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The Independent masthead

Africa's failure to condemn Mr Mugabe is a sign of political cowardice

12 July 2001

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean opposition leader, appears in the Supreme Court today to defend himself against prosecution for terrorism. The Zimbabwean government is seeking foreign aid because of a shortage of food, following violent disruption of the country's farming. The Organisation of African Unity, which yesterday concluded its summit in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, backed off at the last moment from wholehearted support for the Zimbabwean leader, Robert Mugabe – but the statement that Zimbabwe and Britain should "get together" on land ownership also managed to avoid full-scale condemnation of the violence that Mr Mugabe has unleashed.

Each of these three strands is depressing. Together, they send a singularly grim message. Mr Tsvangirai heads the Movement for Democratic Change – the party which courageously challenged President Mugabe in elections last year, and which is Zimbabwe's best hope for unseating Mr Mugabe, after 21 years.That is the reason why Mr Tsvangirai is now charged with terrorism, under laws framed by the white-minority rulers of the old Rhodesia for use against leaders of the independence struggle.

On Zimbabwe's food problems, the story is equally dismal. In normal circumstances, a finance minister's declaration that "our budget does not allow for food purchases" should be treated sympathetically. But these are not normal circumstances. Just as those who wanted democracy in South Africa supported sanctions against the apartheid regime – however painful they might be for ordinary South Africans – so the Mugabe regime disqualifies itself from international generosity when it is so obviously the author of its own misfortunes.

In some respects, the failure by the OAU to condemn Mr Mugabe is most depressing of all. At the weekend, foreign ministers at the summit criticised the attempts "to isolate and vilify Mugabe". According to this reading of events, the only reason that anybody in Europe might dare to criticise Mr Mugabe was because of a secret hankering for the old days of white colonial rule.

In reality, this confirmed the impression that the OAU itself lives in the past. Yesterday, the summit backed off from endorsing the tough language of the foreign ministers' weekend declaration. But, shamefully, it did not criticise Mr Mugabe, who declared: "We and the rest of Africa are now speaking in the same language."

Land reform is needed; the inequities of ownership must be addressed. But Mr Mugabe has had two decades to address the problems – and failed. (In just seven years of democracy, South Africa has done more.) Only when Mr Mugabe's own political position was threatened did he suddenly seize on this explosive issue. He encouraged licensed thugs; dozens have died and thousands were left homeless in the violence that followed. African leaders are in a uniquely strong position to "isolate and vilify" Mr Mugabe. Mr Tsvangirai was right yesterday to note that the failure to do so ignores "rampant lawlessness". Condemnation of the Zimbabwean government has nothing to do with colonialism, and everything to do with democracy. As Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, told the Lusaka summit this week: "Africa must reject the ways of the past and commit itself to building a future of democratic governance."

African leaders have talked in recent days about the proposed creation of a new AU – an African Union, theoretically modelled on the European Union, with its own parliament, executive and transnational laws. The political cowardice on Zimbabwean thuggery does not, however, set an encouraging precedent in this regard.

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From The Independent (UK), 12 July

African leaders drop attack on UK's Zimbabwe policy

An annual summit of African leaders expunged criticism of Britain's policy over Zimbabwe from its final declaration yesterday in a face-saving move that also served to humiliate President Robert Mugabe. Lobbying by South Africa, Nigeria and other "modern" members of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was due to result in a mild declaration on Zimbabwe at the closing session in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, last night. It replaced a draft resolution by foreign ministers which, on Sunday, had expressed "concern" at moves by Britain "to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe".

Ahead of the closing session, the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said: "The declaration says that Britain and Zimbabwe need to get together and continue to search for a solution (over the redistribution of land). That supersedes the ministerial draft." The scrapping of the anti-British declaration, which had been unanimously adopted by the OAU's council of ministers, saved it from ridicule as it prepares to relaunch itself as the African Union (AU). President Mbeki is among presidents who want the AU - the brainchild of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi - to shed the OAU's image as a dictators' club, tolerant of corruption and coups. President Mbeki believes Africa should shed colonial allegiances and hang-ups and speak with one voice as an equal among other world lobbies such as the European Union. President Mugabe, on the other hand, expects an endorsement against former colonial powers such as Britain.

Hours before the final declaration, the 77-year-old had stated that the anti-British draft "enhances our solidarity with our African brothers". The OAU said in its final declaration that the Lusaka summit "reaffirmed that the land issue is central to ensuring durable peace, stability and economic development in Zimbabwe". The organisation reiterated its demand "for Britain to honour its colonial obligation" to fund land settlement. The summit called on Britain "to co-operate fully and enter into dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe with the purpose of finding a final solution to this colonial legacy".

Britain says it stopped funding Zimbabwean land resettlement schemes because corruption meant the poor were not benefiting. In 1998, an international donors' conference worked out a new approach, which the Zimbabwe government never implemented. Ahead of parliamentary elections last year in Zimbabwe in which the ruling party faced its first serious opposition challenge since 1980, President Mugabe put the land issue at the centre of his campaign. He promised to empower black Zimbabweans economically by giving them white-owned farms. He faces a presidential election next spring.

From The Daily News (SA), 11 July

Britain cautions OAU against backing Mugabe

Lusaka - Britain has cautioned African leaders meeting in Lusaka for the last Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit that backing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in his land dispute with London could undermine Western financial support for their ambitious African recovery plan. A British government source issued the caution in response to a resolution of the OAU Council of Ministers on Sunday which put the blame on Britain for the arbitrary seizure of commercial white farms. "We feel, depending on the way the leaders decide to pursue the issue, it may be negative on other important and progressive programmes the continent wants to embark on," the source said.

South African government officials, concerned about deterring investors by appearing to buck the rule of law, have tried to distance Pretoria from the resolution. Department of Foreign Affairs representative Ronnie Mamoepa said the fact that the OAU council of ministers had agreed to appoint a committee to help Zimbabwe deal with land reform showed that the OAU was not happy with land redistribution in its present form. However, South Africa is on record as supporting the Zimbabwe resolution. Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma attended the council of ministers' meeting and the Zimbabwe resolution was reported to have been adopted "unanimously". The resolution says the OAU committee made up of South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, and Zambia will promote international understanding of Zimbabwe's land reforms, and secure support for them.

From News24 (SA), 11 July

Not too late for Zim

Lusaka - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says it's not too late to find a formula to resettle thousands of poor, landless Zimbabweans without the country descending into anarchy. Annan acknowledged that land reform in Zimbabwe was necessary, but said he wanted it done legally - with fair compensation paid to white farmers whose properties were seized for redistribution to blacks. "It is not too late to take measures to calm the situation so that agricultural production can be continued and those who need to be resettled can be settled," Annan told a news conference in the Zambian capital Lusaka. Last week Zimbabwean Finance Minister Simba Makoni said the country would need to import food to offset falling output that analysts blamed on a wave of land invasions since last year. Industry officials said the country will need to import up to 800 000 tonnes of grain due to a sharp drop in maize and wheat production. But Makoni said there was no room in the budget to pay for imports. Self-styled war veterans have occupied hundreds of commercial farms since last year and disrupted production.

Annan, who was attending the annual summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), said the United Nations and other groups were ready to help with negotiations on land distribution and funding sources for compensation. But he said President Robert Mugabe's government had to ensure that the process was conducted legally. "I believe that land reform has to be handled in a legal manner...The responsibility lies with the government of Zimbabwe," Annan said. Violence linked to the seizure of white-owned farms and the run-up to parliamentary elections last year left 31 people dead, most of them opposition supporters. The veterans say they are only taking back what was snatched from their forefathers by British colonial masters. The Zimbabwean government has said it wants Britain to fund any compensation. At the Lusaka summit, the OAU agreed to appoint a committee of several countries to help Zimbabwe negotiate and resolve the land question, which remains a source of continued political instability ahead of presidential elections next year. Mugabe is expected to face a serious challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

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From The Star (SA), 11 July

Tsvangirai set for crucial court battle

Harare - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, accused of acts of terrorism that could bar him from next year's elections, will challenge his prosecution on Thursday in a test case for freedom of speech in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was granted the right by the high court in May to refer his case to the supreme court to argue that a terrorism case against him was an attack on his right to free speech. President Robert Mugabe's government said it had accepted the high court ruling, and would try to convince the country's highest court that Tsvangirai had a case to answer. On Tuesday, Tsvangirai said he was ready, but had no doubt the supreme court would uphold his rights and rule as unconstitutional the law on which his prosecution was based. "Our supreme court has a history of fairness, of protecting the rights of all Zimbabweans, of dispensing justice and that is the reason we have been calling for the protection of their integrity," he said. "We are going to argue our case there... not outside." Tsvangirai is being prosecuted for telling MDC supporters in a speech last year that Mugabe might be overthrown violently if he did not retire.

From The Star (SA), 11 July

Police chief to sack opposition supporters

Harare - Zimbabwe's police chief has vowed to dismiss members from the force who support opposition politics, the state-owned Herald reported on Wednesday. "Those officers who believe they can abandon the government of the day in order to support the opposition are misguided and they will be kicked out of the force," Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri told the paper. An undisclosed number of officers have already been fired on those grounds, the police chief said. Chihuri is a self-declared supporter of the ruling Zanu PF of President Robert Mugabe. Police in Zimbabwe have been consistently accused of neglecting their duties. Violent attacks on the opposition by ruling party supporters left at least 34 people dead in the run-up to last year's general elections. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims another five of its supporters were killed in politically-motivated attacks last week. Dismissing pro-opposition supporters from the police force was acting in "the interests of the majority", Chihuri added. The ruling party scraped a narrow victory over the MDC in last year's elections, winning 62 of the 120 contested seats against the MDC's 57. Presidential elections are due early next year in which 77-year-old President Mugabe will be standing as the ruling party's candidate.

From The Financial Gazette, 12 July

27 MDC officials arrested

At least 27 officials and activists of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were arrested in Bindura and Kwekwe yesterday in what is emerging to be an organised police crackdown on the opposition party in all major urban centres ahead of three parliamentary by-elections and the crunch presidential ballot. The arrests came hard on the heels of weekend police raids on the offices of the MDC in Harare and Bulawayo, where other activists were detained for questioning

In Bindura, 16 MDC supporters were held yesterday and two campaign vehicles belonging to opposition party candidate Elliot Pfebve seized in the town as the police intensified attacks on the MDC ahead of a by-election there in two weeks’ time. Pfebve is challenging Mashonaland Central governor Elliot Manyika for the Bindura parliamentary seat, declared vacant after the car crash death of Youth Affairs Minister Border Gezi two months ago. Pfebve said late yesterday he was still trying to negotiate the release of his supporters and cars from Bindura Police Station. He said police claimed to have seen his vehicles in the Chiveso area of Bindura, where Zanu PF supporters had allegedly been injured in political violence on Tuesday night. The MDC politician rejected the police charge. "They are desperate. They are cooking all kinds of stories to get a pretext of detaining our supporters. No amount of intimidation will win them the election," he said in a telephone interview from Bindura Police Station. The officer in charge of the station, Solomon Pswarayi, refused to be interviewed on the phone and referred all questions to his superiors who could not be reached for comment.

In Kwekwe, a group of 60 police officers and members of the government’s spy Central Intelligence Organisation swooped on the MDC offices there early in the day and arrested 11 party officials. MDC’s information secretary Learnmore Jongwe said the security agents, moving in their now familiar British-made Defender Land Rover cars, searched his party’s offices without an official search warrant, which is illegal. Police in Kwekwe refused to comment on the arrests when contacted by this newspaper. Those arrested in Kwekwe include the MDC’s Midlands provincial chairman Evans Ruzvidzo, his deputy Isaac Muzimba, provincial secretary Edgar Sithole, treasurer Lameck Muyambi and regional coordinator Sylvester Majekuza. Jongwe said the MDC had yet to establish why the 11 had been detained. They were still in police custody at the time of going to print.

MDC’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube condemned the arrests and accused Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, a member of the ruling Zanu PF party, of unashamed partisanship. Earlier this week Chihuri threatened to sack all senior police officers he accused of backing the MDC, which emerged from the shadows last year to nearly topple President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF, in power since independence from Britain two decades ago. MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to challenge Mugabe in the presidential ballot, which must be held by April next year, in a contest analysts see as a one-sided show because of the dramatic loss of political support by Mugabe.

Meanwhile, MDC’s national youth chairman Nelson Chamisa said yesterday his department had embarked on a campaign to discourage all Zimbabwean youths from participating in the government’s proposed National Youth Service (NYS). He charged that the project, to take off shortly, was aimed at preparing Zanu PF youths to intimidate opponents nationwide ahead of the by-elections and presidential poll. "The youth service is in fact an experimental pilot project aimed at preparing the youths to unleash a reign of terror against Zanu PF opponents ahead of the by-elections and next year’s presidential elections. We won’t have anything to do with it, "Chamisa said. The government says the NYS is aimed at instilling discipline and patriotism among youths, whose employment in state institutions will now depend on whether they have done their youth service stint.

From News24 (SA), 12 July

Labour leader quizzed

Harare - Police on Wednesday questioned Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Wellington Chibebe in connection with last week's national strike, which the government had declared illegal, the labor leader said. "They questioned me in connection with the stayaway and the violence that occurred," Chibebe said. "They wanted to know the role of the ZCTU in organising the stayaways." Chibebe was questioned for two hours by police about possible violations of the colonial-era Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), routinely used by the government to crack down on political dissidents. He was released without charge, although police could decide to press charges later.

"The ZCTU is not clear of the police actions, but according to the two police officers, they intend building a relationship with the labour centre," the group said in a statement. "But the question lies on the type of relationship, which is not clear. Earlier on the government had declared the mass action illegal." ZCTU, a powerful umbrella group of labor unions, organised the July 3-4 strike, which succeeded in forcing Zimbabwe to a standstill. The unions called the general strike to demand fuel price cuts after the government last month declared an overnight increase of about 70 percent.

Government has yet to respond to workers' demands, and the ZCTU said on Friday it would launch an open-ended stayaway if the government did not rescind the price hike. The strike cost Zimbabwe's economy up to $9.1 million, according to the state-run Herald newspaper. For the last three months, the ZCTU has faced a sometimes violent challenge from militant liberation war veterans who have occupied white-owned farms here since February 2000. Led by the firebrand war vet leader Joseph Chinotimba, the pro-government veterans have formed a rival labor grouping, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), and launched raids on urban businesses since April. So far, none of the ZCTU's affiliate unions have switched to the war vets' group, whose labor relations tactics have included extortion, intimidation and beating of business owners. The rivalry stems from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's effort to win back urban voters before the presidential election due early next year, in which he is likely to face a stiff challenge from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.

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Zimbabwe's crises blamed on Britain

LUSAKA African foreign ministers have attacked Britain, blaming its refusal to support Zimbabwe's land reform efforts for the instability, conflict and economic despair that has plagued the country in recent years.

In a draft resolution obtained by AP, the foreign ministers praised President Robert Mugabe's efforts to seize white farms without compensation and they noted with concern "British moves to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe".

The foreign ministers drafted the resolution at an Organisation of African Unity summit in Lusaka. It was expected to be formally adopted by the heads of state at the end of the summit tomorrow.

The resolution also condemned Britain for refusing to honour commitments to help fund land reform it had made during negotiations preceding Zimbabwe's 1980 independence.

Britain, which pledged nearly 55m for land reform in 1980, delivered nearly 90% of that money before freezing the fund in1990.

It said Zimbabwe violated the agreement by forcing unwilling farmers to sell their land to the state. Ruling party militants and squatters began occupying white-owned farms in Zimbabwe a year-and-a-half ago, demanding they be nationalised and turned over to landless blacks.

The government has since earmarked about 4500 of 5000 white-owned farms for seizure.

The foreign ministers said that the unequal distribution of land, where a handful of white farmers own a disproportionate amount of the best farmland, was at the heart of the "political, economic and social struggle in Zimbabwe." Sapa-AP.

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Mugabe in emergency bid to avert food crisis

HARARE As the spectre of starvation looms over Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has appointed an emergency ministerial task force to import maize urgently to stave off the imminent crisis.

Zimbabwe has 290000 tons of maize in stock and the crop forecast is 1,44-million tons. The shortfall is at least 500000 tons. Experts say the maize import target should be 700000 tons. The country also needs to import 100000 tons of wheat.

The emergency team's appointment came as the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, accused the government of "incompetence and mismanagement" in handling the food security issue.

Tsvangirai told reporters yesterday that Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) party were squarely to blame for the latest food problem in the country.

"Since the beginning of this year, this government has put a solid wall of opposition to our warning there would be food shortages," Tsvangirai said.

He said it was not surprising that two cabinet ministers admitted last Friday that the country was facing maize shortages. Zimbabwe was also in the grip of fuel and foreign currency shortages.

"Political dishonesty of this nature and downright incompetence on the part of an individual who has been assigned to man a key public office is totally unacceptable," he said. "We should, however, hasten to point out that the problem facing Zimbabwe at this particular hour goes beyond (Land and Agriculture MinisterJoseph) Made," Tsvangirai said. "Made is only a manifestation of Zanu (PF)'s policy flip-flops."

Mugabe was too embarrassed to admit his "disastrous" policies triggered the food crisis; hence his government's earlier denials that Zimbabwe had to import grain. The food shortages were caused by Mugabe's chaotic land reform programme and his government's inability to support small-scale farmers.

"The causes are the lack of support for small-scale farmers, coupled with the impact of the Zanu (PF) policy of farm invasions in the large-scale farming sector," said Tsvangiari.

The MDC said it had drafted a comprehensive plan to rescue the country from the threat of famine. It urged the government to consider its proposals as part of the holistic national effort to avert the food crisis.

The high-profile task force consists of Made, Ignatius Chombo (local government, public works and national housing), Joyce Mujuru (rural resources and water development), Swithun Mombeshora (transport and communications) and Simba Makoni (finance) as well as former members of the state-owned Grain Marketing Board, Canaan Dube and his deputy, Justin Mutasa.

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Following proposals made to the Vice President, Hon. Joseph Msika, by the Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative (ZJRI), the first formal meeting between the parties was held in Harare today, the 11th July 2001.  The meeting, which was chaired by Hon. Vice President Msika, was attended by Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, other senior government officials and representatives of the ZJRI including senior Commercial Farmers' Union members, the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association and the private sector.
The meeting reaffirmed that the land issue had been sensationalised locally and internationally.  It was acknowledged that the existing racial imbalances in the distribution of land needed to be urgently addressed.  Further, it was noted that a confrontational approach through litigation was not constructive.
The meeting noted the ZJRI proposal to submit over one million hectares of uncontested land for acquisition and redistribution by Government.  It also noted the proposals to provide tillage, inputs and technical advice in support of Government's resettlement programme.
The meeting agreed to establish a joint technical team to move swiftly to examine the details of the various components contained in the ZJRI proposals, so that the process can move rapidly towards advancing the resettlement programme.
The participants affirmed their commitment to work together as Zimbabweans, to promote goodwill and to build confidence and trust.  This would lead to an environment conducive to the resolution of remaining differences on the land issue.
The consensus among the parties was that the meeting was productive and successful in establishing a framework for constructive dialogue towards resolving the land problem internally.
11 July 2001   Harare
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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Media Update # 2001/27
Monday 2nd July  - 8th July 2001


·   None of the media provided adequate coverage of the
    ZCTU's two-day national strike. While the private Press
    provided only superficial coverage of events, the state
    controlled media sought to portray the strike both as a
    failure and a conspiracy between white employers and the
    union movement to sabotage the economy by "locking out"
    the working masses. But in attempting to provide an
    indication of events on the ground, the state controlled
    media found itself contradicting its own generalized claims
    that the strike was a failure. The private Press on the other
    hand, also generalized about the strike's success without
    providing any independently corroborated figures
    measuring the effectiveness of the stay-away. Notably, not
    a single major company was accessed to establish its
    attitude towards the strike, although comments from
    employer organizations condemning the strike were aired.
·   The state media reflected the government's muted and
    reluctant admission that the country faced food shortages
    later in the year, and ZBC audiences would still not know
    that this was the case. For several weeks the state media
    have carried strenuous government denials of persistent
    stories appearing in the private Press warning of looming
    food shortages. But when the admission finally came in
    the week under review, ZBC ignored it, preferring instead to
    focus on the "restructuring" of the GMB to improve
    Zimbabwe's food security.

·   The commemoration of the anniversary of the death of
    former Vice-president Joshua Nkomo, was plagued by
    further controversy during the week, this time focusing on
    Zimpapers' efforts to capitalize on its decision to serialize
    the man's autobiography. When The Daily News reported
    that The Chronicle had censored a section of an episode
    criticizing President Mugabe, The Herald responded with
    an emotional piece of propaganda in its news pages from
    the presidential press secretary in the Department of
    Information, George Charamba posing as one of the
    paper's reporters. But this ill-conceived attack on The Daily
    News only served to add to the embarrassment of the
    government controlled newspaper group when The Daily
    News followed up its story with another reporting that The
    Chronicle's editor of 12 years had been sacked without
    notice immediately after the publication of The Daily News
    story. The privately owned daily promptly followed this with
    a third story revealing that Nkomo's book was being
    serialized without the permission of the publishers or
    Nkomo's family. Zimpapers and ZBC both reported the
    editor's departure as part of a shake-up at Zimpapers
    without connecting it to the censored serial which
    Charamba had described as "a clerical error". Clearly
    government's overt interference in the editorial content of
    its newspaper group was instrumental in engineering
    another shameful episode in Zimpapers' recent history.


The state media's coverage of the two-day strike highlighted the
problems media institutions can encounter when trying to serve
conflicting interests. Zimpapers and ZBC both became entangled in
the difficulties arising out of their efforts to portray the strike as a
failure while attempting to cover reality. Neither organization
provided any credible evidence for their claims that the stay-away
was ignored, relying heavily on wild generalizations. Like the
Zimpapers report on July 4th, ZBC's bulletins on both days of the
strike (July 3rd and 4th) were heavily compromised by repeated
reference to expressions like, "most workers" turning up for work,
"business as usual", and "most people" etc. And although ZTV
carried footage of Harare's industrial areas, it resorted to
interviewing informal sector workers to establish that it was
"business as usual".  At one point, television's coverage talked
about employers locking out their workers, but later reported that
companies closed after working staff had not turned up for work.
Its report on the situation in Masvingo was a classic example of
how the state broadcaster was caught between propaganda and
reality. While its reporter tried to give the impression that all was
well in the town, he went on to state that, ".around 11am, the
town centre was deserted and the town looked like a Sunday
On the second day of the strike, radio and television reported that
most people had gone to work, but ZTV's 8pm footage showed the
deserted industrial areas, adding that most people had not gone to
work because their employers had locked them out. ZBC appeared
to be unaware of this contradiction and failed to obtain any
confirmation from any workers.
The Herald's report (5/7) of the strike's second day relied on a
claim by the ZNCC that 70% of businesses in Harare were
operational, to make its own unsubstantiated claim that "80% of
all workers" reported for duty. It erroneously stated that civil
servants "constitute the majority of the country's labour force" to
support this claim.
Predictably, the state media highlighted government sentiments
about the strike to the exclusion of the ZCTU, while the private
press gave prominence to the labour movement's statements, thus
creating further polarity in the media. For example, the ZCTU's plea
for a peaceful stay-away received front-page prominence in The
Daily News (3/7), but was completely ignored in the state-
controlled media. Instead, Zimpapers (3/7) concentrated on police
reassurances that they would protect "peace loving citizens" while
providing its own gratuitous innuendo referring to previous ZCTU-
organized stay-aways, which ".have ended in orgies of looting,
violence and wanton destruction".
ZBC also continued to gag the voice of the ZCTU, providing it with
just one comment on its lunchtime bulletins (Radio 3, 4/7). Instead,
it gave vastly more prominence to the veteran Harare City Council
worker, Joseph Chinotimba, in his various guises. Appearing in the
form of a trade union leader on Radio 1/3's 1pm bulletins (3/7),
Chinotimba evidently forgot this role when he was quoted
condemning the strike as a flop, but threatening to ".'vacuate
within a day." foreign business people who had closed their
businesses. "I as a commander, I am also calling for my own
war veterans to assemble tomorrow or either any day to
identify those companies which are not operating today." he
was quoted as saying.
That same evening (3/7, ZTV 8pm) Chinotimba was presented with
another opportunity to comment on the stay-away, but wasted it on
a confusing statement that any professional news station would
have edited:
".that is straight sanction of the country. They are putting the
country into sanctions, economical sanctions. It can't help and
by now look they are not the workers who are not coming,
who go on strike, straightly its clear that they are in the

It was left to his war veteran colleague, Andrew Ndlovu, to accuse
the MDC of economic sabotage and link the opposition to previous
strikes.  The reporter neither challenged this statement nor sought
a response from the MDC.
ZBC's patronage was again highlighted the next night when it
carried a bitter tirade from Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo,
attacking the South African workers' confederation, COSATU, for
supporting the ZCTU strike, as reported by The Daily News that
morning (4/7). Describing COSATU as an "Anglo-American
influenced" organization (4/7, all stations, 8pm), Moyo was quoted
as having said:
"By supporting an illegal and unlawful action, COSATU has,
like the MDC-led ZCTU, demonstrated that its rhetoric about
the need to respect and uphold the rule of law is hollow,
opportunistic and anti-Africa. While on the surface COSATU's
support for the illegal strike by the MDC-led ZCTU gives the
impression of solidarity with the Zimbabwean workers, the
reality on the ground gives a disgusting contempt and hatred
for the same workers"
Zimpapers carried the same story the next morning. But none of
the state-controlled media bothered to seek a response from
COSATU. However, The Zimbabwe Independent (6/7), didn't miss
the opportunity.
There was no agreement over the cost of the strike, or the
interpretation of the ZCTU's statements following the stay-away.
While The Herald (6/7) stated that "analysts" had estimated the
strike to have cost the country about $500 million, The Financial
Gazette of the day before quoted "economic experts" estimating
the cost at more than $5 billion, a figure based vaguely on an
extrapolation of the budget's estimated GDP. The Daily News (6/7)
also relied on unnamed economists saying the cost of the strike
was as high as $6 billion. Nowhere was a definitive estimate to be
found in the media, although The Daily News did report that the CZI
and the ZNCC were still working out the costs of the strike to their
Zimpapers (6/7) and the ZBC gave prominence to ministerial
comments from Finance Minister Makoni and Jonathan Moyo
criticizing the ZCTU leadership for threatening further industrial
The next day, Zimpapers gave front page space to what they told
their readers was a ZCTU decision to negotiate with government.
The The Daily News however, (7/7) saw the same story completely
differently, quoting the ZCTU's Wellington Chibhebhe as dispelling
the impression that the labour organization had backed down over
its demands. The paper quoted Chibhebhe as saying the labour
organization was not softening its stance, but had decided to give
dialogue a last chance.
The issue of army and police brutality received prominent coverage
in the private press. The Daily News (6/7) quoted ordinary
Zimbabwean victims of army and police brutality. The Zimbabwe
Mirror (6/7) extensively quoted a Budiriro man who claimed to have
been brutally assaulted by riot police.
All the media reported the arrest of three locally based journalists
in Budiriro for allegedly interfering in police operations. But only the
independent press reported the ZCTU's criticism of the arrests,
describing them as "the continued harassment of journalists". The
full nature of the police intimidation appeared in The Zimbabwe
Standard (8/7), whose news editor was among those arrested and
detained in police cells overnight.
MMPZ condemns this latest, arbitrary intimidation of the media
community and calls on government to ensure the protection of
journalists in the execution of their duties.


Zimpapers (3/7) buried an obscure admission of the country's need
to import 500 000 tonnes of maize to cover the country's
production deficit in a story about government classifying maize a
"strategic reserve" and granting the GMB a monopoly over its trade.
Only towards the end of the story did it become clear that
Agricultural Minister, Joseph Made, ".had projected a shortfall
of 500 000 tonnes as a worst-case scenario."
ZBC never managed to spell it out, and in its evening bulletins (3/7)
it merely reported that Made had dissolved the GMB board and
replaced it with officials from his ministry to improve the nation's
food security and build up reserves. Both stories reported
government's efforts to blame commercial farmers of forcing its
hand as a result of their attempts ".to create false shortages by
hoarding grain, particularly.maize", (The Herald 3/7).
The only other time television's audiences might have guessed at
the prospect of food shortages emerged in its 8pm bulletin (5/7)
when the reporter told viewers that Finance Minister Makoni had
warned government ministries to live within their budgets and that
there was no additional money to procure "the required cereals".
The state broadcaster provided absolutely no information to explain
this otherwise mysterious statement.
Only in their Friday editions (6/7) did Zimpapers finally report
clearly on the admission by Made and Makoni that the country
needed to mobilize resources to avert shortages of maize and
wheat. However, although The Chronicle carried this story on its
front page, The Herald buried it on an inside page.
The story only made passing reference to Makoni's confession that
food imports had not been provided for in the budget and that
government had appealed to the international community for help.
But the story in the two papers didn't tell their readers how much
money Makoni said the government was looking for. This fact had
appeared in The Financial Gazette the day before under the
headline, Govt Races to Raise $6bn for Maize, but only provided
Makoni as the source for that claim in another story about
government drawing up plans to find Z$6.6 billion to import maize
and wheat.
Only The Zimbabwe Independent (6/7) carried a comment from the
MDC's shadow agricultural minister calling for Made's resignation
for his repeated attempts to mislead the nation into believing that
Zimbabwe wouldn't need to import basic cereals.
The Daily News (7/7) reported that South African maize had been
earmarked for export to Zimbabwe and that the GMB monopoly
was likely to undermine the future production of maize because of
the low prices offered by the parastatal.
MMPZ condemns the appalling coverage of such an important
national issue by the state-controlled media, especially the
national broadcasting corporation, which has simply not told its
audiences the truth. Such slavish restriction to coverage of
government propaganda has severely compromised the nation's
knowledge of what should be public information and clearly
demonstrates again the need to free the state broadcaster from
government control.


The Herald and The Daily News (7/7) both reported the police raid
on the Harare offices of the MDC two days previously, but only The
Daily News also reported the police raid on the Bulawayo offices of
the opposition party the day before. However, it only relied on MDC
officials as its source of information, while The Herald story quoted
the police extensively, saying they had arrested 33 youths they
suspected of being responsible for politically motivated violence in
Bindura and of torturing ZANU PF supporters in the party's offices. 
The Herald only quoted an MDC spokesman denying the
allegations and condemning the raid as illegal, without itself
questioning the veracity of the police claims. ZBC simply ignored
the raids thereby depriving its audiences of news of the state's
latest action against the opposition.

The state broadcaster also failed to provide any context to the
deaths in Epworth following petrol bomb attacks on two homes in
the suburb. While The Herald (4/7) reported that the attacks on the
homes of known ZANU PF supporters were conducted by
suspected MDC supporters, it did not identify the two who had
died, creating the impression that the MDC was responsible for the
violence. The state media didn't follow up the incident. But the
private Press did.
Quoting one of the residents whose house was bombed, The
Financial Gazette linked the violence to a government scheme to
allocate residential stands in the area, while The Daily News (6/7)
quoted two victims of the violence as saying they recognized some
of their assailants as being war veterans and ruling party
supporters disguised as MDC youths. Another report in the
independent daily the following day reported MDC supporters and
the MP for the area claiming that four more people, all MDC
supporters, had died following the death of the first two, identified in
earlier reports as being war veterans. The paper however, did not
provide any independent corroboration for the four deaths apart from
the widow of one of the victims. Nor did it seek police comment.
The state media also ignored several incidents of alleged police
and army brutality reported in the private Press, particularly The
Daily News (6/7), during and after the strike. The paper quoted
victims of the violence in Warren Park, Kuwadzana and
Dzivaresekwa and of earlier incidents in Mufakose and Budiriro
where people in police and army uniform indiscriminately attacked
civilians in their homes and in nightclubs. This time, the paper
reported that the police had refused to comment on the incidents.
Other stories about politically motivated violence around the
country in the private Press highlighted the activities of war
veterans and ruling party supporters in the rural areas and
especially the terror campaign in the Bindura area where a by-
election is due to be held in the next two weeks. The state media
ignored all these stories.


The state media's continuing efforts to glorify national hero Joshua
Nkomo became deeply compromised in the week under review.

Responding to a Daily News (3/7) editorial observing that Nkomo
must be turning in his grave at the way the ruling party's
propaganda machine was using his reputation to enhance their own
tarnished record, ZBC (3/7 8pm and 4/7 7am) and The Herald (4/7)
clearly over-reacted by providing extensive coverage to Vice-
President Msika saying Nkomo had died a happy man "contrary
to claims by some people that he was bitter at the time of his
death". The state media also gave prominent coverage to Nkomo's
daughter also stating that her father had died a contented man
  But then The Daily News (4/7) really set the cat among the
pigeons when it reported that The Chronicle had censored an early
episode of Nkomo's book, The Story of My Life, being serialized in
The Herald and The Chronicle. On the same day The Daily News
(5/7) reported that The Chronicle's editor had been fired and
published the omitted section critical of President Mugabe, The
Herald published a malicious piece of propaganda against the
independent daily in its news columns written by the Department of
Information's George Charamba.
Why The Herald believed this vitriolic opinion belonged in its news
pages is beyond understanding, but serves to demonstrate again
that the paper is the servant of government and that the
Department of Information and Publicity continues to spearhead the
campaign to polarize the media community.
The Chronicle (5/7) attributed its omission to space limitations, and
published the part that was left out. But its effort to correct the
mistake came too late, although the state-controlled media merely
reported that Zimpapers had appointed new editors without
connecting it to the debacle over the omitted text.

In an effort to control the damage, The Herald (6/7) carried a front-
page article quoting two political analysts calling for the publication
of the book. But nothing could detract from Zimpapers'
embarrassing oversight revealed in The Zimbabwe Mirror and The
Daily News editions of the same day. They both reported that the
government controlled
newspaper group was serializing the book without the permission
of its publishers or the Nkomo family who were threatening legal
recourse over the issue.
And sure enough, the next day the two dailies reported that the
serialization had been suspended ".as a result of certain legal
formalities," according to The Herald. Such a basic blunder by
any professional publishing institution is unforgivable, but is all the
more embarrassing given Charamba's defence of Zimpapers'
publishing "scoop" over The Daily News - and his minister's recent
defence of new copyright laws which he has threatened to use
against those newspapers which have republished articles written
by Moyo attacking the party he was later to serve.

This MEDIA UPDATE is produced and circulated by the Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 221 Fife Avenue, Harare, Tel/fax: 263
4 734207, 733486, 735441/2, E-mail: Web-
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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Court considers Tsvangirai challenge
A conviction for Tsvangirai could harm his election hopes
The Supreme Court has heard an appeal by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai challenging the government's use of a colonial-era law charging him with terrorism and inciting violence.

At a rally in September 2000 in front of thousands of supporters, the Movement for Democratic Change leader called on President Robert Mugabe to step down saying: "If he doesn't go peacefully, he will be removed by force".

If Mr Tsvangirai loses the appeal he will be tried in the High Court

He faces life in prison if convicted, but Zimbabwean law does not prevent a convicted prisoner from standing in presidential elections.

They are due next year, and Mr Tsvangirai is expected to present President Robert Mugabe with a strong challenge.

The case comes amid a sharply declining economy and and growing political unrest.

Student protest

Riot police in Zimbabwe have used truncheons to break up a demonstration in the capital, Harare, by several hundred students who've been protesting over reports of a big rise in fees.

The protest, outside the education ministry offices, came after the state-owned Herald newspaper announced fee rises by as much as 40-fold for university and college students.

Zimbabwe University student leaders say they now plan to take their protest to the vice-chancellor.

Students have held a series of demonstrations in recent months protesting against the government's non-payment of living allowances and the privatisation of college cafeterias which has seen sharp rises in food prices.

Police threat

The intimidation of the MDC also continues.

The chief of Zimbabwe's police force said on Wednesday that he will dismiss officers who back opposition parties.

This threat came as the police continued their raids on the offices of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

An MDC spokesman said the latest raid - in the Midlands provincial capital of Kwekwe - followed ones in Bulawayo and on the party headquarters in Harare.

The police also questioned a trade union leader for two hours following the stay-away on 3-4 July which brought Zimbabwe to a halt.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said its secretary-general Wellington Chibebe had been asked about his political affiliation and who had been responsible for calling the strike.

The government declared the strike action illegal

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Police arrest 27 opposition activists in Zimbabwe

Police are reported to have arrested 27 members of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.

They follow police raids on the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare and Bindura.

Party leaders claim police are cracking down on the organisation on orders of President Robert Mugabe before three parliamentary by-elections and next year's presidential election.

The raids and arrests in Bindura and Kwekwe come after police commissioner Augustine Chihuri vowed to dismiss officials who supported the MDC.

Mr Chihuri said the police force should support the government of the day.

The Star says 16 MDC members were arrested in Bindura, including parliamentary candidate Elliot Pfebve.

In Kwekwe, 11 MDC members were arrested at the party's offices.

Mr Pfebve said: "They are desperate. They are cooking up all kinds of stories to get a pretext to detain our supporters."

Police officials in Kwekwe and Bindura refused to comment.

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Zimbabwe to Record Zero Population Growth Rate Next Year

July 12, 2001    

HARARE, Jul 11, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Zimbabwean Minister of Health and Child Welfare Timothy Stamps Wednesday said his country will record a zero population growth rate by the end of next year.

This is mainly attributed to the success in the family planning campaign and deaths caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the minister said at a celebration to mark the World Population Day in Harare, explaining that "this has led the country to become the first developing country to record a zero growth rate in history."

It was reported that at present, more than 2,000 people in Zimbabwe are dying every week from HIV/AIDS and the life expectancy in the country has been reduced to 34 years from 55 a decade ago.

This year's World Population Day was marked under the theme "Population, Environment and Development". The HIV/AIDS pandemic was a major highlight at the celebrations.

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