty," said Mark Bellamy, principal
deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
said Friday at a Washington forum on Zimbabwe's deepening economic and
political crisis the U.S. government still hoped the United Nations, private
relief groups and international pressure could open aid channels
throughout the country, and no U.S. official has repeated his
"We believe only the people of Zimbabwe can solve
their nation's problems," according to yesterday's
But State Department officials continue to accuse
the Mugabe government of politicizing food distribution, fears heightened
when Zimbabwean officials seized a shipment of grain from the U.N. World Food
Program and distributed it to supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
Relief organizations and community activists within
Zimbabwe have leveled similar charges.
"Politicization of food
distribution by the ruling party in the face of an urgent need and real human
suffering is very cynical," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
said Monday. "It's a very self-serving response to a major humanitarian
U.S. officials say Mr. Mugabe's authoritarian rule,
the state monopoly on grain distribution and a
coercive land-redistribution program targeting the country's white-owned
farms have greatly aggravated the effects of the drought that has hit
Zimbabwe and five other countries in the region.
There are about 4.5
million Zimbabweans now needing food aid, and the figure is expected to rise
to 6.7 million by March.
Mr. Bellamy warned last week, "It's safe to
predict that the situation in Zimbabwe is going to get a lot worse and
that there will be no change unless outside forces prove to be the
But Stan Mudenge, Zimbabwe's foreign minister, said in
a television interview that the charges the government was diverting food
aid to political supporters was a "fandango of a fairy tale of lies" spread
by opposition politicians.
- President Robert Mugabe is expected to present an annual budget statement
next week with promises of a brighter future, but analysts say there will be
no respite for the struggling economy without some key
The world will look for any pointers that Mugabe is
ready to reverse some of the controversial policies that have plunged the
southern African country's economy into virtual free-fall with millions
facing starvation, they say.
But shifts are difficult to predict in a
government dominated by radicals appointed by Mugabe to help him fight a
deepening political and economic crisis which he blames on Western forces
seeking to oust him from power.
Zimbabwe's 2003 budget will be presented
on Thursday by new Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, who was appointed to the
post two months ago in place of Simba Makoni, whom Mugabe dropped over major
policy differences after some two years in the job.
Murerwa, a genial
figure and former diplomat, is regarded by industry as a loyalist with no
strong views and a man who has always worked close to his boss's
Policy changes needed
"There is no excitement over
the budget because whatever figures and promises that the government is going
to provide will only make more sense if they are accompanied by some policy
changes on the ground," said James Jowa, chief economist at the Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC).
"We may or we may not get some new
incentives to boost production," he added.
Zimbabwe's economy shrank
by 7.3% last year and is expected to contract by a further 10% in 2002 after
a severe drought and serious disruption of its key agricultural sector by
Mugabe's land reforms.
Nearly half the country's 14 million people are
facing starvation, unemployment is close to 70% and the country is struggling
with other shortages such as fuel and cooking oil.
soared by more than 100 percent in the country since November 2001, climbing
to a record 140% in the year to September.
Financial analyst Nyasha
Chasakara said Murerwa had hinted that he was committed to fighting rising
inflation and it would be interesting to see what measures he came up
But other analysts say there is very little chance of key policy
changes, including a devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, which has been
pegged at 55 to the US dollar but is trading at around 1 500 on a thriving
Mugabe won't back down
And nobody is expecting
Mugabe to reverse or slow down his controversial seizures of white-owned
farms for redistribution to landless blacks, which he says is part of efforts
to revive an economy mired in its third year of recession.
whose controversial policies are blamed by many for ruining one of Africa's
most-promising economies, has been fighting Zimbabwe's political and economic
crisis under the banner: "Land is the economy and the economy is
Critics say instead of opening up the economy to the key private
sector, Mugabe has worsened Zimbabwe's crisis by imposing and tightening
controls on food imports, food prices, fuel and transport. The government
has accumulated foreign debt arrears of nearly US $170
Earlier this week the IMF's chief representative in Zimbabwe,
Gerry Johnson, was quoted from New York as saying that Mugabe's Zanu-PF
government was guilty of creating "a three-headed monster" of declining
production in all sectors, artificially low interest rates and a fictitious
Johnson told Zimbabwe's Daily News Mugabe would have to
reverse the international pariah status he has earned by years of farm
seizures, what he called a stolen presidential election in March and broken
promises to gain political mileage.
November 8, 2002 Posted to the web November 8,
Dumisani Muleya Johannesburg
CARRYING heavy bags of
maize-meal on their heads and clutching paper bags, a long line of people
stretches across the New Limpopo Bridge from the SA border towards
As they approach the customs post, about 100 men and women of
all ages suddenly bolt from the main road through holes in the security fence
and rush helterskelter into the bush.
At Beitbridge customs, people
look stunned and begin to whistle, prompting those who have gone through the
fence to increase their pace. Packages are dropped; touts at the border post
join the fray, rushing to grab the items left behind.
As the scene
gets more chaotic, the police stand by and watch the
These events were observed last weekend, but similar
scenes are playing themselves out on a daily basis here at Beitbridge border
post the busiest port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa where thousands of
Zimbabweans are smuggling food into their own country to avoid starvation.
Apart from maize meal, they also squeeze in with sugar, salt, beans, milk,
cooking oil and even bread.
Some people crossing the bridge say
shortages and hunger have forced them to visit Messina, 12km away from
Beitbridge, to buy food.
"There is nothing in our shops," one person
says. "The reason why we go through the fence and not customs is that custom
officials only allow us two bags of maize-meal when we need much more than
Armed police at the openings through which most people evade
customs say they cannot stop the human flow.
"What can I do?" asks one
officer. "Do you want me to arrest them so that their families can starve?
There is hunger in Zimbabwe and these people are just trying to
While most people in Zimbabwe's big cities are getting used to
having to do with substitutes, those near border posts such as Beitbridge,
Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Mutare, and Plumtree resort to importing staples
from neighbouring countries.
Zimbabwe is gripped by an unprecedented
food crisis. According to the World Food Programme, about 6-million people
nearly half the country's population are facing starvation. The food crisis
has been attributed to drought and the effects of Harare's land reforms on
The crisis is expected to sharpen in the next
few months as food supplies dry up. Donor groups such as Christian Care have
warned that government's policies are hindering them from bringing in and
distributing food freely to the needy. British organisations such as Oxfam
have been banned from distributing food aid as the Zimbabwean government
charges them with trying to influence domestic politics through food
For its part, government is unable to import sufficient
grain due to a lack of foreign currency.
Meanwhile, the private sector
is not allowed to import grain. According to government regulations passed
last year in the face of looming food shortages, the state marketing board is
the only entity authorised to import grain.
US ambassador to United
Nations (UN) food agencies, Tony Hall, warned recently it could soon be too
late to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe is headed
for famine and people will die," he said. "I'm not sure we can stop
The programme says it is battling to expand its food relief
activities to prevent spreading starvation. A spokesman for the food
programme, Luis Clemens, says the UN relief agency is stepping up efforts to
cover those areas where the food shortages are worsening rapidly.
are working flat out to prevent famine," he says.
"By the end of the
month we should have moved from 20 to 28 districts. We are trying to feed
everyone who is hungry and we want to reach about 3,9-million people by March
or April next year," says Clemens.
Zimbabwe is just one of the countries
in the region experiencing severe food shortages.
Vegetables join the shortages list
11:12:27 AM (GMT +2)
cabbages and other vegetables are now running short despite government talk
of a successful land reform programme.
A survey by The Daily News
showed that most major supermarkets in and around Harare were receiving an
erratic supply of cabbages and rape.
The supply of traditional
basic commodities like maize-meal, cooking oil, bread and milk continues to
However, shortage of transport seems to be hampering
delivery of produce to markets in Harare. A variety of vegetables are piled
along the roadside on most highways leading to farms surrounding the
The farmers complain about the unavailability of transport
to carry their produce to the market. Most transport operators have grounded
their fleets following the shortage and high costs of spare parts, compounded
by an erratic fuel supply situation.
As a result vegetable
producers are losing as most of their produce is rotting by the roadside
before reaching the market.
The vendors who spoke to The Daily News
said getting transport to deliver their produce to the market was fast
becoming a nightmare and even in cases where transport was available, the
costs were prohibitive.
On the farms, a head of cabbage sells at
$20 while just by the roadside, the price doubles to $40 and by the time it
hits town the price would have gone up to between $60 and $70.
The transport situation in the country has dealt a blow to almost every
sector of the economy.
Slow and unreliable production flows have
become common as transport operators grapple to get spare parts and
Commuters have not been spared either. Transport for urban
dwellers has become a nightmare as it now takes not less than two to three
hours for commuters to get to and from work. Cases where workers report for
work two hours late are slowly becoming the norm, rather than an
SOUTHERN AFRICA: EU slams politicisation of food aid
November (IRIN) - The European Union (EU) this week accused Zimbabwe's ruling
party of using food aid as a political weapon against opposition
Bertel Haarder, European affairs minister of Denmark which
holds the EU presidency, told Reuters: "They use our aid as a tool in the
domestic fight against the opposition in order to survive and that is not
Haarder's comments followed a two-day meeting between top
EU officials and their counterparts from the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) in Mozambique. The meeting was reportedly dominated by the
political crisis in Zimbabwe and widespread regional food shortages.
More than 14 million people are in need of emergency food aid in six
southern African countries, with six million people affected in Zimbabwe alone.
While the government has attributed the food crisis to a crippling drought,
observers say the government's fast-track land programme has exacerbated the
At the close of the meeting on Friday the EU said in a statement
that it would work with local NGOs and other donors to draw up guidelines for
the distribution of food aid to the region to avoid political abuse.
EU, however, failed to broker an agreement with African leaders on how to deal
with the crisis in Zimbabwe.
"We have had a robust debate, but we have
no agreement on the subject [of Zimbabwe]. But from the European side, we have
strongly emphasised good governance, security and peace. Clearly, we have
Zimbabwe in mind, because what is happening there is not acceptable. We need
that to be sorted out," Haarder told reporters.
Since the start of
Zimbabwe's troubles, southern African leaders have been reluctant to reproach
President Robert Mugabe, and have opposed sanctions as a possible solution to
the political crisis.
"Bashing Zimbabwe all the time does not help.
Sometimes it gives people the perception that indeed Zimbabwe has been bullied,"
Malawi Deputy Foreign Minister Chimunthu Banda was quoted as saying at the
meeting in Maputo.
Analysts have suggested that deep divisions between
African countries and the West over tougher measures against Zimbabwe had
inadvertently hampered efforts to help ease the political imbroglio in the
The EU slapped sanctions on Mugabe's government after a March
presidential election considered illegitimate by the West, but endorsed by most
EU representatives in Maputo also reacted strongly to
suggestions from the Zimbabwean leadership that Europe and Britain should
compensate white farmers for their expropriated land, saying the "reforms were
conducted with minimum respect for the rule of law".
Mugabe has said that
the farm seizures were the only way to ensure that landless blacks could tackle
Despite not having reached a deal with African ministers
over Zimbabwe, the EU pledged Euro 101 million (US $101 million) in assistance
towards eradicating poverty in the region. The funds are expected to bolster
regional economic integration among SADC member states and improve transport and
In a related development, two more
British-based charities were banned from operating in Zimbabwe, news agencies
reported on Friday. The charities were the Westminster Foundation and the
Zimbabwe Democracy Trust.
Harare has in the past accused NGOs of
colluding with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in a plot to
overthrow the government.
Last month the government ordered Oxfam and
Save the Childrens Fund to suspend their operations. Both charities are awaiting
government approval to continue with their food delivery programmes.
UN urged to intervene to stop partisan food
11/8/02 11:35:02 AM (GMT +2)
THE United Nations has been urged to intervene and stop
the politicisation of the distribution of relief aid especially that which
is sourced through the world body's affiliate organs.
to interviews with residents of Harare, the ruling Zanu PF party should not
be allowed to continue monopolising the distribution of relief food by
favouring the party's card-carrying members.
Scores of consumers
who had queued at Pfukwa shopping complex in Harare's Warren Park D suburb to
buy maize-meal went home empty-handed after they were asked to first produce
Zanu PF cards to buy the commodity.
The maize-meal was being sold
at a supermarket in the suburb.One resident said: "When I went to buy
mealie-meal, I was turned away after I failed to identify the name of the
Zanu PF district and its leadership. The UN should stop this before we starve
Another resident who identified himself as Murwisi said
his wife had been turned away after she failed to produce a Zanu PF
membership card. He said: "I think that the UN should intervene to stop
this madness. Why should I be denied food because I do not have a Zanu PF
The residents' plea to the UN came hardly a
day after the United States said it was looking for ways to ensure food
reaches the needy regardless of the political affiliation.
However, the US Embassy in Harare, denied that it was planning on invading
Zimbabwe as reported by the State-controlled national daily,
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher,
according to a Reuters story, said the review of food distribution methods
arose after the Zimbabwean authorities seized grain the World Food Programme
was distributing and gave it to supporters of the government.
"Contrary to the headline in a 6 November 2002 newspaper, the United States
has absolutely no intention of invading Zimbabwe. No US government official
has made such a threat. We believe that only the people of Zimbabwe can solve
their nation's problems," said the US Embassy statement released in
The US said while it remained committed to helping the
people of Zimbabwe survive the current food crisis, it was against the
distribution of food along political lines."Food donated by the United States
must be distributed according to need, not political affiliation. We believe
this is the principle on which all food aid should be
"The United States also remains committed to the
fundamental human rights of the people of Zimbabwe and will speak out when
those rights are violated."
Meanwhile, it was not possible to
interview the Zanu PF leadership responsible for the distribution of of food
in Warren Park D because they were hostile to strangers.
Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu PF spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
His secretary said he was in a meeting.In Binga, Kamativi and Jambezi in
Matabeleland North province, villagers alleged that Zanu PF officials
demanded party cards in the distribution of food aid.
Mhlanga, the MDC constituency co-ordinator for Nkayi said: "Most of our
supporters are not allowed to buy maize at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
and the most affected area is Ward 25, where there is
In Gweru, hundreds of farmers queuing to
buy maize seed at the GMB depot were allegedly turned away after they failed
to produce Zanu PF cards.
The entrance to the GMB depots in most
parts of the province are now guarded by Zanu PF supporters and so-called war
The GMB officials in Gweru and Kwekwe refused to comment,
referring all questions to the provincial administrator, Martin Rushwaya.
Rushwaya also declined to comment.
Zanu PF activists in Zaka,
Gutu and Mwenezi districts have taken over the distribution of food aid where
they allegedly deny MDC supporters the commodity.
Mabvure of Ward 11 in Mushandike resettlement area said: "A list of people
suspected of supporting the MDC has been compiled to make sure that we do not
get food. We have also been denied maize seed and fertiliser under the
government's farming credit input scheme."
MDC officials in
Manicaland said the most affected areas are Buhera, Chipinge, Chimanimani and
But Charles Pemhenayi, Zanu PF's provincial
spokesperson, dismissed the allegation and challenged Muchauraya to produce
the names of Zanu PF officials involved in the illegal exercise.
Muchauraya then identified Fanos Guringo of Buhera, Maurice Mhukwe
and Maurice Sakabuya both of Chipinge, Gilbert Shoko, Fidelis Kangwere,
Zenzo Nyoni and Punish Mhiripiri all from Makoni as masterminding the
Renson Gasela, the MDC shadow minister of
lands, challenged the government to allow independent inspectors to verify
the allegations of partisan food distribution.
Roy Bennet, the MP for Chimanimani, yesterday said war veterans who are
camped on his Charleswood Estate have stolen and slaughtered at least 20 head
of cattle worth about $2 million since June.
He has persistently
resisted threats by Zanu PF officials, war veterans and the police to evict
him from the farm, arguing it falls under the Export Processing Zone
According to the law, any farm under the EPZ cannot be
Bennet alleged the war veterans
slaughtered most of the cattle and sold the meat to butcheries in
Chimanimani, retaining some of the meat for their own
He said: "I have a serious problem on the farm. Since
June, the war veterans have prevented my cattle from grazing, resulting in
them losing weight and eventually dying. I have 800 cattle on the farm at the
moment which are now being stolen and slaughtered."
he initially owned about 1200 cattle but had sold some of them when the
thefts began. He said the war veterans slaughtered two beasts last week and
roasted them on the farm. Bennet said he reported the matter to the police.
He said: "The police have not taken any action whatsoever. I decided to move
my cattle off the farm and approached the veterinary department in
Chimanimani for a permit but the officer there said he was scared to issue
"He said he had been threatened by a senior policeman against
doing so. My cattle are now in a pathetic state. They are deteriorating
because they are being prevented from grazing."
the provincial police spokesman, could not be reached for comment
Stanislous Chikukwa, a member of the national executive
of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association dismissed
Bennet's allegations on the slaughtering of the cattle.
"That's not true. I was in Chimanimani last week and I never received such a
report, either from the police, the district administrator or from war
But Bennet insisted his cattle were being starved while
some of them were being slaughtered indiscriminately.
JUSTICE Charles Hungwe has ruled that the treason trial of
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two other party officials facing allegations
of plotting to assassinate President Mugabe be held in February next
The trial was originally set for next Monday. Hungwe's ruling
followed an urgent application in the High Court by Innocent Chagonda
representing Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general and MP for
Bulawayo North-East, and Renson Gasela, the shadow minister of agriculture
and MP for Gweru Rural.
Chagonda said the ruling was made last
week on Monday. "The matter will be heard on 3 February 2002,'' he said.
Chagonda said they applied for the postponement because the State had failed
to give the defence a copy of the audio tape in which Tsvangirai is alleged
to have spoken of the plan to assassinate Mugabe.
He said, in
addition, the government delayed in giving the defence team the State outline
in the matter."Our advocates were also not available on the date proposed by
the State,'' Chagonda said.
Advocates Chris Andersen and Eric
Matinenga are part of the MDC leaders' defence team.The three were implicated
by former Israeli secret agent Ari Ben-Menashe, of the Canadian lobbyist
firm, Dickens and Madson, last November in the run-up to the controversial
March presidential election.
Ben-Menashe, who did political
consultancy for the government, has admitted being a long-time admirer of
Mugabe well before the alleged plot by Tsvangirai and his
The government alleged that a video shot secretly by
Ben-Menashe showed Tsvangirai agreeing with Ben-Menashe that Mugabe be killed
before the presidential election.
Tsvangirai becomes the second
opposition leader after the late Zanu president, Ndabaningi Sithole, to be
tried on allegations of trying to kill Mugabe.
Sithole died in
December 2000 with a pending case in the Supreme Court in which he was
challenging a two-year prison sentence imposed by the High Court following
his conviction for attempting to assassinate Mugabe.
THE British High Commission yesterday scoffed at reports in
the government-controlled Herald newspaper yesterday, alleging the
United Kingdom was behind an alleged plot to invade Zimbabwe.
The High Commission said in a statement yesterday: "These claims are untrue
and irrational. As we have stated on many occasions, the British government
wants to see peace and stability in Zimbabwe. The British government has no
intention of invading Zimbabwe, nor is it encouraging others to do
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly
since the farm seizures which began in 2000 and over last March's
disputed presidential election.
The Zimbabwean government has
repeatedly accused Britain of plotting to topple President Mugabe's
government for seizing mainly white-owned commercial farms for purported
resettlement of the land-hungry.
The British, whose envoy to Harare
has reportedly been placed on 24-hour surveillance by State security agents
for allegedly trying to undermine the government, have denied the
The latest stand-off stems from yesterday's issue of
The Herald, which alleged that three activists from Matabeleland presented
falsehoods on the situation in the country at a meeting set up by the British
in Washington on Saturday.
The newspaper alleged the meeting
attended by the activists was organised by the London-based Zimbabwe
Democracy Trust, which it said was funded by Britain's Centre for
International and Strategic Studies. The Herald said the Washington meeting
was chaired by a former secretary at the British High Commission, David
Troup, an allegation the High Commission denied yesterday.
"Contrary to The Herald's claims, the British government is not funding the
Zimbabwe Development Trust. The Trust is entirely independent of the British
government and does not speak for the British government," the High
The High Commission said Troup had worked with
them in 2000 for just one month while he was on temporary
"He is no longer working for the British High
Commission or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office." News24
EU says no to compensation
Maputo - The European Union
(EU) has rejected Zimbabwe's demand for Europe and Britain to compensate
white farmers evicted from their farms under Zimbabwe's contentious land
"That is now unacceptable, these reforms were conducted
with minimum respect for the rule of law," Danish Minister for European
Affairs Berterl Haarder told a press conference late on
Zimbabwe is currently embroiled in a land reform programme
which has seen the seizure of most of the properties belonging to the
country's 4 500 white farmers.
Very few have been compensated so far
by the Zimbabwean government.
Haarder's comments came after the first day
of a two-day meeting between top EU government officials and their
counterparts from the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
in the Mozambique capital.
Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge had
said earlier President Robert Mugabe's government wanted Britain to
compensate white farmers as "we have completed the land reform
"We just want justice for the white farmers," Mudenge
Haarder said Zimbabwe had prompted heated debates at Thursday's
session, which focussed on peace and democracy. "We had serious and robust
debates on Zimbabwe but with little progress," Haarder said.
He said a
normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU could not be expected
soon, but everything would be done to ensure the continuation
The EU has been a staunch critic of Zimbabwean land
reform, and has imposed targetted sanctions and travel restrictions against
Mugabe and 71 of his close associates for alleged human rights abuses.
developments in which Zanu PF has demanded membership cards from hungry rural
and urban dwellers only serve to strengthen the need for international
pressure to ensure non-governmental organisations are allowed direct
participation, in order to save millions of Zimbabweans
Villagers in Binga, Insiza, and urban dwellers
in Budiriro, Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana, Mufakose and Warren Park have in the
past week been required to produce membership cards of the ruling party
before being allowed to buy maize-meal.
This is the most callous
conduct anyone can ever imagine from a government. As one of the ruling
party's senior officials, Didymus Mutasa, said not so long ago, Zanu PF's
actions illustrate that they would rather all non-party supporters starved to
death, effectively a kind of State-induced genocide, designed to ensure that
Zimbabwe reverts to a one-party state.
This is one example of
how a government has deliberately plotted to wage a war against its own
citizens for daring to exercise their right to belong to a party of their
It is because the government no longer listens to anyone,
internally, that pressure from outside should be applied in order to avert an
imminent humanitarian crisis.
If the food for which Zanu PF
membership cards are being demanded was free, and was being sourced by the
party using its own resources, there might be some tenuous justification of
the malicious practice. But this is food that people are paying for with
their own money. On the other hand, the government has ensured that anyone
seeking to bring in food - private companies and the MDC - is denied such a
role by a government requirement that they first obtain an import
The government is doing this deliberately in order to
"fix" the opposition, but more significantly what is happening demonstrates
that the government's assurances are worthless. President Mugabe in July
assured James Morris, the executive director of the United Nations World
Food Programme (WFP) that the government would not interfere in the
distribution of food aid to the more than six million Zimbabweans at risk of
What has followed Mugabe's "assurance" to the WFP chief
is that in areas such as Binga and Insiza, international non-governmental
organisations have been ordered out because they are perceived as feeding
supporters of the opposition.
That a government can sanction the
starvation of hundreds of thousands of people because they differ politically
is reprehensible, disgraceful and horrendous.The government and the ruling
party claim it is not their policy to sell food to their supporters only, but
the structures that are doing this are theirs, so they cannot be
unaware of it.
If indeed the government was against such a
practice, it would have ordered the arrest of anyone guilty of such conduct
and would have punished them in a manner demonstrative of the government's
displeasure. But it has done no such thing because it is sanctioning these
The European Union-Sadc ministers meeting in
Maputo this week would be an appropriate platform to pressure the Zimbabwe
government to allow non-governmental organisations a more significant role in
averting mass starvation. The actions of the government are no different from
the those of the perpetrators of the genocide that claimed hundreds of
thousands of lives in Rwanda during 1994.
It is now more than a
month since non-governmental organisations were stopped from distributing
food to more than 200 000 people in Binga.
There might still be
some food which the government gave the villagers in Insiza, in exchange for
their votes during last month's parliamentary by-election, but even there
hunger may yet claim many lives.
It is anyone's guess how the
villagers are surviving. Pressure must be exerted on the government to avert
a looming humanitarian crisis. It is ironic in a macabre sort of way that the
government can express grief at the number of lives lost in this week's road
accident and mine tragedies, when it is itself busy plotting to bring about
the demise of people who are not its supporters by denying them food. SADC/EU Meeting Ends Without Agreement On Zimbabwe
Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
November 8, 2002 Posted to the web
November 8, 2002
A ministerial meeting between the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) ended in
Maputo on Friday, without any agreement on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
meeting lasted four hours longer than scheduled, and much of that time was
spent in negotiations over how to refer to Zimbabwe in the
Key ministers could be seen going from one group to
another clutching pieces of paper. As the afternoon wore on so the diplomats
became increasingly tired, increasingly frayed.
In the end, all that
could be said in the final statement was "On the question of Zimbabwe, SADC
and EU could not reach an agreement".
The meeting's co-chairman, the
Danish Minister for Europe Affairs, Bertel Haarder, read out to a closing
press conference the text on Zimbabwe that the EU had proposed. This
expressed "concern at the plight of the people of Zimbabwe", and stressed
that the issue of land reform could not be separated from the rule of law,
democracy and human rights. It suggested sending a joint SADC/EU team to
Zimbabwe to follow the situation and make recommendations for the way
Haarder said it was the Zimbabwean delegation, led by Foreign
Minister Stan Mudenge, that had blocked adoption of this
However, his co-chair, Angolan Planning Minister Ana Dias Lourenco,
denied this and said the EU text had been rejected by SADC as a
The EU took the precaution of circulating a brief statement of its
position on Zimbabwe. This expressed deep concern at "the violations of human
rights and the restrictions on the media, as well as the deteriorating
economic situation, caused largely by the policies of the Zimbabwean
There was no equivalent statement from SADC. Lourenco
claimed the SADC position on Zimbabwe was "well known", and called for a
renewed dialogue between the EU and Zimbabwe.
"Our objective is to
re-establish relations between Zimbabwe and the EU", she said.
claimed that the disagreement over Zimbabwe did not affect the rest of the
meeting, nor did she expect it to affect the overall level of
During the meeting Mudenge called on other EU
members to put pressure on Britain to pay compensation to the mainly white
commercial farmers whose land has been expropriated during Zimbabwe's "fast
track" land reform.
This was regarded as an attempt to split the EU
delegations, and it failed. "The 15 EU countries have been in total
agreement", said Haarder. "We have stood together".
He noted that when
the EU held meetings in the afternoon to discuss the working of the
communique, they only lasted about five minutes, such was the level of
Later Mudenge claimed he had been encouraged by the meeting
and that "a lot of useful information was exchanged".
But he then
denounced Britain and other EU members for "destabilising" Zimbabwe. Asked
repeatedly which EU members he was referring to, he would only mention
Britain, Denmark and Holland by name.
The "destabilisation" consisted in
independent radio stations broadcasting from Britain and Holland, and foreign
funding for Zimbabwean human rights organisations and political parties. At
one point, he described those who received such funding as "British
Was Mudenge really suggesting that NGOs in the SADC region
should not accept any money from foreign governments ? "They should not fund
political parties or groups that attack SADC governments", he
Mudenge denied allegations of discrimination in the distribution
of food aid, and claimed that the greater part of the aid distributed this
year has gone to parts of Zimbabwe that returned opposition members to
Mudenge praised two former British foreign secretaries, Lords
Carrington and Howe, for urging the current British government to pay
compensation to the Zimbabwean white farmers, whom he described as "victims
of the Lancaster House settlement" (the 1979 agreement on Zimbabwean
Ironically, Mudenge was siding with prominent members of
the British Conservative Party (historically the party which supported white
minority rule in what was then Rhodesia) against the current British
government, formed by the Labour Party (which historically supported the
ATTN SUBSCRIBERS: Please note a correction to the headline of the story moved on
Thursday. Oxfam has not "urged" the Zimbabwe government to lift its ban. The
headline should have read:
ZIMBABWE: Oxfam awaits approval for WFP food
JOHANNESBURG, 7 Nov 2002 (IRIN) - A British charity Oxfam on
Thursday said it was still awaiting approval from the Zimbabwean government to
go ahead with the delivery of food supplied by the World Food Programme (WFP).
Jane Cocking, Oxfam's regional programme manager in Zimbabwe told IRIN:
"We are still in negotiations to become a WFP implementing partner. All the
paperwork has been done and there are ongoing discussions with the Ministry of
Social Welfare. We are confident that the suspension will be lifted soon."
Last month Oxfam and Save the Children's Fund (SCF), another British NGO
were banned from distributing WFP-supplied food aid. Additionally, SCF was
ordered to stop distributing its own food to people in the Binga district of
The ban on the two charities came at a critical point,
with hunger deepening across Zimbabwe. WFP has estimated that close to six
million are in need of emergency food aid until the next harvest in March/April
In the meantime, Oxfam said that it had distributed seeds to
communities in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
Last year the
government accused aid agencies of using food relief to campaign for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
More recently, the
politicisation of food aid has become a controversial issue as the government
faces allegations of channelling food aid away from regions where political
opposition is strongest.
Last month WFP suspended the distribution of
relief supplies in Insiza district in Matabeleland South province due to alleged
political interference by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Cholera follows in wake of food shortage
Cholera is the latest health threat to more than 14 million people already
hard hit by a food crisis in southern Africa, the International Federation of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned yesterday.
Five hundred cases
of cholera and 24 deaths were reported in the last month alone in Zimbabwe's
Masvingo province, it said.
Other cases have been reported in
neighbouring countries affected by drought which has meant more people are
forced to drink polluted ground water.
The International Federation has
sent cholera treatment kits for up to 5000 people this week, but said it also
needed to step up its water and sanitation efforts.
The Zimbabwe Red
Cross said cholera had in recent weeks swept through the districts of Zaka
and Bikita where HIV-Aids affected up to 42 percent of the adult
"The Red Cross maintains there is a link between the cholera
outbreak and food shortages," the statement said.
based in Zimbabwe, noted that cholera usually struck when the rains started,
but this year it had come earlier because of the food security
"People are weak, they have limited access to food and they
are using poor water sources," he added.
As well as Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland are affected by the food crisis. --
NOTHING smacks of hypocrisy more than a law that purports to
afford a profession some protection but which is, in fact, replete with
clauses that restrict its practice.
It is even more
serious if that law attacks one of the most fundamental human rights
guaranteed under our Constitution - the freedom of expression and our right
to be fully informed.
But the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) does precisely this by creating a fictitious privilege
out of the practice of free expression and criminalising those who
violate the provisions of this repressive legislation. Such a law has no
place in any democratic society.
If the proposed amendments to
AIPPA form the bulk of this article, readers should be under no illusion that
any serious discussion about regulating the media and promoting access to
information in Zimbabwe must now start with how this law in all its forms
(amended or not), affects every one of us.
AIPPA is an ominous
document. Its intentions are calculated to buttress government's present
campaign to dismantle the instruments of democratic practice by silencing the
voices of those who criticise its apparent excesses.
fact that dozens of changes were made to the original Bill, which the
Parliamentary Legal Committee described as "the most calculated and
determined assault on our liberties guaranteed by the Constitution", AIPPA
still remains a most extraordinarily repressive piece of
Indeed, some amendments proposed by Parliament were
discarded on the basis that they would erode "the policy thrust" of a law
that intended to give the Minister of Information and the Media and
Information Commission (MIC) unprecedented authority, comparable only to that
of the police force and the Supreme Court. In its original form, the Bill
even granted the Commission immunity from legal proceedings, a right only
enjoyed by the President under the Constitution.
extremely authoritarian provisions did not survive in the Bill's passage
through Parliament, they provided a clear indication of the "policy thrust"
that motivated government's thinking when it introduced the legislation. Just
hours before the bombing of The Daily News printing press in the early hours
of 28 January 2001, the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in
the President's Office, Professor Jonathan Moyo, was quoted on national radio
and TV (main news bulletin on 27/01/2001) as saying: ". . . because of
its anti-Zimbabwean stance the pro-MDC Daily News poses the greatest threat
to the national security and freedom of the Press and government will not
hesitate to take corrective and legal measures against the wayward
It is small consolation that Moyo condemned the
bombing soon after it happened - albeit blaming the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) without providing any evidence to support his claim.
The State's utter failure to bring the culprits to justice for this act of
exceptionally blatant terrorism nearly two years ago, can only be measured by
its subsequent silence on such a grave matter.
From this and
numerous other threats the minister and other government officials have made
against the private Press, the "policy thrust" of AIPPA becomes abundantly
clear: it is nothing more than a government attempt to silence public dissent
and its messengers, in an effort to promote the selfish interests of the
Mugabe regime - one of which is to extend its stay in power.
do this effectively, the government has to suffocate all the alternative
sources of information that report on government's excesses and the voices of
its victims, through economic, legal and all other means at its disposal. And
AIPPA is the instrument with which it plans to achieve this. The Act intends
to "licence" journalists and "mass media services" and impose fines and jail
terms for breaking the provisions of a law that turns the practice of
receiving and disseminating news and opinion into a privilege.
No longer is the telling of stories and the dissemination of opinion a right
that is constitutionally protected. Under AIPPA the practice of journalism
will be severely regulated.
Already, at least 15 journalists have
been charged under AIPPA since it was promulgated on 15 March this year.
Others have been threatened, harassed and arbitrarily detained. Beyond this,
an increasingly violent and widespread campaign has been launched to prevent
private newspapers from being circulated freely around the country. Little
effort has been made to curb this totally illegal activity.
AIPPA's manifestly unconstitutional clauses and pending legal challenges have
exposed the Act's weaknesses and have convinced the government of the need to
gazette amendments to the law.
These reduce its exposure to
constitutional challenge and broaden the powers of the MIC and government's
control of the dissemination of all electronic and printed matter to
The free flow of information in Zimbabwe will
depend heavily on the decisions of the MIC, which has the authority to decide
the fate of those who collect and distribute information for public
In the original Act, three of the seven members of the
MIC were to be nominated by an association of journalists and media houses.
The proposed amendments seek to repeal this provision and give the minister
sole discretion to appoint all commissioners, whom he can suspend or dismiss
for "conduct that renders him/her unsuitable". What constitutes such conduct
is not defined, leaving the law open to abuse.
That the media
fraternity will have no say in the whole process as laid down in the proposed
amendments is significant. This measure will have the effect of eroding
professional independence, thereby undermining the integrity of the
information reaching the Zimbabwean public.
Indeed, the proposed
amendments reinforce the repressive tendencies of AIPPA. Serious and
meaningful debate on media regulation should not start with AIPPA, since it
is a negative document. Its inadequacies as a democratic tool for promoting
the free flow of information in the public interest are in no way remedied by
the proposed amendments. And its selective application solely against the
private Press, clearly demonstrates that the "policy thrust" of its
promulgation was to silence dissent and starve the nation of vital and
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) says it will hold nationwide demonstrations
tomorrow without police permission to protest against continued government
On the same day, the MDC will hold their third
anniversary celebrations in Highfield.
Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA
chairman, said yesterday the NCA would hold mass demonstrations throughout
the country to protest against government repression and press for a new
"After Saturday's demonstrations, we will be holding
these protests every two weeks," he said. "We want to protest against the
government's continued subjugation of the people of Zimbabwe through unjust
laws, which we believe can only be solved by having a new Constitution.
The demonstrations will be in defiance of the repressive Public Order
and Security Act in that we will not even notify the police, as we have
been doing all along. They use our courtesy to crush our demonstrations and
it is now time to say no."
On whether NCA members would not be
arrested again for holding demonstrations without informing the police,
Madhuku said: "Fear of the police can never be a valid reason for postponing
a demonstration. Engaging in a demonstration is a fundamental right, just as
one does not seek permission to breathe."
He said the
demonstrations would be held in Harare, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Bulawayo and
Gweru. On the same day, the MDC is scheduled to hold its third anniversary
celebrations at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield.
secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, said the party resident, Morgan
Tsvangirai, and other party leaders would address the
On the clash between the NCA demonstrations and the MDC
celebrations, Douglas Mwonzora, the NCA spokesman, said: "In the current
situation the NCA sees nothing to celebrate, under these circumstances of
massive intimidation, election fraud, harassment of the opposition and a
total breakdown of the rule of law."
IN a move certain to
dash the hopes of thousands of Zimbabweans seeking economic refuge in the
United Kingdom, the British High Commission in Harare yesterday announced
that Zimbabwean nationals visiting the UK will now require a
Previously, Zimbabweans did not need such an endorsement on
their passports. An estimated 300 Zimbabweans, fleeing an economic meltdown
in their motherland and government-sanctioned political violence, seek
asylum in Britain every two weeks. In June, British Press reports cited
Zimbabwe as among the countries with the highest number of refugees seeking
asylum in the UK during the first three months of this year. Zimbabwe became
the third largest source of people seeking refuge in the UK - behind Iraq
Under the new arrangement, which comes into
effect tomorrow, Zimbabweans will have to fork out $72 000 for a visa, apart
from the prohibitive airfare of more than $500 000 to London. Zimbabweans
wishing to transit through the UK to and from a third country will also
require a visa.
"The current fee for a standard visitor's visa,
allowing entry into the UK for up to six months, is $72 000. A direct transit
visa currently costs $54 000," the High Commission announced. The visa
applications will be handled by a special operator, FedEx, which has offices
in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Victoria Falls.
night, the British envoy to Zimbabwe, Brian Donnelly, denied the new measures
were part of the stand-off between his country and Zimbabwe. He said the new
visa requirements were intended to reduce the rising number of Zimbabweans
seeking asylum in the UK.
Donnelly said in 2001 only 115 were
granted political asylum out of 2 115 applicants. He disclosed that 2 800
Zimbabweans had sought asylum in the first six months of this
The British Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was quoted as
saying the new measures are in line with a new policy to overhaul the
British immigration and asylum system.
"I have decided to bring
in a visa programme for Zimbabwe to deal with what is a very significant
abuse of our immigration control by Zimbabwean nationals. Large numbers are
refused entry into the UK and returned, others are granted short-term entry,
many as visitors, but fail to return home," he said.
addition, the UK has experienced increasingly large numbers of unfounded
asylum claims from Zimbabwean nationals.
"We have put in place
special arrangements to help those who already have a confirmed ticket to
travel to or via the UK, and can show that it was purchased on or before 7
Exempted from visas are those who are due to arrive
in the UK on a direct flight or a direct transfer flight via Johannesburg
before midnight on Friday next week. Those who are due to transit the UK
before midnight on Friday are also exempted.
Also exempted from
visas are Zimbabwean passport-holders who are legally settled in the UK,
those with certificates of entitlement to the right of abode and those who
have previously been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a period
of more than six months but are returning before that period has
The High Commission said straightforward applications
would be dealt with within seven working days and that all those with queries
would be invited for interviews at their offices in Harare.
"FedEx will deliver your passport, with a visa if your application has been
successful, to your home address," the High Commission said.
an apparent retaliatory move, ZBC announced last night that the Zimbabwean
government had imposed a travel ban on 119 people, including British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and Zimbabweans working for SW Radio Africa, which
broadcasts from London.
ZBC added that Britain had been downgraded,
in terms of visa requirements, from category A to B. This means British
passport holders will now be required to apply for visas to enter
Government not worried about Britain's imposition of
9 November 2002 The Government said it is not worried by
Britain's decision to impose visa restrictions on Zimbabwean nationals
visiting the European country.
The Minister of State for Information and
Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo told Newsnet that Zimbabwe is the only
country in the region that was still enjoying that special
Professor Moyo said Zimbabwe was enjoying that dispensation
because of the presence of the British kith and kin in the country who are
clinging on to prime land.
The introduction of visa requirements for
Zimbabwean nationals entering the United Kingdom comes after a long-standing
diplomatic row between the two countries.
Professor Moyo said the
removal of the special dispensation on visas for Zimbabwean nationals has
been prompted by the exodus of white commercial farmers running away from the
land reform in Zimbabwe.
Professor Moyo also pointed out that Britain is
now afraid of being exposed after recent reports that some blacks who left
the region under the false pretext of asylum seeking are being treated as
slaves in Europe, Australia and other developed countries.
Professor Moyo said the Government has also imposed travel bans on some
Zimbabwean nationals resident in the United Kingdom because of their works
"These Zimbabwean nationals have proved beyond reasonable
doubt that they have lost their allegiance to the land of their birth," he
He added that some of them have even acquired foreign citizenship.
MEPs face Zimbabwe ban
BRUSSELS - Zimbabwe yesterday announced that six MEPs would be banned from
entering the country in retaliation for London's introduction of visas for
Zimbabweans travelling to the UK.
The MEPs - co-president of the
ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Delegation, Glenys Kinnock, and Conservatives John
Corrie, Nirj Deva, Jacqueline Foster, Neil Parish and Geoffrey Van Orden -
join a host of prominent UK politicians who are no longer welcome to set foot
in the country. External Relations Commissioner, Chris Patten, has also been
hit with the sanctions, which have immediate effect.
Zimbabwean Government said the decision had been taken to safeguard the
country's sovereignty, secure its national interests, peace and stability.
Visas for Zimbabwean citizens travelling to the UK had been imposed in
response to the growing number of people unjustifiably claiming political
EU breaks its own travel ban MEP Geoffrey Van
Orden today branded EU travel bans on senior Zimbabwean Government officials
a "farce" when it was revealed that the Belgian Government has issued entry
visas for two banned Zimbabwean Ministers.
Minister of State for
Enterprises, Paul Mangwana, and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Christopher Kuruneri, will be travelling to Brussels to attend
the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly between 25 and 28 November.
"This decision is a disgrace. It makes further mockery of the European Union
and it is an affront to all the starving and oppressed people of Zimbabwe,"
said Mr Van Orden. He pointed out that this is the third time in six weeks
that the EU has broken its own travel ban.
In September, Trade
Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi spent a week in Brussels and last month the EU
summit with the Southern African Development Community was relocated from
Copenhagen to Mozambique so that Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister could
attend. Mr Van Orden has called for the Danish Foreign Minister, Per
Stig Møller, EU Development Commissioner, Poul Nielson and MEPs to boycott
the Joint Parliamentary Assembly if the Zimbabwean ministers attend.
8th November 2002 Press Release Police Autopsy Results Do Not Absolve
The results of the police autopsy announced yesterday do not in
anyway change our position that the illegitimate Mugabe regime is
directly responsible for the death of Learnmore Jongwe, the former Member
of Parliament for Kuwadzana and Secretary for Information and Publicity for
the Movement for Democratic Change.
Jongwe died in the custody of the
state. He had been denied bail three times; the state alleged, among other
reasons, that he had to be kept safe from committing suicide. It now emerges
that the regime wanted to keep him 'safe' so as to ensure his
The fact that traces of chloroquine were found in his body raises
two fundamental points. Firstly, Jongwe could have been forced to
take chloroquine. Secondly, if he indeed took the chloroquine on his own
accord, the regime and its partisan police force must explain under
what circumstances Jongwe got access to excessive amounts of chloroquine
while in state custody.
What is particularly shocking is the level of
insensitivity of the police, who proceeded to announce the results of the
autopsy without even having the decency to inform the Jongwe family. Like all
Zimbabweans, Learnmore's mother, his lawyer and the rest of the Jongwe family
found out about the results of the autopsy from the public media.
is the state of decay that the regime's police force has no sensitivity to
the feelings of the citizens of Zimbabwe; it is only concerned about serving
the interests of the dictator.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena's
continued insistence that the police will not consider the results of an
autopsy carried out by an independent South African pathologist, suggests a
level of nervousness about the revelations that could come out of that
autopsy. It also suggests that the police knew, even before the result of
their autopsy, how Jongwe died.
- Sikiniwe Khumalo tends to 40 patients during a single shift as a nurse at
the Helen Joseph Hospital here. That's too many, she says, for her to offer
more than basic medical care, and certainly too many to remember all
Miss Khumalo's workload is typical of medical personnel
here and around Africa, where HIV/AIDS and malnutrition have given doctors
and nurses more work than they can handle.
Despite this need, however, in
a few months, Miss Khumalo, a single mother of two, will pack her bags and
leave the country of her birth for England, where she will have
a take-home pay three times her salary in South Africa. And friends who
have already left say that in Britain, she will care for just six patients at
"Basically, it's the money," she said. "I can't make payments
here. I've been working for 15 years, but I think I'm not getting the salary
Miss Khumalo is not alone. South Africa is experiencing
a huge drain on health professionals, many of whom, like Miss Khumalo, are
leaving the country for places like Britain, America and Australia, where pay
is higher and working conditions are better.
This comes at a time when
the country's already-overloaded health system struggles to deal with the
increasing burden of AIDS. But overworked and underpaid doctors and nurses
are looking for alternatives. They are often helped by international
recruiting agencies that many African governments accuse of luring away their
much-needed medical staff.
No one knows exactly how many of South
Africa's medical professionals, whose training in the country's
medical schools is highly respected worldwide, have left the country,
because few tell the government they are leaving.
But the South African
Medical Association estimates that at least 3,500 of its 26,000 practicing
doctors are living abroad. The country's minister of health says that from
1995 to 1999, more than 2,500 nurses applied to have their qualifications
verified, which is usually required for nurses to move abroad.
show that the outflow is likely to increase. Nearly 10 percent of doctors
surveyed by the South African Medical Journal said they may leave within the
next five years, and one in three new doctors doing mandatory one-year
community service has plans to emigrate.
"Students sit around and talk
about where they want to go when they leave the country," said Christiaan
Burger, a medical student at the University of Pretoria and spokesman for
a student group protesting the planned addition of an extra year's
internship. Mr. Burger and others say that this extra year of service will
push more doctors to leave.
South Africa has called on wealthy
governments to stop recruiting its medical professionals.
"There is a
strong feeling that it is cynical on the part of countries that are better
resourced to rely on a constant stream of migrants from countries that pay
less," said Jo-Ann Collinge, a spokeswoman for South Africa's
Department of Health. "There should not be a systematic draining
from developing countries."
The Commonwealth, a body of 54 former
British colonies and territories, has addressed the issue of poaching.
Some countries have agreed not to recruit staff directly from
the developing world. Britain, however, is trying to relieve long waiting
lists at hospitals by bringing in doctors from abroad on a temporary
Because the United States does not have a nationalized health
system, the U.S. government cannot forbid American hospitals and universities
from recruiting overseas.
Private companies continue to recruit heavily
in African countries by advertising in medical journals and even offering
rewards for doctors and nurses who provide the names of colleagues. Even if
such practices were banned, there is little that could be done to stop
professionals like Miss Khumalo from approaching placement companies
on their own.
Medical groups in South Africa say the country needs
to address the homegrown reasons - which have to do with more than just
pay - that cause medical professionals to leave.
Temlett worked for 25 years as a doctor at Johannesburg General Hospital and
as a medical professor at the nearby University of Witwatersrand. A month
ago, he left for Australia, where he now splits his time between
a university and a hospital in Adelaide.
Dr. Temlett said he left
largely out of disgust with South Africa's HIV/AIDS policies and the
government's refusal to recognize the scope of the pandemic. The government
has opposed the use of anti-retrovirals for AIDS patients in public
hospitals and clinics, citing concerns about cost and the drugs'
"Out of the 40 patients I would see during a
shift, two-thirds of them - sometimes even as high as three-quarters -
were suffering from HIV-related diseases," he said. "It's certainly a crime
against humanity not to recognize the scope of the problem. It's
tremendously demoralizing the staff."
Despite its struggles to keep
its medical staff, South Africa's situation is not nearly as severe as the
situation of many of its neighbors.
There are 400 registered doctors
left in all of Zambia, and many of Zimbabwe's medical professionals have left
recently because of the increasingly unstable political situation there.
At one main hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, three of
the hospital's four surgeons left the country this year. In Kenya's Daily
Nation newspaper, the director of medical services said that Kenya has
only 600 practicing dentists, an average of one for every 69,000
"The issue of the migration of doctors is an
international issue," said Dr. Kgosi Letlape, chairman of the
South African Medical Association. "The problem has become
very widespread. The problem is that being a doctor is no
longer economically attractive. Even successful countries are having a
hard time training enough
(c) 2002 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
'SA Will Suffer for Its Policy On Zimbabwe'
November 8, 2002 Posted to the web November 8,
Dumisani Muleya Johannesburg
SA IS underestimating the
collateral damage the Zimbabwean crisis is causing its economy, the
Europebased International Crisis Group (ICG) has said.
In its latest
report, the ICG says SA's weak response to the Zimbabwean situation is
worrying as it shows a lack of understanding about the spread of economic and
political strife in the region.
"The lack of action divides Africa and
key western governments while Zimbabwe's opposition and civil society feel
abandoned and victimised," it says.
ICG said SA would be the biggest
loser if it continued to resist calls to moderate and contain Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe as a collapse in Zimbabwe would have far-reaching
consequences across the Limpopo.
The ICG is a private, multinational
organisation committed to strengthening the capacity of the international
community to understand and respond to impending crises around the world. It
is comprised of retired leaders and statesmen and its chairman is former
Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. Former SA high commissioner to the UK
Cheryl Carolus sits on the board. Since its inception in July 1 1995 it has
written several reports on Zimbabwe.
The ICG also warns that SA is
facing an increase in the number of economic refugees fleeing from Zimbabwe.
"The chief concern is the potential for a significant increase in refugees if
Harare deliberately elects to use refugees as a human bomb."
and thousands of Zimbabweans would escape to SA."
Apart from damaging the
SA economy, the Zimbabwe emergency would undermine the New partnership for
Africa's Development, ICG said.
It says that President Thabo Mbeki has
been using red herrings to avoid action against Harare. Mbeki's recent claim
that his critics want him to invade Zimbabwe is irrelevant.
judges that opposing Mugabe could well cost him domestic political capital,"
ICG says SA officials are united in their attempts to use feeble
excuses to duck the Zimbabwe issue.
For instance, Finance Minister
Trevor Manuel recently dramatised Pretoria's unwillingness to act against
Harare by asking whether his government should act like Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon does against Palestinians. The ICG says such arguments
The watchdog says the reasons SA is reluctant to tackle
Zimbabwe head on are complex. Foremost of these is the "great sensitivity
throughout the continent about criticising a liberation movement such as Zanu
Mbeki is failing to act because he is pandering to revolutionary
solidarity politics, says the ICG.
This week, Africa Media Watch examines press
reaction to Africa's Peer Watch Mechanism.
The initiative, endorsed
by African leaders as part of the New Plan for African Development or Nepad,
aims to monitor the behaviour of African governments with a view to attracting
Papers fear that the initiative's success will be hampered
by the long-held tradition of non-interference in other states'
"The notion of Africa being its brother's keeper is not going to
be an easy ride," an opinion writer in Johannesburg's Business Day
The Nepad project is doomed to fail because it is
really nothing more than wishful thinking
The paper feels many countries on the continent will view the idea as a
threat, especially those that "rely on repression to rule their people".
Harare's Daily News takes a similar line. In an editorial on why African
leaders are "scared" of scrutiny, the paper says the phenomenon "is Zimbabwe in
a microcosm: intolerance of dissent".
"The Zimbabwe Government is
sceptical of Nepad, anyway, basically because of its reliance on Western aid,"
the paper adds.
Nigeria's Vanguard worries that
"without a cast iron commitment to police its own progress... Africa's latest
development plan could suffer the same fate as a half-dozen previous failed
This pessimism is echoed in a commentary in Kenya's Daily
Nation, which says the NEPAD project "is doomed to fail because it is really
nothing more than wishful thinking".
Botswana's Mmegi comments in
similar vein: "History shows that African leaders see no evil and hear no evil
when dealing with errant leaders".
We survived this long
because we did not interfere in anybody's affairs...
The paper cites the example of Zimbabwe, whose "neighbours bear the economic
consequences of Robert Mugabe's misrule, yet fail to take firm action against
Similarly, Botswana can hardly advise Namibia's Sam Nujoma against
running for presidency for a fourth term, the paper says.
"If we do, a
war of words will erupt overnight. We shudder to think what could develop after
the verbal exchanges," Mmegi says.
"We survived this long because we did
not interfere in anybody's affairs... This initiative is a useless exercise that
can only generate resentment and anger within the continent".
adds that if it is not "politically palatable" for leaders to criticise each
other in an African set-up, then "the peer review is a window dressing that we
do not need".
A more optimistic note is sounded by
Uganda's New Vision, which describes Nepad and its initiative as "more plausible
than previous recovery plans".
Anyone who does not sign is
unlikely to obtain any of the extra aid and investment that Nepad is trying to
attract to the continent
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique
The paper feels Uganda's support for peer review will also silence
government critics who have accused the government of "slipping back to the dark
days of dictatorship".
"Hopefully critics will take this open-minded
acceptance of peer review as a sign that democratisation is still going forwards
in Uganda, and not backwards as they claim," the pro-government paper remarks.
An opinion writer in Kenya's Daily Nation goes so far as to describe the
Peer Review Mechanism as "a remarkable addition to the usual attempts by African
countries to get donor aid".
The paper says the initiative amounts to a
pledge by African leaders: "We will govern our countries more fairly and
efficiently if you give us lots of money for development projects."
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique also highlights the link to
"Anyone who does not sign is unlikely to obtain any of the extra aid
and investment that Nepad is trying to attract to the continent," the agency
It quotes the Mozambican government adviser, Firmino Mucavel, as
saying that the Nepad summit came under pressure to turn the peer review
mechanism into a mere assessment of economic performance, "leaving embarrassing
political issues aside".
"But without the political side, it is not
possible to achieve social goals," Mucavel said.
Kenya's People's Daily
disagrees, saying the economy should always be the priority.
leaders should "escape the Western obsession with demanding verbalisms like
'democracy' and 'transparency'... and focus on monitoring African economies,"
the paper advises.
blunder back into the line of fire by jonathan
As African nations push for a relaxation on ivory
sales, our correspondent reports from Kenya's Tsavo game
IT WAS dead of night when the young Somali
poacher finally crept slowly towards the watering hole. The
Kenyan game ranger, crouching low in a nearby ambush position, stiffened and
tightened his finger round the rifle trigger, straining every sinew for the
slightest clue to his adversary's exact whereabouts.
the poacher switched on his torch to give enough light to refill his water
canister, a single shot rang out, killing him instantly.
darkened plains of east Africa erupted into gunfire as the poacher's three
accomplices fled into the bush, firing indiscriminately at where they thought
their pursuers from the Kenya Wildlife Service
"We believe we got the leader. Another was
injured. They were almost out of the park. The others made it into more
populated areas, and got away," Danny Woodley, the game warden responsible
for security in Tsavo, an area about the size of Wales,
Hours earlier, the gang had slaughtered a family of
ten elephants, hacking away their faces with axes to gouge out every inch
of their precious ivory tusks.
The wildlife service had
been tracking them since they entered the park several days earlier, but had
been too far behind to prevent the massacre, the worst single case of
poaching in Kenya for several years.
Mr Woodley, a white
Kenyan, was one of the first to arrive at the killing site. Some corpses lay
with their feet in the air, others on their knees, as though they had died
"They were like beached whales in pools of crimson
blood, covered in vultures. There were cartridge cases all over the place,"
However, what worried and impressed Mr Woodley
was the professional way in which they had been killed: approaching from
downwind, the killer took the matriarch first with a few accurate head shots,
then as the rest of the confused herd milled around, he finished them
off individually with just one or two shots to the head.
"This man had killed elephants before. He knew what he was doing," Mr Woodley
said. The killer had to get close enough for an accurate head shot as he was
only armed with a light calibre AK47, he said, emphasising that elephants
have poor sight and experienced trackers can get very close before they are
His suspicions were later confirmed when the dead
poacher was identified as one of the killers of elephants in the "ivory wars"
of the 1980s. For Mr Woodley, it was just another confirmation that
someone, somewhere, was again buying ivory.
witnessed a sudden surge in poaching over the past 18 months that evoked
memories of the late 1970s and 1980s, when huge herds were
When that slaughter ended in 1989 with a worldwide
ban on the trade in ivory, Kenya's elephant population had been reduced from
several hundred thousand to a mere 18,000. Across Africa, the elephant
population was halved from 1.3 million to about 600,000.
Now poaching is back and many wildlife experts blame its increase on
speculation that controls on the trade in ivory could soon
More than 20 African governments support
easing the ban to sell up to 87 tonnes of their ivory stocks. The issue will
be reviewed next week by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Kenyan officials say that 81 elephants have
been poached so far this year, compared to 57 for the whole of last year,
which was itself double that of the previous year.
than one third of all Kenya's current elephant population of about 30,000
roam the plains of Tsavo East game reserve in the northeast of the country, a
remote and traditionally wild area.
Mr Woodley and his aides
first noticed an increase about 18 months ago. "We had had several years of
virtually no poaching at all, and then it started to hit us again," he said.
"There is clearly a market for ivory."
About 30 elephants
are known to have been poached in Tsavo this year, but the remains of others
in such a vast area may still not be found.
that, while the increase in poaching may not be due to the Cites review, it
shows that there is already a demand for ivory. If the trade in ivory
returns, they say, prices could rise and lead directly to more poaching,
which non-southern African states are not nearly as well placed to
"The crucial question to ask is: if we have sales
again, will demand go up and therefore the price?" Esmond Martin, a world
expert in the ivory trade, said. "If the price goes up, then we will have an
increase in poaching. It is as simple as that. Elephants are only killed for
Mr Martin said that the current price
for African ivory, most of which is now smuggled to illegal carving houses in
China, was about $45 (£28.50) per kilo. Poachers got between $7 and
The former director of the wildlife service, Richard
Leakey, the son of the palaeontologist Louis Leakey, and the man who led the
fight against the ivory trade, said: "Today we face a critical moment in
the battle to save the elephant. This is no time to reintroduce the
Plea to lift ban
Twenty-two African governments have backed plans to relax the 13-year ivory
trade ban and allow South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe to
sell up to 87 tonnes of their ivory stocks.
a.. The issue
will be discussed and voted on next week by the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Chile.
a.. The five
southern African countries have demanded a one-off sale of their stockpiled
ivory, and permission to sell a quota of 14 tonnes of ivory every year. They
claim that elephant populations are not threatened and argue that the sale of
ivory stockpiles will pay for conservation projects.
Opponents, including Kenya, India and many environmental groups, believe any
relaxation will prompt a further increase in poaching and illegal
a.. There is growing evidence that ivory poaching is
on the increase in Africa, particularly among the Congo Basin countries of
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Gabon,
Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Central African
a.. Africa's elephant population is estimated to
have fallen from 5 million in the 1930s to about 600,000 today. Most African
ivory is smuggled to China and is estimated to sell for about $45 (£28.50) a
ABBY Mgugu, the Director of
Women and Land Lobby in Zimbabwe, says women have not benefited from the
government's land reform exercise despite constituting the majority of the
population in the country.
Speaking at a meeting of the
Parliamentary committees on Gender, Land, Justice and Women's caucus
yesterday, Mgugu said only 16 percent of women-headed families had been
resettled by March this year under Model A1 farming scheme.
Women constitute 52 percent of the population.
Mgugu said women's
issues were ignored in the accelerated Land Reform and Resettlement
Implementation Plan dubbed the "fast track" programme.
programme is provided for in the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of
Zimbabwe. It does not deal with gender issues at all.
"It has been
difficult for women to compete with men for land under this programme because
there have been incidents of violence surrounding the programme," Mgugu
She said a quota system for the resettlement of women should
have been instituted under the fast track land reform programme in order
to accommodate more women.
She said this is despite the fact
that the government is part and signatory to several human rights instruments
such as the Beijing Platform of Action and the Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
149 (g) of CEDAW states that: "State parties shall take all appropriate
measures to ensure that women shall have equal treatment in land and agrarian
reform and in land resettlement schemes."
Daniel Ncube, chairman of
the parliamentary land committee said women were suffering because they were
being discriminated against by men when it came to land acquisition.
AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD Zimbabwe Jews weighing
options as Ashkelon mayor offers them aid By Moira
CAPE TOWN, Nov. 8 (JTA) - Zimbabwe's shrinking
and mostly elderly Jewish community has been heartened by an offer from the
mayor of Ashkelon to assist those who settle in the Israeli coastal
city. Michael Mensky, who heads South Africa's Israel Center --
associated with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist
Organization - conveyed the offer, as well as other aliyah options, at
community gatherings this week in Harare and Bulawayo.
Mayor Benny Vaknin learned of the plight of the Zimbabwe community while
attending an aliyah fair in South Africa over Passover.
"He said he
would take their plight as his own and work as a mayor to enhance their
coming to Ashkelon," Mensky told JTA.
Mensky told community leaders
that Israel historically has demonstrated its concern for threatened Jewish
communities -- such as those in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Ethiopia -- and
that Zimbabwe's 600 Jews would be similarly helped.
past several years, black "war veterans" have invaded white-owned farms in
Zimbabwe and turned out their owners. Hundreds of thousands of black farm
workers and their families also have been thrown out of their
The country's economy has deteriorated into massive
unemployment and runaway inflation, and over 80 percent of the black
population now lives below the poverty line. A longstanding drought has
exacerbated the risk of hunger.
Zimbabwe Jews who move to Israel
will receive an "absorption basket" of financial benefits, Mensky said. He is
lobbying for special recognition for them so that housing allowances,
particularly for retired people, may be granted.
in Zimbabwe seems to be deteriorating, and we suggested to the community that
if and when it's time, Israel will be there for them," Mensky said. "This is
the first time they have been made such an offer."
It's not clear
how many will take Vaknin up on his offer. Some Zimbabwe Jews do not see
Israel as a viable option, others are looking at other destinations and some
believe the situation at home will improve, Mensky said.
most are taking a wait-and-see approach, "in light of what's happening in the
country, I think many are taking this offer very seriously," Mensky said.
"They feel comforted to know that there is some sort of a back-up plan lined
An elderly member of the community, who did not wish to be
identified, said Jews in Zimbabwe indeed were considering their
"We don't know what's happening. We're in an awkward
position - after all, we've been here all our lives -- and it's not something
that we enjoy," he said.
Community members "certainly showed
more interest than usual" in the Israeli offer, the man noted. "And although
the elderly are the last to want to move, it will be taken up if
Ivor Davis, past president of the Harare Hebrew
Congregation, said Vaknin's offer "went down extremely well."
"For many of us this country has been a 'goldene medina' with its splendid
climate, friendly people and its opportunities," he said. "For those of us
who will leave the country, we shall miss it desperately."
noted, "what has happened to the white farmers and, indeed, to the million of
their black farm workers is perhaps the proverbial writing on the
Mervyn Smith, chairman of the African Jewish Congress, said
the offer was "very generous and very helpful. There's no doubt that the
economy and infrastructure has collapsed in Zimbabwe and if we can help Jews
settle in Israel, where they will live in safety and comfort, certainly it's
to be encouraged in all respects."
Mensky said he had been
shocked to see long lines for bread and gasoline in Zimbabwe.
"Jewish homes I went to had no milk or bread," he said. "Basic ingredients"
are "very hard to come by."
The many elderly members of the
community seem particularly likely candidates for aliyah, Mensky
"Those who are of pension age and know that their prospects
of growing old in Zimbabwe are very dim would look very seriously at
relocating to Israel," he said. "A lot of those I met have children in
Israel, and for them to go and spend time near their families is very
But he acknowledged the difficulties.
"These people come from very large homes, and it basically means giving up
everything," he said.
David Pallister and Tania
Branigan Friday November 8, 2002 The Guardian
government has launched a formal investigation into allegations that a white
Zimbabwean businessman - one of the richest men in Britain - has broken UK
and European sanctions by supplying aircraft parts to the Zimbabwean air
force. The allegations against the international financier John Bredenkamp
have been made in a United Nations report into the "illegal exploitation
of natural resources" in the Democratic Republic of Congo, published
In the past few days both the foreign secretary, Jack
Straw, and the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, have confirmed in parliamentary
answers that an investigation has been launched. In the first answer to the
Tory MP Michael Ancram, Mr Straw said: "We are aware of allegations of past
arms dealing activities by Mr John Bredenkamp."
On Monday Mr Hoon told
the Labour MP Paul Farrelly, who accused Mr Bredenkamp of sanctions-busting
in the Commons in March: "The government certainly takes seriously all
credible reports of misuse or diversion of UK-exported equipment."
UN report says that Mr Bredenkamp, founder of the Ascot-based sporting agency
Masters International, "has a history of clandestine
While Mr Bredenkamp admits he broke sanctions
for the Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith, he denies any sanctions violations
since then. He said in a statement to the Guardian that he took "great
exception to any allegation of wrongdoing", and described the report as
"hopelessly misleading and inaccurate".
His £720m fortune has placed
him as the 33rd richest person in Britain, according to the Sunday Times Rich
List. He is registered in the UK as a director of 11 companies.
report says he is an active investor in a brokering concern called Aviation
Consultancy Services, which acts as an agent in Africa for major European
defence contractors, including BAE Systems. BAE Systems supplied 12 Hawk jets
to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, but an arms embargo was imposed on the
country in May 2000 in protest at the violent treatment of President Robert
Mugabe's opponents. The EU followed suit in February this year.
report says: "Mr Bredenkamp's representatives claimed that his companies
observed European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe, but British Aerospace spare
parts for Hawk jets were supplied early in 2002 in breach of those
The panel cites internal documents, which the Guardian has
seen, from one of Mr Bredenkamp's companies, Raceview Enterprises, which
supplies logistics to Zimbabwe's defence forces. A memorandum dated May 17
2001 details aircraft spares worth $3m (£1.9m).
In a lengthy
explanation sent to the Guardian, Mr Bredenkamp's spokesman agreed that ACS
acted as a broker for Raceview, which reached a general supply agreement with
the air force in August 2001. But he said the aircraft spares were
legitimately exported from European manufacturers and not from BAE Systems or
The spokesman enclosed a letter from ACS to the air force in
April this year saying that because of the EU embargo two suppliers (whose
names have been blanked out) had decided to suspend all shipments to
Zimbabwe. The country has aircraft from Italy, Spain and
Although BAE Systems acknowledge that ACS is "one of our many
advisers in Africa" it denies supplying Hawk spares in breach of sanctions.
"We did not supply any spares to Zimbabwe and we do not believe any were
delivered, because we believe Zimbabwean Hawks are not flying and have not
been for two years," Richard Coltart, BAE's head of news, said. "We
investigated these allegations and made sure we hadn't done anything wrong,
even by accident."
Zimbabwean newspapers have suggested that the Hawk
spares were bought from Kenya.
In reply to the report's allegations
that Mr Bredenkamp's companies had improperly exploited Congo's natural
wealth, his spokesman said the conclusions were "either false or inaccurate,
and in context maliciously defamatory".
"Many of the statements and
allegations contained in the report are substantially at odds with the
considerable information and documentation voluntarily provided," the