|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Message to shout from the rooftops
When government closed The
Weekly Mail for a month in 1988, the
distinguished British ambassador, Sir Robin Renwick, arrived carrying a bank
bag stuffed with money. With his Savile Row suit and Tory accent, he was
clearly uncomfortable handling something as crude as cash. "Use it well," he
said, "I want no receipts, no thanks, no mention of this at all." This was
her majesty's government's way of helping us through a difficult month, he
said. On the other hand, he used a conspicuous cheque to order a
subscription for 10 Downing Street. It would be of assistance, he explained,
if Pik Botha (then foreign affairs minister) could be told that Mrs Thatcher
received this paper every week, and would not be pleased if she failed to
receive it. On the first day of the closure, I received a call from a US
senator. "I am about to go into the senate and propose a resolution that we
give you support to ensure you survive," he said. "What are your costs for
I tell these stories to
highlight the way the international community
rallied around during the 1980s to keep alive as much press freedom as they
could in this country. They recognised press freedom as a litmus test, a
freedom that could help protect other freedoms, one that could give hope and
succour to many who lacked other freedoms. We would not have survived
without such support. On receiving a warning of state action, we could phone
one or two people in London, such as the veteran South African activists
David Astor and Anthony Sampson, and within hours we would get copies of
protest letters sent to government from every Fleet Street editor. The
Committee for the Protection of Journalists in New York would sweep into
action and mobilise a network of international reaction. They didn't care
what we wrote, they never questioned whether we deserved closure, they just
rallied around when the call was made.
South African business made its own intervention. One day we
to a grand old building in the city centre to meet a major business leader
who was concerned that closure of our paper would add impetus to calls for
sanctions. He kept calling our paper the Financial Mail. We didn't correct
him for fear he would realise we were just a rag-tag bunch of lefties, but
he rallied support for a letter signed by eight top businessmen to then
president PW Botha, which was crucial in staying his hand.
This week the authorities in Zimbabwe closed that country's
the independent and outspoken Daily News. The paper declined to register
under the new media laws, they challenged the law in court and were told
they could not do so unless they first complied with the law and registered.
Meanwhile, armed police closed them down. Registration of journalists is
familiar to South Africans, who fought against repeated attempts to
introduce it in the apartheid era. It was blocked because journalists and
employers stood together in resisting what would have been a death knell for
dissident voices; if one paper had agreed, the edifice would have been
broken, and those who resisted would, like the Daily News in Harare, have
been isolated. Zimbabwe's other papers decided together to register under
protest then challenge the law. The Daily News made a lone stand not to do
so. But their tactics are not the issue. Their survival is.
It is not a coincidence that as Zimbabwe's democratic
institutions have come
under attack the country has seen inflation rise to about 450%, unemployment
to 70%, and shortages of food and other essentials have worsened. These
things seldom happen when democratic institutions are strong because those
responsible for them are called to account. Nobel Prize-winning economist
Amartya Sen made the point that you do not get famine in a democracy of
which a free press is an essential ingredient. You can predict that the more
Zimbabwe's democratic institutions come under attack, so the risk rises of
shortages turning to famine. Reading international coverage of Zimbabwe this
week I noted that most articles in the major global papers quoted
condemnations of the attack on press freedom from the US state department,
the British foreign secretary, the Commonwealth secretariat and
international media freedom organisations. SA's government was conspicuous
by its absence, probably because its response was so wishywashy it did not
merit repetition. But South Africans who care about these things
particularly journalists should not let this stand as our response. Our
government has chosen the path of diplomacy so quiet no one, least of all
Zimbabweans, can hear it.
Pass me the megaphone.
Speculation mounts over Mugabe's deputy successor
September 21, 2003, 06:31 PM
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President, choice as a replacement for his
deceased deputy could shed new light on who the veteran leader wants to
eventually succeed him, political analysts said today.
Mugabe announced the death of Simon Muzenda, his first Vice President, after
a long illness late yesterday. Analysts said Mugabe could now either elevate
Joseph Msika, the country's second Vice President, to Muzenda's post, or
appoint a new candidate.
Either way, the new entrant was likely to be someone Mugabe wanted as his
own successor after he hinted earlier this year he might be ready to retire,
analysts said. "Muzenda's death obviously has implications for the whole
succession debate," said Brian Raftoupoulos, a professor at the University
of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies.
Zimbabwe is mired in its worst political and economic crisis since Mugabe
assumed power at independence 23 years ago. Critics have accused Mugabe of
mismanaging the economy, helping to push the jobless rate up to 70% and
inflation to nearly 430%.
Muzenda had served in Zimbabwe's government since independence from Britain
in 1980 and was one of the president's most loyal aides. He would have
turned 81 next month and was the same age as Msika. Mugabe is two years
younger. Local media have speculated over the past few months that all three
were under increasing pressure even from within their ruling party Zanu-PF
party to retire and make way for younger blood.
"The two most likely contenders at the moment appear to be John Nkomo and
Emmerson Mnangagwa," Raftopoulos said, referring to Zanu-PF's national
chairperson, and speaker of parliament respectively. Mnangagwa has long been
touted as Mugabe's favoured successor, but the president himself has
publicly kept quiet on his preferred heir.
It was not clear when Mugabe would fill the vacant deputy post. It took him
five months to name Msika as a replacement for veteran nationalist Joshua
Nkomo who died in 1999. - Reuters
Africaís battle with AIDS raises security and
By Richard Ingham
PARIS: Already a human disaster of almost unimaginable proportions, Africaís
AIDS pandemic is also fast emerging as a security concern, with fears it
will breed regional wars, civil strife and terrorism.
Experts speaking ahead of a major conference on Africaís AIDS crisis opening
in Nairobi on Sunday said the disease is inflicting such grim costs that
more countries may join Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo
on the list of sick, war-ravaged states.
South of the Sahara, some 30 million people have AIDS or the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which cause it, according to the UN agency
UNAIDS. Last year alone, 2.2 million Africans died of the disease.
In seven southern African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South
Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) at least a fifth of the adult
population has the virus. In these worst hit countries, a whole generation
of human capital is being wiped out by AIDS.
The economic and social cost is such that their stability is at threat, the
Fields are lacking labourers to sow and harvest. Schools are going without
teachers. Hospitals are losing their doctors and nurses. Business is losing
entrepreneurs who bring dynamism and investment.
The decimation of the rural workforce creates a vicious circle, for it adds
to the food shortages in famine-stricken countries, UNAIDSí chief advisor
for Africa, Michel de Groulard, said. People with HIV, who are the least
resistant to malnutrition, are often the first to die.
They leave behind a ragged army of AIDS orphans, whose numbers are set to
reach some 20 million by the end of this decade. These children, uneducated
and shunned, are easy targets for criminals and militias, de Groulard said.
"These children fall prey to all kinds of organisations and manipulators,
who can turn them into child soldiers or eventually terrorists. Itís a
genuine risk," he said.
Put together, these ingredients are a potent formula for dislocation and
civil violence, de Groulard said. "This especially concerns southern
Africa ó Mozambique, Zimbabwe and to a lesser degree Botswana. All of this
zone is very vulnerable in that respect," he said in an interview.
Meanwhile, the security forces, which underpin stability in many African
countries, are getting progressively weaker. A military conference in
Gaborone, the Botswanan capital, was told last week that in southern African
countries as many as 60 percent of troops have HIV.
The pandemic "could be a source for intra- and interstate conflict,"
Botswanan Major General Bakwena Oitsile said. "If the security forces become
weaker due to ill health, the countriesí constitutions could be easily
The political structures that ensure democratic governance could be
threatened." Devastated, turmoil-ridden countries, where law and order have
broken down and the economy amounts to little more than a black market, are
ripe for becoming terrorist havens, as was the case in Somalia, US analyst
Patrick Garrett said.
"If an economy implodes as a result of massive AIDS prevalence, then
certainly terrorism can take root," Garrett, an associate at Washington
think tank Globalsecurity.org, said.
Such worries clearly figure in the thinking behind the five-year,
15-billion-dollar US initiative to help African and Caribbean countries
against AIDS. In February, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief George
Tenet branded the pandemic a threat to US national security for its ability
to "further weaken already beleaguered states."
"Itís not just a health crisis, itís a crisis of nation states. Nations will
collapse if they donít fix this problem," US Secretary of State Colin Powell
warned in May.
The six-day Nairobi forum, the International Conference on AIDS and STIs
(Sexually Transmitted Infections) in Africa, known as ICASA, is the biggest
regional forum on the continentís AIDS problems. It is held every two years,
alternating with the International AIDS Conference.
New York Times
The Tyranny of Robert Mugabe
In The Daily News of Zimbabwe readers could follow the long, cheerless saga
of President Robert Mugabe's slide into dictatorship. But the most telling
illustration of Zimbabwe's decline is the case of the newspaper itself. The
four-year-old daily, the only one not controlled by the government, has been
bombed twice, its staff and distributors beaten and harassed, its founding
editor driven into exile. Now the government has closed the paper, using
undemocratic laws to extinguish one of the last embers of free speech in
Mr. Mugabe's current assault on the country's most popular newspaper is
built around a 2002 law that compels media to register. The government has
used the law to bring charges against or deny accreditation to critical
journalists. The Daily News argued that the requirement was unconstitutional
and refused to register. On Sept. 11, the Supreme Court ruled that if the
newspaper wanted to challenge the media law, it had to register first. Last
week the paper did ó and it was promptly denied a license to operate. It is
now appealing to the courts, but it is unlikely to be successful in a
justice system controlled by Mr. Mugabe.
In 23 years as president, Mr. Mugabe has gone from independence hero to
tyrant. Zimbabweans now go hungry, in part because his policy of
confiscating white-owned farms has led to food shortages. The once-strong
economy is near collapse. Mr. Mugabe rigged his own re-election last year,
and courts are now prosecuting Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the
democratic opposition, for treason ó a charge that can carry the death
So far, the near-united opposition of the outside world has had no effect.
But one reason is that the nation with the most influence has not joined in.
Although South Africa has leverage ó it controls Zimbabwe's electric power,
for one thing ó President Thabo Mbeki argues that diplomacy is more
effective than sanctions. Mr. Mbeki, who refuses to criticize a fellow hero
of Africa's liberation struggles, should reconsider. The collapse of
Zimbabwe is affecting all southern Africa. For the good of the entire
region, Mr. Mugabe must step down.
Editors Forum condemns banning of Daily News
September 21, 2003, 07:26 AM
The African Editors' Forum yesterday criticised the decision by the
Zimbabwean government's Media and Information Commission not to allow the
publication of The Daily News.
Mathatha Tsedu, the forum's interim chairman, said, "The denial of a licence
to publish Zimbabwe's Daily News by a government commission is a regrettable
and unfortunate occurrence that signals a hardening of attitude by the
His remarks followed an unsuccessful bid by Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News, to register as "a mass media
service". Tsedu said: "The African Editors' Forum, representing editors and
senior editorial executives from more than 35 countries on the continent,
condemns this high handed measure by the Zimbabwean government. The Daily
News has been a thorn in the sides of the Zimbabwean government but that is
no reason to stop it from publishing.
"The ban, if made permanent, would have the effect of shutting down the
voices of dissent in a country where democratic gains of the liberation
struggle have been rolled back significantly in the past three to four
years. We call on the government of Zimbabwe to allow The Daily News to
resume operation in terms of existing laws of the land," Tsedu said.
"We further call on all African governments who have committed themselves to
free speech in terms of the African Union charter to voice their displeasure
at the action taken by the Zimbabwean government. The efforts of so many
African leaders and citizens all over the continent to change the image of
this continent cannot be sabotaged by dictators intent on clinging to
power," he added.
Tsedu said the African Editors' Forum and the South African Editors' Forum
were requesting an urgent meeting with the South African department of
foreign affairs to discuss the matter. - Sapa
SOKWANELE CIVIC ACTION SUPPORT GROUP
Enough is Enough
PROMOTING NON VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY.
POLICE OFFICERS BURN EX-FARM WORKEERS' HOUSES TO
FORCE THEM TO WORK ON REESETTLED FARMS
Zimbabwe Republic Police officers and Zanu-Pf youths from Tengwe burnt
houses of ex-farm workers and destroyed valuable property worth hundreds of
thousands of dollars on the 13th and 16th of September 2003 at Mazhaka 1,2
About 300 families of ex-farm workers were evicted from Zinyewe, Mudiki,
Wilko, Tengwe, Chitonga, Horizon, Bonanza, Meadow, Garuwa, Magonera and
Oldonyo farms, are now living at Mazhaka 1, 2 and 3 where they resettled
themselves in year 2000.
On the 13th of September at 12midday six police officers from Tengwe under
the leadership of Zanu-Pf Youth Chairman Kasengu set all the houses on fire
destroying everything on site. After this incident the Zanu-pf youth
promised to destroy the remaining property in Mazhaka area 2 and 3, which
they later did on the 16th of September. 40 houses were burnt on the second
day and the ex-farm workers are living in the open and have nowhere to go.
The Zanu-Pf youths and the police threatened to do more harm if the ex-farm
workers had not vacated their homes by the 17th of September. The violent
attacks were selectively being exerted on the ex-farm workers although there
are so many people living in this same area known as the game reserve.
Villages belonging to Chizhanje, Chikwenhere, Rusere the Zanu-Pf councillor
and Nenguke families have been spared.
These violent clashes started because of disputes between some Zanu-pf
officials and the ex-farm workers with the latter being accused of illegally
resettling themselves in Mazhaka area in year 2000. Although the victims are
accused of supporting MDC, the main reason for all this is that Zanu-Pf
members and new settlers in the area want to deprive the ex-farm workers
pieces of land they got, after their former employers lost farms during the
farm invasions which started in year 2000. The Zanu-pf officials want to
create an environment that would force the ex-farm workers into working for
the new settlers who are too abusive and pay as little as $ 3 500 per month.
The evicted farmers were growing tobacco in these farms, which the settlers
are failing to do because they lack the experience and expertise.
The latest raids and destruction of property were conducted with the Karoi
District Administrator's approval. During all these raids the Zanu-Pf youth
were using a lorry marked Karoi Rural District Council. Some Zanu-pf members
who wanted to get advice approached the DA and they were given the green
light to evict the ex-farm workers from Mazhaka, alleging that the ex-farm
workers resettled themselves in an area meant for game reserve. Sometime in
August the Member of Parliament for the area Cde Marumahoko addressed a
rally at Madziyo were he indicated that the ex-farm workers were supposed to
be evicted from the Mazhaka areas 1, 2 and 3. Another meeting was held at
Tengwe golf club on the 10th of September and the Zanu-pf settlers agreed to
evict the ex-farm workers
The farm invasions, which started in year 2000, have been characterised with
brutal murders, loss of property and evictions, which have reduced Zimbabwe
to a basketless nation. The controversial land reform programme has been
condemned internationally because of the style Zanu-pf is using, is not
working and is causing massive suffering to an ignored group of ex-farm
workers countrywide. Many people in Zimbabwe including the white farmers
have suffered as a result of the farm invasions but the ex-farm workers have
suffered more than anyone else. The sad story is that the majority of
ex-farm workers are of foreign origin being Malawians or Mozambiqeans and
have never known any other home except the farms they call home.