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Annan and Mugabe set to meet

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare and Mark Turner at the United Nations

Published: June 30 2006 20:15 | Last updated: June 30 2006 20:15

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, will meet with Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe
president, at an African Union summit in Gambia on Saturday, in an effort to
engage Harare in international talks about its future, and possibly set a
date for a visit to the country.

But UN officials were reluctant Friday to go into any detailed proposals
following what they viewed as unconstructive public statements by Thabo
Mbeki, the South African president, and subsequent discussion in the
southern African media.

Mr Annan would like to reach a deal with Zimbabwe before stepping down at
the end of this year, but talks are still fragile and success far from
assured. "My plan to go to Zimbabwe is still very much on the table," he
told journalists recently. "Zimbabwe, in economic and agricultural terms,
was one of the breadbaskets of the region, and has the capacity of doing
that. [But] I think it's in a very difficult way."

"We, the international community, should find a way of assisting Zimbabwe to
come back to the fold and to turn around its economy and its social

However emphasing his government's refusal to even discuss constitutional
change and an interim administration with Mr Annan ahead of the meeting the
Zimbabwe president insisted that his country does not need any international
rescue package.

Speaking on Thursday the Zimbabwe leader said: "There are so many so-called
'initiatives' to rescue Zimbabwe. We are not dying. We don't need any
rescue. We will not collapse. Maybe we are suffering, yes. But we will never

The president's comments coincided with reports that the ruling Zanu-PF's
politburo had given Mr Mugabe "a mandate" to meet Mr Annan, but to reject
any proposals for constitutional reform and a transitional government. "We
will not accept any suggestions for a transitional government or economic
rescue packages tied to veiled attempts of regime change," said a senior
member of the party's top policy-making body.

"If Zimbabweans want change, they know when elections are due" added party
spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira, a close confidant of the president.

These comments have deepened gloom ahead of the meeting despite continuing
claims from South African sources that Mr Mugabe will come under intense
pressure to step down at the AU summit.

In Harare, expectations of a positive outcome from the meeting are low.

Government sources see the meeting as an opportunity for President Mugabe to
"set the record straight," to quote one minister, by telling the Zimbabwe
story "as it really is rather than how it is portrayed in the biased western
media and in one-sided reports by UN agencies".

Privately officials are delighted that the meeting is taking place on "home
ground" for Mr Mugabe, seen as an African folk hero, by some in Africa, who
has championed his country against "sanctions" imposed by the EU, US
president George W. Bush, and British prime minister Tony Blair.

Recent statements by the Zimbabwe government give no hint of compromise.

Western diplomats left an acrimonious meeting with Zimbabwe ministers last
week in state of deep gloom after foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
had launched a 20-minute rant against the Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe
Jon Sheppard.

The briefing had been called to tell the diplomats that Zimbabwe would
honour bilateral investment agreements and pay compensation for expropriated
land that they covered. When Mr Sheppard sought an assurance that all those
who had lost their land would have "equal rights under the law" the foreign
minister lashed out at Western countries describing Australia as "one of the
most racist countries in the world".

The episode left diplomats wondering whether there is any point in an
Annan-Mugabe meeting.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa followed up with a bitter attack on the
West for seeking to destabilise Zimbabwe by funding non-government

While opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has welcomed the UN initiative,
his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says it still plans to go
ahead with street protests to force the government to the negotiating table.
But in the past Mr Tsvangirai has failed to bring people onto the streets
and with President Mugabe threatening a" vicious" response to anyone seeking
to unseat his administration, there is unlikely to be much support for
public protests.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has set July 11 as a tentative date
for a national stayaway to protest against rising unemployment, rampant
inflation, expected to reach 1250 percent in June, and rapidly declining
real wages.

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Weighty Agenda Set for African Summit

The Guardian

Friday June 30, 2006 7:01 PM


Associated Press Writer

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) - Iran's president prayed with African Muslims Friday
ahead of a summit where he and another guest, Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, could steal attention from a host of Africa's troubles, from war in
Sudan to the struggle to cement democratic rule.

Leaders of the 53-member African Union were expected to press Sudan to
accept U.N. peacekeepers in the conflict-wracked Darfur region, debate the
rise of a hard-line Islamic regime in Somalia and consider a proposal aimed
at keeping presidents from installing themselves for life.

Also on the agenda for the weekend summit was illegal migration, amid a wave
of undocumented Africans trying to reach Europe via risky sea or desert

But the weighty regional discussions could be overshadowed by the two
high-profile guests from outside Africa - Chavez and Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad arrived Thursday night and attended Friday prayers at Banjul's
main mosque. He addressed the crowd, encouraging Gambian Muslims to ``come
together on the path of Islam to God.''

``However powerful you may be, if you are not following Islam, you must know
that your power will come to an end,'' Ahmadinejad said.

Ninety percent of Gambia's 1.6 million people are Muslim, and Islam is a
powerful force throughout western and other parts of Africa.

Ahmadinejad's visit was seen as an attempt to drum up support for Iran in
its standoff with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program. The
Iranian president has made several high-profile trips to Asia, where he drew
crowds of Muslims cheering Tehran for defying the West.

Leftist icon Chavez - who was to address the summit Saturday - has worked to
form trading blocks in the Americas as a counterbalance to the U.S. The
Venezuelan leader is also planning to visit Iran next month to discuss
energy issues.

Richard Mendez, deputy head of mission at the Venezuelan Embassy in
Ethiopia, said his country has talked to African oil producers about
potential collaborations, though no agreements have been signed. Mendez
added Venezuela is hoping for African support in its bid for one of the
rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council.

But, he said, Chavez's appearance was more reflective of a broader desire to
show solidarity with Africa.

Among African leaders confirmed to attend were South Africa's Thabo Mbeki,
Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nigeria's Olusegun
Obasanjo, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Kenya's Mwai Kibaki.

On one of the most critical issues - Darfur - the leaders are expected to
reiterate calls for Sudan to accept U.N. peacekeepers to replace an
overtaxed African Union force. At a meeting this week, the group's
policy-making peace council made clear it wanted the handover, refusing to
extend the mandate of African Union forces beyond September. The council
also announced targeted sanctions against anyone who stands in the way of
peace in Darfur.

Sudan has resisted U.N. peacekeepers for Darfur.

``We think the African Union could be supported,'' rather than replaced,
said Taj Elsir Mahjoub, a Sudanese delegate in Banjul.

Since 2003, the Darfur uprising against the national government has left
more than 180,000 people dead, driven 2 million from their homes and
undermined stability in neighboring Chad and Central African Republic as
well as in Sudan.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he hoped pressure at the
summit would persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to accept a U.N.
force. Annan plans to meet with al-Bashir and said other African leaders
also would discuss a potential U.N. takeover with Sudan.

Annan also was expected to meet with Mugabe, who is under increasing
international pressure to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
Mugabe rescinded an invitation to Annan to visit Zimbabwe following reports
Annan might press him to step down after more than two decades in power in
exchange for an aid package.

Sideline discussions were also expected on Somalia, where a hard-line
Islamic group is asserting control. The U.S. has accused the group of
harboring al-Qaida leaders.

A proposal threatening suspension of African Union membership for nations
that abolish presidential term limits is also under consideration. It could
be added to a 2002 declaration making coups illegal, according to a proposal
drafted by African foreign ministers.

Term limits have been a recent theme in African politics. Uganda dropped
them last year so its president could run again, but Mauritanian voters
approved limits in June and Nigeria upheld its limits over an attempt to
amend the constitution by supporters of Obasanjo, whose second and final
term ends next year.

Migration is another topic in which the West takes an interest - and
European and U.S. observers were expected at the Banjul meeting.

African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare warned in a recent
speech that Africa needs to fight proposals such as a draft French law
clamping down on unskilled immigrants but welcoming highly skilled artists,
scholars and athletes. Konare said that would only contribute to the brain
drain from Africa.

Even if resolutions are passed, African Union members aren't beholden to
them and the body has little funding to pursue independent action.

``We decide all the points, but application, that's the problem,'' said
Moiche Echek, Equatorial Guinea's ambassador to Ethiopia. ``It is very, very
easy to wear a suit like me, sit and attend a conference. But what happens
in the village, that is different.''


Associated Press Writer Momodou Jaiteh in Banjul contributed to this report.

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Free At Last!

Sent: Saturday, July 01, 2006 5:02 AM
Subject:Free At Last!

Just to let you know that the Harare 3, Kevin John Woods, Philip Mazisa
Conjwayo and Michael Anthony Smith are due to be released from prison at
07:30 Zimbabwe time tomorrow after an ordeal lasting 18 years.

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Low expectations of Mugabe, Annan and Mbeki meeting

      By Violet Gonda
      30 June 2006

      As the African Union summit starts this week there is massive
speculation that the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan may use
this opportunity to meet with Robert Mugabe. Although speculation is rife
that Annan might use the visit to press the 82 year old leader to step down,
political commentator Professor Stanford Mukasa said nothing substantial or
significant will come out of this meeting especially since it's reported
that it may be held on the sidelines and not on the agenda of the AU summit.

      Furthermore, Mukasa said Mugabe has met the UN Secretary General
several times and made assurances that he will resolve the crisis each time.

      Mukasa believes there is nothing that Annan can do to pin Mugabe down
to a specific agenda or a specific programme of action. "Kofi Annan is a
lame duck. He is stepping down as Secretary General of the United Nations in
a few months time. By December this year he will be stepping down and I don't
think anybody can expect him to accomplish much. He has been informed about
the crisis in Zimbabwe and he has done absolutely nothing," he said.

      But international pressure is mounting for the African Union to put
pressure on the Mugabe regime. South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister
Aziz Pahad was reported this week saying it was likely that Annan and Mugabe
would meet on the fringes of the African Union summit. Pahad also said that
if such talks did take place, it was likely that President Thabo Mbeki would
also be involved. "In the context of our proximity and the role we have been
playing up to now one would expect that he would be invited," Pahad said.

      The Mugabe regime has been holding Annan at arms length since last
year's Operation Murambatsvina which the UN described as a disastrous action
that affected at least 2.4 million and left 700 000 homeless. The Secretary
General has been planning to see the outcome of Mugabe's so-called clean up
exercise but the Zimbabwean government have said there is no need for Annan
to visit because it had embarked on a re-housing operation. But evictions
are still continuing in Zimbabwe.
      Robert Mugabe also rejected foreign mediation attempts when he was
speaking at the funeral of Tichaona Jokonya, the information minister who
died last Saturday.
      Addressing mourners on Thursday Mugabe said there was no political
crisis in the country requiring foreign mediation. "Lately, we have heard
about so-called 'initiatives' to rescue Zimbabwe. We don't need rescuing
because we are not about to die.We may be suffering, yes, but we will never
die. What we need is support for the economy."
      Both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change issued statements
responding to Mugabe.
      Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson of the Tsvangirai MDC said, "President
Robert Mugabe's assertion that the economy has not collapsed and that
Zimbabwe does not need any rescue package all but confirms that Zanu PF and
Mugabe are in a perpetual state of denial and have taken permanent residence
in cloud cuckoo land. Mugabe seems to have plucked pages from Ian Smith's
colonial regime hymnbook. Smith made the notorious statement that he had
"the happiest natives" in Africa. Similarly, Mugabe is claiming he has the
happiest subjects who are not in need of any rescue package. It is
characteristic of dictators the world over to be locked in a permanent state
of self-delusion," said Chamisa.
      Spokesperson of the Mutambara MDC Gabriel Chaibva said Mugabe's
statements on the state of the economy were disappointing. "Inflation is at
more than 1200%, unemployment over 85%, 800,000 people were made homeless,
thousands of others need food aid urgently, the health delivery system has
totally collapsed and unaffordable even for the rich, electricity cuts are a
permanent feature and very soon our theatres will be operating on candle
light, education standards have plummeted as teachers flee classrooms
because of poor remuneration."

      He added, "AIDS and HIV continue to take toll of the population as
government fails to provide ARVs, our farmers are facing chronic shortage of
essential farm inputs, basic commodities are out of reach of the ordinary
person, the public transport system has virtually collapsed and the
frontiers of poverty continue to advance unstoppably, threatening to engulf
the whole nation."

      Chaibva said with such a scenario one would expect the Head of State
to seek every opportunity to explain his government plans in dealing with
the deep rooted crises he is facing.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Extravagant mayor splits Zanu-PF


30/06/2006 13:10  - (SA)

Harare - Splits are deepening in Zimbabwe's ruling party over the continued
tenure of the extravagance-loving mayoress of the capital, say reports.

According to reports, the central committee of the Harare branch of the
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) had passed a vote
of "no confidence" in Sekesai Makwavarara.

The "no confidence" motion came only a few days after local government
minister Ignatius Chombo extended by another six months the tenure of
Makwavarara as head of the chairperson of the commission running the city of

Harare living conditions 'deteriorate'

Makwavarara was appointed chairperson of that commission more than two years
ago, after the government sacked the elected opposition mayor Elias Mudzuri.

The flamboyant mayoress had courted controversy ever since because of her
reported taste for the high life.

As living conditions in Harare steadily deteriorated, Makwavarara had made
an expensive trip to Moscow, ordered curtains for her mayoral mansion at a
cost of Z$35bn ($350 000) and taken advantage of her position to try to
purchase a council-owned house at a fraction of its market value.

Makwavarara 'undermines Zanu-PF'

The reports said that in an unusual challenge to the local government
minister, William Nhara, a spokesperson for the Harare central province
branch of Zanu-PF, accused Makwavarara of flouting tender procedures to the
detriment of ratepayers.

Nhara said Makwavarara had undermined the ruling party and lacked
professionalism and leadership qualities.

Makwavarara was a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
before she switched allegiance to Zanu-PF. Life in Harare, once known as the
Sunshine City, had steadily declined since Makwavarara was appointed.

Roads were potholed, there were frequent water cuts and burst sewage pipes
were a perennial problem.

Harare's main residents association had told its members to stop paying

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From Liberator to Tyrant: Recollections of Robert Mugabe (2)

Comment from PBS Frontline/World, 27 June

Stephen Talbot

continued from yesterday...
In those days, nearly every African leader or would-be leader professed to
be a socialist of some sort - whether it was Julius Nyerere's "African
socialism" in Tanzania or Nelson Mandela's left-wing ANC, which included the
South African Communist Party. Raised as a Catholic and educated in part by
Jesuits, Mugabe became a Marxist while studying in Ghana during the era of
President Kwame Nkrumah, the grand old man of African nationalism. Mugabe's
Marxism was an ideology that hardened during his 10-year prison term in
Rhodesia and was influenced by his Maoist allies in China. I should have
paid closer attention to Mugabe's definition of socialism as a
"socio-economic system ... which is planned and operated by those who are
chosen by the people." For Mugabe, the goal became a one-party state, not a
European-style social democracy. And his own power - not the welfare of his
people - became his obsession. I never had an opportunity to discuss all
this with my friend Tirivafi. But if he was disgusted by his president's
power grabs and personal aggrandizement, he never said so publicly. Tirivafi
spent most of his career abroad, as a diplomat in India, Africa and Europe.
He died of natural causes at an early age.

Mugabe's 26 years in power have turned out to be a textbook example of Lord
Acton's famous dictum, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts
absolutely." In the first election after independence, Mugabe's Zanu Party
won control of 57 out of 80 seats in parliament, easily overwhelming their
nominal ally, Zapu. A pattern soon developed: When Mugabe felt firmly in
control, he was relatively benign, running Zimbabwe like a ward boss in old
Chicago, handing out patronage to his friends. But whenever Mugabe felt that
his power was threatened -- by Nkomo, by white farmers, by the Movement for
Democratic Change -- he lashed out. Usually his brutal crackdowns were timed
to upcoming elections he thought he might lose. Mugabe's confiscation of
white-owned farms in the last six years has been highly political. Zimbabwe
inherited an inequitable agricultural system from colonial Rhodesia. A
quarter of a million whites owned most of the fertile, productive farm land
in a nation of what was then 7 million blacks. The farms were efficient and
bountiful, producing tobacco as a cash crop and more than enough corn to
feed the country and to export. African demand for land reform was strong,
but Mugabe did not want to jeopardize the economy, and despite some militant
talk, he did almost nothing to redistribute land until he was challenged in
the polls.

Suddenly Mugabe played the race card. He urged "war veterans" -- unemployed,
demobilized guerrilla soldiers - to occupy white farms. Ownership of many
farms was simply transferred to Mugabe's cronies, who have proved to be
either incapable of farming or totally disinterested in it. Most whites have
left the country, sometimes invited to start over in neighboring Zambia or
Mozambique. Thousands of black farmworkers lost their jobs, and agriculture
has collapsed. Malnutrition is now widespread. Eighty percent of Zimbabweans
are unemployed. The whole country, now some 12 million people, has closed in
upon itself, cut off from the rest of the world, trapped in its own private
torment. Mugabe, now 82, has virtually achieved his one-party state. Zanu
controls most of the seats in parliament. When Mugabe needs to, as in 2002,
he rigs elections. His party, which only needs a 75 percent majority (which
it has) to change the constitution, does so on a whim. He has silenced what
used to be a robust and free press, jailing and torturing reporters. And he
has become increasingly mercurial and brutal. Last year he launched his own
version of slum clearance, called Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean the
Filth"), evicting some 700,000 people from their homes in Harare and other
cities -- mostly desperately poor people who, he feared, might support the
opposition or stage food riots. When condemned by the international
community, Mugabe hisses back, claiming he is the target of a Western
conspiracy. Paranoia has replaced the openness with which, 30 years ago, he
solicited international support for his rebel cause.

All of this has caused me, and others, to wonder what exactly transformed
Mugabe from a promising national hero to a tyrant. Is it simply that he has
remained in power far too long? Or was there some other trigger? Ian Smith,
Mugabe's now-elderly enemy, has said he thinks Mugabe is simply "deranged."
Mugabe's outbursts against homosexuals seem particularly bizarre, though
perhaps this is political theater, aimed at tradition-bound, deeply
conservative voters. Some speculate that Mugabe became unhinged after his
wife, Sally, died in 1992. He subsequently married his secretary, who is
some 40 years younger than he. Others trying to fathom Mugabe's psyche look
back further, to the horrors of the Rhodesian war and the emotional scars
such a conflict can leave. There was one moment in particular during
Mugabe's years in jail: His only son died and he was not allowed to attend
the funeral. An extraordinary man like Nelson Mandela was able to rise above
such torment and personal loss and went on to free his people and reconcile
his nation. But few countries are fortunate enough to have a Mandela.

Long ago, Mugabe seemed to hold something of Mandela's promise. When I last
spoke with him, on that rooftop in Maputo, he had come to a crossroads. His
guerrilla army had taken the offensive, and he might, conceivably, have shot
his way to power, but the toll in lives would have been high and it might
have provoked a larger conflict, involving South Africa and perhaps even
Britain and the United States. There was an apocalyptic mood back then, with
South African apartheid leader P.W. Botha telling the BBC that World War III
had already started in southern Africa between the West and the Soviet
Union. At that moment, Mugabe had the good sense to accept a British offer
to go to London and negotiate an end to the bitter conflict. The Lancaster
House Agreement, which paved the way for majority rule in Zimbabwe, was
signed just before Christmas in 1979. There would be no repeat of Angola, no
spark for a third world war. As a result, Mugabe entered office with a
reputation for international statesmanship - a reputation enhanced by his
support, at some risk to his own country, for an end to apartheid in
neighboring South Africa. The reluctance these days of African leaders to
denounce Mugabe's human rights abuses is self-serving - they don't want to
call attention to their own shortcomings - but it is also partly a legacy of
respect for a man who was once a freedom fighter.

I have pondered the enigma of Robert Mugabe countless times - and questioned
my own naïveté in taking him at face value. It's unnerving when you misjudge
someone so profoundly. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, there is one
thing that everyone notices but rarely mentions about Mugabe: his mustache.
That small, distinctive streak of dark hair just under his nose is
Hitleresque. Not a perfect match - Hitler's was more of a square, Mugabe's
is narrower - but one can't help making the comparison, however unfair and
stupid that might be. In fact, many political cartoonists who dislike Mugabe
draw on the Hitler comparison. I never asked, but I can't help thinking: Is
Mugabe being deliberately provocative? Or does his style of facial hair have
no political symbolism whatsoever? I can still remember my excitement at
meeting Mugabe and filing my first radio story about him. This was history -
a man leading one of the last anticolonial struggles in Africa. He seemed to
measure up - a tough, university-educated African leader with British
flourishes. When I asked him how he would describe U.S. policy toward
Zimbabwe, he deadpanned, "A mixed grill." What happened to the Mugabe I knew
in the late 1970s still bewilders and disturbs me. Even if he lacked
Mandela's transcendent humanity and compassion, Mugabe could have been an
esteemed statesman and a popular president. Instead he has run his country
into the ground, one more tyrant on a long-suffering continent, his people
waiting for him to die.

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Of church and politics

Mail and Guardian


      Percy Zvomuya

      30 June 2006 07:59

            Nothing could have conjured the images of a riven country more
eloquently than the Zimbabwe national day of prayer. An event meant to unite
a country was marked by a slanging match that would not have looked out of
place before a heavyweight boxing match.

            At the event staged at the Glamis Arena in Harare, the country's
President, Robert Mugabe, was initially conciliatory, urging the church to
point out his government's "shortcomings, sins of commission or omission".

            But later he turned to lay into the outspoken Roman Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube: "When the church leaders start being
political, we regard them as political creatures - and we are vicious in
that area," he said.

            This tone was not out of place in a week in which Bishop Levy
Kadenge of the Methodist Church, who is the convener of the anti-government
Christian Alliance that boycotted the event, had not been to his house since
Thursday last week. Reports say that a Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) officer told him "we want to wipe you out".

            His secretary general, Jonah Gokova, recently said that the
bishop was not in hiding and was "at his office". However, Kadenge had been
"advised not to speak to the press".

            Gokova said the Christian Alliance was formed in response to
concern from church members after last year's urban clean-up operation that
left up to 700 000 people destitute.

            Ncube told Irin News that church leaders who have aligned
themselves with the government had compromised themselves. Last month he
claimed that some leaders had been bribed to support the government. "The
church should be a safe haven for the tortured. This government continues to
abuse people's rights and church leaders should be warned that their
solidarity with those who have caused so much suffering leaves the victims
feeling betrayed," he said.

            Head of the organisation behind the national day of prayer,
Christian Denominations and Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Bishop
Trevor Manhanga, however, insisted that working with the government was the
best way in finding a solution to Zimbabwe's problems. "We refuse to join
our detractors and short-sighted citizens who do not see anything good about
the country," he told Irin News.

            Analysts argue that in a country where people have lost faith in
opposition politics and the ability of Mugabe's government to find a
solution to the country's problems, many people have turned to Christianity.

            They point out that the church has, consequently, become the new
arena for the control of the minds and hearts of the people. Analysts say
that the church is no longer reading from the same gospel at a time when
people, despairing of the divided opposition, are looking to it for

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Newly-listed explorer describes Zim resources as undervalued

Mining Weekly


      Mining exploration-company African Consolidated Resources (ACR) listed
on the London bourse's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) on Friday, after
successfully raising £4-million in new equity.

      The company, which claims gold resources of just short of a million
ounces, as well as platinum, nickel and diamond exploration rights in
Zimbabwe, raised the new equity by selling 33-million new shares at 12 pence
a share.

      ACR said it would use the funds for its current exploration and
investment programme in Zimbabwe.

      Executive chairperson Ian Fisher said in a media statement that
Zimbabwe contained substantial mineral reserves, which were considerably
"undervalued" and "underexploited". He attributed it to a lack of both
capital investment and modern exploration processes.

      "Admission to AIM is an important step for ACR, enabling us to deliver
our strategy of creating value for our existing and prospective
shareholders, while ensuring that the local environment and the indigenous
people are rewarded," he said.

      On the issue of the Zimbabwe's mining policy, ACR said that the
Zimbabwe government stated that exploration companies would be less affected
in the short term by empowerment strategies. Zimbabwe's current law, along
with its proposed indigenisation strategies, aims at economically empowering
the historically-disadvantaged people.

      ACR controls several hundred square kilometres of exploration ground
and has a variety of projects at stages from greenfield to prefeasibility
resource definition drilling. ACR currently has six drill rigs operating on
two lead projects, which are expected to be available for the foreseeable

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Africans at the ICC

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Introduction to a series of profiles of prominent Africans working at the
International Criminal Court in The Hague.

By Fred Bridgland in Johannesburg (AR No. 69, 27-Jun-06)

The International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague, established four years
ago, is the world's first permanent international war crimes court.

Other international criminal courts, such as the post-Second World War
Nuremberg Tribunal and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, also located in The Hague, have been, or are, by
comparison once-only, temporary institutions.

The ICC was set up under the 1998 Statute of Rome with the backing of the
United Nations General Assembly and the approval of 120 countries, but its
operations and officials are independent of the UN and are not subject to
veto by the UN Security Council.

The first visible sign to outsiders that the ICC had "arrived" came on March
20 this year when Congolese militia leader and warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo
made history by becoming the first suspect to appear in the ICC's modern
courtroom, charged with war crimes by Judge Claude Jorda of France.

Gaining evidence to support the prosecution of 45-year-old Lubanga has
involved more than 60 ICC prosecution missions over the past two years to
the remote, minerals-rich, northeastern Ituri region of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, DRC. The ICC's Argentinian chief prosecutor Luis
Moreno-Ocampo said his investigators had worked almost clandestinely in
Ituri because guerrillas from the rival Lendu and Hema ethnic groups "could
kill our witnesses".

Among the initial charges made against Lubanga, leader of a militia called
the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, is of conscripting children under the
age of fifteen and using them in front-line hostilities. Moreno-Ocampo
alleges that Lubanga had trained children as young as seven to become
guerrilla soldiers.

Lubanga is now held at the ICC's prison in Scheveningen, on the outskirts of
The Hague, where the court has leased twelve cells, with the option to take
more as the UN's Yugoslav tribunal, the current main tenant of the prison,
winds down its operation.

The UN says more than 60,000 people have been killed in Ituri and more than
half a million of the province's 4.5 million people have become internal
refugees since late 1998 when war erupted in the eastern DRC, stirred by the
neighbouring states of Rwanda and Uganda and by the DRC government.

Ituri's war-within-a-war, and the cycle of attacks and counter-attacks by
ethnic armies, comes against the background of an only recently ended
full-scale war in the DRC - often described as the "first African world
war". The conflict involved nine African states, twenty different armed
factions and is estimated to have cost some four million lives.

Few people outside Africa have heard of Lubanga. Nor are many in Africa
familiar with his name or alleged deeds.

In quizzes for participants in seminars on the ICC and other international
justice issues held in Africa by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting,
the lack of knowledge has been quite striking. This is not an indictment of
seminar participants because, in truth, the ICC has not been sufficiently
pro-active in promoting itself and what it hopes to achieve. This is
particularly unfortunate because all its initial high profile cases concern
Africa - the Lubanga case; arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and other leaders
of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda; a major investigation into war
crimes and abuses of human rights in the Darfur region of Sudan; and an
investigation in its infancy of alleged human rights abuses in the Central
African Republic.

There is a huge need for greater understanding of the court, its powers, its
limitations and its wider effects. Its very existence serves as a deterrent
to would-be dictators. Following the appearance of Lubanga in the ICC
courtroom, chills surely ran down the spines of the likes of former
Ethiopian military dictator Haile Mariam "Red Terrror" Mengistu, former Chad
dictator Hissen Habre, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe and Sudan president
Omar al Bashir.

The inadequate attention given by the ICC to public relations in Africa is
also regrettable because many Africans ask why this "European" court seems
to be concentrating on Africa and the hauling of Africans to a European
capital to prosecute them. The spectre of some kind of neo-colonialism

And yet the ICC has a good and positive story to tell to Africa, not least
because so many of the top positions in the 600-member permanent staff of
the ICC are held by Africans deeply concerned about human rights on their

Twenty-seven African countries have ratified the treaty establishing the
ICC, making Africa the most represented region in the ICC's Assembly of
States Parties. And there are hopes that Togo will soon become the 101st
state to ratify the founding Rome Statute.

The ICC's deputy chief prosecutor, a hugely important and powerful position,
is an African, Gambia's Fatou Bensouda, who asserts, "Africa must take
ownership of the court. It is our court. It is not imposed on us."

To help illustrate the importance of the court to Africa, IWPR Africa will
for the rest of this year, and perhaps beyond, publish monthly profiles of
key African players at the ICC in The Hague, beginning with Bensouda, as in
the following article by Katy Glassborow.

While the profiles are aimed principally at African newspapers, broadcasting
organisations and other media, anyone anywhere around the globe is free to
use them.

The IWPR Africa Report is still young, having been launched in January last
year, and we have still yet to convey adequately to all the media in Africa
that our reports can be used without payment, although we do ask for
attribution and ideally for our writers to be by-lined.

With this first profile of Fatou Bensouda, we hope you may begin to publish
IWPR material more frequently [take a look at our website] and help the people of Africa and elsewhere to
understand the enormous importance of the ICC and other issues of
international justice.

Fred Bridgland is the Johannesburg-based editor of IWPR's Africa Report.

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UK to decide on failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers next week

      By Lance Guma
      30 June 2006

      An immigration and asylum tribunal will on Monday decide the fate of
thousands of failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers living in the United Kingdom.
This is being done under the 'AA' test case. At the core of the case is
whether the Home Office should grant blanket immunity to all failed asylum
seekers irrespective of circumstances or deport those whose claims are not
genuine. The Home Office won its appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice,
against a ruling which had prevented them deporting failed Zimbabwean
asylum-seekers. Harris Nyatsanza a spokesperson for the United Network of
Detained Zimbabweans says after their initial loss at the Court of Appeal
the matter has been sent back to the tribunal for the reconsideration of
fresh evidence that will look at the safety of those who have gone back.

      Nyatsanza says the Home Office has documented several cases in which
people who have voluntarily gone back under the International Office for
Migration (IOM) scheme reported positively on their attempts at
re-integration back in Zimbabwe. The Home Office will argue that because of
these reports Zimbabwe is a safe country for those with weak claims for
asylum. Nyatsanza also explained that the Home Office was not disputing that
there were human rights abuses in Zimbabwe but that only genuine government
opponents with a well-founded fear of persecution could be granted
protection under the Geneva Convention pertaining to refugees. They also
argue that those who have had their claims turned down have gone through
appeals with independent judges without success.

      The matter has drawn heated debate with the Home Office screening
policy coming under fire. Some well-known activists, including Crispen
Kulinji, came within a whisker of deportation were it not for the efforts of
committed rights groups who protested. It is these contradictions in the
system that have infuriated critics of the Home Office and calls have grown
louder for an overhaul of the process. Nyatsanza says it's very hard to
appeal against a negative decision once it has been made. It is highly
unlikely blanket immunity can be granted for all failed Zimbabwean asylum
seekers, but what legal experts say is that a reconsideration of evidence
regarding the safety of returnees will shape the entire Home Office policy
regarding Zimbabwe. A negative decision could very well lead to mass

      Meanwhile a coalition of refugee support groups, including the United
Network of Detained Zimbabweans, Zimbabwe Action Group, Zimbabwe
Association, Free Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Women's Network, Zimbabwe Vigil and
others have organised vigils in Bournemouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle,
Leeds, Manchester and Coventry. In Bournemouth local MP Harnett Brook and
journalists from the local Daily Echo will attend the Saturday and Sundays
vigils there. On Sunday evening all roads lead to the Tribunal Courts at the
Royal Courts of Justice in London for an overnight vigil leading to the
court case on Monday. Former ZimRights Chairman Nicholas Ndebele who is now
heading the Zimbabwe Action Group says they would like the UK government to
remember that failed asylum seekers are also real people. He told Newsreel
the idea behind the vigils was for Zimbabweans to come forward and show the
whole world that the case, 'concerned real people and not abstract things.'

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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China to sink $80m into white paper plant in Zim

      June 30, 2006

      By ANDnetwork .com

      China Development Bank will sink US $80m into building a white paper
manufacturing plant in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

       Although the finer details of the deal were still sketchy by the time
of writing, it is understood that the project will commence soon.

      Hunyani Holdings, Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) and Forestry Company
of Zimbabwe were the brains behind the deal.

      "The deal has gone through feasibility studies and the outcome was
satisfactory such that CDB agreed to finance the project," sources revealed
this week.

      The Forestry Company has vast tracts of commercial timber, a key input
in paper production and it thus becomes a major source of wood pulp for the
new venture.

      Zimpapers, as a major consumer of newsprint, and Hunyani Holdings
stand to benefit from synergies that will arise through constant supply of
raw materials and reduced production costs.

      On the other hand, the Forestry Company will be able to maximise
benefits from the value added timber products (paper).

      A tonne of newsprint now costs around $300 million. The fruition of
the deal will also end Mutare Board and Paper 56-year stranglehold on the

      Several hundred jobs would be created at the plant and in downstream

      Sources could not be drawn into disclosing the finer details on the
deal citing confidentiality, preferring to direct questions to the
Government which is now spearheading the deal.

      Zimpapers group chief executive Mr Justin Mutasa last year indicated
that modalities were in place to venture into newsprint manufacturing as
part of measures to cushion the company form rising production costs.

      "We will commence our own newsprint production because the current
monopoly in the newsprint manufacturing production cannot be tolerated," Mr
Mutasa was quoted as saying.

      CBD has emerged as one of the international financiers willing to
assist Zimbabwe during this economic transformation phase.

      The bank's governor, Mr Chen Yuan, told a Zimbabwean business
delegation led by Vice President Mujuru during her official long-visit to
the Asian country earlier this month that his bank was willing to finance
Zimbabwe's social and reconstruction programme.

      The bank specialises in trade finance, providing aid to governments
and financing infrastructure development in the energy sector, mining,
transport and communication.

      At the last count, the bank's net assets stood at US $350 billion,
making it the world's largest financial institution.

      Zimbabwean Herald

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'Lift sanctions before talks'

Mail and Guardian

      Godwin Gandu

      30 June 2006 07:09

            A belligerent President Robert Mugabe is placing conditions for
the lifting of international sanctions first, before any dialogue or planned
visit by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

            Mugabe is expected to meet Annan on the sidelines of the African
Union summit in Gambia this week, following the facilitation of the meeting
by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.

            UN spokesperson Yves Sokobi told journalists last week Annan had
"expressed interest" in meeting Mugabe to avoid "Zimbabwe's collapse". The
sanctions that Mugabe wants dealt with include European Union-targeted
travel bans and the United States Economic Recovery Act, which bars the US
from doing business with Zimbabwe.

            It is a conditionality Mugabe mooted after Mbeki's shuttle
diplomacy between London and Harare to help kick-start the dialogue process.
Mugabe has also imposed the removal of sanctions as a prerequisite to any
serious engagement with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

            At a meeting held last year in the Gunhill suburb between
Zanu-PF kingmaker General Solomon Mujuru and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
Mujuru advised the MDC leader that Mugabe wanted him to talk to the West to
remove sanctions first before any meaningful dialogue between the parties
can take place. Present during that meeting were Economic Development
Minister Rugare Gumbo and Central Intelligence Organisation Director General
Happyton Bonyongwe.

            Mugabe's desperation to have sanctions lifted resonates with US
ambassador Christopher Dell's observations that the sanctions were making an

            Insiders within Zanu-PF's information department tell the Mail &
Guardian that Mugabe was going to meet Annan in an "uncompromising mood",
given the "hurting sanctions".

            Annan's visit to Harare may not be "any time soon" as Mugabe is
worried about what Annan may bring to the table and "the continued spotlight
Zimbabwe receives at every international forum".

            "Zimbabwe is not in a position to impose conditions. Only the
international community has that capacity," says Professor Eldred
Masunungure, political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe is severely wounded to the point that it cannot sustain the
present crisis."

            Mugabe two weeks ago also advised a delegation of church leaders
to engage Tsvangirai over sanctions. Reverend Andrew Muchechetere of the
Ecumenical Peace Initiative says the issue of sanctions will be on the table
in a meeting with Tsvangirai next week.

            The "success of the Mugabe-Annan meeting will largely depend on
the stance of the two men," says Masunungure. "If Mugabe goes in a
belligerent mood, he won't achieve anything." Mugabe, instead "will seek the
indulgence of Annan to intercede on behalf of Zimbabwe".

            Mugabe hauled his late information minister Tichaona Jokonya
over the coals after a Cabinet meeting two weeks ago, following an interview
Jokonya gave to the Voice of America in which he says Mugabe will have
dialogue with Annan over the escalating political crisis. Jokonya died last

            Insiders say "Mugabe feels there is no need for dialogue;
sanctions should go first."

            Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who briefs Mugabe,
indicated Annan's invitation to Zimbab-we was "stale" as Operation
Murambatsvina - which he was supposed to assess after his envoy's damning
reports - was over and had been replaced by Operation Garikai (stay well).

            "Mugabe feels no need to meet Annan," says the insider but
"regional pressure seems to be prevailing, that's why he is upping the
stakes by demanding Annan convince the international community to
remove -sanctions first."

            Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku doesn't think Annan
will achieve much. "It's too late," he says. "His trip will be doomed given
the diverse interests within UN, particularly the Security Council," he
says. Russia and China will oppose any motion that "puts Zimbabwe in the

            Because Annan is quitting in December, Zanu-PF insiders feel his
sell-by-date is too close for him to have any meaningful impact. Madhuku
says instead of focusing on the Annan-Mugabe talks, international
condemnation "should mount". "Mugabe must be pressurised to bring genuine
democratic reforms," he says.

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Zimbabwe: too close for comfort

Business Day


As we build up a good PR image of SA's progress and tourist attractions in
preparation for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, we need to overcome two
potentially damaging problems that we need like holes in the head - violent
crime and Zimbabwe.

Much has been said about what needs to be done about crime (for example,
more resources for the police) but Zimbabwe, a failed and miserable state on
our very doorstep, gets far less attention - its problems are too close for
comfort. Obviously rigged elections, state closure of opposition newspapers,
4-million internal refugees who are jobless, homeless and hopeless, and a
lunatic leader all contribute to giving the whole region a bad name.

Two-million folk were affected by Mugabe's Operation Clean-Up, last year's
wanton destruction of thousands of homes of town dwellers perceived to be
supporters (and they probably were) of the Movement for Democratic Change's
Morgan Tsvangirai, still the country's only credible opposition leader.

Unemployment is now 85% and runaway inflation, causing desperate hunger, has
recorded a loaf of bread at Z$220000, with one US dollar worth Z$500000.
Petrol is extinct except for the forex-owning elite.

Action Aid has found that 69% of those effected by the "clean-up" of homes
desperately need medical or psychological help - which they have no chance
of getting from the collapsed public health sector. A visit to a private
doctor costs millions.

This agency reports that "rapes, electric shocks, severe beatings on the
body and foot soles, forced nakedness, witnessing the torture of family and
friends, and mock executions are part of a long list of horrifying
state-sanctioned acts".

The Amani Trust confirms that Zimbabwe "has a population exposed to multiple

Rubbish remains uncollected, just another health hazard. Treatment for AIDS
is a nonstarter.

One would like to think that the multiple visits of politicians between
Pretoria, Harare, London, New York and elsewhere might lead to something
worthwhile. Or are they reminiscent of the legendary switching of the
deck-chairs on the Titanic?

Ivor DavisSandton

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Ten Days of Torture

Rev. Dr. Martine Stemerick interviews a torture victim.
Click here to read it.

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Now-or-never WTO talks falter as rifts widen amid walkout threat

Business Day

Carli Lourens


Trade and Industry Editor

THE "now-or-never" World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting that got under way
in Geneva yesterday appeared to be making no progress on the first day, with
some even suggesting that the parties at loggerheads had moved further

The US and the European Union (EU) continued to accuse each other of being
unwilling to make concessions to clinch a global free trade deal before time
runs out, international news agencies reported.

India was reported as having threatened to walk away from the meeting if the
US refused to make wider cuts on farm subsidies.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was quoted as saying the positions
of key players in global talks appeared to be moving further apart, rather
than narrowing to the point where a deal was possible.

If WTO members manage to break the deadlock over rich countries' support for
agriculture, then a world pact giving poor countries better access to rich
markets may be within reach by year-end.

If they fail, it could trigger a failure of the Doha round, WTO boss Pascal
Lamy suggested this week.

Failure at the current meeting is also likely to fuel pessimism about the
benefits of a final outcome, and is likely to give fresh impetus to the
debate on the role of the WTO.

So far almost all major deadlines set along the Doha process have been
missed. The trade negotiations committee meeting now under way in Geneva
does not mark another deadline.

But WTO members will attempt at this meeting to achieve what they failed to
do by the April 30 deadline - to reach a framework agreement on agriculture
as well as industrial goods. The meeting is being attended by at least 40
trade ministers. SA's Mandisi Mpahlwa is among them.

SA's trade and industry department said ahead of the meeting this week that
it was "keenly aware" of pessimism about the benefits of talks. But SA could
not afford not to be in the WTO, it said.

The WTO was the single most important forum in global trade and could
deliver important benefits to developing countries, including SA, the
department said.

Prospects for an agriculture deal appeared better last week than they do
after the first day's meetings.

Lamy said last week that WTO members were now closer to an agriculture deal
than ever before. There had been signals that the US and the European Union
(EU) would consider making some further concessions in agriculture ahead of
the meeting.

To break what has become known as the "negotiations triangle" stalemate, the
EU had to make further concessions on agriculture tariffs; the US had to
reduce farm subsidies; and big developing countries had to lower tariffs on
industrial goods.

Trade commentator Hilton Zunckel of trade consultancy Floor Incorporated was
not optimistic.

Based upon the draft agriculture deal released for comment to WTO members
this week, he said it was almost certain that ministers "will remain bogged
down in a negotiating field awash in muddy exceptions in once potentially
fertile Doha Development soils".

"It is widely accepted that a political breakthrough as opposed to a textual
negotiation is needed to redirect trade negotiators in order to make any
further progress in concretising agricultural modalities," Zunckel said

Last year's proposal on the reduction of agriculture support and tariffs by
the Group of 20 (G-20) developing country alliance, of which SA is a
founding member, is likely to feature prominently in discussions over the
next few days.

There were signals that the US and EU were prepared to move closer to the
proposal, and even that it could form part of the basis of an agriculture
deal. Such suggestions have, however, raised the ire of stakeholders such as
the large COPA farmers' union in the EU. The union finds the proposal

Zunckel, who agrees the G-20 proposal may be "a logical converging point",
says first world negotiators, notably the G-10 group of food-importing
countries, have also vehemently denied this.

It would be ironic if the G-20 proposal formed the basis for any deal on
agriculture because the group was initially described as a petulant child
disrupting serious negotiations.

Breaking the farming stalemate will not necessarily make for a smooth
process. If the big rich countries make sufficient concessions in
agriculture, it will be up to big developing countries to make the next
move, to open their markets to industrial imports from rich countries.
Labour groups in SA have warned that there could be massive job losses if SA
makes deep cuts in tariffs on industrial goods imports.

A statement by metalworker unions in SA, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and
Zambia, among other countries, said yesterday that the proposed formula
would lead to extensive cuts in tariffs by middle-income developing
countries, "making it virtually impossible for them to industrialise

A group called NAMA-11 - representing 11 developing countries' interests in
nonagriculture market access, or industrial goods - is expected to present
stiff opposition to any ambitious demands made by rich countries at the

SA led the establishment of NAMA-11 during the December Hong Kong
ministerial meeting.

SA, on behalf of NAMA-11, has apparently raised several concerns about a
draft agreement on industrial goods, also released for comment by WTO
members last week.

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Omnibus operators face arrests and angry public as fares soar

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      30 June 2006

      Operators of Zimbabwe's commuter omnibuses are caught between a rock
and a hard place these days. On one hand is a government without solutions
to the fuel crisis that is contributing to massive fare increases. And on
the other is an angry and frustrated public trying to get to work and
blaming bus operators for charging too much. Our Harare correspondent Simon
Muchemwa reports that the government is failing to provide enough fuel under
a scheme that subsidises fuel costs for minibus operators and was introduced
to alleviate transport problems. He said the operators are forced to buy
more on the black market at exorbitant prices and they pass this cost onto
commuters. The police then arrest any operators charging above the
government's prescribed rates and commuters get angry at them for increasing
fares frequently. As a result many operators are choosing to park their
vehicles rather than lose money or get arrested.

      Muchemwa said under the subsidised scheme government sells fuel to
commuter operators for about Z$26,000 per litre. But deliveries are coming
in on average once every 4 weeks. This creates a demand for fuel from the
black market which is currently selling at about Z$600,000 per litre.
Without charging more than the gazetted government fares operators would
lose a lot of money. Authorities have also ordered them to have tickets with
the destination fares written on them. Failure to possess these can lead to

      And there is more. Muchemwa told us vehicles that are not considered
road worthy are being towed away and impounded. This has led to fewer
minibuses on the roads and created long queues during business rush hours.
Muchemwa said commuters are frustrated and angry. And instead of approaching
the responsible government officials they blame the people they deal with -
drivers and conductors. A recent incident in Chitungwiza is reported to have
quickly escalated into violence. Muchemwa said the passengers on a minibus
that had just raised fares into town attacked the driver and threatened to
burn the vehicle. But the situation was diffused before any damage was done.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Pioneering AAAS Project Uses Satellites to Aid Human Rights

Science Magazine

20 JUNE 2006
Edited by Edward W. Lempinen

On 14 May 2004, a satellite passing 450 km over Zimbabwe captured an image that included portions of the hardscrabble Hatcliffe settlement--more than 700 homes and other buildings scattered across the grasslands just north of the nation's capital city, Harare. Less than 16 months later, on 2 September 2005, a satellite sent back a stunning new picture: The pattern of red-dirt roads was still visible, but the buildings were gone.


Portions of the Hatcliffe settlement outside of Harare, Zimbabwe, on 14 May 2004.


The same part of Hatcliffe on 2 September 2005--with scores of buildings demolished.

Credit: Copyright 2006 DigitalGlobe Inc. All rights reserved

The pictures were among the first collected by a commercial satellite company as part of a year-long AAAS pilot project to assess how satellites and other geospatial technology can be used in support of human rights. Already the project is having an impact: Amnesty International and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights used satellite pictures of the destroyed Porta Farm settlement in a 31 May report on the Zimbabwe government's destructive campaign to uproot opposition, generating extensive newspaper and broadcast coverage in Europe, Africa, and the United States.

Otto Saki, an attorney with the Zimbabwe lawyers group, said in e-mailed remarks that the satellite images may have "a phenomenal impact" in legal action over the systematic destruction of villages under the government of President Robert Mugabe.

"New satellite technology provides the unprecedented ability to document human rights abuses via a virtual ‘eye in the sky'," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "With satellite projects like this one, we are gaining the ability to detect, publicize, and even prevent future human rights abuses from occurring in Zimbabwe and around the world."

Geospatial technology is not new--the development of hot air balloons and airplanes brought the use of aerial cameras; intelligence agencies have long used spy satellites; and scientists use such tools to study the weather and forest fires. But images from government satellites are not usually available in a timely way to human rights groups, and new images from privately owned satellites can cost $2000 or more.

Last December, the AAAS Science and Human Rights program obtained a $110,000 grant for a pilot project from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Imaging satellites and other geospatial technology have been "vastly underutilized" in human rights work, said Lars Bromley, who has guided the project as a senior program associate in the AAAS Office of International Initiatives. "By handling all the technical and analytical aspects, AAAS allows groups like Amnesty and the lawyers to match their issue expertise with the power of the imagery. If we can smooth this relatively complicated process, the NGOs working to protect human rights around the world can see lots of benefits."

Among key partners in the effort are Amnesty International USA; the United Nations Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; the U.S. Campaign for Burma; and EQUITAS, the international center for human rights education. DigitalGlobe, a Colorado-based satellite image company, has been a partner and has provided images at a discounted price from its high-resolution QuickBird imaging satellites. Another satellite image company, GeoEye, also has provided generous support.

Bromley and others say that sophisticated commercial satellites and the increasing power of personal computers and the Internet have made the data more available than ever. The costs are likely to fall in coming years as more commercial imaging satellites are launched.

After AAAS finishes analyzing images from Hatcliffe, Porta Farm, and two other settlements, the project will turn to test cases in the Darfur area of Sudan and Burma. Published reports on the project's interest in allegations of wholesale destruction in Burma's Karen State have elicited a sharp rebuke in a newsletter controlled by the nation's government.

Over the years, AAAS's Science and Human Rights program has pioneered a number of initiatives to develop and promote the use of scientific methods to advance human rights, including forensic sciences, statistics, and social science methods. If the geospatial pilot project is successful, AAAS and its partners will explore how to make it permanent.

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