|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
There were mobs of youths running around the township trying to find Zimbabweans
South African journalist Mark Kluzner
Eyewitnesses said six people were injured and more than 100 shacks destroyed during the clashes.
Trouble has been brewing since the murders last month of two South Africans, both blamed on Zimbabweans.
Correspondents also say there is rising resentment of immigrant workers, who are prepared to work longer hours for less pay than their South African colleagues.
'Trashed and looted'
The South African residents of Zandspruit decided at a community meeting on Sunday to expel the foreigners and destroy their homes.
"What we saw were shacks that had been set alight, places had been completely trashed and looted," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"There were mobs of youths running around the township trying to find Zimbabweans who they claim are criminals in the community," he added.
Mr Kluzner also said the mob targeted Zimbabweans who were married to South Africans and had lived in the country for years.
Reports said most Zimbabweans had now abandoned their possessions and fled the settlement.
Local police spokeswoman Terry-Ann Booyse told the AFP news agency they were now taking measures to look after the victims.
"Today we are trying to find them food and shelter and get them settled. We are concentrating on disaster management," she was quoted as saying.
IPI adds Zimbabwe to media 'watch list,' attacks situation in South Korea
By freedomforum.org staff
Zimbabwe has been added to the media "watch list" of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, joining South Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, all "countries that appear to be moving towards restricting press freedom."
The action was taken by the IPI executive board at a meeting in Paris on Oct. 20. In its announcement, IPI focused most attention on the media situation in South Korea, where "a politically motivated tax probe has led to the indictment of 13 media owners for tax evasion and embezzlement."
IPI claimed that "the arrest and detention of the newspaper owners were undertaken as a means of suppressing and intimidating the media." It called on the South Korean government to "call a halt to its attempts to infringe the editorial independence of the critical media," and "refrain from applying financial pressure on the management of the media."
IPI Director Johann P. Fritz said, "The prosecution authorities recently demanded a prison term of seven years in the case of the president of the Chosun Ilbo, Bang Sang-hoon. This provides further evidence that the present prosecutions, under President Kim Dae-jung's control, are an attempt to suppress and intimidate the media."
"The judiciary should act fairly and equitably when deciding the cases of those indicted, particularly with the three media owners currently in detention. In addition, the judiciary should take into consideration such important factors as the international principles of freedom of the press and the government's obvious utilization of a tax investigation to suppress freedom of expression. IPI simply does not understand why the three media owners were not given bail and demands that they should be immediately released," Fritz said.
In a further statement about the Korean situation, IPI Chairman Hugo Buetler, editor in chief of the Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung, said, "In recognition of the courage shown by IPI Vice Chairman Bang Sang-hoon, IPI has decided to keep him not only as a board member but also as the vice chairman of the IPI, despite the fact that his term ends next year at the IPI general assembly. The IPI Board unanimously agreed to continue their co-ordinated efforts in every possible way until the Korean media crisis is resolved."
In adding Zimbabwe to the "watch list," IPI said it "is deeply concerned at attempts to extinguish press freedom in the country against a background of government support for this activity and reluctance to prosecute offenders, restrictions imposed, or contemplated, by the government on the media, and the breakdown of the rule of law."
Regarding the state of press freedom in Russia, the executive board concluded that the country continues to be an extremely dangerous place for journalists to work. Several violent attacks and threats against journalists have been reported recently.
"Press freedom is being eroded in Russia," IPI said. "Restrictions in Chechnya continue to prevent journalists from reporting the news, while the regional media suffer from threats to withdraw economic support which in turn encourages self-censorship."
Sri Lanka was also kept on the list. "Although a recent relaxation of the censorship rules provides a measure of hope, the government still continues to play the potentially dangerous game of branding some journalists 'traitors,' IPI reported. "The behavior of the government towards the media ebbs and flows with its successes in the fight against [guerrilla forces] and, until a resolution is found to this conflict, it is unlikely to stop."
Concerning Venezuela, the executive board also agreed that the country should be kept on the list. "Relations between President Hugo Chávez and the media have continued to deteriorate," the board statement noted. It added that a decision of the Venezuelan supreme court had "opened the door for the judiciary, largely dominated by Chávez supporters, to punish the media for criticism of the president."
IPI also said that "attacks on press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, appear to be contagious and ... countries eagerly adopt the media restrictions imposed by others."
IPI describes its "watch list" as "a mechanism to detect and document regressive tendencies." The list is evaluated twice a year by the executive board.
Comment from The Los Angeles Times, 21 October
Zimbabwe Tyranny Grows
While the world's attention is elsewhere, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe hopes to extend his dictatorship with a return to socialism, inviting business owners who oppose his policies "to pack up and go." His government is taking farms from white owners and violently intimidating credible political opponents eager to get rid of him in next April's presidential election. He has broken promises he made in Nigeria last month during a meeting of Commonwealth leaders to stop seizing land illegally and end political violence aimed at the Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition party.
Commonwealth heads of state were scheduled to meet again this month, but that was postponed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. U.S. pressure is also off Mugabe. Congress postponed action on a human rights bill that threatens to impose travel restrictions and other sanctions against Zimbabwe. The greatest pressure now comes from within Zimbabwe. Mugabe, 77, faces the worst economic crisis since he led the country to independence from British colonial rule in 1980. There is no bread, cooking oil or margarine in the capital of Harare. Gas costs 70% more than a year ago because of inflation and government interference. Unemployment, estimated at 60%, rises as jobs disappear in manufacturing, tourism and commercial farming. Agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, continues to lose ground as Mugabe's supporters interrupt the planting season and invade white-owned commercial farms without knowing how to manage cows or the chief crops.
The president has painted his anti-white crusade as an attempt to redistribute prime farmland, held largely by the white minority, to thousands of black families. His supporters burn people off their farms and take their land without paying for it, a corrupt attempt to win more black votes for Mugabe. White farmers aren't the government's only victims. The president's men have beaten, tortured and killed supporters of the opposition party, silenced independent journalists and ejected a team of American observers preparing to monitor the run-up to the April election. Who can stop Mugabe? U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been asked by an international human rights group to appoint a special envoy to help the Zimbabwe government conduct a free and fair election. The United Nations must make room on its crowded priority list for Zimbabwe. Unwatched and unsanctioned, Robert Mugabe may steal another six-year term, which would promise more misery for Zimbabwe.
|NSSA sues Chiyangwa over $12 million debt|
10/22/01 9:04:06 AM (GMT +2)
By Columbus Mavhunga
Flamboyant Harare businessman and Member of Parliament for Chinhoyi, Phillip Chiyangwa is in serious trouble.
The National Social
Security Authority (NSSA) internal auditors have recommended that immediate
legal action to recover more than $12 million be instituted against Midiron
Investments Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of his Native Investments Africa Group.
Documents made available to The Daily News show that last year, NSSA sought the services of Coghlan & Welsh Legal Practitioners to recover from Chiyangwa an initial amount of $2 294 600,31.
However, Chiyangwa wrote to Amod Takawira, NSSA’s acting general manager, acknowledging the debt. He also promised to repay the debt within a reasonable period of time.
Two months ago, Chiyangwa announced that he had bought a $65 million Bentley limousine, when the city was still abuzz with news that he had wrecked his $20 million Mercedes Benz S600.
In a letter to Takawira, Chiyangwa wrote: “It is imperative to bring to your attention that we are in the process of restructuring the aforesaid company’s finances like we did with Crittall Hope, in which we did sign an acknowledgement of debt and effected payment to you.
“Midiron Enterprises need to enter into the same agreement with you to avoid the displacement and disruptive nature this will have on the plans to a turn-around should the warrant of execution be executed.”
Takawira forwarded the letter to Stanley Kuodza, the Bulawayo regional manager, with a strict instruction, which reads: “Hold no action must be taken on this letter.”
Kuodza re-directed Chiyangwa’s letter to a Mr Madzvimbo, NSSA’s principal debt management officer, who subsequently wrote a letter to Coghlan & Welsh Legal Practitioners instructing them to stop all legal proceedings against Midiron.
According to NSSA’s latest internal audit report, Midiron has managed to pay a paltry $142 402,23 as of June 2001 out of an accrued debt which currently stands at a staggering $12 011 035,48.
In the report, the auditors said: “The regional manager should closely monitor progress on this and other cases to ensure the effective and timeous collection of high value outstanding amounts.
“It is further recommended that the manager should ask the senior compliance inspectors in charge of legal cases to prepare periodic reports on the progress made on all cases referred for debt collection to enable assessment of effectiveness and efficiency of the debt collectors.”
On noticing that no action was being taken to offset the Midiron debt,
Maxwell Pfachi, NSSA’s senior compliance officer, early this year wrote to the Bulawayo principal debt management officer advising him that the issue of Chiyangwa’s debt had to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
At that time, the debt was about $2,5 million.
Pfachi said: “I am no longer very comfortable keeping this file without any meaningful action in trying to recover the outstanding and overdue amount.
“Whilst we have been able to freeze all litigation, we have not been able to come up with better ways of recovering this debt and, furthermore, be able to safeguard NSSA’s interest.”
In a bid to have the debt recovered timeously, Pfachi proposed that lawyers Coghlan and Welsh be re-engaged.
He also suggested that the services of the NSSA legal adviser be sought forthwith.
Pfachi’s letter reads in part: “I hereby propose that we notify the regional manager on this particular case so that he can liaise with head office, in particular the acting general manager, so that discussions can be started at that level with Native Investments.
“Currently this debtor, though still employing, is not making any payments on current contributions and the debt could have further increased.”
Contacted for comment, Takawira referred all questions to Kuodza, who could not be reached despite repeated efforts.
Chiyangwa yesterday disowned Midiron, saying it ceased to be his company two years ago.
However, legal documents reveal that he signed an acknowledgement of debt form on 17 October 2000.
Chiyangwa said: “There is my name in that agreement because I was assisting the owners who had financial problems.
Midiron to me is dead and it has nothing to do with me.
Everyone has debts. Why do you want to act like angels? Why is it that everything that involves Chiyangwa has drawn a lot of interest?
What is so special about Chiyangwa owing NSSA $2 million? Is that money?
“I have over $100 million in my bank accounts.”
|Human rights activist says State can now be sued for sponsoring violence|
10/22/01 7:39:14 AM (GMT +2)
BRIAN Kagoro, a lawyer and human rights activist, says Zimbabwean citizens now have grounds to sue the government for the violence that preceded the Abuja Agreement signed in Nigeria on 6 September.
He said under the
Agreement, the government had conceded it had perpetrated violence.
Kagoro was presenting a paper titled “Can Judas be brought back to the last Supper?” at a recent meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform in Harare.
“In light of what our President said at the opening of the Pungwe Dam and what other ministers said before Abuja, the government has imprisoned itself,” said Kagoro. “Civil society and citizens can now arrest the government for the lawlessness and violence that happened before Abuja.
“Before the Abuja Agreement, we were not aware that the government was aware of the rule of law. But evictions of land invaders by government and its call to stop more invasions, as stipulated in the Agreement, are a key point . . .”
Last year, war veterans and Zanu PF supporters perpetrated violence and invaded commercial farms after people rejected a government-sponsored draft constitution in a referendum.
The government refused to send the police and army to quell the violence saying it was a “demonstration” by landless people.
Following immense international pressure, Zimbabwe signed the Abuja
Agreement with the British government last month, and undertook to restore the rule of law.
In return, the British promised to pay compensation to farmers whose farms would have been acquired under resettlement programme.
Kagoro said there were other issues, not related to the land problem, which needed to be solved if the crisis in Zimbabwe was to end.
“The legacy of impunity which Ian Smith and the incumbent (President Mugabe) benefited from has to be addressed,” said Kagoro. “Gukurahundi massacres, the disappearance of Rashiwe Guzha, the shooting of Patrick Kombayi and the looting of State coffers by unidentified culprits who are yet to be prosecuted that has nothing to do with land, but the law.
“At least in Abuja, the government apologised, so something has to be done. Even if it is a deaf government, let’s do something so that if posterity is to blame us it will not be about silence,” he said.
|Farm invasions cost $620m in Mash East|
10/22/01 7:46:42 AM (GMT +2)
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) on Friday said that about $620 million had been lost to the agricultural sector because of the violence and disruptions by farm invaders in the Mashonaland East province.
In a statement, the CFU
said the province had become the most turbulent of the eight administrative
“In Hwedza district alone,” the CFU said, “31 out of 35 farms are no longer operating and over 1 590 farm workers have lost their Iivelihood, affecting approximately 7 950 people. In the adjoining Wenimbe Valley 14 out of 21 farms surveyed had labour disruptions, compromising tobacco earnings in excess of US$2,5 million (about Z$137,5 million at the official exchange rate).”
In the Ruzawi River valley south east of Marondera, 20 of the 42 farms surveyed recently were experiencing some form of work stoppage, the CFU said.
On 4 October, High Court judge, Justice Moses Chinhengo, granted a relief order to five Ruzawi farmers, upholding their right to continue farming on Eirene, Uitkyk, Safari, Munemo and Bonne Chance farms.
The order was served on the Zimbabwe Republic Police in Marondera on 9 October. It instructed Augustine Chihuri, the Commissioner of Police, the officer-in-charge of the ZRP in Marondera, David Karimanzira, the provincial governor, district administrators, and war veterans to curb lawlessness and allow farmers to operate freely. Last weekend, five workers were brutally assaulted by a group of about 60 invaders on Uitkyk Farm and violence was reported on two adjacent farms, Eirene and Bonne Chance.
The CFU said a pregnant woman was repeatedly kicked in the stomach until she fell and vomited. Seven other workers were severely beaten up.
The CFU said: “Marondera police are yet to make arrests despite the assailants being identified as resident on the farm.”