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

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Sunday Times, SA

US envoy barred from Zim victims

Saturday August 13, 2005 17:16 - (SA)

By Carole Landry

HARARE - US envoy Tony Hall was barred on Saturday from visiting a
settlement for Zimbabweans displaced during a government demolitions
campaign as Washington got behind a major food aid plan for Zimbabwe.

On the final day of a three-day visit, Hall announced a donation of 51.8
million dollars to buy 73,500 metric tons of food aid for southern Africa,
the bulk of which will go to Zimbabwe struggling with severe food shortages.

"All of us are very, very worried about the very near future, the next few
months, because we are going into a period where we don't think there is
going to be enough food in this country," Hall told a news conference in

Hall earlier travelled to Hopely Farm, on the outskirts of Harare, where
some 2,300 people have been living out in the open for the past three weeks
after their homes were razed in the government's urban cleanup campaign.

But the US ambassador was told he needed permission to visit the settlement
run by the Zimbabwean military.

"I was told in a hushed tone that the government doesn't want me to see this
place because old people are dying," said Hall, the US ambassador to the UN
food agencies, based in Rome.

"We can't address the suffering of these people if we can't see and assess
their needs." Zimbabwe has come under harsh criticism from the United
Nations and western governments for carrying out a 10-week demolitions
campaign that ended in late July, razing shacks, homes, market stalls and
small businesses.

A UN report said that 700,000 Zimbabweans had lost their homes or
livelihoods, or both, in the cleanup blitz that the government described as
an urban renewal campaign to get rid of crime and grime.

Hall said the food crisis in Zimbabwe was "exasperated by government
policies that are going to hurt these people." The US donation is a major
boost to the UN World Food Programme which is in talks with the Zimbabwean
government on a large-scale food relief effort to reach 4.3 million
Zimbabweans, up from the
current one million that are receiving assistance.

WFP regional director Mike Sackett said an agreement could be reached
"hopefully in the coming days" with the government on a large-scale food aid
plan to reach about a third of Zimbabweans in the country of about 13

The food shortage in Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa,
stems from drought and a drop in agricultural output following the
government's seizure of about 4,000 white-owned commercial farms in 2000.

The economy is also reeling from severe fuel shortages due to a foreign
currency crunch, hyperinflation and unemployment hovering at 70 percent.

Zimbabwe also has one of the world's highest HIV/Aids caseloads, with an
estimated one in four adults infected with the virus, according to UN

The US envoy, who travelled to Zimbabwe in 2002, met with Social Welfare
Minister Nicholas Goche who insisted that the government is coping.

Hall raised with the minister complaints from aid organisations over the
distribution of food aid, citing one case of a 10,000-ton shipment held up
in Durban, South Africa due to bureaucratic hurdles and a second delivery of
15,000 tons awaiting government permission to be handed out in Zimbabwe.

"We often times go into situations where the government is difficult," said
Hall. "This is one of them. I have not seen anything like this."

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US Envoy Blasts Zimbabwe Government Interference In Aid Efforts

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--A senior U.S. diplomat, who was barred from meeting
victims of President Robert Mugabe's mass eviction campaign, on Saturday
criticized government interference with aid efforts and warned that there
would be outrage in U.S. Congress over the worsening humanitarian crisis.

Tony Hall, a Rome-based U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food agencies, announced
that the U.S. would donate $51.8 million worth of food relief to Zimbabwe
and the neighboring drought-stricken countries of Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho
and Swaziland.

The 73,500-ton donation will be sufficient to feed 5 to 6 million people for
one month, he told reporters at Harare airport.

"Despite our differences with the government, the United States will stand
by the people of Zimbabwe because there is no place for politics when it
comes to feeding hungry people," Hall said at the end of a three-day visit.
But he warned that the donation "only scratched the surface of an
essentially political problem."

Zimbabwe's security forces prevented Hall and his entourage from making a
scheduled visit to Hopley Farm, on the capital's outskirts, to investigate
claims that 700,000 urban poor were left homeless or without jobs as a
result of the eight-week "Operation Murambatsvina", or "Drive Out Filth."
Many were evicted into midwinter cold in May-July.

"I was told in a hushed tone that the government doesn't want me to see this
place because old people are dying," Hall said. He said the official reason
given was that the military ran the site and the delegation needed a special
visitors permit from the information ministry.

Human rights lawyers last week dismissed claims of improved conditions at
Hopley, saying it was "nothing but a new transit camp."

Hall, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the
World Food Program, said he was distressed by conditions in Hatcliff
township outside Harare, which he visited early Friday.

"I had several people come up to me and ask me for blankets and food. They
don't have enough to keep themselves warm ... their children are hungry. One
gentleman spoke of the night he was evicted - police arrived with no notice,
driving him and others out with dogs. He was forced to sleep outside for a
week during the coldest time of winter."

Hall said Zimbabwean bureaucracy was keeping 10,000 tons of U.S. relief
organizations' food aid "bottled up" in the South African port of Durban,
over alleged lack of import licenses, while another organization had not
been given permission to distribute 15,000 tons already here.

An aid convoy from the South African Council of Churches has also been held
up for nearly a week as the Zimbabwe government insists on certificates to
prove that it contains no genetically modified food.

The WFP predicts that up to 4 million of Zimbabwe's 12 million people may
suffer from food shortages. Before March elections, Mugabe predicted a 2.4
million ton maize harvest and told relief organizations not to choke
Zimbabwe with unwanted aid. Officials now say they have secured 1.8 million
tons from neighboring South Africa and do not need to make any formal appeal
for help.

However, Hall said he was "very worried" about the coming months because "we
are going into a period when we don't think there is going to be enough food
in this country."

Hall believed a proposed visit to Zimbabwe by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan "would bring tremendous pressure to bear on this government."

Mugabe, 81, and in power since 1980 independence, has said he is prepared to
show Annan progress in rehousing those evicted by Operation Murambatsvina.

Hall, meanwhile, said he would speak with U.S. government officials. "Don't
forget I have a lot of friends in the U.S. Congress," said Hall, who served
for 24 years on Capitol Hill. "And they are going to be outraged."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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Only one SACC truck to leave for Zim

August 13, 2005, 09:45

Only one of three humanitarian relief supply trucks will leave for Zimbabwe
today, said the SA Council of Churches (SACC).

Eddie Makue, the SACC deputy secretary-general, said the Zimbabwean
government had failed to issue the council with a duty free certificate for
two of the trucks. Three trucks - one containing blankets and the others
food - were supposed to leave for Zimbabwe this morning. "We have
intervention from the highest authority, but there's a Zimbabwean official
who is delaying the process. Otherwise, the trucks are sealed and ready to

He said Zimbabwean authorities had told the council they would issue the
certificate by 2pm yesterday. The trucks have been standing idle in
Johannesburg for about a week after the Zimbabwean government refused to
issue clearance certificates because they feared maize on board could be
genetically modified.

The South African agriculture department intervened to facilitate the
necessary paperwork.

The SACC is co-ordinating a relief effort for thousands of people who have
been displaced by a Zimbabwean government operation which has seen the
destruction of slums and other informal settlements. - Sapa

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IPS News

Whither Civil Society?
Moyiga Nduru

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 13 (IPS) - As Zimbabwe has slipped deeper into political
and economic turmoil over the past five years, the role of civil society in
helping the country to address its problems has come under increasing

Tapera Kapuya, a former Zimbabwean student leader who now lives in South
Africa, believes that civic organisations in Southern Africa as a whole are
slowly coming to grips with the various challenges facing Zimbabwe.

"There's now a growing awareness, (more) than two or three years ago," he
told IPS. Kapuya studies law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the port
city of Durban, and is also Africa secretary at the International Union of
Students. He was expelled from the University of Zimbabwe, detained and
tortured, in 2001.

"There's now a growing awareness that it's not Blair who razed down people's
houses. It's not Bush who tortured people in Zimbabwe," added Kapuya.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has accused Western governments,
including those of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President
George Bush, of plotting to undermine his country.

Another Zimbabwean activist, Simon Spooner, says that the urban demolition
campaign which got underway in his country recently may have served as a
turning point for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The campaign,
dubbed 'Operation Murambatsvina' (a Shona term meaning "drive out the
filth") has claimed the homes of 700,000 people since May. Authorities say
the initiative was aimed at reducing crime, and ridding towns of illegally
constructed buildings.

"The demolition brought civil societies and the international community to
their senses," Spooner told IPS. However, he believes that NGOs should have
adopted a more decisive approach towards Zimbabwe some time ago.

"If they had acted earlier they would have prevented a lot of suffering,"
noted Spooner, who says he has been "detained a number of times" by
officials in his country. "It has taken this degree of suffering to convince
civil societies to realise the extent of the tragedy in Zimbabwe."

On Jun. 23, a coalition of more than 200 African and international NGOs
issued an unprecedented joint appeal to the United Nations and the African
Union for intervention to help Zimbabweans whose houses were demolished. The
U.N. Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka,
has issued a damning report on Operation Murambatsvina.

"Now the churches are coming on board and the pressure is gaining momentum.
I don't think they can ignore the problem of Zimbabwe which they are now
committed to addressing," added Spooner.

Two weeks ago the South African Council of Churches sent a batch of relief
aid to Zimbabwe to help victims of the urban campaign. The consignment
included 4,500 blankets and 37 tonnes of maize, beans and oil.

The council is now trying to send another three trucks loaded with food and
other essentials. However, the aid has been prevented from entering
Zimbabwe, apparently because officials from that country want proof that
food supplies are not genetically modified (GM). South Africa's Department
of Agriculture confirmed Thursday that the food was free of any GM products.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe has witnessed controversial farm seizures, and three
elections marred by allegations of irregularities and rights abuses - most
of which were directed against the opposition. The farm occupations were
initially portrayed as an attempt by liberation war veterans and other
militants to rectify racial imbalances in land ownership - a legacy of
British colonial rule. However, government critics claim the seizures were
orchestrated by officials in a bid to gain votes in the 2000 parliamentary

An estimated 4.5 million Zimbabweans have left their country for greener
pastures. According to Daniel Molokela, a Zimbabwean lawyer who works for
the Peace and Democracy Project, an NGO based in Johannesburg, South Africa
alone hosts more than two million Zimbabweans. Molokela is involved in
organising members of Zimbabwe's diaspora to push for change in their home

Along with drought, the farm occupations have contributed to widespread food
shortages in Zimbabwe. The United Nations World Food Programme believes 4.2
million Zimbabweans will need food aid during the coming months.

Events of the past five years have also brought about severe economic
decline in the country. Inflation is currently running at about 140 percent
and foreign currency reserves are low, leading to acute shortages of fuel
and other basic commodities. Unemployment stands at 75 percent , while over
70 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, according to
the International Monetary Fund.

Not all civil society activists share the view that NGOs have smelt the
coffee as far as Zimbabwe is concerned.

"When it comes to donor-Africa relations, African civil societies are very
critical. But when domestic issues with international implications such as
Zimbabwe's come into play, we don't hear similar outbursts," Sam Dube of
Zimbabwe Action, a South Africa-based pressure group, told IPS.

"This is a double standard. We hope civil societies in Southern Africa will
come out clean and denounce human rights abuses whether they happen in
Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo or anywhere on the continent."

Spooner urges civil society groups to close ranks in support of Zimbabweans.

"The struggle in Zimbabwe is between its people and their government. This
makes it difficult for the people who don't have resources, access to the
media and transport to push for change," he said. "We can't print stories
because we don't have the medium. This is why we need support from our
African brothers and sisters." (END/2005)
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Comment from The Guardian Weekly (UK), 13 August

The whacky professor

John Sutherland

The past few weeks have been very bad for my profession (professoring, that
is). First Professor Albus Dumbledore had something very unpleasant happen
to him at the end of HP6 that can't be mentioned until everyone has read the
book. Then it was reported that China had conferred an honorary
professorship on Robert Mugabe from its Foreign Affairs University. The
appointment was "in recognition of his excellency's outstanding research and
remarkable contribution in the work of diplomacy and international
relations". Given his excellency's recent efforts with the bulldozer, a
chair in urban planning might have been appropriate. But Zimbabwe's
president is a man of many scholarly parts.

Mugabe's title is unusual. One is familiar with emeritus professors (ie dead
but won't lie down); adjunct professors (don't give up the other job, this
one won't last); titular professors (call yourself professor, but don't
expect more money); endowed professors (particularly piquant when named
after someone like Murdoch, Archer or, in my case, Lord Northcliffe).
America, true to the egalitarian zeal of its founding fathers, appoints
everyone in the business a professor, with assistant and associate
professors at the bottom, one up from latrine cleaners. At the top are "off
scale" (ie fat cat) professors - one notch down from God. Honorary doctors
are 10 a penny. Mugabe was awarded one in law from Michigan State University
(MSU) in 1990, which is presumably why he feels free to doctor the
Zimbabwean legal system as he sees fit. Perhaps the MSU legal faculty
perceives that he's done outstanding research in its discipline as well.
There have been demands from the student body that he be un-doctored (see But MSU seems disinclined to take action. President
for life, doctor for life, professor for life. Universities, like tyrannies,
never make mistakes.

Honorary professors are, I think, rare verging on unique - the unicorn of
the academic menagerie. But the title for someone from Mugabe's part of the
world may carry uncomfortable overtones: apartheid South African had a
racial category called "honorary whites". It was particularly useful when
dark-hued Asian business people and politicians happened to be visiting. In
the administration of his new responsibilities Professor Mugabe (honoris
causa) has various role models to choose from. The absent-minded professor
pose might suit him and cover up the debilities of age. The heroic
professorial style may also appeal. Indiana Jones is a professor
(anthropology, Harvard) as is Robert Langdon (symbology, Harvard), who
cracks the Da Vinci code and brings the Catholic church to its knees (so to
speak). Most likely is that Mugabe will follow the noble tradition of
punitive professoring. There is, one feels, more of Snape than Dumbledore in
him. One foresees a reincarnation of the flagellomaniac Professor
("Whacko!") Jimmy Edwards. Plenty of whacko on the way in the townships, no
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Eat the quelea birds

Dear Family and Friends,
In a report this week the Washington based Centre for Global Development
said that the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean had plunged to
levels that prevailed over 50 years ago in 1953. The CGD, which tracks
economic and developmental trends, said that gains made by Zimbabwe over
the past five decades had been wiped away in the last six years. The CGD
said that the scale and speed of income decline in Zimbabwe was greater
than that seen during recent conflicts in the Ivory Coast, the DR Congo
and Sierra Leone. These are chilling figures to try and take in and it is
very, very hard to see how Zimbabwe can come back from where it is without
radical and dramatic changes at every single level.

Ever since the March elections, we have been slipping backwards and the
pace has accelerated with each passing week. Inflation is soaring again,
almost all basic commodities have disappeared from our shelves, fuel is
virtually unobtainable, electricity supplies are erratic and the water, in
my home town anyway, has literally been unfit to drink for the last
fortnight. The country is in a state of almost complete paralysis and it
is utterly absurd that we are sitting here like beggars waiting for a
multi million dollar loan from South Africa when right there, on our front
door step, nature is again holding out the key to change as summer

For the last half century Zimbabwe has fed itself from her own fields. We
have survived crippling repeated years of drought. We mastered the art of
growing crops that we could export in order to earn foreign currency; we
filled our silos and warehouses in abundant years to see us through the
bad seasons we knew would invariably follow. We built dams and reservoirs
and dug wells and boreholes to give us water in dry times. We learnt to
grow flowers under floodlights and exotic vegetables in plastic tunnels,
to rear ostriches for their leather and to make fuel from ethanol and

And now, hah, what shame upon Zimbabwe and her leaders with their masters
degrees and doctorates. Now, in 2005, we wait for South Africa to give us
food. We have no foreign money to buy fuel. Our fields are unploughed, our
lands unprepared for the new season. Every year, as we get poorer and
hungrier there is an excuse, a reason why, having produced more than
enough food for fifty years, now we can't do it anymore. Our national
newspaper tells us that our winter wheat crop has been severely depleted
this year because Quelea birds are eating the grain. It does not tell us
how, for half a century, our commercial farmers managed to keep bread on
our tables and flour in our shops. Instead it tells us that this week the
price of a loaf of bread went from four and half to seven thousand dollars
and it tells us that instead of going hungry we should eat the Quelea
birds that are stealing the national wheat crop. The Herald newspaper
tells us we should find ways of catching, killing and canning Quelea birds
and then exporting them to Europe for gourmet restaurants. Oh please, what
shame, what utter shame. Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy
buckle 13 August 2005.

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Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe

In the wake of Zimbabwe's 'tsunami':
Operation Murambatsvina - the aftermath
Sokwanele Report : 13 August 2005

Robert Mugabe and those of his partners in crime responsible for the crime against humanity called Operation Murambatsvina, would like nothing better than that the media should move their attention on to other things. But that is the one thing the independent press and the international media must not do at any cost. Mugabe and his apologists would far prefer that Zimbabweans, and the world, should accept the fiction that the military operation is over, the deed is done, and the government is now engaged in the next (positive) phase of rebuilding. But that is so much fiction. The reality is altogether different, and for three reasons.

First, the destructive phase is not yet over, as reports from around the country confirm. Second, the so-called rebuilding phase, Operation Garikai, is patently nothing other than window dressing - frantic damage control by the regime, without any real substance, after a particularly damaging episode (from their point of view) of exposure to the truth. And third, the catastrophic consequences of Operation Murambatsvina are not yet over. Far from it. In fact, just as the full extent of the suffering caused by a natural tsunami only becomes evident some time after the tidal wave has struck, so are Zimbabweans only now beginning to see the huge damage inflicted by their man-made tsunami. There is still a story to be told. We dare not fall for the Mugabe fiction, and the world's free press dare not shy away because of the difficulties or dangers of following the story in a country under fascist rule.

Certainly it is not easy to get the facts - and nor is that by chance, because the regime is working around the clock to remove its unfortunate victims from view, closing down the notorious transit camps and dumping the victims as far into the rural areas as possible. And yes, in what is effectively a police state, there is surely a measure of risk both for those willing to talk of their traumatic experiences and for those recording them. But that it can be done was again proved this week by one of our reporters. This is what he found on speaking to pastors and church workers still actively involved in caring for the homeless and destitute who, until they were forcibly and unlawfully removed by the riot police, had been receiving succour and support from a number of churches in and around Bulawayo. (To protect our informants we shall not give their names)

Of the more than a thousand victims concerned, the church has already re-established contact with 770 of them, and is pressing on with the task of finding the remainder. This is no mean feat, but faithful pastors and active lay workers have willingly taken upon themselves the gruelling task of locating the displaced victims, finding where they have been dumped by the police after their forced removals, and making contact again. Thereafter the church leaders have resumed their task of feeding and caring for those with no other means of support.

One of those most closely involved in this mission of mercy said that in his experience less than 5 per cent of those hurriedly dumped in remote locations had been able to secure a place they might again call "home" or even a prospect of shelter, food or the basic necessities of life. He related how many of the victims had been moved five or six times in recent weeks - from their original homes in Killarney or Ngozi Mine, to a church; then onwards to another church to link up with family members from whom they had become separated; before being forcibly removed by the riot police, first to the holding camp at Helensvale Farm and then onwards to a rural dumping place; and finally back, usually by foot, to somewhere close to where they had started from.

Moreover the link between the rural destinations chosen by the police to relocate the victims and the victims themselves was at best tenuous, and at worst non-existent. Like some of those of Malawian descent who described to one of the pastors how their interrogation proceeded:

Police: "Where is your home ?"
Victim: "In Malawi."
Police: "Have you heard of a place called Tsholotsho ?"
Victim: "Yes."
Police: "Then that is where we are taking you."

Recalling that these are all people who live well below the bread line at the best of times, and that the police and State agents who transported them from one site to another, offered them neither food nor blankets en route, one can begin to appreciate their desperate plight. Long before they were finally put out of the police vehicles at their intended rural destinations, they were all in a very low state, both physically and emotionally. Most were dumped unceremoniously outside the offices of the local district administrator, in either Tsholotsho or Gwanda, in Nkayi or Esigodini. Some were simply dumped along the roadside, like the two men whom one of our informants had spoken to, who were put down by the road in the Matobo area and later found sheltering in the hills among the rocks. No food, no shelter, no relatives, no money - and certainly not one iota of compassion from those responsible for their predicament. Such is the plight of those whom Zimbabwe's dictator deems so much "filth" to be "swept away".

Some did not make it.

Like Sophie Sithole, a middle-aged woman who had been sheltering at the Brethren in Christ Church in Lobengula West, but who became so distressed on hearing of the other forceful evictions through the long night of July 20th, that when the riot police arrived at her church she suffered a heart attack, from which she died a few hours later. (She had no known medical history of a heart complaint)

Or like Amina Muponda, a 12 year old girl (again with no known prior medical condition) who was forcibly removed from the Church of the Ascension to the transit camp where she contracted flu and died within 24 hours. (Amina's parents were subsequently prohibited by the police from entering the transit camp to view her body. She was given a pauper's burial which neither her close family nor even her pastor were permitted to attend).

Or Lameck Nkomo, a young man in his 30s, who was known to be ill when he was removed forcibly from the transit camp and transported to Tsholotsho. There he was dumped by the police and told to make his own way to his rural home some 50 kilometres distant. Lameck had a known medical condition and had been warned in the strongest terms by his doctor that he should not on any account drink any alcohol. For him the whole nightmare of destruction and forced removals proved just too much. He told those around him "I don't want to go on any more. I've had enough". From someone, somehow, he solicited a bottle of beer. He drank it down and died soon after.

Or the older man (name unknown) who, when his hut at Ngozi Mine was demolished, simply wandered off into the bush - his decomposing body later to be found nearby.

Or the 4 month old child from Killarney who was given shelter with her parents at Agape Church, but who had already contracted pneumonia from her earlier exposure to the cold, and who died at the church.

And no doubt, many others besides. Bulawayo pastors indeed confirmed to our reporter 6 known deaths closely related to Murambatsvina. And how many others, we ask, are still to come to light in this region or elsewhere, the more so in places where the Church has not played such a high profile role in support of the victims ? And how many others again whose deaths will just pass unnoticed and unrecorded ?

No, Murambatsvina is not over yet, and certainly the effects of the devastating aftermath will be felt for many years to come. For hundreds of thousands of victims life can never be the same again. Which makes it all the more important that we continue to track events on the ground closely, and to monitor and record as many as possible of the gross human rights abuses perpetrated. The world needs to know the scale of the disaster that is still unfolding, and human rights lawyers and others must continue to record the violations of national and international law so that, as Anna Tibaijuka, the UN Special Envoy has recommended, all those responsible will be held to account.

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The Age, Australia

Australia gives another $1m to Zimbabwe
August 13, 2005 - 2:54PM

Australia has committed a further $1 million in aid to Zimbabwe, to help
victims of the Mugabe government's widely condemned urban clean-up drive.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the aid will be delivered by the
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to help those most at risk,
including children, pregnant women and the chronically ill.

"Our funds will provide clean water and sanitation, health care, blankets,
shelter and household items and support child protection programs," Mr
Downer said in a statement.

Zimbabwe has been condemned by the UN and Western countries for its
so-called clean-up campaign that has seen the demolition of shanty towns
where thousands of Zimbabweans live.

The UN has been told 700,000 people have lost their homes or jobs, while
more than two million others have also been affected.

"These appalling events in Zimbabwe come on top of the economic collapse,
severe food shortages and 70 per cent unemployment caused by the disastrous
policies of the Mugabe government," Mr Downer said.

He said Australia was at the forefront of international action against
Zimbabwe, with sanctions in place against the Robert Mugabe regime.

"But we make an exception for humanitarian assistance to help ordinary
Zimbabweans who are the victims of their government's human rights abuses
and gross economic mismanagement."

The $1 million comes on top of previous aid announced in July, which
included $2.5 million through the World Food Program and $90,000 in relief
items through the International Organisation for Migration and CARE

© 2005 AAP

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U.S. ambassador voices frustration at humanitarian talks with Zimbabwe
Friday August 12, 2005
Associated Press Writer
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) A senior U.S. diplomat said Friday he did not believe
Zimbabwe's government was committed to preparing for food shortages that are
expected to affect some 4 million people in the troubled country in southern

Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. World Food Program and Food and
Agriculture Organization, met with Housing Minister Nicholas Goche after
touring a poor township where 30,000 people were evicted during President
Robert Mugabe's recent clampdown on the urban poor.

Hall said he asked Goche ``a lot of questions about food aid'' and whether
the government was prepared to cope with the expected shortages.

``And they (the Zimbabwean government) said yes, they are prepared,'' said

``I am very frustrated. I do not think they have the commitment,'' he told
The Associated Press. He did not elaborate.

Zimbabwe's economy and commercial agriculture have collapsed since Mugabe
ordered the seizure of 5,000 white-owned farms in 2000, blaming whites for
mounting opposition to his rule.

Mugabe had predicted of a ``bumper harvest,'' but his officials now say they
will accept 1.8 million tons of corn, a staple for Zimbabwe's 12 million
people, from neighboring South Africa. They say they would welcome any
additional aid if it came without restrictions and contained no genetically
modified content.

Hall declined to comment on whether humanitarian crisis stemmed from
Mugabe's 25-year rule of Mugabe: ``If we allowed the politics to govern us
we would be in trouble. We are here for a humanitarian purpose.''

Before meeting Goche, Hall visited a poor area of the capital where 30,000
people were evicted into midwinter cold in May-July in Mugabe's ``Operation
Murambatsvina'' (Drive Out Filth), which demolished shacks, houses,
extensions and prefabricated cabins the government itself provided when the
settlement was established.

The opposition Movement for Democratic change alleged the government was
deliberately driving disaffected urban voters back to rural areas where they
could be intimidated by denial of access to food.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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New Zimbabwe

Freedom after expression

By Chenjerai Hove
Last updated: 08/13/2005 12:26:42
Many years ago in my country, Zimbabwe, a writer was arrested for making
some drunken remarks about the President.

'Can I have two presidents, please?' the writer had asked. The writer was
simply wanting to buy two bananas from a vendor at the market, of course,
with a little accompaying humour. But it so happened that the name of our
president that time was Mr Banana, and the ears of those employed to get
angry on behalf of the president were within earshot. As the police officer
was locking him away in a police cell, the writer asked the officer: 'Excuse
me, why are you locking yourself out?'

The officer was stunned and went to report to his boss, who immediately
declared the prisoner 'a bit mad' and released him without charge after a
few slaps on the face.

'Words cause itches in the private parts of the republic', I once wrote in
one of my long poems. After a public reading, a secret service agent came to
find out what I might be meaning by that? I professed total ignorance and
wondered what he understood by the two lines. He thought they meant 'the
private parts of the president.' I argued that it was his own
interpretation, not mine.

Writers and prison. A writer's language describes and names visible and
invisible prisons. Sometimes those who think they are free, are in the most
painful prisons. The idea of a president being locked up in an eternal
motorcade for twenty-five years can only remind me of someone who has been
in prison for life. Wordsmiths, that is, writers and journalists, are, in
oppressive systems, an extremely endangered species. African governments
have the illusion that writers and journalists are the government's unpaid
public relations officers. And the politicians are not about to give up that
illusion. We are supposed to paint the glorious and happily-ever-after
banner for our country, never the sad tears and pain our governments
sometimes cause us.

All we know and cling to is the knowledge that we are the public relations
of officers of true human hearts and consciences. As creators, we are not
about to give up that principle, that eternal dream. But we know that part
of our task is to paint in words the sad tears trickling down our patriotic
cheeks, to write and record that we were present when such injustice and
violence descended on our village, our land, our street. Politicians are in
charge of making laws which put writers in prison. I have always wondered
why they fear writers.

'Who elected you to speak on behalf of the public?' I have always been
challenged by the politicians in my country. And they add: 'I was elected by
a constituency of voters, 40 000 of them. Who elected you?' I always
answered: 'My conscience elected me. You are elected for five years, I am
elected for life.' Thus the relationship between a writer and a politician
is established: a battle for constituencies. The politician dances to the
constituency of numbers. He/she wants a full stadium to address. In the
process, the politician hopes to capture the hearts and minds of the people.
But the writer is not interested in numbers. He/she is of the constituency
of mind. When the politician searches for the constituency of mind, he is
shocked to discover that the writer/artist has already occupied that space.
Hence, the anger begins.

The politician is in control of handcuffs, guns, prisons, the police, the
army, parliament, institutions of violence. The writer is only in control of
feable words, words which float in the wind like butterflies, language.
Words which can appear to be crushed with the hammer of political
oppression, with prison. Unfortunately, words, like the free wind, and the
smell of flowers,refuse to die, even after the politician's five-year
development plan has run out. Political and artistic language is different.
The writer fights to name things freely. The politician seeks to name things
for political gain through concealing truths or distorting them.

When once I wrote the draft speech of the Minister of Information for the
opening of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, she was respectful enough
not to change a word. Then she phoned me later and asked me to apply for the
civil servant job of director of information in her ministry. 'What would I
be doing every day?' I wanted to know. 'Your will write my speeches and the
speeches of other ministers,' she said.

Imagine, a writer being a speech writer, writing long speeches about the
current 'operation demolish poor people's dreams,' 'operation filth and
dirt.' 'operation follow the leader', 'operation imprisonment,' 'operation
eternal life for the leader,' etc. Many senseless 'operations' aimed at
destroying language and people. But the hidden purpose was more complex than
that: control of my words, my vision, my dreams and aspirations. Politicians
are not about to respect the freedom of language, of expression.

The current deputy minister of information in Zimbabwe says he is the 'de
facto' editor of the government daily, The Herald. He cannot countenance
leaving words in someone else's hands. Literature, art, by nature is
subversive, not in the sense of a desire to capture state house, but in the
sense of searching for that which is hidden, the echoes of the hidden, human
heart and mind. It is in the language of art that identity is discovered.
Our identity is the compendium of our sorrows and joys, our smiles and our
wounds, the very scars on which our history is recorded. Our historical and
geographical beauty and ugliness, our wisdom and its accompanying
foolishness. Our conquests and defeats. The way we search for meaning in
life, the illusions we cling to, our cruelty, everything. That is what art
searches for, because no human being is ever a one-word answer. We are
complex, and art celebrates that complexity.

In literature, words are like bullets which shoot the heart and the mind,
creating all sorts of images and metaphors which explode the human
imagination and the will to live a tense life full of human doubt and joy,
human freedom as it flowers amongst the social and political worms that seek
to kill it from inside and outside.

As writers, we have the duty to restore the proper names of things in a
complex, multifacetted dialogue. Oppressive political systems believe in a
social and political monologue. The head of state should not be criticised.
He should be allowed to run the country through a political and social
monologue until he dies. For the politician, the world is made up of many schools he built, bridges, clinics, stadiums, computers
distributed, rallies addressed, years spent in meaningless monologues in
state house. No, the writer, the artist, searches for something deeper: the
solitude of power, the solitude of huge crowds where everyone is,
politically, just 'the masses', 'my voters', 'my constituents.'

The writer searches for the hidden meaning of things, of human experience,
of possibilities and choices. As writers, we do not ask for too much: we
just demand the right to name the colours of our flowers, the intimate and
intricate music of our birds as they sing our sadness and joy, the turbulent
and rebellious hearts of our fellows, the funereal voices of social and
politial oppression, the cries of the lovers in each others' deadly and
joyous embraces, the celebrations of the free human soul searching for the
gods and the ancestors. The imprisonment of writers is a vain attempt to put
ideas in a cage so that the artist can be humiliated in the zoo of ideas
without possibilities and choices. Physical imprisonment is supposed to
exile us from the public. It is a form of physical and artistic tortute.
For, we poison the minds of the public, the youths, the women and men
reduced to manipulated machines by systems which specialise in torturing
ideas and the imagination. 'Your books are beatifully written,' one
education officer said to me. 'But we cannot put them in schools. They are
too political. If you remove the political bits, we will prescribe them for
children in schools,' he said. I can not imagine an adulterated version of
any of my novels. It would be an insult to the imagination and to

Oppressive political systems thrive on feeding the people on a diet of
illusions, of power, freedom, smiles, happiness, wealth to the dispossessed,
victory even at the height of oppression. A writer's task is to reject all
that, to continue to name things in their proper shapes and sizes, to search
for real meaning and complexity of the human condition. Exile, imprisonment,
silence, harassment, oppressive laws, the secret service, all those are
instruments created by our governments in order to torture human bodies and
free ideas.

'You can disappear anytime we want,' is the slogan that I have had to
confront for many years, from the men in dark glasses and suits. But even as
writers are in prison, they still search, with the intimacy of their souls
and the freedom of their words and imagination, for the freedom for words,
images, and souls. We have, indeed, freedom of expression. But we demand for
more: freedom after expression. ' In saying ''this is who I am'', in
revealing oneself, the writer can help others to become aware of who they
are. As a means of revealing collective identity, art should be considered
an article of prime necessity, not a luxury,' shouted Uruguayan writer,
Eduardo Galeano, while in exile from his cruel, beloved homeland.
Chenjerai Hove is a leading Zimbabwean author and has several published
books and poems including the aclaimed novel BONES. You can write to him
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New Zimbabwe

Mkhwananzi's curious mix of sense and non-sense


Writing here last week, Imbovane Yamahlabezulu president George Mkhwananzi
objected to utterances by Prof Welshman Ncube and Paul Themba Nyathi
suggesting a Ndebele speaker cannot be president of Zimbabwe. Lance Guma
says Mkhwananzi's article was a mixture of sense and nonsense


By Lance Guma
Last updated: 08/13/2005 12:22:00
THE article by George Mkhwananzi, entitled 'Ndebele's and Zimbabwe national
leadership' was at best a curious mix of sense and non-sense. He is by the
way President of Matabeleland pressure group Imbovane Yamahlabezulu. One
website describes him as:

'the self-anointed keeper of Ndebele memory. Wearing thick spectacles that
keep sliding down his nose, he doesn't fit the image of a would-be rebel
leader. But that is what he says he and others will become if Mugabe is not
punished for the murder of the Ndebele.'

I dont think in all fairness anyone expects him to love Shona people. While
he raised some brilliant points, he let his own tribalist feelings spill out
from the container of hatred towards Shona's. I dare say Robert Mugabe is
not the Shona people. Mkhwananzi seems to have his mind made up on what he
thinks is the Shona mindset towards Ndebele leaders. It needs to be pointed
out here and now that the greater majority of people who seek to ride on
tribalism are politicians. If Mugabe marginalised Joshua Nkomo by branding
him a Ndebele warlord, does it not follow therefore people are exploited by
politicians just as other carrots are used ie the land reform (or was it
deform) exercise?

While I did not have the chance to verify the statements alluded to Welshman
Ncube and Paul Themba Nyathi, I do not see how Mkhwananzi can blame Shona
people for the utterings of these two? Will the honourable gentleman tell us
which Shona people said Ndebele's cannot be national leaders? By writing
such an inflammatory statement he is actually raising doubts in the minds of
Shona people as to what his intentions are. Mkhwananzi has in a sense made a
self-fulfilling prophecy. His statements are meant to cause the state of
affairs he says currently exist.

The non-sense did not end there. He goes on to say 'the people of
Matabeleland know very well that it is their resources which fuel the
economy of the country. In spite of their fewer numbers, their region
contributes 40% of the country's GDP. It is their coal which makes Zimbabwe's
tobacco competitive. It is their electricity which illuminates the whole
country and powers the industries. It is their tourism and beef which bring
the limited foreign currency. It is their timber which decorates homes and
anchors railway lines throughout the country. It is their gold, chrome,
cement, nickel, iron ore and other minerals which are the mainstay of the
country's economy.' Such divisive rantings. What does he mean by the people
of Matabeleland? I am a Shona from Mutare and yet grew up in Bulawayo. Which
resources belong to me?

I ask the question sarcastically for I know anyway the gentleman believes in
Matabeleland becoming an autonomous state governed by Ndebele's for Ndebele's.
That's precisely his politics and when I saw his article I was not surprised
at how he is willing to divide Shonas and Ndebele's to achieve previously
declared goals. A considerable number of Ndebele people have moved to work
in Harare and other places while Shona's have also been going in the
opposite direction. The areas are no longer just for one tribe as the above
mixing will show. Instead of arguing along the lines of harmonizing the
different tribes all Mkwananzi succeeds in is offending the Shona people by
his display of clear hatred.

The political process is not as mechanical as some might think. Charismatic
leaders can always rise above tribal lines and become national leaders. I
sincerely believe if Mugabe was not the dictator he is, Joshua Nkomo could
have easily become President. His appeal was national far from what some may
want us to believe.

The problem comes when you have people like Jonathan Moyo who are
overly-aggressive and try to impose themselves on people. He is offended by
the views of those who despise him and wishes others to embrace him
irrespective. A simple letter from Daniel Molokela containing genuine
questions most of us would ask was met with an extremely arrogant and
abusive response from Moyo. That's not the mark of a great leader. Here is
an over-rated academic who excelled within an organized system and does not
seem to realize he is absolutely nobody outside it and can never be anybody
alone. (We will compare notes on him as time progresses).

Mkhwananzi and Moyo fall into the same bracket: too ambitious and easily
frustrated. Tribalism becomes a way to explain their own failures.

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Elements in Place for Zimbabwe Talks - But Mugabe Stands Off By Blessing
      12 August 2005

Financial, political and diplomatic negotiations continued in the background
Friday with no word on whether President Robert Mugabe and his government
were prepared to meet conditions reportedly demanded by South Africa in
exchange for a loan of several hundred million dollars.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said South Africa had in fact demanded
no such concessions from Harare, despite what appears to be some
determination in Pretoria to use the Zimbabwe's urgent need for the loan to
make progress in resolving its political crisis.

The paper quoted incoming South African Ambassador Mlungisi Makalimaq as
saying Harare and Pretoria are discussing a number of issues, including the
financial aid package - but without political conditions as has been widely
reported. The top condition is said to be for Harare to open talks with its

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai reiterated his satisfaction with the
African Union's choice of former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano as
mediator in the proposed talks.

The Reuters news agency quoted Mr. Tsvangirai as endorsing "principled
discussions" with the Mugabe government - but Mr. Tsvangirai, in the
Seychelles on vacation, told Reuters that Mr. Chissano would have to show he
is an honest broker and would have a difficult task persuading Mr. Mugabe to
come to the table.

In South Africa, meanwhile, opposition officials were urging President Thabo
Mbeki to demand President Mugabe's resignation as a condition for the loan.

Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Douglas Gibson says only Mr. Mugabe's exit
can resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, saying Pretoria must stand firm if Mr.
Mugabe refuses to meet conditions for the bailout package. Opposition whips
are calling on Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to make a statement on the

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Mr. Gibson about
the pressure being applied to the Pretoria government by the opposition.
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Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2005 12:14 AM
Subject: Chinese Bachelor Boys In Africa?

From a retired journalist friend in Oregon USA. He spent several years in Zim.
                           A Chink In Robert Mugabe’s Armor

    Chinese bachelor boys plowing Zimbabwe on bright orange KUBOTA tractors! Could this be Zimbabwe’s near future?

    This July 21 article about China’s growing influence all over black Africa is revealing-   

    Chinese influence over Sudanese and Nigerian oil is already significant and pan African Sino influence blossoming. In Pres. Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe deals have been struck giving the Chinese more access to platinum and coal. And the Chinese have shown an interest in replanting  the millions of acres gone fallow as a result of the recent, disastrous, farm takeovers.

    The  Foreign Relations Council report* makes the case that  China decided to grab the dirty end of the stick and deal with African despots the rest of the world scorns. They overlook tyranny,corruption, and genocide by Africans leaders for access to Africa’s natural resources and nearly a billion African consumers.

    Zimbabwean hero, Archbishop Pius Ncube, said recently he thinks Mugabe bulldozed the shanty town businesses around cities and towns to appease 30,000 Chinese businessmen who complained of siphoned off profits. (700,000 blacks were dislodged and are now homeless.)

    In return for appeasing the Chinese Mugabe (like other black tyrants) can expect a huge umbrella of protection. It’s called a Chinese veto in the UN Security Council to any UN move against him. In exchange for this immunization China gets access to Zimbabwe’s minerals, coal, rich soil and peasant consumers. 
    But Pres. Mugabe is old and the Chinese may feel pressure to close some deals and rewrite some laws NOW to grant them permanent access to resources and markets. 
    Ironies abound.  Today’s Chinese  entrepreneurs in Zimbs will demand  guarantees against the same kind of property/business seizures that recently robbed 4000 world class farmers of their land( and Zimbabwe of its economy.) And they will want it codified in the constitution.

    China began backing ZANU-PF’s “liberation movement” some forty years ago. Perhaps then both China and R. Mugabe shared a purist dream of a “one party marxist state.”  But China has become this a freak; a huge capitalist belly under a hammer and sickle head.

    There  MAY be an upside for the African peasant. Better times for Africans MIGHT result from this aggressive Sino pursuit of profit.     AIDS and poverty are obvious impediments to profit. Neither dead nor poor Africans can buy Chinese shoes and clothes.
     Somewhere in Beijing a businessman is passionately pushing this point without a hint of humanitarian impulse. 

    And could China resurrect that cornucopia of foodstuffs, that was Zimbs just four years ago, to feed other African countries( sound familiar), or feed China and North Korea?

    At home China has a pressing male problem. Twenty-five million young men who will never have Chinese wives.  (Chinese families regularly kill at birth the first born if it’s “non-male.” China limits the number of children.)
    So will these randy bachelor boys be shipped off to farms in Zimbabwe( and other African nations) to sew all sorts of seeds on or off their bright orange KUBOTA tractors?

Columbus Smith

11 Aug 05
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