Food crunch closes Mugabe's torture training camps
Agencies Last updated: 10/08/2004 23:03:22 ZIMBABWE'S controversial
state-run youth training camps have been closed due to a cash crunch, a
senior government official was quoted as saying on Friday.
Chatiza, acting secretary in the ministry of youth development, was quoted
by the state New Ziana news agency as telling a parliamentary committee that
the six centres set up three years ago had shut down.
"All the six
training centres have closed due to lack of funds," he said. "We have
exhausted our budget allocation for 2004 and we have even run out of
salaries for the staff."
The training centres have been widely criticised
by the opposition, church groups and civil rights organisations who claim
they were being used to train youths to terrorise and torture opposition
Young women who said they were former inmates of the camps
claimed in a BBC documentary shot this year as well as a bishops' conference
in South Africa last year that they had been raped in the camps.
government dismissed the allegations as "unfounded rubbish," saying the
youths were given lessons in a range of subjects including technical skills,
health issues, entrepreneurship and disaster management.
More than 20
000 youths had attended the camps since they were started in 2001, Chatiza
The trainees at the camps are locally referred to as "Green
Bombers" because of the green military fatigues they have to wear.
Civil servants forced to bankroll welcome
bash for murder suspects
servants in Buhera are angry over a decision by the Zanu PF leadership at
Murambinda Growth Point to force them to each contribute towards a bash to
celebrate the release from jail, on bail, of three ruling party activists
who are facing murder charges.
Webster Gwama, Morris Kainos Zimunya
(better knon as Kitsiyatota) and Johnson Mudzamiri were released on $5
million bail each. They all face two charges of murder.
are alleged to have murdered Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika during the
run-up to the 2000 parliamentary election. The three Zanu PF activists
together with Joseph Mwale, a top CIO operative, allegedly beat up the two
before setting on fire the vehicle they were in.
They died as a
result of the burns. The three were arrested and arraigned before the courts
facing murder charges and were eventually released on bail by High Court
Judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.
Mwale, is however, still at large
although his whereabouts are known.
Mwale is widely known to be
operating from Mutoko District, 143 km north east of Harare.
After the release of the trio from prison, the Zanu PF leadership at
Murambinda ordered that all civil servants contribute ZW$5 000 each for a
bash to welcome the alleged murderers. It is not yet clear when the welcome
bash would be held.
"It is very disappointing," said one civil
servant based at the growth point. "We are being forced to part with $5 000
each to bankroll a welcome party for these guys who were released from
The civil servant said they had no choice but to
contribute because failure to do so could result in dire
"Obviously if you refuse to pay they (Zanu PF
members) would see you as a supporter of the opposition. Belonging to the
opposition here can be very dangerous."
Tension is already
mounting in Buhera North ahead of next March's parliamentary poll. Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, lost Buhera North to Kenneth Manyonda, the
Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, in 2000.
Chiminya and Mabika were campaigning for Tsvangirai when they were murdered.
The High Court has since nullified Manyonda's victory citing massive
intimidation and violence by Zanu PF supporters.
still sits in the august house because he has appealed against the High
Mugabe dangles 100 000 hectares of land in Museveni's
face Sat 9 October 2004
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe
has offered 100 000 hectares of prime agricultural land to Uganda in order
to cement ties between Harare and Kampala, sources told ZimOnline
The land, offered to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni
during his visit to Harare earlier this week, would be allocated to farmers
from the east African country wishing to undertake agricultural ventures in
Zimbabwe, sources said.
"Mugabe told Museveni that he could
offer 100 000 hectares to Ugandan farmers immediately in order to cement
ties between the two countries and on his part Museveni promised to try and
assist in securing fuel for Zimbabwe," said a top Mugabe aide, who did
not want to be named.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of an acute
fuel crisis because there is no hard cash to pay foreign
Attempts to reach Museveni's Kampala office by phone
from Harare for comment on the matter were fruitless yesterday.
Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge refused to comment directly
on the land offer but told ZimOnline that the two leaders had discussed
trade and land reform issues. He said: "The discussions (between Mugabe and
Museveni) included trade and the land reform issue. That is all I can
During his two-day visit to Zimbabwe, Museveni visited
black-owned farms in the country. The Ugandan President defended Mugabe's
chaotic and often violent land redistribution scheme under which the
Zimbabwean leader seized white-owned land without paying and gave it over to
This is not the first time Mugabe has attempted to
use land seized from white farmers to win friendship and
About three years ago Mugabe offered 720 hectares of land
just outside Harare to Libya's President Muammar Gaddafi in exchange for
fuel. Gaddafi was also promised mining concessions before the deal went sour
and eventually collapsed last year.
Zimbabwe and Uganda fought
against each other through proxies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
war. But Mugabe and Museveni appeared to have buried the hatchet with the
Ugandan leader voicing full support for his Zimbabwean counterpart. -
Chinese telecoms supplier demands slice of Zimbabwe's mineral
resources Sat 9 October 2004
HARARE - Chinese telecoms
supplier Huawei Investments has demanded that it be guaranteed a portion of
Zimbabwe's minerals and future tobacco produce before it can supply US$160
million worth of telecommunications equipment needed for a second
fixed telephone network, it was learnt this week.
also wants a 20 percent hard cash down payment before equipment is delivered
and another 40 percent after delivery. The remainder will be paid in cash,
tobacco, chrome or platinum once TeleAccess, a private company licensed to
operate the telephone network, finished rolling out the project.
TeleAccess, owned by ruling ZANU PF party crony, Daniel Shumba, was given
the license to set up a fixed telephone network to rival the existing one
owned by the government in January 2003.
To date the company, which
under telecoms regulations was supposed to have finished rolling out the
network by last June, has not even begun work on the project.
According to sources, TeleAccess's financial advisers, the Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe, last week told Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport
and Communications that Huawei feared the Zimbabwean firm might not be able
to raise hard cash to pay for equipment because of forex shortages in
The bank's managing director, Nyasha Makuvise, is said
to have indicated that they were now structuring a deal under which
TeleAccess will contract tobacco farmers and mining firms to produce the
crop, platinum and chrome which could be exported to generate hard
cash to pay the Chinese firm.
"Makuvise said the Chinese are very
sceptical about TeleAccess' ability to raise enough foreign currency given
the shortages being experienced in the country and are not going to supply
anything until they are guaranteed the tobacco and minerals," said one
source who attended the hearing.
Makuvise is also said to
have told the parliamentary committee that delays by the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulating Authority to allocate frequencies to
TeleAccess had at one time also stalled negotiations with
The Chinese firm wanted confirmation that TeleAccess
would be allocated the frequencies before they could commit themselves to
Foreign suppliers wary of the current
political and economic crisis in the country now demand cash upfront before
delivering goods or services to Zimbabwe.
The few international
companies still willing to risk supplying Zimbabwe on credit have of late
however demanded firm guarantees mostly in the form of tobacco or minerals
before releasing goods. - ZimOnline
Chief pledges to weed out MDC supporters from area Sat 9
MATABELELAND SOUTH - A local chief here has ordered
his subjects to join the ruling ZANU PF party or face expulsion from his
Chief Malaki Musuku of Matobo district, about 60 kilometres
south-west of Bulawayo, told his subjects at a meeting this week that he and
other traditional leaders in the province had been empowered by ZANU PF to
remove all opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
supporters from their areas.
Speaking at a rally at Natisa rural
business centre in the area, which this reporter attended, Masuku also
claimed that he was recording the names of all villagers who boycott
meetings of the ruling party so they could be punished.
said: "We have been empowered by the government as traditional leaders to
chase those who do not want to support it because they are not our good
friends. You will follow those whitemen who used to own the farms that you
now occupy if you continue acting defiantly."
national chairman John Nkomo refused to discuss the matter when ZimOnline
contacted him to establish whether the party would act to stop the chief
from coercing his subjects to join the party.
Nkomo said: "Excuse
me, is it not you who attended the meeting and heard what they said? I
cannot give you any comment on that."
The MDC, local and
international human rights groups have in the past accused ZANU PF of
intimidating villagers in remote rural areas into supporting the
Self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war
and other ZANU PF militants have also been accused of unleashing violence
against MDC supporters in order to force them to abandon the opposition
party. ZANU PF denies the charge. - ZimOnline
HARARE - The chairman of Media Information Commission
(MIC), Tafataona Mahoso has given the editor of the weekly independent
newspaper, The Standard deadline to submit a negative of the photograph of
President Robert Mugabe at Harare Agricultural Show that appeared on the
front page of the weekly of August 29.
The Standard published a
photograph of Mugabe pulling up his trousers while visiting some stands at
the agricultural show with part of caption reading "Smarting up", but
because of technology, the Standard is unable to do so because the
photograph was taken using a digital camera.
The MIC chairman Tafataona
Mahoso claims his commission has received numerous calls about the
photograph, and one complaint came from the department of Information and
Publicity in the President 's Office, (Jonathan Moyo's portfolio)
complaining that the use of the photograph by The Standard is extremely
mischievous and represents a deliberate denigration of the highest office in
However the editor of the weekly independent paper, Bornwell
Chakaodza has said that the complaint represent a new wave of attempts to
silence the media."The complaint defy logic",Chakaodza said,"Anyone with
elementary knowledge of journalism would have praise over such a memorable
Chakaodza said there is need to separate the state of
Zimbabwe from the person of the President."We cannot by any stretch of
imagination know how a picture of the president in whatever situation can be
said to be anti-Zimbabwe", he said.
HARARE - With only a day to go before the so
called Solidarity Gala to be held in Chimoio Mozambique, survivors of the
Chimoio and Nyadzonya massacres have expressed their disappointment and they
say they feel insulted by the musical gala as they have not been consulted
or involved in the organisation of the "gala".
The Chimoio survivors
feel that if it was really a solidarity bash to commemorate the Chimoio
massacre they should have been a committee set up and gather information
from the survivors and together with the organisers and would have come up
with a proper commemoration event.
Observers have also questioned the use
of drunken youths and mediocre Zanu PF and aspiring young musicians. Reports
from say that the musicians from Mozambique who are going to take part in
the gala are just, but groups of youths, churning out confused
After improperly exploiting the late Joshua Nkomo and Simon
Muzenda's popularity, Zanu PF has now moved to Chimoio.
the excessive airtime on national radio and television and in the state
owned media, the Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo has also ordered the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings Newsnet department that all news bulletins
should carry a story about the Chimoio massacres which will only lead to
opening old wounds
HARARE - It has
become a norm for most prisoners in Zimbabwe to be subjected to unhuman kind
like treatment that has gone unchallenged for too long. Zimbabweans and the
international community have a right to know the suspicious deaths of our
political prisoners in Zimbabwean jails.
Prisoners who are perceived to
be political misfits by our ruling government are constantly harassed
tortured in jails. There is quite a number that has fallen victim to the
ruling government brutality. A lot of our friends, brothers, sisters have
been locked up for no apparent reasons. Some have even died in these
One would try to defend our prison system of course, by pointing
out that there is homosextualism going on in our prisons, and this has
caused much of the deaths in our prisons. Is is something that Zimbabweans
shouldn't buy at all. There is more to these deaths which need to be
Laws stipulate that once a person is jaild or charged for any
crime, he or she is placed in the hands of the government. In that contex,
if a prisoner dies in custody, then the government is responsible. The
government owes relatives and the general public an explanation on the
events leading to that deaths of anyone in jail. The government has an
obligation to keep the relatives of those in prison informed on what ever
ailments, deseases threaten their lives.
The prisoners like any other
individual have the rights to representation by a lawyer. The prisoners are
entitled to medicare, food, warm clothing and many more civil
There are quite a number of indivuiduals who have died in prison.
Just this week on Monday, the government announced that Ngave Jarukemo
Muharukua(35), a South African citizen and mercenary held in Zimbabwe on
alleged plot to over throw the government in Equatorial Guinea, died of
The question that most of the relatives of this mercenary
might be,asking is, why wasn't he accorded health care in the event that he
was ailing in prison. It's not convincing at all to believe what really
happened before this prisoner died. South Africa should seek for an
explanation regarding this issue, but I can bet my last dollar there isn't
going to be a storm in a tea cup regarding this suspicious death, as it
should be, simply because Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe are one and the
The late Learnmore Jongwe, MDC's mouth piece, died a suspicious
death that even his relatives today, still seek to have answers on what
really killed him in prison. Zanu PF were presented with a perfect
opportunity to kill Jongwe when he was in jail awaiting judgement for
killing his wife. He was sentenced to death, before he was arraigned for his
murder charges. Zanu PF where like valtures just waiting for an opportinity
to pounce on him and that opportinity availed itself in a silver plate. The
reasons for his death are not known.
In the 1980s, there was a
business tycoon called Peter Paweni. He died immediately after coming out of
prison. The reason of his death again was very suspicious. He had not played
according to the ruling Party's rules and that prompted his elimination,and
downfall. Many of MDC supporters and activists have been jailed for no
apparent reason and they have been subjected to torture, beatings. Some of
them have died a peaceful, and qiute death after coming out
It looks like once, one is jailed, especially if they are
members of the opposition, or being used as sacrificial lambs, by our ruling
party, their lives change forever. Most of our brothers and sisters who have
been jailed before, and lucky to be still alive would confess that its
through the grace of God that they are alive today. Some of them wouldn't
dare narrate what really happen in prison for fear of reprisals, and
because they are still traumatised, from the horrondous acts that transpire
There are some members of the Ruling party who are, or have
been used as examples that our government does not entertain corruptionat
all. These have been jailed for a couple of months but have been aquitted
without any charges against them. Reason would mean abvious, that they are
not going to died after this short run in the prisons. Only opposition is
not spared, It looks like there is a special drug that is injected or
administered without these prisoners knowledge that kill them slowly. Why is
it that some individuals have died immediately after realise from jail.
Surely they is need for an independent inquiry before this escalates into
We have to pray for poor Kuruneri who has
been forsaken by his masters. We have to pray for his well being and his
healthy, that he doesn't fall ill and die in prison. Nobody knows really the
gravity of Kuruneri's case and why all his collegues have been exornerated
without going through what he has done. Just hope he is not one of those
lambs ready for slaughter.
The jail guards, and our prisons, should
not be used for political gains. Prisons shouldn't be used for the
elimination of voice of dissent. Prisons shouldn't be meant for MDC
supportres and activists only. Zanu PF Officials should stop the usage of
prisons for settling old scores against each other and those they label as
Prisons are not abattoirs, and prison deaths should be
stopped. Lets have immediate independent inquiry on all those deaths that
have occured in our prisons, so as to curtail the reoccurence of thse
suspicious and unnecessary human suffering.
(Reuters) - Five-year-old Zimbabwean Felicita Munyoro fiddles with a soda
can as she plays with friends, then bends to fill it with the murky contents
of a burst sewage pipe flowing past her house, oblivious to the foul smell
and the health dangers that lurk.
Across town in the capital
Harare's leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Takunda Hove has woken up early for the
sixth day in a row, in order to drive early to work and use the shower
facilities because the water tap at home has run dry.
children here and I worry every day about the possibility of a disease
outbreak in the neighborhood. I don't know if these problems will ever be
sorted out," says the 37-year-old father of three.
Hove plans to
drill a borehole on his property, a luxury that the majority of
poverty-stricken urban dwellers, like Felicita's parents, cannot afford.
Frequent water cuts force them to trudge to neighboring areas in search of a
piped supply, while others resort to hazardous wells and
In Harare, authorities recently announced 18-hour daily
water cuts in most residential suburbs, blaming the cuts on a decrepit main
water pump station servicing the city.
The water shortage is the
latest scourge to hit Harare, once one of Africa's cleanest urban centers
and dubbed 'the Sunshine City,' but which like the majority of Zimbabwe's
towns has seen a degeneration of basic services as an economic crisis
Urban councils, largely run by the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), say falling revenues
and interference from President Robert Mugabe's government have left them
ill-equipped to cope with growing populations.
Built in then
colonial Rhodesia to cater for a smaller population, Zimbabwe's urban
infrastructure is creaking under the weight of hundreds of thousands of
people who have flocked from the rural areas in search of jobs.
potholes lie unrepaired for years while burst water and sewer pipes are
common in most residential areas.
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the MDC
mayor of Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo and chair of all urban councils,
says a government freeze on rates payments has crippled city
Figures show that Bulawayo needs more than 360 billion
Zimbabwe dollars ($68.05 million) for its 2004 budget, but will only be able
to raise half the amount because of the rate freeze.
freeze on rates we are suffering; we live from hand to mouth. We are now
allocating the few resources on priorities so that services do not totally
collapse," Ndabeni-Ncube told Reuters.
"We are aware of the health
threats posed by water cuts and the garbage that is sometimes collected only
after a fortnight."
MDC councilors see the rates freeze as a
deliberate ploy by Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to woo back urban voters
who blame the government for the country's economic problems and have
largely rallied behind the opposition at elections since
RATE HIKES NOT JUSTIFIED
The government argues that
rate hikes are no longer justified because the country's economy, grappling
with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world is rebounding under
a new monetary policy which has stabilized prices and the Zimbabwe
But most residents still have to contend with
erratic water supplies as cash-strapped councils struggle to procure
imported treatment chemicals while burst sewer pipes and mounting rubbish
piles pose a serious health hazard.
"This is not the image of a city
we want in the 21st century," said Michael Davies, chairman of the Combined
Harare Residents Association.
"The threat of diseases like cholera is
real not only in Harare but in all cities. Provision of vital services like
water and rubbish collection are the bedrock of a city."
With over 70
percent unemployment, unregulated street vending has mushroomed in most
cities, often in areas without the necessary sanitary facilities like
Last month the MDC announced it was withdrawing all of its
councilors from the capital's municipality, saying the government had made
it impossible to effectively run the city.
But local government
minister Ignatius Chombo blames the rundown state of Zimbabwe's cities on
incompetence by an opposition party he says has failed to live up to the
expectations of the electorate.
As the political tug-of-war rages on,
Felicita Munyoro gambles with disease each time she ventures out to her
filth-ridden playground, while a leisurely bath at home remains a pipedream
for suburban dweller Hove.
AFRICA is the only
continent to have grown poorer in the last 40 years ago.
means that since 1964, seven years after Ghana's independence, more Africans
may have gained political independence, but have not experienced a material
improvement in their lives in tandem with the advent of full
Zimbabwe is a prime example. People are poorer today
than they were at independence in 1980. A few may boast of having cheated or
stolen their way into wealth, but the majority have achieved little or no
improvement in their material status since independence.
evidence is everywhere on the continent: more people are dying of causes
closely related to poverty than to an act of God.
The only people
really enjoying independence are the ruling elite, growing fatter and fatter
on all the good food they can eat, while their people starve.
Leaders of the ilk of Robert Mugabe will have ready responses to these
statistics: it's not the Africans' fault, but that of the West.
Mugabe's party is going into next March's parliamentary election with an
appalling record of plunging the nation to new levels of poverty. Why any
voters would be persuaded to vote for Zanu PF on its record of the past 24
years would be a total mystery to any foreigner.
leaders have convinced some of their people that their poverty is the sole
responsibility of the West because it will not remove farm subsidies for
their farmers, thus opening the door to African farm produce onto their
But they neglect to explain why this poverty is confined
only to the majority, who are not active in politics, don't have relatives
in high places, don't steal billions from the government, don't run
businesses which profiteer at every opportunity and try to earn an honest
living through the sweat of their brow.
The African Union
should look closely at these statistics: is Africa getting poorer because
the West is not helping it, or because African leaders, in general, are more
interested in retaining power than in the welfare of their
Zanu PF is a typical African party. It will do everything
to stay in power, including killing people, but once it is in power, it has
no time for the people.
By and large, this is what has kept
Africa so poor.
There are a few bright patches of success here and
there, but the general picture is one of absolute squalor.
Blair has his own agenda in launching his ambitious programme to fight
poverty in Africa. But other foreigners have tried in vain in the past to
rouse African leaders to care more about their people, than about trinkets
for their greedy wives and concubines.
It's not the Blairs or the
George Bushes who will make a difference. It's the Africans themselves. They
know why the material benefits of independence have eluded
In most cases, they have selfish, cruel leaders at the
Bid to repatriate Rwandan refugees hits
EFFORTS by the United
Nations and the Rwandan government to repatriate thousands of Rwandan
refugees in Zimbabwe appear to have failed, The Daily News Online has
The Rwandans are reluctant to return to their
motherland citing security reasons. There are about 3 000 Rwandans staying
in Zimbabwe as refugees. About 200 are staying at Tongogara Refugee Camp in
Chipinge, about 440 km south-east of Harare.
The refusal by the
Rwandans to return home prompted Karim Abdul, the Rwandan ambassador to
South Africa, to visit Zimbabwe to persuade his fellow countrymen to return
Rwanda does not have a diplomatic mission in
Abdul, a Tutsi, tried in vain, to persuade the refugees,
all of them Hutus, to return to Kigali and participate in the rebuilding of
Rwanda. But a Rwandan based at Tongogara Refugee Camp, said they told Abdul
they would not return until their security concerns have been fully
"Rwanda is not yet safe for us to go," the refugee who
refused to be named, said.
The refusal by the refugees to
return comes amid reports that the Kigali government of Paul Kagame has
amassed troops along its western frontier with the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) to ward off an insurgency by armed bandits from the Rwandan
militia, Interahamwe, the former government soldiers known as ex-FAR and
Hutu extremists who have bases in the DRC.
The armed bandits
are accused of masterminding the 1994 genocide which left about one million
Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.
Media reports from the DRC indicate
that the Rwandan bandits are active and are determined to cause mayhem in
the tiny restive central African country.
Last week there were
reports that the ex-FAR, the Interahamwe and the Hutu extremists attacked a
village in Sake in the province of North Kivu, east of the DRC, killing two
Up to 150 houses were looted during the attack. There are
also reports that the Tutsi-dominated government in Kigali has launched a
witchhunt targeting professional Hutus and those perceived to be supporting
opposition politicians or suspected to have been supporters of the previous
regime of the late Juvenal Habyiharimana.
administration has launched a massive exercise to have millions of its
nationals scattered all over the world repatriated. Countries such as
Tanzania and Uganda have since closed refugee camps where Rwandans stayed
asserting it was now conducive for them to return home. The two countries
have also withdrawn refugee status from Rwandans.
Rwandans have returned home opting to seek refugee in other countries such
as Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is seen as a
safe haven for asylum seekers particularly from the Great Lakes
There are about 13 000 refugees in Zimbabwe. They are from
countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia,
Burundi, Ethiopia, the Sudan, the former Yugoslavia and
There was no immediate comment from the Harare office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Popular commentator axed for "disloyalty" to Zimbabwe soccer
Friday, October 08,
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - A popular TV commentator has been
fired for criticizing the Zimbabwe soccer team's play in a World Cup
The government-run Zimbabwe Television, the only TV
station in the country, said in a statement it demanded of its commentators
"unswerving loyalty to the national team, whether it is winning or
Josephine Zulu, head of sports at the state broadcaster, said in
the statement Charles Mabika's commentary broke the station's code of
"national integrity and loyalty."
Zimbabwe suffered a humiliating 3-0
defeat to Nigeria in a Group 4 World Cup qualifier in Harare on Sept.
The Zimbabwe Football Association subsequently fired its two coaches
after what it described as Zimbabwe's pathetic performance against
Mabika, a popular sports personality known for his exuberant
commentaries, began covering soccer for the state broadcaster soon after
independence in 1980 and became the host of a weekly sports program on
He was fired the day after the Nigeria match but no
official reasons were immediately given.
Since sweeping media laws
were passed in 2002, the state broadcaster and the five state newspapers
have been used to bolster state propaganda, largely excluding criticism of
the government and coverage of opposition politics.
Under the media laws,
the only independent daily newspaper was shut down and at least 30
independent journalists have been arrested for alleged violations that
include undermining the authority of the state.
The state broadcaster
also terminated contracts for the supply of news footage from the main
Western television organizations and scrapped most of its foreign-supplied
programs to ensure at least 75 per cent of all airtime was given over to
what it called "local content."
Black rhino: Dark days ahead 08/10/2004 21:21 -
Bangkok - Aphrodisiacal qualities attributed to the horn of the
rhinoceros have rammed a hole through protective international laws designed
to conserve the animal.
Conservationists are aghast at the way
proposals from Namibia and South Africa, to allow export quotas for trophy
hunting of the black rhinoceros, have been accepted at the ongoing 13th
Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species (Cites)
"At the end of the day the Cites
convention is meant to protect species from over exploitation and not to
facilitate trade," Jason Bell, country director for the International Fund
for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in South Africa told IPS.
"The world needs
to take notice of these dangerous decisions being made at Cites and
encourage their governments to vote for conservation and not be pushed by
national lobbies into policies that could lead to species' extinction,"
added Erica Martin, the Australian-based spokeswoman for IFAW.
said attempts would be made to revive the issue at the plenary of the 12-day
conference ending on October 14, although she expected little to come out of
it going by past history.
Over 1 500 delegates from 166 Cites member
countries are in the Thai capital to deliberate on about 100 proposals and
resolutions about various species of plants and animals.
increases through conservation
Cites is a UN-backed treaty that has been
in effect for nearly 30 years. But without any policing authority, its
effectiveness is only as good as the political will and resources of each of
its member nations.
Four range states, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe
and Kenya, contain 97.6% of the remaining wild black rhino population with
poaching and habitat destruction having already decimated its population
from a probable few hundred thousand at the start of the last century to
fewer than 2 500 by the early nineties.
South Africa and Namibia have
shown net increases in numbers of the black rhino between 1980 and 2001
through conservation efforts including enforcement but activists say that is
not good enough reason to allow trophy hunting.
"It sends out all the
wrong signals - that it is all right to hunt rhinos and also trade in the
animal and its parts," said Shyam Bajimaya an ecologist with the department
of national parks and wildlife in Nepal, one of the last refuges of the
great one-horned rhino.
Bajimaya is fearful that the easing of
restrictions in southern Africa could have an adverse impact on the Asian
rhino, which continues to be poached despite stringent conservation and
enforcement efforts, thanks to strong demand for its horn by wealthy clients
in countries like Thailand, China, Taiwan, South Korea and
The horn from the Asian rhino is
smaller but fetches higher prices than the larger ones from the African
species because it is considered to be more "concentrated".
kilogram of Asian rhino horn fetches more than $50 000 although higher
prices have been reported.
There are five rhinoceros species that
have survived extinction with three of them living in Asia and two in
Rhino populations are endangered not only by poachers but also by
shrinking natural habitats they increasingly have to share with insurgent
groups armed with automatic weapons and interested in more immediate issues
than animal conservation.
According to Bajimaya, as a result of the
Maoist insurgency in Nepal authorities in the Chitwan national park, famed
for its rhinos, had to reduce the number of forest guard posts from 32 to
"This naturally encourages poaching and
over the last two months we have seized as many as five rhino horns in
Chitwan," Bajimaya said.
"From examining carcasses of rhinos left behind
by poachers after sawing off the horns we find that rhinos are being hunted
down with more and more sophisticated firearms suggesting that the business
continues to be lucrative," she said.
Carcasses are also found with
the hooves and hides removed apparently because even these, apart from the
horns and penises, are prized as having aphrodisiacal properties. In
traditional Asian medicine rhino blood is given as a tonic to women with
"People even scoop up the earth on which a rhino may
have urinated to be dunked into water and filtered to make potions," said
Bajimaya, wishing that poachers would be satisfied with the urine and leave
the animals alone.
Harare - The International Monetary Fund, to which Zimbabwe owes
US$295m in arrears, is to close its office at the end of the month after 11
years in Harare, a move the state-controlled press described as politically
A statement on the IMF website said it would communicate with
Harare in the future via contacts with headquarters staff and regular
executive board discussions.
It said that the closure of the office
should not be linked to the overdue financial obligations.
IMF deputy director for Africa Siddarth Tinari said the closure was the
result of hard budget constraint, and that resources could be used more
The state-controlled New Ziana news agency said that the
IMFs halt on lending to President Robert Mugabe's government was part of
British-led international pressure on the country to force it to relent on
The government has made no payments on its arrears to
Zimbabwe between 2001 and early this year.
In July, the IMF board
decided to postpone a decision to finally expel Zimbabwe, because of the
severity of the decision and the fact that Zimbabwe began making some
payments toward reducing its debt.
The country's economy went into a
rapid slide from 2000 after Mugabe mounted his illegal revolutionary land
reform programme and drove nearly all of the country's 4 200 productive
white farmers from their land, a move that effectively wrecked its
Simultaneously he launched the violent suppression
of his political opponents, a move that economists say has forced 25% of the
population, comprising its best educated and most economically active
people, to flee abroad. - Sapa-dpa
Harare - Protesters took to the streets of the Zimbabwean
capital yesterday after President Mugabe introduced a battery of laws to
project himself as a democrat while he crushes dissent ahead of
parliamentary elections due in six months. About 200 pro-democracy
demonstrators scattered thousands of protest leaflets across the city,
warning of "diabolic" legislation. Passers-by bent furtively to pick them
up. Among the controversial new laws is the Non-Governmental Organisations
Bill, which will force all charity organisations to register with the
Government or be shut down, have officers jailed and assets seized, on the
say-so of the state-controlled NGO council. The Government says
organisations dealing in "governance" are " harbouring motives on behalf of
the British and American government to destroy the country". Parliament,
dominated by the ruling party, will then turn to two electoral bills,
designed to establish an "independent" commission to take overall control of
the March elections. The commission is effectively appointed by Mr