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Subdued Voices

The Harvard Crimson

Published On Wednesday, February 08, 2006  3:33 AM



I introduced myself to the man who had me arrested. Military police with
machine guns watched as I set up my video camera. I had finally secured an
interview with Zimbabwe's Minister of Information for my thesis research on
the country's new cultural policy, which bans Western content and heavily
funds local propaganda. For three hours, I listened as the minister
explained that Zimbabwe is a nation at war against British and American
neo-colonialism-the IMF, the World Bank, white farmers, and internal spies
and saboteurs. When I asked the minister if his anti-colonial rhetoric
masked the fact that he occupied the seat of his old exploiter, his tone
changed and so did the topic of conversation: "So, why exactly are you
interested in Zimbabwe?" he asked me.

At 2:30 p.m. on December 30, 2005, as I sat aboard a British Airways plane
headed from Harare to home, a flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and
asked me a simpler question, "Are you Amar Bakshi?" I nodded yes. "Mr.
Bakshi, please collect your bags; there are some men waiting for you
outside." Five men in faded tan suits stood on the causeway and told me I
was in their world now.

Five days later, I was released from the prison cells of Harare, after days
of interrogations lasting up to six hours each, after sleeping on the floor
in cells infested with ticks, after listening to the hungry cries of infants
who had not seen the sun for weeks. While some of their mothers would be
released in several days after paying fines for loitering, others awaited a
seven-year sentence for crimes like having attempted an abortion. Their
infants would join them in jail and grow up as prisoners.

Our caretakers in the cells matched our living conditions. Drunken police
guards would arrive for their shift and immediately announce their
intentions to beat us, daring prisoners to misbehave. Using a baton bat,
they would strike suspected miscreants on the soles of their feet, behind
their elbows and knees and then chain them-not sitting, not standing-against
iron bars so that their battered limbs could not relax through the night.
This is one form of violence.

Not one mile from the minister's lush residence, thousands of 'free'
Zimbabweans experience another form of violence. Still living in plastic
tents after having been forcibly evicted from their homes by a nation-wide
"Clean Up" campaign last year, they silence their criticisms of government
for fear of further reprisals. One of the police officers who guards the
camp might privately sympathize with the displaced, but has five children of
his own and earns three million Zimbabwean dollars per month, about $30 US.
School fees and rent consume his entire salary leaving him with exactly
nothing for food.

So he demands bribes, not only from me-the foreigner-but the impoverished
families in the camps as well. Those who can't pay are jailed en masse. Ask
him why he does this, and he won't publicly blame his own poverty. He echoes
the minister, smiling at the wisdom of his explanation, "Zimbabwe is at
 war!" While official rhetoric at its best convinces-and in most cases just
baffles-in Third World dictatorships like Zimbabwe, it excuses murder.

In 2000, President Robert Mugabe lost a nation-wide referendum on
constitutional reform. The defeat was a thinly veiled criticism of Mugabe's
leadership and a revolt against a proviso which would have indefinitely
extended his rule. Mugabe's response was vicious. He intimidated opposition
and stacked parliament and the courts with his supporters, doubled the
police force, formed academies to militarize youth, and encouraged renegade
gangs to enforce his policies.

Mugabe justified his actions with an aggressive propaganda campaign,
branding white farmers as neo-colonialists, blaming them for food shortages,
and labeling all opposition as sympathetic to white power. Somewhat more
subtly, he claimed that the nation must "act as one" to attack its
mushrooming problems, and stop "turning against itself through terrorism."
By this he meant that dissent of any kind was tantamount to treason.

Zimbabwean people don't buy this. Ask most passerbys what they think about
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and they'll whisper urgently,
"Be quiet!" They are all afraid of "getting into politics" and being marked
as oppositional. Young people who criticize the government are called
"sell-outs" and "white-sympathizers." Roaming thugs beat them or send them
on to the cops who, on a bad day, can lock them up for a year for insulting
the president. For the more notable critics of government (oddly myself
included), the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO)-known to torture,
maim, and cause people to magically disappear-steps in.

The enforced culture of fear is then multiplied through leveraging rhetoric
in the petty tiffs of daily life. Take two teenage boys fighting over a girl
at a bar. Boy number one takes boy number two aside and says, "I heard what
you said about our president. You should be careful, ZANU-PF is a large
party, and we wash out poisons like you." Neither boy belongs to ZANU-PF-in
fact, both probably hate the party-but boy number two will leave the club
terrified and alone, while boy number one will get the girl. Thus, fear

This fear was the topic of my thesis-propaganda and repressed youth culture.
In jail, we tried to avoid political communication only to discover that
everything is political: the fact that fuel is so expensive or that they
like MTV more than ZTV (Zimbabwe Television). But we all joked about the
difficulty of life in the cell and shared, through whispers, the telling
stories that brought us there.

Back home, I realize that I have only begun to tell my own story, and that
my capacity to speak with greater freedom obligates me to share what I
experienced in Harare's cells, both to gain some personal control over a
chaotic experience, and to contribute, in some way, to its improvement.

Amar C. Bakshi is a social studies concentrator and lives in Leverett.

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Zimbabwe: Crackdown on the Press Intensifies

Human Rights Watch

(New York, February 9, 2006) – The Zimbabwean government has launched a new assault on the country’s remaining independent press through a wave of criminal prosecutions and arrests, Human Rights Watch said today.

" The Zimbabwean government is using criminal charges to muzzle independent reporting and criticism. "
Paul Simo, Africa advocacy director
Tomorrow in Harare, six trustees of Voice of the People (VOP), a privately-owned radio station, are due to appear in court on criminal charges. On January 24, the authorities brought charges of broadcasting without a license against six of the station’s trustees. VOP was one of the few alternatives to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the only broadcaster with a license to operate legally in the country.  
In addition, police in Mutare on January 18 arrested Sydney Saize, an independent journalist who had allegedly filed a story for Voice of America claiming that militants of the ruling ZANU-PF party had beaten teachers in the city. Saize faces possible criminal charges for practicing journalism without accreditation and publishing falsehoods punishable under the Public Order and Security Act of 2002.  
“The Zimbabwean government is using criminal charges to muzzle independent reporting and criticism,” said Paul Simo, Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “This crackdown targets media that criticize government institutions, officials and the ruling party.”  
Earlier in January, Zimbabwe’s government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) threatened to cancel the license of the Financial Gazette, a privately-owned newspaper, if it did not retract a story that had questioned the commission’s independence from government. On January 29, the commission refused to renew the accreditation of fifteen journalists working for the Zimbabwe Independent, another privately-owned newspaper, until the paper was forced to retract a similar story.  
Even individuals somehow associated with those involved in independent media organizations have been harassed by the police. Zimbabwean police arrested and detained four employees of Arnold Tsunga, one of the VOP trustees facing trial, for failing to disclose Tsunga’s whereabouts to police. A lawyer representing two of the employees (who have since been released) told Human Rights Watch that a policeman repeatedly slapped one of the men around the head while in detention. A subsequent medical examination by a private doctor showed that the victim sustained a punctured ear drum during the assault.  
In December, police arrested three female employees of VOP and refused to release them, demanding that VOP’s director, John Masuku, turn himself in to police. The women spent four days in custody and were only released when Masuku appeared at a police station in Harare where he was then arrested. The Office of the Attorney General refused to prosecute the employees due to a lack of evidence of any criminal offense.  
“The Zimbabwean government has detained innocent people to coerce others to surrender,” said Simo. “This is a gross abuse of the criminal justice system,”  
In the last five years, Zimbabwe’s government has enacted laws that give it discretionary control over who may operate a media outlet and practice journalism, as well as broad powers to prosecute persons critical of the government. In March, Human Rights Watch documented how the government has selectively used these laws to restrict independent media activity through intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and criminal prosecutions of journalists. These practices violate international guarantees to freedom of expression.  
Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act of 2002, owners of media houses who do not register with the Media and Information Commission face up to two years in prison if convicted. An amendment passed on January 7 2005 provides for criminal penalties to journalists who operate without accreditation.  
The Broadcasting Services Act of 2001 reinforced the state’s monopoly over all electronic broadcasting. The law gives the Minister of State for Information and Publicity the authority to determine who gets a broadcasting license and under what circumstances, to tighten restrictions on the nature, quality and quantity of information broadcast through radio and television, and to ban broadcasters who are deemed to be a threat to national security.  
The Public Order and Security Act of 2002 introduced a range of overbroad and vague criminal offences that trammel the right to free expression. The law criminalizes criticism of the president, whether his person or his office. It also prohibits the publication of a false statement that prejudices or is intended to prejudice the country's defense or economic interests, or which undermines or is intended to undermine public confidence in a law enforcement agency, and the holding of a public gathering without giving the police four days' written notice.

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Tentacles reach for Africa

Jean-Pierre Tuquoi
Guardian Weekly

The Chinese workers who have been busy for months laying paving stones in
front of the white marble senate building in Libreville, Gabon, have
finished. But another job awaits them across the road, with the construction
of a media centre commissioned by President Omar Bongo.
Thousands of kilometres to the northwest, in Nigeria, their compatriots are
equally busy. Last month Chinese representatives paid more than $2bn for a
substantial share of one of Nigeria's offshore oilfields. In Mauritania the
Chinese are prospecting for oil and gas. In Sudan they are operating a
petrochemical plant. In Zimbabwe they have taken a controlling interest in a
mobile phone operator. They are building roads in Rwanda and Kenya,
rehabilitating farms in Tanzania, modernising Angola's railways, investing
in forestry in Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique.

China is moving into Africa, advancing its pawns methodically and without
too much concern for ethical issues. "It is prepared to grant loans
guaranteed by a country's coming oil production, a practice the
International Monetary Fund [IMF] deplores because it jeopardises the
future," says a French official. Nor does it pay much attention to politics
or geography, investing in all economic sectors, from oil to
telecommunications, forestry to public works.

China's activities are upsetting westerners, who tend to assume that they
have exclusive rights over the continent's 54 nation states. Last summer the
US Congress held a special hearing on growing Chinese influence in Africa.
The French trade ministry asked all its economic development outlets to file
a report on market penetration by China.

In 2002-03 trade between China and Africa increased by 50%, rising by a
further 60% the next year. A few years ago the US and Britain were leading
foreign suppliers in central and western Africa, bettered only by France. In
2003 China overtook the Americans and British. France is still the top
exporter, but there is no certainty it will hold on to its lead. "China has
simply exploded into Africa," says Walter Kansteiner, a former US assistant
secretary of state for African affairs.

The Chinese are pragmatic. The Central African Republic, for instance, is
penniless after years of civil war. International donors, such as the IMF or
the World Bank, are understandably hesitant. But not Beijing. Nor is its
input restricted to finance. Its firms are prospecting for oil and designing
a cement works; the countries have signed two cooperation agreements,
covering agriculture and defence.

Sometimes the newcomers take advantage of a crisis to supplant their rivals.
In 2002, when Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe introduced controversial
agricultural reform, the West imposed sanctions. About 100 Chinese
businessmen soon turned up in Harare. Four years later their work is bearing
fruit, with interests in mining, transport, electricity production and
transmission and mobile phones. There are now direct flights to Beijing.

Events in Ethiopia followed a similar pattern. At the end of the 1990s the
war with Eritrea scared off the British and Americans. After a huge influx
of subsidies, loans and volunteers, Beijing has become a key player in the
local economy, working in pharmaceuticals, oil and roads. Its embassy in
Addis Ababa is one of the finest in all Africa.

The top priority for China, as it collects prospecting permits from
Mauritania to Gabon, is to secure access to African crude oil. Its appetite
for African hydrocarbons, which account for 30% of its overseas energy bill,
is certain to upset the US. In an attempt to reduce its dependence on the
Middle East, Washington too has selected the Gulf of Guinea - Nigeria,
Angola and Equatorial Guinea - as a strategic zone for oil supplies.

Chinese firms are also competing with their western counterparts in fields
as varied as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. In Mozambique the
national phone company recently decided in favour of a Chinese company. The
capital, Maputo, has an eloquent example of the decline in western
influence: a new supermarket selling exclusively Chinese goods.

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MDC MPs' loyalties put to test as faction appoints new chief

Zim Online

Thu 9 February 2006

      HARARE - A faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party opposed to Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday announced a
new parliamentary chief whip but it remained unclear who between the party's
squabbling leaders controlled the party's 41 legislators.

      The MDC is expected to formally split in the next couple of months
after Tsvangirai fell out with his deputy Gibson Sibanda and party secretary
general Welshman Ncube over how to oust Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party
from power.

      The split is certain to hobble the MDC's effectiveness both in
Parliament - where it is hopelessly outnumbered by ZANU PF - and in its
wider struggle to unseat Mugabe.

      The spokesman for Sibanda's faction, Paul Themba Nyathi, said Kwekwe
constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Blessing Chebundo will be the new
chief whip, replacing lawyer Innocent Gonese, who was the whip before the
party split. Chebundo will be deputised by Mzingwane constituency MP,
Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo.

      Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who is MP for Glen Norah constituency
in Harare was appointed to take the new post of parliamentary spokeswoman.

      Nyathi said the Sibanda faction of the MDC recognised that Parliament
was "the theatre of political activity" and had made the appointments to
ensure that "the contributions of party parliamentarians in the august House
are accurately and properly articulated for the benefit of the nation."

      The Sibanda faction also appointed a new shadow cabinet, according to

      But in a hint of the differences of strategy and approach that appears
to be the underlying cause of the split between the MDC leaders,
Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, said Zimbabwe's emasculated
Parliament was not the sole arena of the struggle for change in the country.

      Bango said Tsvangirai and the faction of the MDC loyal to him was
preoccupied in rejuvenating their leadership ranks to form what he called a
resistance movement that would not remain shadowing Mugabe's government.

      He said: "Parliament is not the sole arena for fighting a struggle. In
fact, so many things and bad laws have been passed when we were in
Parliament: the NGO Bill, AIPPA, POSA and Amendment Number 17 are some of
them. The power is not in parliament it is with the people.

      "We are not going to appoint another shadow cabinet. Mr Tsvangirai's
pre-occupation and even the party's per-occupation is a renewal of
leadership and forming a resistance movement of leaders that will not remain
shadowing ZANU PF."

      Differences among the MDC leaders that had simmered out of the public
eye spilled over when the opposition party's leaders could not agree on
whether to contest last November's senate election.

      Tsvangirai, who was joined at a later stage by party chairman Isaac
Matongo, opposed participation in the election saying it would be rigged by
Mugabe's government.

      He also questioned the wisdom of holding an expensive election when
the nation could be better served by directing its meager resources to
fighting hunger threatening a quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans.

      Sibanda, Ncube and others disagreed with Tsvangirai, saying the MDC
should contest the election after its national council voted for it to do
so. They also accused Tsvangirai of dictatorial tendencies by seeking to go
against the council vote.

      The Sibanda group also argued that it would be unwise to donate
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate poll.

      Tsvangirai's position appeared to resonate with the majority of
Zimbabweans who stayed away from the senate poll that recorded the lowest
turnout in a national election with less than 20 percent of the electorate
said to have voted.

      Sibanda's faction lost heavily in the 25 constituencies that it
fielded candidates to contest against ZANU PF.

      It has however remained unknown who between Sibanda and Tsvangirai
commands the greater number of the MDC legislators with insiders saying
support for the two men is almost evenly balanced among the MPs. - ZimOnline

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ANALYSIS: Western sanctions only a small inconvenience to Mugabe

Zim Online

Thu 9 February 2006

      HARARE - European and United States sanctions meant to nudge President
Robert Mugabe to embrace democracy may be achieving the opposite as the
Zimbabwean leader digs in, adopting more repressive methods in what he
argues is a battle against Western hostility, analysts said.

      They were speaking barely a week after the European Union (EU)
extended an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his top
lieutenants to next February arguing that Harare had not shown signs of
improving on its human rights record and violations of freedom of speech and

      The US, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland have similar targeted
embargoes against the Harare administration.

      "Sanctions in their current form against Zimbabwe have only
inconvenienced Mugabe to a certain extent but that is all there is to them,"
said Lovemore Madhuku, the leader of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) civic alliance.

      Madhuku, whose NCA is at the forefront of campaigning for a new and
democratic constitution for Zimbabwe, added: "In all fairness they have not
brought about the desired results. Mugabe has not changed, instead we see
more the  shrinking of the democratic space as this government hangs on for

      In response to the pressure by the West, Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF
party have introduced a raft of legislation designed to curb free speech and
political organisation such as tough media and security laws which have
helped cripple the opposition.

      Mugabe is at loggerheads with most Western countries over
controversial policies, such as his unilateral seizure of prime land from
white commercial farmers for fellow blacks, alleged human rights abuses and
electoral fraud.

      The veteran leader - who turns 82 later this month - has since 2002
refused to invite Western election observers charging that they are biased
against his party.

      Analysts said short of full-scale sanctions, which would require
Zimbabwe to be referred to the United Nations Security  Council, the current
sanctions regime would do little to move Mugabe.

      A comprehensive economic and political sanctions package against
Zimbabwe would certainly also hurt ordinary people but University of
Zimbabwe mathematician and political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei said the
common man was already the biggest victim under the current smart sanctions

      He cited as an example the US's Zimbabwe Democracy Act, which
restricts funding to the country from international institutions in which
Washington has an influence, such as the World Bank, a situation that has
arguably hurt most ordinary people than it has Mugabe's officials.

      Dzinotyiwei said: "The West can't impose full scale sanctions neither
do they want to engage him so the ordinary man in the middle suffers and
daily he finds the space to express his frustrations shrinking."

      The UZ political commentator however admitted that referring Zimbabwe
to the Security Council for a sanctions resolution would be no mean task as
the southern African country has several backers, including council
permanent  members, China and Russia.

      Former colonial power Britain last year unsuccessfully tried to have
Zimbabwe discussed by the Security Council after Mugabe's government used
force to demolish shantytowns and illegal business and housing structures
which left more  than 700 000 people homeless.

      "Obviously sanctions only work when they are a total package but that
requires the UN  route which even some of Mugabe's ardent critics will not
support," said Dzinotyiwei.

      Mugabe, a hard-to-beat political fox in his heyday, has carefully
manipulated the race card to present himself as a victim of the rich white
Western governments, a stunt that appears to have resonated well with his
African and developing world allies.

      The Zimbabwean leader, who seizes on international forums to launch
broadsides at his foes, denies election fraud and  human rights violations
charges and instead says the West has ganged up against his small country to
punish it for it for taking land from whites and giving to landless blacks.

      "These are illegal sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe who
continue to suffer today," the external affairs secretary of ZANU PF,
Kumbirai Kangai, told ZimOnline. "They are not targeted sanctions, but full
scale illegal sanctions against our country and they are hurting our

      Because of souring relations with the West, Mugabe's government is
also increasingly leaning on China to by-pass the arms embargo and recently
bought trainer jets and army and police trucks while there is no official
confirmation of large supplies of arms from Beijing last year.

      And on the home-front, Mugabe appears to have successfully transformed
himself into the classical dictator, heavily reliant on security forces and
the use of violence to remain in power. - ZimOnline

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Wheat shortage triggers fresh bread crisis in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

Thu 9 February 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe flour makers on Wednesday warned that the crisis-hit
country will be without bread in the next few weeks because of a shortage of
wheat and also because of delays by the government in approving new flour
prices to keep millers afloat.

       In a statement, the Millers Association, grouping together the
country's major milling  companies, said hundreds of jobs were also going to
be lost as milling firms shed jobs because they were on average operating at
below 16 percent of capacity due to the wheat shortage.

      The millers' statement read in part: "Bread shortages are to be
expected in different areas of the country, as the major millers are
national operators distributing product throughout the country.

      "Sadly, it is also apparent that the current levels of throughput can
no longer sustain the existing employment levels. Therefore down sizing is
inevitable. We will be approaching the relevant authorities in this regard."

      The flour makers, who claimed that they have had protracted but so far
unsuccessful meetings with the government in a bid to have prices of flour
reviewed, said they had for the last quarter of 2005 operated on average at
30 percent of capacity.

      This fell to be about 16 percent this year after the government-owned
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) cut wheat supplies to millers by 60 percent.

      The GMB is the only company permitted to buy wheat and maize from
farmers or to import the two staple grains for resale to millers, while the
price of mealie-meal or flour is tightly controlled by the government.

      The state grain company however does not have enough stocks of either
wheat or maize after poor harvests last season while there is no hard cash
to pay for imports.

      Bread, if it runs short, will join a long list of key commodities in
critical short supply in Zimbabwe as the country grapples its worst ever
economic crisis, described by the World Bank as unprecedented in a country
not at war.

      Electricity, fuel, essential medical drugs, chemicals to treat
drinking water for urban residents and nearly every basic survival commodity
is in short supply because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

      Critics blame Zimbabwe's mounting economic and food problems on
repression and wrong policies by President Robert Mugabe, particularly his
seizure of productive farms from whites for redistribution to landless

      The farm seizures knocked down food production by about 60 percent
chiefly because Mugabe did not give inputs support and skills training to
black villagers resettled on former white farms to maintain production.

      But Mugabe denies  ruining Zimbabwe's economy and says its troubles
are because of sabotage by Western governments opposed to his  land reform
policies. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe cricketers sign contracts to end bitter dispute

Zim Online

Thu 9 February 2006

      HARARE - Test batsman Stuart Matsikenyeri has turned down a contract
with Zimbabwe Cricket, although 16 other players have at last signed the
long-delayed deals that signalled the end of a bitter dispute.

      The 22-year-old Matsikenyeri, who has played eight Tests and 45
one-day internationals, was one of the 22 players Zimbabwe Cricket had
initially offered contracts for the 2005/2006 season.

      All-rounder Andy Blignaut is, however, the only experienced player
among those who have taken up Zimbabwe Cricket's offer.

      Hamilton Masakadza, a key player who was tipped for the captaincy
alongside Blignaut, has not committed himself to a new deal with the union,
preferring to avail himself for national duty on a tour-by-tour basis.

      Zimbabwe Cricket said the batsman had asked for study leave for his
university commitments in South Africa.

      Experienced seamer Douglas Hondo, as well as Gavin Ewing, Mluleki
Nkala and Tinashe Panyangara, will only be considered for contracts after
undergoing a medical assessment.

      Three other players offered contracts - Sean Williams, Chamunorwa
Chibhabha and Graeme Cremer - are currently in Sri Lanka at the Under-19 ICC
World Cup and are expected to consider the deals when they return.

      The other players who have already signed the contracts are Elton
Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Keith Dabengwa, Terrence Duffin, Anthony
Ireland and Blessing Mahwire.

      Bernard Mlambo, Christopher Mpofu, Tawanda Mupariwa, Allan and
Waddington Mwayenga, Edward Rainsford, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom and
Prosper Utseya have also accepted the contracts.

      "We are happy that the technical and players' welfare committee has
made so much progress," Zimbabwe Cricket managing director Ozias Bvute said
yesterday. "We need to start serious preparations for the tour by Kenya
later this month."

      The contracts were due to be signed last September, but the players
had been refusing to take up the newly introduced performance-based
remuneration. The players also wanted their earnings to be indexed to the
United States dollar, in light of the spiralling inflation in Zimbabwe.

      The players had also refused to play for the national team to protest
the continued tenure of Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka and Bvute.

      The cricketers only had a change of heart after they were paid their
outstanding match fees and allowances a fortnight ago.

      Zimbabwe last month had to temporarily give up its Test status as the
country could not field a competitive side and also because of a long losing

      Zimbabwe has lost almost all of its experienced players during the
dispute, most notably former captains Heath Streak, Tatenda Taibu as well as
the experienced Stuart Carlisle, Trevor Gripper and Craig Wishart.

      Zimbabwe also lost a number of key players during another player
rebellion in 2004. - ZimOnline

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Zim farmers call for an end to land invasions


          February 08 2006 at 06:58PM

      Harare - Zimbabwe's mainly white farmers' union Wednesday called for
an end to land invasions to allow the struggling agricultural sector to

      In a telephone interview, Douglas Taylor-Freeme, the president of the
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said he was calling for a moratorium on
"land invasions and land acquisitions."

      "I'm calling for a moratorium on everything," he said. This would give
the country a chance to see "how we can get agriculture to work again," he

      Taylor-Freeme said there were ongoing reports of land invasions
"throughout the country from time to time."

      There have also been reports of police and senior civil servants
seizing farm equipment from white farms in the south-east of the country.

      Zimbabwe had more than 4 000 large-scale white farmers before
President Robert Mugabe began re-allocating farms to new black farmers in
June 2000. There are now only around 300 white farmers still farming,
farming groups say.

       Agricultural production has dipped sharply, a situation Mugabe's
government blames on repeated drought.

      Taylor-Freeme's comments come after the CFU last week released a
statement asking the authorities to declare a moratorium on "current
agricultural polices, and with the full protection of the law, (to) bring
together all stakeholders and rebuild the entire industry".

      The statement, signed by Taylor-Freeme, was addressed to the
"government and people of Zimbabwe".

      "We have the energy and capacity to help bring Zimbabwe back, once
again, to being the 'bread basket' of the sub-continent," the statement

      Several government officials have condemned the new land invasions.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono said in a policy statement last month that
there should be "zero tolerance" to what he termed "disruptive activities"
on farms. - Sapa-dpa

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Journalists Risk Five-Year Term for Insulting Mugabe


      08 February 2006

Vice President Joyce Mujuru has signed a law that that could send
journalists to prison for up to five years if they are found to have
insulted into law an act providing for up to two years in prison for
journalists who insults President robert Mugabe.

Gazetted last week, the legislation in a gazette rolled out last week, the
government says the act ammends the Public Order and Security Act and other
Zimbabwean legislation. The result is that journalists determined to have
written falsehoods are will be liable to a fines of up to Z$10 million or
five years in prison, or both.

Mujuru signed the legislation in her capacity as acting president, though it
could not be determined if this was because Mr. Mugabe was traveling or for
another reason.

In another development concerning journalists, High Court Judge Rita Makarau
has told the Media and Information Commission to reconsider a decision not
to reverse itself on withholding a license to publish from group that owns
the Daily News.

The commission issued that ruling despite an order from the supreme court
telling it to review an earlier decision not to grant Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe, which publishes the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday, a
license to publish.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked media and human
rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa where this leaves Associated Newspapers.

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Zim senator detained over grey market activity

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      08 February 2006 11:58

            One of Zimbabwe's new ruling party senators has been picked up
for questioning on suspicion of diverting scarce wheat to the lucrative
parallel market, the state-controlled Herald reported on Wednesday.

            Douglas Mombeshora, the Zimbabwe African National Union -- 
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) senator for the central Makonde-Chinhoyi district
was picked up after police last week intercepted four trucks carrying 140
tonnes of his wheat "to an unknown destination", the paper said.

            The wheat was traced to Mombeshora's farm in Mhangura district.

            Wheat, like maize, is a controlled product but some producers
complain they are not getting realistic prices for the commodity in
Zimbabwe's high-inflation environment.

            Grain to make flour and the staple maize meal are not always
available in stores in Zimbabwe but are sold on the parallel market, where
prices are higher.

            Mombeshora has been released but investigations are ongoing, the
report said.

            "We are still carrying out investigations with a view to
ascertain where it [the wheat] was destined to and we would like also to
verify the statements that he [Mombeshora] made to police concerning the
wheat," said police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena.

            Last year President Robert Mugabe's nephew Leo Mugabe was
arrested, together with his wife Veronica, on suspicion of smuggling grain
to neighbouring Mozambique. The case was later ordered dropped for lack of

            Zimbabwe's upper house was controversially introduced in
November last year. Critics said the senate was a waste of money and was
aimed at strengthened Zanu-PF's hold on the country, but the ruling party
said it would ensure laws were carefully debated before they were passed. -

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Africa a Frontier of Opportunity for China

CBS News

LAGOS, Nigeria, Feb. 8, 2006

(AP) When Chinese companies flooded the Nigerian market with cheaper
versions of the generators Rex Nwankwu once imported from Italy, he said his
business was imperiled.

Now he's looking for Chinese suppliers, he said from a long line of visa
applicants outside China's consulate in Nigeria's biggest city of Lagos.

"People would rather buy the cheap and inferior Chinese generators, than buy
one of my superior but more expensive Italian ones," said Nwankwu. "To
remain in business I had to join the bandwagon to China."

China's growth has sparked a global race with the West for markets and
industrial resources. Africa has become a frontier of opportunity for the
world's most populous country and its fastest growing economy. That has
meant opportunity, aid and even key diplomatic support _ China is a
veto-wielding U.N. Security Council member _ to some governments shunned by
the West. But questions have been raised about the benefits, and the West
has been increasingly suspicious of China's interest and influence in

China says its efforts on the world's poorest continent bring "mutual
benefit and common prosperity" to itself and African countries.

"Goods that are exported by China, inexpensive but good, have been welcomed
by ordinary Africans," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement to
AP. "At the same time, the Chinese side has taken positive steps to make it
more convenient to import more African goods into the Chinese market, doing
such things as giving Africa's most undeveloped countries tax-free import
treatment into China and investing in facilities in Africa."

In the last five years China's trade with Africa has grown fourfold to $40
billion in 2005. Ahead of Foreign Minister Li Xhaozing's January African
tour, China unveiled a new policy document indicating interest in Africa's
oil and other mineral and forestry resources.

Li's trip came days after China's state-controlled oil firm CNOOC announced
it had reached a deal to pay $2.3 billion for a 45 percent state in a
Nigerian offshore oil field.

"Africa is abundant in natural resources, which are urgently needed for
Chinese economic development," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Lu
Guozheng told reporters as his boss toured West Africa. He listed oil,
forestry products and iron ore and other mineral resources.

"China's coming is changing the equations in our relations with the West,
and we should make the most of it," said Peter Egom, an economist with
government-run Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos. "It
certainly improves our bargain."

Western economic, political and technological dominance in Africa from
colonial times has failed to nourish development in the continent, Egom
said, welcoming China as an alternative source of economic and political

Lagos hairdresser Fatima Ibrahim has no doubt the influx of Chinese goods
have been beneficial. For years she could not afford a portable electricity
generator in her beauty shop in the face of persistent power cuts by the
woefully run Nigerian power company. Then the cheap Chinese brands arrived.

Able to stay open more now that she can power herself, her business has
grown threefold and her profits have similarly multiplied in two years.

"In that time I've bought two of the generators, at less than half the price
of the European and Japanese models," 32-year-old Ibrahim said.

But across Africa there are deep concerns about the trade-offs between
quality and low cost.

Ugandan taxi driver Emmanuel Mwiine, professes an aversion to Chinese
products but concedes he is in a minority.

"Here you can buy a fake watch from China for around 40,000 Uganda shillings
($20). It looks great but then it breaks after a month," he said.

Ugandan Trade Minister Daudi Migereko said government concerns over Chinese
products include poor quality and widespread counterfeiting, problems the
National Bureau of Standards has been charged to eliminate.

In December, Nigerian officials took the more dramatic step of shutting a
large shopping center set up by Chinese traders in the country's biggest
city of Lagos. Customs officials who raided the site alleged it was a center
for fake and substandard products.

In its statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it expected Chinese
businesses in Africa to obey local laws and "be particular about quality."

In South Africa both industrialists and trade unions have been pressing for
government action to curb the inflow of Chinese goods, particularly
textiles, they say is undermining local industries and jobs.

Yet the lure of Chinese products remain strong in Africa, with Beijing
lending a heavy diplomatic weight to China's economic expansion.

China built a railway to link Tanzania and Zambia, and built stadiums in
several countries as it tried to rival Western aid to Africa in the 1970s.
But much of China's aid to Africa in recent years have been tied to business

In Nigeria, the China National Petroleum Corporation as part of its bid for
oil fields opted to take over and run an unprofitable state-owned refinery _
and boost goodwill with the government.

China has also shown a propensity for stepping in to deal with governments
spurned by the West over human rights issues. Chinese companies moved in to
run Sudan's oil industry when Western companies would not deal with Sudanese
President Omar al-Bashir's government over accusations of widespread rights

China is also the strongest foreign ally of Zimbabwe, now treated as a
pariah state under Robert Mugabe, also accused of rights abuses.


Associated Press Writers Audra Ang in Beijing and Katy Pownall in Kampala,
Uganda contributed to this report.

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Shock rise in University of Zimbabwe tuition fees

      By Lance Guma
      08 February 2006

      The cost of university education rose 10 fold this week following a
decision by the University of Zimbabwe to set their fees at over Z$ 35
million a year from the previous Z$ 3,5 million. Tuition fees go up from
      Z$ 2 million to Z$ 11 million per year while the cost of meals goes up
from Z$ 1,5 million to Z$ 21 million per year. Accommodation previously
combined with meals under the Department of Accommodation and Catering
Services now falls under its own fee structure at Z$ 3 million per year.

      The president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Washington
Katema described the increases as shocking. He accused government of trying
to 'commodify' education and make it hard for poor people to access. The
government has raised the support rate for students at the university from
Z$ 6 million to Z$ 11,5 million a year and this he said clearly fell short
of the Z$ 35 million needed to pay up. Prior to the increases, the students
were planning countrywide demonstrations when colleges open next week. Now
they say their cause is even stronger.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabweans shocked at death of great humanitarian Sheba Dube

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      08 February 2006

      On Tuesday morning, Zimbabweans suffered a great loss when the
well-known humanitarian Sheba Dube Phiri died unexpectedly while attending a
conference just outside of Bulawayo. Many Zimbabweans say they are in shock
as the woman they affectionately called Auntie Sheba had been fine on
Friday. That night she received the "Truth and Justice Award for Zimbabwe"
from the newly formed Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, along with the Bulawayo
Archbishop Pius Ncube. As founder and caretaker of The Providence Caregivers
and Orphans Trust, Sheba Dube changed the lives of many orphaned children
and widows in Zimbabwe. She had a warm, personal and grassroots approach
that brought happiness to many whose lives she touched.

      In her own home, Aunt Sheba was taking care of her own daughter plus 6
orphans she adopted. The Reverend Martine Stemerick, a very close friend who
helped raise funds for the children, told us Auntie Sheba died of cardiac
failure caused by hypertension. She was a hard working woman who penetrated
the remote rural areas bringing help to the needy. Reverend Stemerick said
she seemed to be in good health on Monday when she left for the conference
outside of Bulawayo. But she fell sick after dinner at the conference, and
was gone the very next morning.

      In her acceptance speech to the pastors of the Christian Alliance on
Friday, Auntie Sheba called upon the church to stand up for the poorest of
the poor and to be prophets. Reverend Stemerick said Sheba was a model of
that prophetic voice and will be missed by many. Tragically, her orphans
will be the ones who suffer most.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Congress Update Number 4

MDC Press

8 February 2006

Congress update

Preparations for the second national congress to be held from 17-19 March
this year in Harare are now at an advanced stage. The logistics and other
preparatory work are almost complete and come next month, the people will
enter another phase in the struggle for democracy in this country.
 Enthusiasm and confidence continues to swell among the party's supporters
as they brace for the rebirth of the party and the renewal of their
President Tsvangirai continues to go around the country and holding
consultative meetings with the party's structures. He concluded a series of
consultative meetings with the party structures in Manicaland last weekend.
This week he visited Masvingo, Gweru and other parts of the Midlands
province. The consultative meetings are a continuous process as they enable
him to be close to the people and hear their problems.
The National Chairman, Mr. Isaac Matongo, myself and our transport portfolio
secretary, Hon. Thoko Khupe are overseas for a series of consultative
meetings with our structures and members. Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, our
executives at all levels are in constant consultation on the state of the
party and the state of the struggle for democracy.
Throughout the country, the people are positive that next month they will
mark a new phase of democratic resistance. There is no other way to national
salvation except to confront this regime and take charge of our destiny. We
reserve our democratic right to engage in any process that will make this
regime realize the folly of its ways.
Zimbabweans have the right to engage in peaceful resistance against those
bent on perpetuating their misery. We shall not be intimidated by state
security agents or government propaganda bent on lying about a purported
meeting with Freedom House officials in Zambia. We shall continue to
mobilize the people for confrontation and our second national Congress will
provide the initial platform to chart our course.
There is massive starvation in all parts of the country. There is no maize
meal on the supermarket shelves; there is no maize on the fields because
senior government and party officials looted the input scheme. The Zimbabwe
dollar is on a free fall and the breadbasket has once again skyrocketed to
over $21.8 million per month for a family of six, a figure far above the
average monthly income of our workers.
The country is facing a serious crisis but instead of focusing on these
issues, the government machinery chooses to focus on President Tsvangirai's
trip to Zambia and his subsequent deportation.
The Zambia trip
You may have heard about the recent deportation of President Tsvangirai and
eight senior MDC officials from Zambia last week. The debacle was part of a
CIO plot to harass the MDC. They created a mythical story of intrigue to
justify its desperate attempt to stop an ordinary party meeting in the
Zambian town of Livingstone.
The truth of the matter is we held a normal meeting. By the time the CIO
arm-twisted their Zambian counterparts, the meeting was over. We were due to
leave Zambia the following day. Some members of the Zambian secret service
confirmed to us that they were acting on orders from their counterparts in
across the border who had told them the MDC delegation had weapons of war.
The Zambians were under pressure to act on us. They were misled. We violated
no law. The lesson to be learnt from the Zambia debacle is that if a simple
trip by the MDC leader and eight officials can cause such panic among the
CIO and their Zambian counterparts, then the party is as alive as ever. It
means the MDC is a the main political driver in Zimbabwe as it still holds
the hope of millions of living in abject poverty.

The people's struggle continues. Next month, we open a new chapter. The
people are clear on their next course of action. Together, we shall win.

Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity


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Olivine Intensifies Contract Farming Programmes

The Herald (Harare)

February 8, 2006
Posted to the web February 8, 2006


ONE of the country's largest producers of foodstuffs and detergents, Olivine
Industries, has intensified its recruitment of farmers to grow raw materials
for the company to avert shortages, a company official has said.

The company's commercial director, Mr Phineas Chingono, said they would
intensify the programme initiated several years ago in a bid to boost

He said Olivine was working with Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki from the
University of Zimbabwe to boost the country's soya bean production, adding
that funds had been available towards the project.

Mr Chingono said the company also financed the Agricultural Rural
Development Authority (Arda) to grow soya bean for the company but declined
to reveal the amount of money released for the scheme.

He said Olivine was recruiting highly-trained farmers who would grow a
special type of tomato for use in their canned products and would avail all
the required inputs, including seedlings and fertilizers, to get the desired

Mr Chingono revealed that the company has a fully-fledged agronomy
department, which assists in the growing of related crops and offers
training to farmers.

Apart from soya bean and tomato, the company also contracts farmers to grow
cotton and sunflower.

In his address to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Industry and International Trade last July, the company's production
director, Mr Richard House, indicated that they would cease to produce
cooking oil from soya beans as the country had run out of the crop, and
would concentrate on producing cooking oil from cottonseed.

The company imports about 50 percent of soya bean with the remainder being
produced locally. Shortage of soya bean has resulted in shortages of soya
bean meal and oil cakes for poultry and livestock. --

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