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AU's dismal date in Khartoum

The East African

Symbols are powerful things. Every tin-pot dictator knows this. Symbolic
gestures are equally important. As Africans, we are so used to being
embarrassed by our leadership, that the smallest of symbolic gestures make
us disproportionately happy when it occurs.

We know, for instance, that the Pan African Parliament established by the
African Union has only advisory rather than legislative powers for its first
five years. But we rejoice when it takes the step to condemn, in no
uncertain terms, the goings-on in Uganda, which are clearly intended to
frustrate the only serious presidential candidate that Yoweri Museveni has
to contend with.

The symbolic gesture matters - not only to Kizza Besigye, but also to all
Ugandans who want to see a deepening rather than an eroding of the
democratic gains of the past two decades.

This is why we are so very concerned about the prospect of the AU's
presidency being assumed by Sudan at the upcoming Summit. It does not bode
well for the symbolism of the new-look AU to be headed by someone whose
government is still under investigation by the International Criminal Court
for alleged crimes against humanity in the Darfur region.

The situation in Darfur continues to be grave. While peace talks continue,
with no noticeable breakthrough, attacks on civilians by the Janjaweed
continue. Internally displaced populations are at risk of starvation. As are
refugees across the border in Chad, as humanitarian organisations consider
withdrawal in the face of hostilities between Chad and the Sudan.

This is one of the issues that the upcoming Summit will, no doubt, have to
consider as one of its top priorities. Which, diplomatically, will be
nothing short of difficult - given the hosting of the Summit by Khartoum and
the courtesies expected to be extended to the incoming presidency.

AWKWARD INDEED. Proving the point that deferring a problem never resolves
it - Sudan was actually meant to assume the presidency last year. Instead,
Nigeria's presidency was extended for one year and moving last year's Summit
to Sirte. As awkward as the determined silence that the AU has maintained on
the situation in Ethiopia, host to its permanent Commission and offices.

But consistency has never been one of the AU's strong points. It allowed us
to feel proud about our capacity to resolve our own problems when it
intervened in Togo following the death of one of those few remaining African
presidents who went on and on and on - much like an Eveready battery
purports to. But, its duty apparently done, it sat back and did nothing
about the post-election fallout. And, of course, it has said nothing on the
deteriorating situation in Swaziland (even the mention of that ridiculous
king increasingly angers me beyond reason). Or on the situation in Zimbabwe.
Lots of behind-the-scenes murmurs and 'serious' negotiations between the
boys (It's far too complicated for the likes of us to understand). Because
they are all boys - one of the welcome additions to the upcoming Summit will
be Africa's first female president, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia. So we
can expect a post-Summit photograph with at least one colourful female
African outfit to break the blur of dark suits.

But can we expect more action? Can we expect more progress on living up to
the democratic, gender and human-rights commitments promised by the AU's
Constitutive Act? Can we expect more movement on making the AU an AU by and
of the African peoples? With Omar Bashir at its head?


  L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the Executive Director of the African Women's
Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)

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How the watchdog got its bite back

Mail and Guardian

      Jean-Jacques Cornish: COMMENT

      17 January 2006 03:00

            After 19 tame and underfunded years, Africa's human rights
watchdog appears to have grown teeth.

            Not a moment too soon, say the two South Africans most closely
associated with the body known as the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights (ACHPR), which is one of the few continental structures to have twice
criticised rights abuses in Zimbabwe. At its end of the year session in
2005, the commission came out strongly against the displacement of urban
shack-dwellers in Zimbabwe last year. Its report and critique will be taken
to the African Union summit in Khartoum on January 23.

            Chief Electoral Officer Pansy Tlakula, who took her oath as a
new commissioner at the ACHPR headquarters in Banjul, Gambia, last November,
says it is doing very good work. The commission, established in 1987,
comprises 11 members elected in their individual capacity by leaders at the
AU summit in a secret ballot.

            They hold office for six years and there is no limitation to the
number of times they may be re-elected.

            In the cozy days of the Organisation of African Unity, the ACHPR
was little better than a group of political appointees.

            Things changed with the new-look AU. In 2002 the ACHPR produced
a report critical of Zimbabwe government behaviour during the election
campaign of that year.

            Tlakula has been made special rapporteur on freedom of
expression and charged with looking closely at Swaziland, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Namibia.

            Local election pressure drove Tlakula home before the end of the
ACHPR session last month.

            She was not in Banjul for the vote on the resolution on

            It also condemned the human rights violations being perpetrated
in Zimbabwe. "I am fully aware of the resolution and I think it is a very
good one. It shows commitment on the part of the ACHPR to uphold their tasks
and functions," says Tlakula.

            University of South Africa's principal Barney Pityana was an
ACHPR commissioner from 1997 to 2003 and did not seek re-election.

            He was co-author of the 2002 report that the Zimbabwe government
tried for two years to suppress on grounds that it had not seen it.

            This time around, it has closed off that avenue by angrily
responding to the latest report.

            "The 2002 report on Zimbabwe was unprecedented," recalls
Pityana. "It was a battle to get it through the African Union Commission.
Various members of the executive were very uneasy. But, notwithstanding
their reservations, the report went through. The commission was prepared to
have it in their report to the summit, where it received proper attention.

            "Previously, the ACHPR work did not come to the summit.

            "Zimbabwe had serious objections to the 2002 report. They wanted
it removed, which delayed its consideration. Eventually, it went to the
summit with a reply from Zimbabwe.

            "For years I had tried to get the ACHPR to pay attention to what
was happening in Zimbabwe without much success. In the end, I got them to
send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe." The mission in 2002 comprised
Pityana and Jainaba Johm of Gambia.

            "In terms of the AU Charter, the responsibility of the
government had to be affirmed," Pityana explains. "The latest report on
Zimbabwe, which expresses alarm and condemnation, is even stronger. It came
out of the visit by Bahame Tom Nyanduga (of Tanzania), who was sent by Alpha
Omar Konare to look at the effects of the urban clean-up campaign."

            The report will go some way to giving some credibility to the
ACHPR, says Pityana. "I fought a six-year battle to get them to take this
more seriously. Things changed for the better with the appointment of Alpha
Oumar Konare as chairperson of the AU Commission.

            "Konare is fully supportive of the ACHPR. It's properly funded
for the first time and it gets proper support and has a role in the
reconstruction of Africa," says Pityana.

            Our rights representatives
            The African Commission on Human and People's Rights's (ACHPR)
chairperson is Salamata Sawadogo of Burkina Faso. She is the first woman to
chair the body. A former Burkinabe ambassador to Senegal and a judge, she
was chairperson of the Association of Women Lawyers of Burkina Faso.

            The vice-chairperson is Yasir Sid Ahmed el-Hassan of Sudan. He
was chairperson of Sudan's advisory council for human rights. Angela Melo of
Mozambique is the commission's special rapporteur on the rights of women.
Bahame Tom Nyanduga of Tanzania heads the group dealing with refugees and
displaced persons. He was sent by African Union Commission chairperson Alpha
Oumar Konare to Zimbabwe in July last year to examine the effects of the
controversial Operation Murambatsvina.

            Mohammed Abdellahi Ould Babana of Mauritania, a former judge,
oversaw the investigation in Mauritania's abortive coup in June last year,
three months before the putsch that ousted president Mohamed Ould Taya.

            Sanji Mwasenono Monageng of Botswana heads the group on the
prevention of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Pansy Tlakula of South Africa is organising the local elections in March and
will get back to ACHPR business after that.

            Kamel Rezag Bara of Algeria heads the group dealing with
indigenous populations. The other newly elected commissioners with Tlakula
are Musa Ngary Bitaye of Gambia, Mumba Malila of Zambia and Reine Alapini
Gansou of Benin.

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Amnesty International - Public Statement

AI Index: IOR 30/001/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 011
17 January 2006

African Union Assembly Summit in Khartoum: An important opportunity to make
progress on the protection of human rights in the Africa

In advance of the 6th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly in
Khartoum Sudan, between 23 and 24 January 2006, Amnesty International today
called on African leaders to prioritise and make progress on the protection
of human rights throughout the continent. The adoption of the Constitutive
Act of the AU in 2000 containing fine statements on the promotion and
protection of human rights raised expectations that African leaders were
prepared to take a public stand against abuses of human rights in member
states, and to reverse the deteriorating human rights conditions that have
characterised many parts of the region for decades.

Although some limited steps have been taken to implement the human rights
mandate of the AU, grave human rights violations, including rape, torture
and unlawful killings continued to be committed in many parts of Africa.
Impunity for human rights violations remained widespread, despite some
international and continental efforts to address the problem. There are
continuing human rights problems in Darfur (Sudan) and Zimbabwe, among other
countries in the continent. Furthermore, the establishment and
operationalization of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
continued to be delayed, two years after the Protocol establishing it had
entered into force.

It is important for the African leaders meeting in Khartoum to demonstrate
that they have the political will to translate their expressed commitments
into reality. The following recommendations highlight some areas which the
AU Assembly should consider if it is to make progress towards the promotion
and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms across the region.

Addressing impunity across the region

One of the fundamental objectives of the Constitutive Act of the AU is to
condemn and reject impunity. However, despite widespread and systematic
violations of human rights, most perpetrators were not held to account,
while victims have been frequently denied an effective remedy. In the past
decades, numerous human rights abuses have plagued many parts of Africa.
African men, women and children have been victims of genocide, war crimes,
crimes against humanity and other crimes recognized under international law.

Of the 53 AU member states, 43 have signed or ratified the Rome Statute of
the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute), including Chad and Senegal,
which bars any immunity, including official capacity as head of state or
government, from prosecutions of crimes under its jurisdiction. The Rome
Statute envisages trials of heads of state, former heads of state and other
current or former government officials in The Hague before the International
Criminal Court or in any national court exercising its jurisdiction over
crimes under international law

Amnesty International is aware that the Republic of Senegal has proposed
that the AU Assembly meeting in Khartoum consider the legal action that may
be taken to bring the former President of Chad, Hissène Habré, to justice
for serious violations of human rights he committed while in power. This
request followed complaints lodged by some of his victims, initially in
Senegal and then in Belgium, and subsequent indictment by a Belgian judge.

Amnesty International urges the AU Assembly to ensure that any decision it
takes on the matter is consistent with member states obligations as
mentioned above. It is important for African victims to see justice done in
this case. Taking a decision on the side of justice and lending its
authority to the promotion and protection of human rights will enhance the
credibility of the AU, and will add value to the very reasons that led
Africa to take the initiative to establish the International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, as well as to play
a decisive role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

The Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, said on 27
November 2005 that Senegal "is very sensitive to the complaints of the
victims who are demanding justice and will refrain from doing anything which
could mean that Mr Hissène Habré is not brought to justice". The Chadian
authorities have also publicly stated that Hissène Habré could not claim any
type of immunity from extradition in the case of compliance with proceedings
brought against him in a foreign court for crimes under international law.

Amnesty International fully supports these positions, and urges the AU
Assembly to demonstrate leadership in favour of accountability, in line with
the spirit and letter of the Constitutive Act, the African Charter on Human
and Peoples' Rights and other international standards to which AU members
are committed by ensuring that Senegal immediately fulfil its
responsibilities under international law to extradite Hissène Habré to
answer the charges that have been brought against him.

Darfur (Sudan)

Amnesty International acknowledges the critical role being played by the AU
in finding solutions to the conflict in Darfur, both by mediating between
the parties in the conflict and by deploying peacekeeping forces with the
mandate of monitoring the ceasefire agreement and protecting civilians.
Despite these efforts, as remarked by the UN Secretary General in its latest
monthly report on Darfur to the Security Council, "reports from the ground
confirm the marked deterioration in the situation since September [...]
Large-scale attacks against civilians continue, women and girls are being
raped by armed groups, yet more villages are being burned, and thousands
more are being driven from their homes""

Amnesty International believes that the AU must clearly state to the
Sudanese government and armed groups that the peacekeeping mission in Darfur
intends to fulfil its mandate and that it will take action to protect
civilians wherever they are in danger.

The deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Darfur
has prompted the United Nations and the AU to reassess its response to the
conflict. Amnesty International believes that the African Mission in Sudan
(AMIS) or any other peacekeeping mission in Darfur must be given manpower,
resources and logistics so that it can be deployed rapidly to all areas in
Darfur where civilians are under threat. Although the AU needs international
support to ensure this, it must itself take primary responsibility on the
effective operation of AMIS.

Furthermore, AMIS or any peacekeeping mission in Darfur should investigate
violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by
government forces or armed groups and should be able to publish its reports
independently. The AU should immediately conclude and put into effect the
cooperation agreement with the International Criminal Court to ensure that
those suspected of crimes under international law can be investigated and


Amnesty International remained gravely concerned by the continuing
violations of human rights and the almost absolute impunity enjoyed by the
perpetrators in Zimbabwe. On 16 November 2005, Amnesty International
together with other international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
African civil society organizations published an appeal addressed to the AU
to express concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe,
including the situation of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced
persons as result of the forced evictions and demolitions carried out by the

At its 38th Ordinary Session in November 2005, the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights condemned the deteriorating human rights situation
in Zimbabwe. In its resolution, the African Commission urges "the government
of Zimbabwe to implement without further delay the recommendations contained
in the African Commission Report of the 2002 Fact-Finding Mission to
Zimbabwe and the recommendations in the July 2005 Report of the UN Special
Envoy on Human Settlement Issues" and makes a series of recommendations to
improve respect for human rights in the country, including the right to
freedom of expression, association and assembly and the independence of the

Amnesty International urges the AU to publicly call on the government of
Zimbabwe to respect its obligations under the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights and to encourage it to comply with the recommendations
contained in the African Commission's resolution. Amnesty International also
calls on the AU to renew the mandate of its Envoy to Zimbabwe to investigate
the human rights implications and humanitarian consequences of the forced
evictions and demolitions.

African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights

Amnesty International remained seriously concerned that the African Court on
Human and Peoples' Rights has still not been established two years after the
entry into force of the Protocol on 25 January 2004. Amnesty International
is also concerned that, as of 14 December 2005, only 22 of the 53 AU member
states have ratified the Protocol. Of these, only Burkina Faso has made the
declaration under Article 34(6) of the Protocol, granting individuals and
non-governmental organizations direct access to the Court.

However, Amnesty International welcomes the inclusion on the AU Assembly
agenda the election of the eleven judges to the Court. We urge the AU
Assembly to consider the following in the election of judges and in its
efforts to make the Court operational and effective:

  a.. The AU Assembly should ensure that only judges of the highest quality,
commitment and integrity are elected to the Court.
  b.. The AU Assembly should ensure a fair representation of men and women
from the main regions and legal systems of Africa in the election of judges.
  c.. Once fully established, the AU Assembly should ensure that essential
human and financial resources are provided to the Court, so that it is able
to carry out its functions independently and effectively.
  d.. The AU Assembly should encourage member states that have not yet done
so, to ratify the Protocol without further delay. States should also make
the declaration under Article 34(6) of the Protocol.

      AI Index: IOR 30/001/2006        17 January 2006

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China's growing focus on Africa

      Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 11:36 GMT

                  By Jill McGivering
            BBC News

      Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is sweeping through Africa on a
concerted charm offensive - signing economic deals, raising Beijing's
diplomatic profile and highlighting along the way China's newly trumpeted
policy of strategic partnership with Africa.
      There is no doubt of Africa's importance in fuelling China's
remarkable growth.

      China's rapacious energy needs are increasingly shaping its foreign
policy, especially in regions like Africa, rich in natural resources and
eager for investment.

      China began its concerted effort in boosting trade with Africa more
than a decade ago.

      But more recently, the pace has accelerated.

      Chinese state media says the volume of trade with Africa has
quadrupled in the past five years - to reach about $37bn.

      Of an estimated 700 Chinese-funded ventures in the region, many are in
the field of energy and natural resources: oil and gas development, copper,
cobalt, coal and gold mining.

      Cheaply manufactured goods from China, from clothing to household
goods, are now flooding markets in Africa just as they are in many other
parts of the world - and causing local manufacturers similar consternation.


      But the change now is China's fresh resolve to define publicly its
policy on Africa.

      When Mr Li was just two days into his African tour, the Chinese
government in Beijing issued an official paper titled: "China's African

      The principles it sets out are very much in keeping with China's
foreign policy in general.

      For example, an emphasis on what China calls the Five Principles of
Peaceful Co-existence, which enshrines mutual territorial respect,
non-aggression and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

      That is a much less constraining philosophy than that of most Western
governments - who may have ethical concerns about doing business with
countries with non-democratic governments and/or human rights concerns.

      Last year, for example, Beijing had no qualms about rolling out the
red carpet for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.


      China's white paper also sets out practical steps for formalising its
relationships and broadening them far beyond friendly trade deals.

      In politics, it advocates continued visits and exchanges between
political parties.

      On trade, it promises, where conditions are ripe, to negotiate free
trade agreements with African countries and regional organisations - and
emphasises too the Chinese government's own commitment to Chinese
enterprises investing in and doing business with African countries.

      The first Sino-African summit is expected to take place towards the
end of the year in Beijing.

      It also promises increased support in developing Africa's

      This is a field in which Chinese companies are already engaged -
building a railway line in Angola and roads and bridges in Rwanda, for

      That pragmatic diplomacy looks set to accelerate.

      The Chinese government will now "vigorously encourage Chinese
enterprises", the white paper states, to take part in building African
infrastructure and scale up existing contracts.

      The emphasis, it says, will be on helping Africa to build its own
capacity - with Chinese support targeted in strengthening areas such as
management and technology.

      It's a positive approach likely to reassure and please many African


      All this is being watched with some concern by one of China's main
rivals in the global race for energy: India.

      One Indian newspaper, The Indian Express, highlighted the white paper
as the latest evidence of their difference in approach.

      India is sleep-walking through new opportunities, it said, while China
has put the continent at the top of its strategic priorities.

      Although Indian trade with Africa is also growing, it is still a
fraction of China's - and Delhi isn't providing the same strategic drive and
context as Beijing.

      There are far fewer high level political visits than from China which,
used with careful effect by Beijing, can re-enforce economic commitment and
broaden the relationship.

      The white paper goes a long way in clarifying China's growing African
strategy - and could prove a winning card in offering practical and
diplomatic help in return for the economic and energy rewards China so

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Suspended Zimbabwe mayor drags government minister to court

Zim Online

Wed 18 January 2006

  HARARE - The suspended opposition mayor of Chitungwiza city Misheck Shoko
on Tuesday filed an urgent application at the High Court seeking the court
to nullify his suspension saying the move was motivated by political malice.

Shoko, who won the Chitungwiza mayorship on an opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party ticket, said Local Government Minsiter
Ignatius Chombo had also acted outside the law when he ordered his
suspension without pay or benefits.

"The first respondent (Chombo)'s actions were grossly unreasonable, were
motivated by political malice and capriciousness and were done when no
grounds reasonable existed justifying invocation of Section 54 (2) of the
Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15," Shoko said in a signed affidavit.

"It is unfortunate that Chombo has politicised his role as the administrator
of Urban Councils and has tried to macro-manage and interfere with all local
authorities controlled by the opposition. His actions are malicious,
vindictive, immature and unreasonable," Shoko charged.
Shoko, who had been at odds with Chombo since his election into office three
years ago, was suspended last month.

Chombo accused the mayor of gross ineptitude. Shoko has however rejected the
charge insisting his suspension was political as the ZANU PF government
sought to reclaim urban councils from the opposition. Most cities and towns
are in the hands of the MDC.

But Chombo has in the past few years waged a bruising war against MDC-led
councils. In 2003, Chombo fired Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri. He
later suspended the Harare council and replaced it with a commission to run
the affairs of the city.

The minister last year also suspended Mutare mayor Misheck Kagurabadza in
what the opposition party said was a purge of opposition-run urban
councils. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe government construction workers fuel prostitution in Lupane

Zim Online

Wed 18 January 2006

      LUPANE - Twenty-nine year old Themba Nkomo, dressed in a baggy grey
overall, is in a merry mood as he dances the night away in a dimly lit
dilapidated "night club" at Lupane rural town, about 170km north of
Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo.

      Nkomo, with a mug of opaque beer in his hand, is among hordes of
revellers who are dancing to music blaring from an old Japanese-made hi-fi
that was placed on the edge of the long wooden bar counter.

      Clouds of dust occasionally envelop the revellers prompting a female
shop attendant to sprinkle some water on the cracked cement floor to dampen
the floor and keep the dust down.

      On the sidelines of the partying lot, an elderly man with a bushy
moustache talks to a young girl who is barely in her teens before the two
disappear into the darkness.

      Moments later another "couple" that was talking in hushed tones in one
corner of the bar room in an attempt to reach some secret agreement, also
follows out into the darkness.

      Welcome to Lupane, once a sleepy and largely conservative rural town
but now fast deteriorating into a hive of prostitution, thanks to Zimbabwe's
six year economic crisis.

      Here, the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic that is killing at least 2 000
Zimbabweans every week appears of little concern to the young women, many of
school going age, who are determined to sell their bodies in order to
survive in a country  where food, fuel, essential medicines and virtually
every other basic commodity is in critical short supply.

      "Things are tough here and we need to survive," said Sihle, an
orphaned girl, who agreed to speak to ZimOnline on condition that her real
name was not published.

      Aged 16, she said for her prostitution was the only resort after her
grandmother with whom she had lived died early last year.

      "We did not create this situation, so people should not judge us
harshly," she said, and for a moment the arrogant defiance that is visible
on her face is absent.

      Asked if she insists on her clients to use condoms, Sihle at first
says she does but then a minute later explains that there is a variation to
the rule.

      "There are some clients who will offer to pay more to be allowed to do
it without a condom . . . and if the amount  offered is right we agree," she
said, confirming that despite the good work they have done, Zimbabwe's
HIV/AIDS activists still have a lot more to do to save these young girls
driven into prostitution by conditions not entirely within their  control.

      But according to traditional leaders here, before the government sends
HIV/AIDS educators it first needs to rein in its  workers at a government
house building scheme in the town who they blame for the rise in
prostitution at Lupane.

      The housing scheme is part of the government's Operation Garikayi
under which it hopes to build houses for thousands of families whose homes
it destroyed during its controversial urban clean-up campaign last year.

      However, headmen from villages surrounding Lupane complained that
since the about 50 government construction workers arrived on site many
young girls have abandoned home to entertain the builders at Lupane centre.

      "We have had meetings with fellow villagers over the issue. We even
summoned the workers' foreman to warn him over the conduct of his workers.
But it seems both our children and the workers will not listen to us," said
headman  Nicholas Moyo from Mabhikwa village, not far from Lupane centre.

      "It is bad for people who should be coming to develop our area to
start killing our children," he lamented.

      A businessman at Lupane, who identified himself only as Mkandla and
who runs one of the popular bars in the small town concurred with the
village headman, saying while the construction workers had helped boost beer
sales they  were also to blame for luring young girls into prostitution.

      Mkandla said: "The construction workers created a boom for us but that
has also had its negative impact because we are seeing some very young girls
literally throwing their future into the dustbin.

      "And it is difficult for bar owners to ban these young girls because
that would mean losing out on sales because the more girls are in your bar,
the more men who come to buy beer."

      But Lupane is certain to incur an even bigger loss as more and more of
its young girls are lured into bars to entertain  men as prostitutes. -

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Harare residents up in arms against relocation of fresh produce market

Zim Online

Wed 18 January 2006

      HARARE - Matilda Banda heaves two bags of potatoes onto her head,
swaying her neck sideways to find her balance as she wades her way past the
rotting fruit and vegetable cast-offs piling up into a stinking heap not far
from the rows of fresh fruit and vegetables on sale.

      A mere three hours of trading at the new farm produce market near the
City Sports Centre on the western outskirts of Harare has turned the unpaved
ground into a stagnant mass of mud, rotting mangoes and cabbages after light
rains the previous night.

      And with every step Banda takes, she risks skidding and slipping into
pools of mud mashed and pulped underfoot by hundreds of other vendors
plodding up and down in search of produce for resale in Harare's outlying
residential areas.

      "After all this (shoving and pushing through the mud) the next hurdle
is passing through town to get transport back home. Why do they punish us
like this?" bemoaned Banda, one hand outstretched like an acrobat trying to
find balance on a trapeze.

      The 35-year old Banda, a single mother from the low-income suburb of
Mabvuku, was  referring to city council officials, who hastily and without
warning decided to relocate the popular Mbare Musika farm produce market
site from near the Mbare working class suburb to the City Sport Centre in a
desperate bid to avert a cholera outbreak.

      Unlike the Mbare Musika, which was more centrally positioned and
accessible, the new site is located near the up-market Ridgeview suburb and
is inaccessible to the lower income groups who most utilise the market.
Vendors have to foot long distances to reach the new market site which is
far away from most traditional bus termini.

      Pushcarts that would have ameliorated transportation problems have
been banned from the city streets.

      Farmers and market gardeners are also finding it hard to bring in
produce to the market as lorries ferrying goods often get stuck in the
unpaved ground at the market that has virtually become a sea of mud
following heavy rains that pounded Harare in recent days.

      "We lose business when trading places are changed without
notification," complained the driver of a truck, who was soliciting for
assistance to rescue his vehicle stuck in the mud from a group of reluctant

      Phillip Maroodza, 40, one of the middlemen known as "makoronyera"
(scroungers) for short-changing vendors complained that they were now
operating in the open without protection from the rain and the sun despite
paying huge trading levies to the council.

      "Council has merely transferred a problem from one location to the
other. At least we had a roof over our heads at Mbare," Maroodza told a
ZimOnline news crew that toured the City Sports Centre market place.

      The government appointed Commission running Harare unilaterally
decided this week to relocate the farm produce vending market from Mbare
fearing further outbreaks of cholera which killed three family members in
Harare's Glen View 8 suburb.

      The commission said the relocation of the market plus other measures
it has taken have seen cholera being brought under control in the capital
city. But the Combined Harare Residents Association, (CHRA), a residents'
lobby group disputes this saying it has evidence more people are visiting
the city's Beatrice Infectious Diseases hospital seeking treatment for the
highly infectious water-borne disease.

      The pressure group also says it is dishonesty for the Harare
commission to claim to be taking measures to prevent cholera while at the
same time residents have gone for weeks without clean drinking water and
have to depend on unprotected wells for water.

      "This (relocation of market) was an unplanned move that demonstrates
negligence and dereliction of duty on the part of the Commission," said
Precious Shumba, spokesman for CHRA.

      CHRA has threatened to take local government minister, Ignatius Chombo
and the Harare Commission to court over the forced relocation of the farm
produce market.

       "The new site has no sanitary facilities and exposes both vendors and
farmers to cholera and dysentery infections in violation of the Public
Health Act," Shumba says.

      But if there is anyone angrier against the Harare commission for
relocating the produce market then it is the residents of rich suburb of
Ridgeview who woke one day to find an unsightly market on their doorstep.

      Moosa Hassan, spokesman for the Old Ridgeview Residents Association,
said residents feared an increase in crime and a decline in the value of
their properties.

      "Residents are worried that the location of the market will attract
criminals to the area," he said, complaining that hordes of vendors and
vagrants now take shortcuts through Ridgeview and Belvedere suburbs from the
high-density suburbs to get to the open market at the City Sports Centre

       "You should see how the whole area has turned into an eyesore
overnight to appreciate the residents' concerns," he adds.

      Hassan says the residents are worried that the produce market near
their suburb could become a permanent feature following government's
announcement that it is embarking on a $29 billion refurbishment of Mbare

      "That kind of money implies it is going to take time to complete
refurbishments and open Mbare Musika again," he says.

      "We shudder to think what will happen to our properties if the market
becomes a permanent feature," Hassan says.

      Government has announced plans to establish and run similar farmer's
markets in four working class suburbs. Permanent markets will be opened in
Highfields, Hatcliffe, Dzivarasekwa and Mabvuku to ease congestion at Mbare.
But this is a massive project that might take a little bit longer before it
is completed.

      "That scares us stiff," Hassan says.

       "It means these markets will be sited within residential suburbs and
(will result in) the same amount of filth and garbage that led to the
closure of Mbare Musika in the first place.

      We wonder whether this is legal, considering Harare has a development
master-plan already in place," added the Ridgeview spokesman, no doubt
speaking for many of the capital's ratepayers who have to endure the excess
of a commission that is not accountable to them. - ZimOnline

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Zim's divided opposition plan separate congresses

Mail and Guardian

      Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe

      17 January 2006 02:38

            Feuding factions of Zimbabwe's main opposition are to hold
separate congresses in coming weeks to elect new leaders, officials said on
Tuesday, in a move that would confirm the split within the party.

            Once a major political force challenging President Robert
Mugabe's grip on power, the Movement for Democratic Change has become mired
in infighting over leader Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to boycott Senate
elections last November.

            A faction led by Tsvangirai's Vice-President Gibson Sibanda and
secretary general Welshman Ncube has been holding meetings to elect
delegates to a MDC congress planned for next month.

            "The official MDC congress is on during the third week of
February to choose the people to lead the party for the next five years,"
Ncube told Agence France-Presse.

            "If there is any other congress besides that, it's not an MDC

            But Nelson Chamisa, a spokesperson for the rival faction led by
Tsvangirai, said their congress, for which delegates are being chosen in a
separate set of meetings, would take place in March.

            "The MDC congress is going to be held in March, some time in the
second week," Chamisa said.

            "Those who are creating parallel structures to hold a parallel
congress in February are wasting their time. There is only one MDC led by
president Tsvangirai."

            Created in 1999 with former trade union leader Tsvangirai as its
leader, the MDC made major gains in the 2000 parliamentary elections but
lost ground in last year's March elections that the party dismissed as a

            Tsvangirai lost to Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election that
he claimed was rigged.

            The MDC leader in November sparked a rebellion within party
ranks when he decided to boycott the elections to a new senate.

            Saying the boycott was not endorsed by the party leadership, the
faction led by Sibanda expelled Tsvangirai for misconduct including
breaching the party's constitution.

            The former trade unionist scoffed at the move and suspended six
leaders from the rival faction claiming they were neglecting party business
while fomenting division in the party.

            Sibanda claims his faction has the backing of 24 of the MDC's 41
members of Parliament while both groups claim they have the blessing of the
party's national council drawn from Zimbabwe's 10 provinces.

            The infighting has left MDC supporters confused as both factions
claim legitimacy.

            "I will wait from a distance and see what happens," said Damion
Milanzi, an MDC supporter, who runs a newsstand in central Harare.

            "Many supporters have taken that stance because they don't want
to be seen joining the wrong group."

            The feud took an ominous turn last month when Tsvangirai claimed
that he had evidence his former colleagues had conspired with Mugabe's party
"to create a convenient opportunity and circumstances in which some in the
leadership, including the MDC president, are to be harmed and even
physically eliminated".

            The faction led by Sibanda has filed a Z$100-billion
($1,1-million) defamation suit against Tsvangirai.

            "There is absolutely no truth in those claims," lawyer Nicholas
Mathonsi said.

            MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi, who is in the Sibanda-led
faction, accused Tsvangirai's faction of breaching party principles by
advocating violence.

            "We don't believe in going onto the streets to install an
unelected president," he said.

            "This is where we will always differ with Tsvangirai and his
group. We can't be expected to have a unified party led by a president with
dictatorial tendencies." - AFP

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Zimdollar Continues to Fall

The Herald (Harare)

January 17, 2006
Posted to the web January 17, 2006


THE Zimbabwe dollar has continued to slide against the US$ and is now
trading at levels around Z$90 000 to the greenback from levels around Z$60
000 when the interbank system was introduced last October.

Against the British pound, the local unit has lost over 50 percent in value
to Friday's price of $160 000 while it has also depreciated by more or less
a similar margin versus the South African rand and is now selling at $14

The Z$ now trades at $16 900 against the Botswana pula, as the domestic
currency continues shedding significant value in the face of rising
inflation figures.

Zimbabwe's yearly inflation for December came in at 586 percent, 83
percentage points higher than the November rate of 502 percent.

Economic analysts say the exchange rate will continue weakening until at
least in the second half of this year unless vigorous measures are employed
to beef up the country's dwindling foreign currency coffers.

"The continued weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar is a positive development
for exporters as it results in a more viable environment," said Mr Farayi
Dyirakumunda, a Harare analyst.

"However, on the other hand, this will tend to push up the cost of our
imports, hence fuelling imported inflation. But consumer resistance will
prevent the rate depreciating drastically during this quarter."

Exporters sell 30 percent of their foreign currency proceeds on the auction
rate which still stands at Z$26 000 to the US$.

Mr Dyirakumunda suggested: "Efforts also need to be intensified in
re-engaging the international community and unfortunately for this battle,
the onus lies with the Government.

"Inflows from exports and the Diaspora still heavily need to be complemented
by increased support from the international community (foreign investment,
loans, aid and grants), if this economy is to successfully recover."

Insufficient supply vis-a-vis high demand has exerted a lot of pressure on
the local unit, which has been on a free-fall since the start of the year,
and worsened since October.

Analysts noted that full stability in the rate of exchange could only be
attained if the supply side of forex was adequately addressed.

The Zimdollar -- yielding to a widening demand-supply disequilibrium and
resurgent inflation -- has come down heavily from around $5 900 in January
2005, settling briefly at $10 800 around June before falling further to $17
500 in July.

Ever since market forces were ushered in to determine the rate of exchange,
the Zimbabwe dollar has lost over half of its value to the US$.

The introduction of the Tradable Foreign Currency Balance System was greeted
with relief by the market. The free market rate was meant to provide a
guaranteed source of foreign exchange for importers.

Another economist said: "We believe that the market-based system, provided
it is allowed to reflect the forces of supply and demand, will likely
attract inflows of foreign currency from the parallel market to the formal

However, inflows at the interbank system are still depressed as most
exporters are in no hurry to liquidate their funds before due date in
anticipation of a further depreciation in the local currency.

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MDC members released on bail


          January 17 2006 at 08:10PM

      Harare - A Zimbabwean opposition lawmaker and seven supporters,
detained for breaching electoral laws during local council polls at the
weekend, were released on bail on Tuesday, their lawyer said.

      "The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of parliament Job
Sikhala and seven party members have been released on ZIM$300 000 (about
R19) each," said lawyer Dzimbahwe Chimbga.

      "They were charged under the Electoral Act but we are going to apply
for their discharge when they appear for their next remand in two weeks'

      Sikhala and the opposition backers, among them a 17-year-old boy, were
arrested at the close of a local council election in the southern Harare
township of Chitungwiza on Saturday, Chimbga said.

      They were accused of campaigning close to a polling station but
Chimbga said they were arrested while sitting in a truck "parked well beyond
the stipulated distance and after the real voting".

      Zimbabwe's electoral rules forbid campaigning or wearing political
party regalia within a 200m radius of a polling station.

      Voters cast their ballots Saturday in low-key polls to elect
councillors in five wards across the country.

      The ruling Zimbabwe African National - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) won
four of the contested seats while the MDC won one.

      The MDC, once seen as the crisis-hit southern African country's first
real opposition against long-time leader Robert Mugabe's government, is
facing a split after a leadership wrangle following senate polls held in

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Working the old magic

The East African

  Traditional healers are often the first and last line of defence against
the contagious and debilitating diseases that plague people in Africa,
writes Itai Madamombe
THE SUN WAS RELENTLESS. So were the dozens of faces stubbornly waiting to
enter the tiny hut where Nhamburo Masango, a traditional healer, sat among
his herbs, bones and other remedies.
An old man in front of me had a skin rash, another person a swollen leg, and
somewhere a child complained of stomachache. No one, it seemed, was
discouraged by the long, winding queue.

For many poor Zimbabweans, traditional healers are often the first and last
line of defence against the contagious and debilitating diseases that plague
their lives. Although Western medicine is generally accepted throughout
Africa, it has augmented rather than replaced indigenous health approaches.

Practitioners such as Mr Masango remain central to the lives of many. The
World Health Organisation estimates that 80 per cent of people in Africa
regularly seek their services.

Yet healers, for the most part, are not officially recognised by
governments. They operate outside formal health structures. But leaving
traditional healers on the sidelines can have serious consequences.

Some patients, preferring the healers, may disregard their doctor's advice
or take herbal medicines that could have dangerous interactions with
pharmaceuticals. By working with these healers, doctors would be gaining
allies who live in the patients' own community.

"We have for a long time now been telling the government that it cannot go
it alone in the delivery of health," Gordon Chavhunduka, director of the
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association, said in August. "There
has been a lot of tension between the government and us over our

Prohibitive costs also make it impossible for the poor to get medical
attention, he added. People are opting for traditional healers, who do not
always demand cash up front and who outnumber doctors.

But the issue goes beyond access. Traditional healing is linked to wider
belief systems and remains integral to the lives of most Africans. People
consult traditional healers whether or not they can afford medical services.

Doctors trained in Western sciences largely focus on the biomedical causes
of disease, while traditional beliefs take a more holistic approach.

In Zimbabwe, traditional healers are reputed to divine the cause of a person's
illness or social problems by throwing bones to interpret the will of dead

Some healers say they directly channel the ancestral spirit through their
bodies. Many have in-depth knowledge of plant materials and their various
curative powers.

They use leaves, seeds, stems, bark or roots to treat symptoms. Animal parts
and minerals are also employed, but to a lesser extent. Most traditional
healers are both herbalists and diviners, but some specialise in one aspect.
Many doctors believe healers to be charlatans, preying on the superstitions
of local families. This is true in some, but not all, cases.

The gulf between modern and traditional practitioners has narrowed somewhat
in the past decade. WHO advocates incorporating safe and effective
traditional medicine into primary healthcare systems. In 2002, the
organisation issued its first comprehensive guidelines to help countries
such as Zimbabwe develop policies to regulate traditional medicine.

The Zimbabwean government announced in July that it will regularise the
trade. Plans include forming a healers' council that will, among other
things, authenticate the efficacy of herbal medicines. Minister of Health
and Child Welfare David Parirenyatwa expressed concern that some healers
claim to posses cures for various terminal ailments, among them HIV/Aids.

There is no way to evaluate such claims without a council representing all
the healers, he said.

"There is a need for some standardisation of operations," Dr Parirenyatwa
suggested during a meeting with local traditional healers. "For instance,
people should be able to consult registered and licensed traditional healers
at proper premises."

CURRENTLY, TRADITIONAL healers are operating in all sorts of places like
truck stops and backyard rooms. That has to change."

South Africa leads continental efforts to bring traditional healers into a
legal framework. In early 2005, parliament approved a law to recognize the
country's estimated 200,000 healers as health-service providers.

Those registered would, for example, be allowed to prescribe sick leave and
offer treatment for numerous conditions.

Some hailed this as an important step in rooting out charlatans and
protecting patients, but others saw it differently. Doctors for Life, which
represents over 1,000 health practitioners in Southern Africa, objected to
the government's plans to legitimise healers.

"Most of the medicines used by traditional practitioners have not been
validated scientifically," said Doctors for Life. "Many people suffer
because of the serious complications that arise due to the use of
traditional medicines."

The group warned that such a law could open "a can of worms" of legal
controversies and medical complications. They urged that remedies be
thoroughly researched before approval.

Other medical practitioners point out that traditional healers, with or
without the support of the law, are already providing services within
communities. Bringing them within the primary-health fold would therefore
help rather than hinder efforts to flush out harmful practices.

There is a growing realisation that it is possible for traditional and
Western practitioners to work together to improve patients' wellbeing,
especially when it comes to developing new medications, reporting new cases
of contagious diseases and finding ways to ensure that patients stick to
their prescribed treatments.

In Tanzania, the Dar es Salaam-based Institute of Traditional Medicine has a
pilot programme to test the efficacy of local herbs in helping reduce the
severity of other illnesses often seen in HIV patients.

Herbalists are allowing the institute to evaluate the substances they use to
treat patients. If scientists discover beneficial elements in the herbs,
they purify them and determine what the proper dosage should be. This
addresses a major concern that some people have with the way medicines have
been prescribed by traditional healers. Some 25 herbalists are currently
working with the institute.

We accept that "some herbs respond positively to some of the diseases
associated with HIV/Aids, and these need to be worked on to understand their
functioning,'' says Dr Edmund Kayombo, who is helping the institute to
establish the effectiveness of traditional herbs. The herbs include remedies
for strengthening the immune system, increasing appetite and treating oral
thrush, skin rashes and diarrhoea. They cannot be expected to cure HIV, he
says, but they can lessen some of the symptoms that occur frequently in
people with HIV.

Traditional healers can be particularly effective in monitoring disease
outbreaks. They live in communities and are likely to be the first to know
if any new disease surfaces.

Nora Groce and Mary Reeve, medical anthropologists, argue that open lines of
communication between traditional healers and the medical community can
improve surveillance. Health officials must include traditional healers in
their educational outreach to doctors and must be trained to know what
information they can seek from healers.

"Traditional healers must be taught why, what, when and how to report
unusual symptoms in their patients to local officials," said Ms Groce and Ms
Reeve. Checklists or pictorial guides to symptoms, diseases and modes of
transmission can facilitate communication between healers and officials,
they say.

Traditional healers are already a trusted source of health information and
treatment. Given appropriate skills and means, they are well placed to play
a bigger role in combating Africa's major diseases.

THE INCIDENCE OF tuberculosis was on the rise in the Hlabisa district of
KwaZulu/Natal, up by 360 per cent in the seven years prior to 1999. TB can
be easily cured if patients take their medication every day and complete the
course. But with the treatment lasting between six and eight months, many
drop out.

However, an innovative partnership between medical and traditional
practitioners helped reduce the spread through a course that trained healers
to supervise and record the doses taken by each patient to ensure proper

"We were also taught about the symptoms of TB, so that when we pick them up
in any of our other patients, we can refer people for a test," said Jack
Nyawuza, one of the 25 traditional healers who volunteered in the campaign.

"This information added to what we learn in our training as healers."
Patients were delighted that the healers received this training; the healers
lived nearby and could make home visits when patients were too sick to go to

The results were quite remarkable. Overall, 89 per cent of those supervised
by traditional healers completed treatment, compared with 67 per cent
supervised by other volunteers. And the death rate of traditional healers'
patients was two-thirds lower.

Healers welcomed their newfound respect within the medical community. "I was
trained to help and heal people, so being the TB treatment supervisor is a
continuation of my profession," Mr Nyawuza said.

  .. Distributed by UN Africa Renewal

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Zimbabweans in mass jail-break in Botswana

      By Tichaona Sibanda

      17 January 2006

      Ten Zimbabwean prisoners last week escaped from a central prison in
Gaborone, Botswana in a mass jail break that has left authorities there

      The men, who are accused of crimes ranging from murder and rape, car
theft to armed robberies, managed to escape by tying blankets together and
climbing out of the prison window after breaking the iron bars.

      Don Mafingenyi our correspondent in Botswana said the jail break has
aggravated tension between Zimbabweans and Tswanas in that country.

      'The jail break has come at a worse time when Zimbabweans were trying
to normalise their strained relationship with authorities here. It has made
things worse and people are having their work and resident permits being
withdrawn by authorities in Botswana as a result,' said Mafingenyi.

      One of the prisoners, said Mafingenyi, was later recaptured and the
search for the other fugitives is continuing in a massive operation, that
has seen the authorities bring in helicopters and fixed wing light aircraft.
Police have set up road blocks on highways leading to and from Gaborone.

      'What we have now is a dangerous situation were authorities here look
at every Zimbabwean as a fugitive, a thief or a murderer.

      What makes it more complicated is the fact that relations between the
governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe are not that good these days for anyone
to offer some sympathy to most of those caught up in the mess,' said

      It is believed the prison escapees could have made their way to South
Africa or that they are laying low before making their escape to either
Zambia or Namibia, countries considered safer than going back to Zimbabwe
were if caught could face extradiction back to Botswana.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwean analyst Brian Kagoro calls for revamp of the opposition

      By Violet Gonda
      17 January 2006

      "The MDC as an institution is hardly what we must be fighting to
preserve or protect but rather the values that formed its formation and the
formation of the broader progressive forces in Zimbabwe." These were the
words of well known political analyst and human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro.

      Kagoro was speaking on the programme Hot Seat on the political crisis
in the country and on how to salvage the opposition after the devastating
effects caused by the infighting within the 6 year old opposition.

      The civic leader said clearly the feud is a personal vendetta amongst
two factions that has very little to do with national interest. He believes
it's partly male egos that are refusing to heal saying, ".sadly the crisis
does not simply affect the MDC as a political party but affects an entire
opposition movement." He said, it suggests the opposition is not being ruled
by values and that the party's leadership, structures and processes are not
that different from ZANU PF. Kagoro calls this the "ZANUFICATION" of the
political space.

      Observers say the split has had a devastating effect on the party's
support base resulting in the general membership being confused and made to
choose between two MDC factions. The situation for the party's supporters
has been made worse by the fact that the party is going to hold two separate
congresses. And most recently in the urban council elections, the MDC
fielded 2 candidates representing the rival factions, thereby splitting the
opposition vote.

      Kagoro said the full extent of the split in the MDC affects a whole
generation. He said, represented in the MDC was an entire generation of
young people who were not tainted with the politics of yesteryear, the
politics of ethnicity, politics of greed and the stone age politics which
depended on " who had a larger stick and a bigger stone."

      The former chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said current
events in the party defeat the whole point of why many joined pro-democracy
movements like the Crisis Coalition, the National Constitutional Assembly
and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He said there was a desire to see the
end of a kleptocracy, so that we have nations and systems that are not
founded by thieves but on values of service.

      "Clearly the feud in the MDC suggests that we are still off the mark.
It suggests that not only are we off the mark but that we have become very
shoddy copy cats of the very system that for years we invested our life to
fight." He said this crisis should be viewed as national not in the sense of
a disintegration of political party but the unmaking of a hope that has
taken so many lives and taken so many years to form. "A hope that Zimbabwe
can be reconstituted by new persons by new politics and by new values. This
is the tragedy of the MDC fight."

      When asked if it would be better for the political future of Zimbabwe
if the MDC disbanded? Kagoro said what we should look to save the core
values of the MDC and the soul of opposition politics that says, "The people
as a general collective must determine the future. What we should be happy
to lose is bigotry."

      He emphasised that the split in the MDC in essence is a non-event in
itself because neither faction necessarily epitomises the hope nor the value
system, judging by how they have behaved within the last the last few

      However, he said the leaders' contribution towards the process of
democratisation is something that cannot be written off. "As such one is
caught in the desperate mode of literally waiting to save them from
themselves, before we even think about the impact and the benefit that
accrues to ZANU PF as a result of this internal feuding."

      "Excuses that the leaders are using to chop each other with political
machetes are unacceptable and groups that support democracy must read them
the riot act and try to bring them together." Kagoro said if there is
failure to bring the warring factions together, then Zimbabweans reserve the
right to exercise a more drastic form of disapproval.

      The whole interview can be heard in the SW Radio Africa Tuesday
archives on the programmeHot Seat.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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'2005 Fiscal, Monetary Policies Miss Targets'

The Herald (Harare)

January 17, 2006
Posted to the web January 17, 2006


FISCAL and monetary policies initiated in 2005 largely missed their targets,
according to a recent economic report by Interfin Securities, although -- on
paper -- they served as a bedrock for revitalising the weakening economy.

Key economic indicators such as inflation could not be contained to desired
levels while Zimbabwe's real sectors -- agriculture, mining and
manufacturing -- continued to decline.

The report says foreign currency continued to be in short supply despite the
removal of controls in foreign currency dealings via the introduction of the
Tradable Foreign Currency Balances System, also known as the interbank

"From our previous reviews we acknowledged that the measures adopted under
the 2005 monetary policy were a good starting point to resuscitating our
ailing economy," Interfin said.

"We, however, maintain that policy shortcomings are becoming more evident
with time thereby creating concern on the possibility of another meltdown.
The lack of definitive measures to address availability of forex and provide
incentives for exporters is a significant threat going into 2006.

"If the economy is to be on a sound footing in 2006 our opinion remains that
successfully stimulating foreign currency inflows remains a key long-term

In 2005, Zimbabwe's economy continued on the decline as both agriculture and
manufacturing failed to "positively respond to policy initiatives".

The country's gross domestic product fell by 7 percent while yearly
inflation as at December 31 2005 rose to 586 percent, the ninth consecutive
rise in the year after slowing down for much of 2004.

The local currency has also lost significant value versus major foreign
currencies. The Z$ fell to over $85 000 against the US$ by close of last
month from about $5 000 last January.

Exporters have also expressed reservations about incentives that have been
engineered to boost their productive capacity arguing "the current export
incentives and reviews have tended to be piecemeal thereby making it
difficult to invest in expansion or plan beyond the short term".

But most of them have survived the difficult trading periods thanks to
incentives availed by the Reserve Bank.

However, Interfin suggests that adequate foreign currency inflows would be
the lynchpin to remedying the country's economic worries although pressures
will continue to be felt across the entire economy.

This emanates from the fact that the economy remains a net user of foreign
currency, the bulk of which is required to source inputs and capital for the
productive sector.

The report states: "We expect inflationary pressures to continue throughout
this first quarter of 2006, as fuel prices are likely to be continually
reviewed in line with the adjustment of the exchange rate and international
oil prices.

However, projections from the Finance Ministry are that the economy will
this year register reasonable growth and is projected to expand by between 2
and 3,5 percent.

Agriculture is expected to spearhead the recovery, growing by 14,8 percent.

In general, although the overall performance of the economy is anticipated
to remain weak, analysts predict that GDP growth for this year will decline
by 3,5 percent, which shows a significant improvement from the decline of
7,5 percent in the fiscal year 2004.

The ministry also predicted that the mining sector would grow by 27 percent
in 2006, due to increased viability. Platinum, gold and asbestos sales were
tipped to grow on the back of firm international prices and the liberalised
foreign exchange system.

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Govt urged to effect price decontrols

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Business Reporter
issue date :2006-Jan-17

UNCERTAINTY exists across all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy, with
captains of industry blasting government for fostering the ambiguity
existing over when government intends to abolish price controls.
Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, assured industry players that
government would soon be going back on its policies as regards price
controls when he presented the 2006 budget statement over a month and half
In abolishing price controls - applying to the most basic of goods and
services required by the ordinary man on the street - Murerwa argued that
the move was necessitated by the absolute need to stimulate activity in the
country's productive sectors.
Said Murerwa: "We are aware of distortions in the market that have arisen
from price controls. These controls have contributed to the shortages of
basic commodities on the open market, with the same goods resurfacing on the
parallel market.
"It will, therefore, be critical that market-pricing mechanisms be embraced,
which are central to ensuring the viability of industry as well as the
well-being of consumers."
However, since then, no concrete action has been taken to abolish price
ceilings which government has resorted to as a short-term measure to solving
the economic crisis that the country has been mired in since 1998.
Furthermore, Murerwa did not announce when price decontrols would be
effected, and this has resulted in wide scale confusion amongst
manufacturers and service providers. Economists and captains of industry and
commerce said the continued existence of price controls was detrimental to
the full recovery of the Zimbabwean economy.
An investment analyst with a leading financial institution told the Business
Mirror that market reforms that Murerwa had advocated, particularly after
courting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September last year, could
not be achieved without the removal of price controls.
"The situation is still the same on the market because price decontrols have
not yet been effected. We still are experiencing distortions in prices of
basic goods. Instead of promoting the availability and affordability of
commodities, price controls are frustrating manufacturers as the costs of
manufacturing are too high," he said.
A couple of weeks ago in an interview with this newspaper, Kingdom Financial
Holdings economist, Witness Chinyama called on government to eliminate price
controls, adding that such a move would enable producers to attain viable
"If they get viable margins for their products due to the removal of price
controls, they will be able to produce more and commodity markets are likely
to be flooded, leading to a reduction in prices of goods," said Chinyama.
Chinyama also said price controls were instrumental in most manufacturers'
low productivity and preference to serve the export market where prices are
not controlled, as it is more profitable for them
A recent study carried out by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)
revealed that the bulk of manufacturing companies were producing between
only 40 and 60 percent of their maximum capacity, largely because of
constraints that included the government's price control regime. The
production constraints have existed from the time price controls were
re-introduced around 2000 and 2001, as part of efforts to rein in on
escalating producer and service provider prices that were a result of the
country's hyper-inflationary environment.
Interfin economist Farayi Dyirakumunda said though price decontrols would go
a long way in ensuring availability of products once being effected, it was
also necessary for the government to create a conducive environment to
attract investors.
"In addition to the implementation of price decontrols, the government
should create a conducive environment to attract investors. This will step
up competition, which in turn will promote productivity in the manufacturing
sector. The consumers will stand to benefit too, as competition would
subsequently lead to a stabilisation of prices," he said.
 Despite calling for price decontrols, the government has reinforced price
control mechanisms on vital goods and services.
Amongst these are fertilisers, and government officials have argued that the
move to maintain price controls on the commodity were a necessary measure to
ensure the affordability of the agricultural input - moreso in the wake of
the agricultural season characterised by numerous complaints of input
shortages by the new farmers.
A critical input, AN fertiliser, has been in short supply for the better
part of last year, and the commodity is only available on the black market,
where it is fetching in excess of five times the price being charged by the
main manufacturer of the product, Sable Chemicals.

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Residents use water from unprotected sources

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Jan-17

RESIDENTS of Harare and Chitungwiza at the weekend fetched water from
unprotected sources owing to water cuts introduced by the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (Zinwa).
This development is likely to see more people succumbing to water-borne
diseases, such as cholera, which has claimed 14 lives and affected 284
people to date.
The deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Edwin Muguti, urged
residents to boil water fetched from unprotected sources to avoid diseases.
The call by the deputy minister comes against the backdrop that many people
in the affected areas were vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhoea,
cholera, and dysentery and stomach problems because of contaminated water.
"As the ministry of health, we call upon people to boil water fetched from
all unprotected sources - no matter how clean it might appear - to curb
prevalence of diseases while awaiting the situation to be solved," said
Muguti in an interview yesterday.
He added that people should seek medical attention quickly when they suspect
any cases of an outbreak.
Zinwa has embarked on a clean-up campaign of its water reservoirs in a bid
to provide safe water to citizens.
Parts of Harare affected by the water cuts include Glen Norah, Glen View,
Warren Park, Highfield, Budiriro and Mufakose while
some areas of Seke and Zengeza
 went for three days without running water.
Initially, people used to fetch water from unprotected wells only for
bathing and washing, but due to the persistent crisis, people were using the
water for drinking and cooking.
Some residents with wells at their home resorted to selling the precious
liquid. Five litres of water cost $10 000.
Residents have also resorted to using the bush to relieve themselves.
"The situation is very bad. We cannot even get water for toilets, those with
wells are selling the precious liquid and we can
only afford to buy water for bathing and drinking," said Kudakwashe Nyenza
of Seke.
Some residents in Seke were sourcing water from the nearby Mayambara rural.
In some areas, water supplies were reconnected only at night between 2am and
"At times it comes at midnight and we have to work up to fill our
containers. Usually we only
manage to fill drinking water
because the pressure will be very low and it does not last long," she said.
Zinwa manages Harare and Chitungwiza portable water. Zinwa recently said
problems in the two cities would be a thing of the past

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Food outlets face difficult times

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Oswelled Ureke
issue date :2006-Jan-17

AS the clock ticks close to 1pm, most restaurant and food outlet managers
rub their palms and peep through their windows in anticipation of a good
business day.
It is the time they expect business to peak as customers come to satisfy
their grumbling empty tummies after a hectic morning session at work.
A survey around Harare's restaurants and takeaways showed that the
businesses are not removed from the macroeconomic and social challenges
facing a broad spectrum of the communities they operate in.
With the prices of mealie-meal, vegetables, meat and other basic commodities
skyrocketing, many a caterer have been left with very little choice, but to
pass on the burden to the hungry consumer.
Many a diner, who has since adopted other priorities, would rather adopt a
queer 0-0-1 feeding matrix, which translates to no meals in the morning and
afternoon and one meal in the evening.
At the same time, fears of cholera and other illnesses associated with the
consumption of bad food make people shun eating from 'lowly' outlets.
The Daily Mirror carried out a survey in the city centre and can reveal that
most restaurants are charging more than $100 000 for a plate of sadza and
beef stew, a price that can change on any day at the caterer's discretion.
Simmeon Jamanda, the owner of Simms Take Away, said: "The prices of our
ingredients have gone up so much that we have to offload it to the consumer,
and we are losing business because of that.
"Besides the ingredients, we have to pay rentals for the places we operate
from. The National Employment Councils have also directed us to revise
upward the wages we pay our workers and that is another expense we also have
to factor in.
"One would also have to look at a variety of other concerns like detergents
and city council and other rates that add up to the entrepreneur's costs,"
said Jamanda, who is also the chief of protocol for local football side
Motor Action.
Despite all those costs, Jamanda's outlet remains one of the cheapest in
town, selling a plate of sadza and beef stew for $75 000 and sadza and
chicken stew for $80 000.
At OK Supermarket sadza and stew costs $135 000, while sadza and chicken is
$125 000. Rice and stew at the same outlet costs $166 000, while a plate of
rice and chicken goes for $160 000, the equivalent of eight trips by public
transport between the city centre and any of the suburbs close to the
central business district.
For the fortunate consumers, there are always the trendy outlets where a
'one piecer' comprising one chicken piece and chips costs $120 000, a two
piecer; $250 000 and a four-piecer; $420 000.
"It is difficult to have lunch without registering it in your conscience
that you have deprived the whole family of a decent supper, because with the
$150 000 you can buy enough relish to eat together with maybe three other
family members," said More Makuvatsine, who was dining at one of the
restaurants visited by this newspaper.
"Lunch used to be the occasion over which people met and discussed business
or shared small talk. It was also the simplest thing you could do to show
your lover that you cared about her, by constantly inviting her for lunch
and making plans over a meal without twitching about the bill," added
Perhaps, noting that they are not getting enough business, some of the
outlets have resorted to serving substandard food to hapless consumers who
prefer quantity rather than quality.
"This is the best we can offer. We know people will come and buy. Those who
don't buy it are not able to, so they should just eat air pies (the street
lingo for eating nothing) and stop bothering us," said one waitress at one
busy outlet.
Jamanda said caterers were experiencing problems sourcing mealie-meal from
millers, and had to resort to the black market where a 10kg packet costs
between $400 000 and $500 000.
He said it was too expensive to buy meat from butcheries where a 1kg of beef
costs more than $200 000."Abattoirs can do business with us, but they
require us to buy whole carcasses. Since we serve varieties of meats like
pork, beef and chicken, it means one has to buy whole carcasses for the
different types of meat and most of us do not have big enough storage and
refrigeration facilities.
"A full carcass of beef costs $25 million, pork; between $12 million and $15
million while chicken goes for between $180 000 and $200 000 per
 kilogramme," bemoaned Jamanda.
Coupled with the equally expensive cooking oil ($200 000 a 750 millilitre
bottle), salt ($60 000/kg) and tomatoes ($180 000/kg), the price of
preparing one meal becomes too expensive for any caterer.
To stay in business, the caterer would neglect some core functions of his or
her business, which include cleanliness and hygiene.
Some of the outlets are so dirty that desperate customers have to fend of
flies for the entire period they are having their meal.
Some of such restaurants, especially those situated downtown around the
'Kopje' area have their dining rooms directly connected to latrines.
Such conditions, coupled with unclean vegetables obtained from equally dirty
markets have exacerbated the cholera scare currently gripping the country.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said while it was the mandate of
respective local authorities to monitor the standards of caterers, the
government wanted citizens' health to be safeguarded.
"It is the mandate of city authorities to monitor the standards of food
outlets and too see how hygienic they are, but as government, we would like
standards to be kept up to ensure safety for the nation," he said.

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Children Endure Hardships of Prison Life

Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)

January 17, 2006
Posted to the web January 17, 2006

Over 200 little children are suffering the pain of prison life with their
jailed mothers.

Prison Fellowship of Zimbabwe (PFZ), the local chapter of an international
Christian alliance for rehabilitating and assisting former inmates,
estimates that over 200 children are in the country's jails with their
mothers, IRIN reported.

At Mlondolozi Prison, a mental facility on the outskirts of the southern
city of Bulawayo where female prisoners are held pending psychiatric review,
14 toddlers are serving sentences with their mothers.

Among them is one-year-old Annastasia's mother, Sibusisiwe Nkala, who is
serving a 10-year sentence for culpable homicide after killing her husband
who was allegedly abusing her.

"I had no clothes for my baby," said Thenjiwe Ncube, the mother of a
three-week-old baby. Sympathetic prison officers donated what they could,
because there are no provisions for baby clothes at the prison.

Zimbabwe's prison regulations stipulate that children be released into the
custody of relatives or the Department of Social Welfare once they reach the
age of two.

Fiona Mandiziva, mother of a 16-month-old boy, is serving four years for
housebreaking. She says that given the option, she would prefer serving a
community sentence and watching her child grow, as "I can't impose my child
on relatives, because I understand that things are not that rosy out there."

In the past the prisons department used to provide mothers with extra
rations of soap and food, mainly peanut butter and milk, to meet the needs
of their children. But soap has become one of the most expensive necessities
in Zimbabwe, with peanut butter and milk fast disappearing from most shops,
including the prison department's stores.

Zimbabwe's prison system is over-stretched, with more than 30 000 prisoners
crammed into 11 jails designed for 16 000 inmates. There are no separate
sleeping arrangements for babies, and during winter both mothers and their
children are forced to cuddle together for warmth under the few threadbare
blankets provided by the system.

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African lions 'under threat'


17/01/2006 09:39  - (SA)

Fred Katerere

Nelspruit - The great African lion is under threat - not from hunters, but
loss of land.

As a result there's more conflict between people and the lions, said World
Conservation Union (IUCN) media and communications assistant, Caroline
Gwature, on Monday.

She said a workshop convened by the union and the Wildlife Conservation
Society in Johannesburg last week agreed that the lion's habitat needs to be

"There is increased consensus on, and political commitment to the management
actions necessary to conserve lion populations over the next 10 years," she

In past 20 years, lion numbers have dropped from about 76 000 to between 23
000 and 39 000. They've disappeared from 80% of their former range.

Government, local communities, biologists and safari hunters were
represented at the workshop and agreed not only to protect the lions'
habitat, but prevent illegal trade in lions and lion products, improve
management of lion populations and foster stronger community support for the

Lion on endangered species list

"Africans know how to live together with lions; they have been doing so for
a very long time," said director of the union's regional office based in
Zimbabwe, Dr James Murombedzi.

While lion are also killed in regulated trophy hunting safaris, this is not
considered a threat to the species, but a way to alleviate human - lion
conflict and raise funds for the poor and raise lion conservation awareness.

At the moment, the African lion is classified as "vulnerable" on the IUCN
Red List of threatened species.

In West Africa there are less than 1 500 lions who are on the IUCN's
Regionally Endangered category.

Results from the West and Central African region will be combined with that
of the southern and eastern regions for a lion conservation strategy for
governments and international organisations. - African Eye News Service.

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Zimbabwe`s flooding ends-experts

Angola Press

Harare, Zimbabwe, 01/17 - Weather experts in Zimbabwe said Monday the
country no longer faced threats of flooding, which hit some parts of the
country last week.

An official of the country`s meteorological services department said the
threat of flooding had moved westwards to Namibia where a rain- bearing low
pressure system, which caused heavy downpours in Mozambique and Zimbabwe
last week resulting in floods, had now anchored.

Floods hit several areas in Zimbabwe, causing damage to crops and homes. No
casualties were reported. The official said flooding was no longer expected
in Zimbabwe as the rains were easing in the country.

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