The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE
(article withdrawn) see retraction http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/may26a_2006.html#Z1
snares
Snares
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Reuters

IMF has grave concern on Zimbabwe economic crisis
Fri Sep 17, 2004 05:59 PM ET
WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund on Friday
expressed "grave concern" over Zimbabwe's economic crisis and said
corruption and lack of rule of law had severely dented confidence and hurt
its neighbors.

The global lender, which has threatened to expel Zimbabwe over its
continuous arrears since February 2001, said worries about governance, the
rule of law and human rights, and lack of clarity about land rights had
discouraged investment and triggered capital flight and emigration.

IMF directors "strongly urged the authorities to adopt a comprehensive
policy package aimed at halting the deterioration of the socio-economic
situation, restoring confidence and donor support, and restarting growth on
a sustainable basis," the IMF said in an annual review of the economy.

The southern Africa country has been mired in its worst economic crisis
since independence in 1980, which domestic and foreign critics blame on
President Robert Mugabe's policy of seizing white-owned farmland for black
Zimbabweans.

Once the bread-basket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe's gross domestic product
fell 9.3 percent in 2003, while inflation reached 600 percent during
November 2003 to February 2004 from the same period a year earlier.

The IMF said the crisis was mainly caused by poor economic policies,
including weak financial management, distorted controls and regulations, and
fast-track land reform.

It urged the government to address the problem of land reform "in an orderly
manner" and to clarify land ownership rights, which is critical for raising
agricultural production and access to credit for farmers.

The IMF said a cycle of malnourishment and disease had developed, with food
shortages looming in the coming year because of a sharp drop in agricultural
production.

Zimbabwe abruptly canceled a food assessment mission of the World Food
Programme in April, saying his country will produce 2.3 million tonnes of
maize this year. However, international aid organizations said the country
could face a shortfall of up to 900,000 tonnes with a national demand of 1.8
million.

The IMF "regretted that this decision leaves Zimbabwe without a basis for a
timely appeal for food aid, with serious humanitarian consequences should
the crop fall short of the government's ambitious estimates," the IMF report
said.
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Zim online

MUGABE TO PUSH THROUGH NGO BILL
Sat 18 September 2004

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is understood to have earlier this
week told his ruling ZANU PF party's politburo that the government was not
going to back down on proposed new legislation to regulate Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) in the country.

      Sources said Mugabe had also told the politburo during its weekly
meetings on Wednesday that the government was also going to press ahead with
electoral law reforms criticised by the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change as superficial and inadequate.

      "Mugabe told the politburo to mobilise ZANU PF parliamentarians and
make sure the NGO and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bills sail through,"
said a senior official of the party, who did not want to be named.

      He added: "Mugabe said the party was facing a critical time and that
it risked losing power if it failed to play its cards wisely."

      ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira yesterday refused to discuss the
deliberations of last Wednesday's meeting of the politburo. He however told
ZimOnline the two draft Bills were meant to enhance democracy in Zimbabwe
and that ZANU PF was going to ensure they became law.

      Shamuyarira said: "We will continue with efforts to implement the
principles and believe that we can achieve that through the gazetted
amendments," Shamuyarira said.

      The NGO Bill will require civic organisations to be registered with a
government appointed council before they can operate in Zimbabwe. The Bill
also seeks to ban NGOs from receiving external funding to sponsor projects
related to governance and human rights issues.

      A new electoral commission will be the only one permitted to carry out
political and voter education work under new regulations proposed by the
government.

      The new commission, whose chairman will be appointed by Mugabe, will
supervise polls although the Registrar-General's office will continue to
carry out registration of voters as well as being in charge of the actual
voting process.

      The MDC has dismissed the government's proposed electoral reforms as
inadequate and way below norms and standards for elections agreed by
Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders last month.

      Under the SADC standards, independent commissions must run elections
while the electoral process must be sufficiently transparent. The rule of
law, human and individual rights must also be upheld during elections.
ZimOnline
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Zim online

IMF set to close Harare office
Sat 18 September 2004

      HARARE - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is said to be
considering closing down its Zimbabwe office by the end of this month,
ZimOnline has learnt.

      Sources said the move was being taken partly to pressure Harare to
settle a US$198 million debt owed to the Bretton Woods institution as of
last month. Zimbabwe's debt to the IMF stood at US$301 million in December
last year.

      According to the sources, Harare will not be expelled from the IMF and
the multilateral institution would re-open offices in Zimbabwe once
co-operation with the southern African country was resumed.

      The board of the IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights last December
over the country's failure to make good its financial obligations to the
organisation.

      "Given that for a country to be expelled from the IMF needs all
members of the group to endorse the decision, it is most unlikely that the
country will be kicked out," the sources said.

      The IMF's resident economist in Harare, Rodney Matemachani, could not
be reached for comment on the matter yesterday. The IMF has not had a
permanent resident representative in Zimbabwe since September last year when
Jerry Johnson who had represented the institution left the country for
Washington.

      Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa could also not be reached
for comment on the matter.

      An IMF delegation that visited Zimbabwe in June for consultations gave
Harare a six-month grace period to settle its overdue accounts with the
institution. Besides the issue of outstanding debt, the IMF also expressed
concern over Zimbabwe's continued failure to uphold property rights.

      Closure of the IMF's Harare office could see whatever little aid that
was meant for Zimbabwe by other international donors and development
agencies blocked as most of these take a cue from the institution before
advancing loans or aid to recipients. ZimOnline

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Zim online

Import duty hike to shut down second-hand clothes market
Sat 18 September 2004

      BULAWAYO - Residents of the country's second largest city proudly
bring out-of-town visitors to Sekusile Flea Market. Situated in the city's
teeming Nkulumane suburb, the crowded bazaar is any bargain hunter's dream.

      Colourful stalls display a variety of goods ranging from footwear and
cheap clothing to household appliances and cosmetics. Armed with Z$100 000 -
and the necessary time to browse leisurely - one can purchase a complete
outfit, underwear included.

      That's too good a deal to ignore, particularly when the same amount
cannot even buy one item at the city's more established clothing shops.

      Unfortunately, Sekusile's popularity with the public cannot secure its
future.

      The business of nearly 1 000 vendors, who operate from the trading
spot, may soon go bust. If Zimbabwean authorities continue to charge import
duty of Z$10 million for every bale of second-hand clothing brought into the
country, the importers will have little alternative but to close shop.

      Last month the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) hiked levies on
second hand clothing from $650 a kilogramme to $200 000.

      Chairperson of Enthonjeni Co-operative, Glen Kazie, told ZimOnline the
duty will drive most second-hand vendors out of business because they are
unable to sustain the higher costs of importing their goods.

      "Our interpretation is that they (government) have banned the
importation of second-hand clothes. It does not make sense to buy a bale for
$1 million and then pay $10 million duty," said Kazie.

      He says vendors are not against a revision of the duty, but they
wanted the hikes to be "reasonable".

      The secretary of the co-operative, Robert Buseta, argues government
will lose revenue in the long-run. He says most vendors will resort to
smuggling items, thereby avoiding paying anything at all.

      "We have stopped bringing in the bales and are clearing what we have
in our stocks. Once that is sold, we'll see what happens. But people
smuggle," muses Buseta.

      Several traders said that they suspect the hefty duty is a ploy by
government to force them out while paving the way for cheaper mostly Chinese
made goods, called "fong kong" by residents of Bulawayo.

      "Some of us will have to diversify into 'fong kong' as we cannot order
anything from our local industries because their prices are too high,"
argues Buseta.

      Several vendors already sell the Asian-made goods which, although
cheap, are often derided for their poor quality.

      Traders also feel the duty increase is against the spirit of what the
government has labelled "indigenisation".

      Said Buseta: "The market was a solid stepping stone for blacks to go
into business. But now we see that indigenisation is not being implemented.
We now realise that you have to be Chinese to do business in Zimbabwe."

      Local businessmen and women import the second-hand clothes from Zambia
and Mozambique. Buseta said that prior to the recent tariff hikes most
traders used to earn an average profit of Z$500 000 per bale. He says the
profit margin has shrunk by almost 50 percent since the tariff hikes.
ZimOnline

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Daily News online edition

      Mbeki lashes out at African leaders

      Date:17-Sep, 2004

      MIDRAND, Johannesburg - South African President Thabo Mbeki yesterday
urged African leaders to be accountable to the common man in Africa and
desist from holding them at ransom claiming they liberated them from
colonialism and apartheid.

      "The masses do not need anybody to inform them about their condition
and the history they have had to endure," Mbeki said.

      "They need no lectures to inform them that they have endured
unnecessary wars, resulting in the death of innocent people, displacement
within their own countries and their dispersal to other lands as refugees,"
said the South African leader.

      "They need no teachers to educate them about the denial of their human
rights and the right to determine their destiny by military rulers, the
theft of their resources by corrupt elites that abuse power to prey on the
poor of our continent, their condemnation to perpetual and increasing
poverty because of domestic and international policies and practices that
result in the poor getting poorer and the rich, richer," Mbeki said.

      Mbeki was speaking at the official opening of the Pan African
Parliament (PAP) at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, north of Johannesburg,
South Africa which opened yesterday.

      The official opening was preceded by demonstrations by nearly 2 000
supporters of Zimbabwe's largest political opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) who urged African leaders to help resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe.

      He said the hope of the African people should be respected because
they have been subjected to a lot of inhuman treatment by their governments.

      Mbeki said the opening of the PAP would stimulate debate on how to
resolve several key issues affecting Africa like democracy, peace, and
respect for human rights, economic development, and engagement of the
international community and the implementation of the New Economic
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) programme.

      He said the general African populations want their sons and daughters
to grow up in decent conditions and to engage in productive activities that
will improve the quality of their lives.

      The South African president said the 230 members of the PAP should
mirror the aspirations of the African people.

      Mbeki said: "They want you to help them to ensure that their
governments discharge their responsibilities to them, telling them no lies,
respecting their obligation to be accountable to the people, desisting from
poisoning the kola nuts they bring to the people as gifts."

      Speaking at the same occasion, Gertrude Mongella, the president of the
PAP said the diversity in experiences and expertise of the PAP
parliamentarians was expected to enhance the capacity of the parliament to
address Africa's critical development issues.

      Mongella said the establishment of a strong democratic institution
within the growing environment of high hopes and expectations of a united
and well-developed Africa posed the greatest challenge and required
carefully thought-out processes.

      "It requires a participatory and integrated approach which will
involve the people of Africa and African descent, governments and the civil
society," Mongella said. "It also requires the harmonisation of democracy
and human rights, an interface and dialogue methods, adequate representation
of the African peoples."

      Mongella said the agenda for the PAP's first sitting included the
adoption of the rules of procedures of the PAP, examine and debate the
African Union vision, missions and strategic plan, debate NEPAD and African
Peer Review Mechanisms.

      She said the parliament would also discuss its role within the
framework of the African vision and other major issues of African
development and people's integration.

      However, she warned that the African Parliament would need serious
nurturing and strengthening of the institution by ensuring the availability
of the necessary resources for proper functioning.

      Each of the 46 African countries that have ratified the instruments
that establish the AU is represented on the PAP by five elected MPs, one of
which must be a woman.

      Zimbabwe is represented on the PAP by opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MPs Paurina Mpariwa (Mufakose), Paul Themba-Nyathi
(Gwanda South), Zanu PF MPs Saviour Kasukuwere, (Mt Darwin) Joram Gumbo
(Mberengwa West) and Charles Majange (Chivi South).

      The opening ceremony was witnessed by visiting Indian president Abdul
Kalam, Chikage Oogi, the president of the House of Councilors of Japan,
Julia Dolly Joiner, a commissioner on the AU Commission for political
affairs, high commissioners, ambassadors and cabinet ministers from various
African and western countries and representatives of civic society.
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NOTICE OF MDC DEMONSTRATION AGAINST MUGABE GVT IN NEW YORK:

MDC-NAD Executive invites all concerned Zimbabweans and supporters to join us in protesting Mugabe and his brutal regime while he visits the UN General Assembly in NY. Come and tell him to step down now for the sake of our future!!!!!!!!!!

Venue: 47th Street and 2nd Ave. New York: Police permission issued for event.

Time: 12:00PM
Date:
Wednesday 22 September 2004

Contacts: 610-563-0959; 214-458-6066; 215-425-9910; 469-733-4713

Email: mdclobby@mdczimbabwe.org

Call for Directions, Free accommodation and bring your friends.

Chinja Maitiro, Maitiro chinja.
Gugula izenzo, Izenzo Guqula

 

ISSUED BY NAD LOBBYING COMMITTEE

 

Immediate Press Release

 

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From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 18 September

Mugabe's riot police evict farm squatters

Thousands of supporters of President Robert Mugabe who answered his call to
evict whites from their farms four years ago became victims themselves this
week when riot police burned down their houses and chased them from the land
they had seized. For more than 15 miles, on either side of a wide, tarred
road, are the blackened shells of traditional huts built since Mr Mugabe
ordered his supporters to kick out about 4,000 white commercial farmers and
then claim their land for themselves. Hundreds of gaunt men, women and
children were huddled in groups every few miles. They guarded pots and pans
tied up in blankets, their chickens trussed into plastic bags, while their
thirsty children cried under a fierce sun. An estimated 20,000 have been
left homeless this week in the Trelawney district, 30 miles from the
capital, Harare. Riot police were still at their work early yesterday as
smoke trailed into the sky on the western horizon and people murmured when
they heard the crackle of fire licking through the bush.

Gilbert Mushowe, 44, who had left one of Harare's ghettos to become a "new
farmer" in September 2000, was sitting on a double bed with his two
children. He claimed that Sabina Mugabe, the president's sister, was behind
the evictions. "We were told to come here. We did. We built houses, we tried
to farm. The police burned everything. They trampled our vegetable garden. I
am very, very cross. I have been a long time supporter of [the ruling party]
Zanu PF but that makes no difference," he said. "We were told this would be
our land forever," said another farmer, Reuben Mashanda, 71. "We came four
years ago and helped to chase whites from this farm, Little England. Please,
get in touch with the president for us and talk to him. Tell him people in
Little England farm have been told to evacuate, their homes were burned and
they are now dumped along the road for two days, with no money for
transport, no food and no water." Sabina Mugabe, an MP who with other family
members has taken over several white-owned farms, yesterday denied that she
was behind the evictions. "Those people are just using my name. They are
illegal. That is cattle land, not for crops," she said. "You white people
are paying them money to talk. If I hear of a white person there again, I
will order the police to arrest you." Miss Mugabe said the "illegal
settlers" were in her constituency. She said she did not know about any
provision for transport for them, nor where they might be "resettled".

Wayne Bvudzijena, a senior police spokesman, confirmed yesterday that the
eviction of the peasant farmers had been ordered by the regime. "They did
not have permission to be there. We followed orders from the lands
ministry." But John Nkomo, the lands minister, said: "Don't talk to me. Talk
to the governor of the province." Nelson Samkange, the governor of
Mashonaland West province, who last week sent militiamen to force out one of
the last two white commercial farmers in the district was not available for
comment yesterday. The legal owner of Little England, one of the 10 farms
straddling 30,000 acres that have been cleared of settlers, who now lives in
Harare, witnessed the brutal clearance. "I saw what was happening. It looks
like Vietnam out there with those fires," he said, on condition that he was
not identified. "I don't know what is legal or illegal any more. I had a
rough time."
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Friends,                                             
                      17 September, 2004

The pending NGO bill is Mugabe's latest attempt to
close down any NGO that supports human rights, feeds
the hungry, documents human rights abuse, or monitors
torture in Zimbabwe.  Under this legislation, Mugabe
seeks to control those who speak out for the oppressed
and to remove completely the Church's freedom to
respond to human need according to the mandates given
by God in Scripture. 

The Revd Graham Shaw is a Methodist minister living
and working in Bulawayo.  He is the General Secretary
of Christians Together for Justice and Peace, an
ecumenical human rights organization.  David Coltart
is the MDC Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South,
and the Shadow Minister for Justice. They are asking
for our help. Please read their statements.

Now is the time for churches, the government, human
rights organizations, and concerned individuals to
speak out unequivocally in condemnation and opposition
to the proposed NGO legislation, and to the on-going
state-sponsored repression that the government of
Robert Mubage is inflicting upon the suffering people
of Zimbabwe.

People are starving in Zimbabwe today.  Children and
the elderly are especially vulnerable: four boys and
six girls, under the age of 14 died last month of
hunger, according to the Bulawayo City Council Health
department, who have recorded 161 deaths by starvation
so far this year.  Many more deaths go unreported. 

Aids orphans and the elderly relatives who care for
them are especially at risk, and yet Mugabe's
government this week insisted that the Red Cross
reduce the amount of maize meal that is their only
reliable source of food. The Zimbabwe government is
understood to have asked the Red Cross to reduce the
quantity of food aid distributed to orphans and people
living with HIV/AIDS in the country's Matabeleland
North and South provinces.

The Red Cross, one of the few Non-Governmental
Organisations still allowed by Harare to feed hungry
people in the region, was handing out a nutritional
package of 50 kilogrammes of the staple mealie-meal
and other foodstuffs per month to deserving families.
People have reported that the organisation is now
distributing only 10kg of mealie-meal per month to the
families following the government's instruction to
reduce quantities.

In July, Mugabe's pitiless regime insisted that NGO's
like Christian Care and World Vision stop their
feeding programs, saying the country has plenty of
food.  Christian Care and World Vision have moved most
of their operations out of Zimbabwe. We are hearing
many stories about starvation at Darfur, and yet 2.5
million people may be at risk of starvation in
Zimbabwe.  The U.N. and other independent food experts
estimate that at most one million tonnes of maize were
harvested in a country that requires 1.8 to 2.4
million tonnes annually. Robert Mugabe wants to
control the supply of food to all people in the months
leading up to the elections scheduled for March, 2005.

When Archbishop Pius Ncube was in London in July, he
made this plea: "By keeping quiet, the churches are
falling into the hands of Mugabe. Now that Mugabe is
saying there is enough food when there isn't, it means
that he is planning to starve people until they
conform to him. Beat them into submission. I mean,
what would Jesus Christ say  if he were here today?
Would he just be quiet while people are starving to
death? When they are held to ransom by a dictator? To
me, these churches  are betraying Jesus Christ. They
must speak up.  All of them. Catholics, Anglicans,
Methodists, Evangelicals: all of them.  Because the
people of Zimbabwe are suffering."

Now is the time to speak out.

Revd. Dr. Martine Stemerick

Dr. Stemerick is a Methodist minister.
-------------

Christians Together for Justice and Peace

 

The NGO Bill – a defining moment for the Church and Civic Society

 

We, Christians Together for Justice and Peace, stand in solidarity with all those churches and church and civic groups which have expressed their abhorrence of the Non Governmental Organisation Bill. We support those numerous groups of lawyers, journalists, human rights’ activists and freedom-loving people in Zimbabwe and around the world who have condemned the NGO Bill as unconstitutional and anti-democratic.

 

Although the contents of the Bill may be “dressed up” to look respectable and its stated objective is to provide “an enabling environment” for the operations, monitoring and regulation of all non-governmental organisations, we discern in this Bill a deeply sinister purpose, and that is to disable all NGO’s which the ruling party perceives to represent a threat to their continuing, brutal, hold on power.

 

Specifically we note the outlawing under clause 17 of any overseas funding for local NGO’s concerned with “issues of governance”, which are defined to include the promotion or protection of human rights and political governance issues.  This no doubt includes the monitoring of torture and other gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the present regime. It also presumably includes anything to do with constitutional issues and the conduct of elections. In short, in the very areas in which the motives of the ruling party are most suspect, the Bill seeks to proscribe the invaluable part hitherto played by NGO’s in monitoring abuses and exposing wrong doing.

 

The Bill is all about control – the iron hand of control which a deeply unpopular administration seeks to assert over one of the last remaining democratic spaces in this country.  We note that the proposed all-powerful NGO Council which is the chosen agent of that control is composed of members either appointed or at least approved by a government minister.  There can be no pretence of objectivity here, nor of any genuine desire to regulate NGO’s for the benefit of those millions of Zimbabweans who have come to depend on them heavily for their well-being – even for their survival.

 

The NGO Council is given sweeping powers, not only over the registration process, but to investigate the activities of NGO’s and apply disciplinary measures as it deems fit, including the cancellation and amendment of registration certificates, removal and replacement of NGO members and disposal of assets.  Furthermore the right of appeal against any decision of the Council lies to the government minister who appointed and directs the affairs of the Council.  Effectively therefore under this draconian measure the ruling party seeks to take control of all NGOs and NGO activities across the land, including the right to close down or refuse registration to any groups whose work takes them into fields which the party finds inconvenient or embarrassing.  To ensure the total subservience of the whole NGO sector the ruling party have appointed themselves policeman, prosecutor and judge in all matters.

 

In passing we note also the huge administrative and financial burden which this Bill imposes on those NGO’s which comply, both in relation to the registration process and also the reporting and accounting required by Council – time and money thereby diverted from the needs of those whom NGO’s are there to serve.

 

The definition of a “non-government organisation” is so wide as to include virtually any group involved in humanitarian, relief or development work – and a great deal besides.  All are subjected to the requirement to register and any group proceeding without a registration certificate is committing a criminal offence.  At one stroke therefore, save with the approval of the ruling party, all the humanitarian, relief and social upliftment work carried on hitherto by churches and NGO’s across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe, is criminalized.  This Bill therefore represents not only a savage assault on the civil liberties of all Zimbabweans but a grievous blow to the increasing number who have come to depend on the NGO’s and church-related organisations for a wide variety of services, from health and education to emergency feeding schemes, as the services provided by the state continue to decline.  Those who will suffer most will again be the most vulnerable members of our society who are already living at, or below, the bread line.

 

Nor are we deceived by what might appear to be a concession to the churches.  Under  clause 2 of the Bill and among the activities exempted from the general definition  of an  NGO, is the following: “any religious body in respect of activities confined to religious work”.  The difficulty here is what is implied by the term “religious work”.  According  to the Church’s own self-understanding religious work is bound to include works of charity and compassion and much else beside in the way of empowering men and women to reach their God-given potential. Given the ruling party’s oft-stated view that the churches should confine themselves to purely “spiritual” matters, we doubt whether the minister appointed by Mugabe to administer the Bill will subscribe to such a broad definition of our core activities. Indeed it may be that the minister will have in mind no more than what Christians do in worship for an hour or two on Sunday mornings.     

 

In short we find ourselves confronted here by a provocative piece of legislation which threatens to remove completely the Church’s freedom to respond to human need in accordance with the Gospel imperative.  In essence the Bill seeks to substitute the permission of the state for a mandate given by God himself.  It raises the question whether the Church needs the permission of the state to be the Church, and our answer to that question can only be a resounding “No”.   Our divine mandate to which the Scriptures bear witness, is “to loose the fetters of injustice, and untie the knots of the yoke, and set free those who are oppressed, tearing off every yoke”. (Isaiah 58/6)  Upon this our God-given mission we cannot compromise. We will not accept any restrictions imposed by the state on this our divine mandate.  If what we do in obedience to our Christian calling makes us criminals in Zimbabwe, so be it; that is only a measure of how far from the ways of God our rulers have taken this nation.  

 

Clearly the underlying purpose of the NGO Bill is to take even greater control over people’s lives.  The essence of the Church’s mission on the other hand is to set men and women free.  (See Jesus’ own mission manifesto for example in Luke 4/18-19). By moving to enact this oppressive measure the ruling party has set itself on a collision course with the Church, as well as with civic society.  It would be possible of course for the Church to try to avoid confrontation by applying to register in respect of its humanitarian work.  But in our view that would amount to a betrayal of our Christian vocation and also a legitimizing of the ruling party’s attempt to usurp the place of God.  We cannot therefore take the path of compromise.  It is of this regime’s doing entirely that the claims of God and of Caesar are now in conflict, and in this situation we can do no other than say to our rulers, with St Peter and the apostles: “We must obey God rather than men”.   (Acts 5/29)

 

This is surely a defining moment for the Church.  We know we shall be judged by our response – whether active or passive – to this pernicious piece of legislation.  It is our prayer that the challenge will not find us wanting, and our hope that the Church and civic society will act as one in rejecting outright this vain attempt by the ruling party to usurp the place of God.

 

Christians Together for Justice and Peace

14th September, 2004

-----------

 

 --------------------

The NGO Bill – A Challenge to the Church
 
On the eve of the Parliamentary Committee hearing on the NGO Bill it is apt, I believe, to remember the words of Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), the German theologian who opposed the Nazis: "When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church – and there was nobody left to be concerned." In the Zimbabwean context that should read: "When Mugabe attacked the people of Matabeleland between 1981 and 1987 I was not from there, therefore I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked the students in 1989 I was not a student, and therefore I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked Enock Dumbutshena in 1993 I was not a member of the Forum Party, therefore I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked the unions in the 1990s I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked white farmers and their workers between 2000 and 2003 I was not either and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC between 1999 and 2004 I was not in the opposition and therefore I was not concerned. And when Mugabe attacked Archbishop Pius Ncube I was not a Catholic, and therefore I was concerned. Then Mugabe attacked me and the Protestant church – and there was nobody left to be concerned." The Church and many others in Zimbabwe have, to put it mildly, been largely pathetic in its opposition to tyranny. Some even as late as this year have given huge monetary donations to Mugabe. This inaction, at best, and active collaboration, at worst, has culminated in one of the worst attacks on the independence of the Church in the form of the NGO Bill. I hope that you will not be found wanting in your opposition to this appalling piece of legislation. Now is the time for ALL to speak out boldly and unequivocally in condemnation of and opposition to this legislation.
 
David Coltart
 
Bulawayo
 
6th September 2004
 
(MDC Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South, Shadow Minister of Justice)
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ABC Australia

Further delay for Zimbabwe cricket hearing

The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and its dissident white players are
champing at the bit to fire racism allegation broadsides at each other.

But they will have to keep their powder dry longer than expected.

A hearing set up by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to examine
claims and counter claims of race discrimination following the sacking of
former captain Heath Streak and his colleagues, slated for September 29 and
30, seems likely to be postponed, possibly by as much as two weeks.

It is now almost six months since Streak complained to the ZCU board of
directors that the national selection panel, some of whom were inexperienced
in first class cricket, chose black players ahead of whites who, he claimed,
were superior cricketers.

He was angrily sacked, whereupon his colleagues demanded reinstatement and
went on strike when this was refused.

Weeks of fruitless and increasingly hostile attempts at negotiation
eventually brought the debate back to its root cause - claims by both sides
of racism.

The ICC eventually appointed India's solicitor-general Goolam Vahanvati and
a senior South African High Court judge Steven Majiedt to conduct a
scheduled two-day hearing in Harare.

However, because the ZCU has appointed a lawyer to present its accusations
and defence, believed to be a leading criminal defence specialist Chris
Andersen, so the players feel they must do the same.

They have asked another top lawyer Adrian de Bourbon to represent them but
do not have the funds to brief him, according to a player spokesman who does
not wish to be named.

The players have asked the ICC to help with legal costs and also with the
travel expenses of several former Zimbabwe players, the spokesman said,
including Streak, Andy Blignaut, Grant Flower and a former Test seam bowler
Bryan Strang.

The spokesman complained that the ICC, in particular chief executive Malcolm
Speed, was "being tardy about helping us".

He believes the hearing will need to be over five days, not two, and that it
will almost certainly be delayed until the second week of October.

He said a neutral venue had not even been arranged.

Apart from specific instances of alleged racism, the ZCU will claim whites
did next to nothing to bring black cricketers into the top level of the
game, even 20 years after independence, and this is the root cause of the
problem.

ZCU papers already presented to the ICC executive suggest that white
indifference to black player aspirations eventually brought about a formal
integration "Task Force" program in 2001.

Immediately whites claimed the ZCU aimed at quotas for blacks, regardless of
merit, while the ZCU insists they were merely goals.

The players' main claim is that blacks were selected ahead of better white
players and that this was a political as much as a racial policy, which they
say is in breach of the constitution.

They will also put forward a large number of examples of alleged racism at a
personal level.

One instance relates to a five hour negotiation meeting in May between the
ZCU board and Streak, Blignaut and Flower with their lawyer Chris Venturas,
who said afterwards: "Not in my entire experience in Zimbabwe have I been
subjected to so much racial invective."

It is the players who have persuaded the ICC to set up the hearing.

But majority opinion in Harare is that it is more likely to exacerbate a
rising level of racism in Zimbabwe than cool it down, and that whatever Mr
Vahanvati and Judge Majiedt recommend to the ICC afterwards it can have no
positive effect on the dispute.

-- AFP
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From afrol News (Norway), 17 September

Zimbabwe 2005 polls "already manipulated"

Zimbabwe's upcoming March 2005 parliamentary elections are already denounced
for not being free and fair. According to the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), the government is already taking illegal steps to
manipulate the polls by toppling the Delimitation Commission, which is to
redefine the country's constituency boundaries, thus assuring a majority.
According to MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube, the government of
Zimbabwe is in breach with a recent Southern African Development Community
(SADC) agreement on democratic elections when appointing only its own
members to the Delimitation Commission. The government was not following
SADC's instructions of "fairness in electoral processes" by its latest
decision. President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday appointed several
controversial members to the Delimitation Commission - a body tasked with
re-drawing constituency boundaries ahead of elections to reflect shifting
population patterns. According to Mr Ncube, the majority those appointed
have long and close ties to ruling Zanu PF party and "have no history of
independence and fairness."

The MDC Secretary-General denounces that many of the commission's members
have "close historical and present ties to Zanu PF can be relied upon to do
the bidding of Zanu PF." A fair and democratic judgement could not be
expected from the commission, the opposition party held. This was
"particularly worrying" as the MDC claimed to have "documentary evidence
that the process of re-drawing constituency boundaries, ahead of the March
2005 parliamentary elections, has already been carried out, under the
instructions and guidance of officers from the notorious Central
Intelligence Organisation," according to Mr Ncube. Similarly, the
appointments procedure for the new "Independent Electoral Commission", that
were gazetted on 10 September, would "ensure that the government retains a
controlling hand over its operations and activities," the opposition party
holds. The Harare government was trying to "create a smokescreen of
'legitimacy' behind which it can continue its strategy of consolidating its
coercive grip on the electoral processes and ensure pre-determined
outcomes," Mr Ncube added.

President Mugabe's government at an August summit of SADC in Mauritius
signed a protocol on elections, where it guaranteed that the electoral
process would be dominated by transparency and fairness. All Southern
African countries adopted these principles for forthcoming elections. After
several polls, which the MDC and election observers held to be manipulated
in favour of Zanu PF, the opposition party has announced it will not partake
in any election before the Mugabe government plays by the rules outlined in
the SADC protocol. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has repeated that the MDC
will not participate in the March 2005 parliamentary elections if
pro-democracy reforms are not implemented. SADC must push Mugabe to honour
his word, and to do so early enough for us to have our elections in March,
Mr Tsvangirai said in a speech celebrating the MDC's fifth anniversary on
Monday. "It is a crucial test of sincerity on their part. Mugabe and Zanu PF
are holding SADC to ransom, soiling perceptions about the region and
delaying SADC's political and economic advancement," the MDC leader added.
While Mr Tsvangirai urged SADC leaders to increase pressure on President
Mugabe, he further outlined the MDC's demands to review its decision to
boycott the March 2005 poll. "They must end violence. They must end
intimidation. They must open the space for the MDC on public radio and on
television. They must place the running of elections in the hands of an
impartial electoral body approved by the whole nation," he demanded.
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