Tue Sep 4, 2007 1:55PM EDT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - United States food group H.J. Heinz Co, which has sold
its 51 percent stake in Zimbabwe's top cooking oil maker to President Robert
Mugabe's government, said it had pulled out of the country because of
In a statement, Heinz (HNZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said the sale was
part of the group's strategy to consolidate its operations towards
profitable growth, and the investment in Zimbabwe's Olivine Industries did
not look promising.
"On June 1, 2006, Heinz took a charge to write down its investment as a
result of the continuing uncertainty regarding the stability of the currency
and economic conditions in the country," it said.
Zimbabwe is struggling with chronic shortages of food, fuel, and foreign
currency, inflation over 7,600 percent and crumbling services in an acute
economic crisis many blame on Mugabe's government.
Mugabe says the crisis is caused by Western opponents, and is driving
controversial policies he says are aimed at empowering Zimbabwe's black
The Zimbabwe government's acquisition of Olivine marks the start of its
campaign to control foreign-owned firms in the southern African country.
The government has introduced in parliament a law seeking to transfer
majority ownership of foreign-owned firms to locals.
Indigenization and Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana on Tuesday told state
radio that the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill would become law
within 30 to 45 days.
Heinz, which makes Ore-Ida potatoes and Smart Ones frozen meals in addition
to Heinz ketchup, was one of the first foreign investors in Zimbabwe after
the country's independence from Britain in 1980.
But relations between Olivine and Harare soured in 2006 over charges the
firm stopped producing cooking oil after being barred by Washington from
buying from white-owned farms that had been seized by Mugabe's government
and redistributed to blacks.
Tue Sep 4, 2007 2:43PM BST
By David Brunnstrom
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A senior EU official has suggested Zimbabwe be
represented at a long-delayed EU-Africa summit at lower level than President
Robert Mugabe to resolve objections some EU states have about sharing a
table with him.
But other EU officials said reaching a compromise to allow the summit to go
ahead as planned in December could be difficult given broad African support
for the presence of Mugabe, whom the West and rights groups accuse of human
In an interview published on Tuesday, European Union External Relations
Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner suggested "a high-ranking government
minister, like the foreign minister" could attend the summit and represent
"I understand that the British naturally have a big problem (over this
issue) but we should not let our political relationship with Africa fall
apart because of Mugabe," she told the German daily Financial Times
Summit plans have been on hold since 2003 as Britain and several other EU
states have refused to attend if Mugabe did.
Portugal, current holder of the EU presidency, has been seeking a
The European Union and Southeast Asian countries resolved a similar problem
over military-ruled Myanmar when it was agreed that the country would attend
summits at a lower level.
However South Africa and other African states are expected to insist Mugabe
be allowed to attend the EU-Africa meeting
"Almost all Africans want Mugabe to be present," an EU official said. "The
Africans are really making this an issue. It could be difficult to sort this
A spokeswoman for Portugal's foreign ministry said no invitations had yet
been sent. Portuguese officials have said privately one had been extended to
the African Union, which would then decide who to invite.
A spokesman for the EU's executive Commission said there were differences
among the 27 EU states as to what level of invitation should be sent to
EU officials said it was unclear whether a compromise could be reached.
Diplomats have said Britain would not veto a summit over an invitation to
Mugabe, but analysts said it would be impossible for Prime Minister Gordon
Brown to attend if the Zimbabwean president did so.
European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said there was increasing
competition for influence in Africa.
"In the last three years China has held three summits with Africa, and very
business-minded summits with a lot of concrete outcomes. Our main concern is
to hold the summit in December without any delay," he said.
Mugabe blames Western sanctions for hyper-inflation, food shortages and an
economic crisis. Critics say Mugabe has destroyed the economy with his
policy of farm seizures.
(Additional reporting by Sylvia Westall in Berlin, Ingrid Melander in
Brussels and Axel Bugge in Lisbon)
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: September 4, 2007
STRASBOURG, France - Portugal's president called Tuesday on Europe and
Africa to show imagination over who should be invited to a summit of the two
continents' leaders, preparations for which have been hampered by whether
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe should be snubbed.
"The problem with the invitations will surely be examined by the two sides,
the EU and AU, and I do hope there will be enough imagination, as it has
been in other situations, to overcome the difficulties," Portuguese
President Anibal Cavaco Silva told journalists at the European Parliament.
"It's very important to have this summit in Lisbon," he added.
Preparations for the Dec. 8-9 summit in Lisbon have been hampered by
disagreement over how to handle Mugabe, with Britain taking a hard line
against the Zimbabwean president.
Portugal, which holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, has been left
with the delicate task of ensuring the summit is not hijacked by disputes
The EU has imposed a travel ban on Mugabe and other government members in
response to authoritarian policies that have brought Zimbabwe to the brink
of collapse. In 2003, a planned EU-Africa summit in Lisbon was canceled when
some African nations balked at the EU's refusal to allow Mugabe attend.
Previously, Portuguese officials have suggested Mugabe was likely to be
included in a blanket invitation to the leaders of all 53 African Union
member states as part of a compromise between the two organizations as they
seek to repair strained relations.
EU officials want to launch a new "strategic partnership" with African
nations, with closer cooperation linked to political and economic reforms.
Portugal views the summit as central to that goal.
The 27-nation EU is eager to reverse its waning importance to African
nations in recent years as China's economic influence there expands.
"Europe's inertia in relation to Africa may carry a heavy strategic price
for the union ... Now is the time to speak with Africa instead of speaking
merely of Africa and its problems," Cavaco Silva said.
SW Radio Africa (London)
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007
A leading opposition figure in South Africa on Tuesday told parliament that
there must be constitutional changes before next year's general elections in
Zimbabwe. The MP said instead, South African President Thabo Mbeki appears
to be working against democratic elections in Zimbabwe.
Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and whip for the African Christian Democratic Party,
said contrary to President Mbeki's insistence that Zimbabweans are confident
that the talks are leading to free and fair elections, many were expressing
grave concerns that the talks were changing nothing.
'Zimbabweans expect President Mbeki and SADC to tell Mugabe there must be
constitutional change before the coming election. Roman Catholic Bishops
have expressed concerns that the political and economic crisis in the
country has reached a flashpoint and only democratic reforms can avert
further bloodshed and a mass uprising,' Dudley said.
The ACDP MP was also critical of the stance taken by the SADC bloc. She said
in both Tanzania and Lusaka, the importance of conditions for free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe seems to have escaped the leaders altogether.
'President Mbeki's diplomatic efforts are ignoring the cries of more than
eleven million Zimbabweans who expect President Mbeki and SADC to stand by
SADC protocols and to tell President Mugabe there must be political changes
before next year's elections,' she said.
Dudley added that as far as she knew, both factions of the MDC have vowed
that they will never go into an election that is pre-determined.
'Both factions of the opposition MDC are on record saying they will only
participate in elections if conditions in Zimbabwe prior to the elections
facilitate a free and fair contest,' Dudley said.
By Blessing Zulu and Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
04 September 2007
South African-mediated crisis talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party
and the opposition Movement for Change have resumed following last month's
Southern African Development Community summit, with the focus on
South African sources said ZANU-PF negotiators have rejected an opposition
call for a full revision of Zimbabwe's constitution and want to press on
with an amendment of the basic document that makes major changes to the
Opposition negotiators have signaled that persistence with the amendment
would kill off the talks - which ZANU-PF sources said explains why the
government has delayed tabling the controversial legislation in parliament
despite the urgency of resolving the issues on the table with presidential
and general elections looming in March 2008.
Sources in Pretoria said South African President Thabo Mbeki was striving
mightily to rebuild momentum in the talks, and was trying to convince ruling
party negotiators to put the constitutional amendment on hold to let the
opposition weigh in on the bill.
ZANU-PF representatives Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, respectively
the ministers of justice and labor, arrived Friday in Pretoria in time for
three days of talks with the two secretaries general of the divided
opposition: Tendai Biti of the faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman
Ncube of the Arthur Mutambara formation.
Mr. Mbeki in recent weeks has repeatedly expressed the believe that the
talks would yield results. But there is widespread skepticism, not only
among political analysts but from hawks within ZANU-PF who want the ruling
party to go its own way.
National Constitutional Assembly Director Ernest Mudzengi told reporter
Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the MDC will be
shortchanged if it accepts piecemeal constitutional reforms.
Despite ZANU-PF's apparent reluctance to take up constitutional reform,
parliament later this week this week give the Zimbabwean public a chance to
comment on the proposed 18th amendment to the constitution.
Hosted by the parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, public hearings will be held in Harare on Thursday, September 6, in
Bulawayo on Friday, September 7, and in Gweru on Saturday, September 8.
A committee official said announcements have been placed in all of the major
papers encouraging citizens to show up and express their views on the
legislation. Those not able to attend the hearings can submit their comments
But many are doubtful whether Zimbabwe's ruling party will take the views of
ordinary citizens into account as it finalizes the language of an amendment
which in its draft form is considered by many to bolster ZANU-PF's electoral
Besides moving the general election up from 2010 to next year, the amendment
would add 60 seats to the lower house and oblige the opposition to compete
in a total of 80 additional constituencies (20 appointive seats will be
filled through balloting).
It also provides for parliament to select a new president in case of death,
disability or retirement - possibly letting President Robert Mugabe select
his own successor.
Executive Director David Chiminhi of the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust told
reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye that while the hearing initiative is
commendable, what remains to be seen is how open the government will show
itself to public opinion.
By Carole Gombakomba
04 September 2007
With children in inflation-ridden Zimbabwe heading back to school this week,
private and mission schools have boosted their fees by as much as 300%
despite an order from President Robert Mugabe last week barring any
Parents whose children attend private schools said they have received
letters telling them fees are now Z$77 million (US$335) dollars for the
The state run-Herald newspaper reported that the Association of Trust
Schools, which unites private schools, has agreed to review the fee in
compliance with the decree - but its chairman, Jameson Timba, declined to
comment on the vexed question.
Some mission schools were said to have doubled fees.But government school
fees have not gone up - although sources said school officials have
submitted a request to the government to raise them so they can defray some
of their expenses.
A senior Education Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said that the government has not ascertained what schools are charging. But
he said the ministry no longer regulates fees, as this is now the province
of a new pricing commission.
Chairman Fidelis Mhashu of parliament's Committee on Education told reporter
Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite the new law,
the ministry must play a role in assessing the extent to which schools are
obliged to raise fees.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe pulled back from an
earlier announcement that its members would not show up to teach on Tuesday,
the first day of the new term. The union is still demanding major wage
increases for teachers, but has given the government 14 days notice of its
intention to strike.
Progressive Teachers Union Matebeleland Regional Coordinator Enock Paradzai
told reporter Brenda Moyo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that if the
government does not address the concerns of teachers, they will definitely
go out on strike.
Meanwhile, senior PTUZ officials said the union is setting up a legal
assistance fund to help teachers who encounter political intimidation or
PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou said teachers in rural areas in particular
are likely to be targeted by ZANU-PF activists and youth militia who accuse
them of sympathizing with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Zhou said the fund would cover the cost of lawyers for teachers requiring
legal counsel to respond to intimidation.
SW Radio Africa (London)
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007
A campaign started by online publication ZimDaily.com, to secure the
deportation of children of the ruling elite studying abroad, has delivered
its first casualties.
On Monday a total of eight students were deported with some of them catching
the same flight as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was travelling
back to Zimbabwe from a trip to Australia. The students were no longer
flying back home on a holiday retreat but to permanently join their families
in a country that their parents have helped run into the ground.
Reports indicate that police commissioner Augustine Chihuri's son Sylvester,
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono's twin daughters Pride and Praise and son
Peter were among those deported. Rural Affairs and Housing Minister Emerson
Mnangagwa, Economic Planning Minister Sylvester Nguni, Provincial Governor
David Karimanzira, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Science and
Technology Minister Olivia Muchena all had their kids deported.
According to Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, Chihuri collected his
son at the Johannesburg International Airport in South Africa and accused
Tsvangirai of engineering the deportations. In an interview with Newsreel
Bango said Chihuri came over to where Tsvangirai was sitting on the plane
and said, 'thank you very much for coming back, you got my child deported
from Australia.' Bango says Tsvangirai did not respond. 'Morgan Tsvangirai
is not such a powerful individual to cause the federal government of
Australia to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe,' he added.
Zanu PF is busy vilifying the MDC leader as they desperately try to deflect
attention from the embarrassment of the deportations. Even the best
scriptwriters would have struggled to come up with the story of Mnangagwa's
deported daughter sitting next to Tsvangirai's wife Susan on a flight back
to Zimbabwe. Analysts say the Mugabe regime is clearly rattled and the
response of the state media betrayed this. A ZBC TV crew waited for
Tsvangirai at Harare International Airport and filmed his arrival. As the
film ran during the main news they narrated how the opposition leader had
come back from a trip where he 'praised and encouraged Australia to maintain
economic sanctions' against Zimbabwe.
Bango was adamant the deportations had nothing to do with Tsvangirai as the
decision was made before his visit. He said Tsvangirai, 'does not interface
with the constituents of the various legislators who make their own laws in
their own parliament.' Tsvangirai went to Australia at the invitation of the
Australian government and used the trip to meet interested groups and
activists who wanted an update on the situation in the country. He met the
leaders of several other parties in that country and also Zimbabweans living
in Australia. The MDC, according to Bango, believes the 'biggest sanctions'
on the people of Zimbabwe have come from Zanu PF and their misplaced
policies. These have created food shortages and manyother economic ills.
If Zanu PF hoped to get a sympathetic ear over the deportations from
ordinary Zimbabweans, all they have met so far are discreet cheers from a
By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 09/05/2007 04:48:23
ZIMBABWE'S Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri went ballistic and verbally
abused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the Harare International
Airport Tuesday after the Australian government deported his son and seven
other students linked to Zanu PF officials.
Tsvangirai, the leader of a faction of the splintered Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), had just arrived from Australia where he held talks
with senior government officials and Prime Minister John Howard.
Chihuri was in a large group of cabinet ministers, journalists and Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents awaiting the arrival of the South
African Airways afternoon flight from Johannesburg.
Coincidentally, Tsvangirai was on the same plane with Chihuri's son,
Sylvester, who had been studying in Australia.
Sources said Chihuri verbally abused and mocked Tsvangirai, accusing him of
having achieved his goal of pressuring the Aussies to deport Zanu PF
officials' children studying in that country.
"Ndozvawaida Tsvangirai. Waita zvako ufunge. Chifara nekuti zvawaida
zvaitika. Iwe ndiwe unekodzero yekuti wako mwana agare kuAustralia vedu
vachidzingwa (This is what you wanted, Tsvangirai. Thank you very much. Your
wish has been granted. You can be happy now because only your son is
privileged to study in Australia while mine is deported)," a journalist at
the airport captured Chihuri as saying.
Tsvangirai, who was harassed by state media journalists who waited outside
the plane and later followed him to immigration and eventually the baggage
collection section, remained calm, journalists said.
Also on the plane was the son of Rural Housing and Amenities Minister
The veteran politician was among the group of people who were at the airport
at the time of Chihuri's confrontation with Tsvangirai.
Last month the Federal Government of Australia announced it would revoke
student visas for eight children of senior members of President Robert
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer announced the measure as part of a
strengthening of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Downer revealed: "I have also initiated steps to reject the student visa
applications of a further two adult children who are children of a senior
Mugabe regime figure.
"For privacy reasons, the names of the individuals subject to the measures I
have outlined will not be released. These new measures will now also prevent
these individuals from giving their families the kind of education their
policies have denied the ordinary people of Zimbabwe."
Zanu PF officials' known children who were in Australia include Sylvester
Nguni, son of Sylvester Nguni the Minister of Economic Planning; Kudzai
Muchena, son of Olivia Muchena the Minister for Science and Technology; and
Thelma Chombo, the daughter of Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
The others were Taona Karimanzira, the son of Harare Provincial Governor
David Karimanzira and Emmerson Mnangagwa Jnr, the son of Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's twin daughters Pride and Praise and his
son Passion were also ordered out.
The deportations have stoked political tensions, with government officials
accusing Tsvangirai of triggering the deportations.
State media this week questioned how Tsvangirai was paying for his children
said to be studying in Australia, accusing him of hypocrisy.
The Chronicle newspaper, a government mouthpiece, claimed Tsvangirai had
been berated for his hypocrisy "by some Australian academics and students
who attended the meetings he addressed".
The paper quoted a "scathing intellectual" as dismissing Tsvangirai as a
"huge bore who lacks charisma, content and is purely driven by the West."
"Morgan is so worryingly unthinking and a political dunderhead with no clue
of what he will do in the unlikely event that he wins next year's
elections," a Melisa Welsh, said to be an undergraduate humanities student
at the University of New South Wales, was quoted as saying.
"It does not surprise us that he does not want to see some Zimbabwean
students learning in Australia; his conduct is typical of unlearned
loudmouths," she added.
04 September 2007
CAPE TOWN - A top immigration lawyer has entered the fray on Zimbabwean
refugees, describing the influx as "rampant" and urging the government to
stop burying its head in the sand and begin a process to register those
crossing the border.
Last week during presidential question time in the National Assembly,
President Thabo Mbeki downplayed the issue of illegal Zimbabweans crossing
into SA, saying only that "some" who had crossed the border were being dealt
with in terms of the law. A week earlier, home affairs director-general
Mavuso Msimang said SA's liberal constitution and migration laws were being
substantially abused by illegal entrants from Zimbabwe.
Gary Eisenberg, who notably challenged the Immigration Act and the then home
affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi in court, told Business Day the
government should act "to gain some form of control over the situation".
Eisenberg said that with a reported 2000 Zimbabwean border jumpers each day,
it was crucial that the government encourage these people to come forward
and be documented without fear of reprisal or immediate deportation.
"While we can't technically recognise most of them as refugees under the
South African Refugees Act, these people must at least be documented before
they go 'underground' and fall out of the system completely," Eisenberg
said. He described the Zimbabweans as economic migrants "desperately fleeing
rapidly deteriorating fiscal and social conditions".
He suggested that home affairs develop some sort of visitor permit scheme in
terms of the Immigration Act which could, within existing legislation, be
issued to these economic refugees not ordinarily accommodated by the
Refugees Act. "These permits could be issued at border-crossing points and
even within SA. This would be an inclusive system, accommodating all
"This permit could allow them to work but most of all, from a security
perspective, would allow them to be documented. Undocumented foreigners
account for less than 3% of the US population, but perhaps 12%- 15% of SA's,
a dangerous level by any standard."
Eisenberg said the benefit of such a system would be knowing who the
illegals were, what they were doing and where they were staying. "This will
exercise some form of governmental control, selecting out prohibited people
and allowing for others to be declared undesirables in terms of existing
legislation, making deportations highly targeted. Simply deporting border
jumpers and other illegals that are caught will not stop them from trying to
get back into SA again and is a very wasteful exercise."
He said SA was being "inundated" with economic refugees who could not obtain
refugee status because they could not prove that they would be persecuted if
they returned to Zimbabwe. He also suggested an amnesty period for those
already illegally in the country so that they could come forward and
register. He said there was a backlog of applications of more than 100000
Mail and Guardian
Giordano Stolley | Johannesburg, South Africa
04 September 2007 02:35
The extent of illegal border crossings from Zimbabwe into South
Africa has been exaggerated, according to a migration-studies report
released on Tuesday.
The report, by the Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) and
Musina Legal Aid office, said: "Recent statements by officials and media
reports exaggerated the numbers of Zimbabweans moving across into South
Africa or already in the country."
The report said journalists were often hard-pressed to supply
figures, but that even the South African government "did not possess a
reliable estimate" of how many foreigners were in the country -- including
"Although perhaps best encapsulated in the common reference to
the provocative image of a Zimbabwean 'Human Tsunami', these claims also
involved numeric speculation," the report continued
Presenting the report at Johannesburg's Wits University, the
FMSP's Darshan Vigneswaran said Zimbabweans crossing the border was not a
new phenomenon, but conceded that during the past few years there had been
"Recently this situation has been transformed into a sense of a
crisis," he said. He said conflicts with farmers and the intervention of the
Democratic Alliance into this debate had brought the issue to the fore.
"I think mostly because of the pressure upon many media
reporters to attach a number to the quite dynamic phenomena that they
witness, we see almost any number given credence in a number of different
[media] reports," he said.
There were also concerns that the media did not cite sources of
figures or compare them.
While the report gave no indication of what the figures were, it
said authorities had been "ramping up their response to informal movement"
along South Africa's Zimbabwean border.
This included increased police and army patrols since December
The report findings also indicated that there was little
evidence to suggest that the informal crossing had led to an increase in
crime in the border areas.
Claims by the Department of Home Affairs that none of the
Zimbabweans coming to South Africa were bona fide asylum seekers were
inaccurate, the report said.
It also cited serious concerns that Zimbabweans who were
crossing into South Africa faced "mistreatment" at the hands of smugglers.
Vigneswaran said there were concerns about the exploitation of
migrants, including migrant farm workers, some of whom battled to claim
The research followed a review of media reports made between
June and August 2007.
Two teams of experienced migration researchers went to Limpopo
province during the latter half of August.
The FMSP is a non-profit centre for research on migration, aid
and social transformation, based at the university. -- Sapa
Mail and Guardian
04 September 2007 05:16
Petrol shortages mean long and chaotic lines at bus stops for
Zimbabwean commuters. On Tuesday, they learned that once they manage to
board a bus, chances are 50-50 the driver is unsafe or unlicensed.
In a campaign to combat the nation's notorious highway carnage,
the Transport Ministry gave driving tests to 9 674 public transport drivers
and nearly half failed, state radio reported on Tuesday.
In tests up to August 26, 4 318 of the drivers failed. Some had
evidently obtained licences through "fraudulent means" and had not passed
routine driving tests in the first place, according to the report.
Some drivers desperate to hold on to their jobs in a country of
80% unemployment also failed because of ill health or ageing.
Drivers' licences can be bought from corrupt officials for as
little as Z$10-million (about $40 at the black-market exchange rate).
Bus accidents are common in Zimbabwe and are blamed on faulty
vehicles, shortages of spare parts in the stricken economy, speeding and
driver error. Infrastructure such as traffic lights also is in disrepair.
Over a holiday weekend last month, 21 people died in road
accidents, double the number killed over the same holiday period last year.
In March, 27 people died when a minibus rammed into a train in western
Harare. In the country's worst accident, 96 people died when a bus plunged
into a ravine in rural eastern Zimbabwe.
Petrol shortages in the economic meltdown have forced many buses
off the road in recent weeks. Petrol and bus fares were included in a
government order in June to cut prices of all goods and services by about
50% in June.
Business owners say they are being forced to sell for less than
it costs to produce items or buy them wholesale. The cuts have led to
hoarding and left shelves bare of cornmeal, bread, meat, cooking oil and
routine goods such as soap, tea, coffee, cookies, beer and cigarettes.
The cuts were ordered in an attempt to curb inflation,
officially at 7 634%, the highest in the world. Independent estimates put it
closer to 25 000%. -- Sapa-AP
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is establishing a second
reception centre in Zimbabwe to provide a 'soft landing' for undocumented
Zimbabwean migrants being deported from neighbouring countries.
Last year 38,000 Zimbabweans were repatriated from Botswana to Zimbabwe.
Earlier this year President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government requested the
IOM to assist in setting up the country's second reception centre, in the
Matabeleland town of Plumtree near the Botswana border, to assist
undocumented migrants repatriated from Botswana.
The Plumtree reception centre, scheduled to open its doors at the end of
2007, is modelled on an existing facility at Beitbridge, which caters for
undocumented Zimbabwean migrants being returned by South Africa.
Nick van der Vyver, programme officer for IOM's Beitbridge Reception and
Support Centre, told IRIN the circumstances in Plumtree were similar to
those in Beitbridge before the IOM opened their reception centre there.
"People deported back to Beitbridge often arrived destitute, always hungry
and with few choices. Women would turn to sex work, while men would engage
in crime to try and get money to survive," he said.
"Since we opened [the Beitbridge reception centre] on 31 May last year
, we have been operating seven days a week - not one single day of
closing -and only on one day was no-one deported [from South Africa].
Christmas Day people were deported; New Year's Eve they were deported; New
Year's Day they were deported; any public holiday you like to mention, they
The rapidly rising deportations from South Africa have closely mirrored
Zimbabwe's deteriorating economic circumstances: an official inflation rate
that has reached more than 7,000 percent - the highest in the world - and
unemployment at 80 percent.
A critical lack of forex has made fuel, spare parts and medical supplies all
but unobtainable, and has also brought electricity, water and other
municipal services to a near standstill. A severe drought has compounded the
In 2003, 55,753 Zimbabweans were deported. In the first seven months of
2007, the IOM processed 117,737 people from South Africa at Beitbridge,
about 40,000 more than in the last six months of 2006.
"Last year there was something like 11,400 people a month deported, and the
average for this year is somewhere around 17,000 a month," Van der Vyver
The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN World Food Programme (WFP)
issued a joint report in June this year, predicting that "people at risk [of
severe food shortages] will peak at 4.1 million in the first three months of
2008 - more than a third of Zimbabwe's estimated population of 11.8
The Plumtree facility will open at a time of high food insecurity in
Zimbabwe, but Van der Vyver pointed out that the government's request that
they open the Plumtree facility was made before the food security report was
A Zimbabwean exodus?
According to unofficial estimates, since 2000 about a quarter of the
population, or three million people, have left the country for neighbouring
states such as South Africa and Botswana, or further afield for Britain and
the United States. Analysts believe acute food shortages could further
contribute to a spike in the flight from Zimbabwe.
This is not discreet individuals, it is the number of bodies deported - so
for anyone who has been deported two or three times, they turn up here,
[Beitbridge] two or three times
Van der Vyver conceded that the number of deportations to Beitbridge
provided no correlation for the claimed Zimbabwean exodus, or even an exact
figure for deportees. "This is not discreet individuals, it is the number of
bodies deported - so for anyone who has been deported two or three times,
they turn up here, [Beitbridge] two or three times."
Like the Beitbridge reception centre, the Plumtree facility is designed to
provide deportees with a soft landing. After going through the repatriation
process by the Zimbabwean police and immigration officials, each person is
provided with a WFP food pack containing 10kg of maizemeal and 1kg of beans,
and given the option of free transport back to their home, regardless of
where that may be in Zimbabwe.
Medical attention is provided free of charge for those requiring it,
including counselling services for the victims of rape or violence.
"People are less likely to go straight back across the border on the same
day if they have got some options," Van der Vyver said. "Even so, 35 percent
just leave the centre immediately as soon as they are processed. The obvious
assumption is that they go straight back to South Africa."
A 2006 IOM survey found that four out of five people arriving at the
Beitbridge reception centre were male and the average age was about 24, but
from initial data collected in another survey in July 2007, Van der Vyver
expected the average age of deportees to drop to about 21, while the gender
split would remain constant.
Botswana a road to South Africa
Eugene Campbell, an associate professor of population studies at the
University of Botswana in the capital, Gaberone, told IRIN that the increase
of illegal migrants from Zimbabwe had caught Botswana off-guard.
Botswana allows Zimbabwean passport holders, or other visitors, to reside in
the country for up to 90 days per year, with the only prerequiste being that
the holder has a valid passport. Campbell believes Botswana is used more as
a conduit to South Africa, than as a destination.
"Quite a number of Zimbabweans who come to Botswana have no plans to stay
here, and their final objective is South Africa. But they maybe stay here a
little while to get a bit of money, or maybe increase their skills, and then
move on," he commented.
"The ultimate destination is South Africa: the job market is bigger, the
consumer market is much bigger and, by comparison, Botswana is a very small
The bilateral migration agreement between the Zimbabwean and Botswana
governments was being tested, Campbell said, as "it is obvious from the
volumes that Zimbabweans buy petrol [in Botswana] for commercial use and not
for domestic consumption, but no permit is required and the eyes [of
officialdom] are just closed to the realities. It helps the situation [in
Zimbabwe]; but this [also] helps to encourage the influx of migrants from
A consequence of Zimbabwe's seven-year economic recession has been acute
shortages of fuel. A visit by IRIN to Ramokgwebane, the nearest town in
Botswana to Plumtree, found long queues of Zimbabweans at the petrol
station, filling containers with fuel.
One customer, who declined to be identified, told IRIN the Zimbabwean
authorities allowed any amount of petrol to be brought into Zimbabwe by
private operators, as long as fixed fee of 150 pula (US$25), the Botswana
currency, was paid to them.
Campbell said the most disconcerting aspect of illegal immigration into
Botswana was the palpable rise in xenophobia, even among university
students - one of the most educated sectors of society.
"Just making reference to Zimbabwe in class during teaching generally brings
a negative reaction and questions as to why Zimbabweans are here," he told
"But the paradox is that there is such a close link between Botswana and
Zimbabwe because of the relationship between the Kalangas in the north of
Botswana, and Zimbabwe." The Kalanga cultural group reside on both sides of
the Zimbabwe/Botswana border.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 09/04/2007 20:06:34
A FACTION of the splintered Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) insists it
has faith in South African President Thabo Mbeki's SADC-mandated mediation
to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Nelson Chamisa, a spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai,
dismissed as "desperate" a story in the state-run Sunday Mail which said
talks were doomed because the MDC faction was backtracking.
Chamisa told New Zimbabwe.com: "This is a serious distortion. The MDC and
its president Morgan Tsvangirai are solidly behind President Mbeki's efforts
to help restore the country where it was before.
"The story by the Sunday Mail is what has become predictable of the state
media which has never missed an opportunity to spew propaganda aimed at
The Sunday Mail twisted an interview held by brutalised former Daily News
news editor Luke Tamborinyoka with London-based SW Radio Africa in which he
slammed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for failing to act
Tamborinyoka is MDC information officer but was interviewed in his personal
capacity to reflect on his torture by Zimbabwean police.
The award-winning journalist spent 71 days at the Harare Remand Prison
facing charges of "manufacturing petrol bombs".
But Chamisa said the MDC was aware that the state media, at the behest of
Zanu PF, would go "to the ends of the earth" to divide and tarnish the MDC
ahead of the crucial presidential elections slated for March 2008.
Chamisa said the MDC will hold a media briefing later Tuesday on progress
made in its diplomatic offensive and the launch of its presidential
Sources within the MDC have indicated that Tsvangirai will defer the launch
of his campaign set for this weekend, to a later date, preferring to wait
for the outcome of the talks.
Talks between Zanu PF and the two factions of the MDC have entered the final
leg. South African leader Thabo Mbeki is expected to give his report at the
end of the month.
The talks were called by SADC who appointed Mbeki as the mediator between
Zimbabwe's major political players.
Zanu PF is represented by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour and
Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Tasunungurwa Goche.
The two MDC factions have sent their respective secretary generals Tendai
Biti and Welshman Ncube.
Recent Events Relating to Archbishop Pius Ncube
The recent attacks by some politicians and the state media on the person of
Archbishop Pius Ncube are outrageous and utterly deplorable. They constitute
an assault on the Catholic Church, to which we take strong exception. The
Catholic Church has never been and is not an enemy of Zimbabwe. We are
serving the people of our Country pastorally and in many other ways, through
over 60 Mission hospitals, many orphanages and 174 primary, secondary and
tertiary educational institutions. Our record during the years of the
liberation struggle speaks for itself.
The matter of Archbishop Ncube is now before the High Court of Zimbabwe in
Bulawayo. It is therefore sub judice and should not be discussed in public
until a verdict has been delivered by the Courts. Moreover, the Constitution
of Zimbabwe clearly defends the presumption of innocence of an accused
person as a legal safeguard for a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal.
Acting in complete disregard of these universally respected conventions, the
state media obtained and publicised, for days on end, in print and on
television, video and photographic material, which violated the most
fundamental personal rights of Archbishop Ncube and were utterly offensive
to the public.
We repeat what we said in our recent Pastoral Letter: The people of Zimbabwe
are suffering. Their freedom and fundamental human rights are violated daily
with impunity, the shelves of the shops and supermarkets are empty, our
currency has become worthless, the public health service has collapsed, the
country's main roads are lined with tens of thousands of citizens waiting
for public transport, corruption is rampant and young people are risking
their lives daily and in growing numbers to escape the catastrophe that our
country has become.
The crude attempts at diverting attention from these facts by intensifying
the hate propaganda and character assassination against those Zimbabweans
who, like Archbishop Ncube, have spoken out in defence of the oppressed, has
not deceived ordinary Zimbabweans. Quite the contrary.
Archbishop Ncube has fearlessly exposed the evils of the Gukurahundi
massacres and of Operation Murambatsvina. For years, he has courageously and
with moral authority advocated social justice and political action to
overcome the grievous crisis facing our Country. We support him fully in his
present painful personal situation and ask all our faithful to remember him
in their prayers.
Inserted by : Social Communications Department of the Zimbabwe Catholic
(C) Jesuit Communications, MMIV
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
P O Box ST 194 Southerton ,Harare, Zimbabwe
Office : 1 Churchill Avenue , Alexander Park , Harare
Tel: 263-4-744571,744288, 263-11419453
Home; St Peter Claver Catholic Church,Mbare,Harare,Zimbabwe
Tel & Fax: 263-4-66117(756096)
Following a visit to Zimbabwe, liberal Swedish MP Birgitta Ohlsson has
proposed setting up an aid and investment fund to finance the country's
democratic and economic development once Robert Mugabe's regime has come to
an end. The newspaper comments: "The government should accept this proposal
immediately and try to secure it within the EU. A 'post-Mugabe' fund would
encourage different groups to force the dictator out of office. It could
become part of a 'timetable' for regime change brought about with the help
of the EU, UN and other international agencies. There is a long-standing
consensus that if the situation is to change in Zimbabwe, the neighbouring
countries have to make it clear to Mugabe that his time is up. But it
doesn't look as if this will happen. Hiding behind the neighbouring
countries is no longer a viable alternative."
Upsala Nya Tidning (Sweden)
Tue 4 Sep 2007, 14:09 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Officials from soccer's governing body FIFA will visit
Zimbabwe next week to assess capacity to host fans from the 2010 World Cup
to be held in neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe's tourism authority said
The country hopes to cash in on its proximity to South Africa -- the first
African country to host the event -- as a flood of tourists arrives in the
region for the world's most popular sporting event.
But with inflation running at more than 7,000 percent, a battered
infrastructure and signs of political unrest there is a prospect that soccer
fans will stay away.
Several western governments have already issued travel warnings to their
citizens about heading to Zimbabwe.
However, the southern African country is banking attractions, such as the
Victoria Falls resort and one of Africa's largest elephant populations, will
In a statement on Tuesday, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority (ZTA) said the FIFA delegation starts a four-day tour on September
It will visit several three- to five-star hotels in Harare, Bulawayo,
Victoria Falls and other tourism facilities.
"Zimbabwe boasts of one of the highest standards in tourism and hospitality,
with a grading system that meets any international standard," said Karikoga
"They will definitely also be looking at such issues as facilitation at
ports of entry, customs and immigration and transportation," he added.
President Robert Mugabe's controversial policies, such as seizing
white-owned farms for redistribution have been blamed for an economic crisis
marked by severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and the world's
highest inflation rate.
Western powers, who accuse Mugabe of destroying the economy and widespread
human rights abuses, have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. He denies the
Zimbabwe plans to spend $67 million on hotels and infrastructure ahead of
the World Cup.
Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema said Zimbabwe had to scramble
"It is either you prove your worth or they move to the next country. Don't
tell them we have this problem and the o
4th Sep 2007 08:41 GMT
By Dennis Rekayi
HARARE - Frustrated by the continued use and abuse of struggling war
veterans by the Zanu PF government, some liberation war fighters who had
been sidelined for too long and others who had maintained a low profile
after independence decided to launch an organisation to represent their
interests - the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP).
But soon afterwards, the organisation was infiltrated by spies from the Zanu
PF government and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) resulting in
the organisation being run almost to the ground by a government that was
not content to have true liberation fighters standing up against its abuses
Wilfred Mhanda (aka Dzinashe Machingura), a distinguished veteran of
Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, and the ZLP's former national programmes
coordinator Wilson Nharingo then smeared in a campaign to discredit them and
the organisation as a group suspected to be linked to the government in the
ZLP took them to court alleging they had abused funds.
They were jointly charged with theft by conversion of US$15 500 in
connection with the purchase of organisational vehicles in 2003. The
campaign to run down the organisation was gaining momentum and the two
resigned citing infiltration into the organisation they founded to tell the
truth about Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and to fight for Zimbabwe's true
The zimbabwejournalists.com has discovered that the case against Mhanda and
Nharingo has since been dismissed by the courts and the state media that ran
amok with the story when it went to court have all but ignored the outcome.
In June this year, a Harare Magistrate dismissed the case, which had been in
the courts for the past two years now, for lack of evidence to support the
ZLP Interim Director Marcus Makora told zimbabwejournalists.com the
"frivolous charges we concocted by a clique comprising Wabata Munodawafa,
Celestino Gavhera, Happy Mariri (former commander of Bishop Muzorewa's
notorious 'Pfumo re Vanhu' ), Ray Muzenda (NCA chairman for Masvingo),
Ishmael Dube and Antony Mukwendi".
"The last two have had a long association with the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) in various capacities. This clique of so called
complainants who filed the case, were being directly handled by Samuel
Chisorochengwe, a well known functionary of the Central Intelligence
Organisation ( CIO) in Harare," alleged Makora.
"The allegations against Mr Mhanda and Mr Nharingo were fed to the press
with the obvious intention of tarnishing their public standing and casting
aspersions on their integrity," he said.
He said Mhanda and Nharingo had resigned in 2004 "after it emerged that the
state intelligence agents bent on subverting and destroying ZLP had heavily
infiltrated the organisation".
"Thereafter, the unaccountable state agents assumed total control of the
organisation and proceeded to strip it of its assets comprising subscription
funds; motor vehicles; office equipment such as computers, photocopiers
office desks and chairs and kitchen equipment such as stoves and
refrigerators. All this was done without authority from the organisation's
board, the ZLP National Council. The organisation's employees were laid off
with all regional and provincial offices closed down."
He continued: The clique's legitimate mandate to run the organisation
finally ran out on 5th December 2005 after they failed to convene a general
assembly meeting to elect a new leadership as required by the ZLP
Constitution. This left the organisation without a legitimate leadership. It
was against this background that the ZLP founding fathers constituted as the
organisation's Board of Trustees, together with the general membership
petitioned for the holding of a general assembly meeting to elect a new
leadership and save the organization. This was done on 28th August 2006. Mr
Mhanda and Mr Nharingo were elected to positions of leadership at the this
extra-ordinary general assembly meeting."
Efforts to resolve the organisation's crisis had been made earlier in 2005
through an extraordinary general assembly meeting.
"This meeting requested Mr Mhanda and Mr Nharingo to assist with the revival
of the organisation. It was upon this development that the complainants in
the trial case fabricated the spurious allegations against Mr Mhanda and Mr
Nharingo to forestall their contribution to the revival of ZLP. Mr Mhanda
was subsequently arrested on 1st June 2005 and spent two days in the cells
at Harare Central Police Station before being released after the
intervention of his lawyer Mr Selby Hwacha."
"Ever since the departure of Mr Wilfred Mhanda and Mr Wilson Nharingo, the
Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform has evidently been on a downward spiral with
all operational activity ground to complete halt."
Machingura was imprisoned for not toeing the Zanu line in Mozambique in the
1970s and sources within Zanu PF say Mugabe is personally scared of Mhanda
because he was an intelligent strategist during the war. Mhanda, unlike
colleagues who were arrested with him in Mozambique, was never rehabilitated
and remains out of Zanu PF to this day, much to Mugabe's consternation.
Makora said efforts were being pursued to revive the ZLP.
Morgan Tsvangirai, Leader of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change, was in Australia for a week as a guest of the Australian Government under its Special Visitor’s Program. He spoke to Ginny Stein in Sydney.
NewMatilda.com: Considering the situation in Zimbabwe, how is President Robert Mugabe still able to stay in office?
Morgan Tsvangirai: Well it is certainly not his popularity. I think Mugabe is able to stay in office because of sheer violence and repressive rule. That’s the bottom line. I mean, how else do dictators stay in power? Mugabe has gone from a democratically elected leader in 1980 to an authoritarian dictator who is now ruling the country by force and foul means. He has created a structure of governance that is directly answerable only to him — ignoring the existence of Cabinet, and ignoring all other democratic institutions like Parliament.
When Mugabe ruled democratically, he was loved by the people. But as soon as there was a challenge to his power, in the February 2000 referendum, when the whole nation voted against his proposed changes to the Constitution, he said, ‘Argh, now you don’t want me, you had better live with me forever.’ That’s his attitude.
Throughout your visit to Australia you have been very upbeat, and optimistic that change is imminent in Zimbabwe. How is it going to come? Is it going to be through negotiation or through the ballot?
Change can come in Zimbabwe in two ways. It can come through a negotiated process which then guarantees a democratic outcome; or it can come through violence. We have resisted the violent option — although we’ve been on the receiving end of violent reprisals from this regime.
But who knows? If Mugabe’s pillars of support begin to have no confidence in him, because of the militarisation of his Administration, it may reach a point where the army may feel that ‘we don’t need you Robert Mugabe, because we are in charge.’ That is a very dangerous option, but hopefully we can have a democratic transition from this dictatorship.
What would the removal of President Mugabe bring?
It is insufficient for the democratisation of the country. What is needed is not only the removal of Mugabe but also a total transformation of the political culture and institutional framework upon which that governance is premised. So yes, I know that people are obsessed with Mugabe the personality, but really it is beyond the individual. It is about how we transform, how we democratise society so that there is a level of tolerance, there are freedoms and there are basic economic opportunities for everyone.
You name a number of key issues that need to be addressed in Zimbabwe — in particular, reforms to the justice system, the police and the army. How interlinked are Mugabe, his ruling ZANU-PF Party and power in Zimbabwe?
ZANU-PF has a political hegemony that permeates the establishment and all institutions of power in the country. It may be the army, the police, the judiciary, or the civil service. All these institutions are there through the patronage of ZANU-PF — or, at least, the patronage of Mugabe.
The talks that are underway at the moment between you and the Zimbabwean Government are spearheaded by South African President Thabo Mbeki as chief negotiator. How confident are you that he’ll be able to negotiate a way through?
Well it is one of the options available for resolving the crisis through a negotiated settlement. How optimistic am I? I am cautiously optimistic, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to put all our eggs in one basket or that this is the only means through which we are we going to get that negotiated settlement. People have to mobilise, they have to continue applying the pressure nationally and internationally.
African leaders at the African Union Summit in Ghana last month feted Robert Mugabe. Why are so many African leaders so enamoured of him?
There is a sense of solidarity amongst African leaders in spite of the character of any individual. Remember that race and land are issues that are very emotive in Africa. Mugabe evokes those emotions every time he’s got a platform and a lot of people may actually sympathise with him. In spite of his actions, they may actually accommodate him, and be in solidarity with him.
He’s more of hero to them, isn’t he?
Yes, to a certain extent, as I said, he invokes a very serious conflict of emotions. On the one hand, there are people who look up to him as a hero. On the other, because of the facts on the ground, because of the Black-on-Black violence that he has unleashed in Zimbabwe, they actually doubt whether he is a hero.
You are on the record as saying African leaders play to different audiences.
What I was saying was that they are very reluctant to be told what to do about African problems. And so they will appear to be defiant about international opinion, especially if it is expressed by a Western nation, because of our colonial history.
But I think that they are equally aware that the pessimistic view about African leadership has to be resolved. They have to rise above this pessimism and provide the leadership that is necessary. And they know that, at the end of the day, if they ignore problems or whitewash them, it will be left for the rest of the world to pick up the pieces. So they are quite conscious about the international babysitting that’s been happening for years. They are very, very frank and direct amongst themselves.
President Meki is taking a leading role in attempting to influence change in Zimbabwe, but his term ends in 2009. How linked is real change to the end of his term?
Well, it is not his personal responsibility; but I think it is a South African responsibility. If Mbeki goes, another leader will replace him. I am sure the next man, or the next woman, who will be South African President will have to take on the responsibility of resolving this issue. South Africa cannot escape it — they are part of the solution.
An important part?
They are the crucial part. They have the leverage. We depend on them — that’s why three and a half million Zimbabweans have run to South Africa.
How is it that Zimbabwe has been allowed to go along like this for so long? You talk about this being a major international human rights issue, but no one has really stepped in here. Why is it that?
Well it depends what kind of intervention. What I can tell you is that they have stepped in. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary meeting in March 2007 in Tanzania was a response to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Never before have they met to discuss a particular crisis like Zimbabwe. So, I think that there are slow but positive steps that are being taken — which might not produce the requisite result immediately, but I think the right steps are being taken to make people accountable for their actions.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of which you are President, is currently split into two factions, how damaging is this?
I don’t believe I am a factional leader and it hurts me when someone writes ‘Tsvangirai faction,’ or ‘Mutambara faction.’ We didn’t form the MDC to create factions, we created a movement that was going to challenge the status quo and move towards a democratic objective. And on that basis we are unified. The people of Zimbabwe are unified around that goal.
As far as the so-called split is concerned it was an outcome of our own success as a Party. The people of Zimbabwe have made their choice. They do not want a divided opposition and as a result we work together with our colleagues, and we will sit there as one. What is critical is that we must have free and fair election conditions that allow Zimbabweans to choose their leadership.
You have said that when the MDC was formed people thought there would be a sprint towards change, but it has proved to be a marathon. How much longer do you have to run?
As long as it takes.
No, no no — certainly within a reasonable timeframe. There is an opportunity in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, in March 2008. Why can’t that platform be a platform that will really bring real change to Zimbabwe? That’s what I am talking about. Obviously, if those efforts to achieve change by March next year are frustrated, then we don’t give up — we continue with the struggle until change is achieved.
SW Radio Africa (London)
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa's hold on the ruling Movement for
Multi-party Democracy (MMD) party looks headed for a test after former
foreign minister Mundia Sikatana vowed to challenge his position, due to his
increasingly public support of the Mugabe regime.
The maverick Sikatana was recently sacked by Mwanawasa, who gave the
official reason that the former foreign minister's health was failing.
Sikatana swiftly refuted this, insisting instead that their differences
stemmed from the crisis in their southern neighbours, Zimbabwe. Last week
Sikatana turned down an offer to become an appointed member of parliament
and declared he would be standing against Mwanawasa for the leadership of
Nawa Sibongo, the acting Chairman of Zambia's United Party for National
Development and a confidant of Sikatana, told SW Radio Africa that
Mwanawasa's sudden change of policy at last month's Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) conference struck the wrong chord with the
former secretary. The Zambian received much international commendation in
March after equating the Zimbabwean crisis to "a sinking Titanic". Mwanawasa
however appeared to be rescinding back into the fold of African leaders,
buttressing Mugabe at August's SADC conference he hosted in Lusaka.
Sibongo said: "Mwanawasa's stance has surprised a lot of people and he seems
to be flip flopping when he was about to win the support of some people with
regard to the situation in Zimbabwe. He seems to be very much in awe of
Mugabe along the African traditions of respecting the elders. He doesn't
seem to know which direction he wants to take any more. As regards to the
policy differences, it has been known for a while that Sikatana has been
actively looking for a resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis across the
region. They have obviously come to loggerheads with the President in that
regard because Sikatana is a free spirit, a man of intergrity and does not
mince his words. That Mwanawasa has fired him on health grounds has actually
surprised most of us because the President himself has suffered a number of
strokes during his time in office."
On Saturday Sikatana challenged the official reason for his dismissal,
saying he was very fit.
"I am what you call fitness itself. I am fitness personified," the former
foreign minister told journalists, even flexing his muscles to prove his
"Let your attention be on Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are flocking looking for
food in the region," Sikatana said, addressing Mwanawasa.
Government sources said that Mwanawasa really took issue with his foreign
minister over the political crisis in Zimbabwe because Sitakana insisted
that Zambia should take a hard-line stance against Harare. The Zimbabwean
government was unhappy with Sitakana for publicly criticising Robert
Mugabe's policies and condemning human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
SW Radio Africa (London)
4 September 2007
Posted to the web 4 September 2007
The chairman of the MDC-UK Ephraim Tapa, on Tuesday said a proposal to allow
three million Zimbabweans living in the diaspora to vote in next year's
elections has not yielded any positive results.
The MDC-UK has been campaigning vigorously among Southern African
Development Community states to put pressure on Robert Mugabe to give exiles
the right to vote.
'If President Mbeki is serious about having free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe, then he will have to address the question of the diaspora vote.
All SADC countries, except Zimbabwe, allow postal voting for citizens that
are living in other countries,' Tapa said.
Tapa added that the issue has become an emotional subject among exiled
Zimbabweans to a point where many have vowed not to recognise the legitimacy
of the elections if they are barred from voting.
'Many of the millions of people outside Zimbabwe today are responsible for
sustaining the ailing economy of the country and its only fair for the
regime to let us vote because they can't have it their way for ever,' Tapa
The MDC chair said despite the setback they would continue to put pressure
on Mbeki and the international community to force the Zimbabwe government to
allow them to vote in the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
The National Constitutional Assembly is also spearheading the campaign for
exiles to fight for their right to vote. The NCA insists it is imperative to
have a new constitution before next year's elections, because it will give
exiled Zimbabweans the right to vote.
Police on 1 September 2007 barred a Family Fun Day organised in Bulawayo by
Radio Dialogue saying the meeting had not been sanctioned in terms of the
repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
The meeting had been scheduled for White City Stadium only to be disrupted
by the police who ordered an estimated 300 people who had already gathered
at the venue to disperse.
Radio Dialogue is community radio station aspiring to broadcast to the
community of Bulawayo and its surrounding areas as provided for in terms of
the Broadcasting Services Act.
In a statement Radio Dialogue condemned the police action as unwarranted as
they had been given verbal clearance three days in advance as evidenced by
the presence of police officers from Mabutweni police station who were on
duty at the stadium prior to the abrupt cancellation of the family fun day
The station's crew was busy setting its equipment at the venue when two
police officers and a chief inspector sought clarification on whether the
event had been cleared. They then took Radio Dialogue administrator Kudzai
Kwangwari to their headquarters at Southampton House where he was told by
their superiors that the event had been banned.
Kwangwari was then taken to the Provincial Police Headquarters at Ross Camp
where he was informed of the 'new criteria' pertaining to police clearance
for public events which required that clearance should first be sought from
their headquarters. Previously Radio Dialogue would get verbal clearances at
district and local police stations for its public events.
The police returned to the venue one and half hours later and announced that
the planned activities could not proceed as planned leading to the dispersal
of the crowd that had gathered for the event.
For more information contact Kudzai Kwangwari, on (09) 884858 or Cell:
For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:
Research and Information Officer
Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
84 McChlery Ave
P.O Box HR 8113
Tel/Fax:263 4 776165/746838
Cell: 263 11 602 448