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Continuing Cholera and Disease Outbreak Threat In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
6th Floor, Beverly Court, 100 Nelson Mandela Ave, Harare
Tel: 708118, 251468, 705370 Fax: 723789
PO Box CY 2415, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe

3 February 2006
Press Statement

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) remains concerned over the state of the public service delivery system in the country and its contribution to disease outbreak, cholera in particular. It is essential that there be a more coherent central Government strategy to ensure that Zimbabweans are accorded the “best attainable state of physical and mental health”.

The Government’s knee-jerk response to the cholera outbreak earlier this year continues to be inadequate as a measure to prevent disease outbreak in the medium to long-term future. The ad hoc arrangement to close down Mbare Msika before alternative arrangements meeting minimum standards of health had been made is deplorable. Vendors were relocated to make-shift “satellite markets” in Belvedere, Dzivarasekwa, Mavbuku, Highfield and Hatcliffe under circumstances in which the necessary infrastructure such as running water and toilets is absent or insufficient to meet the needs of the populations already in place at these locations. This raises the potential for further outbreak of disease rather than addressing the problem.

Attention has been drawn to Mbare Msika as the focus for bringing the outbreak under control, but the problem is much broader. The absence of satisfactory public service provision that predicates the outbreak of disease (intermittent water supplies, lack of refuse collection and burst sewage pipes left unattended) continues to exist countrywide.

Although there was an urgent need to address unacceptable health conditions at Mbare Msika, creating equally filthy, smaller temporary locations for vegetable vending will not eradicate the larger problem but merely transfer it elsewhere.

ZADHR reiterates its prior concerns raised following Operation Murambatsvina, that unplanned relocation measures, rather than preventing the outbreak of epidemic diseases such as cholera, create ideal conditions for the spread of the disease by indefinitely leaving people without access to proper sanitation or supply of clean running water.

We urge the Ministry of Health and municipal authorities to desist from implementing uncoordinated ad hoc measures that may have long-term negative effects. Stakeholders must be consulted and adequate planning be undertaken before further measures are taken to address the problem. Such measures should be part of a sound national policy that meets minimum standards for health.

In addition the public has a right to be fully informed and updated on the current status of disease outbreaks and measures being taken to address these. Lack of adequate information is likely to worsen the situation.

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IMF pressure on Zim

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 3 February

Godwin Gandu

Harare - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will press Zimbabwe to
privatise its ailing parastatals that have been "bleeding the fiscus",
according to sources who met with the global lender in Harare recently. "The
IMF wants the government to sell its stake in the parastatals to finance its
social services," the sources told the Mail & Guardian. Since independence,
the parastatals - which include Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe
and the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company - have been making huge losses. Air
Zimbabwe alone is running at a R6-million loss every month. The IMF
presented its report to Zimbabwe's finance and economic development
ministers on Wednesday after a week-long routine assessment in the country.
Economists noted that the IMF was "very concerned" about the state of the
parastatals, incoherent policies, increased government expenditure and
exchange rate management. "They are no longer worried about where the money
used to settle the country's arrears with the IMF came from. They are more
worried about the country's [economic] recovery plans," said John Robertson,
an economics consultant. Farayi Dyirakumunda, a Harare-based economist,
said: "The IMF believes that the government is inconsistent in its polices .
Money supply growth is still high, and the government is beginning to manage
the exchange rate that should be left to market forces."

The role of the central bank in Zimbabwe's economic turnaround strategy has
also caused unease the IMF. While Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has been
heaped with praise for his condemnation of farm invasions, his warnings of
violent food riots if economic hardships persist and his stance on
corruption, he is believed to be overstepping his brief. During his monetary
policy statement last week, he indicated that he had distributed
Z$13-trillion (about R430-million) to bail out parastatals. And herein lies
the problem with Gono, an economist with a commercial bank told the M&G.
"The monies were pumped into bottomless pits because most of these
parastatals did not provide any turnaround strategies. We can't be printing
money and dishing it out like that. It fuels inflation and Gono should have
known that. Now he wants to turn the Reserve Bank into a commercial bank. It's
wrong. We will definitely become the first central bank in the world to go
commercial," he said. "Some of the things he touches on are outside his
domain," said Tendayi Biti, opposition Movement for Democratic Change shadow
secretary for economic affairs. "His entanglement with quasi fiscal issues,
providing money to local authorities and parastatals and managing them is
not his domain. Those issues should be dealt with by central government."

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Signing of TNF Protocol Postponed

The Herald (Harare)

February 4, 2006
Posted to the web February 3, 2006


THE signing of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Prices and Incomes
Protocol, which was supposed to be held yesterday, has been postponed

Officials in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said
the meeting had been postponed due to reasons beyond their control.

"The signing meeting has been indefinitely postponed, and we will advise all
the parties concerned of the new date," said an official from the ministry.

Labour representative to the TNF Mr Lovemore Matombo, who is the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, said the ministry had advised
them of the postponement.

"I have been advised that the meeting has been postponed and a new date
would be announced in the future," said Mr Matombo. Last week, Government
and the labour movement agreed to improve relations under the auspices of

Government, business and labour have moved closer to concluding the Prices
and Incomes Stabilisation Protocol after they reached a broad agreement on a
document that is expected to stimulate economic growth. The signing of the
Incomes and Prices Protocol was expected to address industry and workers'
concerns, which have been characterised by increasing prices and receding
salaries and wages.

Industry has attributed frequent price increases to high operational costs
while employees complained that their incomes were being outpaced by

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No progress as Zimbabwe strike continues

Cricinfo staff

February 4, 2006

Reports that Zimbabwe's cricketers had signed contracts offered to them by
the board have turned out to be false.

Yesterday, unknown sources said that Zimbabwe Cricket had bypassed group
negotiations and had approached players on a one-on-one basis to offer them
new contracts. It was claimed that 16 had signed after meeting board
officials during the day.

But a source representing the players told Cricinfo that nothing had been
signed, and in fact the players had not only refused to do so, but had also
again withdrawn from all cricket in frustration at the board's handling of
the dispute. That means that tomorrow's final round of matches in the
Faithwear one-day tournament is likely to go ahead without any of those
involved in the negotiations.

"We decided to pull back and not sign the contracts," the source told
Cricinfo. "And further, we're not going to play cricket until this thing is
sorted out."

The players remain concerned about the way that their outstanding backpay is
being addressed, and most are also not happy with the new contracts they are
being offered, which they feel are inferior to what they were presented with

They are also very unhappy that Zimbabwe Cricket has refused to allow Clive
Field, the players' association representative, to act on their behalf and
is forcing them to deal individually with the board. "It's a further step
back," the source explained, "because now we have the player rep issue as
well as the contract one."

Hamilton Masakadza endorsed that view, telling Cricinfo: "Anything to do
with us, you can still speak to Clive. He still represents us and its not
right for anyone but us to do away with him."

Zimbabwe Cricket is unlikely to improve the contract and it is possible that
offers could be made to the next tier of players. However, this week's
Faithwear matches have shown that those players are nowhere near being good
enough to play international cricket.

© Cricinfo

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The force is against Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

By Scyld Berry
(Filed: 05/02/2006)

Give them credit where it is due. The new musclemen appointed by the
Zimbabwe government to run the national cricket board may not know the first
thing about cricket, let alone fair play, but they know what force majeure
is all about.

Cricket's in-fighting and disintegration in Zimbabwe have made a long and
tedious saga but yesterday saw one of the more interesting twists in the
dispute between the board and players.

Cricket administrators over the centuries have been guilty of many things
from dopiness to corruption, but no administration have introduced
strong-arm tactics into cricket like the Zimbabwe board have done.

Last Tuesday was the deadline for the board and the players' association to
come to an agreement about several areas of dispute, like the pay owed to
the players since last year (about US$200,000 is the reported figure) and
future contracts.

There was never much chance of an agreement, and duly enough the deadline
passed, which left the Zimbabwean board not merely without any Test-class
players but without any professional cricketers.

But these Zanu chaps, they know their realpolitick, even if they couldn't
tell the difference between a googly and Google.

Zimbabwe have a tour of the West Indies coming up in April: not a Test tour,
because Zimbabwe last month suspended themselves from Test cricket for a
year, jumping just before they were pushed. It is due to comprise five
one-day internationals, assuming Zimbabwe can raise an XI.

This is where the lawyers, sensing misfortune, come in. The ICC regulations
stipulate that a country must send their best available team to tour another
country, otherwise compensation has to be paid.

Hence the new interim committee running Zimbabwe Cricket, appointed by the
government's Sport and Recreation Commission, have decided that they must
have a 'best available XI', even if they are no more than souped-up club
cricketers, so the West Indian board cannot call off the tour and sue for
breach of contract.

Now comes the force majeure. The players had been sticking together in their
association, presenting a united front behind their representative Clive
Field, and, as recently as Friday night, they re-affirmed their solidarity
at a meeting in Harare.

But the new Zimbabwe board, aware of the old colonial tactic of
divide-and-rule, announced that they would no longer recognise Field as the
players' representative and would negotiate with the players individually.

Yesterday it was even announced, by Cricinfo, that 'about 16 players' had
signed new contracts - in other words Zimbabwe would have a touring party to
brandish in front of the lawyers and take to the West Indies.

But this announcement seems to have been premature: approximately that
number of players were inclined to break ranks and sign the contracts,
simply because they were desperate for the money to live, but they are still
sticking together - at least until tomorrow when the board's offensive will

One agency report quoted two cricketers, too "nervous about possible
reprisals" to be named, who said the players would never sign a contract
with Zimbabwe Cricket while Peter Chingoka remained chairman.

He has long been one stumbling block, Ozias Bvute another as chief
executive. And just to give you a real flavour of what professional cricket
in Zimbabwe is now like, take Bruce Makovah, the chairman of selectors for
the national team and for Mashonaland.

Makovah played briefly as a medium-pacer for Mashonaland Under-24, but is
far more aggressive now he is a selector.

He refuses to pick any players from the six leading clubs in Harare, who
include most of the national players.

He was reported to have broken up a game between two of those clubs last
October. Mashonaland are represented by clubbies so young and raw that last
week, when losing a one-dayer by 10 wickets, Chris Mpofu, of Matabeleland,
took six for eight.

The unhappy players are refusing to play domestic first-class cricket, when
the Logan Cup starts on Feb 14, as well as to represent Zimbabwe - at least
until their board pick them off one by one.

It is without question the nastiest mess professional cricketers have ever
found themselves in during peace time.

School and club cricket continue in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe's Under-19 team
may well give England U-19 a decent game on Friday in the youth World Cup in
Colombo. But teenage cricket is only a seed; it cannot survive without
water, sun and earth.

Whatever the interim committee do, the time has probably passed: Zimbabwe no
longer have a Test team and never will again.

Their last two cricketers of Test class were Heath Streak, now packing his
bags before leaving to captain Warwickshire, and Tatenda Taibu, back in
Zimbabwe after a month of club cricket in Bangladesh, but refusing to play
again under the present board.

But even when Streak and Taibu were playing, Zimbabwe lost their last six
Tests by an innings or, in once case, 10 wickets; and two of those six
defeats came in two days.

The ICC may wash their hands in public and say it is all an internal matter
for Zimbabwe but there are objective criteria which can be applied for Test

One is that a country should be able to last more than two days. Another is
that when a team lose most Tests by an innings they should be suspended. In
their last six Tests Zimbabwe have averaged 18.1 runs per wicket to their
opponents' 52.8.

Now we are down to nine Test-playing countries. Even when Zimbabwe's year of
self-suspension is up, it should surely stay that way.

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Matongo Jets In for a Look-See

Zim Daily

            Friday, February 03 2006 @ 11:01 AM GMT
            Contributed by: ZimdailyReporter
            The MDC national chairman, Issac Matongo, who is also acting
secretary general and his delegation, including MDC spokesman, Nelson
Chamisa, arrives in London today (sat) for a series of meetings with MDC
structures in the UK.

            The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC (some say the only MDC) has
emerged from its splintering crisis and is in the process of reorganising
structures, including those in the diaspora which were also rocked by the
splintering. A spokeman for the MDC UK, Matthew Nyashanu, said branches in
the north were expected to meet Matongo in Leeds today, Saturday the 4th.
Tomorrow, Sunday, Matongo and his delegation will meet all MDC members who
choose to attend a UK district assembly in Birmingham before the delegation
moves on to London for a regional meeting for the south on Monday and an
appearance at the London Forum.

            On Tuesday they will be at South-end-on-Sea, seeing how that
branch is functioning. Nyashanu said the visit is a strong indication that
the main opposition is growing even stronger since the Zanu (PF) inspired
senate gimmick. "This is a clear indication that the MDC is poised to
achieve its main objective to rid Zimbabwe of dictatorship and suffering
caused by Robert Mugabe's regime. The visit comes at a time when UK
membership is going through an incarnation of leadership renewal and
rejuvination ahead of the March congress. "Those who are for change will be
seen by deeds not words. I urge all peace loving Zimbabweans, well-wishers
and our valued members to attend all the lined up meetings and chart the way
forward for our beloved country," he said. He scoffed at what he called the
hallabaloo being made about MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai being deported
from Zambia. "If the Zambian govenment is complicit with Mugabe's government
of if they have been so intimidated by Mugabe's CIO that they would not want
to be seen to be hosting his enemy, so be it.

            "That is not a reflection on President Tsvangira or the MDC as
some right-wing news sights are trying to portray. "The message you should
actually take home from this is that MDC is busy, we are networking and we
are working day and night for Zimbabwe's liberation, at home and abroad."

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Harare Central Hospital Runs Out Of Anaesthetics, Suspends Surgeries

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 04 2006 @ 09:27 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            Harare Central Hospital has suspended carrying out surgeries due
to an acute shortage of anaesthetics and anti-oxidants, Zimdaily can reveal.
Hospital Doctors Association president Takunda Chinyoka confirmed that the
State institution was reeling from an acute shortage of anaesthetics and had
suspended operating patients until the situation improves. "The hospital has
been referring critical cases to Parirenyatwa but the referral hospital has
also been failing to cope. What is in short supply are anti-oxidants and
sedatives," Chinyoka told Zimdaily.

            Patients were observed writhing in pain at the hospital's
outpatients department without being attended to. James Mushoriwa, whose leg
injuries were turning septic told Zimdaily that he had been held at the
hospital for the past one week without any treatment, adding that he could
not afford to seek medical attention at private hospitals because of the
prohibitive health costs there. Health minister David Parirenyatwa yesterday
refuted reports that the hospital had run out of anaesthetics.

            "That is not true at all," Parirenyatwa said. "The reason why
the intensive care is not working is because there are renovations taking
place there. Dont try to politicise this issue," he said. Health and Child
Welfare is listed at number 16 of the 21 'vote appropriations' in Zimbabwe's
national budget. Over 40% of the health budget goes to salaries, but there
is little money for salary increases, doctors' on-call allowances and home
nursing visits.

            The continued depreciation in the Zim dollar has seen the
currency buying even fewer imported drugs, chemicals and equipment. The
limited budget has caused difficulty with imported medicines and equipment.
Shortages of X-ray plates, dialysis chemicals, rubber gloves, and so on
abounds at the state institutions. Many Zimbabweans loathe being patients at
the State hospitals which perenially have no medicines, equipment, broken
toilets, no hot water, kitchens that can't provide meals and dissatisfied
staff. Zimbabwean patients experience all these difficulties when seeking
'cures' from 'modern medicine' offered by the State. Those who can afford
private health care do much better. Over half of what is spent on health is
spent on one quarter of the population, about half of whom belong to medical
aid societies.

            Harare Hospital is fairly typical of the funding crisis in State
hospitals. Receiving only half the money it needed has caused 'Gomo Hospital'
to run out of drugs, which in turn has resulted in child deaths. The
hospital is also owed nearly Z$1,3 billion by patients who give false
details to avoid paying. Insufficient money means poor care.

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US Is Attempting To Justify A Pre-Emptive Strike On Zim - Mugabe's Office

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 04 2006 @ 09:32 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent

            Zimbabwe has accused the United States of "undue interference"
in its internal affairs, criticising it for comments made by President
George Bush during his State of the Nation address branding Zimbabwe a
laggard in the global development of democracy. Principal director in
President Mugabe's office William Nhara said Zimbabwe will continue to
reject the US's political agenda of neo-colonialism aimed at overthrowing
the liberation movement and wiping away its legacy.

            "The US continues to make rash statements on Harare and
particularly President Mugabe, violating the principle of no-interference in
other countries' internal affairs," Nhara said. "We remain vigilante and on
the watch of every move that the warmonger Bush wants to take against us."
            The remarks came after President Bush singled out Zimbabwe along
with Syria, Burma, North Korea and Iran as countries whose people live under
oppressive rule. "At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our
world live in democratic nations," President Bush said in his State of the
Nation address Wednesday. "And we do not forget the other half - in places
like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of
justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well."

            Nhara however said President Bush could not lecture Zimbabwe on
democracy when his popularity ratings were plunging and his administration
dogged by anti-war demonstrations arising from the "illegal invasion of
Iraq." "The US president cannot impose democracy on ," Nhara said. "Right
now Iraq has become an epitome of the paradoxy, hypocrisy and double
standards that haunt US's definition of democracy. We know there were never
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The world instead became victims of
weapons of mass deception, the same deception that President Bush is trying
to use to justify a pre-emptive strike on Zimbabwe," Nhara said.

            State Security minister Didymus Mutasa was also quoted in the
press dismissing the accusation saying the U.S. president was a "warmonger"
and "bully" who could not be allowed to "tarnish the image of paragons of
peace and democracy like President Robert Mugabe." Zimdaily understands that
Zimbabwe might take on a higher profile now that the United States has
assumed the revolving presidency of the U.N. Security Council, according to
political analysts.

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Mugabe Shoots Down Gono's Plea To Declare Amnesty On 'Economic Criminals'

Zim Daily

            Saturday, February 04 2006 @ 09:30 PM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            President Robert Mugabe ihas shot down pleas by Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono to declare an amnesty on businesspeople facing charges
of economic crimes. Gono last week requested that government declare an
amnesty to "all those who may have erred and strayed economically in the
past," so that a new beginning can be worked out. But official sources said
Mugabe had shot down the proposal saying the move would give an impression
that government condoned corruption.

            Since the anti-graft crusade,which lost steam last year after a
frenetic 2004, which mainly targeted foreign exchange violations and were
led by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, several high profile businesspeople
have been hounded by police, but no notable conviction has been secured to
date. Several of the businesspeople, mainly bankers, have had to flee the
country, claiming their chances of a fair trial were jeopardised by a
compromised judiciary as well as the controversial amendment to the Criminal
Procedures Act, which allows police to detain suspects for 21 days without
bringing them to court.

            Official sources said Mugabe had actually instructed top police
officials to seek the support of Interpol to bring back all business people
who fled the country at the height of the corruption crackdown in 2004.
Mugabe last year accused Britain of "harboring our criminals." However,
government has failed to repatriate the said officials due to an absence of
a extradition treaty between UK and Zimbabwe. NMB founders Julius Makoni,
James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto, as well as Intermarket
group founder Nicholas Vingirai and Telecel Zimbabwe chairman James Makamba,
are some of the prominent executives who left the country with the police
hot on their trail following allegations of fraud and exchange control

            Mutumwa Mawere, who had built a remarkable empire with interests
across many sectors of the economy, was forced to turn his back on his
country of birth to settle in South Africa after government failed to
extradite him on fraud charges. He has, however, virtually lost all his
businesses, but is still battling the state in court. Several other bank
executives, who were accused of impropriety and were driven out of their
banking firms, have been specified and arraigned before the courts.

            These include former Century directors Garainesu Shoko, Onias
Ndlovu, Calvin Mtombeni and Chamu Matsika, who stand accused of engineering
one of the country's biggest accounting frauds at CFX Bank, which succeeded
Century. The four have also been specified and are currently under
investigations, as are Trust Holdings founder William Nyemba and fellow
entrepreneurial executives Chris Goromonzi and Nyevero Hlupo. The
sector-wide purge had the banking sector effectively under siege, with the
government seizing the opportunity to lay blame for the crisis-ridden
economy on the doorsteps of the industry. Bankers have accused government of
criminalizing a forex black market it had not only created due to
distortions it has created through its widely criticised exchange rate
policy, but had also actively participated in.

            There does, however, seem to be a change of heart in government,
with central bank governor Gideon Gono last week dropping the clearest hint.
"We call upon government to declare an amnesty to all those who may have
erred and strayed economically in the past, so that a new beginning can be
worked out," Gono said in a preamble to his Fourth Quarter Monetary Policy
Review presented last week. A Harare market analyst said Gono's statement
was significant in that it could be rightly taken to mirror the sentiment
within official circles. "He has realised that the project to save Zimbabwe
from further decline does not require witch hunting tactics. It is also
significant when one considers that it was him, essentially, who was leading
that crusade, so he is now saying, okay, enough with that, time for change
of tack," the analyst, who declined to be named, said.

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Forex Inflows Remain Low, Statistics Indicate

The Herald (Harare)

February 3, 2006
Posted to the web February 3, 2006


FOREIGN currency inflows at the interbank market could still be
substantially low, possibly way less than US$5 million daily, statistics
from the market show.

The Zimbabwe dollar has been unmoved at Z$99 202 against the US dollar since
the Reserve Bank moved in to control exchange rate movements last week. The
central bank says the rate cannot move if volumes are below US$5 million.

What this means is that the interbank market has, on a daily basis, failed
to attract trades above or equal to this figure for the last week and a
half, and that forex inflows into the system have remained fundamentally

Critically so, data from the interbank could point to a scenario where
demand has continued to outweigh supply, although the market has not
respected these fundamentals as price determinants.

Any increase in inflows of between US$5 million and US$10 million would
allow a movement of 1 percent on the exchange rate whilst volumes of US$15
million and above would warrant a 2 percent adjustment on the rate.

Analysts said the recent adjustment in the functioning of the interbank
market could further hamstring any anticipated increase in inflows.

Instead, the key to boosting foreign currency receipts, analysts say, has
remained the improvement of export competitiveness and attraction of foreign
direct investment.

"You cannot break the link that exists between inflation and the exchange
rate," said a Harare economist.

"At current levels, our rate of exchange is a little overvalued. We need to
allow the Zimbabwe dollar to weaken. It has not weakened fully enough to
encourage exporters to trade profitably.

"If the rate flexes enough, it would be able to push up exports, which are a
major source of foreign currency.

"But the whole matter really revolves around inflation. For a stable
exchange rate, inflation has to be low -- and very, very low. The key issue
is to bring it down."

Last year, Zimbabwe's foreign currency inflows dropped by 0,46 percent to
US$1,70 billion from 2004's figure of US$1,71 billion, largely due to
falling productivity in all major sectors of the economy.

But the dollar has continued on a freefall since January 2005 as it chased
high inflation.

However, the Reserve Bank last week said the continued depreciation of the
dollar was unwarranted, and moved to contain the runaway situation by
controlling rate movements through volume-determined pricing.

Downward adjustments in currencies can be a result of failure in various
economic variables.

When a government devalues its currency, it is often because the interaction
of market forces and policy decisions has made the currency's fixed exchange
rate untenable.

In order to sustain a fixed exchange rate, a country must have sufficient
foreign exchange reserves, often in US dollars, and be willing to spend them
to purchase all offers of its currency at the established exchange rate.

When a country is unable or unwilling to do so, then it must devalue its
currency to a level that it is able and willing to support with its foreign
exchange reserves.

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United States Concerned About Zimbabwe's Human Rights Situation

03 February 2006

Calls on government to repeal repressive laws, end harassment of activists

The United States is concerned about the Zimbabwe government's decision to
press charges against the trustees of an independent radio station, Voice of
the People, according to a February 3 State Department statement.

"The government's action suggests a new intimidation campaign against the
press and human rights defenders," the statement said.

"The United States calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to respect the
rights of its citizens to advance the cause of human rights without fear of
reprisal from the state and its agents," the statement continued.

According to news reports, six board members of the Harare-based Voice of
the People radio station were charged recently with broadcasting without a
license and could face up to two years in prison.  One trustee, prominent
human-rights advocate Arnold Tsunga, reportedly might have received death

The Voice of the People is one of a handful of independent news outlets in
Zimbabwe, where the media are controlled almost completely by the

The government claims that the Voice of the People has violated a 2001
broadcasting law intended to stifle any criticism of President Robert Mugabe's
administration, said by human-rights groups to be one of the most repressive
in the world.  But in fact, according to reports, the station broadcasts not
out of Zimbabwe, but via Radio Netherlands in Madagascar.

The charges are the latest in a series of government attacks on the station,
whose equipment and files were seized in a government raid on its offices on
December 15, 2005.

President Bush, in his recent State of the Union address, cited Zimbabwe as
one of several countries in need of freedom and reform: "At the start of
2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations.
And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma,
Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the
peace of this world, require their freedom, as well." (See related article.)

Following is the text of the State Department statement:

(begin text)

Office of the Spokesman
February 3, 2006

Statement by Sean McCormack, Spokesman

Crackdown in Zimbabwe

The United States is concerned by the decision of the Government of Zimbabwe
to press charges against the trustees of the Voice of the People, an
independent radio station.  The government's action suggests a new
intimidation campaign against the press and human rights defenders.  The
trustees are prominent human rights advocates and include Arnold Tsunga, the
director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.  We are deeply troubled by
reports that Tsunga may have received death threats because of his work on
behalf of human rights in Zimbabwe.  The United States calls upon the
Government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights of its citizens to advance the
cause of human rights without fear of reprisal from the state and its

We also call on the Government of Zimbabwe to repeal its repressive media
laws and to end the harassment of civil society groups and human rights
activists.  The deterioration of the human rights environment in Zimbabwe
was underscored by a December 2005 resolution of the African Union's
Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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MDC team arrives in UK for meetings

      By Tichaona Sibanda

      4 February 06

      A high powered MDC delegation led by national chairman Isaac Matongo
has arrived in the UK for a series of meetings with party activists.

      Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa, who is part of the delegation together
with Thokozane Khupe said the main objective of their visit is to 'touch
base with our gallant fighters, sons and daughters from Zimbabwe who are in
the diaspora'.

      The delegation is scheduled to meet activists up in the north in Leeds
and Birmingham over the weekend before travelling down south to London for
other engagements. After the UK meetings, the delegation will head to the
United States for further meetings.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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