Subject: Statements re Amani Trust
As you may know, Amani Trust,a lead member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO
Forum and of the Zimbabwe Crisis Coordinating Committee, was demonised in the
Government controlled media last Thursday and Friday. Wholly unfounded and
malicious accusations were made against Amani and its Director, following the
exposure of 'safe houses' run by Amani for victims of violence and torture. To
ensure the safety of staff from possible physical attack provoked by this
Government media campaign, Amani and the Human Rights Forum closed their offices
in Harare and senior staff have gone into hiding pending a hoped for 'return to
normality'. A number of international agencies have issued public and press
statements in support of Amani and denouncing the accusations made against it in
the Government controlled media. Below are three such statements issued by the
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Amnesty International and the
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. Whateve your good
offices can do in defence of human rights organisations in Zimbabwe,
particularly Amani at this time, would be much appreciated.
Statement on Zimbabwe – Commonwealth Human
Human Rights Initiative has for many months now expressed its ongoing concern
about the developing crisis in Zimbabwe, and urged the immediate suspension of
the Mugabe regime from the Commonwealth. Continuing political intimidation and
the progressive decline of living standards for most Zimbabweans, show no sign
of diminishing in the run-up to the presidential election on 9 and 10 March,
2002. The forced closure of safe houses run by Amani Trust, for victims of
torture and terror, indicates the depths to which the country has descended.
Commonwealth action is now imperative and we urgently request that the
following undertakings be made:
1 A stay of
imposition of discriminatory legislation recently passed by the Zimbabwe
Parliament, which threatens press freedom and the fair conduct of the election.
2 The honouring
of President Mugabe's promise to invite international election observers, and
the arrival as soon as possible of long-term observers.
announcement by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, at its meeting on 30
January, that an election result which is deemed not to represent the wishes of
the Zimbabwean people will not be recognised, and will lead to Commonwealth
sanctions against those associated with a fraudulent victory.
relief for Zimbabweans, particularly in rural areas and high-density suburbs,
who are now suffering from hunger and the collapse of medical services.
5 An allocation
of funding by the British Government, in a Commonwealth escrow account, to be
held pending a just and equitable land reform in Zimbabwe.
6 A plan by
Commonwealth leaders to meet the different scenarios which may follow the March
As the premier
non-governmental coalition in the Commonwealth concerned to uphold and promote
human rights, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative stands ready to assist
the people of Zimbabwe and other international partners in the task of
Signed: Richard Bourne, Chair, Trustee
Committee, United Kingdom
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE
21 January 2002
AI Index AFR 46/003/2002 - News Service Nr. 12
Zimbabwe: Baseless allegations against civil society are an
open invitation to attack them.
Baseless allegations against a
human rights organization printed in
Zimbabwe's state-controlled daily
newspaper signal the newest phase in
the government's campaign to undermine
civil society, Amnesty
International said today.
On 17 and 18 January 2002, the Zimbabwe Herald newspaper alleged
Amani Trust has been "funding covert operations against Zimbabwe
National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)"; that it is
linked to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
its assistance to the victims of political violence is actually a
of carrying out torture.
"This is a contemptible twisting of facts -- to describe an
assisting victims of torture as perpetrating torture,"
said. "We unreservedly condemn the campaign of
slander that attempts to
portray Amani Trust or other human rights
organizations as politically
motivated and involved in political
violence. We are concerned that this
gives a green light to
state-sponsored militia to perpetrate violence against
Amani Trust, a leading human rights organization, began operations
1994, and has worked consistently with victims of torture both from
liberation war before 1980 and victims of the present
Attacks by the state-controlled media have often led
attacks by ruling party supporters or to baseless, politically
arrests by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
For example, state-controlled newspapers, radio and TV have
terrorist activities to MDC opposition members, who then became
of human rights violations, while ZANU-PF members in a majority of
have been perpetrators.
Amnesty International believes that these Herald articles have
public perception that heightens the threat of violence by
supporters against the human rights community, in a similar
manner in which
the MDC and other opposition party activists have been
articles in the state-run media.
"We are alarmed at the prospect that Amani would be targeted in the
manner as Zimrights -- another leading human rights organization --
way the independent press has currently been victimized,"
Amnesty International notes that UN Secretary General Kofi
remarks on 15 January 2002 which expressed concern about stifling
freedoms of assembly, association and expression. It further welcomed
High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson's statement
immediate action is needed in the "real human rights crisis",
"documented cases of rights abuses against members of opposition
the independent media and human rights organizations".
"Given the level of UN concern, and the commitment undertaken
President Mugabe to undertake full and impartial investigations
allegations of political violence, it is imperative for the president
extend an invitation to the UN Special Rapporteurs working
Commissioner Mary Robinson to conduct investigations into the freedom
the press, torture, political killings and the independence of
judiciary," Amnesty International said.
information please call Amnesty International's press office in
on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW
IRCT Media Release
Mugabe crack-down on human rights defenders
Reports in state-owned Zimbabwe media indicates that the government
preparing to crack down on human rights activists.
According to unfounded allegations in the state-owned
newspaper "The Herald", the AMANI Trust in Zimbabwe is funding
houses for criminals and pay them 200 dollars a day for
nocturnal raids where members of President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
beaten up and their property destroyed.
The director of Amani Trust, Mr. Anthony P. Reeler is a member of
Council and the Executive Committee of the
Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).
The Secretary General of the IRCT, Jens Modvig, MD PhD, says:
"Mr. Reeler as well as Amani Trust and its activities are well-known
them IRCT and the international human rights community. Amani
trust is a bona
fide health professional organisation that offers
assistance to victims of
violence. The accusations put forward by the
Herald-article "Amani Trust
funding covert operations against
Zanu-PF" Thursday 17 January 2002 are
absurd and would not deserve
any respond if it was not because of the sad
Dr. Modvig refers to the security bill that was recently passed by
Zimbabwean parliament. The bill is a criminalisation of criticism
Mugabe. It gives the police new powers to
Furthermore new election regulations ban foreign
independent monitors. Another controversial bill on control over
media means that journalist need to get accreditation from
Information Ministry every year and risk imprisonment for
"unauthorised" accounts of cabinet discussions.
"I am concerned about the safety of Mr. Reeler and Amani Trust staff.
the present situation and considering the human rights record of
government, I call upon the international community to
closely monitor the
situation in Zimbabwe and be alert. It seems
obvious that Zimbabwe's
president, Robert Mugabe, is ready to further
violate human rights in order
to win the presidential election coming
up in March. According to a report by
IRCT and the Danish Centre for
Research and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
Zimbabweans have been
subjected to torture. Obviously a rehabilitation centre
victims of political violence is, like the free press and others
can monitor, document and publicise violations too dangerous for
Mugabe", Dr. Modvig says.
|Possible signs of
progress in Zimbabwe: reality or myth?|
Human rights activists are of the opinion that the Zimbabwean
government may be honouring the commitments it made to SADC nations. This was in
spite of the fact that there are still signs of political violence which has
been classified as the government’s efforts to quell political violence. The
activists have taken the shelving of a media bill and the fact that the police
have been told to maintain law and order in the country as encouraging signs.
The proposed media bill was of much concern to journalists. The bill
would have forced them to register with government authorities. It would also
have prohibited foreign journalists from working in the country. But the
government has been forced to affect some changes to the bill. These now include
provisions that allow foreign journalists into the country. They will be allowed
in for specified periods of time and for specific reasons. These conditions are
extremely limiting. Journalists are still not satisfied as their registration
and accreditation is at the discretion of the government.
seems that chaos seems set to reign in the country with opposition supporters
been arrested. The country’s economy is in a terrible condition with inflation
reaching 112% and a desperate need for foreign currency. Thousands are
reportedly dying due to a lack of the correct medicines which are only
attainable from foreign sources.
The country’s neighbours are closely
monitoring the situation and President Mbeki has observed that the situation is
getting decidedly worse. Despite this regional leaders are against imposing
sanctions. SADC’s priority at present is to ensure that the Presidential
elections are free and fair. Nigeria’s president recently visited the country in
an effort to determine whether the provisions of a deal were being implemented
by the government. The deal was brokered by the Nigerian president in which oit
was agreed that elections would be free and fair and that there would be a halt
to the seizure of white-owned. Mugabe was criticized by his counterpart for the
slow implementation of the deal.
Although the government has made many
promises, it remains to be seen whether they will uphold them. The activities of
the government thus far point more in the direction of placation than that of a
serious commitment to the advancement of democracy.
|Egyptian Bank gives
Zimbabwe new loans|
According to a Pana report, an Egyptian bank has granted
Zimbabwe fresh loans. The Africa Export Import bank advanced the country two
lines of credit worth $30 million. The money is to be used for the finance of
exports and imports. The credit lines are to be administered through a local
bank – Trust Bank Corporation. The current political situation in Zimbabwe has
resulted in a virtual finance boycott with the IMF been at the helm of this
movement,. But the Egyptian bank has not let this deter them and have continued
with their support of the country.
|Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 10:43 GMT
Fourth coming for Zimbabwe media
Fierce debate is expected in parliament
Zimbabwe's parliament is due to discuss the controversial
media bill yet again on Wednesday amid rare signs of discontent within the
ruling Zanu-PF party
The bill bans foreign correspondents and imposes tight controls on local
journalists, although the criticism has already led to some of these clauses
being watered down.
Correspondents say that President Robert Mugabe is hoping
that the media controls will help him reduce opposition criticism of his record
during the campaign for presidential elections in March.
It is not a piece of law that can be passed by any humane
Mr Mugabe has signed into law the equally controversial Public Order and
Security Bill which outlaws criticism of the president and gives police wide
powers to disperse public gatherings.
The opposition says these will be used to prevent them campaigning normally.
The media bill was originally due to be passed by parliament last year and
has been delayed three times this month.
Eddison Zvogbo, a long-standing rival to Mr Mugabe within Zanu-PF, has said
that some of the measures in the media bill are unconstitutional.
Mugabe promised free and fair
Mr Zvogbo is chairman of the parliamentary legal committee which must approve
all legislation before it is presented to parliament.
The committee also forced delays to a bill giving the government the power to
ban trade unions.
Both local and foreign journalists say they will challenge it in the Supreme
Court, as soon as it is passed.
The Daily News, fiercely critical of Mr Mugabe, quotes a Zanu-PF MP as
"[The] Bill contained dangerous intentions to discredit the government and
our party. It is not a piece of law that can be passed by any humane
[The bill is] crucial to restoring law and order in a media
industry thriving on hate journalism
But Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, the architect of the bill, is
confident that parliament will finally pass it on Wednesday.
The Daily News says that the provision requiring all journalists to obtain
licences from the government or face two years in prison has been removed.
Foreign news organisation will be allowed to operate in Zimbabwe but they
must only employ Zimbabwean citizens or permanent residents.
The BBC has been banned from sending foreign correspondents to Zimbabwe since
A senior government official told the Reuters news agency that the bill would
be pushed through because it was "crucial to restoring law and order in a media
industry thriving on hate journalism, and abuse of journalistic privileges".
Zanu-PF controls 93 of the 150 seats in parliament.
Journalists plan to go to court over the media
Police said on Tuesday that they were investigating the deaths of four people
in political violence over the past week.
It is not clear which party the deceased belonged to as both the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF claim that three of the victims,
killed in the southern Masvingo province, were their supporters.
The MDC has urged the European Union to impose targeted sanctions on
Zimbabwe's leaders "unless the government takes immediate action to ensure a
free and fair presidential election".
EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on 28 January.
The EU parliament has already said that sanctions, such as a travel ban and
the freezing of foreign assets belonging to Mr Mugabe and his associates should
The United States congress has called for similar action. The delays in
parliament last week came amid international condemnation of the new laws and
threats of sanctions from Britain, the European Union and the United States.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "acutely concerned" about moves
to curb press freedom and political parties in Zimbabwe and urged the government
to respect the rule of law.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson also
expressed concern. "There is a real human rights crisis in Zimbabwe and action
must be taken now," she said.
Zimbabwe amends media bill
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe's government is poised to pass a
controversial bill designed to severely limit the media and stifle freedom of
The bill, which has been twice-postponed, is seen as an attempt by President
Robert Mugabe to silence opposition in his bid for re-election in March.
Part of it allows for restricting access to Zimbabwe to foreign
correspondents and the state licensing of domestic journalists. ends
It is expected to be passed on Wednesday by parliament -- where Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party holds a majority in the 150-seat house -- although in an amended
form following national complaints and international condemnation.
There has also been speculation that even some of Mugabe's supporters fear
unpopular legislation could make it harder for the president to extend his
22-year rule in the face of a stiff opposition challenge in the March 9-10 vote.
The original legislation barred foreigners from working as correspondents.
The revised bill allows foreigners with permanent residence to work in
But journalists who are not citizens or permanent residents will be
"These are fairly cosmetic changes. It will continue to restrict freedom of
expression," said Takura Zhangazha, advocacy officer for the Media Institute of
Parliament normally begins sittings at 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT).
Speaking to the Herald newspaper, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo denied
there were divisions within ZANU-PF over the legislation.
"We are pleased that consultations within the ruling party and with
open-minded and objective public media houses and editors have yielded a result
we are all happy with," he said.
The government still plans to set up a state-appointed commission vested with
powers to license journalists but it dropped the threat of new penalties against
journalists accused of denigrating the office of the president.
The government had taken back the bill last week to amend it after a
parliamentary committee called it unconstitutional.
A copy of the amended bill made available to journalists on Tuesday showed
the government had made minor changes but media analysts said the spirit of the
legislation remained intact.
Zimbabwean media groups petitioned the government and parliament on Monday to
throw out the bill, saying existing legislation was adequate to curb defamation
and maintain public order.
But a senior official said at the weekend it was "crucial to restoring law
and order in a media industry thriving on hate journalism and abuse of
ZIMBABWE: Changes to media bill ''cosmetic'' - journalists
23 January (IRIN) - Amendments to Zimbabwe's controversial new media bill are
only "cosmetic" changes, independent media groups and journalists told IRIN on
"The so-called amendments are cosmetic changes. The bill is
still draconian and is still an attempt to restrict the media," Abel Mutsakani,
head of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe said.
Zhngzha, an advocacy officer with the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
South Africa (MISA), told IRIN that the proposed changes seemed only to relate
to the accreditation of foreign journalists.
"From what we understand it
seems that foreign journalists who are permanent residents will be able to
register. Also foreign journalists will be able to register but to cover a
specific event only," Zhngzha said. The original bill barred foreigners from
working as correspondents in Zimbabwe.
"We still condemn the bill in the
highest form. As we see no significant changes have been made and we think that
it is still as bad it was," Zhngzha added.
The unexpected amendments to
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill came after a caucus
meeting of members of parliament from the ruling ZANU-PF party and a separate
meeting of the politburo earlier on Tuesday.
Parliament had been
expected to debate the bill on Tuesday afternoon, but ZANU-PF MPs adjourned the
session as soon as the house opened. There were unconfirmed reports of divisions
within the ruling party over some of the bill's provisions.
state-owned Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday: "Parliament is today
expected to pass ... the much talked about Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Bill."
Despite the proposed amendments, all journalists and
owners of media organisations would still be required to register with a
government-appointed body or risk two years in prison.
Confederation Condemns Restrictive Information Bill
January 23, 2002
Posted to the web January 23,
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI) has lashed out at the Access
to Information and Protection
of Privacy Bill, which seeks to stifle media
freedom but technically also
limits operations of industrial representative
institutions. CZI president
Jacob Dube this week said that the Bill would
make it "practically
impossible" for business to operate in a free
must be allowed to operate within laws of the country and any Bill
not uphold the interests of stake-holders is not worth the paper
written on," he said.
"Right now the country has suffered enough and
business cannot afford any
more restrictions on their
Section 20 of the Bill gives powers to a public body to
refuse to disclose
to an applicant information on negotiations made by a
public body. This
would stifle operations of industrial representative bodies
such as CZI, the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and
Once it becomes law, industrial institutions would only access
required by their members from either the Ministry of Industry
International Trade or Finance upon confirmation from these
Technically, institutions such as the Central Statistical
Office might end
up not making information such as the inflation rates
Dube also lashed out at the US-led economic sanctions against
"Sanctions will stem the flow of vital inputs for the productive
Zimbabwe result- ing in widespread closures and job losses," he
"Sanctions will also limit the supply of balance-of-payments
the country's bilateral partners."
Since 1997, Harare has
failed to access any form of funding from the World
Bank and the
International Monetary Fund. Other donors took a cue from these
and also stopped their funding.
"Business will therefore not be able to
access external loans. CZI as the
voice of business demands that sound
macro-economic policies be formulated
and implemented for the future
prosperity of this country," Dube said
The Bill in itself leads to
unnecessary bureaucracy as it gives the head of
a public body an escape route
to only respond to enquiries within 30 days,
Dube appealed to politicians
to have the interest of the nation at heart.
"Any power game should not
destroy the foundations of sound business growth.
Only the private sector has
the ability to ensure sustainable economic
growth. But business needs the
government of the day to promulgate sound,
Zimbabwe bill may muzzle media
January 23, 2002 Posted: 1:10 PM
EST (1810 GMT)
Media Institute of Southern Africa members protest
Zimbabwe's media bill in
Johannesburg on Friday.
(AP) -- Amendments to Zimbabwe's proposed media bill did
little to moderate
the "highly repressive" legislation seeking to muzzle the
press ahead of
presidential elections, independent media groups said
39 amendments to the Access to Information Bill would still make it
for anyone to work as a journalist in Zimbabwe without
Debate on the bill was delayed Wednesday for the
second day in a row.
According to its provisions, foreign correspondents
would be able to work in
the country only after being accredited in advance
by the information
minister and only to cover specific news
Violations of the revised bill would remain punishable by up to
two years in
"There are no substantial changes," said Reyhana
Masters-Smith of the Media
Institute of Southern Africa. "It is still highly
repressive and we oppose
it. There has merely been an attempt to make some of
the provisions more
According to the revised bill, foreign
media organizations, including The
Associated Press, would only be able to
have offices in Zimbabwe with the
permission of Information Minister Jonathan
They could employ only Zimbabwean citizens or immigrants with
The bill also outlined a range of
restrictions on reporting. One minor
concession in the amendments removed
penalties for criticizing President
But the Public
Order and Security Act passed earlier this month already
likely to engender hatred or hostility toward Mugabe,
77, the nation's
authoritarian ruler. It also gave police sweeping powers of
The increasingly unpopular Mugabe is seen to be using new
suppress opposition and extend his 22-year rule in March
Political violence, blamed by human rights
groups mostly on ruling party
militants, has intensified recently, spurring
criticism of the government.
Southern African churches called on Mugabe to step down,
saying it would be
better for Africa if he left office.
"While we honor President Robert
Mugabe for the role he played in helping to
bring liberation to this
continent, it is tragic to see Zimbabwe in the
current economic state, and
therefore, we believe it would benefit Africa if
he stepped down," said a
joint statement by the Methodist Church in Southern
Africa, the Fellowship of
Christian Councils in Southern Africa and the
Since political violence began almost two years ago, Zimbabwe
plunged into economic turmoil. Once called the "breadbasket of
southern African country now has food shortages and record
The first delivery of U.N. famine relief arrived in Zimbabwe
Trucks from neighboring South Africa delivered the first of
5,200 tons of
corn meal_ the region's staple food -- from the World Food
The agency has appealed for $60 million from international
donors to feed
558,000 rural Zimbabweans in need of immediate
Also Wednesday, Britain said it would call for the suspension of
from the Commonwealth if Mugabe violated its values.
issue is expected to come to a head at a meeting of the Commonwealth
Government in Australia in March.
Meanwhile, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa and the Legal Resources
Foundation, an independent legal
research organization, condemned the media
bill, saying it violates the
constitution's provisions on free expression.
The country's journalists'
union said its members in the independent press
planned to risk arrest and
ignore media licensing requirements and other
restrictions if they become
More than a dozen independent reporters have been arrested in recent
and others have been assaulted by ruling party militants.
foreign ministers are to debate the situation in Zimbabwe at a meeting
The EU wants Mugabe to end government sanctioned political
ensure free and fair presidential elections, freedom of the
press, and the
independence of the judiciary, and to end the illegal
About 100 opposition activists and
nine white farmers have died since
political violence began in March
urge Mugabe to step down
Methodist Church in Southern Africa today called on Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe to step down - and urged regional leaders to encourage him to do so.
The blunt message to Mugabe was issued after a meeting between Bishop Mvume
Dandala, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, and the
General Secretary of the Botswana Christian Council, David Modiega, in Gaborone
"Having deliberated together on pressing issues facing the
region and our people, we identified the following as areas of deep concern,
namely - poverty, HIV/Aids, and peace and stability," the church leaders said in
Focusing on the importance of sustained justice, peace and democracy in the
region, they said: "These elements are crucial for our national economies to
perform to their fullest potential, the absence of which, has a direct effect on
"We plead with our compatriots in Zimbabwe to retain the dignity of their
leadership and to remain champions of the rule of law."
The message to Mugabe was politely worded but straight to the point.
"While we honour President Robert Mugabe for the role he played in helping to
bring liberation to this continent, it is tragic to see Zimbabwe in the current
economic state, and therefore, we believe it would benefit Africa if he stepped
"We urge the heads of government in the SADC region to assist him to do so
Dealing with the scourge of Aids in Africa, the Methodist clerics called on
churches to urgently teach people how to avoid this pandemic, and to care for
the resultant victims and orphans.
They also challenged governments to increase spending on healthcare and
essential services for Aids sufferers.
ZIMBABWE: Activists appeal Malawi ban
JOHANNESBURG, 23 January (IRIN) -
Four Zimbabwean human rights activists are challenging their arrest, deportation
and permanent banning from Malawi.
The activists, representing the
umbrella Zimbabwe Crisis Group, were arrested a day before the 14 January
Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit and returned to Harare as
the summit got under way.
Malawian police told the group, which had
planned on making representations to leaders at the summit and on consulting
civil society groups, that their presence in the country was a threat to
national security. Their passports were endorsed, making it impossible for them
ZimRights director Bidi Munyaradzi, who was one of those
arrested, told IRIN on Tuesday that a board meeting on 2 February would decide
"on the best way to challenge the classification and deportation".
said they had already written to the Malawian high commissioner in Zimbabwe
asking for government clarification on the incident. "We have further said that
if we get no clarification we will make an appeal at an international level,
especially since we did not break any Malawi or international laws," Munyaradzi
Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 13:50 GMT
Zimbabwe leaders face financial
Fuel shortages have been blamed on the war in the
With less than seven weeks to go until elections in
Zimbabwe, investigators in the UK, southern Africa and the US are working to
track assets held by its leaders.
Under discussion are plans to introduce "smart sanctions", targeting property
held overseas by President Robert Mugabe and his closest allies, rather than
hitting the Zimbabwean population as a whole.
foreign ministers are meeting on 28 January to discuss what can be done.
[Zanu-PF leaders] will be able to muddle through for six
months or so without suffering [from sanctions]... If you're looking for
measures that will simply close them down, that won't do the job
John Robertson, Zimbabwean economist
And the US House of Representatives has already passed the Zimbabwe Democracy
and Economic Recovery Act, empowering the application of sanctions against
Opening up the cracks
The principle, according to independent Harare-based economist John
Robertson, is to split open Mr Mugabe's heavily factionalised Zanu-PF party.
Smart sanctions, he says "would speak to people not yet fully entrapped by
the government's rewards system".
Those already well entrenched, however, could see a different outcome.
"They will be able to muddle through for six months or so without suffering
except for their ability to move around the world... If you're looking for
measures that will simply close them down, that won't do the job," he says.
Even so, many human rights activists believe smart sanctions could have a
"Sanctions are essential before the election," one activist said.
"It would unbalance them... they're terrified, and they're gambling that
no-one will actually do anything."
Finding the trail
As yet, no-one can quantify the scale of the assets in question, and some may
be a great deal more difficult to locate than others.
Robert Mugabe: Head of a factionalised party
Real estate is probably the easiest asset to trace.
Financial investigators think it likely that members of Zanu-PF, Mr Mugabe's
party, have used proceeds from 20 years' access to the national treasury to buy
houses and other real estate in the UK, the US and elsewhere.
Proof of ownership is likely to be hidden several layers deep beneath "shell
corporations" - companies which exist only on paper - and intermediaries.
But it is believed the expertise and records exist to make tracking possible.
Zimbabwe's economy is in such a parlous state that the spoils are not as
readily available as once they were.
Foreign currency is especially hard to come by, despite government rules
which cap official exchange rates at less than one fifth of that available on
the street, and which cream off 40% of all official foreign currency
The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Zimbabwean troops have
been sent on a government support campaign, has for the past few years supplied
an alternative source of funds.
In June 2000, at the behest of the United Nations Security Council, a
committee of impartial experts started investigating allegations that parties to
the war in the DRC were exploiting its resources.
Their report - published on 13 November 2001 - made it clear that Zimbabwe's
armed forces have realised huge sums from exploiting timber, copper, diamond and
other DRC resources.
Through a company called Cosleg, the UN said, senior army officials - most of
whom are close Mugabe allies, having served with him in the war of liberation in
the 1970s - have made fortunes in the DR Congo.
Others are believed to have profited from pay-offs resulting from official
tenders for government supply.
Tied in at the top
The Congo operations link directly into the highest levels of Zanu-PF through
Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, the UN said.
Mr Mnangagwa was "the architect of the commercial activities of Zanu-PF", the
UN report said.
Emmerson Mnangagwa: Named in UN
The presence of Zimbabwean forces in the Congo has provided a conduit for
getting money safely secreted away, via a maze of middlemen, offshore companies
and independent contractors.
And resources redirected from the DRC are helping fuel a land-grab within
Zimbabwe separate from the ongoing clearances of white farmers and their black
Mr Robertson told BBC News Online that members of the armed forces are
touring Harare buying houses and commercial property with bundles of cash -
consisting both of Zimbabwe dollars and foreign currencies - amassed in the DRC.
Hiding the proceeds
Tracing money, however, presents a far bigger challenge.
Traditional havens, such as Switzerland and Luxembourg, for illicitly
acquired funds have become more co-operative with authorities, but typically
require hard evidence before getting involved in investigations.
Ironically, London may prove a more problematic destination to investigate,
as last year's revelations about assets squirreled away by late Nigerian
dictator Sani Abacha showed.
Of the $1.6bn or so traced by international investigators, much of it passed
through London financial institutions as well as Swiss ones.
Sources close to UK financial policing say staffing levels are inadequate to
deal with both the Zimbabwe investigation and the high-profile, urgent attempts
to uncover sources of terrorist funding.
City institutions are being asked to focus on possible Zimbabwean connections
in the course of their normal duty to look out for shady transactions.
And other private sector groups, such as forensic accountants, are being
asked for assistance.
Another avenue which proponents of smart sanctions want to explore is that of
An array of senior figures in Zanu-PF and their families - led by Mr Mugabe's
wife, Grace - shuttle back and forth to London and New York on shopping
For this reason, in some circles Air Zimbabwe's six planes are known as the
"Zanu-PF taxi service", with planes commandeered for semi-official business at a
few hours' notice.
Clamping down on that could hit senior figures where it hurts: The comfort
It also penalises those members of the hierarchy whose children are educated
Both Mr Mnangagwa and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, to name but two,
have children in college or school in the US.
The 16 February 2002 is
the 2nd Anniversary of Farm Invasions.
Zimbabwe High Commission
429 Strand Street
(Nearest tube Charring Cross).
Date: Saturday 16 February 2002 - The last protest prior to
elections & my last one too.
Time: 11.00hrs - 14.00hrs - 3
The normal line up of speakers:
Hopefully an ex-guerrilla to testify - wait and
Piper, drums and much more
Zimbabwe is at a critical juncture: the outcome of the
presidential election, scheduled for 9-10 March, will decide whether the country
returns to the rule of law and establishes a plural democratic system or
descends into the depths of political and economic chaos. The latter scenario
will have a disastrous effect on the broader southern Africa region where
fragile economies are already suffering the effects of the government inspired
crisis in Zimbabwe.
The current situation in Zimbabwe provides alarming
evidence to support the view that Zimbabwe is indeed disintegrating towards a
total political, economic and social meltdown, resulting in intolerable
suffering on the people of Zimbabwe.
Draconian legislation has been passed to disenfranchise
hundreds of thousands of innocent voters, curtail the opposition from
campaigning and expand the powers of the security forces to such a degree that
civil liberties are all but destroyed.
Zimbabwe can be saved from the abyss if sufficient
diplomatic pressure is exerted from the international community.
We urge the international community, and SADC countries
in particular, to call for the following:
An end to all acts of political violence and intimidation in
The implementations of SADC norms and standards for a free and fair
The unequivocal withdraw of the draconian legislation that was
The Zimbabwe Government to condemn political statements by the
The immediate invitation and accreditation of international
- Guarantees that international and local journalists will be able to
work without fear of arrest or political intimidation
If the conditions are not met by the end of January the
international community should take decisive action and impose targeted
sanctions on President Mugabe, his family and other leading figures within Zanu
PF guilty of committing gross human rights abuses.
For further information please contact…
Albert Weidemann 01765 -
Zimbabwe court overturns opposition election
HARARE, Jan. 23 — Zimbabwe's High Court on Wednesday nullified
results for a
parliamentary seat won by the main opposition party last year,
agency Ziana reported.
The decision bucks a previous
trend where the courts have overturned
the victories of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
''The High Court set aside on
Wednesday the 2000 June parliamentary
election results for Seke constituency
won by Ben Tumbare-Mutasa of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),'' the
High Court Judge Nicholas Ndou, acting on behalf of Judge
Ziyamba who handled the case, but has since been promoted to the
Court, said 197 missing pages on the voters' roll for the area had
in 10,835 entitled voters being turned away during the polls, ZIANA
This is the first instance in which the ruling party has
challenged an electoral victory of the MDC, which came close to
ZANU-PF the ruling party at the June 2000 polls.
leader Morgan Tsvangirai posses the stiffest challenge to
grip on power at presidential elections set for March 9-10.
originally challenged 37 parliamentary election results, of
which four seats
won by ZANU-PF have been overturned although the ruling
party is challenging
The courts have upheld three ZANU-PF victories, while
has withdrawn a couple of challenges.
party currently holds 93 seats in the 150-member
parliament, its majority
bolstered by 30 presidential nominees.
UK backs Zimbabwe sanctions
January 23, 2002 Posted: 8:46 AM EST
One British MP described Mugabe's regime as
LONDON, England -- Britain has indicated it will press for
suspension from the 54-nation Commonwealth.
announcement came during a debate in the House of Commons over what
described as Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's "flagrant attacks
The debate was held on Wednesday as
Zimbabwe's government was poised to pass
a controversial bill which limits
the media and stifles freedom of speech.
During the UK parliament debate,
one politician likened Britain's treatment
of Mugabe to the appeasement of
Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and described his
government as a "fascist
In response, Junior Foreign Office minister Ben Bradshaw said:
government's long-held view that we act best when we act together with
international friends is the best strategy.
"Britain shares the
view of Australia and others that countries that violate
the values of the
Commonwealth should not have a seat at that table."
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the group's
will discuss calls for Zimbabwe's suspension at a
meeting in London next
Heads of government from the Commonwealth are due to meet in
early March, just days before Zimbabwe's elections.
media bill being considered on Wednesday after twice being postponed is
as an attempt by Mugabe to silence opposition in his bid for
Part of it allows for restricting access to Zimbabwe to
correspondents and the state licensing of domestic
It is expected to be passed by parliament -- where Mugabe's
holds a majority in the 150-seat house -- although in an
following national complaints and international
Zimbabwe already faces possible European Union sanctions
after failing to
address EU concerns over political violence and alleged
The United States is also stepping up
pressure on Mugabe, taking steps to
locate millions of dollars thought to
have been deposited abroad by his
inner circle -- in preparation for possible
freezing of their overseas
Mugabe is accused by the
international community of sanctioning the often
violent takeover of hundreds
of white-owned farms, triggering a collapse in
has vowed to seize two thirds of the 12 million hectares of land owned
4,500 mostly white commercial farmers.
In the UK House of Commons,
Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis compared the UK
Government's treatment of
what he called the leader of a "racist and
fascistic regime" with Britain's
appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s.
Lewis accused Mugabe of
He said: "There are prisoners being interrogated
in ways that would have
Labour backbenchers and Liberal Democrat
frontbenchers frothing at the mouth
if they were applied to al Qaeda suspects
He added: "Why is it that people who rightly so strongly
repression in the past ... respond so feebly to black
repression now? This
is a viciously racist and fascistic regime and where are
demonstrations against it?
"I fear there has been too much of
a softly, softly approach consistently
applied by the Foreign
Speaking of the 1933 call by Britain's envoy in Germany "that
not be appeased," he added: "Our recommendation now is that
not be appeased either."
Bradshaw said there had been a
catalogue of reported abuses in Zimbabwe
including "appalling atrocities"
against opposition supporters, attempts to
prevent campaigning by political
opponents, and a clampdown on media
"The British government
unreservedly condemns these flagrant attacks on
democratic principles and
practice," he said.
"These violations show that Zimbabwe's ruling party
knows that it cannot win
a free and fair election. Instead it is choosing to
rig the process and
bludgeon its way through."
Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 15:58 GMT
Tories want tough action on
Mr Mugabe is facing elections in
By the BBC's Bethan Rhys-Roberts
Britain's main opposition Conservative Party has called on the Labour
Government to adopt a far tougher stance against President Robert Mugabe's
regime in Zimbabwe.
The party has
called on Labour to abandon what it describes as its "softly-softly approach" in
favour of direct action.
The reluctance of this government to face up to this
spiralling disaster... is nothing short of an abdication of
Tory foreign affairs spokesman Michael Ancram
But the UK Government insists that any action taken must be rational and
This was the third time British parliamentarians debated the situation in
Zimbabwe in as many months.
Conservative MP Julian Lewis accused Robert Mugabe of running a "racist and
fascistic regime", a "parody of democracy" and compared the government's
approach to him to Britain's appeasement of Hitler during the 1930s.
The importance of not playing into President Mugabe's hands
and allowing him to portray this as a neo-colonial struggle with Britain is
Foreign Minister Ben Bradshaw
The Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs Michael Ancram said: "The
reluctance of this government to face up to this spiralling disaster, to take
any initiative, indeed, to do anything other than wring their hands, is nothing
short of an abdication of responsibility."
There were repeated calls for tough targeted sanctions to be imposed by the
European Union and for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the Commonwealth.
Conservative Tony Baldry accused the Commonwealth of adopting double
standards by suspending Pakistan, but not Zimbabwe.
Foreign Minister Ben Bradshaw said that Britain would argue for the
suspension of Zimbabwe at the forthcoming meeting of Commonwealth heads of
government in Australia, if the situation continued to deteriorate.
But he insisted that any action against Zimbabwe had to
be rational and effective, putting Zimbabweans first.
Ancram accused the government of
"The importance of international action is paramount, and the importance of
not playing into President Mugabe's hands and allowing him to portray this as a
neo-colonial struggle with Britain is absolutely vital."
'Clinging to power'
Several parliamentarians stressed that the March presidential elections in
Zimbabwe would not be free or fair.
The prospect of Mr Mugabe losing but clinging to power would be hair-raising
for Britain, according to one Conservative.
The government said that Zimbabwe's ruling party was looking to rig the
process and bludgeon its way through.
But it is declining to speculate on what action it will take if that does
Zimbabwe says Britain isolated on Commonwealth
HARARE, Jan. 23 — Zimbabwe said on Wednesday Britain had scant
its attempts to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and
accused London of
seeking to engineer an opposition victory in March
Zimbabwe's latest outburst against its
former colonial ruler came
after British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned
President Robert Mugabe's
pre-election crackdown on political opposition as a
''disgrace'' and said
London would press for Zimbabwe's suspension from the
Zimbabwean officials said Britain was
desperate to secure victory for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) at the March 9-10 poll
and reverse Mugabe's controversial seizure of
Harare also said Britain had little support for its
the southern African country where Mugabe has been in power
for 22 years.
''They (Britain) are running feverishly because they
know that they
don't have any strong support in the Commonwealth outside
Canada for their programme,'' Mugabe's spokesman George
''And their agenda is to win the elections
for the MDC in the hope of
reversing the land redistribution programme,''
Nine white farmers and 100 black opposition supporters
killed, with thousands injured or forced to flee in a two-year land
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party which says it is correcting colonial
A Nigerian-brokered deal last year to restore law and order in
country and mend fences between London and Harare has made little
The eight-strong Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group
group's democracy watchdog, will discuss the calls for Zimbabwe's
at a meeting in London next Wednesday.
government from the Commonwealth are due to meet in Brisbane
in early March,
just days before Zimbabwe's elections.
Zimbabwe already faces possible
European Union sanctions after
failing to address EU concerns over political
violence and alleged human
The United States is
also increasing pressure on Mugabe, taking steps
to locate millions of
dollars thought to have been deposited abroad by his
inner circle -- in
preparation for possible freezing of their overseas
Zimbabwe may lose place in Commonwealth
Wednesday January 23, 2002
Britain will call for the
suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth if
president Robert Mugabe
"violates" its values, the government confirmed
Office minister Ben Bradshaw faced criticism from Tory MPs
government was failing to take tough action against Mr Mugabe's
But during a debate in Westminster Hall this morning, Mr Bradshaw
was important to act "rationally and effectively" and conceded that
issue could reach boiling point at a meeting of the Commonwealth heads
government in Brisbane in March.
He said: "The government's
long-held view that we act best when we act
together with our international
friends is the best strategy.
Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis compared
the government's treatment of what
he called the leader of a "racist and
fascistic regime" with Britain's
appeasement of Hitler during the
During the debate, Dr Lewis accused Mr Mugabe of "parodying
Evidence of systematic intimidation, murder and torture of
supporters ruled out the prospect of free and fair
presidential elections in
March, he argued.
He said: "There are
prisoners being interrogated in ways that would have
Labour backbenchers and
Liberal Democrat frontbenchers frothing at the mouth
if they were applied to
al-Qaida suspects in Cuba."
"I would wish to see tough sanctions brought
Answering, Mr Bradshaw told the chamber: "Britain shares the
Australia and others that countries that violate the values of
Commonwealth should not have a seat at that table."
vote rigging and intimidation of opposition parties by
"Zimbabwe's ruling party knows it cannot win a free and
Instead, it is looking to rig the process and bludgeon its way
'They say that power corrupts - and it does'
As first lady of Zimbabwe,
she lived the high life. Now Janet Banana is
getting by on £10 a week in a
tiny London flat, hoping to be granted
political asylum. She tells Rebecca
Taylor her extraordinary story
Wednesday January 23, 2002
When the woman off the plane from Harare announced that she was
first lady of Zimbabwe and was seeking political asylum, the
officials at Heathrow were incredulous. She said her name was
wife of the former president of the country, Reverend Canaan
Banana, and she
was fleeing Zimbabwe with her 18-year-old daughter. "They
didn't know what
to make of me," says Banana, who arrived in Britain in
October 2000 with one
suitcase and £40 to her name. "I had lived as the
president's wife in
Harare, but I arrived in Britain with nothing, fleeing
for my life."
The tale of her flight is dramatic, encompassing political
bizarre trial for sodomy and a murder case. Although her story
background makes her situation different from most of the other
Zimbabweans awaiting asylum in the UK, it reflects the climate of fear
increases daily in Zimbabwe in the run up to the March elections. In
Janet Banana has only agreed to be interviewed at all after discussing
with officers from Special Branch. They consider her to be in danger
secret agents, thought to have been planted by President
If the colourfully named Canaan Banana rings a bell with most
Britain it is likely to be for the running gag on his name in the
news show Not the Nine o'clock News in the early 80s: Cardinal
Pineapple, His Eminence Ndabaningi Toffee Apple and the prime minister,
Robert Rhubarbi, featured as his political bedfellows. But in Zimbabwe,
the time, Canaan was lauded as the country's first president following
bloody and prolonged war of independence that toppled Ian Smith's
regime. Robert Mugabe was his prime minister.
"At first we
were excited to be taking such a big part in this new country,"
who moved into the State House in Harare with her husband in
1980. Dressed in
a brightly patterned Zimbabwean headscarf, she speaks
passionately about events in the former British colony of
Rhodesia. "I got to
meet dignitaries from all over the world, including
Prince Charles, who came
to our independence celebrations to take down the
British flag. Later I
attended his wedding in London to Princess Diana.
"But living in the
State House was a lonely existence for me. I missed my
especially, home cooking. The staff there were former employees
Smith regime and they were very efficient at cooking British food
absolutely nothing about how to cook our traditional food, such as
Janet Banana was born in 1938 to a farming family in
Matabeleland, in what
was then Southern Rhodesia. She trained as a teacher
and it was while
working at a school that she met a fellow teacher, Canaan
Banana. The couple
married in 1961. He trained as a minister at a local
theological college and
by the time their first son was born, the family was
moving from post to
post in service with the Methodist ministry.
the wind of change was already blowing through Africa as the continent
to shake off European colonial rule. As the independence movement in
gained momentum, Canaan became involved in politics, becoming the
president of the African National Council, a group outlawed by the
government. As ANC members were arrested and thrown into prison, the
began to close around Banana. He fled to the US where Janet and
children joined him.
The family returned to Rhodesia in 1975
with the war still raging. Banana
was arrested on arrival in Salisbury (now
Harare). He was finally released
after the Lancaster House talks in London,
in 1979, which reached agreement
on a new constitution for the country.
Independence bought freedom, but it
also brought to light an increasingly
autocratic streak in Mugabe. In 1987,
he took over the role of executive
president, effectively forcing Banana out
of office and taking complete
control of the country. "At the beginning,
when Mugabe was prime minister, he
was a friendly and approachable
gentleman. But when he became the executive
president he became a different
man. They say power corrupts and it does. It
corrupts absolutely," says
Decadent spending replaced the
ascetic socialism that Mugabe had once
adhered to. "I remember visiting his
mansion outside Harare for a party
after his marriage to his second wife,
Grace. The rooms were massive and the
furniture, which came from all over the
world, was immaculate. His children
had their own playroom with every kind of
gadget you can imagine. But each
time he entered a room the servants had to
squat on the floor. They looked
As the country began to
suffer politically and economically, Banana was
faced with a personal crisis
of her own. "Before we moved out of the State
House, my husband's bodyguard
gave me some startling news. He told me,
'Canaan is gay.' I was
Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, punishable by up to 10
prison, and gay activity is largely regarded as taboo. "For a long
questioned myself: why, why? Eventually, after searching my soul I
think, it's his life - maybe I should accept it."
continued living together however, and the issue of Canaan's
was kept out of the public eye. He became a spokesperson for
of African Unity, travelling all over the world and
acquiring a high profile.
But in 1995, Mugabe made a speech declaring
homosexuals as not only
"un-African" but "worse than pigs and dogs". A year
later, Canaan was ar
rested on charges of abusing his position by sexually
assaulting male staff
The circumstances surrounding the arrest were sensational and
painful for Janet to recall. Canaan was charged after his
dead a police colleague who taunted him as "Banana's wife".
was jailed for 10 years for the murder but during the trial
Canaan drank, danced and played cards with him before
assaulting him in the
State House library. Although Canaan vigorously denied
insisting that political opponents had influenced the case, he
on 11 counts of sodomy.
The case took a further dramatic
twist when, shortly before the sentencing,
Canaan went on the run to South
Africa after receiving a tip- off that
Mugabe planned to have him killed.
After meeting Nelson Mandela, Banana
returned to Zimbabwe, where he was
finally sentenced to two years. "We think
Mandela intervened to have him
treated leniently," says Janet.
"Mugabe used the issue of my husband's
sexuality as a way of mobilising
opinion against Canaan. Mugabe was jealous
of Canaan's role in the OAU,
which offered him an international platform not
available to Mugabe," she
says. "Canaan was also regarded as the most likely
contender to Mugabe's
position. The attack on Canaan was an attempt to
eliminate any hint of
After the trial, Banana found
herself in an untenable situation. "I began to
feel that if I stayed in
Zimbabwe, my life would be in danger. Because I had
throughout the trial I knew the government regarded me as a
liability. I was
followed and monitored by plain-clothes government agents,
and my daughter
was harassed in school. We were also stigmatised as 'the gay
were 'disappearing'all the time for any small remark about
Mugabe, even for
throwaway jokes about his second wife. I felt as if I was
'disappear' at any moment myself. The situation had also
Canaan and me, so even if he came out of prison I knew
he wouldn't support
In October 2000, friends of Banana's in London suggested that she go
Britain for a break. "Once I was on the plane, I went through all the
events of my life in my head. I was coming for a holiday, but on
I decided there was no life for me in Zimbabwe."
lives in a one-room flat with her daughter in north London. She
a week in benefit, plus vouchers, and says she survives
attending workshops in computers and creative writing.
She is also training
as a counsellor.
In light of the home secretary's recent announcement
about the position of
Zimbabwean asylum seekers, she will probably be allowed
to remain in the UK
until after the March elections, but her longer-term
future is uncertain. It
is a far cry from her former VIP existence. "This new
life is not so
difficult to adjust to. By nature I'm a resilient person and I
humble beginnings," she says.
She is no longer in touch with
Canaan, who was released from prison last
January, although she believes he
may have joined forces with Mugabe in
order to save his own skin. But she has
no time for the power games of
politics and shakes her head slowly when asked
about the present situation
in her homeland.
"It is the poor who are
suffering in this situation," she says. "The main
problem under Mugabe is
poverty. Why do we have 12 million in poverty?"
She believes that any
attempt to impose sanctions will only hurt a people
who have been ground down
enough. Ultimately, she says, the west won't go
ahead with economic sanctions
because that would damage British and US
companies based in the
"It is very sad to learn what is happening," she says. I love my
if I went back I would be killed. Our people are warm and loving
Zimbabwe we inherited in 1980 was beautiful. I would like to see that
return one day."
Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 19:32 GMT
Food aid arrives in Zimbabwe
The famine is blamed on farm invasions and
The United Nations World Food Programme says it has made its
first delivery of food aid to Zimbabwe.
Trucks from neighbouring South Africa delivered the first of 5,200 tons of
corn meal - the region's staple food - to warehouses in the second city of
Further consignments of beans, ground nuts and vegetable oil would be
delivered soon, said Anna Shotton, a WFP spokeswoman in Harare.
This evidence of Zimbabwe's economic devastation came as
southern African church leaders called on President Robert Mugabe to step down.
Zimbabwe used to export
And the British Government said political conditions in Zimbabwe had worsened
in the last two weeks, and threatened that it would press for the country's
suspension from the Commonwealth unless the situation improved.
The UN food agency has appealed for $60m from international donors to feed
558,000 rural Zimbabweans in need of immediate aid.
The government blames the food shortages on poor rains, but critics say that
the invasion of white-owned farms by militant supporters of Mr Mugabe has
worsened the situation.
Zimbabwe has traditionally been a major exporter of food to the region.
On Monday, state media reported that the authorities had seized 36,000 tonnes
of grain from white farmers who were accused of hoarding it to create artificial
The farmers said they needed the grain to feed livestock
which would now have to be slaughtered.
Mugabe promised free and fair
A joint statement from the Methodist Church, the Fellowship of Christian
Councils in Southern Africa and the Botswana Christian Council said Mr Mugabe
should be honoured for his role in helping to bring liberation to Africa, and it
called on regional leaders to help him quit power with dignity.
A British Foreign Office Minister, Ben Bradshaw, told Parliament in London
that there had been a catalogue of abuses by President Mugabe, including
appalling atrocities against opposition supporters.
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said his government was working urgently with
other countries to ensure that the "deplorable" policies of Mr Mugabe were
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has urged the European Union to
impose "smart sanctions" on Zimbabwe unless Mr Mugabe takes speedy action to
ensure that the March elections are free and fair.
EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's parliament has again postponed
debate on controversial media laws following rare criticism from some members of
the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zanu-PF has a two-thirds majority in
The bill bans foreign correspondents and imposes tight controls on local
journalists, although criticism has already led to some of these clauses being
It was originally due to be passed by parliament last year and has been
delayed three times this month.
Correspondents say that Mr Mugabe is hoping that the media controls will help
him stifle opposition criticism of his record during the presidential election
campaign in March.
But Eddison Zvogbo, a long-standing rival of Mr Mugabe within Zanu-PF, has
said that some of the measures in the media bill are unconstitutional.
Mr Zvogbo is chairman of the parliamentary legal
committee which must approve all legislation before it is presented to
Journalists plan to go to court over the media
The committee has also forced delays to a bill giving the government the
power to ban trade unions.
Mr Mugabe has already signed into law the equally controversial Public Order
and Security Bill which outlaws criticism of the president and gives police wide
powers to disperse public gatherings.
The opposition says these will be used to prevent them campaigning normally.
Britain brands Mugabe a "disgrace"
Reuters, 01.23.02, 12:00 PM
By Dominic Evans
LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Britain
condemned President Robert Mugabe's
pre-election crackdown on political
opposition as a disgrace on Wednesday
and said it would press for Zimbabwe's
suspension from the 54-nation
"We totally deplore what
is happening in Zimbabwe," Prime Minister Tony
Blair told parliament. "The
actions of Mugabe... are a disgrace -- a
disgrace to his own country (which)
badly affect the reputation of the whole
Increasing the diplomatic pressure on Mugabe, junior Foreign
Ben Bradshaw said Britain would push for Zimbabwe's
suspension from the
Commonwealth at a meeting of ministers in London next
He said there was a catalogue of reported abuses in Zimbabwe
"appalling atrocities" against opposition supporters and attempts
"The British government unreservedly condemns
these flagrant attacks on
democratic principles and practice," Bradshaw
"These violations show that Zimbabwe's ruling party knows that it
a free and fair election. Instead it is choosing to rig the
bludgeon its way through."
Two weeks ago Foreign Secretary
Jack Straw said Britain would press for
Zimbabwe's suspension from the
Commonwealth, a grouping of mainly former
British colonies, if conditions
there continued to deteriorate.
"Well, they have," Bradshaw
"Britain shares the view of Australia and others, that countries
violate the values of the Commonwealth should not have a seat at
table," he added.
CALLS FOR SUSPENSION
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the group's
will discuss the calls for Zimbabwe's suspension at a
meeting in London next
Heads of government from the Commonwealth are due to meet in
early March, just days before Zimbabwe's
Zimbabwe already faces possible European Union sanctions after
address EU concerns over political violence and alleged human
The United States is also stepping up pressure on
Mugabe, taking steps to
locate millions of dollars thought to have been
deposited abroad by his
inner circle -- in preparation for possible freezing
of their overseas
"We are working urgently and energetically
with all other countries to make
sure that the policies of Mr Mugabe are
reversed and proper and democratic
elections are held in Zimbabwe," Blair
But critics of the international response to Zimbabwe's crisis say
it is too
little to change Mugabe's policies.
For the last two years
Mugabe has sanctioned the often violent takeover of
hundreds of white-owned
farms, triggering a collapse in agricultural
output -- Zimbabwe's economic
He has vowed to grab two thirds of the 12 million hectares of
land owned by
4,500 mostly white commercial farmers.
government says the land seizures are belatedly addressing
a legacy of
colonial injustice and accuses Britain of stirring up a campaign
international sanctions to destroy its former colony.
Bradshaw said that
by scaring off investors and threatening the economies of
neighbours, Mugabe's government had effectively imposed sanctions
and the whole region.
Copyright 2001, Reuters News Service.
Journalists unite as threat to freedom grows
first of a series of regular columns, Andrew Meldrum, the Guardian's
correspondent, reports on Robert Mugabe's attempts to pass
restricting the media
Wednesday January 23, 2002
TUESDAY JANUARY 22 2002
7am: Start the day with a sense of
dread. The state radio and television
broadcast announcements calling for all
Zanu-PF members of parliament to go
to a caucus meeting in the morning and
attend parliament in the afternoon.
Also today, President Mugabe is
addressing the Zanu-PF politburo.
Clearly Mugabe is trying to galvanize
support for the access to information
and protection of privacy bill. If it
is passed the country's lively
independent press will be forced to close
down. Most likely, I will be
forced to leave the country.
Inflation rises to 112%. The government's central statistical office
figures that confirm what everybody feels - prices are going sky
even with such inflation, staple foods are hard to get.
Supermarkets do not
have maize meal, cooking oil or sugar, which are staples
in the average
Zimbabwean's diet. No control of the press can hide that.
11am: Talk with
other journalists at news agencies and from local papers.
The only good thing
to come out of the threat of this press bill is the
solidarity forged among
Zimbabwean and foreign journalists. We all see the
bill as unacceptable. We
stood together in a vigil at parliament until
police dispersed us. And we
worked together on a protest petition, which we
presented to parliament. We
say we will challenge the bill in court as
unconstitutional and we will defy
the law by continuing to work as usual.
2.15pm: Members of parliament,
journalists, diplomats and interested members
of public file into the house
of assembly. Within five minutes parliament is
adjourned. I mill about and
find some MPs, who tell me the press bill has 36
amendments and the legal
committee must study them before it can be
submitted to parliament on
2.45pm: No one has a list of the amendments but I find an MP,
who is on the
legal committee, and he lends me his to make a copy. Soon three
journalists and I are scanning the amendments and getting copies
find the bill essentially the same, with a few minor changes. One of
biggest changes is that foreign journalists with permanent residence
are eligible to be accredited. It means I may be able to stay and work
5pm-7pm: Work on story for the Guardian about the
amendments. It really
seems the thrust of the bill remains unchanged. It puts
on journalists and newspapers and it gives the minister of
his media commission sweeping powers to give accreditation
and to take it
away. In other words, they have the authority to determine
can work and which newspapers can print. It is clearly
constitution and it will be interesting to see what the
committee decides to say about the revised
Unemployment Rate to Reach 70%
January 23, 2002
Posted to the web January 23,
ZIMBABWE'S unemployment rate is set
to reach an unprecedented 70% in 2002
due to company closures, labour
economists said this week. The economic
analysts said that it was imminent
that failure by the economic stakeholders
labour, business and government in
creating opportunities to stimulate
industrial expansion would lead to
increases in unemployment.
Zimbabwe's unemployment level currently hovers
"While we expect unemployment to be addressed through the
opportunities to create jobs, it is apparent there have been no
efforts to address the problem to the extent that, in the long
term, we fear
that the rate of unemployment will escalate to over 65%," said
Congress of Trade Unions economist Godfrey Kanyenze.
year more than 400 companies closed operations because of the
operational conditions characterised by high input costs, hard
shortages, high levels of interest rates, inflationary levels as
well as the
uncompetitive export market.
Kanyenze said the increase in demand for
jobs against a diminishing supply
rate showed it was vital to stimulate job
The economy, said Kanyenze, was capable of stimulating
measures to attract further expansion were effectively
According to an Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz)
survey, about 6
000 jobs in the different sectors of the economy were lost by
the end of
Emcoz chief economist Ngoni Chibukire said the
marginal increases in the
cost of living negatively impacted on the labour
He said youths churned out of formal schools on an annual basis
prospects of formal employment.
Mugabe signs law setting five years in jail for critics
By Basildon Peta
24 January 2002
President Robert Mugabe has signed into law a
draconian Bill allowing him to use extreme measures to silence opponents ahead
of a crunch presidential ballot in March.
The clampdown came as the British Government said Zimbabwe should be
suspended from the 54-nation Commonwealth and accused Mr Mugabe, in the
strongest terms yet, of preparing to rig presidential polls to extend his
Tony Blair told the Commons: "We totally deplore what is happening in
Zimbabwe.The actions of Mugabe ... are a disgrace – a disgrace to his own
country [which] badly affect the reputation of the whole of southern
Although Mr Mugabe's government postponed for the fourth time a
controversial media Bill that will all but eliminate freedom of speech in
Zimbabwe, the passage into law of the public order Bill yesterday leaves many
Zimbabweans facing death, life imprisonment or severe jail terms for speaking
out against the President.
From yesterday, the Public Order and Security Bill (POSB) makes it
mandatory for all Zimbabweans over 16 to carry identity cards. This is despite
Zimbabwe's dismissed chief justice, Anthony Gubbay, ruling that such a law was
unconstitutional in 2000. Anyone failing to produce ID at the request of a
police officer will spend six months in jail. Foreigners who fail to produce
their passports will also be liable.
The POSB prescribes a death sentence or life imprisonment for anyone
accused of involvement in or assisting in "insurgency, banditry, sabotage or
terrorism". Section 16 of the law punishes publication of any information
ridiculing the President with a one-year jail term and a hefty fine.
It also prescribes a one-year jail term for anyone who makes or publishes
"any abusive, indecent, obscene or false statement about or concerning the
President or an acting President, whether in respect of his person or his
office". Lawyers said yesterday that the clauses protecting the President were
so vague and broad that even publication of cartoons of Mr Mugabe could land a
cartoonist in jail.
The law also sets a five-year jail term for any person inside or outside
Zimbabwe who publishes "false statements prejudicial to the state".
The section prohibits the publication of information which, among other
things, adversely affects the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe and
undermines public confidence in a law enforcement agency. Again, lawyers say
this section is so broad and vague that it will affect journalists who write
anything the government might deem hostile.
The law makes it virtually impossible for the opposition or any other
legitimate group to hold rallies or demonstrations; the police can now ban any
public gathering. As Zimbabwe heads for the crucial presidential election in
March, this provision makes it impossible for the opposition to campaign. Mr
Mugabe's militias have already been disrupting opposition rallies with
Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, said passage of the separate but
equally controversial media Bill had been delayed because a parliamentary legal
committee was still assessing amendments. "The parliamentary legal committee has
requested more time to give consideration to the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Bill," he said.
The media law has been rejected by a number of ruling Zanu-PF MPs, who see
it hurting Zimbabwe's reputation internationally. The rebellious MPs, however,
have little option when it eventually comes to a vote. Analysts dismissed the
amendments under discussion as cosmetic.