SADC muzzles civic groups on Zimbabwe Wed 17 August
2005 GABORONE - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has
barred regional civic society groups from raising Zimbabwe 's crisis at the
organisation's heads of state annual summit beginning in Gaborone
The SADC Council of Non-governmental Ogarnisations had
wanted to present a communiqué to the summit on the deteriorating human
rights situation, political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe , a move that
would have forced SADC leaders to discuss President Robert Mugabe's
But the council was told by organisers of
the summit that laid down protocol and procedure did not allow it to address
the SADC summit on the Zimbabwe situation.
"The time to discuss
( Zimbabwe at the summit) is there but there is no political will from the
SADC leadership," Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chairwoman Nokuthula
Moyo told ZimOnline. Moyo is heading civic society groups from Zimbabwe at
SADC leaders, long accused of standing
by in the face of gross human rights violations by Mugabe and his
government, have omitted Zimbabwe from the summit's agenda arguing their
summit discusses "regional situations" and not individual
The executive secretary of the 13-members SADC Prega
Ramsamy told the Press: "There is no agenda on Zimbabwe . We discuss
regional situations not individual countries."
President Festus Mogae, who takes on SADC's revolving chairmanship today,
also told the Press that Zimbabwe did not pose a problem to economic growth
in the region, even though its problems have weakened the economy of his own
Moyo said civic society groups were still exploring other
ways to try and bring the Zimbabwe situation to the attention of the summit,
adding only a more direct and robust intervention by SADC leaders could help
pave way for a solution to that country's six-year economic and political
Political analysts say Mugabe's SADC neighbours
particularly economic powerhouse, South Africa could, if they so wished,
pressure the Zimbabwean leader to abandon his controversial policies and to
engage the opposition to find a democratic solution to his country's
But SADC led by regional economic powerhouse, South
Africa , has always shied from confronting the veteran Zimbabwean leader. -
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday opened up trade in
maize and wheat and waived duty on grain imports in a desperate bid to
facilitate greater inflow of the two key staples into the country, battling
worsening food shortages.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa
announced the new measures when he presented a Z$6.6 trillion supplementary
budget and his mid-term fiscal policy review statement to
Murerwa said the state-owned Grain Marketing Board
would no longer enjoy a monopoly in maize and wheat trade while imports of
the two commodities and other food aid items by private firms would no
longer be subject to paying duty, in a virtual admission by the government
that it is finding it difficult to feed millions of hungry Zimbabweans
An estimated four million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the
country's about 12 million people could starve unless 1.2 million tonnes of
food aid are urgently provided.
President Robert Mugabe's
government, which has approached China and South Africa for emergency loans
to save Zimbabwe from total collapse, has already opened up the fuel market
and allowed traders to charge for diesel and petrol in foreign currency as
it battles an acute fuel shortage threatening to bring the country to a
Apart from fuel and food, essential medical drugs,
electricity and hard cash is also in short supply as Zimbabwe grapples its
worst economic crisis since independence from Britain 25 years
Murerwa downplayed prospects the economic crisis could
dissipate soon telling Parliament: "Recovery has remained slow, inflation
remains unacceptably high and foreign currency shortages continue to
undermine economic turnaround.
"The situation has been made
worse by the large-scale crop failure - economic performance has rescinded
and the state of the economy is not pleasing."
Minister sought to assuage fresh fears in the farming sector over new
legislation proposed by the government which legal experts say would
virtually nationalise all land in the country.
The draft law, which
is before Parliament, seeks to ban private landowners from contesting
acquisition of their land by the government while courts will be barred from
hearing such appeals.
Economic analysts have warned the proposed
law could destroy the little that is left of the key agricultural sector
after the government's controversial seizure of productive land from white
farmers in the last five years, which many say worsened Zimbabwe 's food and
But Murerwa said: "Investment on farms has been
undermined by security of tenure and therefore the government will soon hand
out 99 year leases to farmers. Security on farms has been increased to
ensure no more disruptions to farming activities."
Parliament to approve his supplementary budget, Murerwa said the additional
funds were needed to among other things, pay for the creation of a new House
of Senate and holding of local government elections later in the
Mugabe has publicly stated he wants the Senate, abolished
more than 10 years ago restored, to calm disgruntled lieutenants in his
ruling ZANU PF party by appointing them to the second chamber.
Murerwa, who said he had turned down requests for more additional funds by
line ministries, proposed a special tax for cell phone airtime, an increase
on duty on stamps, clothing material such as shoes, travel bags, beverages
and on cigarettes.
He also proposed a special levy on public
transport operators while employees of foreign companies or groups earning
in hard cash will be required to pay tax in the same currency. -
Pastors horrified at plight of Zimbabwean immigrants in
SA Wed 17 August 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean pastors have
expressed horror at the plight of Zimbabwean immigrants living in South
Most of the immigrants who fled political and economic
hardships from Zimbabwe had virtually jumped "from the frying pan into the
fire" because of the squalid conditions they were living under and the
failure of South African police to offer them any form of protection against
undue harassment, the pastors said.
The pastors are from the
Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC), a network of clergy, pastors
and priests from around Zimbabwe . They have begun a week long tour to
assess the plight of Zimbabweans living in South Africa .
say we are horrified by the conditions Zimbabwean immigrants here are living
under is a huge understatement," said Reverend Vimbai Mugwidi from the
Methodist church who is a spokesperson for the seven pastors.
one thing to read about the plight of the Zimbabweans, many of whom are
considered illegal, and totally another to witness their reality with one's
own eyes. It is heart- rending," she said.
She said the pastors
were hoping that their mission would help in further highlighting the plight
of Zimbabwean immigrants around South Africa and draw the attention of South
African authorities' and those who can help to their situation.
She said most of the immigrants they had met complained that they could not
access formal employment because they could not get the necessary refugee
Unable to get jobs in the formal sector, they were
exploited by unscrupulous employers who paid them starvation wages knowing
full well that they had no re-course.
Even those with the
refugee permits were routinely discriminated against by the South African
"We have met Zimbabweans who have been granted the official
refugee permits. But their permits are routinely torn apart by the police
who round these people up and deposit them at Lindela for deportation
despite that they are living here legally" said Mugwidi.
said they had learnt of the story of a man who died after walking 40
kilometres to his home in Zimbabwe upon being dumped at Beitbridge border
post by South African authorities.
While the legal role of
authorities in arresting and deporting illegal immigrants could not be
denied, South African police were in many cases abusing their
She said cases of sexual abuse of young Zimbabwean girls by
South African police were rampant. One 16-year old girl had told the pastors
of how she was arrested by police in Hillbrow and detained in the back of a
bakkie for the whole day.
They had vowed not to release her
until she agreed "to make a plan", meaning to offer them sexual
The pastors said they were hoping to see South African
police authorities to protest their handling of Zimbabwean
The pastors said they had met people with no homes and
with no access to food and any of the basic necessities for
But still these people could not return home because many
feared for their safety. The situation was particularly dire for children.
Many had fled their homes in Zimbabwe due to economic problems.
Some had even arrived in South Africa with their fleeing parents only to
find themselves in the streets after the breaking up of their families
mainly due to economic hardships.
Reverend John Chinyowa, who
is part of the delegation, said the plight of these children of varying ages
was particularly distressing.
He doubted that many of them would
ever grow up into becoming responsible adults.
"They need help.
It is depressing to look at these children who find themselves in these
circumstances because of circumstances beyond their control," said
Reverend Nicholas Mukaronda of the Anglican Church said
South African authorities regularly told Zimbabwean immigrants that they
should go back to their country because "it's not at war".
"Yes, Zimbabwe is not at war, but why they cannot understand that Zimbabwe
is in major problems is incomprehensible," he said.
thanked the Methodist Church in Johannesburg for opening its halls to
homeless Zimbabweans to sleep overnight as well as offering them food. -
MDC urges SADC leaders to help resolve Zimbabwe crisis Wed
17 August 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe 's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party on Tuesday warned that the country risked
becoming a failed state unless regional leaders act to find a peaceful and
democratic solution to the five-year old crisis.
In a statement
yesterday, MDC secretary for information and publicity Paul Themba Nyathi
said Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders must use the
summit which begins tomorrow in Gaborone , Botswana, to press for a solution
to the Zimbabwe crisis.
"At the Heads of State meeting . . . SADC,
leaders have an opportunity to use the leverage that they have at their
disposal to advance the objective of finding a peaceful and democratic
solution to the Zimbabwe crisis," said Nyathi.
The two-day SADC
Heads of State meeting begins Wednesday.
The MDC also lashed out at
SADC leaders for failing to speak out against President Robert Mugabe's
policies accusing the regional leaders of backing the Zimbabwean leader "on
the skewed basis of historical friendship".
"The risk of this
approach is that Zimbabwe could become a failed state; a development which
would have serious socio-economic consequences not just for Zimbabwe but
also for the whole region."
Regional leaders have in the past
shielded Mugabe from international censure. The SADC leaders have also
failed to condemn Mugabe's demolition of houses in urban areas dismissing
the issue as "an internal matter."
But the United Nations (UN) and
other western governments have criticised the clean-up operation which left
at least 700 000 people homeless and directly affected another 2.4 million
people. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwean editor convicted over 'falsehoods' Wed 17 August
GWERU - Willie Mponda, an editor with a weekly paper in Gweru,
has been convicted for publishing a false report that a woman had committed
suicide after her backyard phone shop was destroyed during the urban
Mponda, who edits The Sun newspaper, was
fined Z$100 000 for publishing the false story.
He becomes the
first journalist in Zimbabwe to be successfully convicted under the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) enacted three years ago.
was convicted last Friday for breaching some sections of the security law
which makes it an offence for journalists to publish falsehoods. The offence
carries a five-year prison term, or alternatively a fine of Z$100
The paper said in its 10 June edition that the woman committed
suicide after the police had demolished her telephone shops during the
But the State dismissed the story saying no telephone
shops had been destroyed during the blitz and that the woman had
left a suicide note indicating she was having personal
The Sun later issued a retraction of the
A Gweru magistrate said that by publishing the retraction,
Mponda had admitted that the story was false.
More than a
hundred journalists have been arrested in the last three years for flouting
Zimbabwe's tough media laws. Four newspapers including the country's biggest
paper The Daily News have also been shut down for failing to comply with the
tough legislation. - ZimOnline
Parliament receives Zimbabwe's supplementary budget
with mixed feelings
- Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday
received the government's Mid-term Fiscal Policy Review statement and
Supplementary Budget presented by Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa, with
Members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) commended the government for spending more
money on mitigating the effect of drought, while the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) dismissed it as a display of failed economic
Cash-strapped Zimbabwe is experiencing food shortages as
a result of poor rains the country received, and is importing maize from
neighboring countries to augment available supplies.
increase in the price of fuel on the world market has also seen the country
spending more foreign currency on limited quantities of the
Murerwa presented a 6.6 trillion Zimbabwean dollars
(about 377. 1 million US dollars) Supplementary Budget.
Hatfield Member of Parliament and MDC shadow Minister of Finance, Tapiwa
Mashakada said by coming up with a Supplementary Budget, the government was
conceding that it had failed to find solutions to economic challenges the
country was experiencing.
Mashakada said the government had erred
when it drew up the 2005 National Budget, as it was evident that it would
not be sufficient to meet national requirements.
accused the government of admitting to economic challenges the country was
experiencing, but failing to proffer solutions.
challenges that the country is experiencing are a result of lack of harmony
between the Fiscal and Monetary Policies, " he alleged.
need for the government to come up with more effective measures of raising
revenue that prevented tax evasion to increase the revenue base, he
ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, however, commended the
government for introducing the Supplementary Budget, saying it displayed
concern for the people that were affected by the drought ravaging the
"The reasons for the Supplementary Budget are
self-explanatory, " he said.
Gumbo said a combination of
factors had compelled the government to formulate the Supplementary Budget,
some of them natural and others self-made.
It was not possible
for the government to predict the drought, he said.
Zimbabwe on Tuesday announced a cut in ministerial
budget allocations of a combined 171.4 million US dollars in an effort to
reign in resurging inflation.
Announcing a mid-term fiscal
policy review, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said the cut would entail
deferment of projects that had not yet commenced, and those facing
implementation difficulties due to foreign currency constraints, tender
delays and lack of technical capacity.
He said affected expenditure
also included furniture, travel, training, institutional provisions and
"In this regard, I propose to reduce all ministries'
original 2005 budget allocations," he said.
The most affected
ministries were finance, home affairs, health and child welfare, defense and
Murerwa said this would reduce the budget deficit,
projected at 8.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product in the current fiscal
A higher budget deficit would rapidly fuel money supply
growth, impacting negatively on the country's inflation targets, he
The current inflation rate stands at 164.3 percent up from
127 percent in March this year.
Inflation peaked at 622.8
percent in January 2004 before progressively declining in the year due to
tight monetary and fiscal measures.
Mugabe in drive against street children From
Correspondents in Harare
August 17, 2005
ROBERT Mugabe's city
officials are to launch a new clean-up campaign in Harare to drive beggars
and street kids out of the capital.
The state-controlled Newsnet said
scores of beggars and street children rounded up during a 10-week urban
clean-up campaign that ended late last month were "back in full
force". "We are not going to allow that," said Sekesayi Makwavarara,
chairwoman of a government commission that runs the city. "We are going to
make sure that these street kids are taken out of the city." Ms Makwavarara
said there were plans to recruit 200 more municipal police to carry out the
"As we speak now, some of them are on training and you shall
see them on the streets soon," she said.
Newsnet reported that Harare
was teeming with beggars, touts and vendors selling petrol on the black
Zimbabwe was condemned internationally in May when it bulldozed
shanty towns, market stalls and small shops and detained 46,000 people as
part of what it described as an urban renewal campaign.
opposition denounced the blitz as a campaign of repression, while Western
governments and the UN condemned it. A UN report released last month said the
demolitions had left 700,000 people homeless or without sources of income,
or both, in cities and towns across the country, while a further 2.4million
were affected in varying degrees.
Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed since
Mr Mugabe ordered the seizure of land belonging to 5000 white farmers,
blaming them for mounting opposition to his 25-year rule.
has rejected a proposal from South African President Thabo Mbeki that he
hold talks with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to solve the
country's economic problems.
And early this month, Mr Mugabe reportedly
failed in his quest to secure a $US1billion ($1.3billion) loan from China to
pay for desperately needed fuel, electricity and
US Envoy Affirms Solidarity with Zimbabwe's Hungry,
Homeless By Sarah Williams Washington 16 August
Zimbabwe officials say they will resume an urban clean-up
campaign to rid the capital of illegal vendors, weeks after suspending the
controversial exercise. In May, Zimbabwe's government began demolishing
urban slums, including market stalls and homes, saying the campaign was
necessary to rid cities of crime. Two months later, the government declared
an end to the campaign and said it would now focus on building new homes for
those displaced in the crackdown.
The United Nations says the
demolition campaign has left 700,000 people homeless or jobless.
Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. World Food Program and the Food and
Agriculture Organization, has just returned from Zimbabwe. Speaking from
Rome, he tells VOA's Sarah Williams about the hardships of the people
there: a shrinking family budget due in part to a 380 percent inflation
rate and 80 percent unemployment, a poor harvest, and about 3,300 people
dying each month of HIV. Ambassador Hall says he tried - but failed - to
visit one of the camps of some whose homes had been destroyed in what the
Zimbabwean government calls "Operation Restore Order."
Hall says the United States can not - and will not - write off the people of
Zimbabwe. The US has recently donated nearly 74 metric tons of food to
Zimbabwe and five other countries in southern Africa facing drought. The
United States Agency for International Development says the contribution is
enough to feed five million people for one month.
collaborate to distribute shelter packages in Zimbabwe Two United Nations
agencies, along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and
the Zimbabwean Government, have launched a pilot project to distribute
shelter packages in the Southern African country where Government eviction
programmes have left an estimated 700,000 people without homes or
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) said it was collaborating with the UN Human Settlements Programme
(UN-HABITAT), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the non-UN IOM in a pilot
project that initially would help 123 families and, if successful, would
reach 40,000 households across the country in conjunction with Government
allocation of plots of land for housing.
The UN's planned
humanitarian appeal for Zimbabwe was still being finalized, UN spokesman
Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at UN Headquarters.
While it was being
completed, several UN agencies, including UN-HABITAT, the World Food
Programme and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) were helping with such
programmes as food distribution and providing sanitation, he said.
Zimbabwe Lawyers in Protest Against Constitutional Revisions
16 August 2005
About one hundred Zimbabwean lawyers were
preparing to march to the parliament and the supreme court Wednesday to
present a petition expressing opposition to proposed amendments to the
The ruling party's Amendment Bill No. 17 would give the
government sweeping powers to confiscate land and restrict the free movement
of citizens, among other expanded public powers and diminished civil
Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked
Tafadzwa Mugabe, one of the lawyers intending to march, to explain
objections to the amendments.
Zimbabwe Government Spokesman Rejects Political Opening By Blessing
Zulu Washington 16 August 2005
A spokesman for
the government of President Robert Mugabe has declared that talks with the
opposition are not on the agenda so far as it is concerned, despite comments
from a senior South African official who says there are indeed conditions
that Harare must meet to obtain the financial bailout it is requesting from
South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said
the pending loan is predicated on "a common approach involving the
Zimbabwean private sector and political parties." Mr. Pahad emphasized that
Pretoria's overarching concern was to prevent the already-collapsing
Zimbabwean economy from imploding with all of the consequences that would
entail for South Africa and the region.
In Harare, Acting Information
Minister Chen Chimutengwende told the government-controlled Herald newspaper
that the government did not envision opening talks or negotiations with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reached Mr. Chimutengwende and asked for
clarification of his remarks published Tuesday in the
President Mugabe's adamant opposition to dialogue with the
leading opposition party is perceived by some international observers as a
Political analyst Princeton Lyman, director of
Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and a former
U.S. ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, said Mr. Mugabe ultimately has
little choice but to accede to Pretoria's demands.
political analyst John Makumbe, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe,
told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the Mugabe government is increasingly
But Dr. Makumbe said he believed Mugabe would go to any length
rather than give in to pressure from the African Union and others to open
talks with the opposition.
Residents of Harare, meanwhile, expressed
the hope that Zimbabwe's main political parties - the ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF, and the Movement for
Democratic Change, or MDC, would pursue a healing
Correspondent David Mutomba in Harare heard from ordinary
citizens that they see inter-party discussions as the only way out of the
long-running national crisis.