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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index


A Nation of "Information Scavengers"

Wilson Johwa

BULAWAYO, June 11 (IPS) - It's time for mid-week prayers at the Methodist
Church in Main Street. But, spiritual affairs may be the least important
matter on the minds of those present. Instead, a lot of time appears to be
taken up by more worldly concerns, especially the pursuit of the latest

Ears prick up, for instance, when someone mentions that the price of maize
meal (the national staple food) has gone up, even though there's been no
mention of this in the newspaper.

And, interest heightens when someone else whispers the reason why a
prominent businessman linked to the ruling party cannot get bail three
months after his arrest for "externalizing" foreign currency. (The term
"externalizing" refers to the process of circumventing the Zimbabwe Central
Bank when converting Zimbabwe dollars into foreign currency. Officials have
made going through the bank mandatory for conversions - this in a bid to
stem the foreign currency shortages resulting from falling exports and
economic mismanagement.)

It is the same everywhere. Across Zimbabwe at bars, during social events and
at funerals, people huddle together to make crude political jokes,
commiserate over economic woes - and exchange the latest news, collected
from various sources.

The forced closure of the only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News,
nine months ago and the state's subsequent dominance of the media have given
rise to less formal ways of passing on and receiving information.

In a list of 166 countries that are rated by media watchdog Reporters
Without Borders for respect of press freedom, Zimbabwe occupies the 141st
slot. The organisation has also described President Robert Mugabe as a
"predator of press freedom". In addition, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
was awarded the British-based Index on Censorship's Golden Raspberry Award
for "service to censorship" last year, for his role in pushing through
restrictive press laws in Zimbabwe.

This week, another independent newspaper, the weekly Tribune, was shut down
by the government-appointed licensing authority, for allegedly being
improperly licensed.

All of this has prompted Zimbabweans to become "information scavengers" says
media watcher Andrew Moyse: "They seek information even if it's second-hand
from wherever they can find it, particularly the independent weeklies and
from their radios if they are near them."

However, Moyse - who works as Project Coordinator at the Media Monitoring
Project Zimbabwe - says this handful of weeklies doesn't have the capacity
to "rebut the daily tidal wave of propaganda emanating from the
government-controlled media." (The monitoring project scrutinises the local
media for conformity to international standards of press freedom and

Ironically - and even as they try to source news elsewhere - Zimbabweans
have also been buying more state-controlled newspapers than they did in the

Zimpapers, the government-controlled publishing company that owns the
country's only two daily newspapers and three weeklies, is forecasting
pre-tax profits of about 300,000 U.S. dollars this year, a four-fold
increase over last year's profits.

"Indications are that profits will surge during the second half of the
year," group Chief Executive Justin Mutasa told shareholders during the
company's 77th annual general meeting earlier this month.

Relishing the prospect of a captive market, Zimpapers has set new
circulation targets for its newspapers. Sales of the country's biggest daily
are projected to reach 120,000 copies by the end of the year, up from the
current 95,000.

But, Moyse cautions that as much as readers may buy newspapers from the
Zimpapers stable, this is not to say that they accept their content.

Banning The Daily News, while using the government-controlled media as
"messengers of a crude propaganda campaign" for the ruling party and
government, has created an extreme cynicism among ordinary Zimbabweans, he

"They are increasingly forced to rely on the government media for any
information, but consciously and subconsciously take account of the bias
contained in these media. Their content is deeply distrusted and is far from
being accepted at face value."

He says this is giving rise to a word-of-mouth culture in which information
emanating from personal experiences is exchanged - along with news supplied
by those who are still able to access electronic and foreign media sources,
which often "tend to corroborate the news the public gleans from unofficial

In a country with unemployment of over 70 percent, satellite television is
available only to the wealthy few. Radio broadcasts from the British
Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America and particularly the
British-based SW Radio Africa, run by exiled Zimbabweans, appear to be
growing in popularity - but only among those with short wave receivers.

Until recently, cyberspace offered some respite from the state's media

However, it has now become the latest target of the government's censorship
drive. The state telecommunications monopoly, TelOne, has asked internet
service providers (ISPs) to sign commercial contracts which ask them to spy
on the e-mails of their clients for " "objectionable, obscene (and)
unauthorized" content.

ISPs are treading cautiously. "We are discussing with TelOne," says the
Chairman of the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association, Shadreck
Nkala. "At the moment we haven't reached a stage of signing (the contract)."

Nonetheless, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its weekly
information bulletins - sent by e-mail - are already being blocked, because
the government seems to have acquired the technology to do so, possibly from

"We have reason to believe that our e-mail communication is being tampered
with," says party official Nkanyiso Maqeda.

Instead of MDC e-mails, subscribers and supporters are receiving blank
messages telling them that selected mails have been barred for carrying
"sensitive information." (END/2004)
Back to the Top
Back to Index


WFP still feeds needy in Zimbabwe, ready to do more

June 11, 2004, 23:00

The World Food Programme is continuing to feed vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe
despite government claims of bumper harvest, and is ready to broaden its
activities in the country if asked to, the UN body has said. Zimbabwean
officials last month abruptly cancelled food and crop assessment missions by
the WFP and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

A week later, Zimbabwe told international donors it would not require
emergency food aid following a bumper harvest - a statement greeted with
scepticism by many analysts and Zimbabwe commercial farming groups. Mike
Huggins, the WFP spokesperson, said late yesterday that the Zimbabwe
government had asked the organisation to continue feeding around 650 000
vulnerable people, such as orphans of HIV/Aids victims and the elderly.

The WFP normally feeds far more in the country - around 4.5 million up to
April this year - as Zimbabwe grapples with its worst economic crisis since
independence in 1980. "The WFP is ready to assist in a broader distribution
of food should it be required but an assessment of people's food needs would
have to be carried out prior to any appeal being launched. This can take
months," Huggins told Reuters.

James Morris, the WFP executive director, will be able to get some idea of
the food situation when he visits the country next week as part of a
regional tour. It is not clear whether he will meet government officials
during the trip, the WFP said.

Bumper crop or shortfall?
President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe will produce a bumper 2.3 million
tonnes of maize this year but international aid organisations have estimated
it could still face a shortfall of up to 900 000 tonnes on national demand
of 1.8 million tonnes. Although some critics blame food insecurity on
Zimbabwe's seizure of white owned farms, analysts say inflation has hit poor
urban dwellers particularly hard.

"Unemployment is nearly 70% and inflation has hovered around 600% for a year
and clearly people have lost a lot of their purchasing power and in turn
their ability to access food from local markets," Huggins said.

Food shortages have eased in rural communities over recent weeks as people
harvest the maize crop, the USAid-funded Famine Early Warning Systems
Network said last month. It added that larger foreign currency reserves than
last year have boosted Zimbabwe's ability to buy grain from abroad.

Mugabe said last month that Zimbabwe would "never" need to import food, but
publicly available data from South Africa shows the Zimbabwe has imported 24
000 tonnes of maize across the Limpopo since April on top of 413 657 tonnes
last year. Mugabe's critics say he may reject offers of "emergency" aid in
the run up to next year's parliamentary elections in a bid to show his
country is not mired in crisis. - Reuters
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Crisis in Africa getting worse
It is a truly inventive government that can create an economic and social
catastrophe, and then proceed to figure out how to make things worse.
That is what the government of Robert Mugabe appears able to do in its
maladministration of Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia in southern Africa.

Once a breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe is importing food to fight
famine -- something officially denied by Mugabe, who was re-elected in a
rigged election last year.

The famine is a result not of bad weather but of bad policy. Mugabe's idea
of "land reform" was to expel the remaining white farmers and take over
their land. The reforms resulted in land grabs for Mugabe's relatives and
government ministers.

Not surprisingly, the farming industry in the country has been devastated by
driving from the land the knowledge and experience of the white farmers --
what few who had remained, after years of persecution by the government and
lawless thugs associated with the ruling party.

How to make this worse?

Senior government officials said that all the land in the country should be
nationalized. "Ultimately all land shall be resettled as state property. We
want a situation where this very important resource becomes a national
asset," Land Reform Minister John Nkomo said in a weekend interview
published Tuesday in The Herald in Harare. "In the end there shall be no
such thing called private land," he said, calling on all landowners to come
forward to be approved for 99-year leases.

What a joke. The result will be to destabilize what's left of the
agricultural system, and create more and greater food shortages. How will
bankers lend money to farmers, knowing that the 99-year leases are -- in
light of the experience of recent years -- only likely to be honored as long
as the government cares to do so?

The United Nations estimates Zimbabwe will produce only about half its 2
million-ton grain requirements this year. The government insists it will
produce 2.3 million tons this year. No one, naturally, believes this

In an interview with Sky TV, Mugabe scoffed at suggestions that his country
needed food aid: "Why foist this on us? We don't want to be choked. We have
enough," he said, insisting that Zimbabwe would "definitely not" import
grain this year.

If the situation is so sunny, why did Mugabe's government ask teams from the
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program to leave the
country, midway through their reports on the harvest?

Two organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, recently
accused the Mugabe government of manipulating grain distribution by
providing the subsidized grain to Zimbabwe African Nation Union Patriotic
Front strongholds while denying opposition strongholds access to food

A beautiful country, which should be feeding itself, is being run into the
ground. Sanctions by the United States and the European Union have done
little, and neighboring South Africa even less, to curb Mugabe's excesses.
In the words of an opposition party spokesman, the nationalization is "a new
phase in their madness."

These are sad events that might compound the misery of millions.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Mugabe banker's gives journalists run-around

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 06/12/2004 08:27:38
ZIMBABWE'S Reserve Bank governor this week took British and Zimbabwean
journalists on a run-around about his foreign currency road show and his

As we revealed here on Wednesday, Gono flew into Britain from America on 9
June, having confirmed his booking at the four-star Hilton Hotel in Edgware,
London, on 2 June.

British journalists were constantly told by Zimbabwe Embassy officials that
Gono was not in the country. Others were told he was still in America while
journalists in Zimbabwe who rang Gono's office were told: "We don't know
where he is."

They were right, New was told.

"It's only Gono and and those travelling with him who know where he is,
no-one else is being told," said a Reserve Bank source.

There were calls in midweek for the tightening of international sanctions
when New broke the news about his arrival.

Gono will be holding meetings with Zimbabwean expatriates to persuade them
to send money back home through channels set up by the government of
President Robert Mugabe.

British shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram claimed that any money sent
back could be used to help fund Mugabe's Zanu-PF party's campaign in
upcoming elections.

He called for European Union sanctions which prevent those directly
connected with the Mugabe regime from visiting Europe to be extended to
cover those who support it financially.

And he said that if the EU refused to act, Britain should tighten sanctions

Mr Ancram told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We have always called for
the sanctions to cover not just those directly involved in the regime, but
also those who support the regime financially, because the regime without
financial support would be very severely weakened.

"We could act unilaterally, but certainly I think the EU should further
tighten its sanctions."

Mr Ancram said that Dr Gono, who was formerly President Mugabe's personal
banker, was regarded in Zimbabwe as more powerful than the country's Finance

He quoted an unnamed Zimbabwean economist as saying it was "outrageous that
Gono is being allowed into Britain on what is essentially a fund-raising
trip for the Mugabe regime".

ZimVigil, a Zimbabwe group that has been holding weekly vigils at the
Zimbabwe Embassy in London began mobilising this week, vowing to besiege the
Zimbabwe House where Gono will attend a reception on Saturday.

Labour's former minister Kate Hoey added her voice to calls for Dr Gono and
other financial backers of the Mugabe regime to be added to the list of
those subject to travel restrictions.

She told Today: "We have called on an all-party basis for months for the
whole list to be toughened and extended.

"Of course we could do that without involving the EU. If we can't get it
through the EU, we could do it as a country ourselves.

"What we really should be doing is trying as a government to go to the
United Nations and get this whole issue looked at by the UN.

The central bank announced earnings this week of Zim $520 billion (about US
$100 million), mainly from remittances sent by Zimbabweans living abroad.
Since the registration of 11 money transfer agencies (MTAs) five weeks ago,
thousands of Zimbabweans, both locals and those in the diaspora, have
flocked to convert their foreign currency.

"There is an improvement in foreign currency inflows into the country since
the implementation of the new policy allowing citizens to use Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe [RBZ] accredited money transfer agencies and the adoption of
currency auction floor exchange rates," the RBZ said in a statement.

The move to harness foreign currency from Zimbabweans living overseas,
dubbed "Homelink", was a direct response from the government to undercut the
parallel market which until now had reaped the bulk of inflows.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Mozambique takes measures to control foot-and-mouth disease 2004-06-12 04:48:34

      ?MAPUTO, June 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Mozambican authorities are preparing
to brand cattle throughout the country, in order to control the movement of
the animals and improve the management of the deadly foot-and-mouth disease,
local media reported on Friday.

          The Mozambican deputy national director of livestock, Ventura
Macamo, told press that priority will go to those areas that have been
affected by foot-and-mouth disease, particularly along the border with

          He noted that this is a costly process, and will have to be
undertaken in accordance with the country's financial capacity. Preparations
include provincial budgeting, taking into account thecoverage of the
priority areas.

          Macamo could not estimate the number of cattle to be branded,
saying that planning is still at local level.

          Restriction in cattle movements in the country were last reviewed
in April, when it was decided that cattle could be moved for slaughtering
purposes, while maintaining the ban on movement for reproduction.

          Macamo explained that a total lift of the ban will only be decreed
when it is found that there is no longer any danger of thespreading of
foot-and-mouth disease, and when the cattle are branded, to allow a better
control in the future.

          Foot-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals like pigs and
cattle. It causes sores, blisters and fever, deadly for livestock, but
harmless for humans.

          The disease's worst outbreak took place in Europe. Some six
million farm animals were culled across Britain alone, during the year 2001,
which affected around 2,000 farms and slaughterhouses. The disease also hit
Africa, with Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia among the affected. Mozambique
also reported an outbreak last May.Enditem
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

Namibian union threatens to seize farms

WINDHOEK - A black farm workers' union in Namibia threatened on Friday to
seize white-owned farms by force in an angry response to a new farmers'
organisation which has vowed to fight land expropriations in the southern
African country.
President Sam Nujoma's government last month told 15 white farm owners to
make an offer to sell their property to the state, the first move by the
authorities to force the white farmers off their land.

"If the white colleagues do not want expropriation of land, we can always
introduce a new method - which is taking the land without compensation and
without sharing it with them, by force," said Alfred Angula, general
secretary of the Namibia Farmworkers' Union.

Angula was responding to statements from a new organisation, the Namibia
Farmers' Support Initiative, launched this week to oppose the
expropriations, which have fueled fears that Namibia may follow the path of
Zimbabwe on land reform.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe launched land reform in 2000 in which
thousands of white farms were seized, at times using force, and handed to
landless blacks.

Angula accused the new group of "trying to stop the land reform process in
Namibia" and of inciting violence.

"We of NAWFU are sending a serious warning to Sigi Eimbeck and his followers
not to provoke the Namibian people", he said, referring to the leader of the
new group.

Eimbeck said on Friday that his group was dissatisfied with the main Namibia
Agricultural Union, which is seeking to hold negotiations with the
government on land reform.

"We want a fair and transparent land reform process and will take government
to court on behalf of our members if the expropriation is done unfairly", he

"There exists a lot of uncertainty and fear among farmers after the
government sent out expropriation notices last month," said Eimbeck.

The government has repeatedly stressed that land reform will be carried out
within the context of the law, that just compensation will be paid, and that
the move is necessary as most of Namibia's arable land is in white hands.

Namibia, a former German colony which came under South African rule until
its independence in 1990, has been ruled by Nujoma, who has sent strong
signals on the land issue.

Back to the Top
Back to Index