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

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AI Index: AFR 46/022/2004 (Public)
News Service No: 189
12 August 2004

Embargo Date: 12 August 200400:01GMT

Zimbabwe: Southern African leaders must condemn human rights abuse
Amnesty International (AI) members in the southern African region have
written to their leaders calling on them to publicly and jointly condemn the
Government of Zimbabwe for its violation of human rights.

Letters have been sent to Heads of State and Government attending the summit
of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Mauritius on 16

"The SADC treaty obliges member states to act in accordance with principles
of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, so the leaders of southern
Africa have a special responsibility to respond to the human rights crisis
in Zimbabwe. Although Zimbabwe has been discussed at SADC summits for the
last three years, there has been no improvement in the human rights
situation," the AI members said.

The letters denounce a series of grave human rights abuses in Zimbabwe

  a.. Repressive laws that are used to criminalize peaceful gatherings, as
well as shut down independent media outlets and non-governmental
  b.. Government moves to end international food aid distribution, despite
independent warnings that millions of Zimbabweans will need food aid in the
coming year;
  c.. Systematic Government attacks on the independence of judges and
  d.. Failure to investigate widespread allegations of torture and
ill-treatment, including rape, committed by security forces and "youth"

"Evidence suggests that an escalation in repression in Zimbabwe is already
underway ahead of parliamentary elections. We are urging SADC leaders to use
this summit to demonstrate their commitment to protect human rights and to
hold governments accountable in the SADC region," the AI members said.

Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web:

For latest human rights news view
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      Zimbabwean opposition leader remanded to October 2004-08-12 04:52:42

          HARARE, Aug. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Zimbabwean opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, charged with plotting to
assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of the 2002 presidential
elections, was on Wednesday back at the magistrates' court for a routine
remand hearing.

          Tsvangirai, who has denied the charge, was remanded to October 13
this year when he briefly appeared before magistrate Memory Chigwaza.

          MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube and legislator Renson Gasela,
who were co-accused with Tsvangirai, were acquitted in August last year.

          Tsvangirai, Ncube and Gasela denied the charge when the trial
began in the High Court in February last year.

          They applied for discharge at the close of the state case arguing
that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against them.

          The court acquitted Ncube and Gasela, but ruled that Tsvangiraihad
a case to answer.

          Tsvangirai faces the death penalty if convicted. Enditem
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele comment

Social  Collapse

12 August 2004

Zimbabwe’s crisis is not only political and economic; the signs of social disintegration are everywhere.  Nightly, street children as young as five or six seek the “protection” of older children who act as pimps; cold, hungry and homeless farm workers huddle against each other on the roadside where they have been dumped like a pile of rubbish;  a young girl of sixteen with a blank stare cuddles her baby, conceived when she was raped in a youth militia camp; an adult rushes her dying parent to the hospital, because it is cheaper to transport the living than the dead;  she will not return when the parent dies, because she cannot afford to bury her;  an elderly grandmother weeps when told that a foreign donor will no longer supply food aid – her thirteen grandchildren whom she is keeping have nothing else to eat.  These are mere glimpses of the social chaos affecting every corner of the country. 


Families can no longer fulfil their necessary functions, and yet the family is the basic unit of any society.  Adults are expected to provide the material necessities for human life – food, shelter, clothing; they provide security and emotional care which allow children to develop into self-confident adults; and the family as an institution gives moral guidance which will enable its members to live socially acceptable lives.  Where the family fails, the society at large steps in – with care for orphans and for old people, support for the disabled, the abandoned and the unlucky.  Beyond that the government must ensure an enabling environment for economic activity, appropriate education, health care and social security as a final safety net for the destitute.


But in Zimbabwe, all systems are collapsing.   Breadwinners can no longer provide; adults, increasingly absent, leave children without emotional support or moral guidance. The burden on the wider society to fill the breach is unbearable, and government services are either far too expensive, incapable of delivering what is needed, or simply don’t exist any more.  When they are most needed because of the destructive social effects of AIDS, they have failed abysmally.


These problems are not the result of natural disaster, war or uncontrollable external events.  Government’s single-minded determination to cling to power has led it to  adopt disastrous economic polices which have produced social chaos.


It begins with unemployment on an alarming scale (70%+), which has deprived most families of the means to support themselves; the extended family cannot help, because hyperinflation means that even those who are employed can no longer afford the necessities for their own children.


The coping mechanisms which people use to survive keep them alive, but have drastic social consequences.  Hundreds of thousands, now reaching into the millions, have emigrated, dividing families and leaving growing children without social support and the elderly without care.  Others have taken to crime, while still others survive through “informal economy” occupations, many of which lead to social disaster.


Emigration is a long tradition in Zimbabwe; but the migrants of the twenty-first century are different from those of previous generations.  From a trickle they have become a flood;  reasonable estimates put the figures at one quarter of the entire population.  And most have gone, not as fortune-seekers, but merely to survive, to feed their children, to avoid sinking into deeper poverty.  Some who have professional or technical qualifications have settled into their new homes, brought their families to join them, and have sent money home to those remaining behind.  But the vast majority have not. They leave behind elderly parents and young children; they work, if they find work, in menial jobs, diminishing their sense of their own value; others, the young ones, especially in South Africa where the majority are found, survive on piece jobs, on the streets, through crime, through prostitution, as sex slaves of immigration or police officials, living in crowded squalor, with little hope of ever returning to a “normal” life.  The desire for a better life has long given way to a desperate struggle to stay alive.


For others, particularly women, cross-border trading has been a lifeline.  They travel constantly, to South Africa, to Botswana, to Zambia, as far as Durban, Cape Town, further and further to make enough to be able to bring home precious forex to exchange for food, to pay school fees, rent, clothing.  They travel in groups or singly, legally or illegally – survival is the name of the game.  They deal in forex, in wood carvings, in cigarettes, in clothing, in electronic goods, in their own bodies – whatever this month can make a profit. They leave their families behind; they get used to it, and so do their children and their husbands – but at what cost to the survival of the family as a unit, to its ability to raise children who feel secure, who are guided and directed into adulthood.


Gold panning or digging is perhaps even more destructive.  Shack camps are built near the source of gold – a river or an outcrop where gold is near the surface.   Diggers may be displaced farm workers, retrenched workers, young school leavers with no hope of employment.  They settle in with whoever can provide them space, striking up casual liaisons which often produce children.  Nor are there any social services – no schools, no clinics, no entertainments.  The very nature of gold digging makes it dangerous, and leads to the ups and downs of fortune-seeking.  The lack of social order produces crime, drinking, fighting, prostitution as the norm.


All of these coping mechanisms have had a serious impact on the function of the family.  In earlier times, emigration did not have such a deleterious effect.  When young people go off, the family continues.  But now it is the bread-winners as much as the young people who go – even pensioners whose pensions have been made worthless by inflation.  These are the adults who are expected to care for the children, and to provide social and moral guidance.  They are not there – they are in U.K., in South Africa, moving up and down from one country to the next.  How do we expect the fourteen year old whose parents are in the U.K. earning her school fees to behave after years of managing her own life? Who will give her the encouragement, the discipline, the advice that every child and adolescent needs every day?  What happens to the families of the cross-border traders, also absent much of the time, leaving children with maids, neighbours, returning home for long enough to settled the bills before heading off again? 


Government has brought about this desperate situation through the mismanagement of the economy.  Not only are families scattered, the social services which are an essential part of a modern society are in a state of total collapse.  Education exists, but the lack of finance makes the value of much of the schooling provided questionable.  A teacher runs a shebeen at night, so comes to school tired and sleeps on her desk most of the day; others put more energy into the private tuition they offer than their classroom teaching – they have to, or they won’t be able to pay their rent.  Even if a young person gains an education, its value is diminished, because there is no job at the end of the road. 


Health services, twenty years ago the pride of Africa, have collapsed.   Clinics and even hospitals have no drugs, no food, no bedclothes, and no medical staff.  Nursing is the coveted profession – not because of the old-fashioned service commitment – but because it is the fastest ticket out of the country.  But to get a place for nursing training you have to know someone or have enough money to pay a hefty bribe – or both. 


Social welfare, designed to fill the gap where the family can no longer provide, hardly exists.  The ragged queue which forms outside the Reserve Bank every month represents the “lucky” few who are still able to draw social assistance – a sum barely enough to cover their bus fare and a loaf of bread.


Even the legal remedies which used to be available are barely accessible.  An inheritance dispute cannot be resolved, a divorce cannot be finalised, a maintenance claim cannot be heard – there is no magistrate.  Their low level of pay and resentment of government interference has sent them scurrying to other forms of employment or fleeing into exile.


Private security systems such as insurances and pensions no longer fulfil their expected functions.  Health insurance is too expensive and requires unaffordable “co-payments” for most procedures; as more and more people withdraw membership, the medical aid societies are likely to collapse.  Life insurances, funeral insurances, education plans, all of which were thriving five years ago, are no longer viable.  The runaway inflation has destroyed the benefits of such insurances, so that a life insurance policy designed to keep a family for months if not years after the death of a bread-winner doesn’t even pay for the funeral.  A funeral insurance doesn’t pay for the digging of the grave.  Pensions make one want to weep and have led to many suicides.  A person who retired four years ago on a comfortable pension can’t pay their rent, can’t buy clothing, and is lucky if they can buy one bag of mealie meal a month with their meagre income.  Some have joined the tide of emigration to earn enough to provide for the days when they can’t work any more.  Others have returned to full time work at the age of 70.


A look at two families reveals the general trends:  the first is a middle class, professional family.  The parents, in their fifties, both previously widowed, each brought children to their marriage, making a total of six.  All of those six children, all in their twenties, are in North America, struggling as students, or as refugees, to survive and prosper.  They are unlikely ever to return to Zimbabwe, and their children will be foreign.  Grandparents and grandchildren will hardly know each other.


The second is a traditional rural extended family with few resources.  The  twenty-four children born from that homestead  range in age from forty-five to twenty. Nine (more than one third) live outside Zimbabwe – seven in South Africa, one in Botswana and one in England.  None of those in South Africa is legal, but some have steady jobs; two are in and out of prison, others live by their wits doing piece work.  Of those who remain in Zimbabwe, three have already died, two of AIDS and one because medicines were unaffordable; two more are too sick to work.  Two are unemployed wives of working men, two are gold-diggers, both with criminal tendencies; one is a cross-border trader, one is “seated” doing nothing, while only four have steady employment, one as a soldier, one as a teacher, one in a low-paid desk job and one as an unskilled worker.  None remains in the village.  Only six have managed to establish stable families, but two of these have already crumbled through death of one or both of the parents.


This was the generation which was to benefit by independence; the four oldest of the twenty-four actually left the country to join the struggle, the youngest ones are “born frees”. But their lives are in chaos; even those who have “succeeded” cannot assist the others as they feel obligated to do, because their own incomes are stretched to cover the needs of their children.  And the majority -  those in South Africa or within the informal economy - are at the mercy of slight shifts in policy, police and immigration officials, accidents, health problems.  What kind of families will they establish, if ever they do?  What wisdom will they pass on to their children?  And beyond this family, what kind of parents will street children become, or the emotionally abandoned children whose parents see them only on infrequent visits from England?  If the family does not provide a strong social core, what future for the cohesion of our nation?


And what is the response of government to the disastrous effects of its failed policies?  Not sympathy, not concern, but blame shouted to everyone except themselves.  “The enemy” has caused the problems.  The solution? – more of the same.  Policies which destroy the few jobs that remain, further evictions of farmers and their workers, and destruction of productive capacity.  The economic plunge continues, and the social chaos gets worse.  Anyone who dares to suggest alternative policies is castigated.  Opposition politicians, journalists, NGOs and human rights activists who cry for a change in direction are imprisoned, tortured, and hounded out of the country.  Even those foreign well-wishers who try to help are insulted and prevented from bringing relief to starving Zimbabweans  Catholic services to the poorest of the poor are closed down by government because the archbishop has criticised the President.


Government’s preaching of violence, hatred, divisiveness, and its condonation of corruption over months and years has had further devastating effects.  The message to the young generation is unmistakable:  take what you want, use and be used, as long as you are on the right side any crime is excusable, people on the wrong side are worse than human beings.   Respect for others has vanished into the ether; grandmothers, parents, siblings, can be raped, murdered, tortured if they don’t agree with you.  Anyone you have labelled as “the enemy” can be starved.  Lies and deceit and hypocrisy rule the airwaves and the words on the page. A culture of “me first”, intolerance, and violence pays, has been insinuated into our once proud Zimbabwean people.  Our leaders are not even ashamed to set up camps for the youth to erase our traditional values of respect, honesty, tolerance and replace them with crude messages of destruction.  


And so we end up crying for Zimbabwe, a nation where the family no longer provides food, shelter and a safe haven.  Where government tells us that hatred will solve our problems, and encourages us to lie and steal. When families as institutions no longer give their young people moral guidance, surely we are headed for chaos which cannot easily be reversed.  The collapse of moral values which accompanies the chaos will be felt for generations to come. Long after the political crisis has softened and we are on the road to economic recovery, the social and moral effects of government’s policies will poison our relationships and make the rebuilding of our nation more difficult than we can possibly imagine.



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Zim Online

Fri 13 August 2004

      NEW YORK ­ Human Rights Watch says the Zimbabwe government is in
breach of its international obligations by not fully disclosing information
on the availability of food in the country and by tolerating abuse of access
to food by local authorities or members of the ruling ZANU PF party.

      In a briefing paper, released today, the group says Zimbabwe acceded
to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in
1991. This recognises the human right to adequate food: 'Compliance requires
that assistance to those in need be provided without discrimination on any
basis, and with respect for the principles of accountability and

      The group observes that in 2003 'Zimbabweans who were suspected or
actual supporters of the main opposition party (Movement for Democratic
Change) were routinely excluded from purchasing maize' from government's
Grain Marketing Board (GMB). 'Vulnerable persons, including many farm
workers formerly employed by commercial farmers, were also excluded from
food aid'. Human Rights Watch fears that this discrimination will continue.

      In May 2004 the government predicted a bumper harvest and announced
that Zimbabwe does not require general food aid from the international
community.. 'The government has not, however, provided any information or
data to support this prediction. .. This year's actual crop yield is thus

      Human Rights Watch in its paper deplores that international food aid
in the past has been 'undermined by the highly opaque nature of
information ­ made possible in large part by the government's crackdown on
the media and other basic civil liberties and political freedoms'.

      'The GMB refuses to publish detailed accounts of its imports or maize
purchases, leaving unknown its capacity to meet the basic food needs in
2004-05 of the estimated 4.8 million citizens who will become primarily
dependent on its subsidized maize program.'

      'By withholding vital information on grain availability, the
Zimbabwean government is gambling with its citizens' access to food,' said
Peter Takirambudde, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Africa
Division. 'Under international law, the government must take all necessary
steps to fully ensure its citizens' right to adequate food.'

      The group calls on the Zimbabwe government to 'publish all figures on
maize imported and traded internally as well as figures on the size of the
government's strategic maize reserve' and to 'invite the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on the Right to Food to Zimbabwe to report on the food situation
and allow him unrestricted access'.

      The group warns that access to maize distributed by the GMB 'is likely
to be subject to political interference in the pre-election period (before
the polls scheduled for March 2005), with supporters of the opposition
suffering most'.

      Human Rights Watch says the 'acute food shortages in Zimbabwe since
late 2001' are caused by 'erratic weather patterns, the fast track land
reform program's flawed implementation, and a shortage of agricultural

      'Other contributing factors include the government's mismanagement of
the economy, which has led to hyperinflation, shortage of foreign currency
and high unemployment; and HIV/AIDS, which has infected almost 25 percent of
Zimbabwe's population.' ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe police detain minors for two days
Fri 13 August 2004

      MUTARE  -  Police in Zimbabwe detained four primary school children
for two days for allegedly breaching the Public Order and Security Act.

      The children, who were part of a group of 13 people arrested by police
on August 6, were only released after their shaken and weeping mothers paid
a total of Z$350 000 in fines for them.

      The incident took place at Middle Sabi in Chipinge North, about 200
kilometers south of Mutare.

      The minors, all aged below 14, are pupils at the local primary school.
They were arrested after they had allegedly thrown stones at a car belonging
to a local ZANU PF official.

      According to eye witnesses the children were playing around in the
school grounds when the police rounded them up and took them to Middle Sabi
Police station.

      'The parents of the children came to the police station and had to
weep in front of the police officers. It was only then that they were
allowed to pay fines for their kids before they could be released,' said one
resident here who spoke on condition he was not named.

      The nine adults also arrested by the police for allegedly holding a
political meeting without police permission were on August 11 released on
bail of Z$10 000 each. Police accused them of belonging to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change and of having illegally held a political

      Under the Security Act Zimbabweans are not allowed to hold gatherings
of three or more people to discuss politics without first seeking permission
from the police.

      Children suspected of breaching the law are usually not kept in jail
but instead released into the custody of their parents or guardian who must
ensure they appear in court should they be required for trial.

      National police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he did not have the
details of the Chipinge incident when contacted yesterday. He advised
ZimOnline to talk to provincial spokesman, Edmund Maingire. Maingire was
said to be out of town on business. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

University of Zimbabwe sealed off by security forces
Fri 13 August 2004

      HARARE - Heavily armed soldiers and police details have sealed off the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) ahead of a graduation ceremony today to be
attended by President Robert Mugabe.

      Lecturers have threatened to disrupt the ceremony to bring to Mugabe's
attention their disgruntlement over poor pay and plummeting working
conditions at the state institution. And student leaders, speaking on
condition they were not named, yesterday said they were planning protests in
front of Mugabe today to 'awaken him to the parlous state of the nation.'

      State security agencies appeared to have moved to thwart any possible
trouble today. When ZimOnline visited the UZ, soldiers laden with guns,
batons and  teargas canisters and supported by patrol dogs maintained tight
security, thoroughly vetting anyone entering or leaving the campus. Only
students and lecturers carrying UZ identity cards were able to enter the

      Large swathes of open land adjacent to the university's soccer fields
were burnt to clear the long grass for easy surveillance of the campus, said
one police officer, who did not want to be named.

      Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka downplayed the heavy police presence
at the university: 'There is a state function at the UZ tomorrow and the
president will be there. This is quite normal.'

      About 3 000 students are scheduled to graduate in various disciplines
today.. Mugabe, who is the chancellor of the UZ and has traditionally capped
students, is expected to preside over the ceremony. ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Tsvangirai asks SADC for help
Fri 13 August 2004

      HARARE  - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called on
Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders, meeting for their
annual summit in Mauritius next week, to persuade President Robert Mugabe to
uphold the body's electoral norms and standards.

      Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is competing with
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party in a crucial parliamentary election scheduled
for March 2005.

      In his weekly address to Zimbabweans Tsvangirai said: 'Flawed
elections are a key source of our problems. Our objective is to raise the
conduct of our elections to the SADC standards to secure a legitimate

      'Elections should reflect the exercise of our sovereignty in the
selection of our leaders and never become open seasons for murder, torture,
beatings and violence.

      'We shall guard against that kind of behaviour in the run-up to March
2005. May I humbly ask Southern Africa, through the SADC summit in Mauritius
next week, to assist us in this regard, in particular in making sure that
the next election is held in accordance with the SADC norms and standards.'

      The SADC Parliamentary Forum norms and standards, among other things,
require elections to be conducted by independent bodies. Transparency,
justice, fairness and respect for individual rights are also key
requirements under the Forum's electoral rules and regulations.

      The SADC heads of government summit is expected to adopt its own set
of electoral standards and ethical rules which shall be binding on all
member states.

      Mugabe last month proposed the setting up of a new and independent
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to administer elections in the country. The
MDC says Mugabe is not sincere and the commission will still be beholden to
Mugabe who retains the power to hire or fire its chairperson. ZimOnline
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Zim Online

ANC Youth League: Use AU's peer review to solve Zimbabwe crisis
Fri 13 August 2004

      JOHANNESBURG -  The African National Congress's Youth League yesterday
called on Zimbabweans to resume dialogue to find a solution to the country's
deepening economic and political crisis.

      League spokesman Lawrence Venkile told ZimOnline neither South Africa
nor the region could impose a solution. He said the Zimbabwean problem
should be dealt with in the context of the African Union (AU). The Union's
Peer Review
      Mechanism (PRM) was one instrument that could be used to help find a

      Venkile said, 'The PRM provides a good platform for the AU to help
Zimbabwe pull out of its current crisis. It will be an effective tool to
find a solution to the political and social problems in Zimbabwe.'

      The Peer Review is voluntary. But an AU member country can be
subjected to the process if there are signs that it is descending into a
major political or economic crisis.

      Venkile also called on the international community not to discredit
President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms without addressing 'the
genuine andhistorical need to correct a skewed land tenure system' the
country inherited at independence in 1980.

      'It would be foolish to talk of the land reform without mentioning the
underlying historical dynamics. The British made commitments to fund the
programme and they should be held accountable.'

      At the Lancaster House conference that negotiated Zimbabwe's
independence in 1980, London undertook to pay for land purchased from mostly
British-descendant farmers for redistribution to landless blacks. London
withheld funding in the mid 1990s saying Harare was mismanaging land

      Venkile urged all stakeholders in Zimbabwe, including the country's
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU PF
party, to engage in dialogue to find a solution to the country's problems.

      In a story published earlier this week ZimOnline quoted a League
document posted on their website that described the MDC as a puppet party
sponsored by the West. The Youth League insists this paper was written in
2003 and was not meant to be discussed at their upcoming congress in
Johannesburg. ZimOnline

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SADC leaders under pressure to discuss Zimbabwe

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 12 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Southern African leaders are under
mounting pressure from pro-democracy groups to take action against alleged
repression in Zimbabwe ahead of a regional summit in Mauritius next week.

As Zimbabwean NGOs finalise plans to possibly make a submission to Southern
African Development Community (SADC) leaders in Mauritius, the Southern
African Catholic Bishops Conference this week called on the region to "take
stronger action, including the consideration of targeted sanctions, to
prevent further suffering" in Zimbabwe.

"The Zimbabwean situation of starvation and malnutrition, wilful political
violence and intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by the Zimbabwean
government demands stronger and transparent intervention by African
governments through the AU [African Union]," the bishops said in a

"With more than three million people displaced as a result of the crisis in
Zimbabwe, a generation of exiles and refugees has been created. This
situation cannot be allowed to continue - the government of Zimbabwe must
care for its own people."

The bishops added that "strong measures must be taken by the international
community to ensure a meaningful and honest election in Zimbabwe in 2005,
especially through sustained independent international and regional
monitoring of the pre-election process as a prerequisite for validating the
election itself".

Rights group Amnesty International (AI) said its members in Southern Africa
had written to their country's leaders, "calling on them to publicly and
jointly condemn the government of Zimbabwe for its violation of human

"The letters denounce a series of grave human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,
including: repressive laws that are used to criminalise peaceful gatherings,
as well as shut down independent media outlets and NGOs; government moves to
end international food aid distribution, despite independent warnings that
millions of Zimbabweans will need food aid in the coming year; systematic
government attacks on the independence of judges and lawyers; and failure to
investigate widespread allegations of torture and ill-treatment, including
rape, committed by security forces and 'youth' militia," AI said in a
statement on Thursday.

"Evidence suggests that an escalation in repression in Zimbabwe is already
underway, ahead of parliamentary elections. We are urging SADC leaders to
use this summit to demonstrate their commitment to protect human rights and
to hold governments accountable in the SADC region," AI said.

Zimbabwe's Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Bill, if passed by
parliament, will cut off donor funding to local civil society groups
involved in governance and human rights issues and give government greater
control over their operations.

At the opening of parliament on 20 July, President Robert Mugabe confirmed
that a new bill governing the operation of NGOs would be introduced to
replace the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. AFP quoted Mugabe as saying
that "NGOs must work for the betterment of our country and not against it".

"We cannot allow them to be conduits or instruments of foreign interference
in our national affairs," Mugabe reportedly said, adding that the new bill
would "ensure the rationalisation of the macro-management of all NGOs".

Brian Kagoro, chief executive of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a group
of pro-democracy NGOs, had earlier told IRIN that the proposed NGO bill
would make it illegal for civic groups to continue to operate as trusts
answerable only to boards of trustees and members.

On Thursday he said local NGOs were still considering whether or not to send
representatives to Mauritius with the intention of lobbying SADC leaders, as
they believed the NGO bill was contrary to SADC protocols on civil society.

"The real point is the role of civil society. The AU and SADC have defined
within several protocols and conventions, even within the context of NEPAD
[New Partnership for Africa's Development], a clear role for civil society,"
he noted.

Kagoro said "suggestions by the Zimbabwe government that civil society must
be answerable to government confuses the whole notion of free association,
and the right of civil society to act as a supportive and critical element
when the government fails [to uphold this]".

Through the NGO bill, the government "is attempting to ... create a civil
society that is uncritical; a civil society that acts as a conduit for the
legitimisation of the [government's actions] in Zimbabwe," he alleged.

Kagoro claimed the bill would also hamper the ability of NGOs to "monitor
the administration of development assistance and humanitarian aid, and to
make sure it is not politicised to the benefit of any party, especially the
ruling party. That there is an attempt [through] the bill to proscribe and
severely limit the role of civil society speaks volumes of the extent to
which they [government] intend to control the forthcoming elections".
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Zim NGO bill 'will be painful'
12/08/2004 20:10  - (SA)

Harare - A bill that would ban human rights groups in Zimbabwe and cut off
overseas funding to non-governmental organisations would hit ordinary
Zimbabweans hard, said an association of NGOs on Thursday.

With up to 80% of the population living under the poverty line, unemployment
hovering at between 60% and 80% and a quarter of the population with HIV and
Aids, the "NGO sector is a safety net and hope for the nation," said the
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango).

"Unfortunately the bill criminalises a sector that is providing social
safety nets to a lot of communities throughout the country," said Nango.

"The bill is hitting the ordinary men, women and children who are
beneficiaries of NGO services," it said.

A draft bill, which is set to be debated in parliament this year, seeks to
clamp down on NGOs through the banning of international human rights groups
from Zimbabwe and cut off overseas funding to local organisations promoting

Mugabe clamps down on 'conduits'

Nango represents about 700 non-governmental organisations, but an estimated
5 000 NGOs are working in Zimbabwe, most of them providing relief for HIV
and Aids.

If the bill is enacted, Nango said "it will do Zimbabwe more harm than

President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe must not allow NGOs "to be
conduits or instruments of foreign interference in our national affairs".

The leader confirmed that a bill tightening control on the NGOs would be
introduced in parliament during the present session, which is the last one
ahead of crucial legislative polls due in March next year.

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ZIMBABWE: Mugabe calls for "patriotic" students

IRINnews Africa, Thu 12 Aug 2004

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, - President Robert Mugabe on Monday said the government wanted
Zimbabwe's universities and tertiary colleges to produce "graduates that are
patriotic and loyal" rather than "enemies of the state".

Speaking at commemorations to mark Heroes Day, held annually to honour those
who died during the 16-year war for independence, Mugabe said Zimbabwe's
education system was turning out graduates who had become enemies of the
liberation struggle.

"We have noticed in the past that our institutions have produced graduates -
should I say graduates? - who have become enemies of the state. We have to
reshape and reorientate these 'graduates' to cherish the African personality
which Kwame Nkrumah talked about," Mugabe told thousands of people gathered
at the national shrine honouring the fallen just outside the capital,

"If our institutions have the capacity to produce enemies of the state, then
they are not good at all," Mugabe said in reference to past confrontations
with student demonstrators, who have protested against state corruption,
economic mismanagement and human rights abuses.

In the last few years the government has introduced a youth training
programme condemned by human rights groups for creating a ruling-party
militia, known as the Green Bombers, which has been used against the
opposition. Graduation from the youth programme has increasingly become a
criterion for university enrolment or access to public sector jobs.

The secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
Welshman Ncube, told IRIN the government's intention to create "loyal
graduates" would fail.

"The tragedy of such plans is that the idea comes from people who have an
infinite number of degrees attempting to curtail academic freedom and
expression of thought, which is what universities are in essence. Here is a
group of people who have benefited from academic freedom, but would like
others not to enjoy that freedom," Ncube said.
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From The New York Tiimes, 12 August

Donor mistrust worsens AIDS in Zimbabwe

By Sharon LaFraniere

Mabvuku - Edson Muchenjekwa says he spent three weeks persuading Alista
Bhero to overcome her rage at her husband, Khemist, for infecting her with
H.I.V., which has rendered her all but immobile at 42. He does not intend to
waste her time discussing a treatment. In Zimbabwe, where 1.8 million people
are H.I.V. positive and 360,000 need life prolonging antiretroviral drugs,
virtually the only ones who get them are the 5,000 who can afford them. The
Bheros are not among that select few. So instead, said Mr. Muchenjekwa, a
local charity worker, he will help the Bheros draft a will disposing of
their home, a four-room concrete-block cube in this teeming township outside
Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Then he will try to steel them to tell the six
Bhero children that they are about to become orphans. He does not relish the
task. "It is not easy to face death," he said. In fact, the Bhero family is
facing the sort of tragedy that unfolds daily throughout southern Africa,
the region hardest hit by an escalating AIDS epidemic. Zimbabwe, however, is
different. Relief workers here estimate that fewer than 1,000 Zimbabweans
receive antiretroviral drugs free through government or charitable programs,
with little hope of expanding that number.

In contrast, every neighboring country is giving antiretrovirals to 2 to 15
times as many people - and planning to expand treatment to tens of thousands
more within a year. The principal reason Zimbabwe is falling behind is that
President Robert G. Mugabe's increasingly repressive government has lost
foreign donors' trust that it will fairly or honestly channel money for
antiretroviral drugs to those who need it. Major foreign supporters in the
battle against the disease - the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria, the World Bank, the United States and Britain - are skirting
Zimbabwe or giving it a trickle of aid compared with the torrent they are
unleashing on governments they deem more reliable. That, many here say,
poses a wrenching question: Is it right to withhold life-saving aid from a
population because its rulers are viewed as likely to manipulate that aid
for political ends - or worse, steal it? In Zimbabwe, where roughly one in
four adults is infected with H.I.V. and more than 2,500 people a week die of
AIDS, relief workers do not consider the question academic.

The plight of this nation of more than 11 million people is evident at
Harare Central Hospital, where workers say just 23 patients are receiving
antiretroviral treatment and no more can be started until next year because
of lack on money. It is obvious at the Parirenyatwa city hospital, where,
local news reports say, the morgue reeks of bodies of AIDS victims whose
relatives cannot afford to bury them. And it can be seen at one
seven-year-old cemetery south of Harare, where more than 14,000 people have
already been buried just 18 inches apart, and workers say they dig about 25
graves each day. On the crowded streets of Mabvuku, Mr. Muchenjekwa said, 50
people a day come to Island Hospice, where he works, to seek help for the
dying. A neighbor, he says, alerted the organization to the Bheros' case.
Mrs. Bhero tried to sum up the situation last week in her tiny living room,
her 2-year-old son on her lap: "Our life is just falling apart. We don't
know what to do. We are panicking."

So, to some degree, are Zimbabwean health officials. Last month they lost in
a bid for $218 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria. One United Nations official said evaluations raised concerns,
including whether Zimbabwe's government could be trusted to enlist
independent groups in its AIDS fight. "I am very angry about it because many
people are going to die because of these heartless people,'' David
Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe's minister of health, said in an interview last month
with The Standard, an independent weekly. The government has refused to
comment to foreign reporters. Officials from the Global Fund and other
relief agencies say heartlessness has nothing to do with it. Rather, they
say they are trying to save as many lives as possible without channeling
money to untrustworthy governments. Critics of Mr. Mugabe note that his
government has persecuted political opponents, all but shut down the
independent media and seized land from white farmers, shriveling farm output
and driving the economy into the ground. "They are not spending their money
well, so why would they spend ours well?'' asked a European diplomat whose
government had restricted aid. The Bush administration came to much the same
conclusion, excluding Zimbabwe last year from the president's five-year, $15
billion emergency AIDS plan that focuses on 12 African countries, plus
Haiti, Vietnam and Guyana.

The United States is spending just $20 million a year to battle AIDS in
Zimbabwe, one-third less than it has devoted to Botswana, a nation with less
than one-sixth Zimbabwe's population. The British government gives about $11
million a year - and would give more, a spokesman suggested, if Mr. Mugabe
made political and economic changes. The World Bank, which has granted more
than $1 billion to other African countries to fight AIDS, pulled out of
Zimbabwe four years ago after the government defaulted on its debts. So did
the International Monetary Fund and the Danes, who had given millions every
year to humanitarian and development projects in Zimbabwe. But it was the
rejection from the Global Fund, designed to pool contributions from all
foreign donors and to distribute them on an apolitical basis, that brought
home Zimbabwe's isolation. Zimbabwe sought money to provide antiretroviral
drugs to 70,000 people - less than one-fifth of those in need. Although
Global Fund officials insisted that the rejection was not politically
motivated and could be appealed, many relief workers here took it as a sign
that international donors had dealt Zimbabwe a death sentence. "I personally
feel this is very unfair,'' said Bernard Mokam, program director for the
United Nations's development agency here. "I personally do not comprehend
that the donor community could continue to refuse to support people in need
for political reasons. H.I.V.-AIDS should be dealt with as a humanitarian
issue. This is just unacceptable.''

Still, no one, including Mr. Mokam, disputes that Zimbabwe's government is
making life difficult for donors and the charities they subsidize even when,
as in the case of AIDS, the government pledges its full cooperation. Fear
that the government will misspend the money has delayed release of a $10
million AIDS grant from the Global Fund that was approved two years ago.
That sort of mistrust permeates relations between the government and
outsiders seeking to help it. For example, Mr. Mugabe's government not only
forced the United Nations in the spring to scale back a general feeding
program that has sustained millions during three years of crop failures, but
barred United Nations specialists from measuring the fall harvest that ended
in June. The government insists a bumper crop will more than cover the
nation's needs. But foreign specialists say they suspect Mr. Mugabe is
reducing foreign food aid in advance of next year' s national election so
that he can reward supporters with warehoused stocks of government maize,
and withhold it from opponents.

Mr. Mugabe also keeps nongovernmental organizations on a short leash - and
intends to restrain them further. Zimbabwe's few remaining donors of drugs
and medical services tend to bypass the Harare government by channeling AIDS
donations to local nongovernmental organizations or giving them directly to
clinics or laboratories. But in July, Mr. Mugabe announced that the
government would rein in nongovernmental organizations that are "conduits or
instruments of interference in our national affairs." A draft government
bill would ban foreign groups involved in "issues of governance'' from
operating in the country. Although the legislation is apparently directed at
human rights groups, leaders of charities involved in AIDS work say it is
yet another sign of tightening control. All that adds up to what Mr. Mokam,
the United Nations development official in Harare, diplomatically describes
as "an extremely challenging environment" in which to battle an epidemic.
Even his agency, which is trying to act as a bridge between Zimbabwe and the
international community, has adopted a more cautious approach toward its
work in Zimbabwe. After United Nations and Zimbabwean officials failed in
negotiations to agree on an assessment of the country's situation, including
the government's attitude toward human rights, United Nations officials
decided to extend development assistance for just two years, rather than the
five-year program that is standard for most developing nations. "We could
not commit to a five-year program," Mr. Mokam said. "We don't know where
this country will be in five years."

Stella Monda, 39, a mother of three, does not expect to live long enough to
find out. Her husband, an accountant for a local company, died 14 years ago
of AIDS. Her glazed eyes and history of hospitalization suggest she soon
will follow him. Her 12-year-old son, her youngest, is also infected with
the virus. In an interview last week, she said she had no idea who would
look after him and his two older sisters. Of Ms. Monda's six siblings, four
have died of AIDS. "Those who I expected would look after my children have
all died,'' she said. She expects nothing from her husband's relatives.
After he died, she said, they took everything the couple owned, leaving her
with a few stools, plates and a hot plate. She now lives in her parents'
house in Mabvuku without even a table - and no food to serve when her last,
small plastic container of cornmeal runs out. She say she survives on the
generosity of neighbors and tries to ward off constant waves of depression
by crocheting. "My aspirations are gone,'' she said. "What I expected from
life is no longer the case. I wanted to fend for my family. To have my
children lead a decent life. To send them to school. To eat good food. To
have a furnished house. I can't do any of that any more," she said. AIDS
"has wrecked everything for me."
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