|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Consider that Zimbabwean politicians have made the
~"Those who support MDC must watch out because death will befall them" - Mugabe 16/3/2000
~"We will move door to door killing like we did Chiminya. I am the minister responsible for defence therefore I am capable of killing" - Mahachi 2/6/2000
~"Those who do not understand must be beaten until they do understand" - Mahachi 2/6/2000
Farmer shot - report
We have received a report that a farmer from the Enterprise Valley was shot at dusk on 23 April. Contacts in the Medical Air Rescue Service have apparently confirmed the incident and that they met the ambulance half way to Harare. No further details.
From The Daily News, 23 April
Armed policeman attacks Kombayi
Gweru – Gweru businessman Patrick Kombayi foiled a second assassination attempt on his life last Thursday when he wrestled and disarmed a policeman who allegedly threatened to shoot him because of his recent call for President Mugabe’s arrest. Gweru Central police station confirmed the incident and identified the policeman as Assistant Inspector Elphas George of the Criminal Investigations Department, believed to be a war veteran. George was arrested the following day and detained at Gweru Central police station. He is expected to appear in court today. The firearm, a CZ pistol, was handed to Senior Assistant Commissioner Casper Khumalo on Saturday.
Kombayi said: "This war-veteran policeman visited me at my hotel on Thursday and shouted at me over my recent Press statements calling for the arrest of Mugabe and the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe." Kombayi said the officer was overpowered after he pulled out a pistol. "We managed to overpower and disarm him," he said. "I retained the firearm for safekeeping and only handed it back to the police on condition that the safety of my family, businesses and myself, was guaranteed." Kombayi was disabled following an assassination attempt on his life during the 1990 general election. He was campaigning for the Gweru Central seat as a Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum) candidate. The Zanu PF candidate was Simon Muzenda, the Vice-President. Elias Kangenoni, a CIO operative and Kizito Chivamba, a Zanu PF youth leader were convicted of Kombayi’s attempted murder, but pardoned by Mugabe. Yesterday, Kombayi said Thursday’s foiled attack was part of the general climate of lawlessness in Zimbabwe today.
There were two cases of lawlessness in Harare. In the first case, Mervin Senior and his wife, Barbara, owners of Mbizi game park near the Harare International Airport, were abducted from their lodge and beaten up by Zanu PF members on Saturday following a labour dispute with some of their workers. They were held for four hours at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in Harare. Senior said two of his former security guards, David Ndlovu and Lewis Sibanda, claiming he had underpaid them, reported the matter to Zanu PF. The two, both contractor workers, were demanding $69 000 from Mbizi game park. Senior said Ndlovu’s case was being handled by the National Employment Council for the catering industry which ordered him to pay Ndlovu $4 000. But the matter was due to be heard by a labour tribunal.
On Saturday, management at Mbizi game park wanted to hold a meeting with the workers, but Robson Chiwanga, chairman of the workers’ committee, could not be found. "At about 12.30pm, I heard some noises and I thought they were some guests," said Senior. "I went to greet them. But suddenly I was grabbed, together with my wife and taken to Zanu PF offices. On the way we were pummelled all over. We were pushed into a cellar and made to sit down. We asked that we do some prayers and we were allowed to pray. They said they were to put us on a plane and fly us out to an unknown destination."
In the second case, Harare lawyer and businessman, Tinofara Hove, and four police officers, providing him with an escort service, were assaulted by about 30 suspected war veterans at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in the city on Saturday morning. Hove, whose two commuter buses were impounded by the war veterans, was struck with an iron bar on the forehead. He sustained a deep cut, which required five stitches. One of the four policemen accompanying Hove was dragged out of a police vehicle and assaulted for protecting the lawyer.
The war veterans accused Hove of hiding Imran Chaudhry, a Pakistani businessman who has fled the country. They wanted Hove to inform them of Chaudhry’s whereabouts. Chaudhry left Zimbabwe after war veterans hounded him over a labour dispute between the businessman and his workers. Hove of TK Hove and Associates is Chaudhry’s lawyer. Later on Saturday, the war veterans abducted and assaulted a Mr Shouket, a director in Chaudhry’s company Leno Trading (Pvt) Ltd, and two Pakistani workers. Shouket sustained a broken arm and ribs and was rushed to the Avenues Clinic for treatment. Police confirmed that nine war veterans were arrested and would be charged with public violence.
On Friday morning, the war veterans seized two commuter omnibuses belonging to Hove and parked them at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters. The matter was reported to Harare Central police station. The war veterans detained the drivers and conductors, claiming the vehicles belonged to Chaudhry. Earlier, the veterans seized 32 omnibuses and their days’ takings and parked the vehicles at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters. Police intervened and retrieved the vehicles. They are now parked at Harare Central police station.
After Hove showed the war veterans proof that the two vehicles were his, they allegedly asked him where he got the money to buy them. Led by Mike Moyo, the veterans started rocking the vehicle in which Hove and the police escort were, threatening to overturn it. They ignored pleas for calm from a Chief Inspector Bhunhu. The war veterans somehow managed to open the vehicle’s rear door and a policeman who tried to close the door was dragged out and assaulted. That was when Hove was attacked. At one stage the war veterans disarmed a police officer and took possession of his FN rifle. The policeman and Hove were rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment.
From News24 (SA), 24 April
Capital takes govt to court
Harare - Capital Radio will soon take the government to court over the new Broadcasting Services Act, enacted two weeks ago. Gerry Jackson, a director, said their lawyer, Anthony Brooks of Honey and Blackenburg, was preparing an application to the Supreme Court. Brooks said a constitutional challenge of the legislation was now in progress.
Capital Radio was banned in October last year and had its equipment confiscated by the government after they went on air without approval. They retrieved some of the equipment after the High Court intervened. The Broadcasting Services Act, fast-tracked through Parliament even though the parliamentary legal committee had issued an adverse report, was roundly condemned by civic organisations. The Act was introduced after the broadcasting regulations introduced last year under the Presidential Temporary Powers Act expired last month after their six months' duration.
Civic organisations have condemned the new law, saying it violates press freedom and the freedom of choice of what to watch by limiting the variety of what stations can offer. The Act compels every future television and radio station to broadcast at least 75 percent local content. The banning of any foreign investment in the broadcasting houses was attacked as it inhibits the broadcasters from importing expensive equipment. The Act gives the minister of state for information and publicity in the president's office unlimited powers to control licensed stations.
Jackson, 49, is a seasoned broadcaster who spent ten years with the ZBC, doing the ZBC afternoon spot before falling ill with encephalitis and having to retire. Three years later she went back, this time to do the Tuesday morning slot, but not for long. She was soon fired for inviting members of the public to phone in and provide information on whether or not it was safe to move around town during a nation-wide stay-away. Mike Auret Junior, 31, one of Capital Radio's owners, is a graduate lawyer from the University of Cape Town who operates four media companies in Zimbabwe dealing with TV commercials, documentaries, advertising, media consultancy and post production.
ZimNews is pleased to announce that it is shortly to become part of a brand new news service serving the interests of democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. As part of the new organisation, several Zimbabwean websites will be amalgamated into the world's leading website on Zimbabwe - ZWNEWS.com - which will be found at www.zwnews.com from 2 May. The new site will provide extensive news coverage, as well as pertinent information on all major issues currently facing Zimbabwe and its people. Together with the daily email service, the new international organisation will be the one-stop shop for news on Zimbabwe. Look out for the new site from Wednesday 2 May.
From a reader, 24 April
Richer than the Queen of England
More money than Madonna. A bigger nest-egg than the accumulated box-office takings of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Richer even than the Queen of England. Who might this be? The janitor at Microsoft? A dot.com squillionaire?
Weighing in at No. 48 in the list of the wealthiest people in Britain is John Bredenkamp, former Rhodesian rugby international, one-time arms dealer (thought to have dealt on both sides of the fence), and business associate and confidante of Robert Mugabe. Describing his business interests as "tourism and investment" – a most charitable euphemism considering his interests in the DRC - the Sunday Times, in its "Rich List" published last weekend, estimates he is worth £550m, up from £440m and a ranking of 57th last year. "He has been spending heavily on tourism projects in Mozambique, where his total investment could approach more than £66m," says the UK newspaper. "He has two islands off Mozambique and has recently acquired a hotel on the mainland. Bredenkamp made his original fortune in 1993 when he sold his tobacco business, Casalee Group, for about £70m."
Bredenkamp, (60), has some way to go to beat the Duke of Westminster, estimated to be worth $4.4 billion and the UK’s richest person, but then the Duke does have a head start of several generations. But he does feature higher up the list than two scions of the famed banking dynasty – Sir Evelyn (£500m and 51st) and Lord Rothschild (£460m and 59th) – who must also be grateful for their ancestral line. And the Queen, whose personal wealth is admittedly difficult to disentangle from that of the State, manages a relatively unimpressive 105th on the list at £300m. Another Mugabe associate, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, features at 159th with £200m. Notorious in Britain for describing ramblers – members of the public who enjoy walking in the countryside on weekends – as "perverts", van Hoogstraten has an estimated £32m of investments at risk in Zimbabwe. His public vocal and financial support for Mugabe and Zanu PF has proved no insurance, however – his four main properties have been invaded. One can just imagine how he describes the "war vets" in the small hours of the morning.
The list includes British citizens, and foreigners who live and work in Britain, which rules out another Southern African tycoon, Billy Rautenbach. Since some of his assets are currently the subject of confiscation proceedings in the South African courts, he would probably be included as one the "fastest fallers" in the list, were he to be included. The inclusion criteria also exclude Robert Mugabe, who now avoids British soil as much as he would like to avoid Peter Tatchell, as a precaution against being 'Pinocheted'. Perhaps he should have been given a Queen’s Award for Export for the First Lady’s past contributions to the UK balance of payments. The Sunday Times describes John Bredenkamp as a "generous backer of charitable causes". One wonders just how much he has backed the Zanu PF benevolent fund over the past year. From his past form, however, he must be well advanced in his planning for the day when his present patron is no longer around.
From The Monitor (Uganda), 23 April
Consultant Wants World Bank to Cut Funding to Uganda
The former United States of America assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Herman Cohen has called on The World Bank and the EU to freeze their support to Uganda and Rwanda over their presence in the DRC. A hardcore Republican, Cohen is currently a consultant with the US based Global Coalition for Africa. Cohen was secretary of state between 1989 and 1993, during the administration of President George Bush, the father of the current president George W. Bush.
In a letter to the US based The New York Times Saturday, Cohen said "there growing impatience of the United States with Rwanda and Uganda because they are dragging their heels about withdrawing their military occupation forces from Congo. Moreover, Congolese rebels under Rwanda's control are also delaying the peace process by blocking the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces to the diamond-rich city of Kisangani." He added: "One way to apply pressure to Rwanda and Uganda would be to suspend the tens of millions in World Bank and EU budgetary support dollars being disbursed to these two countries. This money from American and European taxpayers has effectively financed Rwanda's and Uganda's wars in Congo since August 1998."
As Secretary of State, Cohen sharply criticised Uganda and Rwanda for backing the late DRC president, Laurent Desire Kabila, to oust the late Mobutu Sese Seko. But Uganda's ambassador to the US based in Washington DC Edith Ssempala told The Monitor yesterday that Cohen is not a credible person to make such remarks. "He has always been a lobbyist for Kabila and is paid to do that," Ssempala said. She added: "When you read such remarks from a person, you also need to know the kind of personality you are dealing with." In 1994 he warned Rwandese president Maj Gen. Paul Kagame and his Rwandese Patriotic Front army that their invasion of Kigali would spark off genocide.
Editor's note - Henry Cohen is the lobbyist hired by Zanu PF to improve its image in the US
From The Star (SA), 24 April
DRC peace process on track, says UN
Kisangani - The head of UN peacekeeping operations said a peace plan to end the war in the DRC was now well under way after rebels allowed UN troops to deploy. Jean-Marie Guehenno was speaking in an interview with Reuters on Sunday in the north-eastern city of Kisangani, where over 250 UN troops have deployed in the past few days ending a stand-off with rebels which had threatened to derail peace efforts. "I think that today the different parties have accepted to go ahead with the (peace) process. With the deployment we have given some momentum to the process," said Guehenno. "This is a change, before there was a certain scepticism. If we proceed at this pace I think that we will be in a good situation. We have to be careful, modest and tenacious."
The deployment of about 2 500 armed UN troops to protect military observers is part of a peace plan to end the war, which started in 1998 and has sucked six foreign armies into the vast, mineral-rich Central African country. The force is supposed to monitor a ceasefire and try to verify whether the warring parties have pulled back - as promised - 15km from their frontline positions. The Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), the main rebel movement, last week blocked deployment of Moroccan troops to Kisangani for several days after demanding the UN condemn alleged government ceasefire violations. The rebels only backed down after diplomatic pressure and UN warnings they could derail the peace plan which was given new impetus in January by the death of Congo's President Laurent Kabila, and his replacement by his son, Joseph.
Another obstacle to a peace deal was removed on Sunday when Congolese Liberation Front (FLC), the other rebel group fighting in the former Zaire, said it had agreed to pull back its troops. Guehenno, however, said the success of the peace process still hinged on several unresolved issues. "There is the issue of security in the east. One must first address the question of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (of combatants)." "The Rwandan, Ugandan and Congolese parties and the rebels must sit down and put the issue on the table. The UN can play the role of honest broker (in the process).
The war in the Congo pitches rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda against government troops fighting with the support of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. Guehenno urged the re-opening of the Congo river and the free circulation of people and goods to facilitate humanitarian operations and revive a shattered economy. Boat traffic on the Congo river between government areas and rebel-held territories in the north and the east has been interrupted since the start of the war, cutting off a vital trade route. Guehenno said FLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba had agreed during a meeting on Sunday to allow river traffic intended for humanitarian purposes. Guehenno, who is on a six-day visit to the Congo, was also due to travel to Kananga and Kalemie, where Senegalese and Uruguayan peacekeepers have taken up their positions.
From Business Day (SA), 23 April
Tshisekedi returns for peace talks
Kinshasa - Etienne Tshisekedi, a leading opposition figure in the DRC, returned home yesterday after 16 months in exile to participate in national political dialogue in terms of peace accords in the war-torn country. Heavy security was in place for his arrival, with journalists kept well away while he was greeted by a delegation of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party. Tshisekedi, a top political figure in the vast central African country since its independence from Belgium in 1960, left the airport in the direction of his home in Kinshasa's Limete district. The UDPS's office in France had issued a communiqué on Sunday voicing fears for Tshisekedi's safety on his return to Kinshasa. A Kinshasa newspaper, Le Phare, which backs the UDPS, said Tshisekedi would soon meet President Joseph Kabila, who succeeded his assassinated father, Laurent, in January.
Announcing his intention to return to Kinshasa last Thursday in Brussels, Tshisekedi said he planned to take part in the "interCongolese dialogue" called for under a 1999 accord that largely remained a dead letter under the late Laurent Kabila. The forum, called to achieve a "new political order" for the Congo, is to bring together the Kinshasa government, rebel factions, the unarmed opposition and civil society. Botswana's former president, Ketumile Masire, who is serving as facilitator, has begun consultations with the various parties to set a schedule and determine a venue for the forum.
|Mugabe spends $160 million to polish his image|
4/24/01 9:51:31 AM (GMT +2)
President Mugabe has
hired an international political lobbying company for £2 million (Z$160 million)
to improve his image in the United States of America and Britain.
The firm has been asked to
counter what the government sees as misunderstandings and “recriminations that
Mugabe blames for his portrayal as a despot and for his country’s growing
international isolation”, reports the British Sunday Times newspaper.
The move is the latest attempt by Mugabe to outmanoeuvre his many overseas critics, including the British Foreign Office, whom he has accused of racially motivated attacks on him.
The government has run a violent campaign to intimidate political opponents and has banned foreign investment in the Zimbabwean media to keep out “colonialist views”.
The £2m fee will be paid in five annual instalments to Cohen and Woods International (CWI).
Herman Cohen, a former US Secretary for African Affairs, and James L Woods, a former adviser to ex-President George Bush Sr, have represented a string of controversial African politicians, including the leaders of Angola and Burkina Faso.
They are reputedly among the best-paid lobbyists in Washington.
Yesterday, Munyaradzi Hwengwere, the presidential spokesman, said: “The government of Zimbabwe is free to make linkages with any organisation which might help us clarify misconceptions about the country. However, that is a tired story.” He would neither confirm nor deny the amount involved in the deal.
Speaking from his office in Arlington, Virginia, Cohen refused to discuss the contract. “We have a no-comment policy in relation to this,” he said.
Mugabe’s reputation abroad has been in freefall since he was accused of encouraging last year’s invasion by squatters of white-owned farms. His party, Zanu PF, is said to have orchestrated the killing, torture and beating-up of opponents.
Mugabe has said the accusations are lies and that he is the victim of an organised campaign that is depriving Zimbabwe of foreign aid and investment.
The confidential agreement between CWI and the Harare government, which has been seen by The Sunday Times, says the crisis has “unfairly poisoned international public opinion against Zimbabwe”, with the result that “political, commercial and financial co-operation are in peril”.
The lobbyists’ brief is to “counter anti-Zimbabwe content in the international media”, as well as setting up a website and writing to heads of international business.
The agreement was signed last year by Chen Chimutengwende, the former
Information Minister. Work on the project is understood to have started recently.
Mugabe is still blocking publication of two commissions of inquiry into the Zanla-Zipra clashes at Bulawayo’s Entumbane suburb and the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, in which 20 000 people died.
Zanu PF supporters are blamed for a bomb attack that destroyed the printing press of The Daily News.
The Sunday Times is raising money to buy a new printing press for the newspaper.
The five-year contract with CWI covers the expected presidential election in 2002, when Mugabe will face claims that he has wrecked Zimbabwe’s economy and reputation.
According to its website, CWI is registered to represent Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In the past we have had contacts or acted as subcontractor to the Republic of Angola, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of Benin, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the Republic of Ivory Coast, the Republic of Mozambique and the Republic of Togo,” according to CWI.
Cohen, president of CWI, retired from the US foreign service in 1994 after a 38-year career specialising in foreign affairs.
|Steel company owner abducted by war vets|
4/24/01 9:28:42 AM (GMT +2)
CECIL Carver, the owner of a steel company in Msasa, was taken prisoner by suspected war veterans yesterday.
The war veterans allegedly
picked him up at his company offices at around 4pm.
Carver’s distraught relatives and friends told The Daily News that he was picked up together with his foreman, identified only as Eddy.
The two were allegedly bundled into Carver’s personal vehicle before being taken to an unknown destination.
Police yesterday refused to comment on the matter. Carver’s whereabouts were still not known at the time of going to Press last night. Meanwhile, three suspected war veterans stormed a dental clinic in the Avenues yesterday afternoon. They allegedly forced the 23 employees to stop work and ordered them to report to the Zanu PF Harare head office.
|MDC candidate’s home burnt down|
4/24/01 9:29:46 AM (GMT +2)
Fire gutted a house
belonging to an MDC candidate for Chegutu's Ward 27, destroying household goods
worth $10 000 after suspected Zanu PF supporters raided Fopojena Farm.
Alexio Chakadona, 46, an
MDC candidate in the Chegutu Rural District Council by-elections, lost two
wardrobes, a double bed, a kitchen table and chairs, and a stereo when a gang of
Zanu PF supporters stormed a compound at the farm.
Chakadona, who was away at the time of the attack, was whisked away by MDC officials early on Sunday morning to Chegutu town when word went around that suspected war veterans planned to raid the area.
“We are now scared of campaigning in Ward 27 because of the reign of terror being unleashed by Zanu PF and war veterans,” said Chakadona.
He said the matter was reported to Chegutu police last Tuesday, but there have been no arrests.
Chegutu police declined to comment and referred the matter to the police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena, who was not forthcoming.
David Gonjani, the MDC chairman for Chegutu, said he decided to take Chakadona to Chegutu town on Sunday morning because he feared for the candidate’s life.
Tobacco farmers in Zimbabwe have again called on the government to devalue the currency.
The annual tobacco auctions have just begun but many farmers are reluctant to sell their crop at current foreign exchange levels.
The government has so far ruled out any devaluation.
Tobacco sales make up about 30% of Zimbabwe's foreign currency earnings, and their troubled economy needs the foreign currency tobacco sales produce to pay for the import of fuel, raw materials and other commodities.
The current tobacco crop is forecast to be down on last years but farmers are saying the quality of the crop is excellent.
That should mean good prices on the auction floors.
However industry executives expect many farmers to stay away.
Last year many tobacco farmers were hurt financially when they sold their crop before the Ministry of Finance sanctioned the devaluation.
Then the government accused white commercial tobacco growers of trying to sabotage the economy.
However this year small scale and communal farmers are also talking of withholding their crops but unlike the bigger commercial growers communal farmers are likely to be forced to sell sooner to pay off loans and school fees.
Zimbabwe has been critically short of hard currency over the last two years as the country has slipped deeper into economic crisis.
However some economists say while a devaluation would help the tobacco farmers, in the short term it could also worsen the situation for many ordinary Zimbabweans who would see prices rise while the value of their money falls.