|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
a British daily said Bush has pledged a
reconstruction package for Zimbabwe worth up to $10 billion over an
unspecified time frame, if a new leader takes over.
The British newspaper reports that President Thabo Mbeki has
told President George W. Bush that Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean leader,
will relinquish his leadership of Zimbabwe's ruling party, the Zanu-PF, by
The Independent said Mbeki's assurance to Bush that Mugabe will
stand aside is believed to be based on a personal promise extracted from the
Zimbabwean leader. Such a move will pave the way for Mugabe's exit as
Zimbabwe's president and new elections by June 2004. The British daily
declined to reveal its sources.
Mbeki said at the talks with Bush that the the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwean opposition party, together with the
Zimbabwean government had begun talks. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader,
described the claim as false and mischievous. Tsvangirai has since admitted
that emissaries from churches, civic groups and the South African government
are shuttling between the parties. However, he added that no actual talks
were under way.
Authorities at Harare Central Hospital yesterday
told the Daily News
that the hospital had treated 22 of the injured people, most of whom were
discharged because their injuries were minor.
The commuter train, also known as “Freedom Train”, which
introduced by the government during campaigning for the 2002 presidential
election, was carrying about 1 400 passengers from the capital city’s
high-density suburbs of Dzivaresekwa, Tynwald, Rugare and Kambuzuma.
Yesterday’s incident is the latest in a series of
disasters on NRZ’s dilapidated rail network system.
In February this year, 50 people died and 64 were
injured when a
passenger train collided with a goods train near Dete siding in Matabeleland
North province because the rail signal system was not working.
NRZ acting general manager Munesu Munodawafa yesterday
said the latest
train accident was caused by track control machines that were malfunctioning
because they had been vandalised by unknown people.
Munodawafa said: “The machine points should have been
locked but now people are removing these coverings because they contain
components of brass and cast iron which are then resold as scrap metal.
“Unfortunately the whole system becomes exposed and
there is a danger
to the travelling public as no one will be able to interchange the tracks
when a train is approaching.”
manager for Harare Christopher Madzimbamuto said because of
vandalism the automatic control machines were no longer working and NRZ
workers were having to manually crank the track control points which allow
trains to change from one track to another.
He said: “The machine points have been
vandalised. As a result, they
are no longer working on auto-machines from the control rooms. We are now
using manual cranking of points. That cranking renders them inoperative at
times as they get damaged.
is difficult to interchange the tracks, resulting in points
automatically shifting on their own due to the vibrations caused by trains
passing over them. This is what caused this derailment.”
according to their technical staff the first
locomotive managed to pass over the control points and followed the correct
track. But the more powerful second locomotive and the baggage van went onto
a different track causing the derailment.
The NRZ official said extensive damage was caused
in the rail track
but he would not say how much it would cost the state rail company in
repairs. Madzimbamuto said another track adjacent to the damaged one was
still open for trains to move on.
Chadenyika, 30, who survived the accident, said the train
had suddenly started vibrating and shaking violently as they approached
Chadenyika, who was speaking from his hospital bed,
said: “The train
suddenly shook and swerved. There were fierce sparks as the driver tried to
“People screamed that the train was burning.
“I managed to jump out in the ensuing mayhem.
“I didn’t realise I had been injured on my chest until
near the Lion Match factory only to find myself here in hospital.”
Other passengers, some still visibly in shock, told
of how they found
themselves violently flung off the train as it ploughed and twisted off the
By Precious Shumba Staff
MDC councillors to decide Mudzuri’s fate
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party councillors
will on Thursday decide on whether to implement an order by the government
that the council evict Harare Executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri from the mayoral
Sources at Town House told the Daily News
that the councillors were
irked by the Local Government Minister’s unilateral directive that Mudzuri
be thrown out of the mayor’s house and that his other benefits be withdrawn
without referring the matter to council.
“Attempts to evict Mudzuri can only take place after a
debate on the minister’s order.
We are meeting
on Thursday to debate the order and come up with a
position,” said one councillor, who spoke on condition he was not named.
“As far as council regulations are concerned, the directive
is not implementable. It was not procedural to bypass the council. Chombo
cannot move Mudzuri out because that is the responsibility of the council.”
All but one of Harare’s councillors are, together
with Mudzuri, who
was suspended by Chombo in April, members of the opposition MDC.
Chombo suspended Mudzuri, accusing him of misconduct and
of Zimbabwe’s capital city. Mudzuri denies the charges and is challenging
his suspension in the High Court.
Chombo ordered acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara to withdraw
all Mudzuri’s benefits and also to ensure the opposition mayor was evicted
from the mayoral mansion to punish him for ignoring orders not to enter Town
House until the government has made a final decision on whether he remains
as mayor of Harare. Acting mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara yesterday could not be
reached for comment on the matter.
Makwavarara, who like Mudzuri also
belongs to the MDC, last week
indicated she was going to carry out Chombo’s instructions but appears to be
facing stiff opposition from councillors after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
told councillors not to co-operate with Chombo in his bid to fire the mayor.
Chombo was said to be out of the office yesterday.
Mudzuri was last week ordered by the High
Court not to report for duty
until his suspension was lifted by the government. Since Justice Susan
Mavangira made her ruling, the opposition mayor has not been reporting for
The suspended mayor
yesterday said he was still residing at the
mayoral mansion and insisted he would not leave the house unless Chombo
obtained a court order barring him from the mansion. “They have not yet come
to evict me. I am still here. They can not just evict me without a court
frequently clashed with Chombo, with the Local Government
minister accusing him of disobedience.
Mudzuri has dismissed the allegations by
Chombo and instead accused
the government of undermining his council by refusing to approve key
municipal projects and also through some ZANU PF members who are employed at
Zvobgo must summon Mugabe as his defence witness
I REALLY pity Eddison Zvobgo. He is all alone and is now
experiencing the loneliness of the long distance runner. Like a race-car
driver, he has vision, control and determination.
Speed, which is just a by-product, has never been necessary to him and
that is why people like Border Gezi and, in the arena now, Patrick
Chinamasa, shamelessly seek a chance to humiliate him.
“It seems like
yesterday, But it was long ago . . .
We were young and strong
And we were running against the wind . . .”
Those lyrics from Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band apply as much
to Zvobgo today as he tries to remove cobwebs from the face of his political
brainchild, ZANU PF, as they did to Edward Kennedy when he took the decision
to run against a fellow Democratic incumbent president Jimmy Carter.
Indeed, I remember the Kennedy election camp adopting
Against The Wind
as their theme song during their short-lived efforts against the political
wind as they tried to convince people that Carter was not the right man to
continue occupying the White House.
the advantage of vintage superficial democracy on his
side. He, like anyone else, could criticise or challenge anyone else and
still remain respectable in either political party and society.
Zvobgo is running
against the wind. He has always been running against
the wind during his life in ZANU PF. He has always been called forth to
defend himself against one accusation or other. I salute him for his nerve
and forthrightness, his perseverance. I respect his honesty and open
approach to politics. He is not wasting his time talking to visitors to the
party, the mafikizolos, but he is definitely wasting his time with President
Mugabe found a cave in ZANU PF and he is not coming out of it. The
heart of the matter is that Zvobgo must call Mugabe as his chief witness for
the defence during his trial by the party. If Mugabe refuses, then Zvobgo
must not attend this kangaroo court.
Over the years, we have watched
Mugabe humiliate his contemporaries,
important people to the nation’s history, from Joshua Nkomo to Ndabaningi
Sithole. He continues with this sad non-productive practice.
Yet no one can ever increase their
value or worth by attempting to
minimise someone else’s. Mugabe’s silence over what his silly boys are doing
in the party is no longer acceptable and is not expected from a paterfamilia
But then ZANU
PF is a dying party with an aged leader. And it appears
that the party (and its leader) intends to die with all of its sons and
Why does Mugabe appear to rejoice in
humiliating people? He appears to
have no real friends anywhere, only supporters but no real friends in or
outside the country. What does he hope to achieve?
Is he not muddying the waters for his children,
political allies who may one day be called upon to explain his behaviour?
Are people expected to accept his behaviour and just forget it all?
But it is Mugabe who has to return the favour this time
should be man enough and say something either way. He must stop this
scheduled imprudent hearing by his party’s overzealous appointees.
He cannot remain silent while all this is going on.
I personally do
not see how Zvobgo could be lying. His movements and activities are too
public since he attracts more attention than most others in his party.
Besides, Central Intelligence Organisation agents are his constant
chaperones. The President knows the truth here.
understanding is that when ZANU PF was formed, Mugabe was not
physically present. I think he was somewhere in Tanzania, having skipped
bail. He is the leader of the party now and he has purged his former equals
and founder members.
He hardly talks to them now. Apart from the
Tokwe-Mukorsi tour, Zvobgo
’s last meeting with Mugabe was in 2001. How sad for a founding father to be
discarded and treated in this manner. How often does the President talk to
Enos Nkala, another discarded founding father? Who is ZANU PF today? What is
Zvobgo also revealed that
during his last meeting with Mugabe, he was
asked by latter not to criticise him in public. We have always noticed this
unspoken truce; none of them has ever criticised the other or directly
attacked the other in public since as far back as Independence Day.
But is it not a weakness for
someone to beg another not to criticise
him in public? What is the fear? Are there some people who consider Mugabe
himself to be a visitor to the party? Where is the cut-off line if physical
presence during the formation of the party is not all that is considered for
one to be a founding father?
Where would ZANU PF place me, for example, since I had my first party
card in 1964? How old were Gezi, Jonathan Moyo or Elliot Manyika, not to
mention cross-overs from the UANC like Herbert Murerwa, Olivia Muchena and
others? Nothing has happened to ZANU PF; it just discarded its originality,
its conscience. The internal enemies Zvobgo refers to are people bussed in
from elsewhere but who have the support of the party hierarchy. ZANU PF’s
pater familias, Mugabe, watched the party decay. But he now needs it the
most at this point. But it can’t offer him the cover and protection it could
have had he kept it in its original and proper shape. Indeed, the
revolutionary party is devouring its own fathers. Mugabe had all the
necessary equipment; he just forgot to read the manual. Now it’s too late.
It is my opinion that people like Eddison Zvobgo, Edgar Tekere and others
have tried their best and have indeed given their lives to this party. It is
only fair to Zvobgo if he does not attend this forthcoming disciplinary
hearing. He really can’t be that desperate to remain in ZANU PF. If they
sack him, it would be a blessing, wouldn’t it? To be admonished by the likes
of Chinamasa is the ultimate embarrassment. Who is Chinamasa in the history
and politics of ZANU PF? I hope Tekere is watching and listening. He should
tell his friend Zvobgo to leave this party the way he did. And Zvobgo must
tell Tekere to stay away and not even think of rejoining this sinking party.
What could Edgar Tekere really want in ZANU PF? It is a dying party and no
amount of stimulants will revive it. An often quoted poet said that the past
is not dead; it’s not even past. Tekere may want to convince Zvobgo to take
his deserved bow and leave the circus called ZANU PF. We hardly learn from
our own history. By Tanonoka J Whande n Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a
Free Tsvangirai: defence
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic (MDC) party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai’s lawyers yesterday told the High Court to free the opposition
leader and two of his officials because the state’s star witness in the
treason case against them was a liar who had defrauded even the government
he was purportedly working for.
South African advocate George Bizos, leading the defence,
President Paddington Garwe: “Ari Ben-Menashe (state star witness) was
contradicted by (his personal assistant) Tara Thomas, air vice-marshal
Robert Mhlanga, retired army brigadier Bonyongwe, by the tape and documents
produced before the court.”
Bizos, who called
Ben-Menashe a dangerous liar, told Justice Garwe he
could not rely on the evidence provided by the state’s main witness to
convict the three MDC leaders.
The state’s case rests on claims by Ben-Menashe that
secretary-general Welshman Ncube and legislator Renson Gasela approached his
Canadian-based political consultancy firm Dickens and Madson seeking help to
murder President Robert Mugabe ahead of last year’s presidential election.
But a video tape produced by Ben-Menashe
Tsvangirai and his officials requesting help to assassinate Mugabe was
hardly audible and Ben-Menashe himself, when he gave evidence, could not
pinpoint to the court where in the tape the opposition officials had asked
for help to kill Mugabe.
Bizos said of
the evidence supplied by Ben Menashe: “It’s a long
catalogue of contradictions. There is no more dangerous a liar than one who
lies about himself.”
Defence lawyers say they want their clients
discharged because the
state had at the closure of its case failed to lead evidence showing their
clients committed the alleged crime.
Bizos told Justice Garwe that Ben-Menashe had lied to the court that
he made the video tape forming the basis of the charges against Tsvangirai
and his senior party officials as part of his philanthropic work for people
in former colonised countries including Zimbabwe and it later turned out
that he was going to be paid US$1 million (Z$824 million)
by the government
under a deal whose details he refused to disclose in
The South African lawyer said Ben-Menashe defrauded the government of
more than US$30 000 (Z$24.7 million) in fictitious and inflated claims.
In the first instance, Ben-Menashe allegedly conned the
government of US$25 000 (Z$20.6 million) after claiming US$30 000 ostensibly
to produce a video from a meeting at the headquarters of his lobby firm.
It is at that meeting that Tsvangirai is alleged to have
help from Ben-Menashe’s firm to assassinate Mugabe.
But Ben-Menashe’s personal assistant Thomas and Bernard
security consultant from Canada, both told the court in their separate
testimonies that the cost of producing the video would not be more than US$5
000 (Z$4.1 million).
Ben-Menashe allegedly later
claimed US$10 000 (Z$8.2 million)
compensation for Thomas, whom he claimed was attacked by thugs hired by the
MDC in Montreal, Canada, after indicating she would testify in the
high-profile treason trial.
Thomas told the court she was injured in a bicycle accident.
has the capacity to commit two frauds against the government of
Zimbabwe, how can he be trusted about anything that he says?” Bizos queried.
Bizos said contrary to Ben-Menashe’s evidence that Tsvangirai was
recorded in the tape requesting aid in the alleged conspiracy plot,
Tsvangirai was heard in the video telling Ben-Menashe and his colleague to
“stop setting up these arrangements of elimination”.
The lawyer said Ben-Menashe,
rather than Tsvangirai, should be charged
for the conspiracy.
He said: “Ben-Menashe used the word ‘elimination’
more than 10 times
(in the video tape) while accused number one (Tsvangirai) used the word
“If ever there was any incitement, it
was by Ben-Menashe not our
If there was a serious request to kill President Mugabe, it’s
absolutely amazing that it’s not said in the tape or transcript.” The
hearing continues, with the defence submitting their heads of argument in
the application for discharge. Court Reporter
Showdown looms over Zimbabwe’s fate
THE scene is set for an almighty international showdown over the
readmission of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.
The fate of President Robert
Mugabe’s government, suspended from the
54-nation group after its presidential election in March last year, will be
decided at the Commonwealth Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in December.
Apart from being
unclear as to who would judge whether Zimbabwe meets
the criteria to be readmitted, the issue has caused sharp divisions in the
group, which are set to boil over at the Abuja summit.
According to Commonwealth
secretary-general Don McKinnon, the decision
on Zimbabwe’s re-entry will be taken by the heads of state based on a
recommendation of the Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe – South Africa’s
President Thabo Mbeki, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
But Mbeki and Obasanjo have been insistent that the
on Zimbabwe has expired. In March this year, the two leaders refused to make
a pronouncement on the issue, arguing that since the expulsion had been set
down for only a year the country should be readmitted.
McKinnon was asked to canvass the views of other
countries. He reported that while there were varied opinions, the “broadly
held view” was to uphold the suspension until the December summit. The
announcement by Howard, the current chairman of the Commonwealth, to extend
the suspension was harshly condemned by the South African and Zimbabwean
Commonwealth foreign ministers are
scheduled to meet in New York in
September to prepare for the Abuja summit. They are unlikely to discuss
Zimbabwe, but a meeting the next day of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action
Group, which normally makes recommendations to the heads of state about the
suspension and readmission of member states, is likely to review the matter.
McKinnon told the Sunday Times
in Maputo this week that African heads
of state are split on the Zimbabwean crisis, contrary to the perception that
they are united behind Mugabe.
McKinnon, who was a guest at the African Union summit
Mozambican capital this week, said a number of leaders he held talks with in
Maputo “expressed a variety of views” on how the crisis should be handled.
McKinnon held informal talks with Mbeki. The issue of
discussed but McKinnon refused to divulge what the South African leader
The subject of Zimbabwe was resolutely avoided
in formal discussions
at the African Union summit. But McKinnon said while “people don’t want to
talk about it publicly”, there is “genuine concern” about the country’s
“There are concerns about
whether dialogue and dialogue alone will
resolve the issue,” McKinnon said.
Some leaders felt that Zimbabwe’s legislation should be
gauge whether it was in violation of the group’s democratic principles spelt
out in the Harare Declaration.
Zimbabwean government has shunned attempts by McKinnon to engage
with it on the process towards readmittance.
However, the Commonwealth was
eager to assist in facilitating dialogue
between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, McKinnon said.
added that the Commonwealth wanted Zimbabwe “back as a full
“No one wants to see this issue split the
Commonwealth. We also do not
want the issue to completely dominate the time in Abuja,” McKinnon said.
– Sunday Times
Candidate row threatens MDC in mayoral race
MUTARE – Bickering and factional feuding could jeopardise the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s chances of winning the
Mutare mayoral election after some of the MDC’s district and ward officials
yesterday said they would not recognise or campaign for the opposition party
’s candidate in the ballot, Misheck Kagurabadza, alleging he was imposed on
them by the party’s leaders.
party’s supporters told the Daily News this week that
the party’s executive for Manicaland province had imposed Kagurabadza ahead
of Patrick Matsanga, a Mutare businessman.
Tension is high within the MDC camp with
some of the party’s
supporters vowing to defy their provincial leadership by putting forward
Matsanga to contest as an independent candidate unless fresh primary
elections were held to decide the party’s candidate for the mayoral ballot
scheduled for next month.
Matsanga was disqualified
from the MDC primary election but the
reasons for his disqualification were not made public.
The vice chairman of the opposition party’s
youth wing in Mutare,
Zvenyika Misi, said: “Things have not been going on well since the primaries
were held. We are not satisfied with the manner in which the elections were
He said they had sent
several delegations to Harare to present their
grievances to the MDC national leadership but nothing had been addressed.
Misi said: “They are
buying time because the nomination court sits on
30 July but nothing has been done on the issue.
“If they do not solve this issue, we will
field two MDC candidates,
one candidate for the provincial executive and the other one for the
grassroots. We are prepared to work with a candidate who comes from the
Milton Majeje, an MDC youth chairman
for Ward 4 in Sakubva, said: “The
provincial executive is destroying the party because after the primaries all
the people who supported Matsanga are being deliberately sidelined from all
national chairman Isaac Matongo could not be reached for comment
on the latest bickering over the party’s candidate.
But MDC Manicaland
provincial chairman, Timothy Mubhawu, yesterday
told The Daily News that anyone who challenged the candidate chosen in
elections endorsed by the national chairman was not an MDC supporter.
supporters of the opposition party who were refusing
to recognise Kagurabadza as the party’s candidate for the mayoral poll of
not being genuine members of the party.
He said: “I endorse 100 percent the election of
Kagurabadza and I am
sorry for those of our genuine supporters who have been lured by
infiltrators. That is typical ZANU PF at work.
do not have an independent candidate in the MDC. Any moment you
defy both the national executive and the national chairman’s declared
candidate, that becomes an automatic resignation from the MDC.”
Kagurabadza was re-elected in party primaries after an
earlier election to decide the party’s candidate was nullified.
The MDC battles it
out with the ruling ZANU PF party in the election
to choose an Executive Mayor for Mutare.
The opposition party, which has won nearly
all major urban elections
since being founded in 1999, is tipped to win the Mutare election.
From Kelvin Jakachira
SA insists talks on
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki’s office yesterday repeated
claims that Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF and opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) parties were in talks to find a solution to the country’s
Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo yesterday told
the Daily News
that negotiations between the two political foes were in progress.
He would not say who exactly in ZANU PF or the MDC
was involved in the
talks or where the talks were taking place.
Khumalo said: “Talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the
MDC are on –
that is the position. There is not going to be public pronouncements
regarding details on this issue until at an appropriate time and depending
on who will choose to do it. That is all I can say at this time. I am not in
a position to divulge any further detail except to state this position.”
Both the MDC and ZANU PF have publicly stated
that there are no formal
talks going on between them with the opposition party’s leader Morgan
Tsvangirai accusing Mbeki of telling “false and mischievous” lies after the
South African leader told visiting American President George W Bush that the
two Zimbabwean parties were in dialogue to resolve the country’s crisis.
Tsvangirai later softened his
position, explaining that there was no
formal negotiation between ZANU PF and his MDC party although various
emissaries had been shuttling between them trying to restart dialogue.
Dialogue between the two political
parties collapsed last August after
ZANU PF pulled out of the talks to protest Tsvangirai’s decision to
challenge its leader and state President Robert Mugabe’s controversial
re-election last year.
Tsvangirai, who has refused to recognise Mugabe’s presidency, accuses
the veteran politician of winning through violence and fraud.
Mbeki’s claims last week that ZANU PF and the MDC were in talks have
caused tension and suspicion within the two camps with key players wary they
may be left out in a new deal that might possibly include power-sharing
between the two parties.
Well-placed sources privy to the alleged South
talks yesterday said that there was “politics of exclusion” being played on
the two parties with hard-liners from both sides being sidelined from the
mystery surrounding the alleged talks deepened yesterday as it
emerged that soon after an African troika comprising Mbeki, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo and Malawian leader Bakili Muluzi, had left
Harare earlier this year, the South Africans approached the MDC with a draft
position paper aimed at breaking the impasse and help kick-start dialogue.
to the sources, the draft position entailed in general a
“commitment to talks” and a recognition of Mugabe as head of state
proclaimed by Zimbabwe’s chief justice in terms of the country’s
South Africans, it is believed, hoped that this position would
address both the MDC and Mugabe’s concerns over the sticking issue of
The MDC is said to have accepted
acknowledging Mugabe on the grounds
suggested by the South Africans but insisted on the condition that the
opposition party should reserve its right to challenge Mugabe’s re-election.
The sources alleged the
South Africans presented the same position
paper to ZANU PF. But the ruling party’s response to the document could not
be immediately established yesterday.
Chigwedere’s son dies in police custody
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere’s son, Maona, died on Thursday
last week while in custody at Chitungwiza Police Station, Chigwedere said
Chigwedere, who is also the ZANU PF MP for
Hwedza constituency, told
the Daily News that police had on Tuesday last week arrested his son in
Chitungwiza, after he and some friends were involved in a fist-fight with a
yet to be identified gang.
He said: “My
son was involved in a fracas with some unknown people in
Chitungwiza and during the incident, he was attacked with a blunt object on
the forehead and some of his ribs were broken.
“However, instead of taking him
to the hospital, the police arrested
him and detained him in custody from Tuesday until he died on Thursday.”
Chigwedere said Maona, who
had visited his aunt in Chitungwiza, died
as the policemen were about to record a statement from him.
The minister also said that some
people, who were with his son in the
police cells, had told him that Maona died in his cell.
“I have also received unconfirmed reports
from some people who were in
his cell that Maona died while he was in the cell,” Chigwedere said.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena
yesterday refused to speak on the
security agents, who were last month cited by the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Forum as among the leading violators of human rights in the
country, have in the past rejected the charges that they are high-handed and
abuse citizens’ rights.
The late opposition Movement for Democratic Change MP
Learnmore Jongwe, met his death in the cells at Harare Remand Prison.
Jongwe had been arrested for allegedly stabbing his wife to death.
Chigwedere said the police in Chitungwiza had
told him that they were
still carrying out investigations to find the people who fatally assaulted
A wayward son, Maona had had
brushes with the law before and was in
2001 briefly jailed at Harare Remand Prison after allegedly breaking into
MDC official Elliot Pfebve’s offices in Harare.
Chigwedere told journalists at the time that he had
done all he could
to warn Maona that he was heading for disaster but to no avail.
By Lawrence Paganga
Workers, employers forge closer bond
ZIMBABWE’S worsening economic crisis has brought workers and
employers closer together as they battle to survive in an increasingly
hostile environment, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Collin Gwiyo, secretary-general of the labour watchdog, which
Zimbabwe’s major trade unions, said the economic crisis had adversely
affected both employers and their workers, and this had helped to create a
bond between them.
He added: “There has been a
shift from the traditional approach (in
salary negotiations) because of the economic problems. It has now become
necessary for both employers and employees to sit down and analyse the
problems they are both facing and come up with a common position.
“For the past year, there has been a
shift from the push and pull
tradition where parties would shove each other before they could reach an
amicable settlement and this usually happened once a year.”
Workers and employers hold their major collective
negotiations before the end of July, a period that has often been marred by
bitter disputes leading to industrial action.
Analysts had predicted that this year’s collective bargaining
negotiations would be particularly difficult because of the country’s worst
economic crisis in 23 years.
Workers are expected to ask for substantial
cost of living adjustments
to cushion them against inflation, while many companies might not be able to
sustain huge increases in their salary bills.
The analysts had forecast that this might result in
at several firms as workers attempted to push for higher wages and better
Gwiyo however said employers’
appreciation of their workers’ plight,
resulting from an unpredictable economic climate, had prompted most
companies to award cost of living adjustments more than once a year.
He said because the economic
problems had affected both employers and
employees, most salary negotiations were being concluded amicably because
both parties sought to balance employees’ demands and the need for companies
to remain viable.
Gwiyo said: “Negotiations have been going on at company
level. But because the government-induced inflation has not spared anyone,
it has become the norm for workers and employers to meet periodically and
review the company’s performance and try to match this with the workers’
“The old tradition is giving way to
this new arrangement and we will
see more of it as the economy sinks deeper,” Gwiyo added.
He attributed the spate of strikes in the last few
particularly those in the civil service, to insensitivity by some employers.
“This (accord between workers and employees) doesn’t
mean that strikes
will come to an abrupt end,” the ZCTU secretary-general cautioned.
“Quite a number (of workers and employers) might not
be able to agree
and we will see strikes taking place. Strikes are a necessary strength of
the workers. They show the degree of unity and coercion that the workers
have. But they will become fewer,” he added.
The ZCTU last week warned the government to brace for
from its labour force because of salary anomalies created by a job
evaluation exercise whose results were announced last month.
Doctors, teachers and other civil servants have already
industrial action to protest the grading system introduced after the job
evaluation exercise, which they say has left them worse off.
Price, salary hikes to boost state coffers
THE suspension of price controls on some goods and the rise in civil
service salaries are set to boost the government’s sales and income tax
revenues, according to local analysts.
analysts told The Business Daily that the government was likely to
benefit from its decision in early May to suspend price controls on some
The move has already led to a sharp rise in
prices that is expected to
fuel Zimbabwe’s already high rate of inflation.
Year-on-year inflation rose to 300.1 percent in May,
percent the previous year.
revenues received by the Finance Ministry would also
be boosted by the government’s decision to hike civil service salaries with
effect from 1 July.
They said the increase in private sector salaries this
also increase the amount of income tax received by the government.
Economic consultant John Robertson pointed out:
“Consumers pay more
taxes when prices go up and the government will automatically benefit.”
The government receives a combined 40
percent from sales tax on basic
and luxury goods.
will make at least $150 on every loaf of bread sold after
bakers increased the price of bread to $1 000 last week. On basic
commodities such as cooking oil, it will make at least $300 on every litre
bottle of cooking oil sold.
Robertson said the removal of price controls on some
have been aimed at boosting revenue to finance the government’s
The Finance Ministry is
believed to be preparing to present before
Parliament proposals for a $660 billion supplementary budget to enable it to
finance expenditure for the rest of the year.
Robertson said: “It is inevitable that the removal
of price controls
was aimed at financing the supplementary budget.
Increases in salaries will (also) result in government
revenue through Pay As You Earn, so the government is not concerned about
the effects of (price increases on private companies’ production costs).”
A local economist who declined to be named
added: “The government was
not so much concerned about easing (basic commodity) shortages emanating
from the introduction of price controls.
“Unfreezing of prices controls was a gimmick aimed at
But the analysts said
because price increases and salary rises were
inflation-driven, the growth in revenue was unlikely to make a huge
difference to the government, which is also feeling the impact of inflation.
Soaring inflation has put
upward pressure on the government’s own
operating costs at a time its appetite for funds has grown significantly.
Apart from major
fuel and electricity imports, the government also
needs to import food to feed about 5.5 million people that United Nations
agencies say need emergency food aid because of drought and a controversial
government land reform programme that has slashed food production by at
The government also has to service a domestic debt that is now close
to $450 billion and is largely made up of Treasury Bills, government stocks,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe advances and commercial paper.
Zimbabwe economics lecturer Albert Makoche said the
government was likely to use every means at its disposal to raise money to
meet its commitments, even if it contributed to rising inflation.
Inflation is expected to top 400 percent in June, ending the year
significantly higher than the 500 percent initially forecast by analysts.
The unchecked rise in inflation is expected to push up companies’ production
costs at a time they are already struggling to make ends meet. Analysts say
if the Finance Ministry does not introduce a policy to curb inflation, more
local firms will be forced to close down, increasing unemployment and
poverty. But an analyst based at the UZ said: “I don’t think government is
bothered about the stagflation that is rocking the nation. “It is now
crystal clear that the government is no longer worried about the huge
trade-off between people suffering and it reaping huge volumes of money in
sales tax.” A local analyst added: “If the government was interested in
reducing the level of inflation in the country, it would have announced a
fresh package of monetary policy, which would address the issue of
inflation.” The central bank was expected to announce a new monetary policy
last month but has not done so. Business Reporter
Trust seeks to secure 150 kg of gold a month
BULAWAYO – The Zimbabwe Gold Mining and Mineral Development Trust
(ZGMMDT) has launched an ambitious programme under which it hopes to secure
at least 150 kilogrammes of gold worth $2 billion every month, with the
assistance of gold concession holders and rural district councils (RDCs), it
has been learnt.
ZGMMDT chairman Nhlanhla Masuku said
several miners would be grouped
together as concession holders and would provide most of the resources for
the ambitious project.
said concession holders, who would be licenced by his Trust, would
be given capital equipment by RDCs around the country in a bid to boost
Zimbabwe’s bullion production and improve efficiency in mining methods.
Masuku said beneficiaries of the empowerment programme would be
required to utilise their permits and meet the 150 kilogrammes of gold
target or risk having their licences revoked.
“We want to improve gold
production and reduce the leakage through
illegal gold dealing activity that has been going on in the milling plants,”
added that his Trust was supporting the establishment of more gold
processing plants around the country.
“People spend a lot of time in
queues for milling, thereby reducing
production,” the ZGMMDT chairman said, adding that the increase in refining
and tolling plants would help improve efficiency in mining and boost output
in the gold producing sector.
The sector, a major foreign currency earner, has been
hit by serious
leakages of gold, some of which has found its way out of the official market
and into neighbouring countries.
expected to assist in curbing leakages by helping to “monitor
strictly and improve expropriation practices” of gold from potential
catchment areas around the country, Masuku said.
RDCs as well as the
state-owned School of Mines, which is based in
Bulawayo, would be charged with teaching gold diggers the best environmental
and mining methods, he added.
Communities from which gold miners involved in the
operate will benefit from royalty schemes, a concept borrowed from South
Africa and aimed at developing communities that might otherwise not
materially benefit from the resources extracted from their areas.
“Not only will the RDCs benefit from royalties, but they
have the resources to develop the poor mining sector in their areas as
machinery would be hired to reduce manual methods of mining,” Masuku said.
He warned that individuals and organisations contravening
aimed at curbing gold leakages would be dealt with regardless of their
“political inclinations or societal status”.
Meanwhile, Masuku said the ZGMMDT had decentralised its financial
operational systems to facilitate the implementation of efficient and proper
The ZGMMDT was launched by the
government in 2001 to fight gold
leakages and smuggling as well as to improve mineral exploitation at a time
national yield had fallen below 1998 peaks of 30 tonnes.
Gold output has been hard hit by Zimbabwe’s economic
crisis, which has
led to a tough operating environment for most local companies. Several gold
producers have closed down while others have been forced to scale down their
operations in order to remain viable.
The gold producing sector contributes about a third of
gross national product.
National disaster in the making
AS Zimbabwe lurches from one crisis to another, the country’s sole
blood bank, the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS), has warned that
it might be forced to close down in September if it fails to urgently import
materials used in testing donated blood for diseases.
has enough blood testing re-agents to last until
September, after which it cannot continue to operate unless new supplies are
Indeed, the organisation is reported to have run out of re-agents for
testing blood for Hepatitis B early this year.
It is not clear what
steps have been taken to ensure that this disease
is not passed on to people who have received blood donated to the NBTS in
the months that the re-agents have been out of stock.
It is frightening that there is a real
possibility that Zimbabwe could
run out of the materials used for testing blood for several other diseases,
unless the country is able to secure enough
foreign currency to import these materials in the next two months.
The re-agents that the National Blood Transfusion
has in stock are used to test donated blood for HIV/AIDS, syphilis and
Because the NBTS clearly cannot
make the decision to play a game of
Russian roulette with people’s lives by accepting blood that could be
contaminated and which it cannot test, the organisation will have to shut
its doors when it runs out of blood testing re-agents.
As one NBTS official put it: “If we fail to source
foreign currency to
buy the re-agents, then it will mean closing down or supplying blood without
testing it, which is really impossible.
“The only way, therefore, for the organisation to
is to get the re-agents because there is no point in stocking blood when we
cannot test it.”
We hope that the
relevant authorities in the Ministry of Health fully
appreciate the consequences of not urgently dealing with this crisis.
Their handling of the situation so far does not inspire confidence.
Supplies of Hepatitis B re-agents have been discontinued because the
ministry failed to secure hard cash to pay off an R80 000 (Z$8.5 million)
debt. Yet the NBTS indicated as early as March that this debt had to be
How much blood is the NBTS holding that could be
Hepatitis B and how many people are being put at risk?
It is because lives are at risk that we hope the
government has come
up with some plan for dealing with the situation at the national blood bank
now, while there is still time to avert a catastrophe.
It will clearly serve no purpose for the
government to allow the
nation’s blood bank to run out of the re-agents that remain in stock and
then try to deal with the situation when Zimbabwe is already faced with the
consequences of letting the crisis get out of hand.
Although Zimbabwe is battling severe foreign currency
cannot be used as an excuse if the worst happens and the NBTS is unable to
While Zimbabwe can more or
less continue to function with limited
supplies of foreign currency, raw materials and spare parts, the nation
cannot operate with no supplies of blood.
Many people will die needlessly if they cannot receive
blood transfusions that would save their lives.
Averting such a situation should be one of the government’s
If the government is able to import brand
new vehicles for its many
officials, it should certainly be able to find the hard cash to import
materials that will enable it to avert several unnecessary deaths. If the
government fails to treat the crisis at the NBTS with the urgency it
deserves, Zimbabweans will rightly lay the blame for the resulting
fatalities at its door.
We will never make ends meet, at this rate
When we are about to make ends meet, they move the ends.
This short thesis aims at highlighting when, how, and why
responsible people, or is it irresponsible people, move these ends.
There is now in Zimbabwe a wide gap between the current
unprecedented escalation of prices of basic commodities and the continued
stagnation of workers’ salaries (we call them salaries for want of a better
term, for they are not really salaries).
when: the ends are shifted when the poor are just within reach
of things traditionally perceived to belong to the rich only.
when workers receive a rare increment and there is scramble
for basic commodities and a few luxuries. The ends are then moved by
increasing the very prices of those necessities, so that they remain the
privilege of the few.
In the year 2003, the face of virtually every worker is a
tension because of the treatment they are being subjected to by political
After such treatment, the leaders then
address the workers looking
deceptively relaxed and cheerful. To be smiled at is not to be loved.
Why: the ends are moved because the leaders
are trying to teach of us
about the existence of only two worlds, that of the eater and that of the
They try to hide the truth from
us, the truth of the existence of a
third world, that of the revolutionary overthrow of the system of the eater
and the eaten.
certainly, the voice of the worker shall conquer. It is a whisper,
but it is clear.
Destroying our country just to maintain hold on power
What is happening in Zimbabwe makes me sad.
In his quest for more power, one man is destroying the
economy of a
country with great potential.
There are so many
mineral resources in the country and very fertile
soils to go with it, but all this is being given away.
I was shocked to learn that
people from Libya, China and all those
“friendly” countries now own farms in Zimbabwe.
The white farmers from whom farms were taken are
Zimbabwean and have
Zimbabwean IDs and passports.
Bush and Tony Blair the ones who are causing all our
problems? In January 2001, I bought bread for $16 and now it sells for $1
000. How many can afford it at that price?
President Mugabe and all his old ministers
should retire now before
they take us all down with them. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.
Teachers’ salaries cannot buy basics
Although the government must be hailed and applauded for finally
addressing the nearly twenty-three-year-old teachers’ request for better
remuneration and improved working conditions, there is still more to the
issue than meets the eye.
The so-called job evaluation
exercise that should have been completed
before 31 December 2002 may look like a masterpiece when one looks at the
gap between the initial salary and the proposed new one.
When one takes a pragmatic approach,
working out the new figures given
in relation to the drastic rate of inflation, teachers still find themselves
miserably at the bottom of the ladder, considering their social status.
What are being
proposed as teachers’ new salaries for this year should
have been their salaries as of last year.
If a good radio is currently going
for $950 000, a television set for
more than $1 million when a teacher’s gross salary falls far short of these
figures, what option do teachers have than to demand even bigger increments?
Come July pay day, the
prices of appliances and commodities will have
doubled or trebled, leaving teachers psychologically emaciated and
financially paralysed. Shame!
If one cannot raise an instalment of $134 000 for the
household assets such as fridges, radios or televisions, at their current
cost before prices are hiked beyond reach this July, then the Zimbabwean
teacher will remain a laughing stock in society.
When teachers went on strike last year, their demand was for better
salaries in order to be able to purchase personal property. The government
must be reminded that no teacher in Zimbabwe, not even married couples, can
buy property using their individual or combined salaries since 2001, even
with the recently announced salary grades.
Therefore, my message to
my fellow teachers is the struggle continues.
A luta continua!
Let us brace ourselves for an even more turbulent
year in 2003. We
were deceived that our salaries would be back-dated to January and when we
do get them, they will have been mercilessly and seriously eroded by
The doctors’ demand for a
starting salary of $2 million is more than
sufficiently reasonable, because they worked hard to be where they are!
Meet you at Greatermans,
Pelhams, Nyore-Nyore and Downtown Furniture,
buying your long-needed beds, cookers, hi-fis, television sets, bedroom and
dining room suites with your paltry “hefty” July gardener’s salaries.
ZANU PF cannot expect nation to applaud its destruction
AS I write, most Zimbabweans have lost all hope of finding solutions
to getting out of the current political impasse.
Some thought the opposition Movement for Democratic
(MDC)-driven ‘final push’ would do the trick, while others maintained it
would be talks between President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai that would extricate us from the morass.
Slowly, hope in any of the above seems to be fizzling out.
atmosphere of dejection and despair seems to have engulfed
Questions are ringing in many people’s
minds: how should we tell this
man called Mugabe that we are really suffering? How could we, as many as we
are, remind him that lying to the whole nation that everything is rosy in
this country does not fill our empty tummies?
Those who are vulnerable to fear have already resigned
fate. To these people, no one can convince the old man that people, in as
much as they revered him so much during the liberation struggle, have come
to the stage where they now hate him in equal proportion.
They cite and acknowledge the valour exhibited by
demystifying Mugabe’s omnipotence, but they still argue that in as far as he
has so gallantly fought, he has not done enough practically to be crowned
messiah of the troubled souls of our country.
Zimbabwe is now a country of despair.
Although Mahatma Gandhi
once proclaimed that even tyrants who at one
time appear invincible will one day face an ignominious fate, the people of
our country have reached their tethers’ end.
We have unofficially renounced our ability to
master the destiny of
The old and the young
alike have jettisoned their bags of hope and
they have now adopted a fatalistic attitude.
Can we say we have all been pushed into a
corner and no one can
manoeuvre, unless one parrots the ruling party’s meaningless slogans?
The dear old man has remained resolute in
riding a dead horse. He has
enjoyed it, but still he fails to realise that the dead horse takes him
We have been plunged into
a crisis and it is most painful to see our
tormentors wishing themselves many more years in perpetuating their evil.
Mugabe may want to
portray United States President George W Bush as an
agent of the devil, but I doubt if the majority of our nation agree with
this kind of thinking. As long as Mugabe presides over the sinking ship
called Zimbabwe, no one in his right senses can harken to the calls by
Mugabe that Bush’s agenda in Africa is to entrench the ugly hand of
Mugabe should know
that the people of this country are so enlightened
as to know what is good or bad.
In a rare bid to compare the two, it should not surprise
you if Bush
commands more respect in Zimbabwe than Mugabe is enjoying.
The reason is there for everyone who is not having a
decent meal each
day to see.
The troubled souls of this
country deserve respect from the ruling
Yes, we know
that power is inexorably sweet and no one would wish to
relinquish it, but not at the cost of our right to life.
The despair that has gripped the nation has forced most of our people
to place their hopes in the concern Bush has for our country. It is
interestingly unanimous that Mugabe is the undesirable element in our midst
and we have run out of ideas as to how to swiftly get rid of him. So, if
Bush knows the formula, who will deter him from doing so as long as he is
speeding up what we all wish to see even those in Zanu PF? Life in Zimbabwe
has become a nightmare for many of us, and who would question me if I
entrust my hope in foreign powers? The aspect of nationalism that is
preached by Mugabe is moribund in our epoch. What nationalism, what
patriotism if my tummy is only full of water which may not even be properly
treated? To hell with it. The dear leader should know that the country is
never governable as long as its inhabitants are being exposed to baffling
levels of penury. ZANU PF has done enough harm to our country and yet the
party brags about having achieved tremendous work for for the now hungry
nation. What does it help if one spends 23 years building a beautiful house
only to torch it thereafter? There will be no credit for that, only scorn
from onlookers. By Jack Zaba Jack Zaba is a student at the University of
15 Jul 2003 17:06:00 GMT
Mercy Corps Begins Emergency Food Program in Zimbabwe to Assist
Families Suffering from Drought
Corps - USA
PORTLAND, OR (July 14, 2003) ñ Mercy Corps has launched an emergency food
program to aid schoolchildren and families in Zimbabwe suffering from severe
food shortages and deteriorating economic conditions.
Mercy Corps will be working with local partners in Manicaland Province in
eastern Zimbabwe to increase food security in the region. Through a
nine-month program funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid office
(ECHO), Mercy Corps will establish 20 community vegetable gardens and
provide nutritional supplements to 16,000 school-age children each day.
"There are some very serious immediate needs in this region of Zimbabwe and
we hope to help people meet those needs, while also working with our
partners to build long-term food security," said Nicole Demestihas, Mercy
Corps Senior Program Officer for Africa.
The emergency food program comes at a time when an estimated 6.7 million
Zimbabweans - nearly half the country's population - is unable to meet their
basic food needs. A crippling drought has caused crop failure throughout the
country and has led to widespread food shortages. Political uncertainty, a
sharp decline in economic conditions and high rates of HIV/AIDS has left the
population particularly vulnerable to hunger and disease.
The community vegetable gardens are expected to provide 1200 families with
access to essential vitamins and proteins, as well as help to create
The school-feeding component of the program will provide students with a
high calorie, nutritious supplement each school day, while encouraging
school attendance. A Mercy Corps assessment last fall revealed that because
of the deteriorating conditions, many students are only able to eat one meal
per day and there is an increased risk of increased school dropout rates.
Mercy Corps will be working in partnership with a pair of local
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - Christian Care and Manicaland
Development Association (MDA) - that each has more than two decades
experience promoting rural development and providing emergency relief
Economic Revival Programme Struggles to Do the Job
Regional Information Networks
July 15, 2003
Posted to the web July 15, 2003
Soaring inflation, acute food shortages and a decline in foreign investment
are seen as some of the factors contributing to Zimbabwe's slip in this
year's human development rankings.
According to the UN Human Development Report 2003, Zimbabwe dropped to 145th
position from 128th place achieved in 2002. The country was one of the worst
performers among developing countries.
development index is a composite measure of average achievement in
three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life,
education and a decent standard of living.
Life expectancy at birth in Zimbabwe is now estimated at 35 years for the
period 2000 to 2005, as compared to 61 years in 1990. Moreover, the country
has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates (34 percent) in sub-Saharan
Observers have noted that since 1996 the country has undergone "accelerated
deterioration in the socio-economic situation".
The government is struggling to cope with an inflation rate of 300 percent,
while 70 percent of the labour force is unemployed.
"There has been a downward economic trend in the last 7 years, but one of
the main reasons for the sharp decline in recent years is the land reform
programme. Effectively, by appropriating 4,500 farms, the government closed
down 4,500 big businesses that provided employment for thousands of people,"
independent economist John Robertson told IRIN.
To halt the deterioration in the economy, the government launched the
National Economic Revival Programme (NERP) in February 2003.
But Robertson said while NERP acknowledged some of the challenges facing the
government, the programme "failed to provide a solution".
"Although the programme broadened economic policy decision-making to include
government, the private sector and labour, there has yet to emerge a
workable answer to the myriad of problems facing Zimbabweans," Robertson
UK 'must give Mugabe an exit'
The Government is being urged to step up its diplomatic efforts to deal with
the situation in Zimbabwe which had been marked by a "catastrophic failure".
Tory Boris Johnson said it was no longer good enough just to stand by.
But junior Foreign Office Minister Chris Mullin insisted it would be
"absolute folly" for the UK to act unilaterally.
Mr Johnson, the MP for Henley, told MPs in Westminster Hall: "British and
global diplomatic efforts have been marked by a catastrophic failure.
"The Government has oscillated between apathy and the kind of megaphone
diplomacy that simply plays into Mugabe's hands."
President Robert Mugabe, who is 79, was "desperate" for a way out of power,
This was partly because Mr Mugabe was aware of his own failure and also
there were elements within Zanu PF that saw him as a liability. The question
is whether the UK provides him with that exit," he said.
"I don't think it is any longer good enough for the British Government to
say that it is powerless and that anything it does simply makes matters
worse. I believe that a policy of standing on one side is no longer good
enough and it is time for us to re-engage for the good of Zimbabwe and the
suffering people of that country."
Mr Johnson said there was unlikely to be a military solution in the short
He acknowledged that there always had been an "overwhelming case" for land
reform in Zimbabwe.
Story filed: 15:03 Tuesday 15th July 2003
UN to focus on Africa's strife
15/07/2003 10:50 - (SA)
New York - The United Nations is focusing its attention on
Africa, one of
the world's most politically troubled continents.
It has decided to downsize its peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone,
upgrade its mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and push for the
creation of a new UN intervention force in Liberia.
All three developments are taking place simultaneously, underlying the heavy
emphasis on a continent which is experiencing 10 different inter-state and
intra-state conflicts, including those in Burundi, Liberia, DRC, Cote
d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Zimbabwe.
After a visit to the White House on Monday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
said he expected about 1 000 to 1 500 troops from the Economic Community of
West African States (Ecowas), including contingents from Nigeria and Ghana,
to form a regional peacekeeping force to end the civil war in Liberia.
The United States, which has sent in a military team to assess the situation
in Liberia, has demanded that President Charles Taylor leave the country
before the arrival of any troops in the capital of Monrovia.
Want a ceasfire that will hold
US President George W Bush said after meeting Annan: "I assured (the
secretary-general) that our government's position (on Liberia) is a strong
"We want to enable Ecowas to get in and help create the conditions necessary
for the ceasefire to hold, that Taylor must leave, and that we'll
participate with the troops," he added.
Although the United States has refused to make any firm troop commitments
for a peacekeeping force in Liberia, Bush said his administration was still
debating how Washington could logistically help create the new mission.
"I told the secretary-general that we wanted to help, and there must be a UN
presence, quickly, in Liberia," he said.
Bush also said he discussed how long it would take for UN "blue-helmeted"
troops to arrive in Liberia.
"We would not be blue-helmeted. We would be there to facilitate - and then
to leave," he said.
Serious human rights abuses
The secretary-general has described the situation in Liberia as
"deplorable", with a million people trapped in Monrovia, and with 80% of the
Liberia's humanitarian needs were "very serious", Annan said, adding that
the country was also facing serious human rights abuses.
"I think whatever we can do to help the Liberian situation will be
appreciated by millions, not just in Liberia, but also around the
continent," he added.
Annan said that with the arrival of a vanguard Ecowas force, Taylor had
promised to leave Liberia.
"And then the force will be strengthened, hopefully, with US participation,
and additional troops from the West African region," he added.
Eventually, UN blue helmets would be sent to stabilise the situation, along
the lines of the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone.
"Once the situation is calmer and stabilised, the US will leave and UN
peacekeepers will carry on," said Annan.
Mission being phased out
After a closed-door meeting on Monday, Ambassador Inocencio Arias of Spain,
president of the 15-member security council, said they had agreed to
"respond quickly" to Annan's proposal last week for a reduction of the UN
mission in Sierra Leone (Unamsil).
The 13 000-strong Unamsil, the biggest single UN peacekeeping force, is to
be gradually phased out, with a view to a complete shutdown by December next
Annan has said that if the security situation continues to improve in Sierra
Leone, Unamsil will close shop as early as June next year.
The peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone has cost the United Nations more than
$500m (about R3 800) annually.
After a five-year civil war that killed more than 10 000 people and
displaced several hundred thousand, a democratically elected government
under President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah signed a peace treaty with the rebel
group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in November 1996.
In May 1997, however, Kabbah was ousted in a military coup, but was restored
to power in March 1998 with the help of a regional African peacekeeping
force, the economic community of West African states monitoring group
(Ecmog), led by neighbouring Nigeria.
Although Kabbah regained office after a 10-month-long exile, the remnants of
the RUF continued their fight despite the peace treaty.
The United Nations decided to send a peacekeeping force in October 1999 to
stabilise the Kabbah government.
Meanwhile, the UN mission in DRC (Momuc) has been trying to monitor a
ceasefire since November 1999.
But the situation has taken a turn for the worse with ethnic clashes of
genocidal proportions breaking out in the town of Bunia.
10 800 troops for DRC
Annan has proposed that the 4 500-strong Monuc be upgraded to a 10
800-strong force: more than doubling the present military strength.
"I think we are making progress on the Congo peacekeeping force," he sa8id
"We have asked for an increase in the ceiling (to 10 800 troops), and I
think that is going to be done," he said.
Last month, the security council approved a 1 400-strong rapid deployment
force specifically to contain the ethnic conflict in DRC.
The force, led by 1 000 French troops, has a mandate to complete its
peacekeeping mission by September this year.
In a 10-page briefing paper titled "The regional crisis and human rights
abuses in West Africa," the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the
security council should hold governments in West Africa accountable for
their support of abusive regimes and rebel groups.
"Just a month ago, Cote d'Ivoire was the big concern. Today, it's Liberia,"
said HRW's Peter Takirambudde. <>p"This downward spiral in the region must
be stopped, which means addressing the main human-rights abusers throughout
the region, and improving protection of civilians." - Sapa-IPS
Tsvangirai lawyers say treason tape flawed
By Stella Mapenzauswa
(Reuters) - July 15 2003 17:51
HARARE (Reuters) - Lawyers in the treason trial of Zimbabwean
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai say that a videotape the state says
shows him plotting President Robert Mugabe's murder may have been tampered
Tsvangirai and senior colleagues from the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) could face death sentences if convicted of an
alleged plot to kill Mugabe last year amid Zimbabwe's worst political and
economic crisis in decades.
All three have pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have asked
the High Court to dismiss the charges, saying the state failed to present a
solid case and that its two main witnesses were biased and unreliable.
The state's case rests mainly on a grainy videotape of a meeting
in Montreal between Tsvangirai and Canadian-based political consultant Ari
Ben-Menashe in which the prosecution alleges Mugabe's "elimination" was
Ben-Menashe has admitted he taped the meeting solely to get
evidence for the government -- with which he later signed a political
lobbying contract. But he denies entrapping Tsvangirai, whose MDC represents
the most potent challenge to Mugabe's rule since independence from Britain
On Tuesday defence lawyer Chris Anderson said differences
between a transcript of the video produced by Ben-Menashe's firm and another
made by a Zimbabwe government employee suggested two different tapes were
He also questioned the sound and video quality of the tape,
saying the murkiness of the picture made it difficult to see if there was
synchronisation of pictures and sound.
"It is submitted that the conclusion is inescapable that the
videotape cannot be the original or has been tampered with," Anderson told
the court, saying the video should be rejected as unreliable.
Tsvangirai is currently free on bail on a second treason charge
based on government allegations that he tried to instigate the overthrow of
Mugabe's government through mass protests staged by the MDC last month.
The MDC and several Western countries accuse Mugabe of rigging
his re-election in 2002 and blame his government for chronic food and fuel
shortages and inflation running at 300 percent -- one of the highest rates
in the world.
Mugabe says the MDC is a stooge of Western powers and insists
the economy has been sabotaged by his opponents in retaliation of his
seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
ZIMBABWE: Formal appeal for food aid on the way
IRINnews Africa, Tue 15 Jul 2003
President Robert Mugabe's cabinet to digest crop forecast before aid
appeal is made
JOHANNESBURG, - A disagreement over official crop forecast figures has
been identified as the reason why the government of Zimbabwe has delayed
making a formal appeal for food aid.
The latest crop and food supply assessment mission by the UN World
Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated
that 4.4 million people in rural areas and 1.1 million in urban areas would
require food assistance in 2003/04.
Zimbabwe is once again the country worst affected by food shortages in
But despite warnings that aid agencies were running out of in-country
stocks to feed the millions in need, WFP has been unable to secure funding
from donors because there has been no official appeal for aid from the
government of Zimbabwe.
Lancaster Museka, the permanent secretary in Zimbabwe's social welfare
ministry, told IRIN on Tuesday the government would probably be able to make
a formal appeal on Wednesday.
The delay was due to a disagreement over crop forecasts presented by
the central statistical office, but this had now been resolved. The cabinet
was sitting on Tuesday and "one of the items on the agenda is the crop
forecast ... from which the figures for the appeal will come".
By Wednesday "we expect to give them [WFP] the figure, once cabinet
has approved it. As of now we don't know what they will come up with, but
... I think we will have a figure [for aid agencies]", Museka said.
WFP had stressed that a "formal appeal for specific amounts of food
aid" was a requirement for "several major donors", who would otherwise not
be able to commit resources to food aid in Zimbabwe.
Prison deaths raise eyebrows
15/07/2003 13:40 - (SA)
Harare - An unusually high number of
prison deaths has been reported and
recorded in Harare's three main prisons from June 28 - July 1, 2003.
The deaths were announced on radio two weeks after the fact.
Seperate incidents have been reported in the private media of relatives
being up in arms over delays in announcing the deaths of inmates to their
next of kin.
A Radio Zimbabwe presenter read out more than 15 names of inmates who had
died in Harare's three main prisons,Harare Central, Harare Remand and
Chikurubi Maximum. A high number of the dead came from Remand - most died on
Zimbabwe's prisons are reported to be overflowing with inmates owing to a
slow penal and judicial system, run on skeleton staff.
Most magistrates have resigned here over poor pay and conditions of service,
throwing an already fragile situation into total chaos.
Most suspects have to wait more than two years to go to trial.
Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who spent more than two weeks behind
bars talked of overcrowding in the cells. He is reported to have shared one
cell with more than 70 inmates.
Analysts here suspect that cold conditions in the holding cells may have
caused the deaths of most inmates. June and July are Zimbabwe's coldest
Efforts to get comments from the relevant authorities proved fruitless.
Secret deal paves way for Mugabe exit this year
By Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent
15 July 2003
Robert Mugabe will relinquish his leadership of Zimbabwe's ruling party by
December, paving the way for his exit as President and new elections by June
2004, the South African President Thabo Mbeki has told George Bush.
The Independent has established that Mr Bush has pledged a reconstruction
package for Zimbabwe worth up to $10bn (£6.2bn) over an unspecified
timeframe, if a new leader takes over.
The deal was discussed by the two leaders during a private meeting in
Pretoria last week.
Important differences remain: Washington is anxious to make the money
conditional on the emergence of a new leader chosen by the Zimbabwe people
in an election rather than an anointed successor from the ranks of the
ruling party. Mr Mbeki by contrast, is not a supporter of the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and is open to a successor
emerging from the ruling party.
But the agreement that Mr Mugabe must go is a critical breakthrough in
efforts to end Zimbabwe's political crisis. Mr Mbeki has been a close ally
of the Zimbabwean President in the face of mounting international criticism
over his human rights record and land seizure policies blamed for bringing
the country to the brink of famine.
Mr Mbeki's assurance to Mr Bush that Mr Mugabe will stand aside is believed
to be based on a personal promise extracted from the Zimbabwean leader.
Under the plan, he has promised to step down as leader of the ruling Zanu PF
party at its annual congress in December as a first step. In practice,
stepping down as head of Zanu's all-powerful Politburo means he would become
a figurehead, since the Zimbabwe cabinet implements the policies formulated
by the Politburo.
During his meeting with Mr Bush, Mr Mbeki asked the American President to
avoid making statements openly critical of the 79-year-old Zimbabwe leader,
which he fears could scupper the plan. Mr Bush said he would continue to
speak out on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Mr Bush surprised Zimbabwe opposition figures when at a press conference
after the Pretoria meeting he presented a united front with Mr Mbeki, and
declared him the "point man" on Zimbabwe.
Privately Mr Bush is said to have exerted pressure on the South African
President by indicating that South African companies would benefit from the
aid package for Zimbabwe, since many of them would be well placed to bid for
contracts. South African firms are owed huge amounts of money by Zimbabwe,
mainly for fuel and electricity supplies.
Evidence that Mr Mugabe has promised to quit his party post in December is
emerging from within the ruling party, where distinct factions are already
vying to succeed him.
His favoured successor, the Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has
made public appearances seen as a careful attempt to market himself for the
Dumiso Dabengwa, an ex- home affairs minister and former adversary of Mugabe
who later served in his cabinet, also emerged at the weekend to express his
interest. The former finance minister Simba Makoni and the Special Affairs
Minister, John Nkomo, are also in the succession race. Senior opposition
officials from the MDC also met top US administration officials in Pretoria
last week during Mr Bush's visit.