The Times, UK June 26, 2006
From Jan Raath of The Times in Harare
There is "abundant evidence", from the records of Zimbabwe's
courts - which are widely dismissed as pro-government - that state agents
have carried out torture "on a massive scale", the country's leading human
rights group said today.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of human rights
groups and legal organisations, has reported over 15,000 violations of human
rights in the past eight years, but the report said only 300 have entered
the initial phases of litigation. Only 51 of these went to their conclusion,
with the state being held accountable in 89 per cent of cases.
Although the report deals with a relatively small number of
cases, it is the first to be based on official records, with the names and
ranks of perpetrators and the sites - mostly police stations - of torture.
"The Zimbabwe Government itself is conceding liability for the
perpetration of gross human rights violations," it said.
The Forum said it would send its report to the United Nations to
press for further action against President Mugabe's Government.
The report said that the low number of court cases was
attributable to the fact that merely reporting human rights violations to
police carries a high risk of being arrested, beaten up and illegally
detained. The country's economic crisis has also cut the rate of court
litigation because many ordinary people cannot afford the cost of transport
to court or to see lawyers, it said.
Police were the most common perpetrators. "People in custody are
likely to be beaten irrespective of their alleged crime", political or
criminal, and are commonly subjected to falanga - the excruciatingly painful
practice of beating the soles of the feet, which leaves little obvious
bruising. Police had "adopted torture as a means to eliciting confessions on
a widespread basis", it said.
The Army was less widely cited in litigation, but soldiers were
"often very brutal".
The payment of damages is rare, according to the report, and it
asks whether the delay is deliberate, as a way of decreasing the damages
being paid". Only 20 cases since 1999 have resulted in compensation but,
again, the economic crisis makes payments almost worthless. The report cites
an award to a plaintiff of Zim $950,000 in November last year, when it was
worth US $1,185. The defendants have still not been paid and the same amount
is now worth about US $5.
By Peta Thornycroft
26 June 2006
More people turned up to watch a soccer match Sunday in Harare than went to
listen to President Robert Mugabe address Zimbabwe's first National Day Of
Prayer in which he played a central role. Although some free transport was
provided and the stadium was easily accessible, less than 5,000 people
turned up to the well-advertised, but controversial, event.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe called for unity Sunday at an event that
was sparked by his invitation last month to certain churchmen to enter into
a dialogue with him.
Mr. Mugabe, a Catholic, called for divine intervention to turn the country
around so it could become, as he described it, "the jewel among nations".
Zimbabwe is in a crippling economic crisis with inflation at nearly 1,200
percent, the highest in the world, unemployment of 80 percent and no foreign
currency for essential imports.
Most of Zimbabwe's best-known senior churchmen did not attend the day of
prayer presided over by Mr. Mugabe. Neither of Zimbabwe's two Catholic
archbishops were there.
At the prayer day, Mr. Mugabe criticized Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube, an
outspoken critic of the Zanu-PF government.
Mr. Mugabe said that being a bishop does not make one a saint and that a
bishop is not dearer to God than the president.
"When the church leaders start being political we regard them as political
creatures and we are vicious in that area," Mr. Mugabe warned.
Mr. Mugabe's relationship with the Catholic Church has been strained since
government soldiers massacred thousands of people in southern Zimbabwe in
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches hailed the National Day Of Prayer as a
Former information minister Jonathan Moyo said the prayer day had been a
failure as so few people turned up. He said that Mr. Mugabe had long wanted
to involve the churches in his political plans and that this effort would
Mon 26 June 2006
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has not given land to any white
farmer despite encouraging the displaced farmers earlier this year to apply
for farms, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said on Monday.
The vice-president of the white-member CFU, Trevor Gifford, told
ZimOnline by telephone last night that the government was yet to respond to
applications for land by former whites whose farms it seized over the past
six years for redistribution to landless blacks.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is in charge of land
reform, had said the government would accept applications for land from
whites in a bid to revive the agricultural sector that has suffered massive
decline since the beginning of farm seizures in 2000.
Gifford said: "Lots and lots of farmers applied for land after the
invitation. But none has been offered land to date. Not one that we know of.
"We have been following up on the matter with the ministry. But each
time we ask, the ministry officials tell us that no applications from former
white farmers have been processed.
"This is despite President (Robert) Mugabe's announcements that any
Zimbabwean regardless of colour will get an opportunity to farm if they are
capable. It seems the matter is being racialised."
Mutasa was not immediately available for comment on the matter last
night. But the land reform minister earlier this year held several meetings
with CFU leaders during which he invited applications for farms from the
Reports of Mutasa's invitation for white applications came as
influential Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono as well as
Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru on separate occasions publicly
called for no more evictions of the country's few remaining white farmers.
But the Harare administration has maintained conflicting positions
over whether it will invite back whites to resuscitate some of the farms it
gave over to blacks but now lie unused because the new owners are no longer
interested in farming.
Farm seizures have also continued while the Minister of Agriculture
Joseph Made and his Justice counterpart, Patrick Chinamasa, have in the past
said the government would not give back land to whites and that in fact it
shall continue seizing more white farms to allocate to blacks who may still
The farm seizures that began in 2000 and which Mugabe says were meant
to correct an unjust land tenure system that reserved 75 percent of the best
arable land for minority whites while the majority blacks were cramped on
poor soils have been blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food
The southern African country that was once a regional breadbasket has
largely survived on food handouts from international relief agencies for the
past six years and will this year require more food aid for at least three
quarters of its 12 million people.
Meanwhile, Gifford rejected as untrue claims last week by Mashonaland
West provincial governor Nelson Samkange that his office had offered land to
200 farmers from the province but they had turned down the offer.
The CFU official said no white farmer was ever offered land by
Samkange's office. The Mashonaland West governor was also not immediately
available to respond to Gifford's comments. - ZimOnline
Tue 27 June 2006
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe appeared to turn to spiritual
salvation to lift a country battered by more than six years of a deep
economic and political crisis but analysts said only sweeping reforms would
salvage the southern African country from total collapse.
Mugabe joined church leaders at the weekend to pray for the country's
prosperity and sought divine intervention to end a crisis which analysts
blame on his 26-year rule.
The veteran leader, who is Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence
from Britain, struck a spiritual note on Sunday, telling Christians who had
gathered in Harare for a day of prayer that divine intervention could
restore the country's position as a jewel of Africa.
He prayed for God to pardon Zimbabwe for sins committed that had
brought suffering to the country.
"May Zimbabweans, as we work for the economy's turnaround in every way
reach the goal of being the jewel among other nations, pray for all this in
the name of Jesus. Amen," Mugabe told the gathering in Harare.
This is the first time Mugabe has delivered a national prayer for
Some church leaders blamed the government for the country's woes in
their prayers and said the government had to accept it had pursued
disastrous policies especially in the health sector, which has suffered the
heaviest brain drain as professionals seek better paying jobs abroad.
Zimbabwe has implemented several economic programmes but all of which
have failed to bring relief to millions of citizens, who have been
impoverished by the crisis and as they try to grapple with the world's
highest inflation rate of nearly 1 200 percent, shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel.
Mugabe's government has turned to long-time ally China for help after
a fallout with the West over Harare's controversial policies such as the
seizure of land from white commercial farmers which has decimated
But analysts say the so called "Look-East" initiative has not yielded
much for the country. State media have reported recently that China's state
development bank had promised Zimbabwe financial aid, including a possible
currency swap, to help revive an economy with severe foreign currency
This month, a Chinese company and two Zimbabwean firms reportedly
signed deals worth US$1.3 billion to establish coal mines and three thermal
power stations in the country, and Chinese companies are also bidding for
rights to explore Zimbabwe's uranium deposits.
But economic analysts are quick to point out that such deals have
collapsed in the past.
"I think there is an element of desperation on the part of the
authorities here. Yes the church can seek divine intervention but the
government needs to bite the bullet and come up with bold economic and
political reforms if they are to realise their dream of recovery," John
Robertson, a Harare economic analyst said.
Critics charged that Mugabe is trying to garner votes from the
country's Christian community, pointing to his call for an annual national
day of prayer on the country's calendar.
"What immediately comes to mind is that Mugabe is acknowledging that
he has failed and is appealing to God to intervene," John Makumbe, a Mugabe
critic and political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe told ZimOnline.
"That is not the answer. The answer is found in policies that restore the
rule of law and solve the issue of Mugabe' legitimacy."
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change and several Western
governments accuse Mugabe of rigging elections since 2000, a charge the
82-year-old leader denies and instead accuses the West of sabotaging the
country's economy. - ZimOnline
Tue 27 June 2006
PLUMTREE - Zimbabwe will next month try two Botswana Television
journalists for allegedly breaching the country's tough media laws by
gathering news without clearance from Harare's Media and Information
Commission (MIC), an offence that carries a two year jail term.
The two journalists, Beauty Mokoba and Kobetso Seofela, were arrested
by police last April near the small town of Plumtree on Zimbabwe's border
with Botswana while investigating the source of an outbreak of the deadly
foot-and-mouth cattle disease that had claimed several cattle in villages
along the Botswana side of the frontier.
Botswana officials believed the disease originated from Zimbabwe, a
claim vehemently denied by Harare in a statement issued through its embassy
"All is set for trial now, which we have agreed with the duo's legal
representatives to be 26 and 27 July. We believe that in those two days we
would have finished every business," state prosecutor Prince Butje Dube told
ZimOnline on Monday.
Dube said the state had assembled enough evidence against the two
journalists who also face charges of breaching the Immigration Act because
when they were arrested they allegedly failed to produce documents to prove
they were in Zimbabwe legally.
Under Harare's Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), journalists must first register with the MIC in order to carry out
their work in Zimbabwe. Local journalists register once every 12 months
while foreign journalists must register for the duration they are in the
country to cover a specific story or event.
The MIC can revoke the registration certificate from any journalist it
deems to be not toeing the line.
Zimbabwe, which also has laws providing for the imprisonment of
journalists for up to 20 years for publishing falsehoods, has been described
by the World Association of Newspapers as among the worst three places for
the media in the world.
The other two countries are the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan
and the Islamic Republic of Iran. - ZimOnline
Tue 27 June 2006
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has described the
late Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya who died at the weekend as an
"understanding man" who had promised to do his best to re-open newspapers
shut down by President Robert Mugabe's government over the past three years.
Jokonya was found dead in a Harare hotel room at the weekend. The
cause of his death has not yet been made public although his family said a
pathologist's preliminary report ruled out foul play.
ZUJ secretary general Foster Dongozi told ZimOnline: "The union is
going to miss a man who had an open door policy. We had established a
rapport with him. He had promised us that he would do his level best to make
sure that all closed media outlets would be opened.
"We also worked with him and he agreed to the setting up of a
self-regulated media council. We were hoping that he would open the air
waves. He was an understanding man."
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) also commended the
reforms that Jokonya had embarked on at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
which the union said it had hoped would open the media and create a more
conducive working environment for journalists.
"As the Minister of Information and Publicity, Jokonya had embarked on
strategic reforms on the country's media scenery which the ZCTU hoped would
open up the media and also present a good working environment for
journalists and media practitioners in the country," the labour union said
in a message of condolence to the Jokonya family.
A former representative of Mugabe's government at the United Nations,
Jokonya had on his appointment earlier this year appeared to be more
tolerant to media diversity and plurality, inviting editors from state-owned
newspapers, radio and television and their counterparts from privately-owned
newspapers for a meeting to discuss problems facing the media.
He also said he would not oppose journalists setting up a voluntary
media council to oversee ethics and standards in the profession.
But he later took a more bellicose stance against the media, accusing
some journalists of being traitors paid by foreign enemies of the government
to vilify the Harare administration in their articles and warned that
"sell-out" journalists would be put to death. - ZimOnline
June 26 2006 at 03:33PM
Harare - A Zimbabwean court on Monday moved the trial of an
ex-Rhodesian soldier accused of masterminding a plot to topple President
Robert Mugabe to the eastern city of Mutare, officials said.
Peter Hitschmann was arrested in early March along with seven others
including an opposition parliamentarian after police said that an arms cache
had been found in his home in Mutare, 270km south-east of the capital.
"The trial will be heard in Mutare although the initial bail
application was made in Harare," a court official said after a meeting
between the state and Hitschmann's lawyers.
The official, who asked not to be named, did not give reasons why the
case had been moved and could not give the date the trial would start.
Police nabbed Hitschmann in March, leading to the arrest of opposition
lawmaker Giles Mutseyekwa and six others who were charged but later released
The eight men including four police officers were charged under
Zimbabwe's tough security laws of possession of weapons to carry out an
insurgency, sabotage or terrorism.
The prosecution claimed Hitschmann was working for a shadowy
organisation called the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement based in Britain, which it
said was seeking to overthrow Mugabe's government.
In March, state television aired reports which claimed that Hitschmann
told his interrogators that the arrested legislator and former Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennett were the organisation's local
Bennett was not among those charged as he fled the country and has
since applied for political asylum in South Africa, but it has been turned
However the opposition party has flatly denied the allegations that
its members were working with Hitschmann.
The state said the arsenal found comprised an AK47 assault rifle,
seven Uzi submachine guns, four FN rifles, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, four
revolvers, 15 tear gas canisters and several thousand rounds of
ammunition. - Sapa-AFP
With Dr Stanford Mukasa
26 June 2006
In today's Letter from America Dr. Stan Mukasa reviews the recently
concluded United Nations meeting on poverty and its implications on
US-based Zimbabwean human rights activists bring Mugabe's human rights
abuse problems to the United Nations
Representatives from two US-based advocacy groups had a first- hand
experience of just what the United Nations can or cannot do on the
Zimbabwean crisis. But they also successfully lobbied for a discussion and
resolution on bad governance and corruption.
The North American District of the MDC or NAD and the Association of
Concerned Citizens in North America (ACZ) had been invited to participate at
the informal interactive hearings to review the program of action for the
Least Developed Countries and held at the United Nations. NAD will soon
become the North American Province of the MDC.
Both NAD and ACZ had planned to have the Zimbabwean crisis placed on
the agenda in the hope that the issue would be taken up by the Security
Council or the General Assembly. The delegates had brought toughly worded
statements calling for the United Nations to use its institutional resources
to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe.
The ACZ statement contained five recommendations.
First, ACZ noted that, because the Mugabe regime is aware that is has
lost the support and the legitimacy to rule the country it is now
unrestrained in its use of force and coercion to maintain its rule in the
The United Nations has an international obligation to take effective
measures to ensure the return of the rule of law, democracy and democratic
governance in Zimbabwe.
ACZ appealed to the United Nations deal with the root causes, rather
than symptoms, of the problems. While collecting information such as the
impact of the destruction of people's homes was a necessary responsibility
of the United Nations, the world body must go beyond this information
Information documented by human rights groups, the United Nations and
other individuals shows clearly that the Mugabe regime is in violation of a
number of United Nations conventions.
The ACZ noted that the United Nations has taken measures to deal with
former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, and other human rights violators.
In the case of Taylor the United Nations set up a tribunal to try him. The
same happened with Slobodan Milosevic.
ACZ called upon the United Nations to document a possible prosecution
of Robert Mugabe for crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe.
The organization also recommended that the United Nations should
establish a coalition of willing nations and individuals who will make a
relentless push towards resolving the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. The
UN Security Council must be convened to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe and
take appropriate measures including sanctions if Mugabe refuses to comply.
ACZ also called on the United Nations to take an inventory to assess
and document the capacities and skills of Zimbabweans in Diaspora with a
view to (1) keeping those skills updated through training sessions and (2)
encouraging the Zimbabweans to return home once democracy and the rule of
law have been established.
ACZ recommended that the United Nations work through non governmental
agencies to extend relief to the people of Zimbabwe, especially opposition
supporters who have been denied, on political grounds, internationally
ACZ also asked that it be granted an observer status at the general
assembly, in order to counter the propaganda from the Mugabe regime.
However, during the pre-consultation orientation the Zimbabwean
delegates learned that the procedure for the hearings would focus on themes
of poverty and underdevelopment in the least developed countries or LDCs.
There are 50 LDCs. Zimbabwe is not among them, although a UN committee
recommended recently that Zimbabwe be downgraded to an LDC.
Ironically, Zambia, Uganda and Mozambique which have stronger
economies than Zimbabwe are listed as LDCs.
For a while it appeared the Zimbabwean crisis was going to be
sidestepped altogether. However lobbying, especially by Nicholas Mada of the
NAD, bore some results. In addition, statements by both NAD and ACZ were
allowed to be circulated among the delegates.
Another procedure at the hearings was that only 12 people would be
allowed to make presentations. None of the Zimbabwean representatives was
among the selected presenters. Preference was given to delegates coming from
However, the Zimbabweans were able to lobby the selected presenters to
make presentations on their behalf. Presentations were to be theme-based
rather than country-specific.. Presenters were not expected to talk about
their countries but to discuss problems of poverty and development as a
One of the 12 selected presenters agreed to take the Zimbabwe-specific
case of bad governance and corruption for presentation. Thus while the
Zimbabwean crisis per se was not discussed as a subject the problem of bad
governance and corruption was presented at the hearings. To this extent the
Zimbabwean delegation can claim some limited success in forcing this issue
on the agenda.
During the hearings the under secretary general and high
representative for the LDCs, Anwarul K. Chowdhury said in response to the
question on bad governance and corruption that the United Nations expected
the governments to have the primary responsibility to improve the lives of
their people. In the case of Zimbabwe, which was not mentioned by name
during the discussions, this meant the UN holds Mugabe and his regime
primarily responsible for the return of the rule of law, free and fair
elections and economic and development policies that benefit the nation as a
Chowdhury's remarks were immediately challenged. What if the
government was corrupt and incapable of serving its citizens well and
fairly? He was asked.
Chowdhurey said in such cases of government corruption and
incompetence it was up to the civil society to put pressure and lobby their
He was again asked: What if the government is hostile to civil
society? -- a clear reference to Zimbabwe. Chowdhrey said national civil
societies could seek to involve regional civil societies in their campaigns.
In his assessment of the state of poverty in the LDCs Chowdhurey said
that the program of action to reduce poverty in the LDCs, and which was
launched in Brussels in 2001 had so far failed to meet its objectives.
He said that while LDCs had experienced growth rates of 5.5. percent
this was less than the anticipated 7 percent and poverty in the LDC was on
the rise. He said 100 million people in the LDCs were expected to join the
ranks of 370 million poor people in the LDCs. Since the plan of action to
reduce poverty was halfway in its implementation urgent steps needed to be
taken to address this problem, he said.
For a start an international campaign including the NGOs and other
stakeholders should be launched because LDCs are sinking deeper into
In the ensuing discussions the issue of bad governance was raised, an
issue that the Zimbabwean delegation had lobbied hard to be addressed.
What were the lessons of this interactive forum on Zimbabwe?
The message from the UN to Zimbabweans was loud and clear. While this
was not an officially articulated policy it became abundantly clear that the
UN expects the Mugabe regime to take primary responsibility for fulfilling
the needs of the people of Zimbabwe.
If that fails then civil society leaders in Zimbabwe must form a
national coalition and launch a massive campaign against Mugabe. In the
process, the national coalition can enlist the assistance of civil societies
in the region.
Can this be the message UN Secretary General Kofi Annan hopes to bring
to Mugabe in The Gambia in July? Can Zimbabweans realistically expect Kofi
Annan to do more than this?
Herein lies the United Nations formula for resisting Mugabe. One
significant outcome of the hearings was that the civil society are a
strategic watchdog for the peoples' interests against a repressive and
In Zimbabwe civil society must take immediate and effective steps to
form a formidable national coalition that will engage a meaningful campaign
against Mugabe. This is something the Zimbabwean civil society has yet to
rigorously put in place.
Mugabe cannot be successfully or effectively confronted by different
civil society groups acting like individual supermen. Time has come for all
those who share the same political agenda, social culture and goals of the
rule of law, democracy, free and fair elections as well as the freedom of
the press to put aside their differences, join hands and launch a real
campaign against Mugabe.
The Zimbabweans who attended the hearings played an important role in
getting the delegates at the UN to discuss this burning issue. The name
Zimbabwe or Mugabe were not mentioned. But ultimately the issues raised were
very relevant to the Zimbabweans crisis.
There were only three Zimbabweans at the UN hearings. But they made a
The UN experience was also an eye opener. The question is: What role
is the UN willing and able to play in Zimbabwe.
A good answer to this question may come from an incident in the movie,
Welcome Sarajevo. In this movie a passionate American journalist, played by
Woody Harrelson, goes to the war- torn city of Sarajevo. Here he notices the
Serbs indiscriminately shooting and killing the city's residents. The worst
incident is the shelling of children at a playground.
When United Nations peacekeeping troops arrive several days later the
American journalist angrily asks them: "Where have you been?" To which the
commander of the peacekeeping forces, on being told how many people were
killed, retorts, "Only that? "
Then he gives a list of how many more people have been killed in
conflicts around the world. And he said the United Nations cannot handle
problems of the whole world.
This may well be the answer to what Zimbabweans can realistically
expect from the United Nations. It is increasingly apparent that the UN is
focusing on what it considers priority needs.
And Zimbabwe does not appear to be an area of priority concern for the
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 June 2006
Robert Mugabe on Sunday attacked the media, warned the church to stay
away from politics and accused white Zimbabweans of not repenting after he
extended a hand of reconciliation in 1980. The angry speech was made during
the controversial prayer day that took place at Glamis Stadium in Harare.
But as Mugabe prayed for divine intervention in the Zimbabwe crisis, Bishop
Dr. Levee Kadenge the convener of the Christian Alliance which boycotted the
event, remained in hiding after receiving threats from a state agent on
Thursday. Clerics from the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference who met in
Highfields also said they were threatened. They say state agents wanted a
list of participants in order to intimidate them.
At the prayer day Mugabe said: "When the church leaders start being
political, we regard them as political creatures and we are vicious in that
area." Bishop Trevor Manhanga and some of the church leaders who met Mugabe
at state house last month attended the prayer day and Manhanga defended
Mugabe, saying he did not attack anyone and church leaders who get into
politics should be treated as politicians. He said he was prepared to set up
a meeting between the chief of the CIOs and the church leaders who say they
are threatened. He said: "Let's test the veracity of their claims." Asked if
the clergy were lying Bishop Manhanga said he was not accusing anyone of
telling lies but he simply wanted to take the claims to the authorities and
get at the truth. Manhanga also said he would guarantee their safety.
Useni Sibanda, coordinator for the Alliance said Mugabe is not
behaving like a Christian and the political nature of his speech is exactly
what they had been afraid of. He added that it is unfortunate that Bishop
Manhanga of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) and others are not
keen to heed the advice to stop cooperating with Mugabe. Manhanga has been
criticized for postponing Prayer Day from May 25th and allowing Mugabe to
politicize the prayers. Christian Alliance leaders and opposition party
leaders boycotted the event on Sunday.
Mugabe prayed for the media to report in a "responsible manner." But
critics disregarded the remarks saying Mugabe sees anyone who reports the
truth as an enemy and it is he who needs to be more 'responsible' with the
media. They said he should first repeal the oppressive Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and allow banned independent
newspapers and foreign journalists to operate in the country.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are reported to have written to
Security minister Didymus Mutasa regarding the threats made to Bishop
Kadenge of the Christian Alliance. The Bulawayo based bishop told us he had
not gone home since Thursday when he received a call from a CIO agent who
accused him of meeting with other clergy to form a political party.
Mugabe prayed for divine intervention on Sunday asking God to pardon
Zimbabwe for sins that she committed. But Mugabe himself continues to use
agents from the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation to oppress the
nation. So who is the sinner?
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
26 June 2006
June 26th is the United Nations international day in support of
torture victims, and it holds a lot of meaning for Zimbabweans as many have
suffered torture at the hands of the Mugabe regime.
In recent years there has been an increase in state-sanctioned acts of
torture in the form of severe beatings on the body; electric shocks on the
genitals, mouth and the soles of the feet, rape, psychological trauma in the
form of displacements and unlawful arrests against ordinary civilians and
the opposition in Zimbabwe.
The UN General Assembly decided in 1997 to observe 26th June in
support of torture victims, with a view to total eradication of torture in
countries like Zimbabwe. But unfortunately torture is far from over.
Meryl Harrison former Chief Inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA) is one of many Zimbabweans
who commemorates the UN torture day. "This is a special day for me in which
I remember when my twin brother. He died in 1986 as a result of sustaining a
prolonged beating of four hours at Beitbridge at a police station and he
subsequently died four days later."
She said Colin was not involved in politics and had not provoked the
police when he was arrested after having had a few to drink. Harrison said
he was frogmarched to Beitbridge Police Station where he was subjected to
torture. A post mortem of her brother, who had a major physical disability
that affects the spine, revealed that every internal organ in his body had
been ruptured as a result of the beatings.
The Member in Charge of the police at Beitbridge (Mischeck
Zvavachakwe) and the officer in charge of the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) at Beitbridge (Blessing Zumidza) only spent 6 months at
Chikurubi Maximum Prison after being charged with murder. Meryl said not
only did they receive a full salary during their short stay in jail but the
charges were dropped two years later as they appeared on the president's
This is one of the many cases showing the completely brutal action of
members of the Mugabe regime and how the culture of torture and oppression
has been in place for many years.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum estimates there were 136 reported
cases of torture and more than 4 000 cases amounting to degrading and
inhumane treatment in the year 2005.
With this in mind, some activities were organised around this day
including the participation of Zimbabwean torture victims, human rights and
civic leaders in international commemorations at the British Houses of
Parliament on Monday morning. Victims of torture and violence in Zimbabwe
were also remembered at a church service at St Martins-in-the-Fields church
in Trafalgar Square. The service also highlighted the suffering and
commemorated victims of torture in Sudan.
Human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba was among the nearly 100
Zimbabweans who attended the remembrance events in London. He is himself a
torture victim who has been forced to live in exile in South Africa after
being a victim of state agents. Shumba, his brother, and an opposition
Member of Parliament Job Sikhala, were severely beaten and received electric
shocks during interrogation. Shumba who has filed a lawsuit against Mugabe
at the African Commission on Human and People's Rights said the state agents
used electric shocks in his mouth and genitals. "Some of the perpetrators
ended up urinating in my face claiming that this was humiliation and
seemingly enjoying it," he added.
Since then he has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of torture survivors
and address the closed meeting at the Houses of parliament on Monday.
Keynote speakers who spoke on organized violence and torture in
Zimbabwe were Arnold Tsunga the Director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights and Ahmed Motala the executive director of the South African based
Centre of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Shumba said of major concern to the human rights defenders is that
torture seems to have been institutionalised now in the Zimbabwe government
psyche leading to a massive exodus of Zimbabweans.
A survey conducted recently by human rights groups Action Aid and
Amani Trust revealed that one in 10 Zimbabweans need psychological help and
one in 10 people over the age of 30 in Matabeleland is a survivor of
torture. The human rights bodies revealed the shocking statistics after
assessing 824 people affected by Robert Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina and
found that 69% of the victims were in need of clinical help or psychological
attention. The group conservatively estimated that 820,000 people in
Zimbabwe need psychological assistance.
The United Nations estimates that 700 000 people were made homeless
and at least 2.4 million were directly affected by the government so-called
clean up exercise. Many have disappeared into remote rural areas while
others have been dumped in informal camps. Rights groups, churches and
lawyers say they are allowed very little access into these holding camps
A spokesperson from the Amani Trust has said that Zimbabwe has a
population that has been exposed to "multiple traumas" which, if untreated,
will become "chronic disorders".
In addition to this misery Zimbabwe is a country with 80% unemployed,
the world's fastest shrink economy, with the world's highest inflation at
1193.5% and a collapsed health sector. It's estimated that 3 000 people are
dying from AIDS related illnesses each week and there is very little access
to appropriate medication.
Little international pressure has been placed on the Zimbabwean
government to respect its obligations to human rights. Rights groups also
criticise South Africa's inaction and it's complicity in blocking action on
Zimbabwe in the African Union and the international community. The groups
that met with the British MPs and peers urged the international community to
put pressure on Thabo Mbeki, as South Africa is key to resolving Zimbabwe's
Shumba said the House noted that a document adopted by the UN General
Assembly beholds the international community to intervene in situations such
as Zimbabwe - where the state has failed to protect citizens. It is time to
start acting on that document and what was agreed was that SA needs to be
publicly named and shamed with regards to its lack of response to Zimbabwe.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
June 26, 2006,
By ANDnetwork .com
Fuel shortages have resurfaced in Bulawayo, with most filling stations
going for days without supplies, Chronicle has learnt.
The commodity is in short supply despite a jump in prices.
A litre of both petrol and diesel is going for between $400 000 and
$600 000, up from between $205 000 and $280 000.
A snap survey by Saturday Chronicle yesterday revealed that most
service stations had no supplies.
Fuel attendants were seen loitering at the garages.
"We haven't received fuel for the past month. We just hope that the
situation improves soon," said a petrol attendant.
He said the filling station was sometimes relying on imported fuel
Another fuel attendant said they last received the commodity last
He said supplies had been erratic since prices were increased at the
beginning of this week.
"We neither have petrol nor diesel, and we don't even know when we
will get supplies. Just keep checking," said the garage worker.
The attendant said prices of the commodity were competing with the
He said they last sold both petrol and diesel at $250 000, but was
quick to mention that the price would be adjusted according to the
However, petrol was available at a Total Garage , which is situated
along Main Street and 5th Avenue, although there was no diesel.
There was a long queue at the filling station, which was selling
petrol for $400 000 per litre.
The Bulawayo Service Station, a dependable outlet locally, did not
Scores of people were seen outside the garage premises selling petrol
and diesel for $600 000 per litre.
Although no official comment could be obtained from the Ministry of
Energy and Power Development, fuel supplies are expected to improve soon
after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe unveiled a US$50 million ($5,1 trillion
at the prevailing exchange rate) revolving fuel import facility.
This followed an agreement signed between the central bank and French
bank, BNP Paribas, and coarranger of the facility, Loita Capital Partners
Under the facility, which will run for the next year on a revolving
basis, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe will import fuel for both
private and public sectors.
Zimbabwe has been facing intermittent fuel shortages over the past six
years due to a foreign currency crunch, a result of the illegal sanctions
imposed by the Western powers.
The country requires US$40 million for its monthly fuel requirements
and the USS$50 million facility is expected to go a long way in improving
fuel availability due to its revolving nature.
Source : Zim Chronicle