From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 11 April
Student dies over 'sugar daddies'
Harare - "Sugar Daddy" is the phrase on everyone's lips in the huddles of students gathered on the lawns of the University of Zimbabwe as they brace themselves for the next riot. It is these rich men on the prowl for young mistresses who have inspired the latest outbreak of violence in the country, rather than the spiralling prices and collapsing grants brought about by President Robert Mugabe's regime. Over the past four days, riots have swept the campus, leaving one student dead. More than 30 have been arrested.
In a sign of the highly charged atmosphere in the capital, Harare, the touchpaper was lit when Tecla Tom, a first-year undergraduate, committed suicide last Thursday, the day after her 22nd birthday. Friends believe that she was driven to this by one of the "sugar daddies" who take advantage of the poverty of female students to entice them into a thinly veiled form of prostitution. Mrs Tom left a note for her husband, Innocent, 27, that read: "I am sorry, the time has come." As news of her death spread, students declared the university closed to "sugar daddies". Cars entering the campus were stoned and one was turned upside-down.
The response from the riot police came in the early hours of Monday. Halls of residence were tear-gassed, an undergraduate, Batanai Hadzizi, was allegedly beaten to death by police, and students jumped out of second-storey windows in their panic to escape. It was the latest in a long line of heavy-handed police operations aimed at the student body, which supports the opposition MDC. On Monday, the police were back, firing tear gas and shrapnel to disperse a demonstration. Florence Mutambo, 23, a law student, has frequently seen the men in expensive cars who visit the university after dark. "They are mainly 45 or 50 years old, they are always married and they come here looking for girlfriends," she said.
At least 25 per cent of Zimbabwean adults are HIV positive, so the liaisons are enormously risky. Miss Mutambo said: "In some cases there are genuine affairs. But 90 per cent of time, it's for the money. The situation as far as money is concerned is very bad for all of us." Students receive a maximum grant of £90 per term. Three meals a day from the newly privatised university canteen cost £100 per term. The "sugar daddies" reward their youthful mistresses with mobile telephones, wads of cash, and sometimes their own dingy flat. Priscilla Gumede, 23, an economics student, said: "Most of the men have Aids. They are coming here and infecting our girls with Aids."
Mr Mugabe's regime is acutely aware of the risk of economic collapse spilling over into an explosion of urban unrest. The police have been ordered to meet any student protests with a draconian response. But if riots do engulf Harare, the cause may well be traced back to the middle-aged men who prowl the university campus by night.
From The Star (SA), 10 April
Zim students charged and released
Harare - Police released all 41 students arrested during three days of demonstrations at the main university protesting economic hardships, student leaders said. Most of the 41 had been detained since early Sunday. They were discharged on Tuesday after appearing in court on public violence charges and were not expected to face further charges, said Brilliant Mhlanga, an official of the students' union. Two student leaders were briefly arrested on Tuesday but were freed after being accused of inciting violence that began on Saturday at the University of Zimbabwe, Mhlanga said. Campus was calm on Tuesday. The Herald, a state-controlled newspaper, reported that only 35 students had been arrested during the riots. Police released no information about the arrests.
One student died in the violence and 20 others were injured, some by jumping from upper floors of their hostels when police fired tear gas into the windows. On Tuesday, student leaders were helping with arrangements for the funeral of science student Batanayi Madzidzi, 20, who died from injuries he sustained during clashes with police late on Sunday. Police said Madzidzi was injured in a stampede, but students alleged police punched and kicked him and left him unconscious as they assaulted students fleeing campus dormitories.
Campus protests began late on Saturday when rioting students stoned cars in a rampage triggered by the apparent suicide of a female student in a love tryst, police said. Student leaders said their classmates were angered by visits to the campus by "sugar daddies" who use flashy cars and money to woo impoverished female students. Zimbabwe's economy is crumbling and students have complained for several months of delays in receiving their allowances from the cash-strapped education ministry. They have also protested rising costs of food, accommodation and books. Meagre state grants lagged far behind living costs, with many students exhausting their allowances eight weeks through the 20-week semester that ends next month.
Comment from The Daily News, 10 April
UZ demo providing government with chance to unleash terror
The demonstration by students at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) against the activities of older men going out with female students desperate to supplement their meagre allowances, is legitimate in that it shows the government's lack of urgency in providing students with an environment where they can focus purely on their studies. But as has become familiar over the last 12 months, the demonstration provided the government with a convenient excuse to export the terror and brutality it has unleashed in the high-density areas throughout the country onto the UZ campus.
The sin committed by the students in Mount Pleasant was that they dared elect a new Students' Executive Council (SEC) president who is non-Zanu PF. The shorthand for that is this is another blow for the government and the ruling party in their bid to control the student body at the oldest institution of higher learning in the country. Not only have the government and Zanu PF lost the 19 constituencies that make up the Greater Harare area to the opposition, they have also lost out possible control of a very vocal constituency that can decide an election. The next fear for the ruling party and the government is over who will control Town House. That is why elections for the Harare City Council are going to be delayed. Three losses in a row is too much of a nightmare for a party and government that are used to having things their way, because of credentials as the liberators.
The storming of the UZ campus early yesterday has nothing to do with safeguarding the security of the female students or "sugar daddies". It has everything to do with teaching the student body a lesson in daring to exercise their right to elect who should lead them. The government will be unforgiving because it argues that it is providing funding for the students' education and, therefore, they ought to be grateful for this act of largess. From now onwards, the students can be assured that they will be subjected to the same terror campaign that Justin Mutendadzamera, Job Sikhala and others in the high-density areas have been exposed to. The immediate strategy, in respect of the UZ students, is to ensure that if the ruling party and the government have lost the SEC presidency, then they should pack the whole executive with their own. That is how the government's action in sending the riot squad onto the campus must be understood.
If this is successful, the SEC president will be hamstrung. At least, that is the thinking in government. The use by the riot squad of live ammunition against unarmed students is deplorable. But the motive is not lost on the majority of Zimbabweans: It is either to provoke a violent clash or uprising, that builds up the government's case of a threat to impose a state of emergency. Students have always been at the forefront of revolutions, and the government is really desperate for an excuse that would justify imposition of a state of emergency.
What is most perplexing is the government's propensity to pursue the wrong priorities, despite boasting one of the most intellectual governments in Africa. In the case of student grievances, the issues are well-documented and they have begged solutions for several years. The privatisation of catering services at all institutions of higher learning required a corresponding review of students' stipends, so they can afford decent meals. Students cannot be expected to concentrate on their studies on empty stomachs. Privatisation of catering services should have been undertaken in such a way that charges for meals and other services took cognisance of the market. A shop at a rural growth point does not charge the same prices as one in Harare's affluent Westgate or Borrowdale. Its market determines the price of services it provides.
Students' allowances are a combination of loans and outright grants. It would be far better to increase the pay-outs with a corresponding increase in the loan repayments. That way students would receive manageable pay-outs. The closure of many companies and the current economic hardships make it difficult for the greater majority of students to secure part-time employment. The activities of "sugar daddies", especially among people supposedly more enlightened about, and alive to the risks of HIV/Aids are frightening. It is precisely because of this that the Aids toll continues to escalate. It would be folly to pretend the country has an effective strategy when the risk of HIV/Aids transmission is prevalent among a critical section of the population that is supposed to spearhead the fight against the spread of the disease.
From The Guardian (UK), 11 April
Zimbabweans' hopes of land fade into dust
Harare - The workers on Calgary farm mostly sided with the war veterans when they invaded the white-owned holding exactly a year ago this week. The veterans' leader - an army corporal called Stanley Mapfumo - promised the farm hands higher wages and said the lush 1,400-hectare (3,500-acre) farm just north of Harare would be divided among those who worked it. Above all, he pledged, they would be equal in this new enterprise. No more farmers to answer to. Today, Cpl Mapfumo is settled into one of the large, comfortable houses abandoned by the white owners from where he directs the workers still crammed into "the compound". But there is hardly enough cash to pay the farm hands, so now they only work a few days each month. And they are still waiting for their personal slice of Calgary. To many of them, it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Cpl Mapfumo and what went before. Except now they are hungrier and more fearful of the future. "We regret the war veterans coming very, very much," said one of the farm hands who cannot be identified for his own safety. "We thought there would be better things to come but now we are beginning to realise. There's so much uncertainty - no crops, the bosses are leaving. What's our future like? I think it is bleak."
When the small batch of war veterans descended on Calgary last year, they told its owner, David Wheeler, that the land was stolen from their ancestors and they wanted him to hand over half the farm. Mr Wheeler's father bought the property in 1922 from a Shropshire-born farmer who had seized the land from its black residents 16 years earlier. Cpl Mapfumo led the charge to redress history. He is a driver at a local army barracks and old enough to be a genuine veteran of the liberation war of the 1970s. The moment he stepped on to Mr Wheeler's land he became the "base commander". He upped his demands by telling the farmer to hand over the entire place or the war veterans would be back to take it by force. Mr Wheeler was defiant. He said he would not move or even talk to them. But he took the threats seriously when two days later another farmer, David Stevens, was murdered by war veterans. Within 24 hours Mr Wheeler fled with his wife and three children to South Africa and then to France. By the time they were settled in a village near Toulouse, several hundred war veterans were ensconced at Calgary.
The farm's 120 workers were divided. Some were suspicious of the war veterans but most liked what they heard. >While Mr Wheeler paid his workers the legal minimum wage of 64 Zimbabwe dollars (85p) a day, the war veterans promised them 70 dollars a day and their own land. More than half the workers immediately went over. Their first job was to clear a few acres and plant sugar (kidney) beans. But at the end of the first month there was no money for pay. Cpl Mapfumo said the workers would have to wait until the beans were harvested and sold. And one other thing, they would have to wait for their personal share of Calgary. The workers were still not their own masters, but on the whole, many thought it better than working for a white farmer. "The war veterans told us this was going to be our farm and everyone would share. There is a lot of land here so we knew there was plenty for everyone," said a farm hand. "We were very hopeful, even when the war veterans did not have money to pay us. We thought they will go and get it from the government."
Mr Wheeler returned to Zimbabwe in August without his family, and tensions on Calgary rose sharply. He got into a running battle with the war veterans and won a high court order expelling Cpl Mapfumo and his men from Calgary but the police refused to enforce it. Mr Wheeler cut off the veterans' electricity supply. They reconnected it and beat up his mechanic whom they wrongly blamed for severing the power. The war veterans threatened the farmer's maid, denigrating her as "Wheeler's wife" because she was staying alone with him in the house, and they rolled his 80-year-old retired housekeeper in the mud. By the end of January, the war veterans had had enough of Mr Wheeler. Cpl Mapfumo stormed into his house with a gang. "Do you think you are a bull?" he shouted at the white landowner, and started pounding him with his fists. The other veterans leapt in, kicking and punching. Mr Wheeler was hospitalised with a deep head wound and a broken rib. After Cpl Mapfumo led his men to the police station, where they accused the farmer of assaulting them, Mr Wheeler moved out of Calgary. By now the farm was deteriorating fast. No new crops were planted, other than the sugar beans, and the fields were overgrown and untended, one small contribution to a looming food crisis in Zimbabwe.
The workers were increasingly hungry and disillusioned with the war veterans. But still Cpl Mapfumo found new followers, principally from farm hands sacked because there was no more work for them. "The workers are having a big problem," said one employee. "Some of them are starving in the compound." The workers' families back in their home villages were also suffering. They were used to receiving small remittances from the workers' pitiful wages, but those have dried up. Most of Cpl Mapfumo's own contingent of veterans has drifted away, leaving just a handful living on the farm fulltime who stare back blankly at questions. Neither is Cpl Mapfumo keen to discuss the situation. At his army base, he sends word that anyone found trespassing on "his land" will be beaten.
Calgary is not the only property where the farm occupations are quietly collapsing. The war veterans have abandoned Mr Stevens's farm altogether. His widow says they are afraid of her murdered husband's ghost. Still, many of the workers cling to the final hope of getting a share of Calgary. "The idea of wanting land was always there. It is very important to many poor Zimbabweans. During this war veterans' campaign we thought we would have our own land but we haven't got it," said another farm hand. "Now some of the workers are wondering if the farm is not being saved for someone else, someone important in the government. Otherwise why don't they just give us the land?"
Mr Wheeler has drawn comfort from the crisis on his farm. "They have proved they don't know what they are doing. They will have to give us the land back or the country is finished," he said. But it is not that straightforward. Well over 100,000 Zimbabweans have signed up to receive a parcel of the two-thirds of white-owned land earmarked for redistribution. The government has yet to let them loose on the farms, but the presidential election looms - it must be held within a year - and it may suit President Robert Mugabe to entice voters and disrupt the opposition with a new and much larger round of land occupations. Some of the workers on Calgary are sceptical that they will benefit. The only winners there are Cpl Mapfumo and his followers living comfortably on the hill. "They will all cling to the houses," said a farm hand. "That is what they wanted all along. They were never interested in the land."
From IRIN (UN), 10 April
Chaos Over Alleged Aids Funds Misuse
Nairobi - Chaos marred the sixth congress of the Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS at the weekend, the 'Daily News' reported on Tuesday. At the meeting, near Masvingo, 200 km south of the capital Harare, the Harare branch demonstrated over alleged misappropriation of funds. The congress nearly turned into a fist fight as delegates from Harare continuously disrupted the proceedings. Tempers flared when the chairman, Alois Gombe, was introduced to the delegates. Representatives from Harare rose from their seats and started singing songs demanding the immediate dismissal of the president, Frank Guni, over allegations of embezzlement of funds. The demonstrators denounced Health Minister Timothy Stamps, for allegedly promoting fraud at the National Aids Council (NAC). One placard read: "Guni is one of the looters. Stamps is promoting fraud through the disbursement of the National Aids Council funds."From The Star (SA), 10 April
'Rautenbach assets not acquired by fraud'
Lawyers representing Billy Rautenbach, the former Hyundai distributor, are to continue their defence of the businessman who is facing several charges including fraud, cross-border arms smuggling, fraudulent double-discounting of vehicles and corruption. Rautenbach's lawyer, Advocate Mike Maritz, told the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, that allegations that his client had acquired his assets fraudulently were an attempt to discredit Rautenbach. Maritz dismissed allegations by the state that Rautenbach bribed customs officials in Maputo, saying the state failed to come up with enough evidence to secure a conviction. Rautenbach, who was also head of Wheels of Africa, had his assets, estimated at R60-million, seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit in November. Maritz is opposing an order granted to the state to keep the assets they seized. The restraining order, which is obtainable before the prosecution of suspected criminals is finalised, is used to hold on to the assets of individuals suspected to have acquired their assets through criminal activities.
From Pan African News Agency, 10 April
Thieves Get Away With 1,740 Diamond Carats
Kinshasa - Thieves got away with 1,740 carats of diamonds in a spectacular robbery on 3 April at the sorting centre of Bakwanga diamond mine (MIBA) in Mbuji-Mayi, Eastern Kasai Province in the central-southern part of the DRC. According to the National Congolese Radio and Television (RTNC) correspondent in Mbuji-Mayi, the thieves had accomplices within security guards from a company known as "Magenya" who were recently posted there from Kinshasa. The television said the theft was the second of its kind after the one that occurred on 25 February. The stolen diamonds were reportedly sold in one southern African country. The Congolese government owns 80 percent of shares in MIBA which makes an average turnover of six million dollars monthly.
Zimbabwe this Week.
Sometimes when I sit down to do this weekly briefing; I realize just how long a week is in politics – and how short it is when you look back. I glanced at the briefing I did last weekend and I had to ask myself – is that only a week old? Its seems like last year.
Yet sometimes its important to understand what the foundations are for where we stand today, because it’s those foundations that will determine the shape of the final building and whether or not we will survive the storm. One of those groups that have laid the foundations of our future has just left the country after 20 years of outstanding work and dedication. I refer to the British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) who have been assisting us with the development of our armed forces since 1980.
In 1980 we became involved when a rather charming, very fit looking man of about 50 moved in next door. We sent him a cake to welcome him to the neighborhood and when he came around to say thank you, we found out that our new neighbor was General Ackland. The General was the officer in charge of the British forces who were sent to Zimbabwe to oversee the transfer of power to the newly elected Zimbabwe government. It was quite an assignment.
We had been at war for 15 years, engaged in what the Americans called a "low intensity, guerilla war" during which we had killed and maimed each other with a dedication that can only be ascribed to those who engage in a civil war. Although the numbers in aggregate were small, our losses were greater that those of the US during the Vietnam debacle as a percentage of our population. The Rhodesians who were handing over, had a standing army of about 120 000 men, all well trained and fully armed, the Zanla forces were about 45 000 strong, the Zipra forces about 30 000 strong and the armed auxiliaries of Abel Muzorewa – the outgoing prime Minister, about 15 000.
All these disparate groups had a grudge against all the others – Zanla and Zipra had killed each other on sight in the field. The war was against the Rhodesians and Abel Muzorewa was trying to hold onto power as the sitting leader, elected two years before into a transitional administration with a massive national majority of over 80 per cent.
Into the middle of this explosive mix came the General and his staff plus a few London Bobbies and some troops. Their task was to see that the men in the bush laid down their arms and that the Rhodesians stayed in their barracks and homes. It was achieved in one of the most remarkable exercises of its kind in this century and only one shot was fired in anger during the whole process – on the corner of Manica Road and Second Street in Harare. The transition took place, the Rhodesians went home and became Zimbabweans and the country started to get back on its feet after the years of war and sanctions.
Behind the scenes the situation remained very precarious. The new Army was an explosive mix of former enemies, the new government had a real problem in the form of the Soviet Union who had backed the Zipra forces of Joshua Nkomo and still felt they had been "done" (they had). The new government was led by a small clique of Shona politicians who, despite their huge popular mandate (81 per cent), were not well supported amongst the armed forces of the day which were made up in the main by Karanga, Ndebele and Rhodesian elements. They were critically dependent at the time on General Ackland and his boss, Lord Soames, and the skill they exercised in juggling the different elements so as to keep them in the air and off balance.
In the early days of independence there was an armed rebellion – funded and fuelled by the Soviets using elements of Zipra and this uprising was put down by the remaining elements of the old Rhodesian forces (including a unit of the notorious Selous Scouts). Then there were the ongoing destabilization activities of the South Africans who felt they had to keep their northern neighbours in a state of some chaos to prevent them operating effectively as a group against the South African regime. Weapons were smuggled into Zimbabwe and a regional rebellion started in the south that was to smolder on for 7 years. Sabotage was a frequent activity and I can still remember feeling the blast from Nkomo Barracks outside Harare (45 kilometers away) in the early 80’s as South African operatives blew up a massive arms dump.
While the Zipra and the Rhodesian forces that were integrated into the new national army had a high degree of professional training as soldiers, many of the Zanla forces were true guerillas – trained to fight the kind of campaign that eventually wore down the Rhodesians (and the USA in Vietnam). To forge a new army out of units as disparate as the men in the old RAR who had fought in Malaysia with such distinction and were real "old timers" and the special forces that had been so effective in the bush, was never going to be an easy task. It was made easier by the emigration of many who felt they could not work with the new administration, but we were still left with a problem, too many men, too many arms, too wide a gap in training, background and ideology.
It was into this cauldron that the British government sent a small contingent of senior officers to help with the task of reconstruction and training. It was a long-term commitment and required management of the highest order. Apart from a blip on the screen when the Zimbabwe government brought in a team from North Korea to train a special unit of the army (which was used in the campaign of genocide in Matebeleland in the mid 80’s), BMATT stayed at its post throughout the past 20 years and quietly accomplished what they had been sent to do: build a professional army out of the remnants of the forces that came out of the bush in 1980.
Arguably, Zimbabwe now has one of the best, if not the best, standing army in Africa. It’s far too large for our normal needs but it is well run, has a sound and professional command structure and its officer corps has received the best training that is available in the world. We are sorry that the team from BMATT has had to be withdrawn, but they leave behind an institution that will be one of the pillars of our new future. If we make the transition democratically from the corrupt and despotic regime we have today, to a new administration led by a genuine democrat, one of the reasons will be twenty years of work by a dedicated military team from the UK. Whatever the outcome, we as a nation will always be thankful.
Apart from the original representative, General Ackland, we have known many of the commanding officers of BMATT and they were all fine professionals who represented the best in the British Army, we will miss their presence in our community as well.
7th April 2001.
Please note that this note is personal and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Botswana Worried About Zimbabwe State of Emergency Threat
UN Integrated Regional Information Network(Nairobi)
April 11, 2001
Posted to the web April 11, 2001
Reports that the Zimbabwean government may declare a state of emergency have been met with concern by authorities in Botswana. Minister of Commerce and Industry Tebelelo Seretse was quoted as saying in reports on Wednesday that "it indeed would not augur well and it would be unfortunate" if the state of emergency was declared in Zimbabwe.
Seretse said a state of emergency would affect tourism not only in Botswana but the region as a whole. "We would have to look at the situation and see how we can protect our people who deal with Zimbabwe. We also have Batswana children who go to school in Zimbabwe," she said. Last Friday, two Zimbabwean newspapers carried stories that the government was considering a state of emergency.
World Bank Admits Policy Failure
Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
April 11, 2001
Posted to the web April 11, 2001
A World Bank official admitted Wednesday the institution's policies in Zimbabwe had failed, ironically blaming the failure on the government's willingness to follow its instructions as "per book."
World Bank Representative to Zimbabwe, Rogier van den Brink, told a seminar on Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative, that the policies the Bretton Woods institution had prescribed to the government had failed to stimulate the economy and improve the social lives of the people.
"I have been asked by ministers, ordinary people and business people whether our policies have worked and I really have to admit that we have failed," he said.
The World Bank concentrated on funding social development programmes in Zimbabwe, while its counterpart, the International Monetary Fund, mainly looked at fiscal and other economic policy issues.
Van den Brink said Zimbabwe's economy, which is experiencing its worst crisis characterised by shortages of foreign currency and a record high inflation, can only be nursed to growth through stimulating the small and medium scale business sectors and carrying through land reforms to boost agriculture.
"What Zimbabwe needs are small to medium enterprises. There is also need for ideal partnership between the government and labour if the economy is to be revived," he said.
"In my view, the real revival of the economy lies in agriculture. Currently most of the arable and fertile land is in the hands of only one percent of the total population. If land is equitably distributed, we will definitely see a change in the economy," he added.
But the World Bank and other multilateral and bilateral donors have criticised Zimbabwe for carrying out a controversial land reform programme in which idle land was being taken over from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.
More than 75,000 landless peasants have so far been resettled on re-possessed land since last year, and the government says it plans to move a total of half a million people on more than five million hectares of land to be taken from white farmers.
Donors Should Reweigh Their Views Over Zimbabwe Land Dispute - Mkapa
Tomric Agency (Dar es Salaam)
April 11, 2001
Posted to the web April 11, 2001
Dar Es Salaam
President Benjamin Mkapa yesterday appealed to the international community to reweigh their stand over Zimbabwe land issues.
Mkapa made the appeal during talks with the new Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Tanzania, Ms. Chipe Olga Zindega who presented her credentials at the State House in Dar Es Salaam.
He said the international community should not blame Zimbabwe for the ongoing land dispute rather provides an amicable solution. He said that the land problem in Zimbabwe would not be resolved if the international institutions and the media continued to distort the whole history of the land problem.
"Zimbabweans fought for independence. Their fight for independence went in tandem with the fight for land, without resolving the land dispute, the independence of Zimbabwe would be meaningless," he said as the incoming High Commissioner explained that land dispute in her country was yet to be resolved.
Mkapa said that the land dispute in Zimbabwe would not be solved if the international community and the media would continue distorting the facts behind the historical background of the land issue in the country where land remained the Zimbabwe's lifeblood. He said it was discouraging to note that the media in collaboration institutions misrepresent the facts about the land question as if it was a new issue, which has no history.
The High Commissioner urged African countries to help her government to return land to majority Zimbabwean despite the misrepresentation at the international level. "Land is the only vital resources for Zimbabweans in their day-today in their lives," said Zindoga after presenting her credentials yesterday.
Concern Over Prosecution of Journalists On Criminal Defamation Charges
World Association of Newspapers (WAN)
April 11, 2001
Posted to the web April 11, 2001
His Excellency Robert Mugabe President Harare Zimbabwe C/o H.E. Ambasador to UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Excellency, We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum, which represent more than 17,000 publications in 93 countries, to express our serious concern at the prosecution of three journalists on charges of criminal defamation.
According to reports, on 3 April Geoff Nyarota, chief editor of the Daily News, and two of the newspaper's reporters, Sandra Nyaira and Julius Zava, were charged with criminal defamation. The charges arose from a series of articles published late last year about the building of a new airport terminal that alleged that the company that won the tender had paid kickbacks to leading politicians and businessmen.
The Daily News has been harshly criticised by the government in the past. In January, its printing presses were bombed several days after the government described it as an opposition mouthpiece. We are concerned that the defamation charges are an extension of a harassment campaign of the independent press.
We respectfully remind you that the criminal law is a wholly inappropriate means of dealing with the issue of defamation, and that such practice contravenes a number of international agreements. We believe that a civil award of reasonable damages is adequate and appropriate relief in all proven cases of libel.
We respectfully call on you to ensure that all charges against Mr. Nyarota, Ms Nyaira and Mr. Zava are dropped. We urge you to take this opportunity to ensure that libel is decriminalised in Zimbabwe and replaced with appropriate civil remedies.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Roger Parkinson President World Association of Newspapers
Ruth de Aquino President World Editors Forum
Tawanda Hondora's jaw was broken and he was left badly bruised. The three-hour assault on the chairman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights took place in the Sadza area, about 50 miles south of Harare.
Violence by Mr Mugabe's supporters, including police, has been reported across the country as the ruling party, the Zanu-PF, tries to stamp out support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) before presidential elections next year.
Mr Hondora went to Sadza at the weekend with two other lawyers to investigate reports that police were assaulting people scheduled to testify in a court case challenging the victory in last year's parliamentary election of a Zanu-PF candidate, the war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi.
They saw about 30 people, most wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts, beating Nelson Chivanga, one of the witnesses in the case, a statement issued by the lawyers' group said.
Uniformed police officers stood by and watched, it said.
The assailants then turned on the three lawyers, calling them "foreigners", although they are black Zimbabweans. Mr Hondora was kicked, slapped, punched, whipped and hit behind the ear with a stone.
He was forced to chant Zanu-PF slogans while marching to the police station, where he and Mr Chivanga were further tortured by police, the statement said.
At the station, the police told them that the MDC was just a front for white people.
The lawyers' group said yesterday it was "outraged by the continued brutality, lack of respect for fundamental human rights and political partisanship of the Zimbabwe Republic Police".
"We condemn police involvement with the vigilante groups of Zanu-PF supporters who are creating a reign of terror in Zimbabwe."
Currency Devaluation Once Again On the Agenda
UN Integrated Regional Information Network (Nairobi)
April 10, 2001
Posted to the web April 10, 2001
Zimbabwe is again wrapped up in a debate on whether or not to devalue its currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, PANA reported on Tuesday. The debate often surfaces at this time of the year when the country begins to sell its tobacco crop, Zimbabwe's biggest export. The country is the third largest exporter of tobacco in the world, and expects tobacco auctions which open on 24 April to net about US $400 million.
As has become tradition, tobacco farmers are demanding the government devalue the dollar, officially pegged at 55 units to the greenback, or else they would withhold their crop from the auction floors. For years, growers, mainly white commercial farmers, have managed to wring currency devaluation concessions from the authorities at the start of the tobacco auctions through the threats to withhold the crop, PANA reported.
This year, however, the government said it would stand its ground, and is bringing into play its controversial land reform programme to frighten them from their demands, which are strongly supported by the export sector. The authorities said the farmers' threats and demands for devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar by up to 100 percent, underline the need to de-monopolise farming in Zimbabwe, particularly of cash crops such as tobacco.
Finance Minister Simba Makoni said the demands are mainly motivated by profiteering. He vowed the government would not give in. Proponents of devaluation, who include banks and exporters from all sectors of the economy, argue this would stimulate exports and earn the country the desperately needed foreign currency.
The Great Hall of the university was filled to capacity with students singing hymns as the body of Batanai Hadzizi, 21, a first-year-student, was carried in.
Tension rose sharply after Higher Education Minister Herbert Murerwa agreed to students' demands to address them but was angrily jeered when he refused to apologise, and instead expressed his "regret".
The students also stood up and chanted "ZBC out" when a camera crew from the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation walked into the hall.
There were fears that the service would ignite anti-government rage on the campus after a weekend of police violence there, but the service continued without incident.
'Terrible time for all of us'
"It was very tense, but the students handled it very maturely," said Dr Charles Mugariri, the dean of students. "It's a very terrible time for all of us."
Hadzizi died after scores of riot police raided the campus on Sunday midnight - for the second day in a row - storming the hostels, firing teargas into rooms and whipping students with batons.
Student representatives and university officials have reacted angrily to police claims that Hadzizi died from being trampled in a stampede at his residence.
Hostel colleagues claim they witnessed the assault, and relatives say they saw weals all over Hadzizi's body, left apparently by the long, heavy rubber batons used by the riot squad.
The memorial service started an hour late, delayed until the end of a post mortem examination carried out on the body. The results are expected to confirm whether Hadzizi died of assault or, as authorities claim, was crushed by panicking students fleeing the police in the narrow halls of the hostels.
"We can only hope this will bring the culprits to book," said Mugariri.
Demonstrations against low state payments
The raids were in answer to scattered outbreaks of violence at the weekend when demonstrations against low state payments to students turned unruly.
Unrest continued on Monday with the announcement of Mudzizi's death, when again police used teargas and batons to disperse several hundred demonstrators marching towards town.
Thirty-four students arrested during the weekend were charged with public violence and released from prison yesterday. Police also arrested Innocent Mupara, president of the Students Representative Council, on allegations of incitement to violence, but released him after questioning.
A total of 28 students were treated for injuries, university authorities said. - SAPA
|Thursday 12 , April|
|Arrest Mugabe, says Kombayi|
4/12/01 12:32:14 AM (GMT +2)
PATRICK Kombayi, the
former Zanu PF mayor of Gweru, recently called for the arrest of President
Mugabe and for the international community to slap him with a travel ban.
Kombayi said he would
encourage the International Court of Justice to charge Mugabe. He called for all
senior Zanu PF, government officials and war veterans to be denied international
He said the foreign bank accounts of all government officials should be frozen.
“All their children who are in Europe, the United States and other foreign lands should be immediately sent back home. This includes my own daughter who is in London,” said Kombayi.
Kombayi, crippled after an assassination attempt in the 1990 general election campaign, said sanctions were long overdue for Zimbabwe.
The Gweru hotelier scoffed at government officials’ threats to impose a state of emergency if sanctions were imposed.
Kombayi said he was a victim of Mugabe’s “terror” campaign in 1990 when he was shot and seriously wounded by government security agents who were subsequently pardoned by Mugabe.
Said Kombayi: “I was shot in broad daylight, but nothing was done except pardoning the perpetrators.”
A Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative, Elias Kanengoni and Kizito Chivamba, a Zanu PF youth leader, were convicted and sentenced for attempting to murder Kombayi, then national organising secretary of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement, during the run-up to the 1990 election.
The two men were pardoned by Mugabe, causing an outcry from opposition parties, legal and human rights organisations. Mugabe defied the calls and the perpetrators were freed.
Kanengoni was recently promoted and is now a high ranking officer within the CIO.
Mostly Zanu PF supporters, charged with violent crimes in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary election, were pardoned by Mugabe.
More than 30 people died during the violence, most of it allegedly perpetrated by Zanu-PF aligned war veterans.