Human rights groups must not be banned Press
Amnesty International today expressed grave concern
at reports that the Zimbabwe government plans to ban international human
rights groups as well as the foreign funding of local organizations promoting
rights in the country.
The measures are reportedly contained in a
draft bill governing the operation of non-governmental organizations
"These reports indicate that as with other legislation introduced
in the past two years, the government will use this new bill to silence
critical voices and further restrict the right to freedom of expression. It
is a clear attempt by the government to suppress dissenting views
as parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2005 draw closer,"
Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International calls on the
government of Zimbabwe to immediately repeal or amend all legislation which
violates the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and
bring national legislation in line with the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, the African Charter and other international human
At the opening of parliament on 20 July 2004, President
Mugabe confirmed that new legislation governing the operation of NGOs would
be introduced to replace the Private Voluntary Organizations Act.
Reporter Last updated: 07/23/2004 23:22:37 MORGAN Tsvangirai prepared for
the worst this week as news came through that the High Court had postponed
indefinitely a judgement on his year-long treason trial.
leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
accused of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe with the help of a former
Israeli spy who was the prosecution's key witness.
MDC spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi told New Zimbabwe.com that the judgement which was supposed to
be delivered next Thursday had been held back after assessors in the case -
Misheck Nyandoro and Joseph Dangarembizi - asked for a review of the
judgement after expressing "concerns".
A legal expert told New
Zimbabwe.com that the latest hitch with the case most definitely meant it was
a guilty verdict by Justice Paddington Garwe.
"It's not common to get to
this scenario but my observation is that it doesn't look promising for
Tsvangirai," the lawyer said.
Nyathi insisted that Tsvangirai was unfazed
and remained "100 percent certain of his innocence" and will lead the
opposition party into the next elections.
Tsvangirai was charged with
treason in February last year for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe
ahead of the 2002 presidential election.
The charges hinge on a secretly
videotaped meeting between Tsvangirai and Ari Ben-Menashe, president of a
Canadian-based public relations firm, Dickens and Madison, in which the idea
of "eliminating" Mugabe was brought up.
Defence lawyers have argued
since the opening of the trial that the videotape on which the alleged plot
to assassinate Mugabe was based was defective and could not be relied
Tsvangirai, a former union leader who formed the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 to challenge Mugabe, says the government
trumped up the treason charges against him in a bid to frame and discredit
him ahead of a presidential election in 2002.
He lost the elections,
which were discredited by international observers who said they were rigged
and marred by political violence.
Tsvangirai said he had hired Ben
Menashe's firm to help with international lobbying and fundraising for his
party, but later discovered the government had also hired it.
Staff Reporter Last updated: 07/24/2004 00:53:45 ZIMBABWEAN President
Robert Mugabe's financier and friend, the property tycoon Nicholas van
Hoogstraten has vowed to sue his own legal team, a day after winning his
appeal in a £5million civil claim over the death of a rival.
58-year-old, worth £500million, said he would sue the Crown
Prosecution Service for malicious prosecution, Sussex Police for attempting
to prosecute him for alleged assault and his lawyers for alleged
He also said he would sue the family of the man he was
convicted of killing and issued a chilling threat to the judges who he said
should never set foot in southern Africa or "they will never see the light of
Van Hoogstraten, who moved to Zimbabwe when freed from jail in
December, said: "The (judges) didn't like being beaten at their own game. I
hope one of those bastards sets foot in southern Africa one day. They'll
never see the light of day."
He was sentenced to 10 years' jail two
years ago for the manslaughter of businessman Mohammed Raja, who was gunned
down by two hitmen in 1999 at home in Sutton.
The conviction was
quashed seven months ago but the Raja family continued with a £5million civil
lawsuit, freezing van Hoogstraten's assets.
On Wednesday three Appeal
Court judges overturned several High Court rulings in the case.
Hoogstraten said yesterday: "They (the Rajas) are nothing, they're just Pa**s
and complete nonentities."
The reclusive multimillionaire is already a
major landowner in Zimbabwe and boasts of his friendship with President
In an interview with the British Sundat Timees newspaper in
February, van Hoogstraten said he was planning to enter politics, but not in
the UK fuelling speculation that he will be seeking public office in
"I am already involved with politics... well, not in this
country," he said at the time.
Van Hoogstraten - who has described his
own politics as "to the right of Attila the Hun" - defended Mugabe from
criticism that he has overseen human-rights abuses and suppressed freedom of
The Sunday Times also reported that van Hoogstraten was operating
from an office in the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, as he strove
to do a deal with the regime of President Mugabe to keep his business and
land ventures afloat in the pariah nation.
The tycoon, is Zimbabwe's
largest private landowner and a vocal supporter and financial backer of
Mugabe. Additional reporting Daily Mirror (UK)
Many Zimbabweans continue to face
conditions of extreme food insecurity according to the Famine Early Warning
System Network (FEWSNET) . In May this year the United Nations' World Food
Programme (WFP) estimated that 5.5 million people from the total population
of 11.6 million were at risk of food shortages. Drought, poor agricultural
production, high levels of unemployment and inflation , as well as crippling
levels of HIV/AIDS, have left most urban and rural households facing serious
obstacles in their attempts to access food. Cereal deficits are predicted in
20 rural districts, most seriously in Manicaland, Matebeleland North and
Matebeleland South. While basic foodstuffs such as maize meal, maize grain,
sugar, flour, salt, cooking oil and meat are available, the majority of poor
urban households cannot afford to buy such commodities . Fresh milk supplies
to most urban areas are erratic and inadequate. In addition, during
three consecutive years of drought conditions, farmers have lacked seeds
and fertilisers. Moreover, Zimbabwe has experienced a significant reduction
in the food output of its commercial farms following the
government's fast-track land-redistribution programme .lisers. Moreover,
Zimbabwe has experienced a significant reduction in the food output of its
commercial farms following the government's fast-track land-redistribution
The United Nations (UN) is concerned that it will not be able
to respond sufficiently adequately or rapidly should food assistance be
required by Zimbabwe later this year. This follows the suspension of the Crop
and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) that was to have been carried out
jointly by the Government of Zimbabwe and the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).
indications of high levels of malnutrition amongst children, particularly in
the cities, are emerging. According to UNICEF, "malnutrition levels in Harare
have doubled over the past four years and significantly worsened in Bulawayo.
" At least a quarter of districts in Zimbabwe have high levels of severe
acute malnutrition in children aged under five, whilst in a third of all
districts, mortality rates are approaching emergency levels.
Zimbabwe Human Development Report indicates that poverty is generally on the
increase in both rural and urban areas . According to the report, poverty is
fuelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic and it is estimated that 1.8 million of the
11.6 million people in Zimbabwe were living with HIV and AIDS by the end of
2003. HIV/AIDS has created numerous child headed households who have very
limited financial means. The prohibitive cost of fees, uniforms and
stationery, as well as the necessity of undertaking work in order to survive,
are some of the factors that prevent such children from attending school.
They are also at a disadvantage in terms of accessing adequate health care
and medication. In Manicaland Province, a survey carried out by the Family
AIDS Caring Trust (FACT) in Chimanimani, Chipinga, Rusape and Nyanga, found
below average growth and development amongst the orphans and vulnerable
children studied. This indicates a poor diet that is predominantly made up of
carbohydrates and limited types of vitamins, with very few other essential
nutrients. Community health services do not provide medicines for AIDS
related illnesses and patients must travel to towns to access such treatment.
High transport costs may inhibit travel and increasing numbers of poor people
are likely to suffer from illnesses than could easily be managed at local
level.tamins, with very few other essential nutrients. Community health
services do not provide medicines for AIDS related illnesses and patients
must travel to towns to access such treatment. High transport costs may
inhibit travel and increasing numbers of poor people are likely to suffer
from illnesses than could easily be managed at local level.
have hit Centenary District in Mashonaland Central, northern Zimbabwe, for
the past three consecutive years. The flooding has ruined homes, leaving
scores of people destitute and has destroyed the crops that usually make up
the community's major livelihood source. The area is remote which has meant
delayed responses and the unnecessary destruction of property.
than 0.5% of households in Mashonaland West province in Kariba District had
adequate sanitation facilities and water was drawn from open wells and rivers
, a situation that allowed cholera to become endemic there in June.
half of the health clinics in three provinces - Mashonaland West,
the Midlands and Masvingo - have access to safe water, and the majority
of districts across the country face shortages of essential drugs . Where
such drugs are available, their high cost represents a further barrier
to accessing health services. Midlands and Matebeleland North are amongst
the provinces worst served by facilities such as health centres and have a
high prevalence of diseases such as upper respiratory infections and
malaria. Matabeleland North also lacks sufficient medical staff, with only
half its clinics having at least one nurse.
Food shortages, compounded
by the impact of HIV/AIDS, are drastically affecting children's welfare in
? Children are forced to stay away from school so that they can
work, in order to supplement their family's income ? Increased numbers of
children, particularly girls, are pressured to engage in commercial sex work
? Children miss school because of malnutrition and ill health ?
Increasing numbers of orphaned children must fend for themselves and their
siblings ? Children are finding it difficult to access food aid and other
basic services necessary for their survival ? HIV prevalence amongst young
women below the age of 20 is five times higher than amongst their
male counterparts ? UNICEF estimates that one in five children in Zimbabwe
will be orphaned by 2010.
Save the Children's Response Save the
Children has been working in Binga district in Matabeleland North and Kariba
rural (also called Nyaminyami) district in Mashonaland West since the early
1980s. Work has centred on water and sanitation, malaria control, HIV/AIDS
and child protection programmes. The programmes have evolved from merely
providing services, such as drilling boreholes, to working closely with
communities to build and strengthen their capacity to manage and maintain
services. A nutrition survey carried out in June 2004 reported that 58.7% of
the population here now has access to safe water, 77% of which was delivered
within Sphere Standards.
In response to Zimbabwe's economic crisis and
years of drought, Save the Children has been providing food aid in the
Zambezi Valley. Since 2002 we have implemented a number of new initiatives
covering various aspects of household livelihood security. These include: the
distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds (mainly maize, sorghum,
millet and cowpea, depending on the climatic conditions in particular area)
and fertiliser; seed multiplication; nutrition support through vegetable seed
kits and interventions to support HIV/AIDS affected households. Save the
Children has also engaged in livestock support, the rehabilitation of dip
tanks, and provision of conservation farming tools for adults and
In 2003/4 Save the Children increased its focus on vegetable
seeds due to their severe shortage and exorbitant prices. Recognising the
limitations of agricultural production in Binga and Nyaminyami, Save the
Children has become involved in the area of livestock replenishment. We have
developed a pilot 'goat for maize' exchange for 200 households, in order to
address the livestock imbalance in Binga. Furthermore, we aim to improve the
quality of the goats in this area through importing stock and cross
Since 2003 there has been a significant expansion of Save the
Children's water and sanitation activities, including the repair and
rehabilitation of 557 pumps and water points, flushing 135 existing boreholes
and drilling an additional 16, well deepening and training for the community
based management of water points. In 2004, Save the Children will be
increasing its focus on training and motivating communities to manage their
own water facilities. With regard to sanitation, Save the Children has
carried out an inventory of all community facilities in both districts, which
confirmed continuing needs. Additional latrines are being constructed in
schools and health and village community based workers are undertaking
training in health and hygiene education.
Save the Children's HIV/AIDS
programme provides education to young people, supports home-based care and
offers livelihoods support to HIV/AIDS affected households. Specific
activities undertaken so far include: ? workshops for communities and
education officers; ? training of in-school and out of school youth to become
peer educators; ? establishing five youth friendly centres where counselling,
recreation and limited clinical services are available; ? training 70
community level home based care providers and supplying them with kits; ?
undertaking a pilot initiative to assist HIV/AIDS affected households who
lack draught power. 20 donkeys were purchased locally and distributed with
ploughs and harnesses to ten groups of households; ? carrying out an
assessment of HIV/AIDS-related problems, in particular those of people living
with HIV/AIDS and children made orphans as a result of AIDS. The results of
the assessment will be used to strengthen Save the Children's programme of
work and we aim to work closely with the District AIDS Action Committee on
this in 2004.
FOOD AID: WFP PREPARES FOR THE WORST Sat 24 July
HARARE - The World Food Programme (WFP) has asked the
Zambian government to put aside a reserve of 100 000 tonnes of maize to be
bought by the WFP for Zimbabwe if need be.
Zim Online has
established that despite repeated claims by President Robert Mugabe and his
government that their country had a bumper harvest, the WFP has resolved to
proceed with efforts to provide aid to assist Zimbabweans who will face
The United Nations recently said that 2,5 million
Zimbabweans will require food aid. An WFP agent last week held talks with
Zambia's Ministry of Agriculture requesting the reserve. Zambian agriculture
minister, Mundia Sikatana confirmed to Zim Online that WFP officals had asked
Lusaka to reserve some of its surplus maize for Zimbabwe and three other
Southern African countries, Angola, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of
"We met an WFP official last week who requested that we
consider reserving 100 000 tonnes of maize for our neighbours in Zimbabwe. We
are still considering the request and will give a position to the WFP,'
Sikatana said.. The WFP office in Harare said in response to Zim Online
enquiries that it would release a statement soon on the situation in Zimbabwe
in regard to humanitarian assistance and its plans in view of
government's claims that there was enough food.
WFP's Southern Africa regional public affairs officer, recently said the WFP
was currently providing food aid to 700 000 Zimbabweans in both rural and
urban areas through a targeted assistance programme.
independent bodies including the Southern African Crop Assessment Programme
and the locally based Zimconsult indicate that Zimbabwe will require food aid
to see the country through to the next harvest beginning around March next
Mugabe maintains the country has more than enough food and
has repeatedly told food relief agencies to take their aid elsewhere.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accuses Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU PF party of wanting donors out of Zimbabwe so they
can monopolise food aid distribution for political gain. ZANU PF, which in
the past has been accused of using food to buy political support,
denies the charge. Zim Online
MARONDERA/MASHONALAND EAST PROVINCE - Scores of bogus war veterans have
appeared before the courts in Marondera (65 km south-east of Harare) and more
are expected to do so for defrauding the government of millions of
Zimbabwe dollars in gratuities, pensions and other benefits.
Investigations by Zim Online have revealed that some of the fake former
liberation fighters are members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other
government departments. Police officer commanding Marondera urban, Norman
Mpofu, Inspector Lucia Mafume, and former Mashonaland East provincial
chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
(ZNLWVA), Jelous Kochi are allegedly linked to the scam.
alleged beneficiary, Douglas Chitekuteku, together with three other bogus war
veterans, is currently appearing in the High Court on charges of abducting
and murdering a white farmer, David Stevens, in 2000.
denied the allegation: "I have heard about those reports in newspapers but
I'm not one of them (bogus war veterans.) Why don't you get in touch with the
association (ZNLWVA) for your enquiry."
Mafume and Chitekuteku
could not be reached for comment on the matter. ZNLWA national chairman
Jabulani Sibanda told Zim Online that his association was re-vetting war
veterans across the country and that several bogus ex-combatants had been
discovered. "I am aware of what is happening. Once anyone is found to have
cheated they will be prosecuted. If they are guilty, the pension will
be stopped immediately," Sibanda said.
President Robert Mugabe,
giving in to pressure from late war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, in 1997
awarded hefty gratuity payments, pensions and other benefits to about 50 000
veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war. The unbudgeted payments
totalling about five billion Zimbabwe dollars led to the collapse of the
currency in November 1997.
A screening exercise carried out at the
time weeded out hundreds of bogus claims. But hundreds of other undeserving
claimants slipped through the net and are said to be still receiving
pensions and other benefits such as free education and medical care for
themselves and their families.
According to Sibanda his
organisation has found that some genuine former liberation fighters were
barred from accessing the benefits while some former soldiers of the white
supremacist Ian Smith regime were getting the pensions. Zim Online
'These elections, I really wish we never held them!' - More
violence feared before March 2005 poll - Sat 24 July 2004
TSONZO/MANICALAND - Sixty-year old Mavis Mashingaidze sheds a tear every time
she looks at the remains of what used to be the pride of her homestead..
Although it was only a four roomed house, she was proud of it as she
could comfortably accommodate all her six grandchildren.
But that was before mobs of suspected ruling ZANU PF militants burnt and
destroyed the house here in Tsonzo village in Chief Mutasa's area, more than
300 km east of Harare. The house was burnt down during the run up to the 2002
presidential election to punish Mashingaidze for allegedly supporting the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Today, three years
down the line, news that yet another election is around the corner, or eight
months away to be exact, makes Mashingaidze, a widow who lives alone here
with her grandchildren, tremble with fear.
Mashingaidze says her
husband Trainos was killed during Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war by soldiers
of Ian Smith, the ruler of the renegade British colony of Rhodesia before it
became independent Zimbabwe in 1980. Her only child, Joseph, who was an MDC
activist, died of AIDS in 2000 and his widow followed a year
'They burnt my house. I was harassed and denied food. Now I
have been working hard to rebuild my house but it has not been easy," a
tearful Mashingaidze told Zim Online."But my worry now is that with the
elections approaching they (ZANU PF supporters) will come for me again soon.
These elections, I really wish we never held them!"
country braces for yet another election, thousands of Zimbabweans,
particularly those suspected of supporting the opposition, are still counting
the losses they suffered during the previous polls. 'I lost everything I had.
The youths came and looted my belongings. My sewing machine, my plough,
everything. And then they burnt my house,' recalls Mashingaidze.
Her crime: she had not been attending ZANU PF meetings held in her village.
The fact that her late son was a well known activist of the MDC made the
Ocase' against her even worse. Old age did not save her. Most victims of
political violence like Mashingaidze have failed to shake off the 'MDC
sellout' tag stuck on them since the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 general
elections. Now they fear the worst.
Mashingaidze said: 'A lot of
ZANU PF supporters in this area, including my neighbours, still view me with
suspicion. I don't know what they will do to me now. They took my livelihood.
I am afraid they might come for my life this time around. But I fear for my
grandchildren more than anything else.'
With the potentially
historical 2005 parliamentary election beckoning, both ZANU PF and the MDC
have stepped up their campaigning for the ballot. In an address to youths of
his ZANU PF party in Harare this week President Robert Mugabe ordered them to
'vigorously campaign for the party' warning that he would hold them
responsible if the party lost the election.
but still a harmless statement of encouragement from a leader to his
followers, some might say. But to many political observers Mugabe's call on
the youths, most of whom have in the past been accused of spearheading
political violence, could mean a rise in political violence against
Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Gabriel
Shumba, who fled the country last year after being tortured by government
agents, said: "That kind of talk from Mugabe points to one thing and that is
violence. We should brace for a lot of it. Sadly a lot of people have not
recovered from the effects (of political violence) in 2000 and 2002 and we
can't afford any more deaths, injuries and displacements (of
Thousands of people in rural and farming areas were
displaced during the 2000 and 2002 election campaigns while non-govermental
organisations say close to 1000 people have died from politically-motivated
violence since 2000.
While in some cases supporters of the MDC
have been accused of committing acts of violence, local and foreign political
analysts and election observers blame ZANU PF for routinely using violence to
maintain its stranglehold on power.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights director Arnold Tsunga said: "Political violence has gone on from 2000
and Zimbabwe has not known peace since. People can't be integrated into
normal life when such things continue happening. Until the government ensures
that there is tolerance towards opposition supporters, it's unlikely that we
will witness peace in this country in the foreseeable
Mavis Mashingaidze continues to live in fear. Zim
BULAWAYO - Steam locomotives are usually synonymous with a bygone era of
glory and journeying in style. But a far less glamorous development
may resurrect the rattling of these iron engines on tracks across
Fast-depleting coffers have forced the National Railways
of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to seriously examine reintroducing steam engines, making
the country one of the world's last bastions to still rely on this
century-old technology. Assistance from the Chinese government may make it
possible to turn coal-fired engines into the locomotive of choice for the
A delegation visited Bulawayo in mid-July to tour railway
facilities. When questioned, Minister of Transport and Communications Chris
Mushowe confirmed government was looking east for technical partnerships in
both the railway and aviation sectors. Air Zimbabwe, the ailing
national airline, has already announced it will either lease, or buy, a
long-haul passenger aircraft from China.
If ever the NRZ needed
a lifeline it's now. Reports of accidents have increased, rail has lost
traffic to road transporters, and passenger trains are running late, if at
all. Additionally, Mushowe acknowledged that NRZ is deeply in the red. Its
salary bill has ballooned to 120 percent of its revenue base.
Privatisation is not an option. Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals
Rugare Gumbo has labelled public corporations, like NRZ, the country's 'last
line of defence' against loss of sovereignty. The parastatal's turn-around
plan, reportedly recommending an overhaul of infrastructure, will be
presented to government at the end of July. Judging by the date of the
Chinese delegation's visit, their interest in Zimbabwean rail seems most
The NRZ also needs wagons and locomotives, which it used
to hire, at great cost, from neighboring countries like South Africa. This,
however, is no longer done as government lacks the funds. Nor does it have
friends who can provide long term support.
But China is an
exception. Ranked among one of Harare's few remaining international allies,
the waking tiger uses and manufactures both steam and diesel locomotives,
some of which could end up at the NRZ.
"They say the Chinese are
giving us engines; we don't know if it'll be diesel or steam," said a source
at NRZ, who spoke on condition of anonymity..
But Robin Doust,
who chairs the Friends of the Bulawayo Railway Museum, says if the concern is
the bottom line then it would be 'much cheaper to repair the steam engines we
have, but aren't operating.' Currently, the NRZ uses about 12 steam engines
Four months ago the engines also began pulling
commuter trains, introduced in Bulawayo and Harare in 2001. NRZ has a total
number of 50 engines, in various stages of disrepair. Doust also warns
against importing sub-standard engines and components from China. "Their
steam engines have a good reputation,' he says, 'but their diesel locomotives
Zimbabwe, he says, has the expertise and labour to
refurbish its own engines. Two weeks ago a pair of steam engines, belonging
to Portland Cement, was re-built at the railway workshops. They are about to
be shipped to an operator in New Zealand.
five of the NRZ's engines are undergoing major refurbishment. One of them is
earmarked for the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls line that is among a few remaining
routes equipped to handle steam engines. Since their debut in Bulawayo in
1896 steam engines have twice defied decommissioning, keeping rail traffic on
course despite difficult - yet similar - odds.
In the late
seventies, for example, war and sanctions made it prudent for oil-importing
Rhodesia to reverse a planned dieselisation programme. The decision was all
the more cost-effective given the availability of high-grade coal, skilled
artisans and a fleet of well-kept steam locomotives.
engines ran until the eighties when NRZ - following the advice of Canadian
consultants - replaced most with diesel engines that had been bought with
World Bank loans.
In an uncanny resemblance to those
pre-independence circumstances, NRZ re-introduced steam engines in March this
year, when fuel supplies were erratic and diesel locomotives scarce. Some
steam engines were borrowed from the museum.
The iron giants are
also the reason the country can lay claim to something akin to a world
record. The yard in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city, is
considered the last great steam shed outside China. Adds Doust: 'Zimbabwe is
the last place in the world where steam engines are used to pull commuter
Some representatives of the local tourism sector welcome
the return of more steam engines, saying they hope it may attract
international steam enthusiasts to the city. But that's still a way off,
warns Doust, as the locomotives have only been re-introduced on a 'localised
scale' thus far. 'We are only looking at four trains a day and they run at
difficult times; early in the morning and late in the evening, when it's
difficult to take photographs of them,' he says. The few trains currently
operating are therefore not as attractive to tourists as the
re-appearance of steam on main lines would be. That is something steam
enthusiasts - and accountants at the NRZ - are equally eager to see. Zim
HIV/Aids: Zimbabwe's 'Exclusion' From Global Fund
Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
2004 Posted to the web July 23, 2004
The decision to "exclude" Zimbabwe from benefiting
from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has raised a number of
ethical questions. Campaigners are asking whether need and desire to prolong
people's lives should prevail over politics and controversies surrounding the
legitimacy of President Robert Mugabe's government.
Zimbabwe is at the
epicentre of the epidemic, coming third on the ladder of countries with the
highest infection levels. One in four Zimbabweans is infected with HIV. Life
expectancy has been reduced to 35 and the orphan population now stands at
around one million.
In an interview with IPS at the just ended 15th
International AIDS Conference in the Thai capital Bangkok, Global Fund to
fight AIDS, TB and Malaria executive director, Richard Feacham, said Zimbabwe
would not benefit from the fund.
"Yes, the politics of a nation plays
a role when we determine that country's application," he said. "There are a
broad set of challenges in Zimbabwe that we considered - in coming up with an
agreement to reject their proposal. How and to whom do we disburse the funds?
What exchange rate regime will we use?"
"It does not help the people
of Zimbabwe to pass money through channels which are not well worked out,"
However, the fund's director of operational partnerships
and country support, Elhadl Sy contradicted Feacham. "I am surprised that
politics comes into play. To my knowledge the assessment is purely on the
technical merits of the application," he told IPS.
proposal had inputs from an expert from the Fund, had applied for 516 million
dollars, the bulk of which was to support an anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs)
roll out. Out of the 1,820,000 Zimbabweans infected with HIV, 5,000, or less
than one percent of the infected population, are on treatment
Judith Kaulem, coordinator of the Poverty Reduction Forum in
Zimbabwe, said: "Anti-retroviral support in Zimbabwe is not a luxury to keep
infected people alive but rather a medium through which we curtail poverty by
keeping the breadwinners earning income for the upkeep of their extended
families. A breadwinner is the social security for an entire
"When you withhold the much needed treatment you are not just
depriving the people living with AIDS, but are essentially depriving an
entire clan of their source of sustenance," she said.
Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Welfare said he had
always suspected that politics was a factor whenever the fund
discussed Zimbabwe. "The Fund approved our first round application in 2002
and to this day we have not received that money. They keep shifting the goal
posts," he told IPS.
By not including Zimbabwe in the initiative,
Parirenyatwa feels the Global Fund is depriving the world from benefiting
from Zimbabwean experiences.
Parirenyatwa claimed Zimbabwe was among the
countries with the best coordinating mechanism (CCM), a key requirement by
the Fund that encourages co-operation between civil society, private sector
and the government. Zimbabwe through a private company, Varichem, is
manufacturing ARVs but this is not enough.
Kate Mhambi, director of
the Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN), the umbrella body of AIDS organisations,
said her agency was collaborating with government, particularly during the
write-up of the forth-round bid.
"ZAN has been collaborating with
government and to us the CCM is just a continuation of that," she told
While the Global Fund has a provision for civil society to make
applications independent of their governments, the organisations need to
prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were excluded from the countries with
the best coordinating mechanism (CCM).
"For this reason we cannot go
behind the government and make independent applications. Besides, to operate
in Zimbabwe as an NGO or charity organisation, we need to register and we
cannot afford to antagonise the government because they will simply
deregister us," said coordinator of a home-based care project who requested
anonymity. "It's a catch 22 situation that we find ourselves
Humanitarian aid is not often withheld because of governance issues.
It could be channeled through non-governmental organisations or other
"It's an extraordinary step to withhold humanitarian
support because while suspension of aid to rogue regimes justifies itself
politically, withholding humanitarian support raises a lot of moral
questions," said chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Brian
Leonard Okello, HIV and AIDS director for Action Aid
International, said the Bangkok meeting confirmed that the war against AIDS
is one which can be won if the commitments and passion of millions of people
working in this sector were translated into action.
challenge now is to go beyond the politics in order to fight HIV and AIDS and
swing into real action of making resources available to all including our
political enemies. At the end of the day we are punishing the citizens of
these countries who continue to die unnecessarily of HIV and AIDS," he
Mandi Mawodzwa-Taruvinga of the Southern African AIDS Trust - that
supports community-based organisations and NGOs to build community competence
in responding to HIV/AIDS said it was a tragedy of major proportions
when humanitarian groups turn their backs on millions of people because
"I can understand it when (U.S. President George W.) Bush
decides not to support Zimbabwe because I associate him with politics. It
boggles the mind when initiatives like the Global Fund drag politics into the
arena at the expense of millions of people far divorced from politics," she
She urged Global Fund to rise above politics and show leadership
by providing resources to those who need them.
"The behaviour being
displayed by the Global Fund raises questions of leadership and
accountability. We cannot but ask to whom the fund is accountable. Is it
accountable to the major donors or to the millions of men, women and children
who are infected and affected but who have no influence over the political
direction in their country?" asked Mawodzwa-Taruvinga.
She warns that
the challenges of the epidemic cannot be localised because of the
cross-border impact. "The tragedy is not a Zimbabwean tragedy but a global
tragedy," Mawodzwa-Taruvinga said.
Zimbabwe, which has contributed one
million dollars to the Global Fund, is not among the 14 African countries
meant to benefit from Bush's 15 billion-dollar project to fight
In its latest editorial, Zimbabwe's weekly 'Standard' newspaper,
which is critical of the government, said the world cannot hope to make a
difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS if some of the countries were
denied access to the global resources because of "misdemeanors" of their
"It is in this context that we call on the
international community to make a clear distinction between the political
leadership of a country and the population of a country. People cannot be
made to suffer for the sins of their leadership. By all means, punish the
leaders but spare the citizens," it said.
Lynette Mudekunye, of Save
the Children UK-chapter in South Africa, said isolating Zimbabwe was a sure
recipe of undoing all the work on AIDS being done in the sub-region and
beyond. "You cannot deal with a public health issue by isolating the
epicentre of the epidemic. We might as well close shop," she
Kagoro said the notion that people deprived of ARVs would revolt
against their regimes was simplistic. "This discounts issues of food
insecurity, job scarcity and other ills. Somebody who is famished cannot be
expected to focus on redressing the governance crisis," he argued.
What snub to Mugabe, asks UK July 23 2004 at
Harare - Britain denied on Friday that its outgoing
ambassador snubbed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe by slipping quietly out
of the country and failing to observe diplomatic protocol with a farewell
Sir Brian Donnelly left Harare on Sunday after completing a
three-year assignment in Harare dominated by diplomatic spats. Zimbabwe
officials had claimed Donnelly was campaigning for Mugabe's ouster and led
covert British operations against the government.
Blackburne, Donnelly's deputy at the British embassy, said British officials
told Zimbabwe's foreign ministry of the ambassador's planned departure weeks
in advance, asking for "the usual courtesies" to be observed.
"The usual courtesies would normally include a valedictory call on the head
of state. We received no response," she said.
'Do not give up
hope' She also denied reports in the state-owned Herald newspaper
that Donnelly recently travelled to Australia to co-ordinate support for
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and raise funds to
bankroll opposition campaigning for parliamentary polls next
The Herald also alleged Donnelly instructed opposition
lawmakers to boycott a reception on Monday hosted by Mugabe of the eve of his
ceremonial opening of parliament.
Blackburne said Donnelly
neither visited Australia during his three-year assignment in Zimbabwe nor
held discussions with opposition lawmakers about Monday's party at Mugabe's
Opposition lawmakers have routinely boycotted Mugabe's
lavish cocktail parties, accusing him of leading the nation into economic
ruin and deepening poverty.
The Herald's cartoonist showed
Donnelly being hidden in a wooden crate bound for London marked "diplomatic
'The tide of democracy will prevail' The
paper said Donnelly left Harare a bitter and disillusioned man after failing
to "do a Milosevic" on Mugabe and bring about "regime change" in Zimbabwe,
referring to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic toppled in 2000 by a
pro-Western coalition and now facing charges of genocide and war crimes at a
United Nations tribunal.
Donnelly came to Zimbabwe from the former
In a farewell speech at one of several high-profile
diplomatic functions before his departure, Donnelly irked the government by
saying the former Yugoslav dictator did not fall until he tried "to steal one
election too many, and Yugoslavs themselves decided they had had
"To all Zimbabweans who want to see political tolerance
and economic growth restored in this country, I would simply say: do not give
up hope. The tide of democracy will prevail," Donnelly said.
Britain, the former colonial power, the United States and
independent election monitors said Zimbabwe's 2000 parliament elections and a
2002 presidential poll narrowly won by Mugabe had been swayed by vote rigging
as well as political violence and intimidation blamed mainly on ruling
Mugabe has vowed to allow only African
observers to monitor next year's parliamentary poll.
Dell, designated as the next US ambassador, has already become the frequent
target of attacks in the state media more than a month before his scheduled
arrival in Harare.
Dell told the US Senate Foreign Relations
Committee last month he wanted to see Zimbabwe re-emerge "as a country with a
legitimate, democratically led government that respects the rule of law and
Dell was evidently out to smear Zimbabwe with his
"repugnant sentiments" and work for a change in government, a Herald
columnist wrote Wednesday.
"Zimbabweans should never let him
succeed where his predecessor and British cousin have failed," the columnist
wrote. - Sapa-AP
Foreign Currency Shortage Hits Zimbabwe's Central Bank Peta
Thornycroft Harare 23 Jul 2004, 15:45 UTC
Black market currency
trading, which disappeared in January, has reappeared with a vengeance. The
U.S. dollar is selling more than 30 percent higher than at legal auctions at
the Central Bank. The shortage of foreign currency for the private sector is
now at an all time high. The U.S. dollar was selling for 5,355 Zimbabwe
dollars at the Central Bank auctions on Thursday. On the street Friday among
informal traders, the rate was 7,000 Zimbabwe dollars.
the sudden reappearance of what is called the parallel market is shown by the
ever-rising demand for foreign currency.
Central bank statistics
published Thursday show it only had $9.5 million U.S. for sale, while, at the
same time, it recorded a demand of nearly $38 million U.S. Every week since
shortly after foreign currency auctions began in January, the gap has
widened, with supply falling farther and farther behind demand.
Central Bank presently only allows bids in the range of about $5,300 Zimbabwe
dollars to $1 U.S., even though the system is called an auction. The number
of bids it rejects has also been on the increase each week.
One of the
changes introduced by a reformed central bank in January was to allow
Zimbabweans living abroad to exchange foreign currency sent home to families
at the best rate through official channels.
The central bank went to the
United States, Britain and South Africa to persuade millions of Zimbabweans
in the diaspora to send their money home through official
Several economists say that the return of the parallel market
will see Zimbabweans working in hard currency countries, reconsidering
decisions on whether to send money home to support their
They are not the only ones looking at the official channels
with alarm. Many in the private sector say they will be forced to take the
risk and return to the parallel market to source raw materials, because their
bids are regularly turned down at the auctions.
The government says
Zimbabwe is experiencing an economic revival, but many economists say the
optimism should be tempered by the reality on the ground, where food prices
are rising sharply and the private sector continues to contract.
Zimbabwe Mulls Law to Ban Foreign Rights Groups Fri Jul 23,
2004 01:08 PM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is mulling a law to bar
foreign human rights groups and block foreign funding for local bodies
working in political governance-related issues, including human rights,
according to a draft seen by Reuters on Friday. One aid worker said this
would close many rights groups.
President Robert Mugabe, who accuses some
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of working with Western countries to
undermine his government, said this week Zimbabwe planned a law to "ensure
rationalization of the macro-management of all NGOs."
"We cannot allow
them to be conduits or instruments of foreign interference in our national
affairs," he said.
The bill has not been officially published, but the
draft said all NGOs would have to register with a state council and no
foreign organization could operate "if its sole or principal objects involve
or include issues of governance."
It defined these as "the promotion
and protection of human rights and political governance issues."
local government organization shall receive any foreign funding or donation
to carry out activities involving or including issues of governance," the
An official with a leading NGO who declined to be identified
said the bill in its current form was likely to see the closure of many
rights groups in the same way media laws enacted in 2002 had led to some
publishing houses being forced to shut down.
"It would be impossible
for any organization to operate without foreign funding," he told
The bill can be amended before initial publication and would
need to be approved by parliament, in which Mugabe's ZANU-PF party enjoys a
comfortable majority, before passing into law.
Mugabe, in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, accuses Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler
of leading a Western campaign to oust him over his government's seizure of
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless bla cks.
the land seizures are responsible for food shortages which have plagued the
country since 2001, and says some foreign aid agencies have used what he
calls a drought-induced crisis to push a political agenda under the guise of
7/23/04 - FOOD FOR ZIMBABWE The following is an editorial
reflecting the views of the United States Government:
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, says he expects his country will produce more
than enough food to feed Zimbabweans this year, with enough left over for
export. Mr. Mugabe is lying -- and Zimbabweans will suffer
the consequences. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says
that despite Mr. Mugabe 's claims of a bumper crop, the United Nations and
others say that Zimbabwe faces "severe food shortages":
government has a crop estimate of two-million-four-hundred-thousand metric
tons of corn. That's a great difference from the U-N Food and Agricultural
Organization's estimate of nine-hundred-fifty-thousand metric tons of
For the past four years, food assistance has been given to the
people of Zimbabwe. But now, non-governmental organizations that distributed
food are being forced to close their doors. Mr. Boucher says the Mugabe
government is "trying to curtail donor activity and engagement in
"We've been deeply concerned the Mugabe government is using
its monopoly on food distribution to manipulate food availability for
political ends and that there needs to be another track of food distribution
available to people.... [In] April of this year, five-million Zimbabweans
needed food assistance. We're concerned that another similar number might
need food assistance in the coming months."
It hasn't always been this
way in Zimbabwe. Up until four years ago, Zimbabwe was a food exporter. But
the Mugabe government began a campaign of land expropriation aimed at white
farmers that destroyed Zimbabwe's agricultural production. What Mugabe has
done is destroy Zimbabwe's economy and leave hundreds of thousands of black
Zimbabweans homeless and unemployed. Moreover, those who benefited from the
massive land grab were senior officials in the ruling ZANU - P-F party,
military officers, and their wives and friends.
Since then, the U.S.
has been the leading provider of food assistance to Zimbabwe. State
Department spokesman Boucher says the U.S. will "continue to try to establish
proper mechanisms for distribution of food to the people who need it, despite
the government's efforts to manipulate and to hamper those efforts."
[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 23 Jul 2004 (IRIN) -
Child rights campaigners are looking to amend current Zimbabwean legislation
to make birth registration easier, as nearly a third of all children do not
possess a birth certificate, restricting their access to public
Zimbabwe has ratified the Convention of the African Child,
which emphases a child's right to a name and nationality, and makes
registration immediately after birth compulsory. But neither the Zimbabwean
constitution nor the Births and Deaths Registration (BDR) Act expressly state
that a child has the right to be registered.
An estimated 50 percent
of Zimbabwean orphans and 95 percent of children living in institutions do
not have birth certificates. Without proof of identity, rights activists say,
children find it hard to access health and education services, and are prone
to child labour, sexual abuse and early marriage.
The Child Protection
Society (CPS) wants to reduce the number of unregistered children from the
current 30 percent to five percent of total births by the end of 2005. They
are pushing for amendments to the BDR Act, arguing that the legislation
currently makes for an over-centralised registration system, with overly
stringent requirements causing vulnerable children to remain
"We were working on the assumption of 30 percent
unregistered children, but this figure may be even higher because of the
continuing AIDS crisis and the impact of the land redistribution programme,
which displaced many children," CPS advocacy manager, Busi Bhebhe, told
Following a number of consultative workshops with interested
parties in 2003, the CPS presented the Ministry of Home Affairs with a series
of proposed amendments to the act. The ministry "was taking the
proposals seriously", said Bhebhe, and had promised to facilitate a meeting
with the CPS and the Office of the Registrar General before presenting the
proposals to parliament.
Among the reforms urged by the CPS is
automatic registration at birth. Currently, the mother receives a birth
record for later registration of her child, but the card is issued only if
she produces her identity card and her maternity fees are fully paid
"Collection of maternity fees for the health ministry is a separate
issue, and should not be allowed to interfere with the home ministry's
mandate of facilitating birth registration," said Bhebhe.
The CPS has
proposed a special arrangement allowing children aged over 15 to facilitate
their own registration "so that in the future, there will be fewer adults
without identity cards and fewer mums unable to register their children
immediately after birth," noted Bhebhe.
Under the BDR act, children "born
out of wedlock" are registered in the mother's name, unless the father is
physically present at registration and has agreed to the inclusion of his
name on the birth certificate. Included in the definititon of children born
out of wedlock are those from unregistered customary law marriages, where
lobola or bride price was paid for the mother but there is no documentation
to prove it.
According to Bhebhe, 80 percent of Zimbabweans are married
this way, and many of their children remain unregistered because the
provision makes for paternity wrangles. Rural women, in particular, are not
keen to register children under their own names as, culturally, the children
belong to the father.
President Robert Mugabe, in a speech opening
parliament last week, said the harmonisation of marriage laws - putting
customary union on a par with other legally recognised marriages - would be
one of the priorities of his government. In the interim, however, the CPS has
proposed that the BDR Act be amended to allow maintenance orders to be used
as proof of paternity, and for fathers to be allowed to register their
children born "out of wedlock".