|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
A high court judge put off the bail hearing for three days in the case of John Bibby, a 70-year-old farmer arrested with more than 20 of his labourers after two government supporters died in September 15 clashes on his land.
Bibby's lawyer, Ray Passaportis, said the judge postponed the case until Thursday, after the government's lawyer applied for more time to examine the evidence.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, one of Mugabe's top aides, meanwhile accused the country's 4 000 or so white farmers of colluding with journalists to commit "economic terrorism".
Moyo told the state-run Herald newspaper that the Zimbabwe correspondent of Britain's Independent newspaper, Basildon Peta, had assisted white farmers to spread false reports about the situation on their land.
"Commenting on what he does dignifies economic terrorism at a time when we should be combating it," Moyo was on Monday quoted by the Herald as saying.
The Commercial Farmers Union last week stated that 570 tobacco farms had seen recent work stoppages, while 20 farms had been invaded by pro-government activists after the government had pledged to stop all invasions.
Veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war spearheaded the sometimes violent occupation of commercial farmland by activists of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front from early last year, in support of plans for land redistribution to the black majority.
The government early this month agreed to halt farm invasions in return for foreign financial support for land reform.
The incident on Bibby's farm was one of several to follow that agreement.
Bibby has already spent nine days in custody, his lawyer said on Monday, describing the court postponement as "grossly unfair".
The state alleges that Bibby and his workers attacked land occupiers trucked in for resettlement on Bibby's Bita farm in Hwedza, 100km southeast of Harare.
However, Bibby's security guards said the two men died after falling from a lorry and being run over by the government supporters who were ferrying them from farm to farm. - Sapa-AFP
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe began counting votes on Monday after a weekend by-election for the parliamentary seat left vacant by the death of a liberation war veterans' leader who spearheaded the invasion of white-owned farms.
Four parties contested the election, but analysts said the real contest was between the ruling ZANU-PF, for which Chenjerai Hunzvi had held the seat, and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Analysts said ZANU-PF was likely to retain the seat in Chikomba, a traditional stronghold of the ruling party in southeast Zimbabwe.
"A defeat for ZANU-PF would be very shocking and of great significance ahead of next year's presidential poll," said Brian Raftopoulos, a political analyst at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies.
Hunzvi, a key political ally of President Robert Mugabe, died in June. He won 63 percent of the Chikomba vote at last year's general election against the MDC's 32 percent.
Hunzvi was at the forefront of the commercial farm invasions by pro-government militants which began in February 2000.
His supporters -- many claiming to be veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence against white-minority rule -- also waged a violent election campaign which was widely credited with helping ZANU-PF narrowly win the June 2000 elections.
At least 31 people, mostly opposition supporters, died in pre-election violence. Five of the victims were farmers whose properties were invaded.
While voting in Chikomba was peaceful on Saturday and Sunday, the MDC has accused ZANU-PF supporters of killing a school headmaster who backed the opposition two weeks ago.
ZANU-PF officials have blamed MDC militants for the death, saying the man had defected to the ruling party.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai poses the first serious challenge to Mugabe in presidential elections due by April next year.
Critics say Mugabe's controversial programme to seize white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless blacks is part of a campaign to retain power in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis widely blamed on 21 years of misrule since independence.
Results of the Chikomba by-election are expected later on Monday.
|Call for terrorism fight to target Mugabe|
|THE Australian Democrats today called on the
Federal Government to broaden the fight against international terrorism to
include Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.|
Andrew Murray (AD, WA), who grew up in Zimbabwe, asked whether the government would agree to detain and prosecute anyone heading an organisation accused of committing acts of terror.
"Is it true the government is aware of the identity of someone whose organisation has been accused of the murder of tens of thousands more than Osama bin Laden's group, as well as many many thousands of tortures, burnings, beatings and rapes?" he asked during Senate question time.
"Is the government aware that the organisation ZANU-PF headed by Robert Mugabe has been accused of these very things starting with the mass murder of the N'debele minority in the "80s and continuing with farm workers, farmers and political opponents right up to the present?
"Does the government accept that if it is going to join in an international campaign to punish mass crimes against humanity - and I support them doing so - then from (accused Nazi war criminal) Konrad Kalejs to the Burmese government or the Zimbabwean government it cannot be selective and must apply the same standards in Australia?"
President Mugabe is due to come to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane next month.
Government Senate Leader Robert Hill said Australia condemned the violence upon white Zimbabwean farmers.
He said Australia had used what diplomatic measures it could to try to influence the situation in Zimbabwe and would continue to do so.
"The way to respond to (Mugabe's regime) is to, together with our friends, exert sufficient political pressure on Mr Mugabe to accord to the basic tenets of human rights," Senator Hill said.
Senator Murray said the focus of the coalition of nations headed by the United States was Afghanistan's Taliban regime for harbouring bin Laden but it should be broader.
"No members of those organisations which carry out terror should be safe outside their own countries or their own havens," he said.
"Otherwise we'll face the situation ... when all people who have in the past been classified as terrorists become in fact people who are perfectly acceptable to society and have tea with the Queen."
|24 Sep 2001|
HelpAge Zimbabwe - moving the elderly from the bottom of the list
|Insiza Godlwayo Goat Project, one of several income
generating projects funded by HeplAge Zimbabwe for the elderly in Matabeleland
Faced with declining living standards and poor nutrition among the country's elderly population, HelpAge Zimbabwe (HAZ) has launched a pilot nutritional programme for older people in Masvingo province in the south. HAZ's new director Douglas Mhizha spoke to AlertNet correspondent Busani Bafana about the scheme.
AN: What has necessitated the launch of a nutritional programme for older people?
DM: All along we have been talking about the welfare of the elderly but have not given a thought to their nutritional standards, especially with the increasing costs of basic food items. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and HelpAge Zimbabwe together with the UNDP launched a pilot programme in July specifically to improve the situation of the elderly. We realised that the Ministry of Health had no way of catering for the elderly, unlike the case with children and under-fives who have a support programme and an act of parliament protecting their rights to a healthy life, why not the elderly?
AN: What do you hope to achieve through this pilot programme?
DM: We are saying older persons are also a vulnerable group like children and lactating mothers. We want to tackle the issue of malnourishment by investigating the traditional diet and see how we can bolster it without adding anything new. We expect the results of the pilot project by April next year and we hope to replicate the same project in the 10 provinces of the country. Mind you, there is more to the well being of the elderly than just nutrition.
AN: Is the programme costing anything?
DM: Yes. We have made representations to government for funding. The pilot programme covers over 800 elderly people in Masvingo alone. We will need about Z$10 million (U.S. $190,000) for the nutritional programme alone.
AN: Taking stock of HelpAge Zimbabwe's activities since the International Year of Older Persons declared by the United Nations in 1999, how would you say you have performed?
DM: 1999 was a period for us to review our success towards achieving the 18 United Nations Principles for Older Persons of December 1991. It was a period of scrutiny for us and we feel we felt short in some of the goals. For example, on the social welfare of the elderly we are still battling to have the Elderly Persons Bill made into law since it was drafted in 1991. We were the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to draft it. The absence of such an act has militated against our plans to improve the livelihood of the elderly. It all comes to priorities and the elderly seem to be at the bottom of the list. We need to change that attitude.
AN: What would you say about social welfare payments to the elderly?
DM: The social welfare benefits for the elderly are a sore point. We have made recommendations to government to peg them at least at Z$1,980 (US$36) per month per person. Currently the social welfare pays a paltry Z$250 (US$5), that does not even buy a decent meal, let alone provide health cover. We are appealing to both government and the private sector to help us support our ageing population. We also want the payment system speeded up.
AN: It is just over a year since your appointment as director-- what challenges have you faced?
DM: One of my challenges is to improve our fund raising efforts as it costs about Z$18 million (US$325,000) to finance our programmes in Zimbabwe annually. We would want government to consider tax relief to companies that fund programmes for the elderly. I am also facing the challenge of making our nutritional pilot project as success.
AN: What about the future of HelpAge Zimbabwe?
DM: We hope in future to be able to promote and support all the needs of the elderly persons in Zimbabwe. Currently we need to help the elderly deal with the effects of HIV/AIDS as more elderly people have taken the added on responsibility of caring for orphans, some have up to 10 children. Besides, we have noted a growing problem of urban destitution with a lot of elderly people roaming the streets. Elderly people have an important role to play in society and we need to support them.
From The Star (SA), 23 September
Zimbabweans vote in ex-veterans' leaders seat
Harare - Zimbabweans turned out in large numbers on Sunday to vote in a by-election for the seat left vacant by the death of a liberation war veterans' leader who spearheaded the invasion of hundreds of white-owned farms. Veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, who was an important ally of President Robert Mugabe, died in June. He was at the forefront of the commercial farm invasions by pro-government militants in February last year. Polls in Chikomba are due to close at 7pm on Sunday, with the results expected late on Monday.
Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party was expected to win the parliamentary seat for the Chikomba constituency. Hunzvi had easily won the seat during parliamentary elections last year but Mugabe's party narrowly defeated the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). At least 31 people, mostly opposition supporters, died in political violence during the runup to last year's elections. While voting in Chikomba was peaceful on Saturday and Sunday, the MDC has accused Zanu PF supporters of killing two weeks ago a school headmaster who backed the opposition. Zanu-PF officials have blamed MDC militants for the death.
Four political parties are contesting the Chikomba seat, but analysts said any real contest is between Zanu PF and the MDC. "I think this will be another Zanu PF victory because this is a ruling party stronghold, and I don't believe there has been any change in voting patterns since last year," said Brian Raftopoulos, a political analyst at the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies. "A defeat for Zanu PF would be very shocking and of great significance ahead of next year's presidential poll," he added. The MDC, led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, is the first serious political threat to Mugabe who faces presidential elections by April next year. Critics say Mugabe's controversial programme to seize white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless blacks is part of a campaign to retain power.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 23 September
Top official barred from entering US
The permanent secretary for the mines and energy ministry, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, has been banned from attending a summit in the United States, becoming the first victim of travel restrictions being implemented by the United States government against President Robert Mugabe and his officials. The US has further deferred a training programme that had been scheduled for November in Zimbabwe to train people at the country’s Technology Transfer Centre.
Documents in The Standard’s possession show that US officials decided last month that Katsande be excluded from the Corporate Council on Africa 3rd Biennial US-Africa Business summit this month. After the summit, Katsande was scheduled to join other SADC permanent secretaries in meeting with Federal Highway Administration officials to discuss co-operation programmes. Contacted for comment yesterday, the minister of mines and energy, Edward Chindori-Chininga said: "I am not aware of that issue. This is my first time learning about it. I do not know that one of my officials has been denied entry into the US. There are many projects we have with the US government and we are still to be notified of their cancellation." US State Department official, Steve Kraft, asked an engineer with the Federal Highway Administration, Alfred Logie, to withdraw Katsande’s invitation as a way of protesting against political developments in Zimbabwe.
Since the run-up to last year’s parliamentary elections, Zimbabwe has been enveloped in a wave of state-sponsored lawlessness which has prompted the international community to intervene by threatening sanctions. Already the US Senate has approved the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001 which seeks to formalise sanctions against Zimbabwe and impose travel restrictions on President Mugabe, his ministers, service chiefs and their families. The bill now awaits the approval of the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by President Bush.
"You may advise him (Katsande) that due to the Administration’s serious concerns about recent events in Zimbabwe, it would be inappropriate at this time to support his travel on such a programme," wrote Kraft in correspondence dated 28 August 2001. He was responding to Logie’s inquiries whether Katsande should attend considering the situation in Zimbabwe. Wrote Logie on 24 August: "Understanding the current political sensitivity, we request the State Department’s reading in the appropriateness of this action (inviting Katsande)." Katsande had been invited as part of the Federal Highway Administration’s continuing co-operation in technology exchange with Zimbabwe. In a telephone interview with The Standard from the US, Logie confirmed the ban on Katsande but referred further questions to the State Department. "I am aware of that development, but everything is being handled by Steve Kraft from government. So I cannot comment on the matter." Although the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001 has not been passed into law yet, events on the ground show that certain parties are already implementing its contents.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 23 September
MDC delegation off to Brisbane
An advance MDC delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) left for Brisbane on Friday to meet Australian civic society and student movement groups ahead of the 6-9 October conference. The delegation, comprising Chimanimani MP, Roy Bennett, party secretary for international affairs, Sekai Holland, and youth chairman Nelson Chamisa, is expected to lay the ground for party president, Morgan Tsvangirai’s arrival in Brisbane. Tsvangirai and MDC shadow minister for foreign affairs, Tendai Biti, will join the group later to meet Australian government and opposition officials and those from other Commonwealth countries and the Club’s secretariat.
The party’s spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, yesterday accused The Herald of lying in its Friday issue by claiming that the MDC was sending 240 youths to picket Mugabe in Brisbane. "Our trip has not been funded by any foreign government, let alone the so called ex-Rhodesians. It is also false that we are sending youths to Brisbane. What is happening here is that President Mugabe has, despite public confirmation, still not convinced himself that he is making the right decision by travelling to Brisbane in the light of the on-going state-sanctioned terror, his failure to breath life into the Abuja agreement and the Peter Tatchell factor. The Herald continues to deteriorate and is fast becoming a madhouse in which inmates are trying to run the asylum. No good can be expected from a madhouse where the patients are writing the prescriptions," said Jongwe.
Responding to The Herald’s assertions, Chamisa said: "That is hogwash. If we want to demonstrate against Mugabe then the State House is nearer to us than Brisbane and Mugabe is more accessible here than in Australia. If we have complaints against Mugabe we have a platform to put them across and the ballot box is one of them." Mugabe faces a hostile reception in Brisbane where several organisations have lined up demonstrations against him. Other Commonwealth heads of governments are expected to give Mugabe a roasting over his handling of the land issue which has been characterised by violence and mayhem.
The International Students Union (IUS), a grouping of the world’s student bodies is the latest to join the fray in planning action against Mugabe. IUS secretary for African affairs, Charlton Hwende, said his organisation had listed Mugabe as one of the worst leaders in the world and would recommend action against him by the international community. Peter Tatchell, a gay and human rights activist said he would have another go at Mugabe after failing to arrest the embattled Zimbabwe leader in Brussels earlier this year.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 23 September
MDC unveils impressive education policy
AS government finalises moves to stop funding education altogether, the opposition MDC has unveiled an ambitious education policy. The blueprint, launched by MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai in Mutare a fortnight ago, seeks to restore Zimbabwe’s education sector as one of the best systems on the continent. Among the highlights of the blueprint are the merging of the two education ministries, provision of increased government funding towards education, subsidising tertiary education, the scrapping of privatisation of essential services at tertiary institutions, an improvement in the working conditions of teachers, and a special focus on pre-schools.
Zimbabwe’s education sector, once hailed as the most successful in Africa, has now crumbled due to reduced government funding. Government subsidies, which helped give hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans access to free and affordable education in the 1980s and early 1990s, have now dwindled to near zero levels. The policy of free primary education and subsidised higher and tertiary education helped Zimbabweans who otherwise would not have afforded a decent education train in various fields. The government was hailed in its attempt to empower the populace through an education system that would not discriminate against the poor.
However, the introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in 1990, led to reduced funding of the sector. Ten years on, the sector has virtually crumbled as government funding priorities have been placed elsewhere. Analysts have blamed government for the collapse of this once very successful education system because of its failure to adequately fund it, among other reasons. Government has consistently refused to improve working conditions for teachers who have staged one job action after another to press for better conditions. The recent failure by the State to protect teachers from harassment by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters has not helped the situation either. Teachers, especially those in rural areas, are viewed as community leaders whose influence the state fears might be used on the rural electorate to support the opposition. Worse still, higher education and technology minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, has of late been warning that government would soon stop funding education. But in a country where 70% of the population is now living under the poverty datum line, it is expected that the majority of people will fail to afford a decent education as a result.
"The MDC commits itself to providing adequate funding to schools and tertiary institutions of learning, to ensure that there is a future for every child. We will not accept a situation where a child is denied an equal opportunity to access education on the basis of their economic background," said Tsvangirai at the launch of the blueprint. "We commit ourselves to reviewing the outsourcing of catering and accommodation services in institutions of higher learning. The decision to outsource accommodation and catering services in tertiary institutions was a crazy decision," he said. "MDC will get colleges and universities to provide these services at controlled costs. Adequate loans will be made available to students to meet these costs and ancillary expenses."
Former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor, Professor Gordon Chavunduka, said the MDC policy would create a good foundation for education. Chavunduka said, unlike the government policy which is centred on the state abdicating its responsibility of funding education, the MDC blueprint would make education affordable to long suffering Zimbabweans. Said Chavunduka: "It is a very good policy as it stands now. It gives good recommendations in all areas, from pre-schools to tertiary education. Government is no longer playing its role of financing education." "Privatisation is done at many universities around the world, but these are rich countries. You cannot adopt the same system in Africa because we are poor. We also don’t need two ministries of education. The country’s education can be run by one ministry," said Chavunduka.
The MDC policy proposes rationalising government spending in other sectors and rechannelling the funds towards education and health. Charlton Hwende, the International Union of Students (IUS) secretary for African affairs, described the document as workable and realistic. "As the IUS, we think the policy is workable and serious. The MDC is empowering students. They are promising to fund students and constantly review the student support rate," said Hwende. "The MDC’s promise to reform the general administration and include students in the administration of institutions will help curb corruption that has become rampant. Unnecessary political meddling in the affairs of institutions of higher learning should be stopped," he said.
Dr Elizabeth Marunda, an educationist and human resources consultant, said although the policy was workable, problems would arise from obtaining sources of funding. "The idea of having one education ministry is commendable because it will mean cutting on unnecessary expenditure. The idea is to have various departments which, although working under the ministry, will operate independently," she said. "The departments should be competitive and should be run by experts. The policy looks at maximum utilisation of resources." "However I have queries on their funding policy. Free education is not a new thing. It has been tried before. I don’t know where they will get the money. One goes to ask where they will get the money to give grants, and to what extent they will give the grants?" she said.
Hwende, however, described the MDC document as realistic in that it identified areas where money to finance education would come from. The MDC has promised to disengage from the DRC war which has cost Zimbabwe billions of dollars, as well as to cut the number of ministries, as a way of reducing government expenditure. Added Hwende: "The document is realistic. Promises are not being made in a vacuum. It is identifying needs and the sources of income. The promises are being made on the background of an undertaking by the MDC to revive the economy through its economic recovery programme. The MDC has identified areas where expenditure will be reduced and the money rechannelled to social services such as health and education."
While the government has been emphasising on the need to make history, Shona and Ndebele compulsory, the MDC policy puts more emphasis on science and technical subjects. "The MDC policy emphasises the need to act swiftly in changing the curriculum in the education system. Any education system needs to be directly relevant to the needs of society. We at the MDC believe that there should be significant shift towards science and technical subjects," said Tsvangirai. Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer, commended the MDC for focusing on technical and civic education. "It contrasts sharply with the Zanu PF thrust towards trying to empower people through the compulsory teaching of Shona, Tonga, Ndebele and history. The MDC policy has a strong leaning towards science and technical subjects. It would be a great miscalculation and fallacy to assume culture and pride can be a means towards economic empowerment particularly in view of global trends. The emphasis on civic, environment and Aids education should also be lauded. It reveals an undeniable touch with the realities of modern life," said Shumba.
The Zimbabwe National Union of Students (Zinasu) also applauded the MDC blueprint saying it would alleviate student suffering. "The present government has made students a poor lot. The promise by the MDC to scrap the privatisation of catering and accommodation will go a long way in alleviating students’ suffering," said Zinasu secretary for information, Phillip Pasirayi.
From ZWNEWS: If you would like us to send you a copy of the MDC Education Policy, please let us know. It will be sent as a Word attachment to an email message - size 92 Kb, or roughly twice the size of the average daily ZWNEWS.
From Associated Press, 23 September
Congo Rebels, Zimbabwe Leader Meet
Bukavu, Congo - Congolese rebels and Zimbabwe's president - a top ally of the Congo government - have held unprecedented talks on the prospects for peace and the political future of Congo after three years of civil war, a rebel leader said Sunday. Adolphe Onusumba, head of the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy, returned to rebel-held eastern Congo from the talks with Robert Mugabe, saying he had "sensed a genuine willingness on the part of Mugabe to end the conflict." The talks were the first between the rebels and Mugabe. Zimbabwe has been the main backer of the Congolese government, together with Angola and Namibia, in the war that broke out in August 1998 after rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda attempted to oust then-President Laurent Kabila.
Both Rwanda and Uganda accused Kabila of warmongering and threatening regional security by arming Rwandan and Ugandan rebels. Following Kabila's assassination in January and the accession to power of his son, Joseph, key provisions of the 1999 cease-fire deal were implemented, including the pullback of troops from front-line positions and the deployment of U.N. observers to verify the cease-fire. But a recent upsurge in fighting involving government-backed Rwandan rebels and tribal militias in eastern Congo could scuttle the peace deal, Onusumba said. "We requested Mugabe to advise Kabila to stop financing and arming the Interahamwe (Rwandan rebels) and sending the war to our territory," Onusumba said.
The Rwandan government holds the Interahamwe responsible for the 100-day slaughter of at least 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. The Interahamwe fled to neighbouring Congo, then known as Zaire, to escape retaliation. "There is a danger of resumption of a full-scale warfare against the Interahamwe," Onusumba said, adding "we have the means and capacity to launch an all-out military assault." Onusumba said members of his delegation also discussed with Mugabe the forthcoming inter-Congolese dialogue that begins Oct. 15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and which is expected to chart Congo's political future after decades of corrupt and dictatorial regimes. The rebel delegation told Mugabe that Kabila's proposal to hold national elections soon after the dialogue wasn't practical and encouraged the establishment of a three-year transitional administration to prepare Congo for democratic elections and integrate rebel forces into the national army, Onusumba said.