The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Zim Online

Sat 31 July 2004

      JOHANNESBURG ­ A parliamentarian of the Zimbabwe opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), Roy Bennett, is facing a one year  jail
sentence, following a recommendation by the parliamentary privileges

      On 19 May the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister,
Patrick Chinamasa, during a heated debate called Bennett's forefathers
"thieves and murderers'.  An irate Bennett pushed Chinamasa to the floor.
ZANU PF minister Didymus Mutasa then kicked Bennett, and another minister,
Kembo Mohadi, tried to intervene but Bennett pushed him away. He went for
Mutasa and sent the minister tumbling to the floor.

      Sources close to the proceedings told ZimOnline from Harare that the
committee headed by a ZANU PF Kadoma lawyer and Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mangwana has completed its job and "will
report to parliament any time."

      Under Zimbabwean law, it is an offence for members of the committee or
journalists to reveal findings of a committee before it reports to
parliament. There was no consensus on the recommendation to send Bennett to
jail and the matter was put to the vote, resulting in the 4 ZANU PF
committee members beating their 2 MDC counterparts.

      The sources could not say what recommendations were made with regard
to Mutasa and Chinamasa who were also involved in the kicking and shoving in
the house.

      If Bennett is sent to prison for a year he will automatically have to
leave parliament. Under Zimbabwe's laws parliamentarians lose their seats if
they are sentenced to imprisonment of six months or more. He has the right
to appeal in a court of law.

      During the controversial land reform process, Bennett's farm was
confiscated by the government despite six court orders against the
acquisition. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

   Internet too big for Zimbabwe to control?
      Sat 31 July 2004

            JOHANNESBURG ­ Chinese censors have significantly stepped up
their efforts to control the internet ­ but web users increasingly find ways
to circumvent the Great Fire Wall Beijing security agencies are trying to

            Against the backdrop of plans by the Zimbabwe government to buy
state of the art technology from China to bug cyberspace, as reported by
ZimOnline on Friday, ZimOnline searched the internet for information on how
they do it in the Far East.

            Reports from the Chinese capital claim that the internet police
force ­ known as the Big Mamas ­ numbers up to 40,000. Such a large
contingent of staff is obviously needed to block e-mails, search for
keywords and filter out thousands of web pages considered a threat to
China's security. And the capital costs are immense: experts estimate that
new surveillance equipment
            installed in 2002 was worth US$ 200 million.

            The Big Mamas concentrate on blocking access to foreign human
rights and dissident sites. Reports from China say that the operation is run
by the Ministry of State Security very much to the embarrassment of the
Foreign Ministry that denies its existence.

            A first line of defence against the gagging was the installation
of proxy servers that allow users to bypass firewalls erected by censors
around 'dangerous' websites. These did not work: it takes just thirty
minutes to discover such a proxy server and block it.

            But for two years now there has been new software on the market
which could spoil the game for the censors. It is called 'Roaming without
Borders', can easily be downloaded, and allows users to surf freely. The
software is said to be getting better continuously and make it impossible
for the authorities to trace the provider.

            In some cases public outrage forced the censors to open up a
site again. When they shut down the Chinese version of the search engine
'Google' in 2002, business people, scientists, researchers and students
complained furiously. After only one week, the censors gave in and allowed
unhindered access to the site again.

            Cyber activists are optimistic they will win their fight against
the censors, quoting Chairman Mao: 'The course of the battle is determined
not by machines but people'.  In view of the Zimbabwe authorities' plans,
experts argue that the internet could prove just too big for them to
control.  ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Harare blocks aid for internal refugees
Sat 31 July 2004

      HARARE ­ The Zimbabwe government is blocking humanitarian aid to farm
workers evicted from farms during its controversial land reform process,
Refugees International (RI) said in a report.

      Washington-based RI said investigations by the organisation had
revealed that the government had barred several Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) from providing health and food aid to these displaced
people, resulting in
      the worsening of a hidden but severe humanitarian crisis

      Most of the former farm labourers, some of Malawian and Mozambiquan
origin, were leading destitute lives after being displaced from their former
working places, the report noted.

      Former workers still staying at occupied farms were threatened with
eviction by new settlers if they accepted humanitarian aid from donor
organisations, the report added. The RI report followed a visit to Zimbabwe
by two RI advocates, Sarah Martin
      and Andrea Lari, who interviewed former farm workers and donor
organisations involved in assisting them.

      The minister of public service, labour and social welfare said the
report was false. Paul Mangwana said most farm labourers had found
employment with new farmers, adding that the country was in fact facing an
acute labour shortage in the farming areas.

      'It is an unfair report that is devoid of truth. We have had a good
season and there is no single former farm worker who is in need of
humanitarian assistance. Actually my ministry has been flooded with calls
from farmers who are seeking labourers. This means everyone has been
absorbed into the new farming system,' Mangwana said yesterday.

      Before the land reform about 1 million people earned their living on
farms, representing 30 percent of the country's active working force. But 80
percent of these lost their jobs following mass land seizures from white
farmers for distribution to the majority black population.

      The RI report noted that efforts by donor organisations to provide
relief to former farm workers were being frustrated by government red tape.
'The Government of Zimbabwe, both at national and local levels, is setting
barriers to access for humanitarian agencies. By progressively reducing the
operational space of humanitarian agencies, the government is preventing
      assistance from reaching those who need it.'

      'The government has begun instituting new administrative requirements
such as signing new memorandums of understanding that restrict access,
demanding two weeks advance notice for field visits, and requesting personal
details on staff. Many operational agencies are treated with suspicion by
the government and their access is blocked.'

      NGOs in Zimbabwe told RI in confidential interviews that the
government was deliberately blocking assistance to former farm workers.
'Some NGOs claim that they are targeted for harassment (by the government)
because their work with displaced populations threatens to show that the
land reform program has been unsuccessful in addressing inequity in land
ownership. The crisis has a political dimension as well, as the ruling
party, ZANU PF, has targeted the farm workers as a potential political base
for the opposition.' ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Thriving business in fake Botswana passports for Zimbabweans
Sat 31 July 2004

      RAMOKGWEBANA BORDER POST / BOTSWANA - An immigration officer takes a
long look at the faded passport, tracing its worn edges with one finger.

      Then he looks up at the woman before him, searching her face. She
shuffles uneasily, heavy luggage strapped to her back. The official's gaze
returns to the document one last time before he stamps it and nods, granting
the weary traveller the right to cross into Botswana. As she walks away her
step is noticeably faster, and lighter, than when she first approached the

      Grace (not her real name) is one of many Zimbabweans who buy Botswana
passports in an attempt to escape what she calls harassment by immigration
officials and other law enforcers. 'What drove me to buy the Botswana
passport is the amount of suspicion, and problems, associated with the
Zimbabwean document. The moment someone sees you have a Zimbabwean passport
they assume, or suspect, you are in Botswana for all the wrong reasons,'
explains Grace.

      'To escape torture', she had no alternative but to buy a Botswana
passport for half a million Zimbabwe dollars, or P500 (two-and-a-half times
the average monthly income in Zimbabwe). She says the price - while
excessive, by Zimbabwe standards - is worth every cent because it guarantees
her peace of mind.

      She's been living in the country, illegally, for three years and has
become conversant in the local language, SeTswana. That, in turn, makes it
difficult for officials to detect she is a foreigner.

      Yet there's no denying that her being the bearer of the correct
(albeit false) documentation helps. 'At the border post you do not have to
bother about long queues,' smiles Grace, adding 'Botswana citizens to not
have to queue.'

      Some locals say Botswana's economic prosperity and political stability
has an unforeseen cost: it is attracting thousands of Zimbabwean  - and
other - refugees, who are fleeing either political or economic hardship in
their homelands.

      Grace says locals are equally to blame. She maintains Batswana sell
their own passports to a syndicate, which reportedly operates from outside
the Gaborone offices of the Department of Immigration.

      Citizens sell their passports for as little as P100 (ZIM $150,000) to
a network of underground buyers, most of whom are either locals or South
Africans. Previous owners then report to officials, claiming their passports
have been 'lost'.

      The travel documents are then smuggled into South Africa, where
changes - including the addition of a photograph, portraying the new
earer  - are made. Botswana citizen Michael Mogomotsi (not his real name)
acknowledges he is aware of the syndicate, adding there is a 'thriving
market', as he puts it, for the Botswana passport.

      He told ZimOnline South Africa has the sophisticated technology needed
to swap snapshots and replace the plastic seal which incorporates security
features like the Botswana coat of arms. 'When the passports are brought
back to Botswana it's difficult to spot the changes.'

      Members of the syndicate prefer older passports. 'This', says
Mogomotsi, 'is because it is easier for immigration officials to detect
changes on new documents'.

      Grace admits to assisting fellow countrymen and -women in obtaining
Botswana passports. But it is not only Zimbabweans who want the document.
Grace says she knows Zambians, for example, who are also loyal customers of
the syndicate.

      One of the reasons for the Botswana passport's popularity is the fact
that its bearers do not require a visa when travelling to most countries
      'Soon the passports will be smuggled to Zimbabwe too, to be sold to
those intending to visit either Britain or America,' says Farai Chiroza, a
Zimbabwean citizen. He predicts the situation will remain unchanged, if not
worsen, unless the economic and political conditions in his birthplace
improve. In short, Chiroza says, people are 'desperate to escape their

      But the future, at least for prospective passport purchasers, is not
rosy. A Senior Immigration Officer, who requested anonymity, says Botswana
authorities are investigating the syndicate. He adds his department is busy
creating a passport that will be increasingly more difficult for criminals
to forge or alter. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Apathy dogs voter registration in Zimbabwe
Sat 31 July 2004

      BULAWAYO - Drill Hall is not just one of the biggest police stations
in Zimbabwe's second largest city. A section of the station is home to the
main government registry. It is here where prospective voters queue, in
order to ensure their names appear on the voters' roll, alongside those
seeking identity papers and passports.

      A 30-year-old man, who only identified himself as Mufakose,  was
amazed at the speedy registration process earlier this week. Clutching his
personal documents in one hand, he told ZimOnline he was surprised to find
'almost no queue'  at the counters.

      In less than 10 minutes he was done, having completed a process that
causes much anxiety when it is left to the last minute before election time.

      Political scientist John Makumbe estimates there are about
4-and-a-half million Zimbabweans old enough to vote. Out of these, just
under 3 million are expected to cast their ballots in the March 2005
parliamentary poll.

      Makumbe says there are indications that many  Zimbabweans will be
deliberately disenfranchised as a result of ZANU PF's  tampering with the
voters' roll. He explains that 'the voters' roll has shrunk considerably,
which means the majority of people in the country, if they don't
re-register, they might find themselves unable to vote.'

      Reluctance by the registrar-general to release the electronic version
of the roll can be linked to such intentions, alleges the University of
Zimbabwe lecturer. 'A lot of people who voted in 2000, or even in 2002
(during presidential elections), will find their names missing from the
document if they don't register now.'

      Irregular voter registration was among the shortcomings noted by
election observers in the disputed 2000 parliamentary poll as well the 2002
presidential election.

      Local observers say the requirement that urban voters produce
passports and utility bills to prove they had lived in their respective
constituencies for the previous 12 months discriminated against both the
young and poor. Postal votes are restricted to diplomats and members of the
armed forces, disenfranchising millions of Zimbabweans living abroad.

      In rural areas local chiefs and village heads, often seen as being
pro-government, are required to vouch for anyone registering to vote.

      Although there are no indications that the irregularities during the
last elections will not recur, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) says it is trying to generate enthusiasm among its supporters for the
process to persuade them to register.

      However, if Mufakose's account of very short queues is anything to go
by, the MDC might still have a lot of work to do.'

      'I think there is an erroneous thinking in MDC quarters that they'll
encourage their people to register nearer to the election,' says Makumbe.
'My own understanding is that will be way too late for most people; the time
to register is now.'

      The party's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, recently wrote to the
government-run Electoral Supervisory Commission ­ in charge of voter
registration and elections ­ complaining about a 'lack of publicity and
confusion surrounding the mobile registration programme.'

      In response the Commission's spokesman, Thomas Bvuma, says this
programme began on 1 May and, while scheduled to end in June, was extended
to 15 July.. He adds that two or three mobile teams were deployed per
district, depending on the district's size.

      Makumbe observes  that 'mobile registration was only in selected
areas. The majority of the areas targeted were areas where Zanu-PF is
strongest, or assumed to be strongest.'

      He adds reports show the units mostly attracted misinformed members of
the public who wanted to apply for birth certificates or national Ids, and
only a small number were interested in registering to vote. 'I think it's
really a lack of publicity but also a massive dose of apathy. People see
that their lot is not changing. In fact, it is getting worse all the time.'
      also blames the MDC for its 'minimum action' in getting supporters

      Bvuma disputes claims of inadequate publicity. He says the teams'
itineraries were announced in the media, and civic voter education units
from his commission traveled ahead of the registration teams, precisely to
inform prospective voters. 'So in terms of publicity, anyone saying there
was no publicity is not telling the truth.'

      But this is not much comfort to most of the country's civic groups,
many of whom have criticised the voter registration process as lacking
transparency and being cumbersome. The solution, they say, lies in setting
up independent bodies to run the elections. ZimOnline

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Increase in street children as economy worsens

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 30 Jul 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's worsening economic conditions
were one of the key reasons for the growing number of children on the
streets, according to a recent survey.

Results from an assessment of children living and working on the streets in
urban areas around the capital, Harare, showed that the majority ended up
here as a result of poverty, sexual or physical abuse and family breakdown.

Of the 450 children interviewed by Zimbabwe's National Council for the
Welfare of Children, with support from UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), 58
percent had become homeless during the last year.

In a statement on Friday UNICEF said the assessment indicated that the
number of children in Harare and Chitungwiza, 35 km east of the capital,
could be higher than the current estimate of 5,000.

"It is still unclear exactly how many children are on the streets,
especially since they fall into several categories. There are those who live
on the streets permanently, and then there are children who work on the
streets during the day but return home at night. Until a formal survey is
done we cannot be sure of the numbers, but in Harare alone there are at
least 5,000 street children," UNICEF information officer, Tich Chikowore,
told IRIN.

"Often we find that parents are unable to make ends meet. They don't have
the money to pay school fees or feed their children. These children then
have to drop out of school and find work on the streets. In some cases
children leave home because they feel they can survive better on their own,"
Chikowore added.

Although Zimbabwe's consumer inflation last month declined to just below 400
percent, ordinary households are still unable to afford basic commodities.

Chikowore stressed that physical and sexual abuse continued to be a major
issue - street children had often been sexually or physically abused at home
and on the streets.

"Although many children have expressed the wish to return home or be placed
within a family, there are those who would rather stay on the streets
because they fear that they may encounter the same kind of physical abuse
which forced them to leave home in the first place," he said.

The assessment highlighted that more male than female children were on the
streets, and the highest number for both sexes was in the 14- to 18-year age
group. Moreover, 55 percent of the children interviewed had no birth

One of the obstacles affecting intervention programmes was a generally
negative attitude to street children.

UNICEF noted that reactions to street children tended to be "punitive",
while "anti-social and delinquent behaviour is not considered in its proper
social and psychological context".

The children's agency said interviews with childcare workers revealed that
all programmes for street children lacked adequate funding and skilled
personnel, and experienced problems with co-ordination between similar
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      Long Standing Zimbabwe Private School Faces Closure
      Tendai Maphosa
      30 Jul 2004, 13:06 UTC

      One of Zimbabwe's oldest private schools could be the first casualty
of a standoff over fees between private schools and the Education Ministry.
The board of Eaglesvale Junior and High Schools has put the school on
provisional voluntary liquidation, which means the schools will close when
they run out of funds.
      The chairman of the board of trustees at the school, Deon Theron, said
they have been forced into taking what he called the drastic step, as the
school was struggling to make ends meet.

      The school, founded in 1911, is one of many that were earlier this
year stopped from starting the second term by the Education Ministry, which
accused them of raising their fees to exclude black pupils.

      The schools only opened after agreeing to fees set by the ministry.
The ministry, however, allowed parents who wished to to make donations to

      Mr. Theron says the school received a letter from the ministry earlier
this month accusing the school authorities of demanding donations and
ordering that it refund the money. To date, Mr.Theron says only 15 parents
have demanded their money back. He says it is becoming increasingly
difficult to maintain the standards at the school without running high debts
it may be unable to pay.

      The school opted for provisional liquidation meaning it can reverse
the decision to close down the school, if the situation changes. Mr. Theron
says the fees set by the ministry were unrealistic. But, he says, dialogue
with the ministry and an agreement to increase fees is the only way the
school can remain open.

      He dismissed the allegations that the schools were trying to keep out
black pupils, saying that, of the approximately 1,000 pupils at the coed
institution 70 percent of the junior pupils are black, while 80 percent of
the high school students are black.

      Most of Zimbabwe's elite, including government ministers, prefer to
send their children to private schools.

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Sunday Times (SA)

Zimbabwe delays ruling on closed newspaper

Friday July 30, 2004 13:47 - (SA)

HARARE - A Zimbabwe court Friday postponed until later this year a ruling in
the case in which four directors of the popular independent Daily News are
charged with illegally publishing the newspaper.

Directors Samuel Nkomo, Brian Mutsau, Rachel Kupara and Michael Mattinson
were ordered to return to court on September 20, when the magistrate is
expected to rule on whether or not to dismiss the case against them.

It was the second time this month a ruling was postponed.

The four were charged last year with publishing the country's most popular
daily without permission from the official media commission, as required
under strict press laws.

The Daily News has only managed to publish a few editions since its forced
closure by armed police in September last year.

Zimbabwe's press laws, introduced shortly after President Robert Mugabe won
a second term in office in 2002, have been condemned by rights activists as

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ZCU official acused of trying to influence elections

Martin Williamson

July 30, 2004

Ozais Bvute, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union board member who is no stranger to
controversy, is again at the centre of a row after it was alleged that he
offered Vumindaba Moyo a job within the ZCU so that Moyo would campaign for
him in Matabeleland, where Bvute wanted to become chairman.

Bvute's sudden interest in provincial cricket politics is thought to have
come about after it became clear that local associations had the power to
dismiss the ZCU board. Another controversial member of the board - Max
Ebrahim, who was previously chairman of the Mashonaland Cricket
Association - went out of his way to became chairman of a little-known
province called Masvingo, in what was seen by many as a bid to prevent him
being usurped by those opposing the ZCU.

Bvute's aspirations in Matabeleland were not helped by the fact that he has
almost no support there, hence the approach to the influential Moyo, a
leading candidate to become chairman and an opponent of much the ZCU has
done of late. In return for the job, the intention was that Moyo would
influence the clubs to back Bvute. But a local source said that Moyo
dismissed the approach, going so far as to tell the middle man to "go to

This helps to explain the background to the chaos which surrounded the
Matabeleland Cricket Association AGM held at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo
on June 26 when Bvute, accompanied by the Mashonaland Cricket Association
chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and general manager Givemore Makoni, effectively
hijacked the meeting. Moyo and his supporters walked out, and even when they
came back they refused to stand for any post on the board.

Sources claim that Bvute telephoned Moyo after the meeting and tried to
distance himself from the job offer, but Moyo was left deeply unimpressed.
Several administrators in Matabeleland have confirmed that Bvute did make a
specific approach to try to influence Moyo. Attempts to contact Bvute for a
comment were unsuccessful.

Recently, the ZCU constitution was amended to give provinces four slots on
the board. The provincial chairmen of Matabeleland and Mashonaland
automatically become ZCU board members, while the provinces also nominate
two individuals to be on the board.

The ZCU holds a crucial AGM in Harare on Friday, August 6, and it is yet to
be seen whether Bvute and Ebrahim, who are thought by many to be the key
figures in instigating and fuelling the current crisis in which 15 rebel
players refused to play for Zimbabwe, will still be on the board after the

© Wisden Cricinfo Ltd
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Zim 70 get their day in court
30/07/2004 08:54  - (SA)

Zimbabwe - Shackled and handcuffed in pairs, the 70 men sporting bushy
beards and khaki prison uniforms shuffle silently into a barn-like building
surrounded by barb wire fences and imposing walls.

It is here in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison that the magistrate's court
sits in judgement over the suspected mercenaries arrested almost five months
ago on charges of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Tucked away between lanes of trees on the outskirts of Harare, the heavily
guarded prison farm is home to the 70 men living among hundreds of inmates
considered Zimbabwe's most dangerous criminals.

It is a huge security complex with the first entrance gate located about 1km
from the actual prison building which is surrounded by stretches of bush and
trees and streets battered with potholes.

A group of guards dressed in camouflage uniforms with rifles casually
swinging from their shoulders stares suspiciously at visitors and signals
them where to stop their vehicles for the first of three car searches
leading into the compound.

"There is no way you can escape out of this place," Jerry Carlse, the
brother of former soldier Harry Carlse, one of the accused, said.

The barb wire fences and walls topped with razor wire are 10m high.

'Shabby' from the outside

The complex with its old-fashioned pale blue prison trucks might seem shabby
from the outside, but it is constantly patrolled by dozens of guards who
regard any visitor as an intruder.

For the families, the trial twice-postponed and now adjourned until August
18 has been a test of nerves.

The family members have spent the past months battling Zimbabwe's prison
bureaucracy to secure visits and deliver groceries and warm clothes to the

Some of them have resorted to bribes using anything from cash, packets of
South African dried meat, a delicatessen known as "biltong", and even
cellphones to be able to visit their relatives.

Last week, prison guards imposed a new rule on them: They are not to park
inside the security complex any more. They have to walk almost a kilometre
to the building.

Journalists and lawyers are permitted to drive in but have been forbidden to
give the family members a lift.

Amid the gloom of Chikurubi, the wives and brothers of the 'Harare 70'
indulge in some humour.

"Hey, I read in this morning's papers your husband's going to get 15
years!," one says in jest.

"That gives me enough time to find a new husband," the other quips as they
eat their wrapped sandwiches while waiting the usual two to four hours in
the parking lot before being allowed inside.

Inside the makeshift court, the men shuffle in slowly in three separate
groups and take their seat on the rickety wooden benches laid out.

The suspected mercenaries including their alleged leader Briton Simon Mann
were arrested on March 7 at Harare airport where they had arrived from South
Africa to pick up weapons which they say were meant for security work on
mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Most of them broad-shouldered and visibly fit, they appear relaxed, some
leaning nonchalantly against the walls while others lock their gaze on their

After nearly five months in the prison fortress, the men appear to hold out
few expectations.

It is just another long day in prison.
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Focus on problems of policing

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 30 Jul 2004 (IRIN) - Saddled with a reputation for being
incompetent, brutal and politically partisan, police in Southern Africa have
a long way to go to win the battle against escalating crime, and the trust
of the communities they are supposed to serve.

Communities with a "generations-old mistrust of the police; high numbers of
children and youth, many of whom are already or are in danger of becoming
AIDS orphans; a general increase in the levels of crime internationally; a
proliferation of arms; legacies of colonial policing and poor training; and
high illiteracy levels are all just some of the many challenges facing
policing and crime prevention in the SADC [Southern Africa Development
Community] region," noted a report by the Montreal-based Canadian
International Crime Prevention Centre.

"Arbitrary arrest and illegal detention are abuses common to almost the
whole region," Amnesty International said in a 2002 survey of police


"Police often arrest people before they have built up any evidence. They
evade obligations under national laws to bring detainees before a court of
law within a specified period of time. They may conceal the whereabouts of a
detainee from family and lawyers. The arrested suspect is then at risk of a
'confession-orientated' investigation, in which the police simply seek the
information they need, sometimes simply in order to conclude their
'investigation' and often by torturing the suspects," Amnesty said.

"Compounding the problem is the weakness of police procedures, including
proper record-keeping at police stations, to guard against these abuses,"
the report added.

Constable John Tafanana (not his real name), based in the Zimbabwean
capital, Harare, told IRIN it was common practice to torture suspects, but
said part of the problem was the pressure put on police by their senior

"Our chefs [superiors] are to a large extent to blame, because they put a
lot of pressure on us, insisting that there is overwhelming evidence against
the suspects. As a result, we have to resort to beatings so that they [the
suspects] confess," he said.

"Certain forms of torture are associated with certain countries," the
Amnesty report noted. "Suffocation with the inner tube of a tyre or a
plastic bag has been reported in Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and, less
frequently, Botswana. It is hard to detect medically in survivors. In
Zambia, kampelwaor the 'swing' is reportedly a common torture method.
Victims have their hands tied or handcuffed behind their back and their feet
tied together. They are then suspended from a metal bar by their bound hands
and feet, and beaten as they 'swing'.

"A similar method of torture, referred to as the 'helicopter', was once
notorious among members of the former Security Branch in apartheid South
Africa and has also been reported in Swaziland. This similarity of methods
across different countries raises the troubling issue of how police officers
learn torture techniques," Amnesty said.

Because prosecution systems are heavily reliant on confessions, skills of
detection and crime prevention across the region are neglected, stressed the
Canadian report, 'The Future for Policing and Crime Prevention in SADC'.
This unsophisticated and outdated approach has left countries ill equipped
to deal with the new challenges of organised and increasingly global crime.

Police urgently need to be provided with "the necessary knowledge, skills
and attitudes to be able to undertake thorough research in order to analyse
crime trends, generate profiles of victims and offenders, and identify other
key information that allows for the effective combating of crime through
appropriate and relevant criminal policies and crime prevention programmes,"
the report said.


The role of police in Southern Africa historically was to maintain colonial,
or white minority rule. Few resources were allocated for local policing and
crime prevention, which took a back seat to "law and order", preserved by
often paramilitary-style police tactics.

Apartheid South African police were notorious for their repression, as were
the pre-independence Namibian and Zimbabwean police forces. In Mozambique
and Angola, "policing and crime prevention were situated in the context of a
civil war", the Canadian report noted. While the "transformation of the
police is on the agenda of many of these countries, in real terms little has
been done to democratise the institutions internally".

Political manipulation of the police subverts the rule of law and undermines
the professionalism of officers, Amnesty warned. Across the SADC region,
governments are "misusing the police to suppress public meetings,
demonstrations or campaigning by opposition parties and government critics.
In the majority of countries in the region, police harass, disrupt or
discourage the activities of opposition leaders, trade union officials,
youth activists, human rights monitors and journalists", the report said.

The Royal Swaziland Police Force, as its name suggests, exists primarily to
protect and serve the royal family. "Swaziland is a police state, and the
police's main job is to enforce the ban on political opposition parties, and
protect the royal family," alleged Ntombi Nkhosi, chairwoman of the women's
branch of the outlawed political party, the Ngwane National Liberatory

In Zimbabwe, as in much of the rest of the region, the police are often
regarded as serving the interests of the government rather than the public.
"The Zimbabwean police see themselves as a body outside of the community.
They are based in barracks and are very militarised, and do not mix with
civilians, to remain detached and 'uncorrupted'. It's a very different
mindset," said Ted Leggett, a researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute
for Strategic Studies.

Escalating crime rates are often associated with social change, for example
the wave of democratisation that occurred in the 1990s. "High and rising
crime levels are common for governments in transition, and this is certainly
true in the SADC region where countries face the added handicap of being
part of the developing world, as well as being situated in a region which
has very porous borders and high levels of organised and cross-border
crime," the Canadian study pointed out.

Under such conditions, "there is an increasing pressure from the population
on politicians and the police to do something about crime. This means that
police leadership are responding instinctively, by going back to what they
know best, and what they regard as having worked in the past: reactive and
often repressive policing tactics."

For communities that regard themselves as under siege from criminals there
can be "nostalgia" and a "level of tolerance" for a more authoritarian
approach. According to Leggett, research in Johannesburg's inner-city
district of Hillbrow found that 75 percent of residents said they would be
willing to have their homes searched once a month if that would reduce crime

"The public are very willing to put up with violations of their rights and,
also, there is not a lot of knowledge of their rights," Leggett told IRIN.
"Judges are also very willing to make allowances on behalf of the police,
who can get away with a lot."


In the absence of effective policing, vigilantism has stepped in to fill the
vacuum in a number of communities across the SADC region, as has the
expansion of private security firms for the wealthy. The police themselves
are also a target of rising violent crime, with 185 officers killed in South
Africa in 2001.

"The police do not have enough resources, such as vehicles, and the public
and the media only look at the faults and not the good things we are doing
as police officers. These are very serious challenges, which we will deal
with," Malawi's police deputy public relations officer, Kelvin Maigwa, told

Better training, including human rights awareness, has long been on the
agenda for police forces in Southern Africa. But in an environment of
limited resources, there is an "opportunity cost", in which "greater
expenditure in one aspect of the criminal justice system invariably requires
a reduction ... somewhere else", the Canadian study observed. Resistance to
changing the "organisational culture" represented by the old guard of senior
officers has also been well-documented.

"Training alone will not achieve policing based on human rights principles.
It must be linked to the changes in the environment in which police officers
work," Amnesty pointed out. "Training should be reflected in police standing
orders and in the day-to-day instructions received from supervisors",
including law reform.

The Southern African Police Chief's Cooperation Organisation, which
encourages regional policing initiatives, backs a transition to community
policing with a focus on problem-solving and social crime prevention. The
key is to improve the relationship between the police and local citizens.

The Malawi police "have been undergoing reforms for over six years now. The
reform programmes have helped quite a lot," said Maigwa. "We changed the
system of interrogating suspects -previously we used to beat suspects so
that they revealed the information we wanted, but these days we use
different techniques."

Botswana, Malawi and South Africa are among the countries that have adopted
community-policing approaches. "Through the police reform programme, the
communities have formed neighbourhood watches as one way of helping us curb
crime," Maigwa said. Other methods can include victim support projects.

"Where local police have been reformed and have established a reputation for
respecting the rights of communities, police officers have built the public
confidence and civil cooperation necessary to prevent and detect crime,"
Amnesty commented. However, the foundations are fragile. "Unfortunately,
such partnerships can be, and in some cases have been, undermined by the use
of the police for political repression."

Community policing alone will not reduce crime if the factors that give rise
to crime are not addressed. The study by the Canadian International Crime
Prevention Centre stressed that the challenge was for the police to adopt a
more community-orientated approach, while "at the same time effectively
impacting on levels of crime and violence".

Deepening poverty, community frustration, decades of human rights
violations, police impunity and a lack of confidence in the criminal justice
system has made the process of reform that much harder.

For the Amnesty International report:

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New Zimbabwe

Suddenly, Matabeleland matters to Mugabe

By Ray Matikinye
Last updated: 07/30/2004 23:35:58
DEVELOPMENT projects at a scale and magnitude never witnessed for decades
are underway in rural Matabeleland, courtesy of a frustrated electorate's
decision in 2000 to vote for the opposition in the landmark election that
nearly took the wind out of the governing Zanu PF party's sails.

Earth moving equipment like bulldozers, graders and compactors are rolling
at full throttle in various parts of rural Matabeleland clearing land and
repairing roads, much to the astonishment of peasants at the sudden turn of
attention to their long-neglected areas.

Pumulani Njini (55) of Khumalo village near Lupane business centre is
vividly amazed: "If this kind of development had come to us in the past
people's lives would have long changed for the better. We hope government
can sustain the pace unlike in the past when projects have been started and
then abandoned before completion."

For the past 24 years, aged Zanu PF leader, Robert Mugabe and his henchmen
have sought to isolate the region, after a dismal failure to cow residents
of Matabeleland during the genocidal anti-dissident campaign starting in
1982. An estimated 10 000 civilians lost their lives in its aftermath.

In the 2000 general election, Mugabe's candidates suffered most humiliating
electoral defeats in Matabeleland region, where his party has always fared
badly since independence from Britain in 1980 on the back of his stoic
refusal to publicly apologize for unleashing the notorious Korean trained
Fifth Brigade innocent civilians

Beginning with a disinvestment drive that resulted in major companies
relocating to the capital Harare away from Bulawayo where they operated with
comparative advantages, Mugabe sought to punish the recalcitrant Ndebeles
for not joining Zanu PF and for remaining committed to PF Zapu in opposition
to his cherished one-party state ambition.

Early this month Mugabe lamented the folly of his erstwhile strategy.
Addressing his party youths at their annual conference, he referred to
Bulawayo which used to be the industrial hub of Zimbabwe as "a sleeping
 city" because of de-industrialization adding: "We must get in and do away
with those who want to sabotage us," he told youth delegates.

The Unity Accord signed between the late PF Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo in 1987
with the core intention "for the two parties to work towards the
establishment of a one-party state in Zimbabwe" has done little to appease
residents of Matabeleland region. To the majority, except those co-opted
into the ruling elite who have benefited from token rewards, the Accord has
largely remained ceremonial.

"No one has derived benefits from the Accord save for those awarded
ministerial and senior posts in Mugabe's state bureaucracy," argues Paul
Siwela, leader of the fringe opposition ZAPU party.

"That is why my party advocates for a federal state allowing each region to
use available resources to the best advantage for its own development."

The Zambezi Water Project, a major pipeline project that would have solved
Bulawayo and most of the arid rural Matabeleland perennial water problems as
is the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has remained fixated in the planning stages for
years, although Zanu PF touts the projects to stimulate a sense of
government concern for electioneering each time national polls are in the

Now with hindsight, the governing Zanu PF party has pulled all the plugs to
endear itself with the electorate in Matabeleland, who overwhelmingly
spurned Robert Mugabe's party in general and presidential elections in 2000
and 2002.

Who would have thought a multi-billion dollar university would be built at a
degenerate and desolate rural trading station like Lupane despite
overwhelming evidence of stagnation at most of the growth points dotted
around the 55 districts nationwide?

Who would have imagined a multi-million investment in infrastructure such as
housing for state servants, modern water reticulation system, modern office
blocks and a dam would be carved out of scrubland in preparation of
establishing a town without an industrial base, about 140km north of

Both Matabeleland North and South in southwestern and western Zimbabwe are
now a bustle of activity in infrastructure development, which includes
roads, bridges, medium-sized dams and other development projects ahead of
general elections next year.

Mugabe's party is upbeat about its prospects of regaining rural seats it
lost to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) particularly in
Matabeleland, which it had neglected for years in the vainglorious hope that
residents of the region would realize their mistakes of supporting
opposition to Mugabe's cherished one-party-state dream.

Progress and development have become the catchphrase whenever Zanu PF has
campaigned in Matabeleland lately.

Whether it is commissioning a community project such as a refurbished
borehole or disbursing taxpayer's money to indigent rural peasants or
distributing international relief agencies food-hand-outs, Mugabe's
lieutenants have made it ritual to remind the electorate that they would
derive immense state benefits and attention by voting for Zanu PF and its

For instance, during the campaign for the Lupane by-election a month ago,
deputy transport and communications minister Andrew Langa and MP for the
neighbouring Insiza constituency told to his party candidate pointedly: "If
you lose this election, I am going to remove all the government equipment
working on the Nkayi to Lupane road. That is the Zanu way,"

The witless remark stunned the candidate, Martin Khumalo who went on to
plead with the electorate to vote for him if they wanted to see the road
completed in their lifetime, from then on.

Go into Matabeleland South province and witness state employees literally
putting their noses to the wheel amid the whirr of earthmoving equipment as
they labour putting together the Guyu to Manama road, the
Guyu-Gwanda-Maphisa road and the Bulawayo-Kezi to Mpoengs road.

"We welcome the development projects," says 40-year old Sikhosana Mlilo of
Gwalanyemba, in rural Matabeleland South. "It appears government has
realized we need better roads as much as people in other parts of the
country do. We are just like them," she added.

In the Tsholotsho constituency where unelected government spin-doctor,
Jonathan Moyo has claimed a stake, the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road is being
widened to embellish Moyo's chances in next year's elections.

And although Mugabe's party won the recent Lupane election described by
social commentator and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Heneri Dzinotyiwei
as "a crucial test to sound out the psyche of the rural voter ahead of
election in March next year," nearly 60 percent of the registered voters in
this rural Matabeleland constituency chose to ignore the poll, thereby
snubbing Zanu PF's carrot-and-stick promises of billions of dollars in
development funds.

Observers say the snub by the electorate could be instructive.

Said former combatant, Max Mkandla of the Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Forum, a
more progressive grouping of independence war fighters: "It is difficult to
asses the fickle nature of the rural voters. But how both parties failed to
convince the bulk of the electorate to go to the polls still baffles me."

No one knows for sure whether the peasant electorate in Matabeleland has
been impressed by the sudden change of government attitude towards its once
neglected area.

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