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Zimbabwe opposition suspends deputy president, secretary general

Zim Online

Mon 19 December 2005

HARARE -Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party on Sunday said it had suspended party deputy president Gibson
Sibanda, secretary general Welshman Ncube and other leaders, as infighting
continues to tear the party apart.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa last night told ZimOnline that Sibanda
was suspended for a year but would be allowed to retain his title of
vice-president of the MDC. Sibanda, who together with Ncube leads a faction
of the MDC pushing for party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's ouster from the
party, was given the option to appeal against his suspension to the party's
congress scheduled for next February.

Ncube and his deputy Gift Chimanikire were both suspended for two
years each and would not be allowed to retain their titles while party
treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube and policy and research secretary Trudy
Stevenson were suspended for one year each. The four can appeal against
their suspension to the MDC national council, Chamisa said.

Chamisa said: "They were given a right to defend themselves as
dictated by the rules of natural justice, which they chose not to exercise
and accordingly the disciplinary committee exercised its right to determine
the fate of the accused (on the basis) of oral and written evidence

The disciplinary committee, which sat last Saturday, was chaired by
MDC chairman Isaac Matongo. The committee found Sibanda, Ncube and the
others guilty of violating the party's constitution while Sibanda was found
guilty of deviating from party policy by allegedly calling for a separate
Ndebele state.

It was not possible to get comment on the matter last night from
Sibanda or Ncube.

But the two and their allies had last week said they would not appear
before Matongo's committee saying it was set outside the MDC's constitution
and whatever decision it would come up with would neither be legal nor
binding on them.

Initially, the four MDC leaders had through their lawyers written to
Matongo's committee requesting the hearing to be moved from 10 December,
when it was initially scheduled to take place, to last Saturday. The said
the rescheduling of the hearing would allow them to attend but later changed
their stance after a meeting in Harare at which Sibanda claimed the MDC
national council had instructed them not to attend the hearing because it
was illegal.

Sibanda, Ncube and the others fell out with Tsvangirai after the MDC
leader refused to participate in last month's senate election saying the
poll would be rigged by President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF and that it was
also a waste of resources in a country facing hunger.

The other MDC leaders however felt the party had to contest the poll
after its national council had narrowly voted for it to do so. Sibanda and
Ncube also accused Tsvangirai of being dictatorial by seeking to
unilaterally overturn the decision of the council.

But observers have said the disagreements over the senate vote merely
triggered off a bitter fight for the control of the opposition that had been
long coming.

The wrangling between the MDC leaders has left the six-year old party,
which had appeared the most likely to unseat Mugabe's government, badly
paralysed. Political analysts say whoever emerges as the winner in the
ongoing struggle for the ownership of the party shall find it more than
difficult to confront Mugabe. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwean journalists charged for breaching tough broadcasting law

Zim Online

Mon 19 December 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe police have charged three journalists of the private
Voice of the People (VOP) broadcasting company for breaching the country's
tough broadcasting laws but it was unclear last night when they might be
brought to court for trial.

Human rights lawyer Rangu Nyamurundira told ZimOnline last night that
the journalists - Maria Nyanyiwa, Nyasha Bosha and Kundai Mugwanda - were
charged under the Broadcasting Services Act but said he had not been told
when the reporters might appear in court.

Nyamurundira said he would probably know only today when the
journalists are likely to face trial. He said: "We are waiting for Monday
but they are still in custody."

The journalists were arrested last Thursday when police and officials
of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) raided the VOP offices in
Harare. They have been detained at Harare Central police station since then.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached last night to
establish when the journalists might be brought to court.

But one of the lawyers representing the journalists, Jacob Mafume,
wrote in a court affidavit last Friday that the police had indicated to him
that they would not release the journalists until VOP director David Masunda
handed himself in to the law enforcement agency.

Under the government's draconian Broadcasting Services Act, it is
illegal for Zimbabweans to own signal-transmitting equipment or to broadcast
from the country without first obtaining a licence from the BAZ.

But VOP does not broadcast from Zimbabwe although it maintains offices
and reporters in the country. The station broadcasts into the southern
African country using a Radio Netherlands transmitter in Madagascar.

VOP, which was once firebombed three years ago by unknown people, is
one of several foreign-based radio stations set up by Zimbabwean
broadcasters unable to broadcast from home because of the stringent
conditions under the Broadcasting Act.

The crackdown on VOP comes days after a vitriolic attack by government
Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya against the privately-owned media
which he accused of being paid by Western countries to tarnish the image of
President Robert Mugabe and his government.

Jokonya threatened to take unspecified but tough measures against the
small but vibrant privately-owned media. - ZimOnline

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ANALYSIS: Economic crisis to fuel social unrest in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Mon 19 December 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe is likely to drift towards social unrest in 2006
amid signs of no respite in the six-year-old free-fall of the country's
once-robust economy and deteriorating political conditions, analysts have

With inflation at 502.4 percent and living standards deteriorating,
analysts say the conditions are ripe for a violent social upheaval unless
something drastic is done by the government to arrest worsening economic
hardships marked by shortages of basic commodities.

The country's annualised inflation is forecast to hit 700 percent
within the next few months, driven largely by the rapid depreciation of the
local dollar. The Zimbabwean unit has depreciated from around 26 000 against
the United States dollar in October on the official market to about 80 000
against the greenback at present.

The exchange rate on the thriving but unofficial parallel market is
even higher at around 100 000 Zimbabwe dollars to the US unit. The illegal
foreign currency black-market remains the surest source of hard cash for
both individuals and the corporate world.

But analysts think the litmus test for President Robert Mugabe and his
government during the coming year will be how to handle the emotive issue of
civil service salaries and working conditions.

Salaries for uniformed forces, teachers, health workers and other
civil servants have dominated the news in the past two weeks, with the
government acknowledging these were low and needed to be revised upwards.

"I foresee economic instability and more strikes as the government
fails to raise enough money to pay salaries. This could lead to social
unrest if not addressed properly," says Harare-based economist John

Civil servants and some legislators are pushing for a salary
adjustment of at least 500 percent in January to cushion government workers
from economic hardships.

This may, however, not be possible because the government is broke and
also due to the restrictive budgetary regime that Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa proposes to pursue next year.

According to Murerwa, government ministries will be required to stick
to strict budgetary targets and all recurrent expenditures (which account
for 75 percent of the state budget for 2006 and of which salaries are a
major component) must be financed from available revenue resources and no
borrowings will be entertained.

The analysts say crisis-weary Zimbabwe should, therefore, brace up for
a plethora of industrial actions by civil servants and other workers, a
development that will further worsen the situation in a country already hit
by economic and political problems.

Robertson forecasts the rate of inflation to double next year,
worsening the plight of ordinary citizens and companies.

"We are also going to witness further shrinkage in tourism," Robertson

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority - charged with the marketing of the
country's tourism facilities - recently painted a gloomy picture of the
state of tourism, saying that arrivals were down during the first nine
months of 2005.

The worsening inflation forecast spells doom for exporters and
importers who will have to contend with a steep depreciation of the Zimbabwe
dollar in coming months. The exchange rate tracks movements in prices.

Compounding Zimbabwe's gloomy prospects for 2006 are the unsavoury
prospects of another poor harvest, this time not due to natural phenomena
but as a by-product of six years of skewed economic and political policies.

Analysts believe that for the first time since the country embarked on
the destructive land reform programme in 2000, Zimbabwe, already battling
severe food shortages, will next year start experiencing the real
consequences of pursuing its widely-condemned agricultural policies of the
past six years.

Despite prospects of an above-normal season, most farmers are unlikely
to get inputs such as seeds and fertiliser on time.

"I think we will have the worst agricultural harvest because there is
no fuel, seeds and fertilisers for farmers. Prices of other inputs have
sharply gone up," explains Robertson.

It is estimated that Zimbabwe has foregone more than US$1.5 billion in
unearned tobacco proceeds since 2001 - a direct result of the expropriation
of former white-owned farms and the subsequent chasing of the farmers from
their properties.

The country is now paying a heavy price for the disruptions caused by
the land reform exercise as the new owners of land are either inexperienced
or have no resources to feed the entire nation.

Economist James Jowa says he does not see any meaningful investment
inflows until "sanity prevailed especially in the agriculture sector."

Jowa said: "Reports of ongoing disruptions of farming activities will
continue to dampen confidence in the agricultural sector. As such, no
meaningful investment initiatives should be expected until sanity prevails
in the sector."

He believes 2006 does not hold much hope for Zimbabwe because of
constraints faced by the various economic players.

The government estimates that the key agricultural sector will expand
by 14.8 percent during the 2005/06 season to anchor the projected overall
economic growth of between two and three-and-a-half percent in 2006.

Government has indicated that it will expend a lot of energy on
strengthening extension services and procurement of livestock vaccines in
2006 in its quest to bolster agricultural production.

The analysts believe that the continued collapse of companies will add
to the pressure on the government during 2006. At least 33 export companies
shut down this year, according to the Export Processing Zones Authority.

"This means that there are more and more people requiring a slice of
the limited resources that the government is able to give out as social
welfare benefits," explains an analyst with a stock broking firm. -

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In Zimbabwe, you join the queue and ask what's on sale later

Zim Online

Mon 19 December 2005

HARARE - It is mid-day on Thursday. Harare's streets are teeming with
traffic as people engage in seasonal Christmas shopping.

Like a bolt from the blue, hordes of people suddenly break into a
daring run across a busy street, undeterred by the danger posed by traffic
on the street.

Florence Tsoka, a 35-year old mother of two, also finds herself
impulsively joining the stampede to join the queue which had quickly formed
at the entrance to one of Harare's biggest supermarkets.

It is not just the young who have joined in the mad rush. Old women,
strapped in their famous wrapping cloths known as "mazambiya", are also here
competing with the younger ones for pole position in the ensuing chaos.

Soon, it becomes clear why there was such a rush as a battered blue
truck carrying 10kg bags of maize-meal snakes into the sanitary lane. The
maize-meal is quickly offloaded from the truck and shipped into the
supermarket, much to the relief of desperate customers.

Maize-meal, like most basic foodstuffs here, is in critical short
supply in Zimbabwe's cities and towns after President Robert Mugabe
disrupted the key agriculture sector, Zimbabwe's biggest foreign currency
earner, through his seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks five years ago.

But it is not just maize-meal which is in short supply. Fuel, basic
medicines, sugar and virtually every other commodity is also in critical
short supply because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers after
the International Monetary Fund withdrew balance-of-payment support in 1999
after disagreeing with Mugabe over fiscal policy and other governance

The farm seizures slashed food production by 60 percent leaving
Zimbabweans dependent on food handouts from aid agencies. But Mugabe had for
the past five years denied his land reforms caused hunger blaming the food
shortages on drought.

The Zimbabwean leader, who is accused by the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party of ruining what was once one of Africa's
strongest economies at independence from Britain 25 years ago, only admitted
at his ruling ZANU PF's party's annual conference two weeks ago that his
farm seizure programme exacerbated the food crisis.

But Mugabe's belated admission to his mistakes will probably go
unnoticed by many Zimbabweans most of whom appear to have found ways to
survive in an economy that has long ceased to function normally - although
this has meant having to queue for virtually every basic commodity from
maize-meal, cooking oil, sugar to flour.

The trend in this southern African nation is that you join the queue
first and ask what is on sale later. If you are interested, you stick it
out, if not you sell your place to someone else!

"This is one way of making quick money. I make sure I join any queue
that I find forming and would then sell my position to anyone desperate to
buy the commodity on sale," said Tonderayi Makombe, who was part of the

"I spent five hours in a queue for maize-meal at a supermarket in
central Harare and I obtained 10kg of maize-meal at $200 000!" lamented
Stephen Moyo, a 46-year-old caretaker in Harare.

With inflation currently standing at 502.4 percent, one of the highest
in the world, there virtually appears to be no respite for long-suffering

While people have almost accepted their lot, what is happening in
Harare aptly captures the rigours of daily life for ordinary Zimbabweans who
have bore the brunt of an economic recession described by the World Bank as
unseen in a country not at war. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe court dismisses farm seizure cases


Sun Dec 18, 2005 12:34 PM GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's High Court has formally dismissed all
challenges against the government's controversial seizures of white-owned
farms, months after the approval of a law barring courts from hearing such

President Robert Mugabe's governing ZANU-PF party used its parliamentary
majority earlier this year to push through a raft of constitutional
amendments establishing a new Senate, threatening travel sanctions against
critics and making its land grabs legally unchallengeable.

The state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper reported that the Administrative
Court -- a branch of the High Court -- had on December 9 granted the
government an order formally withdrawing over 4,000 cases in which white
commercial farmers were contesting the acquisition of their properties.

Administrative Court senior president Andrew Mutema also dismissed
applications by the farmers for their legal costs to be paid by the
government, saying each party should meet their own expenses, the weekly

"The Administrative Court has granted the government an order ...
effectively laying to rest a protracted legal wrangle between the state and
the aggrieved property owners," it added, citing Mutema's ruling which said:

"The applicant ... is hereby given leave to formally withdraw this and all
other land cases that were pending before the Administrative Court and were
aborted by Constitutional Amendment No. 17."

Mugabe plunged Zimbabwe into a deep political and economic crisis five years
ago with a drive of seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless

Mugabe, 81, and in power since the southern African country's independence
from Britain in 1980, said his controversial land reform programme was aimed
at correcting ownership imbalances created by British colonialism.

But critics say the farm seizures, which were sometimes accompanied by
violence by Mugabe's ZANU-PF supporters, have crippled Zimbabwe's
agricultural-driven economy and left nearly half the national population
surviving on food aid.

The country used to be the region's breadbasket.

Critics say most of the farms seized by the government have been shared
among Mugabe's government and ZANU-PF officials.

Western powers, including the European Union and the United States, have
imposed travel sanctions on Mugabe and his associates over the land seizures
and over charges that he has rigged three major elections since 2000 to
remain in power.

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Evict Defiant White Farmers, Legislator Urges Govt

The Herald (Harare)

December 17, 2005
Posted to the web December 17, 2005


A PARLIAMENTARY backbencher has urged the Government to evict white former
commercial farmers whose land has been acquired for resettlement as some are
disturbing farming operations by the new farmers.

Chiredzi South legislator Cde Aaron Baloyi (Zanu-PF) told the House of
Assembly on Wednesday that following the promulgation of the Consti-tution
of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 17) Act, the Government should move with speed in
evicting the white former commercial farmers.

"I implore the Government to enforce that those white farmers whose land was
acquired by Government should be removed. Some have remained disrupting the
activities of the new farmers and some are hostile to the new farmers," he

He was contributing to a debate on the Presidential Address to the House.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe (No 17) Amendment Act bars courts from hearing
appeals on land acquired for resettlement purposes.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa
recently told the House that the Government would soon formulate legislation
making it a crime to occupy State land without a lease or permit.

He said there was need for an orderly land reform programme and there was no
excuse for anyone to occupy State land without a lease or a permit.

Cde Baloyi urged farmers to fully use the land in order for the country to
regain its status as the breadbasket of the region.

The legislator also appealed to mobile phone operators to expand their
services to rural areas where about 70 percent of the population lives.

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Crocodiles kill 13 in Zimbabwe

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Sunday December 18, 2005
The Observer

Hunger and repression make life tough enough for most Zimbabweans, but in
the rural areas the wildlife is making life tricky too.
This year crocodiles took a narrow lead over elephants as the most dangerous
animal to humans, according to new statistics released this weekend by a
Zimbabwean conservation group.

Crocodiles dragged away and ate 13 people in the first 10 months of 2005,
according to the annual report of the Campfire group. Elephants charged and
trampled to death 12 people. One person was killed by a buffalo and one by a
hippopotamus making a total of 27 Zimbabweans killed by wildlife.

Many of those killed by elephants were subsistence farmers trying to protect
crops from the voracious appetites of the animals who eat about 300kg of
vegetation a day.

Some farmers use chilli pepper spray to ward off the elephants, which
usually amble off but occasionally become enraged, especially if they have
young. Crocodiles prey on villagers fishing or washing in rivers and lakes.

Despite the fearsome reputations of lions, they rarely kill humans. No fatal
lion attacks on humans have been recorded in the last year.

The Campfire group aims to promote the management of wildlife and use of
wildlife products in rural areas. 'Most of the time there is no recognition
of that fact, that communities are always on the front line of the battle
between man and beast,' said its director, Charles Jonga.

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Zimbabwe committed to fighting corruption: official

People's Daily

Zimbabwe is committed to fighting corruption in the economy, a senior
official said on Saturday.

State Enterprises, Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister Paul
Mangwana said the country was facing many economic problems related to
corruption and the government was making its systems watertight to curb

"The government set up the ministry when it realized that corruption
had reached unacceptable levels," he said.

He was speaking during the commemoration of the belated International
Anti-Corruption Day. The theme was "promoting national partnership in the
fight against corruption."

Mangwana said the ministry would strive to stamp out corruption at all
levels. All stakeholders should close ranks in fighting this war, he said,
urging all people to become whistle-blowers.

The new Anti-Corruption Commission would spare "no sacred cows" in
fighting the scourge, he said.

He said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was taming corruption in the
financial sector, while police and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority continued
to play their part.

The commemoration was held by the ministry together with the United
Nations office on Drugs and Crime.

The International Anti-Corruption Day was conceived at the " High
Level Political Conference for the Signing of the United Nations Convention
against corruption" held in Merida, Mexico in December 2003.

Hence the 9th of December has been officially recognized as the UN
International Anti-Corruption Day.

Source: Xinhua

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Suspensions exacerbate MDC rift


December 18 2005 at 06:46PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has suspended
five senior members of his party, deepening serious splits in the party, a
spokesperson said on Sunday.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for Tsvangirai's faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said a disciplinary committee decided
on Saturday to suspend five senior party officials, including Secretary
General Welshman Ncube and the party's president, Gibson Sibanda.

"Each of them had the right to defend themselves, which they gave up,"
Chamisa said.

He said Ncube and his deputy, Gift Chamanikire were suspended for two
years, while party treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and MDC lawmaker Trudy
Stevenson were each suspended for a year.

Sibanda, who was suspended for a year will be able have his case
reviewed at the national congress next February, said Chamisa. The others
have the right to appeal against their suspension before the party's
national council.

The five are key members of a faction of the MDC that supported
participation in last month's senate elections.

The party has been seriously divided over the issue. Tsvangirai had
called for a boycott of the poll. - Sapa-dpa

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Zimbabwe's tobacco output to decline

Xinhua 2005-12-18 23:13:20

HARARE, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- The shortage of essential inputs
such as fertilizer and diesel for efficient tillage is expected to result in
a sharp decline in tobacco production this season, an official said on

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president Julius Ngorima said
an output of not more than 65 million kg of flue-cured tobacco was expected
down from the initial 160 million kg.

"Though a total of 80,000 hectares were targeted to be put under
tobacco this year, we are now expecting about 45,000 hectares due to the
problems most farmers faced," he said.

Ngorima said a significant number of farmers had prepared seed
beds for transplanting, but the shortage of inputs and financial resources
held them back.

As a result, he said, an average of between 800 kg and 1,000 kg
per hectare would be expected this season, down from the normal 2,000 kg.

He said the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board had failed to
disburse loans to most farmers citing poor repayment levels.

Meanwhile, Ngorima said planting of the main dry land crop should
stop at the end of this month to avoid stunting crops known as "bush top".

The southern African country produced 73.3 million kg of the
golden leaf worth 118 million US dollars during the 2004/2005 season.
Tobacco accounted for 14 percent of the foreign currency the country earned
in 2004. Enditem

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Africa fears "tsunami" of cheap imports


December 18 2005 at 06:25PM

By John Chiahemen

South Africa's union federation Cosatu planned to use a rally marking
its 20th birthday earlier this month to promote a "buy local" campaign.

But as some 20 000 unionists marched and chanted "Proudly South
African" slogans in a Durban stadium, word went round that the bright red
T-shirts each wore were made in China.

Thousands of noisy members of the SACTWU textile union, which is
spearheading a campaign against a flood of cheap Chinese textile imports,
removed the shirts and hurled them into a pile in the middle of the stadium.

"People's reaction to those T-shirts is a clear indication that
they've had enough of these cheap products from abroad," SACTWU President
John Zikhali told Reuters later.

"South African retailers need to come to the party and buy products
that are made here because we cannot afford to lose any more jobs," Zikhali

From South Africa to Lesotho, to Zambia and Nigeria anger is mounting
over what one union leader called "a tsunami of cheap Chinese goods" that
many say is choking off local industries and wiping out jobs.

Leonard Hikaumba, president of the Zambian Congress of Trade Unions,
bemoaned what he called the dumping of cheap textiles and electronics goods
by Chinese exporters.

"The beneficiaries of these are the exporters, not us," he told

In no sector is this more critical than in textiles, one of the first
industries that took root as many sub-Saharan African countries became
independent in the 1960s.

The Textile, Garments and Tailoring Senior Staff Association of
Nigeria estimates some 350 000 jobs had been lost directly as a result of
Chinese competition and 1.5 million indirectly after more than 50 textile
industries were forced to shut down over the past five years.

"Most warehouses in Lagos have been converted to churches because
there are no manufactured goods to warehouse," the union's
secretary-general, Issah Aremu, told Reuters.

The South African textile union estimates 800 manufacturing units and
60 000 jobs have disappeared in the country since 2001 as a result of what
it calls unfair competition from China.

"It's not just about South Africa, the whole continent is concerned,
the whole world is beginning to suffer," said the union's Zikhali.

China's surging economy and manufacturing muscle have confounded even
economic superpowers like the United States.

Washington has found no easy barrier against a flood of Chinese
textiles since World Trade Organisation (WTO) quotas on Chinese imports
lapsed earlier this year.

Pretoria has imposed anti-dumping duties on a number of Chinese
products such as face cloths, door locks and handles, and blankets.

But some analysts called these token measures, perhaps reflecting a
desire by South Africa not to antagonise the giant Asian economy that is
growing in leaps and bounds.

Chinese diplomats in Africa are quick to note that their country is
becoming a major source of direct foreign investment for the continent.
Analysts say these are increasingly to extract minerals to fuel China's
awesome growth.

In 2004, China exported goods to Africa worth a total of
$13,82-billion (about R88.4-billion), against imports from Africa of $15.65
billion, but these figures mask a fundamental imbalance, experts say.

China imports mainly raw materials, with hardly any added value for
industrial growth in the African countries.

"What Chinese and other investors need to do is to set up
manufacturing industries here with new technology to produce quality
products," Zambia's Hikaumba said.

African countries have for decades faced a dilemma of how to deal with
China on trade issues because of Beijing's solidarity with Africa in its
fight against colonialism in the 1950s and '60s and its support of
liberation movements in Southern Africa.

This has only been complicated by China's charm offensive on the
continent aimed at containing the influence of Taiwan, which Beijing claims
as a rebellious province of China.

China's "friendship" with African countries has led to an influx of
its citizens who now run everything from grocery stores and building
materials shops to restaurants and corner stores in even remote provincial
towns of the continent.

The Chinese are increasingly visible on the streets of Zimbabwe, whose
President Robert Mugabe, shunned by the West for alleged misrule, is
pursuing a "look East" policy.

In Lesotho, an impoverished nation dependent on textiles for 90
percent of export earnings, the garment industry collapsed dramatically this
year after the end of WTO restrictions on Chinese exports killed off
Lesotho's US orders.

Chinese and Taiwanese investors set up factories there in 1999 to take
advantage of Washington's Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which gave
textile exports from qualified African countries duty-free access to
American markets.

They simply closed shop and walked away when the US orders dried up,
leaving thousands of workers, mostly women, jobless in a country with a 40
percent unemployment rate.

(Additional reporting by Shapi Shacinda in Lusaka, Tume Ahemba in
Lagos and Ntsau Lekhetho in Maseru)

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Radio staff to appear in court


18/12/2005 14:02 - (SA)

Harare - Three members of staff of a private Zimbabwe radio station will
appear in court on Monday on charges of operating a broadcast service
without a government license and working as journalists without
accreditation, their lawyer said on Sunday.

The women were arrested on Thursday in a police raid against the Voice of
the People, part of a crackdown against President Robert Mugabe's critics.
Documents and production equipment also were seized.

The women - who are administrative staff, not journalists - were being held
at Harare central police station, said their lawyer, Rangu Nyamurundira.

Their alleged offences are punishable by a fine or jail term under Mugabe's
media control laws.

Nyamurundira said lawyers had been unable to locate a High Court judge to
ask for an urgent order declaring their detention illegal after police said
they would be freed immediately if station director David Masuku surrendered
himself. Nyamurundira said he had no knowledge of Masuku's whereabouts but
police had no right to hold the women hostage for him.

Women detainees often ill-treated

"We come to court tomorrow and we take it from there," he said. "We saw them
yesterday and they are fine."

Nyamurundira said the three made no specific complaints of ill treatment.
But human rights organisations say women detainees routinely are ordered to
surrender their underwear, so they are left only with two outer garments,
and are kept in rat-infested cells without proper sanitation.

Nyamurundira said family members had been allowed to bring the women food.

No licenses have been issued for private broadcasters in Zimbabwe, where the
government controls the sole authorised radio and television station. But at
least three private radio stations beam programmes into the country using
short-wave transmitters based beyond its borders.

Arrests condemned

Reporters Sans Frontieres, also known as Reporters Without Borders, said the
government employed Chinese technicians over the past three months to try
and jam their signals, which are broadcast from Madagascar. In August 2002,
the Voice of the People offices were destroyed in a nighttime bombing. No
arrests have been made in connection with the attack.

The United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned
Thursday's arrests.

After 25 years in power, Mugabe's government has sought to curb its critics
as it confronts the worst economic crisis since 1980 independence.

Scores of journalists have been harassed, assaulted and arrested, many of
them held over weekends until courts open on Monday. The government has also
shut down a number of independent newspapers.

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The spy who came in from the quiet

From The Sunday Times (SA), 18 December

The so-called Welken incident raises questions about South Africa's
diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, writes Bonny Schoonakker

Friends of the South African spy who returned home this week from detention
in Zimbabwe are shocked by his appearance. "Hy het net stokoud geword in
hierdie jaar (He has become very old this year)," says a former colleague of
Aubrey Welken, after seeing the spy's photograph in the daily press. The
greying hair and the tiredness in Welken's eyes tell them that the SA Secret
Service agent has survived something of an ordeal in Zimbabwe since his
arrest on December 10 last year at Victoria Falls. Intelligence Minister
Ronnie Kasrils, who says he has "worked extremely hard" over the past year
for Welken's release, denies that his agent was tortured, and Welken himself
seemed to skirt around the issue. But when he addressed the news conference
held at Johannesburg International Airport this week, his reply did suggest
he had been hurt physically. "In any interrogation you need to follow a
certain procedure," Welken was quoted as saying by The Star. "As you can
see, I'm here, well, with all my limbs. As far as treatment is concerned, I
can say they've done it in a normal and professional way."

Considering that Welken had been in the custody of Zimbabwe's Central
Intelligence Organisation for a year to the day, the phrases "a certain
procedure" and "normal and professional" could cover a multitude of sins.
Kasrils decided not to allow the Sunday Times access to Welken, who was
accompanied back from Zimbabwe by his wife, Elmarie. The couple live in
Pretoria's southeastern suburbs, not far from the intelligence services'
headquarters at Musanda. Both continue to work for the secret service.
According to Kasrils's office, the Welkens had left town by the weekend,
"for a long, welldeserved holiday". Since her husband's arrest in Zimbabwe,
Elmarie Welken has been on leave on full pay, according to her colleagues. A
former colleague also says the couple's continued employment will make it
unlikely that they disclose anything controversial or embarrassing about his
arrest or Kasrils's 12-month fight for his release. The intelligence
ministry regards "the Welken incident" with some sensitivity, not least
because it has been interpreted in the media as emblematic of the SA
government's supine policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe.

It also raises questions about which of the countries holds the greater
influence over their diplomatic relationship. For example, within days of
Welken's arrest, the SA Police Service detained three Zimbabwean agents near
Musina, apparently members of the CIO spying on Costatu. Within hours of
their arrest the three were taken back across Beit Bridge. A Business Day
editorial stated this week that, "far from being proof of South Africa's
diplomatic prowess, the Welken incident shows up the ineptness of our
involvement in Zimbabwe". Kasrils dismissed the comment as "sour grapes",
but did concede in an interview on Friday that the handover had been less
than perfect. He had been hoping that Welken's last vestiges of anonymity
(images of Welken's face had not been published until this week) could be
retained, even though the real name of the spy identified as "Andrew Brown"
was reported widely in South Africa after this was first disclosed in the
Zimbabwean media. Instead, Welken was this week "totally outed" (as Kasrils
termed it on Friday) by Zimbabwe's official media, who were on hand when
Kasrils arrived in Harare by private jet with Elmarie Welken and a senior SA
Secret Service official to collect their man.

Although the presence of the Zimbabwean media did not breach any agreement
between himself and Zimbabwean Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa, Kasrils
admitted that, "I did not expect the media reception. I was not going to
make a point about it, but did not really expect that. At all costs I wanted
him home before Christmas and any quibble might have delayed his release."
Kasrils said Welken would continue to play an "invaluable" role at the
secret service, which is responsible for gathering foreign intelligence, as
opposed to its internal counterpart, the National Intelligence Agency. Asked
about Welken's future role, Kasrils said: "Obviously, that will change. But
if you as a person have been burnt in this way, it does not mean that [you
are] no longer serviceable. His experience is invaluable, as a manager and
an analyst. [His detention in Zimbabwe] does not in any way prejudice his
employment." Asked whether Welken's arrest had compromised any South African
intelligence-gathering operations, Kasrils replied, "Not at all." Welken's
arrest had "obviously" compromised the mission at hand, "but it did not have
any consequence on any operational aspects".

According to court papers, Welken's mission seems to have been to pay the
secret service's Zimbabwean informants in US dollars cash, and one former
colleague has stated in court papers that Welken went there reluctantly. On
a previous mission to Zimbabwe, he had been followed, presumably by CIO
agents, and he feared that he would be arrested if he went back. SA Secret
Service Deputy Director-General George Madikiza insisted that he go. The
court papers were filed by an office worker, Amanda Jeanne van der Merwe,
who is claiming that she was unfairly dismissed by Kasrils for attempting to
alert him to Welken's arrest. Kasrils insists he was aware of Welken's
disappearance within 24 hours and that she had violated procedures.
According to Van der Merwe's attorney, the matter will be heard in the
Pretoria High Court in February. Kasrils responded to the allegation by
saying that Welken "took the decision himself to enter Zimbabwe from Zambia,
on his own judgment and on his own volition. He was not prodded or pushed."
On whether Welken or any of his superiors had erred, or whether there would
be any disciplinary process, Kasrils replied only that "the matter is highly
operational, so I cannot say too much".

He was willing to confirm that Welken's arrest had been under constant
discussion between himself and Mutasa over the past year. Zimbabwean media
reported in May that Kasrils was visiting Harare to discuss Welken's release
with Mutasa. The two had also discussed the timing of the release during
Mutasa's visit to Cape Town in mid-November, when Kasrils berated
journalists for questioning Zimbabwe's human rights record in the presence
of Mutasa and Zimbabwean Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi. He had gone
personally to Harare on Monday, Kasrils said, because Mutasa had "contacted
me the day before to say, 'We are ready to release him.' I was overjoyed,
obviously. It was a consequence of political diplomacy. Do I want to put a
spoke in the wheel? Obviously not. Mutasa was leaving for abroad the
following day, and I would not have had this handover [if I did not leave
immediately]. There was no seeking of cheap publicity."

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 17th December 2005

Santa visited the Vigil today. Dozens of Father Christmases swamped us on
their way down the Strand to wherever Santas go a week before the big night.
They were part of a regiment of red-robed revellers who brought a blaze of
colour to a cold day. They signed our petitions, played our drums and
joined in the singing and dancing.

Many passers-by commented on a BBC Newsnight report this week which went
further than anything else in showing the desperate situation at home. Video

Well done to the small group of supporters (from as far afield as Sheffield
and Birmingham) who braved the freezing weather today - our coldest Vigil so
far this winter. We meet again next Saturday - Christmas Eve, all thinking
of loved ones back in Zimbabwe.

FOR THE RECORD: about 25 supporters came today.

A reminder - there will be no Central London Zimbabwe Forum on Monday, 19th
December 2005. This is because our regular venue is not available because
it has been booked for Christmas celebrations. Unfortunately because of the
time of year we have not been able to find another venue. We will meet
again after the Christmas break. The first forum in the new year will be on
Monday, 9th January 2006 at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street,
London WC2.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Immigration scam kingpin sentenced


December 18 2005 at 05:25PM

By Roy Barford and Santosh Beharie

South African police and their London counterparts have jointly
smashed an illegal immigration syndicate.

Their investigations revealed that the syndicate, based in London,
smuggled at least 150 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, South Africa and
Jamaica into the UK.

The syndicate, whose kingpin was Harry Peter Wilson, a 46-year-old
Zimbabwean national who owned a luxury apartment in Durban, as well as two
in Bulawayo and two in London, issued fake qualifications, visas, identity
documents, birth certificates and passports.

The SAPS Crime Intelligence division and the London British
Metropolitan Police had worked on the case together for more than a year
before nabbing Wilson and two of his accomplices in June last year.

SAPS national spokesperson Senior Superintendent Tummi Golding said
Wilson had been sentenced to 38 months in prison for his crimes in a London
court in October.

Wilson convinced innocent people that he could lawfully get them a
visa and indefinite leave to remain in the UK for 1 200 (R13 700).

The Isleworth Crown Court sentenced him to three years and two months
for supplying false information to the Home Office.

Two Sri Lankan principals of the London Schools of Accountancy in
Tooting, south London, backed the applications. Arumagan Kanageswaran, 54,
and Ponnduri Puvanandaran, 50, wrote letters saying that the applicants had
been accepted at their school.

They were jailed for two years and 10 months each.

In forms filled on the immigrants' behalf, Wilson claimed he provided
them with accommodation plus about R5 500 living expenses while they studied

In 2003 the trio, who had become British citizens themselves, applied
for at least 150 visas.

Not knowing how to make the applications themselves, the victims
either contacted Wilson in Zimbabwe or just after their arrival in London.

Wilson, who lived in Penge, south east London, also touted for
business at hotels in both countries.

"This network was motivated by greed and was achieved by manipulating
young and vulnerable students," said the Met's Detective Chief Inspector
Matt Parkes.

The men used the money from the scam for frequent trips to South
Africa, expensive cars and several properties in London and Zimbabwe -
including a hotel and casino in Zimbabwe.

They were finally caught after a joint investigation by the Met and
South African Police.

Golding said that SAPS Crime Intelligence had been approached by the
London police in June last year to assist in tracking down and arresting
members of the syndicate.

In October this year, 22 suspects were arrested, and charged with
conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into in the United Kingdom by
deception, money laundering and fraud.

They are currently being detained in London.

Another SAPS national spokesman, Captain Khumiso Sekethema, said that
some of the suspects were in possession of fake South African IDs, but at
this stage, their true nationalities were not known.

"They could be Nigerians and Zimbabweans, but it is very hard to say."

Sekethema said the co-operation between South Africa and Britain was
aimed at eradicating illegal immigration activities. Sekethema confirmed
that British Crime Intelligence groups had also been operating in South
Africa, with the co-operation of local police.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus on
December 18, 2005

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ICC to Zimbabwe: Resolve row or face suspension

New India Press

Monday December 19 2005 00:00 IST

NEW DELHI: The International Cricket Council has issued a clear warning to
trouble-ridden Zimbabwe saying that the African nation's Test status could
be suspended if it failed to resolve its internal strife.

Mired in volatile political situation in the country, the Zimbabwe cricket
has been on a downslide ever since Robert Mugabe took the charge of the
nation. In May 2004, the ICC had proposed a Test suspension after a players'

In a joint statement on a cricket website recently, ICC President Ehsan Mani
and Chief Executive Malcom Speed said, "A similar move (suspension) cannot
be ruled out in the future.

"While members have the freedom to manage their own sovereign affairs, they
do not have the right to risk the integrity of the international game."

After Heath Streak, Stuart Carlisle and Sean Ervine, Captain Tatenda Taibu
also quit as national team captain in protest at the way the game is being

His resignation came in the wake of Zimbabwe cricket Chairman Peter Chingoka
and Managing Director Ozias Bvute being questioned by police as part of a
fraud investigation.

Taibu has said he would return if Chingoka and Bvute are removed from their
positions. However, ICC is reluctant on direct intervention.

"The idea that the ICC can simply walk in and 'take over' one of our members
is quite simply a nonsense," they said.

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Mujuru Launches $56bn Agricultural Project

The Herald (Harare)

December 17, 2005
Posted to the web December 17, 2005


VICE President Cde Joice Mujuru yesterday launched a multi-billion dollar
agricultural project at Chapoto Estate Irrigation Scheme set to benefit
thousands of people in Kanyemba communal areas, in Lower Guruve.

Newsnet reported that the 20 000-hectare estate would focus mainly on cotton
production and maize farming, making it the largest indigenous owned estate
in Mashonaland Central.

The estate run by local company Synthesis Agriculture under the banner of
Dotito Agricultural Projects is expected to cost approximately $56 billion
through the acquisition of earthmovers, land clearance and water canals.
Commissioning the multi-billion dollar scheme yesterday, Cde Mujuru said it
was a welcome development to the people of Dande.

It would go a long way in improving

the welfare of people in the communal area.

The Chapoto Irrigation Scheme, which currently has 13 bulldozers, has the
potential to generate more than US$25 million a year when fully operational.

A cotton ginning factory is also set to be built at the estate by next year
creating at least 8 000 jobs.

Cde Mujuru commended Synthesis Agriculture for its vision, saying the
establishment of the estate in the Dande valley was beneficial to people in
the community who had no other means of livelihood.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gono, who also attended the occasion,
said following the positive developments taking place at the estate,
Synthesis Agriculture deserved to get more support through financial

The central bank has assisted the project by making $60 billion available.

The project was given a free water usage concession for one season by the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

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