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South Africa says will not copy Zimbabwe's chaotic land reforms

Zim Online

Mon 12 June 2006

      JOHANNESBURG - The South African government has again repeated it will
not copy President Robert Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land reforms
that have plunged Zimbabwe into severe food shortages.

      Speaking in London last week, South Africa's Agriculture Minister Lulu
Lingwana said there will be no Zimbabwe-style farm invasions because
Pretoria had learnt valuable lessons from Mugabe's land reforms.

      Lingwana was in London to officially launch a new programme for South
African farmers to pursue further studies in the United Kingdom.

      "We have learned from the Zimbabwean situation that force does not
work. You've got to have the buy-in of all the people involved," said

      The minister's remarks, could mark a policy shift by President Thabo
Mbeki's government which has often refrained from publicly criticising the
Zimbabwe government preferring instead to pursue a policy of "quiet
diplomacy" towards Harare.

      Veterans of the country's 1970s liberation war, with Mugabe's tacit
support, spearheaded a violent farm seizure exercise that left several white
farmers and their black workers dead.

      The farm invasions, which slashed food production by more than 60
percent, are blamed for triggering widespread food shortages in Zimbabwe
resulting in most people depending on food handouts from international
donors for survival.

      Mugabe says his land reforms were necessary to rectify colonial
imbalances in land allocation which saw the best farmland occupied by about
4 000 white commercial farmers while the majority of blacks were cramped on
poor, sandy soils.

      Political analysts have often warned that South Africa might go the
Zimbabwe route of farm invasions with blacks protesting over the slow pace
of land reform in the country.

      But speaking at the same London meeting, the president of the black
National African Farmers Union (NAFU), Motsepe Matlala, whose farmers will
benefit under the UK programme, sought to lay to rest such fears.

      "We have total confidence in our government. There is no way this can
go as bad as in Zimbabwe.

      "Besides, we in NAFU would not tolerate lawlessness by any of our
members, and should anyone try to disrupt our orderly land reform process,
we would help the police in getting people arrested, especially the
instigators," he said. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwean journalists to set up voluntary media council

Zim Online

Mon 12 June 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean journalists say they will set up a voluntary
council to oversee ethics and standards of the media in five months time.

      Zimbabwe's media is one of the most severely regulated in the world
with an array of harsh state laws under which journalists can, for example,
be jailed for two years for practising without licence from the government
or one year imprisonment for insulting President Robert Mugabe in their

      The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), grouping journalists and freedom
of expression activists, has for the last three years pushed to create a
voluntary media council to regulate the media and in the process rebut
claims by the government that it had to impose tough laws to bring order to
an industry that was disorganised and did not have any binding code of
ethics or rules.

      The MAZ is made up of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the
Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
and the National Association of Freelance Journalists.

      ZUJ president Mathew Takaona told a meeting of civic leaders in
Bulawayo at the weekend that the MAZ would convene a meeting of all
stakeholders in about three weeks at which final input could be made before
the voluntary media council is launched in October this year.

      "The structure of the Zimbabwe Voluntary Media Council is coming up
and in three weeks time, we will meet as stakeholders to put final touches
to this whole project and by the end of October we expect the media council
to be operational," Takaona said.

      The council will have a secretariat, reporting to a 12-member board of
directors that will be chaired by a retired judge of the High Court.

      According to Takaona, the council will have representatives from a
variety of players among them publishers, the church, civic society,
journalists and editors.

      At present the government's Media and Information Commission (MIC) is
the only regulatory body for the media in Zimbabwe.

      The MIC chaired by pro-Mugabe academic Tafataona Mahoso has been
accused of bias against Zimbabwe's small privately-owned Press, which it has
decimated by forcing four privately-owned papers including the country's
largest circulating daily, the Daily News, to close down.

      The MIC has also instigated the arrest of several journalists working
for privately-owned papers accusing them of breaching provisions of the
state's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

      Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya has in the past said he will
have no problems with journalists setting up their own regulatory body
although he has indicated the MIC will not be abolished. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe sex workers hike rates in line with inflation

Zim Online

Mon 12 June 2006

      HARARE - In Zimbabwe's hyper-inflationary environment, 23-year old
Linda Gwaze has no qualms having to regularly adjust her rates for services
rendered to her male clients in Harare's Avenues red light district.

      Just as the stewards in Harare's shops have to change prices of goods
almost on a daily basis, so does Gwaze as she peddles her flesh outside the
seedy night clubs and hotels dotted around the Avenues.

      Zimbabwe's annual inflation, already the highest in the world outside
a war zone, surged to 1 193.5 percent in May according to the latest figures
released by the government's Central Statistical Office last Friday.

      And it is not just prices of more mundane goods such as soap or bread
that seem to be on an uncontrollable gallop - sex is not coming cheap on the
streets of Harare.

      Gwaze says most of her colleagues in the Avenues are charging $2.5
million for a quick session of sex of less than 30 minutes or $10 million
for a two-hour session, while a full night of passionate sex costs a
princely sum of $20 million - exorbitant charges indeed given that the
average worker in Zimbabwe earns between $15 million and $20 million per

      "It's the economy, stupid," says Linda, when asked how she and her
colleagues arrive at such high charges for their services.

      Gwaze, who is clad in a black leather jacket with matching pants and
boots, argues that the charges are line with Zimbabwe's skyrocketing

      "Why should I be charitable when things are going up everyday? I am in
business. You want a service, you pay for it (sex) at the current rates (of
inflation) or go and get it from your wife," she says, as she sways her
inviting heaps, towards a potential customer.

      Just over six months ago, female sex workers in Harare's Avenues were
charging about $250 000 for a whole night of passion when inflation was
slightly over 600 percent.

      But galloping inflation - itself the result of an acute economic
crisis gripping Zimbabwe - has forced most ladies of the night to hike rates
to match the country's record breaking inflation.

      Thelma Dube, 17, who relocated from her home in Bulawayo to peddle her
flesh in the streets of Harare about three years ago, said the rates in the
Avenues were in fact cheaper than what some of Zimbabwe's "big men" are
prepared to fork out for  a session of illicit sex at an upmarket hotel in
the city.

      "The rates here are cheap. At the Rainbow Towers (formerly known as
Harare Sheraton) some clients fork up to $50  million just for a session but
where we operate the men don't have that kind of money," says Dube.

      "We need to pay rent so $2.5 million for a quickie is okay because
with five clients a night you are able to go home with a reasonable sum of
money," she added.

      Despite the great risk of contracting the deadly HIV virus, Harare's
ladies of the night are still prepared for to perform sex without condoms -
if the client is prepared to pay more.

      "If you don't use a condom, you must be prepared to pay through the
roof because the cost of dying is also subject to the ravages of inflation,"
Dube says, the burning cigarette in her left hand the only blemish on the
youthful innocence so bountiful on her chubby face.

      But the rising inflation or the upsurge in the number of teenage girls
such as Dube who are engaging in prostitution are just symptoms of an acute
economic and social crisis gripping Zimbabwe since 2000.

      The economic crisis, which the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party and Western governments blame on repression and wrong policies
by President Robert Mugabe, has also manifested itself through shortages of
fuel, food, essential medicines, hard cash and just about every basic
survival commodity.

      Independent economic analysts say more than 70 percent of the 12
million Zimbabweans live below the poverty line and an equal number of
labour is not working while HIV/AIDS is killing at least 3 000 people every

      Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in
1980, denies ruining the southern African country's once brilliant economy
and instead claims that its economic problems are because of sabotage by
Western governments after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks six years ago.

      But for Gwaze and her colleagues in the Avenues it matters little who
between Mugabe and his Western opponents is the author of Zimbabwe's
economic crisis. The young prostitute is far more concerned about whether
her rates are correctly aligned to rising inflation.

      "It's either I do it (selling sex) at a realistic price or die as a
pauper," said Gwaze, as she wiggled her bottom at the driver of car passing
by. - ZimOnline

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"Does anybody care about the Zimbabwean crisis, if so why the silence?" 

Comfort Mabuza, writing for "The Swazi Observer".

Mbeki's London statement that he was pinning his hopes on a solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis on a proposal being worked out by U.N. Secretary-General,
Kofi Annan, finally, is an admission that his policy of "quiet diplomacy"
towards the crisis in Zimbabwe has failed.  It has failed and one cannot
help thinking that history will judge him harshly.
He has stood on the sideline and watched the making of an appalling African
In the past decade life expectancy in Zimbabwe has dropped from 57 years to
34 years -- the lowest in Africa.  A fall of this magnitude in the life
expectancy of 10 million to 12 million people translates into a horrendous
loss of life.  As monstrous is the suffering and hardship of the millions
whose lives are prematurely ended by disease, hunger and a lack of the other
most basic human necessities such as shelter.  These people are dying while
their counterparts in other African countries are in the bloom of their
The situation in Zimbabwe was created and is driven by political corruption
and misrule and whatever spin one puts on it, it is an undisguised atrocity;
nothing short of a crime against humanity that cries out for justice.
While very clearly the villain of the piece is Mugabe, one has to ask to
what extent the tragedy has resulted from a lack of political courage by the
SADC leadership, and more notably, that of the South African President
On the face of it, Mbeki was eminently placed to act as a mediator before
the Zimbabwean crisis had become full-blown.  He was the leader of the
wealthiest and most powerful nation in sub-Saharan Africa.  As such, he was
uniquely placed to influence the outcome of political events in the SADC
region, more particularly, in those countries dependent on South Africa for
their well-being and even their survival.  In addition, he was an ardent
proponent of the African Renaissance, deeply committed to the success of the
African union and an architect of the New Partnership for African
Development.  He also had a close rapport with a number of Western leaders
and a good working relationship with the G8.  And, like Mugabe, his roots
could be traced to the liberation struggle, which gave him impeccable
credentials among his peers.
In the light of this, one has to ask how things could have gone so wrong.
In retrospect, to have expected Mbeki to have gone toe to toe with Mugabe,
who he regarded as being an elder African statesman and, who was probably
one of his role models during the liberation struggle in the 1960s and 70s,
was simply asking too much.  Further it is worth noting that after
Zimbabwean independence in 1980, while the ANC was still banned in South
Africa, Mbeki and a number of other members of the ANC leadership were
frequent visitors to Harare, from where they conspired against South
Africa's apartheid government.  To have expected them to repay Mugabe's
hospitality with open criticism, or worse still, economic sanctions, was
simply not on.
The other issue which was of equal if not greater importance in the way the
tragedy unfolded was the question of race.
Mbeki, perversely or ingeniously, believes that the international censure
aimed at Mugabe was the result of a preoccupation with race by Europe and
the West; because of the deaths of a handful of whites during the land
seizures (many blacks regard the redistribution of land as the final outcome
of the liberation struggle).  Under the circumstances, while Mbeki was being
pressured to intercede in Zimbabwe, he did not really have any problem with
what Mugabe was doing even if he did not see eye to eye with him on the way
he was doing it.
To judge from statements made by a number of his cabinet colleagues, this
was clearly a view they shared.
What Mbeki and company, failed to see was that beyond the media storm over
the land seizures, ordinary blacks who were opposed to Mugabe were being put
through the wringer with a far more lethal ruthlessness than the violence
that was being directed at white landowners.
Looking back, it is difficult to understand, even if Mbeki was being given
biased intelligence, how he could have been so blindsided by the brutal
reality of what was happening in Zimbabwe.  After all, he must have had a
pretty good idea or even a first-hand knowledge of what had happened in
Matabeleland in the early 1980s when Mugabe's security forces murdered some
5,000 to 10,000 people.
A complicating factor in any negotiations between South Africa and Zimbabwe
on the mounting crisis in that country was that South African observer
missions had endorsed the outcome of Zimbabwean elections in 2000 and 2002.
The implication was, Mugabe's government was legitimate and its actions
reflected the will of the people.  That political violence, intimidation and
other skulduggery may have distorted the outcome of the election simply
never entered the equation.
No doubt, Mugabe, the astute politician, quickly sensed that Mbeki did not
have the stomach for an open confrontation.  This was all he needed to push
the boundaries of acceptable governance.  When he wasn't able to get his way
legally and constitutionally; he resorted to strong-arm tactics such as
muzzling the press, depriving the population of other political freedoms and
finally, subverting the rule of law and eroding the most basic of human
rights, until the right to life itself came into question.
The reluctance to confront the situation developing in Zimbabwe was not
confined to South Africa.  The other SADC countries also leaned over
backwards to accommodate Mugabe, while they walked a tortuous path to avoid
confrontation.  However, barely a month ago a meeting of ministers of the
SADC countries called on the international community to assist them to
arrest the deteriorating situation there as it was spilling over into their
own countries.  This was probably the first time the SADC community
acknowledged so openly that the crisis was assuming appalling dimensions and
spinning out of control to the detriment of the entire region.
The cruel and ironic trap, into which Mbeki and company have walked by
allowing gross domestic violence in their neighbour's house to go
unchallenged, is that at the end of the day the crisis in Zimbabwe is going
to claim more lives than the Rwandan genocide.
What is more, unlike the genocide, the brutal legacy of Mugabe's rule will
linger for a generation or more after he has departed from the scene and in
that time many thousands - even hundreds of thousands - of ordinary
Zimbabweans will continue to pay with their lives for Mugabe's unchallenged
History must surely judge severely those leaders who lacked the courage to
speak up when it would have mattered.  Instead they callously turned their
backs on the gross and violent abuse of more than a generation of

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Forced from home, Zim farmers find solace in Nigeria

Mail and Guardian

      Shonga, Nigeria

      11 June 2006 08:57

            Forced off his land in Zimbabwe, 60-year-old Hunter Coetzee has
farming in his blood, but it's Nigerian soil under his fingernails now after
the first harvest in his new home.

            "Nigeria has offered us hope and succour. We are here for good,"
he said contentedly, six years after he thought he had lost everything.

            Coetzee is one of 13 white Zimbabwe commercial farmers who
accepted an offer to resettle in Shonga, about 110km north of Ilorin, the
capital of central state of Kwara where they began farming in June last

            They all fled Zimbabwe after the government of President Robert
Mugabe embarked on its controversial land-redistribution programme in
February 2000, seizing prime farmland from about 4 000 white farmers and
handing it over to the landless black majority.

            "We are here at the invitation of the state government," Coetzee
said. "It's been one year now, and we have harvested our first crops of
maize and Soya beans."

            Their first hesitant visit was in 2003, accepting a Kwara state
offer to inspect farm sites. Today, their families have all joined them in

            "I have in my warehouse 600 tons of maize ready for sale. My
colleagues have between 500 and 1 000 tons each and the price is
competitive," said Coetzee, pointing to thousands of grain sacks in a big
compound near his 1 000ha farm.

            He hailed Kwara Governor Bukola Saraki for his agriculture
programme, which aims to boost production in food and cash crops for both
local consumption and export as well as develop local agri-processing.

            "The governor has been vindicated for his wise decision to bring
us here after we were rejected by our own government," he said.

            "With time we will not only feed Nigeria, we will also bring in
foreign exchange by exporting surplus grains abroad." The goodwill is shared
in Kwara state, where agricultural officials said the project is right on

            "The Zimbabweans have lived up to their billing as skilled and
successful commercial farmers," said official Hassan Lawal. "We salute the
farmers for their commitment and the faith in this government."

            The project also includes farm-extension activities to transfer
knowledge and techniques into the small-scale subsistence-farming sector.

            "The objective is to turn Kwara into the food basket of the
country and to subsequently make Nigeria self-sufficient in food
production," Lawal said.

            Under the deal with the government, each white farmer got 1
000ha on a 25-year lease, along with a $250 000 interest-free loan.

            The government also agreed to provide a guarantee for another
$250 000 loan for each farmer from commercial banks.

            The only complaint so far is what farmers said were difficulties
in obtaining the bank loans.

            "All we want is for the government to put pressure on the banks
to give us loans for our business and to also link our farms with the public
power supply because we are spending a lot to run our generators," said

            Farm manager Kehinde Oyewo felt "we would have performed better
if we had got the necessary assistance from the banks. As soon as the needed
funding is ready, we will go into dairy."

            Undaunted, the farmers will soon start their second year of

            "We have cleared more hectares for the second phase of the
project. The target is to double harvests," said Oyewo.

            For community leader Yusuf Haliru, the presence of the
Zimbabweans has created jobs and gotten the region more notice.

            "Visitors and investors in agriculture-related fields troop in
and out of our community these days despite the poor condition of the roads.

            "This is a positive development. Besides, over 2 000 of our
people have been employed by the foreigners on their farms," he said.

            "As hosts, their coming is a blessing. We are ready to welcome
more white farmers and their families," he said.

            Coetzee, who employs 150 people, said the 13 white farmers
"source our materials locally".

            "It is part of our agreement with the government. We are not
here only to boost food production, we also have to empower the people by
creating jobs and business opportunities for them.

            "There are no regrets for leaving Zimbabwe," said Coetzee, who
came from the town of Mhangura.

            Pointing to the expansive four-bedroom bungalow he shares with
his wife and two sons when they are home from school in Zimbabwe, he said:
"We have found a new home in Nigeria. The people are receptive, friendly and

            Zimbabwe, meanwhile, is in its seventh year of economic
recession characterised by four-digit inflation and shortages of basic
foodstuffs. At least 80% of the population lives below the poverty

            In power since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe blames
the woes on Western countries like Britain and the United States, which he
accuses of plotting to bring about his downfall.

            But Coetzee disagrees. "President Mugabe is the architect of the
problems because of his ill-conceived land-redistribution policy.

            "His government took our land and gave them to their brothers
who could not farm, now the country is in a mess," he said.

            Even if the policy is reversed, he would not return to a country
where Zimbabwe's white-dominated Commercial Farmers' Union says only 600
white farmers remain.

            "It is too late to do that. Where do you start from? The damage
has been done."

            Nigeria has "given us the tools to work. Only a fool will not
reciprocate that gesture by helping the government to succeed in its
agriculture programme," he said. -- Sapa-AFP

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Zimbabwe: The Failures of a State

by Anonymous Student Writer

Standard political science theory defines "weak" and "failing" states as
those rife with gaps in security?state monopoly over the use of force,
capacity?ability to deliver basic services such as education and health
care, and legitimacy?protection of basic rights and freedoms, rule of law,
and widespread participation in government. How, then, can we describe a
state's population that suffers not just from such gaps, but from the
intentional denial of the requisites to all three areas by its leader?
Although a body of academic theory and terms is lacking, we have at least
one word to use: Zimbabwe. Failures in security, capacity and legitimacy,
though exacerbated by a lack of resources, are the direct result of policy
decisions by Robert Mugabe?Zimbabwe's "President" of 26 years. This article
is a profile of peril?first detailing the landscape Mugabe has created, then
emphasizing the urgent need for strategic coordination in dealing with not
just failed states, but states who fail?before their failures yield war.


Despite a tripling in military wages, basic soldier salaries remain
significantly below the poverty line of $350/year, and desertion of the rank
and file and crime are high. Meanwhile, the influence of the security sector
over society grows: the expanded Zimbabwe National Security Council, chaired
by Mugabe and including officials from the Central Security Organization,
police and prison services, has been designated to oversee the latest
economic and food security strategies. At the bottom levels, the military is
eroding, while at the top military authority is radiating throughout the
nation's programs.


The symptoms of the Zimbabwean government's unwillingness to develop state
capacity are many: 90% of the population lives in poverty while the
unemployment rate hovers at 80%. At an estimated 24%, Zimbabwe's adult HIV
prevalence falls fourth highest on the global scale. The result? Zimbabwe
now holds claim to the world's lowest life expectancy?34 for women and 37
for men, and female life expectancy has fallen two years in the last twelve
months. Zimbabwe also brags the world's highest inflation rate?913% as of
March, and expected to hit four digits soon. The shortage of foreign
currency has diminished the capacity to import such basic supplies as fuel,
fertilizer, and medicines.

These conditions are the direct result of government policy decisions. The
government printed approximately 21 trillion in Zimbabwean currency in order
to purchase American dollars to repay IMF debt. Hyperinflation followed, and
the government itself announced that the price of childbirth will rise by
463% by October, and funeral costs will increase 200%. Then, last year, the
government initiated the urban "cleanup" program "Operation Drive Out Trash"
in which an estimated 700,000 were left homeless, and destroyed the informal
urban economy that previously sustained an estimated 2.4 million. It was
followed by "Operation Going Forward, No Turning Back," in which police
drove away those who attempted to return to cities and rebuild. The UN has
begun constructing 2,500 homes, but the government has refused more
substantial assistance, "insisting that tales of suffering are inventions of
Western critics bent on deposing the Mugabe government."

In the most recent development of government refusal to identify and respond
to the needs of its people, Mugabe has blocked the UN Food and Agricultural
Organization from assessing crops for the third consecutive year. Says the
Minister of Agriculture, "Zimbabwe needs to have full facts itself. We are a
sovereign state." Although Zimbabwe possesses the land resources to feed
itself, last year it was forced to spend $135 to import maize.


Zimbabwe refuses both to provide basic rights to its citizens, and to allow
widespread participation in government. In the latest infringement on
freedom of expression, a bill was pushed through Parliament that seeks to
monitor internet access and electronic mail. The Security Minister
threatens, "The net will soon close" on the remaining journalists who choose
to criticize the government.

Heading into winter, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)?the main
opposition party?plans a "season of protests." The protests will highlight
the ongoing deterioration of living conditions due to the economic crisis.
In response to the promise of an active civil society, Mugabe states that
carrying out the protests would be "playing with fire" and that any such
demonstrations will be "crushed."


Zimbabwe is a case study not in state failure, but in the failures of a
state to acknowledge and remedy the devastation of its people. The
government is more concerned with PR than with devising policies that will
enhance the well-being of its population. What degree of accountability does
the community possess for individual leaders that repeatedly choose to
deprive their own citizens of livelihoods and rights? Leadership is the sum
of a leader's choices, but how many heinous choices by a leader of a poor
and faraway nation does it take for the international community to respond?
And what does the current decision by members of the international community
to tolerate reprehensible sovereignties indicate about the nature of their
leadership? The emergence in norms and rhetoric if not reality of the notion
that individuals should not have to suffer because of the square mile of the
map onto which they are born is laudable. However, Zimbabwe's plunge is yet
another example of the disconnect between words and actions in the real
world. The ongoing plight of millions of Zimbabweans illustrates the need to
devise?and execute?new strategies.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 10th June 2006

Very hot - it must have touched 90 degrees F and scarcely changed during the
Vigil.  We were all grateful for the shade of the maple trees.  The England
victory in their first World Cup match kept up the temperature.  The Strand
was certainly quieter during the game but once it finished we had lots of
England supporters signing our petitions and joining in the singing and
dancing. Adding to the carnival atmosphere was a passing naked cyclist
taking part in The World Naked Bike Ride in protest at our dependence on

We were pleased to have with us two young Zimbabweans from Brighton, Alois
Phiri and Wellington Chibanguza, who are part of a youth organization called
"Free Zim".  They are launching a political awareness campaign aimed at
young Zimbabweans in the diaspora.  They reported that many young people
they approached were ashamed to admit they were Zimbabweans - others said
"We don't do politics".  The message was that they are making as much money
as they can and as far as political change is concerned they would wait and
see what happened.  They also reported that many young Zimbabweans were
having difficulty keeping up with the financial needs of their families back

It was good to have several supporters from Milton Keynes (Fadzanayi
Muchenagumbo, Frank Sanena and Vandirai Zano) who are in the process of
trying to set up an MDC branch.

Great to have back Carrie and Don Lapham, who visited the Vigil on 18th June
last year.  They live in Harare and are active human rights workers through
their church.  Carrie informed us she had been keeping in touch with the
Vigil through reports in the Zimbabwean and was delighted to be back again.

Warm wishes from the Vigil to Washington Ali, Chair of MDC-UK.  His first
daughter (and fourth child) was born this week.  Name not decided yet but we
rejoice in another Vigil baby.

Finally our condolences to Anna, one of the forum managers.  We were sorry
to hear that her mother has died.

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD: 52 signed the register.

FOR YOUR DIARY: Zimbabwe Forum, Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28
John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go
down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
Monday, 12th June: the speaker is Ephraim Tapa, Chair of MDC Central London
Branch, trade unionist and international relations expert to discuss
developments in the MDC at home and abroad.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Inmates use Bible as loo paper


09/06/2006 21:16  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe's prisoners face acute food shortages and are going weeks
without soap or toilet paper, reported a parliamentary committee on Friday.

Some inmates have resorted to using pages ripped from Bibles to wipe
themselves clean, said the report, which sounded the alarm about
deteriorating prison conditions amid Zimbabwe's worsening economic crisis.

The report found that malnutrition and disease were widespread in Zimbabwe's
overcrowded jails, designed for 16 000 people but holding many more.

Prison authorities have insufficient funds to buy food, which lead to the
spread of malnutrition-related ailments such as pellagra, intestinal
disorders and mental disorientation.

Water and power outages were also common, said the committee, and sanitation
facilities were in urgent need of repair at most facilities.

The report said blankets in the prisons go unwashed for months. The Harare
Remand Prison had its water supply cut off for failing to pay its bills.

Inmates miss court appearances

Cooking pots and other kitchen implements at the prison were filthy and "not
fit to carry food for human consumption".

When Chikurubi maximum security jail ran dry, water was ferried in by chain
gangs wielding buckets, said the committee, but 73 inmates had diarrhea as a
result of the shortages.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has been blamed on disruptions to the
agriculture-based economy, linked to years of drought and the seizure of
thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution.

Inflation is at 1 043%. There are acute shortages of hard currency and

The report found that prison authorities could often not take inmates to
court for scheduled bail hearings and trial appearances because they did not
have petrol.

According to the report, five of the eight vehicles belonging to the Harare
Remand Prison had broken down and could not be repaired due to a shortage of
spare parts.

Lack of security at prisons

Few of Zimbabwe's families could afford to pay the bail of more than 200 000
Zimbabwean dollars (about R14), leaving many of the accused to languish in
jail, said the report.

Delays in the court system also meant some prisoners remained in custody for
more than five years.

Security is also a problem in the prisons, reported the committee. Most
perimeter lights were not functioning at the prisons they visited.

Closed circuit television and intercom systems at the country's two maximum
security facilities were also not working.

The reported identified at least 41 foreign nationals in Zimbabwean jails.

Some were being held because the government "had no money to deport them to
their respective countries".

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Committee wants open airwaves

      Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee on transport and communications has
challenged the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), to open up the
airwaves by removing tough legal requirements, writes Torby Muturikwa.

      Presenting its findings to the House of Assembly on the Zimbabwean
media, the committee said BAZ should allow other players to run broadcasting
services as the current monopoly by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)
was tantamount to living in isolation.
      "Other players should enter the market. We cannot continue to live in
isolation. We have only one licensed television station," read part of the
report. The broadcasting act requires an aspirant broadcaster to show a
certificate of funding and investment, declare the source of funds and
reveal the investors. It does not allow foreign funding.
      But the Committee said BAZ should remove these requirements and
instead concentrate on issuing licenses to private players, especially
community radio stations. BAZ chairman Pikirayi Deketeke, who is also the
editor of the state flagship daily, The Herald, refused to comment.
      Since the enactment of the act in 2001, the government has shut down
one radio station, Capital Radio, and a television station, Joy TV. Joy Tv
was owned by exiled businessman James Makamba while Capital Radio was
bankrolled by Gerry Jackson, who now runs Short Wave Radio Africa (SW Radio)
      Radio Dialogue and Munhumutapa African Broadcasting Corporation (MABC)
were denied operating licences last year by BAZ for "failing to meet the
requirements". Currently, Voice of The People (VOP) is facing charges of
violating the act and its trustees and journalists are set to appear in
court on June 27.
      The government argues that VOP is broadcasting in Zimbabwe without a
licence from BAZ and is in violation of BSA. However, VOP was registered as
a Community Trust and broadcasts from Madagascar where it relays its
broadcasts from a transmitter stationed in the Indian Ocean.

Sunday, 11 June, 2006

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Zim, China sign $1.3bn deal


11/06/2006 18:17  - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe and China have signed a deal worth US$1.3bn that will see
the development of thermal power stations in the southern African country in
return for chrome, state radio reported on Sunday.

The radio station said the memorandum of understanding was signed in Beijing
and witnessed by Zimbabwe's vice president, Joyce Mujuru, who is on an
official visit to China.

Three thermal power stations will be developed in the Zambezi Valley and
Hwange. The radio report said that under the agreement Chinese machinery and
expertise would be provided in exchange for chrome.

Zimbabwe is experiencing acute shortages of electrical power. Frequent power
cuts are disrupting business and manufacturing in the country, adding to the
economic woes of a country already staggering under inflation of 1 193%.

Under the agreement signed with China National Machinery and Equipment
Import and Export Corporation, a new thermal power station with an output of
600 megawatts will be built in Zimbabwe's remote northern Dande district.

Zimbabwe already has power stations in Hwange that have fallen into

President Robert Mugabe's government has begun a new drive to obtain
international credit and investment through bartering some of its extensive
mineral wealth.

Recently the country's central bank signed a $50m deal with a French
commercial bank to assist the country pay for fuel imports. The deal was
backed up by guarantees from the Bindura Nickel Corporation, a major local

Like much of the southern African region, Zimbabwe is next year expected to
be hit by massive shortfalls of electrical power. Presently Zimbabwe imports
30% of its electrical energy requirements from South Africa and Mozambique,
as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


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Zimbabwe raises 350 million U.S. dollars under economic program

People's Daily

      Zimbabwe has raised 350 million U.S. dollars in cash one month after
its introduction of the National Economic Development Priority Program, a
senior official said on Sunday.

      Minister of Economic Development Rugare Gumbo said although the
tree-month target may not be met, the cash and investments secured so far
have raised optimism that the program will succeed.

      The program is close to sealing investment deals between Zimbabwe and
foreign countries, Gumbo said.

      The funds were raised from resources that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, the central bank, had mobilized, the minister said.

      The minister revealed that representations for investment had been
received from Russia and South Korea, and the key sectors earmarked for
investment are mining, agriculture and industry, among others.

      Source: Xinhua

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Alleged coup plotter returns


11/06/2006 14:28  - (SA)

Johannesburg - A South African man pardoned in Equatorial Guinea after being
jailed over an alleged 2004 coup plot returned home on Sunday and was
immediately taken to hospital, the South African government said.

Marius Boonzaaier, one of 11 foreigners sentenced to between 14 and 34 years
in prison for plotting to overthrow Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro
Obiang Nguema, was pardoned earlier this month because of ill health.

"He arrived at Johannesburg International Airport this morning and was taken
to a hospital," said Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson for South Africa's foreign
ministry. Mamoepa would not disclose the nature of Boonzaaier's illness.

Boonzaaier is the latest member of the convicted plotters to be pardoned and
released by Obiang, who has ruled the oil-rich central African country since
1979 and is accused by critics of running one of Africa's most despotic

Zimbabwe jailed nearly 70 other men, all South African passport holders, in
connection with the plot after their plane was stopped in Harare. Only the
ringleader of that group, Simon Mann, remains in a Zimbabwean prison, on a
four-year sentence.

Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
pleaded guilty in a South African court to funding part of the scheme and
avoided jail under a plea deal with prosecutors.

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