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has been inspired by our unwavering commitment to serve the
millions of people who read The Daily News every day. Our core commitment is
to keep the people of Zimbabwe informed about important national issues and
also provide entertaining as well as educational material on a variety of
Issues that may be of interest to our readers.
We have had to accept that Zimbabwean
laws do not permit us to base this
operation in our country of origin but we are also open to the opportunities
that other countries whose laws are less hostile to a free press provide. We
have therefore taken the decision to externalize our publishing operation
and operate from where it is legal for us to do so whilst we await the
conclusion of our case in the Zimbabwean courts.
The Internet is a media that is almost impossible for the
nation state to
control through legal instruments because in order to exercise jurisdiction
over publishers there must be the co-operation of the host country. Quite
clearly when the Zimbabwean government enacted the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act which has been used to stop the publication of the
Zimbabwean print edition of The Daily News they did not fully consider the
technological advancement that enable publishers to reach their audiences
from beyond the physical boundaries of Zimbabwe.
There is a general consensus amongst the democratic nations
in the world
that few, if any obstacles should be placed in the path of free expression
and the internet has emerged as one of the most effective vehicles for free
expression. Democratic governments only interfere with Internet usage when
such interference is clearly in the public interest as has been the case
with crimes committed
through the net such as pedophilia and terrorism. This will challenge
governments like are own which have laws that are hostile to free expression
to remove these laws from their statute books.
We will continue the fight to get the Daily News back on the
Zimbabwe where we can serve the greater portion of our established
readership. This is because access to the internet in Zimbabwe remains the
preserve of a privileged few who constitute less than one percent of the
Currently, although our readers can
access the new site, only the
interactive features on the site are operative. Since our operation in
Zimbabwe was shut down our readers continue to submit letters to the editor
and humorous anecdotes on Zimbabwean issues. Readers are also participating
in polls on key Zimbabwean issues, the results of which are published on the
web. The readers, or ‘Friends of The Daily News' are the ones who have kept
the site going whilst our editorial team prepares to re-launch what we
believe will become the premier site for news and information on Zimbabwe.
The enthusiasm of our readers has been remarkable. We have counted a total
of 90 000 hits since the new site was established and our promise to readers
is that we will soon be back to continue telling the Zimbabwean story “like
Zimbabwe Price Hikes Continue Despite Government Efforts to Curb
09 Oct 2003, 17:15 UTC
stations in Zimbabwe are ignoring the government's new fuel prices, and
are setting prices of their own, usually much higher.
The government, in an attempt to protect low-income consumers, has set
prices for products and services ranging from bread, sugar and flour to fuel
and bus fare. But its price controls have backfired, leading to widespread
shortages and withdrawal of services.
Gas prices have been raised twice since August, in an attempt to bring them
up to what Minister of Energy Amos Midzi calls market-related prices. The
government also gave up its monopoly on fuel imports.
The price hikes have made gas and diesel fuel widely available, but
virtually all the oil companies are charging more than the government-set
Despite the threat of prosecution, bakers charge as much as four times the
government price for a loaf of bread. To avoid government price controls,
they make products that are not on the price list, creating shortages of
Commuter van drivers simply stayed at home, after police cracked down on
them for overcharging. This has made commuting a nightmare for some workers
who spend as much as six hours getting to and from work.
University of Zimbabwe economist Moses Tekere says setting prices is the
wrong way to protect consumers and eliminate shortages.
"The Zimbabwean crisis has its roots in various fundamentals that have been
mismanaged," he said. "The answer really lies in us correcting the
fundamentals, in us going back to producing goods that can be exportable, in
us stimulating investments, stimulating economic activity, [and] putting up
policies that enable people to produce goods and services in abundance. That
is the only recipe for shortages."
Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence 23
years ago. Inflation is at a record high of 426 percent, and unemployment
stands at more than 70 percent. Economists widely blame President Robert
Mugabe's inept policies and sometimes-violent land reform program for
wreaking havoc on the entire population.
State Keen to Address Inflation
October 9, 2003
Posted to the web October 9, 2003
THE Government is working flat out to find a lasting solution to operational
difficulties facing the financial services sector, Finance and Economic
Development Minister, Dr Herbert Murerwa has said.
Addressing guests at the official launch of Barbican Bank in Harare on
Tuesday, Dr Murerwa said most of the difficulties being faced by commercial
banks were largely caused by the spiralling inflation.
"We are doing our best to control the rate of inflation. We, as Government,
are consulting various stakeholders with a view of getting solutions to some
of the problems affecting the operations of financial institutions," he
Dr Murerwa said some of the proposals will be included in the 2004 Budget.
He urged commercial banks to provide lines of credit to newly resettled
farmers to enhance agricultural production.
Barbican Holdings chief executive Dr Mthuli Ncube said the financial
institution is perhaps one of the very few in the country which has not been
affected by the cash shortage.
"We opened our bank at a time when the cash crisis had already surfaced. So
we put in place contingency measures aimed at ensuring that our clients were
not unduly inconvenienced by the prevailing scenario," he said.
Dr Mthuli said the financial institution will continue to run a limited
number of branches for the time being.
Both Dr Murerwa and Dr Ncube concurred that the issuing of bearer cheques
had gone a long way in easing the cash problems, which faced the country
during the past six months.
Barbican opened its doors to the public on the first day of July, becoming
the 14th commercial bank to operate in the country.
It has one branch in the central business district.
Barbican Holdings group chairman Professor Phenias Makhurane said they would
open two more branches in Mutare and Bulawayo before the end of the year.
Barbican Holdings has also opened branches in South Africa, Botswana and the
Trade Unionists Promise Further Protests
UN Integrated Regional
October 9, 2003
Posted to the web October 9, 2003
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Wednesday vowed to continue
with mass action despite police swooping on dozens of its members gathered
in the capital, Harare, to protest high taxes and soaring inflation.
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe, who remained in custody on
Thursday, told IRIN the police had arrested 41 union activists in Harare and
a number of ZCTU supporters in other cities.
Speaking to IRIN from the Harare central police station,
Chibhebhe said: "It
is still unclear under which law they (the police) will charge us. At first
they said we would be charged under the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA), but then we were also told that we may be charged under the
Miscellaneous Offences Act. In any event, we expected this, and these
arrests will only strengthen our resolve to continue with our protest."
Public demonstrations and protests are effectively illegal under the 2002
POSA, which activists say curtails citizens' rights to freedom of
expression. Serious restrictions on the rights of assembly and association
have made it difficult for elected representatives to meet with their
constituents, because meetings are either declared illegal or disrupted.
"We knew the government would not have given us permission to march, so we
did not bother requesting permission," Chibhebhe added.
ZCTU, the main umbrella body representing labour movements in the country,
called for a three-day national strike in April to protest a 200 percent
hike in fuel prices that increased urban commuter bus fares. ZCTU argued
that workers would have to spend about 60 percent of their monthly wages on
Inflation now stands at over 400 percent and a large section of the
population is finding basic commodities increasingly unaffordable
Labour activists released by Zimbabwe police
October 09 2003 at 05:30PM
Harare - About 50 activists from Zimbabwe's
national labour movement,
including most of its leadership, were released from police custody on
Thursday following protests against President Robert Mugabe's regime.
A total of about 200 people were arrested countrywide on Wednesday when
police stamped on planned demonstrations to demand tax cuts and action
against spiralling price increases in Zimbabwe's collapsing economy.
In a statement, president of Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions, Lovemore
Matombo said he and the 52 unionists who were arrested on Wednesday as they
gathered to stage a demonstration in central Harare, were set free on
Thursday after being told that plans to charge them and take them to court
for violating security laws had been dropped.
"There was no substance for police to take us to court. It was just pure
harassment. We knew we were going to go through intimidation and harassment.
"But the issue is not yet finished. We will continue (demonstrating) until
we see the (national) budget in November, which is by when the union expects
tax cuts to be announced."
At least one man had to be taken to hospital in the western city of Bulawayo
after being assaulted by riot police, and another two reported assaults in
Three bystanders were arrested in Bulawayo and had not yet been released.
Three union officials were also arrested, assaulted by police and then
driven 50km outside the city and dumped there, Matombo said.
Police action against the union also continued in other parts of the
Arnold Tsunga, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said five
local union officials were arrested in the southern town of Chiredzi, and
another three in the town of Chegutu, about 150 km west of Harare.
"All eight were accused of violating draconian laws that outlaw public
meetings being held without police permission but they were not
The officials were picked up at their homes and places of work and were
still in police custody, Tsunga said.
Wedbesday's action drew an angry response from the Congress of South African
Trade unions(Cosatu), who threatened "solidarity action" against the Mugabe
government, similar to the action it took in August when union members
blockaded South Africa's border posts into Swaziland to protest against
suppression of the Swazi union movement by the kingdom's authorities.
Tsunga said: "Zimbabwe, five years ago one of Africa's strongest economies,
is now categorised as having the fastest shrinking gross domestic product in
the world as a result of Mugabe's reckless economic policies and the
destruction of the country's agricultural industry through his illegal
forced removal of nearly all of the country's 4 000 white farmers from their
The labour movement is one of the most powerful voices against the
government, and its members suffer arrest, assault and harassment as a
matter of routine, he said. - Sapa
Zimbabwe faces food crunch as imports lag
October 09, 2003, 05:42 PM
Zimbabwe is well short of filling its food deficit for the season
ending in March, with imports to date still less than a third of what it
needs, a US-based food security unit said today. Aid agencies say 5.5
million people in Zimbabwe will need food aid by year-end.
The country, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, has struggled
with shortages over the past three years, with agencies pointing to drought
and disruption linked President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for landless blacks.
In its September food security report the Famine Early Warning System
Network (Fewsnet) put Zimbabwe's total cereals gap for 2003/04 (April-March)
at about 738 464 tonnes, including 671 424 tonnes of staple maize.
"Food aid and commercial imports achieved by mid-September 2003 have
covered only 28% of the 2003/04 marketing year's initial cereal deficit,"
Fewsnet said. "The 2002/03 harvest is running out for most rural households,
and purchased foods are selling at prices that continue to escalate far
beyond the reach of the majority of poor households," it added.
Although rainfall prospects appeared good, the 2003/04 cropping season
beginning next month could be undermined by shortages of key inputs like
fertiliser and seed, with maize output likely to be just 1.2 million tonnes
or 66% of national needs.
The United Nations World Food Programme has appealed for a total of
$550 million to stave off widespread starvation in the region - much of it
earmarked for Zimbabwe - but said recently that only about 20% of the target
had been reached.
Zimbabwe's food shortages are one aspect of an economic crisis
plaguing the country, which has shown itself in acute shortages of fuel and
foreign currency, one of the world's highest rates of inflation and
unemployment of over 70%.
Mugabe rejects charges that his land reforms have contributed to the
food crisis, or that the programme - which he says is meant to correct land
ownership imbalances created by colonialism - has mainly benefited senior
government officials. - Reuters
Zim farmers want to rebuild
09/10/2003 19:21 - (SA)
Bloemfontein - Zimbabwean farmers planned to rebuild their
agricultural industry, Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) representative Doug
de la Freene said on Thursday.
"We are determined to work our way through the problems," De la Freene said
in Bloemfontein, speaking at the annual congress of Agri SA.
"We plan to keep a core of expertise and skills on the ground and rebuild
De la Freene was referring to the drastic decline of his country's farming
sector following the government's controversial land reform programme.
He said their minister of agriculture was determined to "remove every white
Inflation was in reality closer to 800% than the official level of around
"This means that no-one can farm, whether an old farmer, a new farmer or a
traditional farmer," De la Freene said.
"Agriculture has become irrelevant to the Zimbabwean economy. It cannot work
for the national economy anymore."
To rebuild their industry they needed predictability to create (market)
confidence and obtain finance, he said.
He advised South African farmers to concentrate on production and "leave
politics to the politicians".
By contrast with De la Freene's speech, the Namibian Farmers' Union sent a
positive message to South African farmers.
"We have stabilised the land reform situation in Namibia," union president
Jan de Wet told the congress.
He said his government recently appointed five consultants to compile a
national land reform plan. This was to be based on a working document
drafted by the farmers' union.
S. Africa, Bush Facilitate Terror in Zimbabwe
By Robert Kirby
Robert Kirby is a columnist for the Mail & Guardian of Johannesburg, South
Africa. Sheryl McCarthy is off.
October 9, 2003
South African newspapers have been almost
vituperative in criticizing
President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" concerning the crisis in next-door
Zimbabwe. One paper observed that it's been active advancement by Mbeki of
tyrant Robert Mugabe's government.
What the press seems to have overlooked is a parallel culpability by those
world leaders - most notably George W. Bush - who could bring pressure to
bear, not only on Mbeki but on other southern Africa leaders who have not
only allowed but, in some instances, openly encouraged Mugabe in his
When it comes to making fine-sounding promises about arresting Zimbabwe's
human tragedy, Bush has been just as good as Mbeki. If quiet diplomacy has
been a fiasco, what of Bush's African speciality, fly-by diplomacy - his
version of doing absolutely nothing?
It is not hard to understand why fresh press condemnation has erupted: the
summary closure by Mugabe of the courageous opposition Daily News and its
Sunday sister publication, followed by violent police harassment of their
staff and the snubbing of a supreme court order restoring the papers' right
to publish. Previously, Mugabe took action against the Daily News in the
form of a bomb in its presses. Last year, 22 of its journalists were
arrested and tortured. This time it's been vandalism or seizure by Mugabe's
police of the papers' equipment and computers and, again, detention of its
In response to this and the many other brutal excesses of the Zimbabwean
regime, the silence of Mbeki's government has been thunderous. From
Washington there hasn't been the whisper. But then, dead promises don't
talk. While he was hurtling around Africa at Mach-point-8 a few months ago,
Bush raised a lot of hopes, speaking baronially about American hands-on
involvement in helping Africa heal its festering political wounds; of how
deeply his administration was committed to the relief of Africa's suffering
masses; how the U.S. military could be deployed in helping maintain peace.
Perhaps Bush's advisers have not told him about how effective a literally
tiny British military force - fewer than 200 troops - in Sierra Leone has
been in helping contain wholesale anarchy; how the French, with another
small detachment, are holding the peace in the Cote d'Ivoire.
Only last week new massacres were reported from Liberia. Yet a couple of
U.S. Navy ships quietly upped anchors off Liberia's coast and slipped away
in the night with a contingent of Marines.
While attending the United Nations' fall picnic last month, Mbeki loftily
dismissed the Zimbabwean crisis as being "something they will get over." If
Mbeki does not consider the shocking human calamity on his own doorstep as
requiring meaningful intervention, then surely Zimbabweans should expect, at
the least, some signs of direct action from those who could make a
Bush had both purpose and means when it came to ridding the Middle East of a
tyrant. In the case of Zimbabwe, he would be helping to rid the African
continent of one of its most grotesque despots. And Bush would have no need
of guns; he has both the economic and political power to pressure the South
African government and its neighbors into taking positive steps toward
ridding Zimbabwe of its lunatic helmsman.
If the current Zimbabwean dictatorship is allowed to run its ruinous course,
the consequence could be a return to the civil war that preceded the 1980
democratic elections, which brought Mugabe to power. As in Liberia, all the
warning signs are there, unheard or ignored: the intensifying human tragedy
in Zimbabwe, its economic collapse, and its starving rural millions, which
each month cause thousands of desperate Zimbabweans to cross the porous
border and seek relief in South Africa.
Mugabe's political derangement now seems not only unstoppable, but carrying
mute approval of those who could bring him to heel. Mbeki's foreign minister
continues to state that South African government will never "abandon"
Mugabe. And, all the while, George W. Bush stares fixedly in the opposite
Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.
Migration, not land, is the issue
LESSON FROM ZIMBABWE/Geoff Hill
OVER the past two years, I have been researching a book on Zimbabwe and the
question most people ask me is: will what has happened there be repeated in
My own view is that it won't. The logic being that, just because Uganda fell
under the tyranny of Idi Amin didn't mean that neighbouring states like
Kenya and Tanzania followed suit and started butchering their people.
The Zimbabwean crisis is very much a product of Mugabe's need to stay in
power long after the electorate has tired of him. But, if similar
circumstances do ever emerge in SA, my worry is that we won't see them
The problem is that, when people talk about Zimbabwe, they focus on the land
invasions, but in SA the search for answers doesn't start there.
So where do you go? I'd start at Johannesburg's Park Station and long-haul
buses pulling in from all over the country, each one packed with young men
and woman from the rural areas coming to the city in search of a better
The problem is so bad that, if the rate of migration to cities like
Johannesburg and Durban is not stemmed, city life including jobs, water,
housing and general wellbeing will not keep pace with the surge in
That's where Zimbabwe's problem began. From independence in 1980 to the
start of the farm invasions in 1999, the country's population almost
doubled, but the number of people living in Harare jumped fivefold.
And Zimbabwe is not alone. The movement of people from rural areas to the
towns is just as severe in Thailand, the Philippines, Kenya and Brazil. And
in each case the typical migrant is aged between 18 and 30, educated and
Studies by the United Nations and others have shown that when you educate
people in the countryside, they invariably move to the urban areas. One
report suggested that, after three years of primary school, a person was
twice as likely to seek work in the city than someone with no education.
After three years at high school, the ratio doubled again to four times as
likely to move to the city.
In Zimbabwe, it was the urban poor, living six or more to a room, who led
the revolt against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. However, their gripe
was not land, but money and jobs.
In 1998, when they took to the streets and threatened to vote out the ruling
party at the next election, the government tried to distract them with the
land, but no one was listening and opposition grew because the real
complaint had not been addressed.
Without question, there are rural communities in SA who need and deserve
land and government should make sure they get it through legal means. But
that will not prevent a revolution.
If you give land to families now, how many of their children will stay home
and grow crops once they leave school? Experience in the rest of Africa
suggests that those kids will head for the cities and try to put their
education to work.
So what are the choices? One would be to close the rural schools and stunt
the mental growth of a generation, but that would be unforgivable. The other
would be to accept that SA is rapidly becoming an urban nation, full of
skilled, hardworking young people who deserve the right to build themselves
a better future.
At independence in 1980, the literacy rate in Rhodesia was already an
impressive 70%, whereas across most of SA, less than half the population
could read and write. Mugabe performed a miracle and, within 15 years, he
had raised literacy to 95%. In that context, he remains one of my heroes.
But nothing was done to cater for the demands of an educated workforce.
When you've spent 10 years or more at school and your parents worked at
three jobs to keep you there, your dreams go far beyond a life in the
fields. The new generation would rather be on the internet than on the land.
If land was the issue then why, when it is there for the taking, have
2-million black Zimbabweans decamped to SA and about 600000 to the UK?
Surely they should be claiming their plots instead?
But small-scale agriculture would never give them the income needed for
clothes, school fees, cellphones, television and the myriad goods that are
part of Africa's new culture.
So what are the options?
SA needs to put all its effort into industrial growth and government could
help the rural areas by extending its programme of decentralisation and
encouraging new investors through tax relief and other benefits to set up
shop in the country towns where unemployment is highest.
Giving people land will not keep them at home, but if they can find jobs in
their own communities, there's a good chance they will not migrate to the
Perhaps on the land there is room to test the Israeli kibbutz system in
which a large number of people work an estate in line with best farming
practice. This could cater for some of the thousands of unemployed people in
places like rural KwaZulu-Natal.
As a journalist, hardly a month goes by that I am not called out to cover a
protest staged by Zimbabwean exiles in SA. The demonstrations are invariably
against Mugabe, all the participants are young, black and educated and, with
their banners and placards, they deny the notion that land reform has
delivered what the people really want.
I am a fan of the way the African National Congress has run this country
over the past 10 years. SA has enjoyed more democracy and better government
than any country in the history of this continent and there is much to be
But if the party's right to power is ever questioned, the challenge will
come from the urban poor.
And, as in Zimbabwe, land will not be the issue.
Hill is southern African correspondent for a daily newspaper in Washington
DC. His Book, Battle for Zimbabwe The Final Countdown (NewHolland), will be
released on October 15.
Media Alert: Journalist Manhandled, Equipment Confiscated over T-Shirt
Media Institute of Southern Africa
October 9, 2003
Posted to the web October 9, 2003
On October 3 2003, a vigilante group attacked Cyril Zenda, a
journalist with the 'Financial Gazette', robbing him of 5000 Zimbabwe
dollars (approximately US$6) and his mobile phone.
Zenda told the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA-Zimbabwe) that he was spotted by a vigilante known as Chipangano when
he disembarked from a bus at the main bus terminus in Harare. He said that
group pulled him to a secluded spot and began interrogating him over the
message on a MISA-Zimbabwe t-shirt he was wearing. The t-shirt bore the
message 'Free My Voice: Free the Airwaves'. He told MISA-Zimbabwe that the
group demanded to know what the message means and why he was wearing a
t-shirt with an anti government slogan. Zenda said he was lucky that the
group did not realize that he was a journalist working for the 'Financial
Gazette'. He lied to the group, telling them that the t-shirt had been a
gift from his younger brother. According to Zenda the group then proceeded
to tear the t-shirt from his body and burn it. His mobile phone and money
were also forcibly taken.
Chipangano is a vigilante group associated with the ruling party, the
Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF). Despite numerous
complaints of harassment from members of the public and opposition members,
no concrete action has yet been taken by the police to dismantle the group.
Zenda said he did not bother to report the matter to the police and rather
walked away when he was 'released'. The group openly boasted to him that
nothing would ever happen to them. Although he was not injured, Zenda said
that felt traumatized by the incident.
Zim-UK Impasse a Bilateral Problem: Envoy
October 9, 2003
Posted to the web October 9, 2003
ITALY, which chairs the European Union, has finally conceded that the
impasse between Zimbabwe and Britain is a bilateral problem, which should be
resolved by the two countries without external interference.
Italian ambassador Mr Guiseppe Marchini Gamia yesterday said his country
would support all efforts aimed at opening dialogue with Zimbabwe.
"This is a problem between Britain and
Zimbabwe. We appreciate that the
matter between Zimbabwe and Britain is a bilateral one," said Mr Gamia.
He said although his country had only been chairing the EU for less than
three months it would work towards the promotion of dialogue with Zimbabwe.
Mr Gamia was speaking soon after meeting Vice President Msika to express his
concern over the continued occupation of some farms owned by Italian
nationals in the country.
Vice President Msika is the chairman of the national land taskforce.
The ambassador said 30 properties owned by Italian nationals in all the
country's provinces were currently under occupation by villagers who have
defied orders to vacate the farms.
He said the farms were first listed for compulsory acquisition but were
later de-listed after the embassy lodged a complaint to the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
Mr Gamia said that there was a heavy presence of Italians in the country
actively involved in various economic activities.
Vice President Msika told the ambassador that he needed to clarify the
status of the farms.
He told the ambassador to separate the farms acquired on a government to
government agreement from those purchased by individual Italian nationals
after the Second World War when the country was still under settler colonial
Cde Msika said those acquired during colonialism by Italian nationals were
to be dealt with in the same manner as any other farms purchased by other
nationals during the colonial era.
Cde Msika promised to look into the issue together with the Ministries of
Foreign Affairs, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
However, Vice President Msika criticised Italy for involving itself in a
bilateral matter between Zimbabwe and Britain.
The Vice President said Zimbabwe had always been ready for dialogue with any
nation as an equal and not as a subordinate because it was a sovereign
He said as a sovereign state, Zimbabwe had the right to decide its own
destiny without outside interference.
Cde Msika said Zimbabwe had always advocated dialogue but the Italians, at
the instigation of Britain, decided to join the bandwagon of other EU
countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The Vice President said the Government was in the process of analysing the
report of the Presidential Land Review Committee with a view to correcting
certain anomalies that could have arisen during the implementation of the
land reform exercise.
"The question of land reform is a mammoth task and during the process
mistakes have been made. We have some who have multiple ownership of farms
and we are changing that," he said.
The Presidential Land Review Committee report was recently tabled before the
Zanu-PF Politburo and members said they needed time to study it before
formally deliberating on it.
Zimbabwe opposition slams arrest of union chiefs
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Oct. 9 — Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Thursday
arrest of union leaders who organised demonstrations against high taxes and
soaring prices caused by the country's economic crisis.
Dozens of people, including two leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), were detained on Wednesday after they tried to march in
Harare and two other cities without police permission as required under
tough new security laws.
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe, who was among those
arrested, said the group had been released in two batches on Wednesday and
Thursday. Some had paid admission-of-guilt fines while the rest were charged
under Zimbabwe's Miscellaneous Offences Act and could be summoned to court
at a later date.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has
strong labour backing and has staged its own protests over Zimbabwe's
mounting political and economic crisis, said the arrests were worrying.
''The MDC is deeply concerned that the Mugabe regime still believes
it can silence dissenting voices through intimidation and arbitrary arrests
of innocent civilians who stand up to express their displeasure in the
current economic crisis,'' the party said in a statement.
Both the ZCTU and MDC accuse the government of President Robert
Mugabe of mismanaging the southern African country since independence from
Britain in 1980.
Mugabe denies the charges and accuses opponents of trying to destroy
the economy and subvert his government.
The landlocked nation is grappling with acute shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel. Unemployment stands at over 70 percent and
inflation is near 430 percent.
On Tuesday, Chibebe said the union had asked workers to report to
work on Wednesday and then join demonstrations to demand lower taxes and
''sanity in the level of prices.'' Chibebe was one of those arrested.
Prices of basic food stuffs have soared in recent months, prompting
the government to hint at a return to price controls to kill a thriving
Street protests without police permission are banned in Zimbabwe
under security laws enacted last year which critics say are aimed at
repressing criticism of Mugabe's government, which critics say has become
(additional reporting by Stella Mapenzauswa)