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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zealand Herald

Arrested for taking photos in Zimbabwe


By David Fisher

Just hours after landing in Zimbabwe, I was sitting in a police
station being interrogated. This is life under President Robert Mugabe,
whose image stares at you from photographs in the Harare airport.

He is everywhere, ruling Zimbabwe through menace, playing on fears and

It wasn't long before I felt the full impact of the Mugabe regime. As
soon as my flash burst, as I was photographing people queuing for sugar,
soldiers moved towards me, dragging me through the gates to the warehouse

The crowd of mainly women, calling for their ration, fell silent and
parted to let me through.

With a billy club slapping against his thigh, a soldier demanded to
see the photo.

"You are under arrest my friend. It is a very big offence."

My passport taken and camera confiscated, I was told to stand and

The soldier returned, demanding my identity card, stumped that I had

I stood in the alleyway behind the gates being pressed close by those
wanting sugar until the soldiers instructed I follow. One leading, and one
behind, they led me to the Harare Central Police Station, where I was taken
to the intelligence section.

Police officers took the soldiers' statements, and possession of my
passport and camera. I was instructed to sit on the concrete floor, knees to
my chest, and wait.

In the four hours that followed, a series of police officers
interrogated me. Some were gentle, others harsh: "Are you a journalist? What
do you do for a job? Why are you here?"

Knowing other foreign journalists had been deported, I replied: "I'm a
teacher and I'm here for the cricket."

As I waited, outside night fell and a single bulb in the ceiling came
on, giving little light. A man was seated next to me, his camera also taken.
During a break in the questioning I asked what he had done. "I am a
journalist. I took a photograph. It's the way it is," he said.

Another man was lead through, who also told police he was a
journalist. They were both local men, and faced hefty fines for their crime.

Faced with prison or the next flight out, I stuck with my story for
four hours. Then I was led to an office and offered a chair; relief after
hours of sitting with my knees to my chest.

The questioning continued, but it was drawing to an end.

My camera was produced, and I was ordered to delete the single image
of the sugar queue.

Having done so, I was told to take no more photographs, and my
passport was returned.

The police, having decided to release me, were generous in finding me
a taxi and warning me that Harare was dangerous at night. One took the taxi
driver's details, and insisted I call once safe at my hotel.

We left, through the crowded streets in night-time Harare.

All this trouble for a photo.

- Herald on Sunday
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zealand Herald

More than cricket at stake in Zimbabwe


By David Fisher

Once the food basket of Africa, Zimbabwe has fallen on lean times.

The Black Caps may be touring there but their presence is merely a
minor distraction for the hundreds of thousands suffering not only from
drought, but widespread, critical shortages of food and fuel - and the
effects of the Mugabe Government's slum demolition programme.

In Africa, aid workers say, it is easy to find places that are worse
off. The difference here is that while those countries improve, Zimbabwe is
sinking fast. The failing infrastructure and its once strong economy was
long the envy of neighbouring nations. Now it is heading towards

The petrol shortage means long queues of driverless cars parked at
service stations. A sign in front of one says: "No fuels. Plenty oils."

Sugar is just one of the staple commodities which is rationed. Flour
is running out, as is anything dairy. There is little coal for the
electricity generating plants, and power is off for long periods with no

Notices are posted each day in newspapers, listing properties that are
to be seized by the Government for redistribution.

It is the same programme that saw thousands of whites driven from the
country, and dozens killed.

Inflation has rocketed, meaning the few people with jobs are finding
their salaries outmatched by the cost of living. It is expected to reach
1000 per cent by the end of the year.

The harshest recent assault on Zimbabwe was the Government-sponsored
Operation Murambatsvina, translated as "Operation Clean Up" or "Operation
Clear Out Trash".

It has seen bulldozers destroy entire suburbs, tearing to rubble
houses of people who mainly live in areas supporting the Movement for
Democratic Change; the main opposition party.

More than 700,000 have been left homeless, most with nowhere to go.

The Government claimed the move was a strong action against building
code violations - others say it was Mugabe's method of removing his

In each of the demolished areas, there is graffiti supporting the
Movement for Democratic Change. The party's voters have gone, cleared from
their homes.

Reporting Zimbabwe's troubles is difficult in that it places at risk
those who speak, as well as those who report. "I haven't been to jail," said
one Zimbabwean man whose house was bulldozed a month ago.

He shares this because speaking to me, and speaking of his troubles,
could earn him prison.

Others say; "I have been to jail", and their desire for anonymity is
governed by a fear of returning.

It is hard to judge whose fear is greater - those who know what waits,
or those who don't.

"Get the truth out," one white former farmer urged, also insisting his
name not be used.

"People must be told."

THE MORNING of the first test dawned blue and hot, as has every day
since the rainy season failed to emerge last year.

It is so dry that in places the earth seems to have given up. It has
cracked in areas, and there is thick dust everywhere. Even at the beginning
of spring, few plants have not wilted.

For Zimbabwe's poor, facing all other deliberate catastrophes, it
means difficulty growing and harvesting their most basic food, maize.

At some stage, during the calls for the cricket tour to be banned, it
was suggested the sport would be a welcome lift for the Zimbabwe people.

So I take a guest I'll call Vincent to the cricket, a man from the
south of town who had his home bulldozed. The contrast between the desolate
bush on the town's outskirts, and this lush ground, astound my guest, who
can't believe there is so much water to spare.

Vincent's home was destroyed completely in Operation Clean Up. His
wife was so hungry she had sought work as a prostitute, and his two children
had been taken to the country where his parents could care for them while he
searched for work. He has had little luck in this country with 80 per cent
unemployment, yet each night needs 75,000 Zimbabwe dollars (NZ$6.05) for a
rented room and food, to avoid sleeping in the cold.

We sat and watched the cricket from the dawn of the game to the day's
end, and he was baffled. Most people in Zimbabwe have no idea of how the
game is played, he tells me.

Vincent's neighbours, whose homes were also destroyed, watch football
when they watch sport. He has seen cricket on television, but only in
passing. Judging by clothes and conversation, those around us are mainly the

One Zimbabwean supporter - designer sunglasses and expensive watch -
says many of the 1000 supporters here are sent in by bus on Government
contract, to give the appearance of an enthusiastic crowd. He points out a
cluster wearing national colours, parading around, blowing on trumpets and
singing. The game goes on, and Vincent sits and applauds dutifully, out of
courtesy cheering on New Zealand. His applause is cued by my clapping, as he
has little idea of what's happening.

"What has happened?" he asks, when a Zimbabwean bowler appeals for
LBW. How do you explain that to someone who has never watched a game of

Three fighter planes pass over the ground, which neighbours Mugabe's
presidential palace, followed by two more as the morning goes on. Outside on
the streets, there are soldiers armed with AK-47 rifles, with bayonets
fixed. Locals warn not to be on Chancellor Ave, which runs between Mugabe's
home and the cricket, after dark. Cars are banned and pedestrians have been
shot and killed by trigger-happy, nervous guards.

On day two, a white Zimbabwean settles down for the match as his
team's opening batsmen take the field. "It must be hard for these guys, hey,
waking up every morning and thinking 'we are going to lose today'," he says.

Today is Heroes Day, celebrating hard-won independence 25 years
before. It's an important anniversary for Zimbabwe, but despite the public
holiday there are no more than 500 people here for the game.

The group of "supporters for hire" has shrunk, as has the level of
transport used to get them in.

Last year's argument over race-based selection for the team has not
eased, with the inclusion of white players in this team.

Black supporters, sitting at the Keg & Maiden pub that opens on to the
pitch, talk about how they should not be allowed, especially as they are
bowled one after another.

A black supporter says: "Most teams, you know, only the next player to
bat puts pads on. With Zimbabwe, everyone puts pads on."

The presidential helicopter - flying with three other helicopters -
heads past the ground for the national stadium, where Defence Day is being
celebrated. "We call it

Gooks and Spooks, this weekend," says a white woman.

The derogatory "Gooks" is for Heroes Day, describing the "terrorists"
who won independence, while "Spooks" is for the military.

Zimbabwe is all out for 59, and is put in to bat again after lunch. It
does little better in the afternoon. The team has been destroyed, and the
Government propaganda machine reports the next morning: "The worst cricket
team ever."

HARARE IS now "clean", as Mugabe intended. It happened in the most
despicable way, with police forcing people from their homes as the
bulldozers rolled in. Operation Murambatsvina has been nicknamed Operation
Tsunami, and the name is just in its effect, although fails to carry the
menace deserving a deliberate act rather than a force of nature.

In the suburb of Mbare, south of the city centre, the destruction
begins. It's as simple as turning a corner, from intact buildings to ruins.

Mbare was a bustling hive of activity, known for its vendors and
street stalls selling goods from across Zimbabwe. It was a cultural draw for
tourists, wanting to see the "real Africa" without leaving the city. Now it
is nothing but ruins of houses, street on street.

It was dense living, before the bulldozers came, with homes built
tight against each other. Now they have been smeared into nothing.

Inside the wreckage there are signs of the contents which the
occupants were barred from taking. Anything with value has been scavenged

One man, who lived here, says he ran from work when word filtered out.
He arrived to find a cordon of armed police, and had to stand and watch as
his television and furniture were picked up and hurled in front of the

The whole crowd stood by and watched, because any alternative was too

Vincent offers to show me his home, or what is left of it, and
navigates us south of the city to Chitungwiza, a suburb 10km away.

It was once described as middle-class, and here, free of the press of
the city, the magnitude of the destruction becomes clearer. On the road
south, huge tracts of land have been cleared of structures.

If this was a tsunami, there are a few who have stayed, trying to
rebuild a life among the ruins. There is the occasional tarpaulin tent, or
sheet of fibrolite, tacked against the few walls still standing.

There are few compared to the many who once lived here.

"They have gone to the bush. Many will die. You cannot eat leaves,"
Vincent says.

There's another queue at the local petrol station, as there is at all
petrol stations. This queue, being out of town, has been here longer than
most. Dust is caked thick on the cars which stretch down the road, around a
corner and out of sight.

"Here's is my house," says Vincent, turning off the road.

In contrast to Mbare's homogenous destruction, the houses here were
spaced far enough apart that the bulldozers destroyed and pushed each home
into its own pile.

The only remnants of this small estate are the parking bays, built at
the entrance. The concrete borders of the bays are only a third of a metre
high - perhaps too small to attract the interest of the bulldozers.

Atop the concrete are flower beds, planted along the parking bays,
showing the care taken and home-making ambition of those who once lived

The flowers have died, and small ferns and other plants have wilted
for want of care and water.

"This was my home," says Vincent. "It was pink."

He points to one pile, and as he says, there is pink among the rubble,
a light happy colour peeking out from the grey surrounds.

The remains look unlikely to have ever been a house, although Vincent
says the one bedroom, bathroom, sitting room and kitchen was plenty for
himself, wife and two kids.

The day the bulldozers came, they were foreshadowed by police, moving
through the estate and ordering people out. They went, taking what they
could carry, and there was nothing to come back to.

The destruction, driven by intent, has not inspired anger or hatred in
Vincent. "What can I do?" he asks.

"There is nothing. Nothing."

- Herald on Sunday
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2005 4:28 AM
Subject: Jamming of VOP

Hi All
This to confirm that my associate DPW has tonight picked up jamming by the Zimbabwe government of the Radio Netherlands sponsored "Voice of the People" (V.O.P.) broadcast into Zimbabwe. I confirmed this a few minutes later. It is the type B recycling jammer formally used to great effect to stifle SW Radio. The broadcast by V.O.P. is essentially wiped out.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The End Game?

This past three weeks it has been fascinating watching the antics of South
Africa as it tries to do what it undertook to do at the G8 summit in July.
It is quite obvious that as soon as Mbeki got home he communicated a
proposed deal to Mugabe. What that deal was, is anyone's guess but I would
hazard to say that it would have included the following elements: -

- A soft landing for Mugabe if he gave up power agreed
to retire (with Grace) to somewhere where his safely and security could be

- A comprehensive package of assistance to a
transitional authority charged with trying to address the humanitarian and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

- A "road map" back to legitimate government in Zimbabwe
via talks, a new constitution and fresh elections.

It is also clear that Mugabe rejected the deal outright - he knows full well
that such a deal would mean exile for himself and the end of Zanu PF. But
this time he faced a more determined effort by African leaders to ensure
that the roadblocks were removed as soon as possible. The first indication
of this resistance was the flying visit to Harare by the South African Vice
President and the deputy Minister of Finance. They were instructed to inform
his majesty that "no" was not the answer they were expecting.

The deal was again made clear and this time the South Africans briefed
officials in the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank. In those
discussions the precise details of Zimbabwe's needs were computed and
communicated to the South Africans who in turn said fine - but these are the
conditions that you must agree to if these needs are to be satisfied: -

- The conditions that have led to the international
diplomatic isolation of Zimbabwe must be addressed and rectified.

- A programme must be negotiated with a broad based
coalition of Zimbabwean interests to get the country back on its feet

- A comprehensive and sound programme of economic
reforms must be agreed which will allow the economy to recover over time.

Then the game began on the other side of the Limpopo - the loan deal was
announced, officials denied any conditionality and then confirmed that there
were conditions. Ministers flew to South Africa for discussions and a "deal"
was agreed in principle and a draft MOU sent to the two Presidents for their
consideration. Each successive statement by the South Africans simply made
the water muddier.

On our side of the Limpopo another game was being played out - "We will
never talk to the MDC," thundered Mugabe at a State function in Harare. "We
will never accept a deal with South Africa that carries any conditions,"
stated several Zimbabwe Ministers and Zanu PF spokespersons. A politician
should never use the word "never" and "no" because politics is the art of
the possible and deals are a built in part of the whole process. The actual
deal under consideration was finally discussed at a Cabinet meeting in
Harare and on Friday a more muted response was sent to Mbeki.

Not to be left out of the action, the AU then threw its hat into the ring on
the side of straightforward negotiations between the MDC and Zanu PF. It was
not just the demand that caught my attention but also the manner in which it
was carried out. The Chairman of the African Union, President Obasanjo of
Nigeria, appointed former Mozambique President Chissano as his emissary with
the instruction that he was to get talks going as soon as possible and
report progress. He also sent a personal letter to Mr. Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai and then issued a press statement from the AU headquarters in
Ethiopia stating that he had done so and that he expected talks to start

This is unprecedented pressure from the most powerful organ on the African
continent. Yesterday the State media mused "the government had never ruled
out talks with the MDC" and started to prepare its readers for a new twist
to this sorry saga. The question is "is this the end game"? Someone called
me yesterday and said that he had information that Mugabe would not last
another month. Well, that may or may not be true - but I know one thing for
sure, when this thing starts unraveling it will unravel fast and will take
most of us by surprise.

In the meantime the crisis here intensifies - inflation is spiraling upwards
and is now almost out of control. There is very little fuel in the market
and it is now 4 months since I last bought fuel in a filling station.
Shortages are the norm - from matches to margarine. In the humanitarian
sphere the first two roomed house units are rolling off the construction
assembly line - at a cost of at least Z$90 million per unit. Very few can
afford them and their main purpose is political at this stage. They will
make very little impact on the needs of the 300 000 families made homeless
and destitute by operation "Murambatsvina".

In an effort to clean up after this shambles the State is moving thousands
of people from the urban areas after a rudimentary screening and dumping
them in rural areas. There are reports of many deaths and deep hardship.
Churches following up their members and trying to meet basic needs are
discovering horrific conditions.

The Zimbabwe dollar continues to slide in a rather undignified manner at the
Reserve Bank and in the open market it has simply jumped off the cliff - the
local currency now trades at 6 000 to 1 against the Rand and 35 000 to 1
against the US dollar. The Pound is trading at 65 000 to 1. While Nero
fiddles, Rome burns and there is little or no sign of preparation for the
next summers cropping season - now just 90 days away.

After a brief period when maize from South Africa was available in
reasonable quantities, there is again a very severe shortage in markets.
Wheat supplies have been cut dramatically and long queues form wherever
bread is in production. We need that deal, and very soon, if we are to avoid
the catastrophe that others are predicting if nothing is done about the
Zimbabwe crisis.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 14th August 2005
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Tribune, SA

UN report fails to see Mugabe as problem
August 14, 2005

To whatever extent the recent United Nations report on Zimbabwe
calls attention to the brutalities of the country's tyrant, President Robert
Mugabe, the UN has performed a service.

But as far as the report translates into nothing more than a
fresh bout of aid funnelled via Mugabe's regime, this UN initiative will
only compound the suffering in Zimbabwe - where the government's latest
atrocity has been to "clean up" the cities by evicting hundreds of thousands
of poor people, destroying their dwellings and leaving them jobless,
homeless and hungry.

In describing this scene, the UN report provides a wealth of
horrifying detail, but takes a detour around the basic cause, which is not,
as the report concludes, such stuff as "improper advice" acted upon by
"over-zealous officials".

The real cause is the long and ruinous rule of Mugabe and his
cronies. With a delicacy over-zealously inappropriate for dealings with the
tyrant, the report starts by thanking Mugabe for his "warm welcome" to the
UN delegation, which visited the country from June 26 to July 8.

The report, issued by the secretary-general's special envoy,
AnnaKajumulo Tibaijuka, then proceeds to the usual UN prescription that what
Zimbabwe needs is more aid, and a framework - here comes the UN lingo - "to
ensure the sustainability of humanitarian response".

While the report also calls for the "culprits" to be called to
justice under Zimbabwe laws, Mugabe himself is somehow excused from direct

Instead, the report faults wealthy nations for not providing
more aid already, and notes that: "With respect to the funding issue, some
in the Zimbabwe political elite and intelligentsia, as well as others of
similar persuasion around the continent, believe the international community
is concerned more with 'regime change' and that there is no real and genuine
concern for the welfare of ordinary people."

Apart from the problem - not mentioned in the UN report's
comment - that after a quarter-century of Mugabe's rule the surviving
Zimbabwe elite are to a great extent Mugabe's own cronies, there is the
profound difficulty that in Zimbabwe's state-choked economy, Mugabe has a
record of diverting foreign aid to his supporters, while starving - as well
as mugging and murdering - his opposition.

To downplay the role of the tyrant himself, in the hope that he
will "engage" with humanitarian donors, is to misinterpret his methods,
shore up his rule and most probably sustain or even worsen the miseries of

The UN report, in its brief history of the country's struggles,
fails to mention that one of Mugabe's first moves after coming to power was
to invite in North Korean advisers to train the shock troops known in
Zimbabwe as the "Fifth Brigade".

In the 1980s, he dispatched this Fifth Brigade to massacre an
estimated 18 000 Zimbabweans opposed to his rule - far more than the number
of people slaughtered, say, at Srebenica, and more than six times the number
murdered in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.

The world paid no notice. Indeed, the new UN report, while
omitting mention of this slaughter, describes Mugabe in admiring terms as
"part of that exclusive club of African statesmen" who "fought colonialism
and racial discrimination".

What must be grasped in dealing with Zimbabwe is that the
problem is Mugabe himself. And whatever welcome he may provide to visiting
UN delegations, the true recovery can only begin with nothing else but his

Ronnie Boy
Cisco Junior College
Dallas, Texas

Back to the Top
Back to Index


US special envoy appalled at condition in Zimbabwe

August 13, 2005, 21:15

A United States Humanitarian Aid mission says it is appalled at
conditions in Zimbabwe. The special envoy, led by Ambassador Tony Hall,
arrived in South Africa from Zimbabwe yesterday.

The aid mission announced that a further US$ 51 million (about R306
million) will be distributed to 6 drought stricken countries in Southern
Africa. An estimated 8,6 million people face severe food shortages in the
drought stricken region. Zimbabwe is said to be the worst affected.

Hall says about 40 percent of the renewed food aid from the US will be
channelled to Zimbabwe.

"I remember when this country (Zimbabwe) was the bread basket of
Southern Africa, and today that bread basket is empty. I am, and was,
appalled at the deterioration that has taken place there, just in 3 years,"
Hall says.

But the World Food Programme (WFP) says more food aid is required to
address the massive food crisis facing Southern Africa. An estimated 8
million people are starving in the drought stricken region.

The WFP's Regional director, Mike Sakket, has appealed to other
countries for assistance.

"We still need close to US$ 200 million worth of assistance to get us
through the harvest next year. So we certainly hope that other sympathetic
governments, including the government of South Africa will help provide
assistance to WFP," Sakket says.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Age, Australia

Zimbabwe bureaucracy delays food: US
August 14, 2005 - 11:24AM

A senior US official said government policies were worsening Zimbabwe's food
crisis and red tape was preventing food getting to the needy.
"All of us are very, very worried about the very near future ... We are
going into a period where we don't think there's going to be enough food
here in this country," Tony Hall, the US ambassador to United Nations food
agencies in Rome, told a news conference.

Zimbabwe has suffered chronic shortages of food since 2000, with critics
pointing largely to the government's seizure of white-owned farms for
redistribution to blacks, a program they say has disrupted the important
agriculture sector.

Once the bread basket of the region, the country also suffers from shortages
of fuel and foreign currency, along with rampant inflation and unemployment
of more than 70 percent.

Hall said he had "deep concerns about the ability of Zimbabweans to feed
themselves. ... We think it's a very, very difficult situation exacerbated
by government policies and politics that is really going to hurt these

He told reporters later in Johannesburg that at least 2.6 million in the
southern African country faced food shortages and some estimates put the
number at 5 million or more.

"Today the bread basket is empty ... millions of innocent Zimbabweans face a
serious hunger crisis this year ... this tragedy was entirely avoidable," he

Donors trying to help were hampered by delays in permission for food
distribution, Hall added.

Some of his own efforts to visit those left homeless by the recent
demolition of urban slums, who are now living at a camp outside Harare, had
hit a brick wall.

"(The camp), which is being run by the military, was off access. ... We were
told that we did not come with the proper paperwork," he said.

"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, adding that he had told
Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche about his concerns on Friday.

United Nations special envoy Anna Tibaijuka - who last month visited
Zimbabwe to assess the destruction of shantytowns - has said the exercise
was "carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with
indifference to human suffering".

She said it had left at least 700,000 people without homes, livelihoods or

Critics say the drive has worsened the plight of Zimbabweans already
struggling with the country's worst economic crisis since independence from
Britain in 1980.

Hall told hungry villagers in an eastern district of Zimbabwe that
Washington would not cut off food aid despite criticism of President Robert
Mugabe's government over the land seizures and charges of human rights

He repeated that pledge on Saturday.

"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," he said.

The United States is preparing to send 73,500 tonnes of food aid to southern
Africa, with around 40 percent of that expected to go to Zimbabwe.

Hall said would be enough to feed between 5 and 6 million people for a
month, in six stricken southern African countries.

Mugabe, in power since independence, denies critics' charges that skewed
government policies have left a once-thriving economy in tatters.

He blames Zimbabwe's woes on Western powers, accusing Britain and the United
States in particular of working to unseat him because of his land policies.

2005 AAP

Back to the Top
Back to Index