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JAG says compensation of white farmers a scam



By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 June 2006

There are several reports that claim that the government has started
compensating former commercial white farmers in Zimbabwe for their
properties which were illegally taken over by the government. The minister
for Lands and Land Resettlement Didymus Mutasa is reported to have said last
week the farmers are responding well to the government's invitation to get
compensated for their property's infrastructure. He is quoted as saying:
"..we are compensating the infrastructure only, Blair should compensate them
for the land." But Justice For Agriculture (JAG), which represents the
majority of evicted farmers in the country, said the offers only amount to
about 5% of the true value of the improvements on the land and the vast
majority of farmers are turning this down.

Mutasa and the Zimbabwe government have insisted it should be the
British government that compensates farmers for land according to the
Lancaster House agreement signed at independence. Mutasa is also reported to
have accused Blair of not sticking to the British government's part of the
agreement. John Worsley Worswick of JAG admitted an agreement was made at
Lancaster House but explained where it all went wrong. He said: "Certainly
the farmers who were paid over the 15 year period got paid for land and
improvements on that land. But the issues got muddied with regards to
statements made by Mugabe that the land was stolen. Now this is very much an
issue between the Zimbabwe government and the British government in that it
predates 1980. In fact it goes all the way back to 1919 and at some stage
there is going to have to be an international ruling with regard to, was the
land stolen or not?"

Worswick also stressed that many farmers bought their properties after
1980 with the blessing of the same government now taking them back. He said:
"Certainly as farmers in this country we accepted the hand of reconciliation
after 1980. 82% of the farmers who stayed in the country had purchased their
land subsequent to 1980 with the majority of them having received
certificates of "no present interest" from the government and have basically
developed their farms with the blessing of the government. So to turn around
in the year 2000 and to say the land was stolen and you're taking it back
raises major issues that need probably at this stage an international
ruling."

As for reports that many farmers were accepting the recent government
offers for compensation. Worswick said: "To the best of our knowledge only
200 farmers over the last 5 years have received any compensation. Now that's
200 farmers out a possible 4,300 farmers who have been evicted. It's hardly
a major response."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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It's time for some tough action on Zimbabwe

Pretoria News

June 13, 2006 Edition 1

Peter Kagwanja

Zimbabwe's dangerous economic and political slide seems to be compelling
South Africa to rethink its policy of quiet diplomacy in favour of a
tougher, more public stance.

With its bilateral approach having hit a dead end, Pretoria must now step up
its multilateral engagement with African institutions and the international
community to pursue a mixed policy of diplomatic pressure, sanctions and
incentives to halt Zimbabwe's implosion.

Zimbabwe is becoming a failed state, posing a real menace to regional peace
and security and forcing Pretoria to take a hard look at the quiet diplomacy
policy.

On May 17, deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad sounded alarm bells over the
impact of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown on South Africa - including the
burden of more than 2-million refugees. President Mbeki has also publicly
backed United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposed
diplomatic intervention to resolve Zimbab-we's crisis.

Pretoria's public call for urgent solutions to the Zimbabwe crisis signals
the end of its behind-the-curtains diplo-macy.

Mbeki responded to Zimbabwe's crisis, triggered by the controversial 2000
land reforms, with "quiet diplomacy" - a policy underpinned by the
imperatives of African solidarity and peer pressure as opposed to "megaphone
diplomacy" and open criticism of illiberal policies.

The policy was motivated by Pretoria's intense fear of having a failed state
on its doorsteps.

But besides shielding President Robert Mugabe from international pressure,
the approach strengthened the hand of the ruling elite and stabilised the
state, postponing Zimbabwe's political meltdown.

And now the nightmare of a failed state looms even larger. The most
formidable "opposition" to Mugabe's regime and threat to Zimbabwe's
stability is an economy running amok: a record peace-time annual inflation
rate of 1 042,9%; more than 75% unemployment; almost empty foreign reserves;
and acute fuel and food shortages.

The economic free fall complicates a "triple" humanitarian crisis: more than
4-million refugees and internally displaced persons; chronic food shortages
with several million hungry; and a 24,6% adult HIV infection rate.

Harare is heaping all the blame on external forces and sanctions for its
economic woes, which is unhelpful. It must start redressing its own
policies, which have pushed the economy to the ropes. For instance, the 2005
state-engineered urban clean-up ("Operation Murambatsvina") left more than
133 000 households without shelter or livelihoods and wiped out the informal
sector - the poor's haven.

Mugabe has promised to retire when his term expires in 2008, but the lack of
a transition plan is leaving the country suspended in limbo between war and
peace. The ruling Zanu-PF is split in the middle by a vicious race to
succeed Mugabe.

Its plan to create a "transitional presidency" and postpone elections in
2008 is threatening to drive key party stalwarts to the opposition and
destroy the ruling party.

Moreover, the regime's reliance on a nearly 40 000-strong military and the
more than 20 000 ready-for-combat youth militias to crush popular revolts is
fostering a climate of a country under a de facto martial law.

But with shrinking incomes and irregular pay, the rank and file officers may
not be relied upon to quell riots.

Mbeki's intervention in October last year failed to prevent the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from fracturing into two rival factions
now locked in self-destructive feuds over the party's name and assets.

There is considerably doubt that an opposition alliance would arise to field
one presidential candidate in 2008, dimming the chances for a democratic
change and creating widespread frustration and uncertainty.

In February, Mbeki presented a draft constitution, arising from the
inter-party talks he brokered between 2002 and 2004, as the showpiece of his
quiet diplomacy policy.

The draft can serve as a starting point for a constitution-making process,
but it remains on the back burner, with Mugabe declaring in February that
"there is no crisis requiring intervention in Zimbabwe".

Even as the ripples of Zimbabwe's crisis rock its neighbourhoods, Pretoria
lacks the requisite force of sanction to reassert its mediation role. But it
has taken a significant first step in attempting to apply economic pressure.

In September last year, after the dispute over Zimbabwe's arrears to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pretoria offered a $500-million credit
line to enable Harare pay off its debts and buy fuel and food.

But, as pre-conditions for the credit, it urged for inter-party talks on a
new constitution, the scrapping of restrictive laws and an economic recovery
plan.

Harare shot down this initiative, paying its IMF arrears and printing
Z$60-trillion (about $230-million) to sustain its operations.

But Pretoria's officials insist that the loan offer is still on the table,
following the IMF's decision to block Zimbabwe's access to renewed credit.
Although this creates an opening for re-engagement, Zimbabwe is unlikely to
take the offer owing to considerations of national sovereignty and pride.

Declining support for Harare from African leaders like Libya's Muammar
Gaddafi, who supported Mugabe with a staggering $480-million in 2002, might
boost South Africa's economic pressure. But Foreign Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma said last month South Africa would not impose targeted
sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Pretoria's multilateral diplomacy through the 14-member Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) is unlikely to bring about any change, with its
diplomats acknowledging that "Mugabe is larger than SADC".

SADC is unlikely to include Zimbabwe's crisis in the agenda for its summit
in August.

The African Union's (AU) leaders' summit is believed to have the requisite
diplomatic weight to accelerate chance in Zimbabwe, but it lacks the
political will and courage to do so. "Zimbabwe is a hot potato," a senior AU
official said recently.

The AU's credibility suffered a setback after its January summit rejected on
technicalities yet another resolution by its own Commission on Human and
People's Rights critical of Zimbabwe.

Its summit next month offers an opportunity to mobilise the continent behind
a call for urgent action to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis, but South Africa
needs to act to ensure that the chance is not missed.

Pretoria sees its best chance in backing the UN's plan on Zimbabwe. Although
the plan's contours are still blurry, it is said to involve a trade-off
between an aid package and Mugabe's exit timetable.

But Zimbabwe has poured cold water on the plan, with Mugabe's spokesman
George Charamba saying that Annan's invitation has lapsed.

Annan's point-man, UN's under-secretary general for political affairs
Ibrahim Gambari, has also denied that there is such a plan, despite
confirming that a visit from Annan is still a possibility.

Zimbabwe's new diplomatic offensive to rope in former Tanzanian president
Benjamin Mkapa to help in bilateral talks with the British Prime Minister
Tony Blair appears misguided, with the UK backing the UN initiative.

Pretoria's new tough stance might send the right message to Harare, but its
officials must now stay the course.

.. Dr Peter Kagwanja is a Research Associate with the Centre for
International Political Studies.


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Zimbabweans Bear Brunt of Economic Meltdown



Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

COLUMN
June 9, 2006
Posted to the web June 13, 2006

Benedict Unendoro
Harare

If an uprising begins in Zimbabwe any time soon it might well be dubbed "the
Lemonist Revolution".

So important has the lemon now become that it is a part of every family's
shopping basket. People visiting neighbouring South Africa return with
plastic bags loaded with the yellow-skinned citrus.

Fresh milk, when available, has become unaffordable for most. The same goes
for sugar. At breakfast, to enhance the taste of their morning cup of tea,
locals now use lemon instead of milk and sugar. They need it in their
porridge too, for the same reason.

"Tea tastes good with lemon," said Margaret Gweshe, a housewife living in
Chitungwiza, 28 kilometres from Harare. "But that's not why we have lemon
tea every day. We would prefer the old days when we had milk we could
afford."

Prices of essential commodities have shot up, with inflation reaching 1043
per cent in May. "People now only have money for the very basics," said
Gweshe as she cradles a two-year-old child showing the early signs of
malnutrition. "Maize meal is our staple, so all the money has to be directed
towards it before we can think of buying anything else."

For breakfast she gives the baby maize porridge with lemon in it while she
makes do with a cup of tea and a sweet potato from her garden. To preserve
maize rations there is no midday lunch. "Maputi is all we will have in the
afternoon," she said. Maputi are popped maize, very different from popcorn
familiar to film-goers. The latter is made from special corn, while the
former are just ordinary maize kernels roasted until they pop.

"For supper we always have sadza [a thick maize porridge] with vegetables
boiled in salt. There is no cooking oil. We can't afford tomatoes and
onions. Having supper is an ordeal rather than a pleasure," she said.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is now virtually complete and ordinary
Zimbabweans are bearing the brunt of it.

The price of a litre of petrol increased from 200,000 to 300,000 Zimbabwe
dollars at the end of the first week of June. Obviously no foreigner can
comprehend, at a glance, what that means.

So bear with me for a short seminar on a country holding two world records -
the highest inflation rate in the world and the fastest shrinking economy.

The real value of one US dollar at the black market rate in a country where
the formal economy has collapsed is 310,000 Zimbabwe dollars.

President Robert Mugabe's has pegged the official exchange rate at 102,000
Zimbabwe dollars to one US dollar, but US greenbacks are exchanged at this
rate only in exceptional, unavoidable circumstances.

To illustrate how far we have fallen, one Zimbabwe dollar was worth more
than one American dollar at independence in 1980.

Eighty per cent of all Zimbabweans now live in abject poverty on the
equivalent of less than one US dollar a day.

Every rise in the price of fuel has an immediate effect on everything else.
Commuter bus fares rise as soon as the price of fuel rises. The prices of
basic commodities also rise because grocers have to pay more to bring the
commodities to their shops.

Zimbabwe is the only country in the world whose highest denomination bank
note cannot buy a loaf of bread. Less than a week after the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe introduced a new 100,000 Zimbabwe dollar bank note at the beginning
of June, the price of a loaf of bread shot up from 85,000 to 132,000
Zimbabwe dollars. Last Christmas, we were paying "only" 45,000 a loaf.

A lot of things have become so ridiculous in Zimbabwe that they would be
hilariously funny if they were not so deadly serious and causing so many of
us to die unnaturally early. Another world record we hold is for the lowest
life expectancy for our women. According to the World Health Organisation,
the average Zimbabwean woman does not live now beyond the age of 34 compared
with 60 years at independence.

The word "trillion" has been added to our basic vocabulary, because that is
the monetary figure government departments and businesses work in.

But a recent snap survey showed that only one in ten professionals know how
many zeros there are in a trillion.

The Reserve Bank has introduced "bearer cheques" because it has run out of
foreign exchange to import the kind of high quality paper necessary for
printing standard bank notes. The bearer cheques are printed on ordinary low
quality paper, with no security features, and they expire after a given
period. The last "quality" bank note printed in this country was for 1,000
Zimbabwe dollars, which these days does not buy you even a single
matchstick.

For a single purchase of twenty litres of petrol, one needs 6 million
Zimbabwe dollars or 300 twenty thousand dollar bearer cheques. Petrol
attendants use money counters for this and as the cheques purr in the
machine the poor quality paper sends lots of dust into the attendant's face.
They have to wear masks because the dust causes terrible coughing.

The dust pollution is made worse because "some of our customers carry their
great wads of bearer cheques in the most unsavoury of containers", one
attendant told IWPR at a service station in the Harare suburb of Hatfield.

In the villages, the new money puzzles the elderly. "Why do they give us
this new note when it cannot buy anything," asked an old man at funeral
vigil in Chivi, 320 km south of Harare. He told IWPR that in his day, "when
money was still money", one could buy a pair of shoes using the biggest
denomination note. "Now this 100,000 dollar bill buys nothing, but they
bring it to us anyway," he said.

The 100,000 Zimbabwe dollar bill has been dubbed the "greenback" by local
wits because of its colour. But, unlike a single US dollar, one of these new
notes is useless by itself. To buy a single 40-watt lightbulb you need a
dozen "greenbacks".

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said on the eve of the launch of the
100,000 Zimbabwe dollar bearer cheque, "It will help reduce the annoyance of
carrying loads and loads of money around and make shopping easier." Well,
Gono, who lives in a palatial home perhaps second in size to President
Mugabe's, is way out of touch with reality. We ordinary Zimbabweans no
longer use wallets. They are too small. The country's money is devaluing so
fast that you have to lug around plastic bags full of "bricks" of notes if
you are going to a small grocery shop. To buy anything bigger, you need a
suitcase.

For most low-income urban dwellers whose salaries range from a low of five
million to an average of ten million Zimbabwe dollars a month, life has
simply become unbearable.

Margaret Gweshe's husband earns ten million Zimbabwe dollars and works near
the city centre. He needs 200,000 a day to travel to and from work and the
total per month is about four million. Rental accommodation in most working
class suburbs ranges between 3 million and 3.5million a month for a single
room.

The Gweshes' monthly ten million Zimbabwe dollars is gobbled up just by
transport and accommodation. They rent two rooms. Therefore there is no
money for groceries, school fees and school uniforms, whose prices are
soaring in line with runaway inflation. School shoes now cost 3 million a
pair at a shoe shop considered to be one of the cheapest.

"A person earning 10 million is not able to come to work, pay school fees
and accommodation. That's what it means," said Fadzai Kaseke who lives in
the sprawling shantytown of Epworth just outside Harare. "That person cannot
afford to get sick. Imagine if a serious illness falls in the family. The
person will be in serious trouble."

Most families are surviving on one meal a day. Things that most people used
to take for granted, such as milk, margarine, bread, sugar, meat, cooking
oil and tea, have become luxuries. Beef, once a staple along with maize, now
costs 1 million Zimbabwe dollars a kilogramme in a supermarket.

Zimbabweans joke grimly that they are "poor millionaires". Like Gladys, a
domestic worker who earns more than 3 million a month. That is a salary she
could only dream of a few years ago when maids' monthly wages were set at
80,000. But these days her millions do not stretch to a regular morsel of
meat. So she eats dried grasshoppers.

"We are getting to the point where people can't take anymore," said Lovemore
Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a major lobby
group for political reform."Poverty and suffering are growing by the day.
It's just a matter of time before inflation sparks civil disobedience."

Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.


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In Africa, China Trade Brings Growth, Unease

Washington Post

Asian Giant's Appetite for Raw Materials, Markets Has Some Questioning Its
Impact on Continent

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 13, 2006; Page A14

JOHANNESBURG -- Every time newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube visits his
native Zimbabwe, he said, there seem to be more Chinese. He sees them
shopping at boutiques, driving fancy cars, picking up their children from
elite private schools.

And as in much of Africa, Ncube said, China's reach into Zimbabwe's economy
is equally pervasive: The roads are filled with Chinese buses, the markets
with Chinese goods, and Chinese-made planes are in the skies. Chinese
companies are major investors in mining and telecommunications. The
government in Beijing, meanwhile, is a crucial backer of Zimbabwe's
authoritarian president, Robert Mugabe.

"They are all over the place," said Ncube, 43, who owns newspapers in
Zimbabwe and South Africa. "If the British were our masters yesterday, the
Chinese have come and taken their place."

Such unease appears to be rising across Africa as Chinese become powerful
players -- and, in some places, the dominant ones -- in economies across the
continent. In a pattern replicated across the world, China's voracious
appetite for raw materials is helping push sub-Saharan economies to their
fastest growth in three decades, and inexpensive Chinese-made products are
suddenly available across the continent. Yet many Africans say the influx,
while offering consumers more affordable goods, has not improved their
economic situation and has hurt local companies.

African and Western activists say China's increasingly close ties to the
troubled governments in Angola, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe are undermining
efforts to nurture democracy and improve human rights.

When Chinese President Hu Jintao toured Africa in April, he implicitly
responded to concerns about his country's growing role on the continent.

"China's development will not bring a threat to anyone but, instead, will
only bring more opportunities and space for development to the world," Hu
told the Nigerian National Assembly, according to news reports.

He also reiterated China's policy of making business deals without any
expectation that governments will improve democracy, respect human rights or
fight corruption. He told reporters in Nairobi, the last stop of his tour,
that China follows "a policy of noninterference in other countries' internal
affairs."

China's overall trade with Africa rose from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $40
billion last year and continues to increase, according to Chinese government
statistics. Sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth rate, meanwhile, has nearly
doubled over the same period, from 3 percent to an estimated 5.8 percent
this year, the best since 1974, according to the International Monetary
Fund. Among the major factors, analysts and economists say, is the
increasing trade with China.

"Those places that are energy-rich and mineral-rich are awash in cash," said
J. Stephen Morrison, head of the Africa program for the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, speaking from his office in Washington. "And that
is driven in part by these new, rapid-growth Asian economies."

China has spent billions of dollars securing drilling rights in Nigeria,
Sudan and Angola, and has exploration or extraction deals with Chad, Gabon,
Mauritania, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.

The Chinese also have become investors in the booming copper industry in
Zambia and Congo. They have been major buyers of timber in Gabon, Cameroon,
Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia. Chinese companies were widely
criticized for keeping former president and war crimes suspect Charles
Taylor flush with cash and prolonging Liberia's devastating civil war. The
Chinese also have helped push up the prices of other African exports such as
platinum, iron and coal.


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Zimbabwe radio station wins BBC award

New Zimbabwe

By Everette Ndlovu
Last updated: 06/13/2006 11:19:54
THE Voice of the People radio station (VOP) -- one of the few independent
radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe -- has received the coveted One
World Special Award sponsored by the BBC World Service Trust.

The award is given to "an overseas media project that has made a unique
contribution to human rights."

The radio station that has survived police raids, arrests, frequency jams,
and an impending court case, was honoured at a ceremony in London last week
for being the "voice of the voiceless under trying circumstances."

Despite repressive media laws which have seen foreign correspondents
deported, VOP broadcasts a daily programme, providing a lifeline for up to
half a million listeners hungry for information.

Each day, the station broadcasts a one-hour programme in the country's three
national languages - Shona, Ndebele and English. As well as providing news
and debate, including the exposure of human rights abuses, the station
covers health and education, especially around HIV/AIDS.

Journalists from VOP, including director John Masuku, made a special trip to
London to collect the award.

Masuku said: "In its lifetime, the station has been criticised, threatened
and jammed but what drives us on is the belief in giving a voice to the
voiceless - giving the people of Zimbabwe an opportunity to speak freely
about issues that affect their lives and country. This award provides huge
encouragement to us all. Thank you."

The ceremony was hosted by Channel 4 News' main news anchor Jon Snow, a
supporter of the awards.

The trial of Voice of the People (VOP) board members accused of operating a
radio station without a licence in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act
(BSA) has been set for 15 June 2006 at the Harare Magistrates Courts.

Masuku and fellow VOP board members, David Masunda, Nhlanhla Ngwenya,
Lawrence Chibwe, Millie Phiri, Arnold Tsunga and Bella Matambanadzo go on
trial on June 16 accused of contravening section 7(1) of the Broadcasting
Services Act which prohibits broadcasting without a licence.

Zimbabwean prosecutors say the VOP bosses established an office at in Harare
which they equipped with computers and produced news programmes.

The news programmes were allegedly then dispatched to a transmitter in the
Netherlands from where they were relayed to Madagascar. The station in
Madagascar, prosecutors say, beamed the programmes into Zimbabwe via short
wave.


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Zanu PF paper collapses

journalism.co.za

The mouthpiece of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party, The Voice, has been
taken off the streets and seems to have collapsed, writes Torby Muturikwa.

Journalists at the paper this week said they are unsure of their
future after management could not indicate when the weekly paper would be
back on the streets.
"We were told that the paper was restructuring so it was important to
stop publishing temporarily. But since the dismissal of Lovemore Mataire
(Editor) and the problems that we now hear at Jongwe Printers, no one is
sure if the paper will come back," one journalist said.

Mataire had been charged with theft from the paper, but was dismissed
after State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa withdrew the charges early this
year.

Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira
had reported Mataire to the police for stealing $6 million (R120) of the
newspaper's sales revenue.

Shamuyarira refused to comment on the closure of The Voice and said it
was a party issue and would be dealt with by the party and not by outsiders.

The Voice has been off the streets since February although insiders at
Zanu PF hinted that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) might take
over the mouthpiece.

However, the CIO did not take over after it discovered that Jongwe
Printers was in the red. The CIO is currently also embroiled in a bitter
ownership wrangle with founder of the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group
(ZMNG), Dr Ibbo Mandaza.

Jongwe Printers, the publishers of The Voice, are on the verge of
collapse after money meant for recapitalisation was allegedly used by Zanu
PF heavyweights.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released a Z$17.5 billion loan facility
for the purchase of a printing press but the money was diverted to other
uses.

Two years ago, Jongwe spent a $10.5 billion RBZ loan for a printing
press on an unsuitable machine that can only print exercise books.

Recently the publishing house had its property attached by the
Messenger of the Court to settle outstanding debts owed to a number of
service providers.

The Voice, formerly The People's Voice, has been Zanu PF's internal
newspaper for almost twenty years.

Over the years, the paper has dramatically lost revenue. Its
circulation dropped from 15 000 at its peak to less than 2000 per week.

Monday, 12 June, 2006


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Opposition Protests Set to Fail



Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

June 9, 2006
Posted to the web June 13, 2006

Nonthando Bhebhe
Harare

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, has
threatened to lead mass demonstrations in late June and July in a bid to
dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power. But Tsvangirai's increasingly
evident weak leadership, together with widespread public disillusionment
with the potential for change, suggests that the protests will end in abject
failure.

Zimbabweans have endured steep economic decline and a steady erosion of
political freedom in the past six years, and many appear to have given up --
or at least to be reluctant to risk their necks for the Movement for
Democratic Change, MDC, which has failed to live up to the euphoria which
surrounded its birth in 1999.

When the MDC first emerged on the Zimbabwean political scene, there were
high hopes that Tsvangirai would prove to be Mugabe's nemesis. However, the
president has survived the numerous attempts by his opponent to effect
regime change.

"Tsvangirai has been like a boxer who, with his opponent against the ropes,
fails to deliver the killer punch," Abel Munenzva, a teacher in Mount
Darwin, 190 kilometres north of Harare, told IWPR. "The killer punch could
have come way back in 2000, when - after that landmark election - many
people were angry at how Mugabe so blatantly rigged it.

"Another opportunity came in 2002, with the rapid economic decline in the
country and another fraudulent poll which saw Mugabe hang onto power."

In the 2000 ballot, the MDC won 57 out of 120 parliamentary seats in a brief
spell of opposition optimism. Many western organisations observing the vote,
including the European Union and Transparency International, said it was
rigged by the ruling ZANU PF party and that opposition supporters had been
intimidated.

The presidential election of March 2002, in which Mugabe narrowly defeated
Tsvangirai, was marred by violence and by restrictions on opposition
activity, and was so widely criticised that Zimbabwe was expelled from the
Commonwealth, the club of former British territories.

While the MDC cried foul, renewed hope came in June 2003 in what Tsvangirai
dubbed the "final push" \u2013 a nationwide action in which the bulk of
ordinary Zimbabweans were supposed to assemble in major towns and the
capital Harare, and march to State House in a massive demonstration designed
to force Mugabe to capitulate.

But the people, wearied by increasing economic hardship, rigged polls, a
government that resorted to violence without qualms, and opposition leaders
who led from the back, failed to heed the call. Even the normally radical
student movement boycotted the "final push".

In March 2005, ZANU PF won 78 of the 120 directly elected seats in
parliament in a vote that once again was criticised as fraudulent by
external observers.

In the wake of the three flawed elections since 2000, the opposition has
lacked a clear strategy for dislodging Mugabe. According to Munenzva, "This
has mainly been because the man everybody entrusted with the leadership of
the new struggle for freedom, Tsvangirai, has fallen far short of
expectations. After the 2002 presidential election, he showed himself more
than ever to be a weak leader, unable to lead his people into the battle and
unsure on what course of action to take."

Tsvangirai showed indecision after his party was defeated in last year's
election, when he said people should "defend their vote". This turned out to
mean launching a series of court cases contesting constituency results. But
with a judiciary appointed and controlled by Mugabe, the legal route was
never going to bring the opposition much success.

Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out the Rubbish) which Mugabe launched last
year against poorer urban communities was another missed opportunity for
Tsvangirai. More than 700,000 people watched their homes being destroyed by
the security forces in what the government said was a regeneration project
but many say as a way of eroding the MDC's urban support base.

Critics, including Anna Tibaijuka, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi
Annan's special envoy to Zimbabwe, saw it as a giant social engineering
project designed to force potentially troublesome urban communities back
into the countryside to reduce the possibility of a popular uprising.

Tsvangirai left most of the condemnation of this humanitarian tragedy to the
international community.

Another opportunity now beckons for Tsvangirai to show his mettle.

The Zimbabwean economy has imploded, with acute shortages of fuel, food and
electricity, a dearth of foreign currency, and the world's highest rate of
inflation at 1,040 per cent year on year, and rising. Most Zimbabweans are
now so impoverished that they can no longer afford basic health care,
accommodation and education.

Hopes of a change to this situation rose again in April, when Tsvangirai
warned Mugabe that his 26 years of uninterrupted power were nearing their
end.

"Mugabe has subjected us to all kinds of torture, and his officials have
even threatened to physically eliminate us," said the MDC leader. "But we
are not moved, and mobilisation for mass action is surely under way."

In an attempt to demonstrate his serious intent, Tsvangirai said that this
time he would lead mass protests from the front. He and other MDC leaders
have been widely accused over the past six years of encouraging "the masses"
to take the lead while they stay at the rear of the action.

Mugabe warned his opponent that he would be "dicing with death" if he tried
to seize power through street protests.

"If you want an excuse for being killed, be my guest," said the president.
"Go into the streets and demonstrate."

He made it clear that ZANU PF forces, battle-hardened in the war against
white rule in the Seventies, would react ruthlessly and turn any protests
into a bloodbath.

Tsvangirai responded at a big MDC rally, "I am prepared to die in order to
liberate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF's misrule."

But now it seems he is less likely to risk dying for freedom than he
suggested back in April.

In Zimbabwe, the mere mention of mass protests invokes images of running
battles with the police and the army.

"If people thought the government was brutal in the Nineties, this winter's
demonstrations [in June and July] are likely to be bloodier than ever, as
they threaten ZANU PF's hegemony," said a secretary who works for a
state-owned company. "For Mugabe it will mean a final stand."

The weekly Zimbabwe Independent, which takes an anti-Mugabe stance, is now
reporting that Tsvangirai is putting mass protests on the back burner, and
favouring instead the kind of international intervention that has so far
failed to end crisis in Zimbabwe.

"Most MDC supporters were bracing for a showdown with government over
deteriorating living standards and a collapsing economy," said the newspaper
on June 2. "But indications are that hard-pressed Zimbabweans will have to
wait a little longer before the 'cold winter of resistance' begins."

Responding to reports that Tsvangirai and his fellow MDC leaders had got
cold feet about their plans for public protests, party spokesman Nelson
Chamisa said, "The nation is now ready for mass action. Obviously, we are
not going to alert the oppressors by making a public announcement in advance
of the event."

If, as now seems unlikely, a mass protest does materialise, its success or
otherwise will be important in determining Zimbabwe's future. Should the
protests go ahead but fail once more, the 82-year-old Mugabe's rule will be
cemented, and a proposed amendment to the constitution extending his term
until at least 2010 will be passed by parliament.

Many commentators still think that if Tsvangirai displayed courage and
organisational skills, he could easily lead a public angered by increasing
hunger and poverty.

John Makumbe, a political science lecturer at Harare's University of
Zimbabwe, said, "We are on the brink, and anyone who thinks the political
situation is manageable at this rate of economic deterioration is going to
be shocked. For many people, especially in the urban areas, life has become
unaffordable and unbearable, and these people are waiting to vent their
anger through mass demonstrations."

However, despite this widespread view, the fact remains that all past
attempts by the MDC, as well as by the National Constitutional Assembly, the
leading civil group campaigning for political change, and by the umbrella
labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, to organise mass
protests and boycotts to bring about regime change have failed
ignominiously.

So the big question is just how many people would be prepared to venture
onto the streets for a political opposition that has let them down badly so
many times before?

"It is difficult to organise marches now. People are afraid. People are
intimidated," admitted a top MDC official who asked to remain anonymous.

Harare bank clerk Humphrey Mutasa expressed a common sense of pessimism when
he said he would refuse to take part in any demonstration called by
Tsvangirai.

"To tell you the truth, I would rather suffer quietly at home and in peace
than be beaten up and still continue to suffer," Mutasa told IWPR.

"Nothing will change after the mass protests. Let's say people pour into the
streets. And then what? They will just throw stones and call Mugabe names.
That will not force Mugabe to flee the country, will it?"

Many Zimbabweans feel let down by earlier half-hearted boycotts called by
the MDC which proved short term.

A secretary at a power utility said she would rather protect her job than
get fired for heeding the call to demonstrate. "Imagine being unemployed in
this environment," she said. "Nothing will change; nothing has ever changed
when past opposition demonstrations have occurred. So why bother?"

To succeed, a fresh round of demonstrations would require proper planning
and organisation, accompanied by an honest analysis of why past protests
have failed. Analysts say the MDC has to come up with clear objectives that
will encourage people to overcome their fear of government violence.

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly and a
long-term advocate of mass action, says the protest movement should not
merely aim to oust Mugabe, but should represent a broad-based demand for
democratic reforms.

Those who take this view say the "final push" of 2002 failed because the
sole objective was to force Mugabe to flee. Journalists interviewed for this
report said the MDC should learn from demonstrations that rocked Zimbabwe
1997-98, when there were widespread strikes against job losses, poor working
conditions and government corruption. People might be more likely to take to
the streets if the talk was of bread-and-butter issues.

The stakes are high for the MDC as leaders attempt to judge and capitalise
on the public mood.

"His [Tsvangirai's] credibility is on the line," said Tony Hawkins,
Professor of Economics at the University of Harare.

"This time he really must deliver or risk political oblivion."

Nonthando Bhebhe is a pseudonym for a journalist in Zimbabwe.


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Traitors meet the Grim Reaper, warns Jokonya

IOL

June 13 2006 at 01:25AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's information minister threatened journalists deemed
"traitors" on Monday.

"You know what the end of a traitor is?" Tichaona Jokonya asked during
a press conference.

"The end of a traitor is always death. The unfortunate thing about a
traitor is that you are killed by both your own people and the person whom
you are serving," he said.

The comments appeared to be the latest threat against reporters
working for Western media organisations. The Zimbabwean government has long
had strained relations with the West, who they say are determined to remove
Mugabe from power.

Dozens of independent reporters have been arrested and several foreign
journalists deported under stringent media laws introduced shortly after
President Robert Mugabe's re-election in 2002.

Jokonya was addressing a press conference with an official from the
Washington-based Pan-African Liberation Organisation, who is on a
fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe.

Jokonya warned Zimbabwean journalists against serving the interests of
Zimbabwe's detractors, state radio said. - Sapa-dpa


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Church in Zimbabwe far behind in communication

United Methodist Communications

Jun. 12, 2006 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert * (615) 7425470* Nashville
{345}

NOTE: Photographs and related stories are available at http://umns.umc.org.

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) - Gladman Makwenya is a young, enthusiastic
communicator, ready to take on the challenges of spreading the news about
the church in Zimbabwe with a pen and some loose recycled newsprint pages.

Pen and paper are about the only tools he has right now; he is not even
assured he will always have a table to write on or a chair to sit in.

Barbara Nissen and Tafadzwa Mudambanuki, members of United Methodist
Communications' Communications Resourcing Team, met with church leaders in
Zimbabwe in 2005 to hear the stories of their challenges.

The meeting was part of the Central Conference Communications Initiative
approved by the 2004 General Conference. The United Methodist Church's
legislative assembly approved the initiative to develop communications
capabilities in the denomination's regional units - or conferences - in
Africa, Europe and Asia.

Working in partnership with central conference church leaders, United
Methodist Communications is helping those areas not only meet their own
needs but also the needs of the larger church "for hearing, embracing and
sharing life-transforming stories," said Nissen.

"The leaders of the church in Africa have told us their ministry is hindered
by the inability of church leaders and members to communicate with each
other in a timely and accessible way," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top
executive of the communications agency.

Covenant of mutual help

The Foundation for United Methodist Communications is working to raise
funding for establishing communication centers in each conference. The
Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference has pledged $14,000 to establish a
center in Zimbabwe.

Teams of Mississippians have traveled to Zimbabwe, visiting Africa
University, Mutare, Victoria Falls and Harare. The teams have explored ways
to link human and material resources in offering care for people impacted by
the AIDS pandemic.

After Hurricane Katrina, Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, resident bishop of
Zimbabwe, directed that a gift from his salary be designated for relief in
Mississippi and wrote a letter to United Methodists in that state expressing
his grief that the church in Zimbabwe could not be physically present on the
Gulf Coast in this time of great challenge.

Nhiwatiwa will preach and teach at the 2006 Annual Conference Session in
Jackson, Miss. At the conference, the Chabadza Covenant will be celebrated.
"Chabadza" is a Shona word that describes a partnership in which one
observes another at work in a field and joins in the work.

The bishop will serve as honored theologian in residence in Mississippi,
engaging laity and clergy in study and dialogue. Teams of youth and adults
are preparing to visit Zimbabwe. The communications initiative is a priority
of the Chabadza Covenant.

"Nothing can supersede communications in spreading the gospel," Nhiwatiwa
said. "Communication is the hallmark of doing ministry in all its various
facets."

Struggling to survive

Zimbabwe is a country struggling with many economic problems, including
hyperinflation, which makes it very hard to budget and plan well, the bishop
said. Currently, $1 in U.S. currency equals Z$101,000.

Zimbabwe is also a country with 120,000 United Methodists in two annual
conferences and 12 districts. The United Methodist Church was established in
1897 at Old Mutare Mission through the efforts of Bishop Crane Joseph
Hartzell and other pioneers including missionaries.

"On Sunday, everyone goes to church - it is the center of communication,"
said Betty Spiwe Katiyo, lay leader of the Zimbabwe West annual conference
and a member of the communications board.

However, the bishop's office in Harare does not have even the most basic
communication needs, she added. Katiyo said some businesses have modern
equipment, but the church is far behind in having adequate communication
tools.

"There are only two phone lines, and the switchboard does not have enough
extensions for the conference staff," she said. The office also lacks
computers and Internet service is almost always "down."

"We need telephones, faxes and other vehicles as a means of communication.
When you see what we have, you will not think it is normal because of what
you are used to," she told Nissen and Mudambanuki.

Communication outside the urban areas of Harare and Mutare is much more
difficult, the team learned.

The Rev. Elijah Kabungaidze, superintendent of the Murange District, has a
phone in his house that doesn't ring and a cell phone that can only be used
if he climbs a high hill several kilometers away.

Because of the severe fuel shortage in the country, he uses a bicycle or
walks when he needs to visit his 14 circuits and 65 churches.

"I used to be able to get fuel once a week, but now I am lucky to get it
once a month," he said. He is working to get a computer in his office, a
small room behind his garage, but he has to wait for electricity in his
area. He has two old typewriters but often has trouble getting paper.

When he wants to send a letter, he waits on the side of the road for a bus
to come by and gives the letter to a passenger, who promises to get it to
the person he is trying to reach.

Schoolchildren often become the means of communication, said the Rev. Joseph
Zinhanga, pastor for Nyakatsapa primary school. Mavhu Chishakwe, teacher in
charge, demonstrated how frustrating it is to try to get through on the
school's party line.

"Most phone calls don't go through," she said. "We have to wait for other
conversations to end. The code for school's calls is three short rings and
one long ring."

Most of the 438 children enrolled in the primary school are orphans.
Zinhanga calls the children together and selects the "head boy" to hand out
mail to students to take to family, friends and neighbors.

Jack Chipfiko, head master of Nyakatsapa secondary school, sends students to
collect the mail about 5 kilometers away. Children take mail home about 5 to
8 kilometers away.

"The roads are very bad and haven't been attended to in the last six or
seven years," he said. There is no phone line in his office, and he mostly
uses a cell phone. "But it's hard to get a connection."

Working on solutions

"One size will not fit all," Nissen said. "Through the initiative, we have
begun to work with conference leaders in each episcopal area to identify
needs and approaches to building and enhancing communication infrastructure
in the church."

"From what we're hearing in Africa, we hope to help equip each area with the
tools and training needed to run a viable communications center or
workstation," Mudambanuki said. "At the same time, we're looking at how
community radio or ham radios could strengthen the outreach of the church."

A two-week course of study will be held at Africa University June 15-30.
Classes will include basic computer, Internet and email training,
journalism, photography, videography, video editing, newsletter design and a
special session on writing about social issues such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

"It is exciting to hear about the possibilities of having communication
offices in all our Episcopal areas," said Makwenya. "It is my prayer that
God will continue to open possibilities."

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
newsdesk@umcom.org.


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Mugabe to Attend Int'l Reparations Conference



Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra)

June 12, 2006
Posted to the web June 12, 2006

David Allan Paintsil
Cape Coast

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, is expected to present a paper on land
issues at a Reparations Conference in Accra next month.

His presentation would educate the organizers of the function on how
reparation would be of help to Africans with regards to land issues.

Nana Kwamena Gyebi, President of Sankofa United Continent African Roots
Development International Association of Ghana (SUCARDIF), said an
invitation has already been sent to Mr. Mugabe.

"Mugabe is the only African leader who is fighting the cause for Africans
and he has been portrayed by the West as a demon," he pointed out.

Nana Gyebi, who is also co-convener of the meeting, said Mugabe's presence
would help allay fears of Africans that the Zimbabwean President was a
tyrant oppressing his people.

He said this at a press briefing on Thursday at Amamoma, where a 200-acre
land has been released for the construction of a US$180-million Return Tower
as a symbol for the return of black Africans who were enslaved in Europe and
the Americas.

"Mugabe has been suffocated too much by US and Britain through sanctions
they placed on the country," he said.

Explaining that the conference would give the southern African leader the
opportunity to address reparation activists who would converge in Accra from
July 22 to August 2.

Nana Gyebi said the conference would serve as preparatory grounds to chart a
common course for the demand of reparations for Africans, and also solicit
funds for the building of the Tower of Return complex at Amamoma, a suburb
of Cape Coast in the Central Region.

African-American Liberation Campaigner, Lewis Farrakhan, is also billed to
attend the conference, according to Nana Gyebi.

A repatriated African-American, Seestah Imakhus Njinga Ababio, said Africans
were demanding reparations for what they went through during the Trans
Atlantic Slavery period and people should not misconstrue it as begging for
money from the perpetrators.

The Chief of Amamoma, Nana Yatal, said he was optimistic the tower's
construction would create job avenues for the youth in the area and
commended all stakeholders for initiating such a project.

The Central Regional Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, noted that the construction
of the tower would boost tourism because the region serves as the tourism
hub of Ghana.

He said the Regional Coordinating Council would support the construction of
the symbolic tower.

Mr. Nii Adiko, coordinator of the conference, said the African Union, ECOWAS
and Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations have all consented to the
construction of the tower.


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Makwavarara's fate comes before cabinet

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 06/13/2006 11:20:04
THE Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) made fresh demands for
elections in Harare ahead of a crucial cabinet meeting on Tuesday set to be
dominated by discussions over the fate of a government-appointed commission
running the city.

The commission, led by Zanu PF councillor Sekesai Makwavarara, will need a
new mandate to continue at Town House following the lapse of its term last
Friday.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was under pressure this week from
opposition groups calling for new elections. He told The Daily Mirror
newspaper that the matter would come before cabinet on Tuesday night.

The CHRA petitioned Zimbabwe's High Court recently, seeking an order for
elections to be declared in Harare. The matter, deemed not urgent by the
court, is yet to be argued.

On Monday, CHRA spokesperson, Precious Shumba said: "We are really concerned
by the delay in finalising that matter. We hope this time around Chombo and
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa will save the situation by organising
elections."

The elected mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri who was elected on an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was forced out of office by Chombo
following accusations of corruption and incompetence.

Makwavarara who had just defected from the MDC was appointed by Chombo to
head the commission on December 9, 2004. Government critics say the
commission's term was illegally extended in June 2005.

Shumba said: "The CHRA is saying and has been saying that the commission has
overstayed its legal mandate. Its term has been illegally extended since
June 2005. We demand that elections for Harare be held now."

Other members on the commission are Jameson Kurasha, Tendai Savanhu, Prisca
Mupfumira, Viola Chasi, Musavaya Reza, Terrence Hussein and Noel Muzuva.

It has been reported that Chombo favours the appointment of Savanhu as the
new chairman of the commission, but he faces opposition from his cabinet
colleagues.

Last year, Chombo announced that elections for Harare, which should have
been held this year, will now take place in 2007. Opposition officials say
Zanu PF fears defeat in Harare, a major opposition stronghold.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) recently announced the opening of
the inspection of the voters roll for Kadoma and Chitungwiza mayoral
elections but was mum on Harare.


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Mahoso's term as MIC chief expires

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 06/13/2006 11:19:50
THE tenure of Zimbabwe's government-appointed media regulation body -- the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) -- runs out on Wednesday.

For four years Tafataona Mahoso, the MIC chairman who is also a journalism
lecturer and newspaper columnist has stood accused of suppressing media
freedoms by banning newspapers critical of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Four newspapers have been banned since the MIC was established by an Act of
Parliament -- the much-criticised Access to Information and Publicity Act
(AIPPA) which gives the body power to register and de-register newspapers
and journalists.

The commission's first three terms stipulated under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act ended in June 2005.

Mahoso's team of commissioners were handed two more six-month terms which
expire on Wednesday.

A commissioner told New Zimbabwe.com Tuesday: "Our letters of appointment
said the six-moth term was with effect from December 14 and expires on June
14. We don't know what will happen but there is talk that government will
deal with the issue at the end of June."

The MIC has closed four critical newspapers since its establishment.

A leading independent newspaper, The Daily News, was taken off the streets
together with its sister paper, The Daily News on Sunday. The commission was
also responsible for shutting down the Tribune and Weekly Times newspapers
for reasons ranging from refusing to register to failing to notify the MIC
of changes to ownership.

The High Court and the Supreme Court have in separate judgments endorsed
arguments by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the
Daily News, that the MIC is biased.

The judgments have since gone to bar the MIC, as presently constituted, from
hearing the ANZ case.

Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya and Mahoso recently petitioned the
High Court to dismiss with costs a Daily News application to be deemed
registered.

Jokonya and Mahoso are arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction
over the matter. The MIC and the Information Minister, they say, are the
only two authorities vested with powers to deal with the registration of
newspapers.

Jokonya said after the High Court ruled that the MIC must recuse itself from
hearing the Daily News' application for registration, he considered setting
a special board but was advised the Attorney General's office that he did
not have powers to do so.


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Bishop Kunonga appointing politicians into Anglican Church



By Lance Guma
12 June 2006

Nolbert Kunonga, the Anglican Bishop of Harar,e has reportedly
inducted Vice President Joseph Msika as a lay reader in the church. This
comes amid growing signs that Robert Mugabe's regime has clearly co-opted
the Bishop into using the church as a hunting ground for supporters. Msika's
new post means he is effectively a sub deacon and can conduct sermons in
church should the priest be absent. A priest who refused to be named told
Newsreel that no public readings were made of Msika's induction and this was
to deliberately avoid objections from parishioners. The priest told us that
Msika could not be described as a regular churchgoer adding that it was
actually his wife Mai Msika who came to the services most of the time.

A few years ago the Vice president was made the patron of St Albans
Anglican Mission School in Chiweshe - another move critics believe was
politically motivated. Newsreel was also told that Harare's former Mayor,
the late Solomon Tawengwa, did more for the Anglican Community than Msika
but never received similar recognition. Tawengwa is said to have built a
church for the diocese at his farm in Marondera during the time Bishop
Jonathan Siyachitema was in charge. Journalist and Anglican parishioner
Sandra Nyaira described Kunonga's induction of the Vice President as a clear
attempt to curry favour with the regime. Apparently Kunonga is also
ordaining people without any theological training as part of his attempts to
fill the church with his sympathisers.

From his base at the St Mary's Cathedral in Harare the Bishop has not
only come out in support of the violent land seizure policy but he barred
the priests in the church from criticising the much condemned Operation
Murambatsvina. He is accused of running the diocese like a mafia
organisation, terrorising critics and transferring to remote parishes any
priests who challenge his authority. Christina Lamb writing for the Sunday
Times UK says the Harare Bishop 'was given a farm and a seven bed-roomed
house overlooking a lake,' as a reward for his open support of Zanu PF. The
farm is St Marnocks, outside Harare.

The paper says the farm is one of the biggest in the country and had
been seized from the Hale family who had bought it in 1990 for 700,000.'
The farm has gone from producing 4000 tonnes of cereal to just less than 70
tonnes and Kunonga is allegedly refusing to return irrigation equipment and
portable silos worth over 190,000, which he seized. The paper quotes an
exiled priest in the United Kingdom as saying, 'Kunonga has terrorised
Christians and turned the diocese into a religious branch of Zanu-PF.' The
situation is apparently so bad that 10 priests from the Harare Diocese have
fled to the United kingdom. The Sunday Times says the Archbishop of
Canterbury; Rowan Williams intervened with the Home Office to assist the
priests get sanctuary in the UK.

Several politicians in Zimbabwe have turned to religion as the country's
fortunes continue to plunge. Businessman Philip Chiyangwa and Politicians
Webster Shamu, Emerson Mnangagwa and Nathan Shumuyarira are some of the high
profiles figures to have committed themselves to particular churches.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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HIV positive women suspect government officials diverted donated ARVs for profit



By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 June 2006

A group of women from several high-density suburbs have revealed that
they believe anti-retroviral drugs donated to Zimbabwe to help the poor,
such as themselves, have been diverted to private chemists by government
officials. In March and April this year the women say they were told by
their sponsors that loads of boxes of ARV drugs had been donated by Asian
countries to benefit them. They were to access these for free at state-run
hospitals like Mpilo and Parirenyatwa. But the women, who chose to remain
anonymous for their safety, said the hospitals told them the drugs had run
out within the first few weeks. But none of them had received any free ARVs.
When they went to private chemists they saw the drugs for sale in boxes that
were exactly like the donated boxes they had seen in the past but the prices
for these ARVs were too far out of reach.

This news comes at a time when drugs for tuberculosis are reported to
have run out in Zimbabwe. Other basic drugs like the pain killer panadol are
also in short supply and very expensive at the private chemists.

One HIV positive woman who reports for SW Radio Africa told us she
confirmed at her local chemist that the ARVs being sold there had been
provided by a government-run hospital. She said the packaging had not even
been changed. The involvement of government officials in diverting medicines
in short supply is not a new story. The women we spoke with used to receive
free ARVs from a non-governmental organisation that was ordered to stop
distributing such drugs. They said this was meant to force them to buy them
at inflated prices from chemists since they had no choice if they wanted to
live. But the strategy has caused many unnecessary deaths. The women said
people are simply dying at home without the medication because many cannot
afford it. Our contact is lucky enough to have several sponsors that pay for
medication.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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